Test of the 3 R’s (acquired situational narcissism vs. NPD)


I just read an interesting article by Sam Vaknin (author of Malignant Self-Love) describing a condition that afflicts some celebrities and other high-profile people or people who achieved overnight success, called Acquired Situational Narcissism (ASN). It can also occur in codependents of a narcissist (what the ACON community calls “fleas”). ASN can mimic NPD, but tends to diminish over time or if the person’s fortunes change. But a more important difference is that a person with ASN isn’t lacking what he calls “The Three R’s.” These are:

1. Remorse
2. Remediation
3. Restoration

Narcissism is used as a coping strategy but doesn’t necessarily become a life sentence. I’ve done enough editorializing, so here is the article.

The Test of Three R’s
By Sam Vaknin

Acquired Situational Narcissism can be induced in adulthood by celebrity, wealth, and fame. But, it may also occur in a variety of other situations. Codependents, aiming to fend off gnawing abandonment anxiety, can resort to and evolve narcissistic and even psychopathic behaviours and traits in order to cater the whims of their “loved” ones; in anomic societies and depraved cultural or religious settings, people with a conformist bend tend to adopt antisocial modes of conduct and personal style so as to “fit in” and belong.

How can we tell whether one’s narcissism is of the ephemeral, derivative variety – or an integral, immutable, and inalienable feature of his or her personality? By applying the test of “Three Rs”: Remorse, Remediation, and Restoration.

To qualify, remorse has to be expressed repeatedly and must be heartfelt. It should entail a modicum of sacrifice, embarrassment, and inconvenience. Regretting one’s misdeeds in public is more convincing than sending a private missive or whispering “sorry” anonymously. Remediation requires making amends and offering reparations, which are commensurate with the offending acts and bear some symbolic relation to them. Thus, financial abuse can be absolved only with the aid of a monetary compensation that corresponds to the damage done and suffered. Finally, restoration involves affording one’s victims the opportunity for closure, if not forgiveness, so that they can move on with their lives.

True narcissists and psychopaths fail the Three Rs test at every turn: their remorse is feigned and ostentatious; they provide little or no recompense; and they never put themselves at the victim’s disposal to allow her to achieve that she needs most: closure.

Read the rest of Sam’s article here.

Related to this, on February 22, writer/producer Nancy Fulton will be interviewing Sam Vaknin about the portrayal of narcissists in media and entertainment. More info can be found here.

12 thoughts on “Test of the 3 R’s (acquired situational narcissism vs. NPD)

  1. I dated the son of a very famous musician. His father is from a band a famous band that you know, and when your at a wedding you will most likely hear one of their songs. Its usually the first or second song the DJ plays. Haha.. I’m not going to say the name of the band because I’m still friends with his son. But I think he is a Narcissist. Im not sure if he has the 3rs. I’ve gone through periods where I talked to him every night. And then I get annoyed by his Narcissistic behaviors and give him a Narc injury and we don’t speak for a while.

    It doesn’t matter to me because I never really feel for him. Most women chase him because he’s surrounded by celebrities. I’ve tried my best to treat him like a normal person. But it’s difficult to do that because he had an extraordinary lifestyle and he grew up in a dysfunctional environment.

    His father treats him like he’s non-exsistant. He traveled around the world with his dad and the band. He grew up in the Hollywood Hills and I honestly think he is clueless to who he really is. I remember one night years back when I told him I was moving to Costa Rica he told me he envied me. He told me he wished he could go somewhere and just be a regular person without a famous dad. I just think he never nurturing from his dad.

    Before his father become famous he was dirt poor. He was so poor that their 1st born child slept in a blanket in the dresser drawer. But his son told me that he admits that when he was poor and struggling, those were the happiest days of his life.

    Guess what celebrity I’m talking about?
    I’ll tell you one day privately… Lucky.

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  2. Oh my lucky. I left you a message. He called me today to help me out and give me some tips about the music industry. My music industry Guru. He laughed and told me Im all ego and that I was a Narcissist. I laughed…and said, “Maybe.” I think we all are in some kind of a way…and most artists are. We use art to get what we feel out.

    Anyway,..we were talking about it and there he was. I believe we call the universe and it answers. I’m a big believer in this spiritual inner consciousness thing.

    You just picture what you want and the person appears.

    I don’t think he’s a Narcissist at all. He’s been able to maintain a friendship with me for 17 years now. He’s a good man.

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            • I’ll get you!
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