Narcissists and Sex.

narcissists_and_sex

I can’t believe I’ve never written a post before about narcissists and sex, but sex is one of the biggest ways they manipulate and control the rest of us.

Many people mistakenly believe narcissists love sex. Actually, that isn’t true. They’re not even especially promiscuous. In fact, many narcissists are downright prudish. People with Borderline or Histrionic Personality Disorder are much more likely to be promiscuous, because in their minds, sexual attention is equated with love and acceptance.

Narcissists don’t love sex. Sex is merely a tool they can use to get what they want or to control or manipulate their victim. There are two kinds of narcissists: cerebral and somatic. While very different on the surface, at heart they really aren’t very different at all. Neither has any empathy and neither has any desire to emotionally connect to another person and will go to great lengths to avoid it. This means neither a cerebral or somatic narcissist is capable of making love to another person because making love implies an emotional connection to someone else.

Cerebral narcissists.

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Cerebral narcissists are the pretentious, insufferable intellectuals and achievers of the world. They think they’re smarter or more successful than everyone else and go to great lengths to be adulated and admired for their “intellectual superiority” or “successful lifestyle.” Cerebral narcissists often hate sex and avoid it. They may even be prudish, especially if religiously-bent (many of them are, because religion gives them “permission” to be hateful and judgmental toward others).

Cerebral narcissists suffer the deepest narcissistic injury when their intellectual prowess or success in the material world is threatened, someone else is deemed smarter or more successful than they are, or they are exposed as being of only average intelligence or ability. Because they aren’t normally promiscuous, they may be either asexual, or (to maintain the image of normality which benefits their lifestyle, or to fend off loneliness), they may desire to attract a spouse, which means sex is used to draw a potential mate to them and/or maintain a loveless marriage. Sex is never an expression of love or emotional connection, because love and genuine emotional connection are things all narcissists avoid like the plague and are incapable of anyway.

Sex with a cerebral narcissist is likely to be cold, machine-like, and lacking in spontaneity and emotional expression. The other partner is bound to feel frustrated and unfulfilled–and of course the narcissist could care less. A cerebral narcissist may also withhold sex as “punishment” or to control their partner. While not usually promiscuous, some male cerebral narcissists may go outside their marriage (such as to a prostitute) to fulfill their physical needs, since to them, sex with someone they don’t know or have a responsibility to is preferable because there’s no risk of emotional complications or demands from the sex partner.

Somatic narcissists.

slutty_woman

Somatic narcissists are concerned with their body image, health, or physical appearance. They believe themselves to be the most handsome, beautiful, or sexiest person in any given room. They go to great lengths to maintain and embellish their most prized possessions–their own bodies. They may use sex as a way to woo potential partners because they know they can. But they don’t genuinely enjoy sex; it’s merely a tool to get them the attention and praise they want. As with the cerebral narcissist, they’re incapable of making love–that is, feeling emotionally connected to another human being through the sex act.

Some somatic narcissists may be promiscuous, but unlike a Borderline, sex isn’t a “replacement” for love. It’s a tool that is used to control and manipulate a potential victim. A woman with somatic narcissism who has maintained an attractive body and style knows her sexual attributes are most likely to win her a potential mate. She knows she can bewitch a man with her body and doesn’t hesitate to use it for that purpose. But once she has won him over, she’s likely to begin to devalue and eventually discard him. If he has attributes she thinks she needs (money or success), she may even marry him because it benefits her lifestyle. But she’s likely to get bored and be unfaithful. It’s a game to her; sex is just the advantage she knows she has to win the game. Lest anyone think I’m being sexist here, there are plenty of somatic narcissist men who act the exact same way, and the women they attract mean nothing to them except a means to an end.

A few narcissists who have become sociopathic may even use sex as a means to control and terrorize their victims. In their minds, it has become equated with violence and rage. Some serial killers like Ted Bundy (diagnosed with NPD) use sex this way, to dehumanize and destroy their victims. Even some who aren’t murderers may use sex this way, like the abusive husband who mercilessly rapes his wife while he beats her.

What is good sex really? And why aren’t narcissists capable of it?

in_love

Good sex is fun. It can be an incredible physical release. But without genuine emotional connection, it’s really no better than a drug–a temporary “fix” that might make you feel good for a little while, but doesn’t last and is ultimately unsatisfying.

Although being emotionally committed to another person isn’t all fun and games, and can be hard and sometimes painful work, sex between two people who genuinely love and care for each other transcends its physical boundaries and becomes a spiritual thing that only human beings are capable of. It leaves the realm of the animalistic and physical and becomes something that transforms both partners and connects them to the divine. Lovemaking requires complete vulnerability–it’s one of the only times in life (outside of childbirth and breast-feeding) that a person is both physically and emotionally naked with another person, leaving nothing hidden.

Such utter vulnerability makes lovemaking scary to many people. And it’s more scary to a narcissist than to anyone, because they’re so terrified of ever appearing vulnerable to someone else. It requires a level of trust they simply aren’t capable of. Even non-narcissists often find it difficult to connect with another person on such a profound level, and I think that’s what’s behind the shame and embarrassment people have when the “S” word is mentioned. It’s also what’s behind the almost universal corruption of a God-given act of love into something sordid, base, and shallow–almost the polar opposite of what it was intended to be.

A word about limerence.

narcissism-mirror_gal

Most narcissists are entirely capable of limerence, a feeling of strong infatuation that is often mistaken for love.   It’s not a bad thing in itself.  Indeed, many long lasting relationships and marriages begin with limerence or “falling in love.” To make the transition to a healthy long term relationship, limerence must become replaced or be transformed into genuine attachment and feelings of deep caring about the other person. Limerence isn’t love and it doesn’t last. You can become limerent about a celebrity but you certainly don’t “love” them since you don’t know them at all. It probably evolved as a way humans could attach to someone else long enough to bear a child and see it through the first year of life, when an infant is at its most vulnerable and needs two parents. Research suggests that intelligent mammals, such as dogs, cats and monkeys, may feel the entire range of “human” emotions, and this includes feelings akin to limerence as well.

Limerence is actually very narcissistic. It’s common for two people who have just met and are “falling in love” to say things like, “I can see myself in your eyes,” or “I feel like we’re one person.”  Popular music is filled with such sentiments.  The person you’re limerent about becomes a kind of mirror. You aren’t seeing them as they actually are; you are projecting your own needs onto them and imbuing them with qualities you desire but they don’t necessarily actually have (if they do, it’s a happy coincidence-and that could become the basis for genuine love).  A narcissist in limerence can SEEM vulnerable and loving, and in the beginning of a relationship with one, no one can act more romantic.  You’ll be wined and dined and woo’d with flowers and candy until you develop diabetes. But all these gifts and promises of undying love aren’t about you at all–it’s all about them and what they think they see in you that can give them what they want and need. Once you reveal that you’re only human and can never be all things to them, the D&D will begin and they will think nothing of tossing you in the trash like an old broken mirror, as if they never knew you at all.

Emotional vs. “cold” narcissists.

histrionic_personality

Narcissists can be divided many different ways–covert vs. overt; somatic vs. cerebral; malignant vs. “benign,” etc. They can be divided another way too. Narcissists are either extremely emotional…or cold as machines. Underneath their mask, they’re all hypersensitive though, even if they hide behind a stone cold exterior. Malignant narcs are the HSPs who went bad. Somatic narcissists are probably more likely to be hyper-emotional, similar to people with HPD; and cerebrals more often the “cold, calculating” type, though not always.

cerebral_narc

I’d venture to guess emotional, dramatic narcs have HPD or BPD traits (borderlines can’t regulate their emotions) while the colder types have ASPD or Schizoid traits. Avoidant PD traits could go either way.

I wonder if any studies have been done to determine which MBTI types narcissists are most likely to be. I’d guess the emotional ones are probably INFJ and the second type INTJ. I don’t think most narcissists are that extroverted, even if their mask includes extroversion and sociability. Narcs really don’t like people and are too self-involved to be anything other than introverted, in spite of any outgoing front.

This means there isn’t a whole lot of difference between an emotional narcissist and an unemotional one, except for the thinking vs. feeling aspect. But even when they don’t show it, all narcissists are emotional and easily hurt when it comes to themselves. None of them feel much for others.

Why IQ tests of the past lacked smarts.

retro_classroom

The following is a guest post by Mary Pranzatelli about the matter of how the standard IQ tests those of us of a certain age had to endure as children only tested for one aspect of intelligence, when there are actually 6. This was damaging because kids who scored low on the standard (Iowa) IQ test in those days were often assumed to be “slow” (and sometimes put in special ed classes) when they may have actually been very bright–in aspects those tests didn’t measure. This is what happens when an IQ test for children is developed through the limited and damaging lens of cerebral narcissism.

Fortunately things are improving today. Psychologists are recognizing there are at least 6 different types of intelligence.

Mr. Smarty Pants and the Dumb IQ Test
Guest Post by Mary Pranzatelli

Does anyone remember those placement tests we took way back in the day? Those lengthy evaluations timed to measure our intellectual level in the 60s and 70s. They called them the Iowa tests. They were used to evaluate, place and devalue students in categories to tell them who they were and what they could be.

Did you ever wonder who created these nerve racking, sweat inducing tests that gave you nausea in the pit in your stomach? His name was Everett Franklin Lindquist. He was a Professor from Iowa, who created these standardized tests known as the ACT He started administering them in 1959.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a little girl I wanted to play on the swing outside and when I was a teenager I wanted to hang out with my friends, be creative and write poetry and stuff. I found these standardized tests completely boring, disturbing and even insulting. I’d start reading the first few questions and I my mind would become completely overwhelmed. I thought, “Oh..No…No…No! Its none of your business!” How dare them hand me a paper, pencil and a multiple choice test that will evaluate me and place my entire life into a category. Some placement analogy that was based on a multiple choice test made up by this Smarty Pants; A Professor from Iowa. A cerebral Narcissist that thought he was more superior then everyone else because he had a high IQ.

I’m sure I’m not the only student who became frustrated with all those little machine ready printed dots that intimidated us as they stared us in the face. A hundred or more multiple choice questions that would determine one’s future in attempt to brainwash us to believe we were either stupid or smart based on Professor Lindquist’s analogy of who we are. I use to think the man who made up the Iowa test was really a brilliant man. I thought he was a real genuine Smarty pants. I was brainwashed. I believed smarty pants was smarter then me. And this asshole had us all by the seat of our pants because he was in control of our academic direction, future and career path. This cerebral Narcissist screwed up a whole lot of people.

A portrait of ACT CoFounder E.F. Lindquist.

A portrait of ACT CoFounder E.F. Lindquist.

They ran those answers through the Iowa test machine and let us know what our IQ scores were. The measurements that actually brainwashed most of us and our thinking. He squashed our abilities to explore ourselves and enjoy our dreams our wants and what we loved to do. Mr. Smarty Pants never had the insight to know us better then we knew ourselves. No standardized machine driven test has the ability to determine who we are.

So who are we? Aren’t we all humans. And humans are love, and feelings. We have 7 major components. We think, feel (emotions, love, pain and empathy). We taste, smell, touch, see and we have instincts. So what would a Modern Hierarchy of intelligence look like? A realistic Hierarchy.

*The Modern Hierarchy of thinking

1. Remembering

2. Understanding,

3. Applying

4. Analyzing

5. Evaluating

6. Creating

IQ only measures number 1, which is the lowest order of thinking.

Unfortunately, Smarty Pants and the rest of all the know it all’s have difficulty moving on. Many of these, I am so smart assholes, never move on because they believe that they are superior and they are stuck on number 1. In many ways it is societies fault for telling them that they are so smart.

Creating, which is number 6 is the highest form of thinking. That includes music and art. So don’t let anybody tell you that you are not smart when your heart and mind is advanced in all the categories.

A final note to the late Mr. Smarty Pants who developed the Iowa test….

I’m sorry your thinking was so overwhelming, and that you lacked the ability to feel for all the children you hurt. I’m also sorry for all the children who ended up suffering from hardships and low self esteem due to your silly standardized test.

Professor Everett Franklin Lindquist, May Your Soul Rest in Peace…

Are all vain people narcissists?

vain_woman

People who don’t know much about NPD confuse narcissism with physical vanity. If you say the word ‘narcissist’ to them, they visualize a glamorous woman preening in the mirror or trying on 10 different outfits and spending an hour on her makeup before she goes out. Or they picture a buff man with a well defined six pack, lifting weights in front of a mirrored wall.

The confusion is understandable. But not all people who seem to obsess over their appearance or fitness are narcissists. And of course, not all narcissists are physically vain. In fact, most cerebral narcissists care nothing about their appearance.

If a vain person is a narcissist, they are of the somatic subtype. My mother was this type of narcissist, and many of them do spend a lot of time looking at themselves in the mirror, working out at the gym, or constantly shopping for new clothes. But they are in the minority. Most narcissists, even somatic ones, don’t spend a lot of time doing these things. Their narcissism isn’t defined by how much time they spend preening before a mirror, but by their lack of empathy, self-centeredness, and their propensity to manipulate others to get what they want. Some of the most out of shape, slovenly looking people you could imagine are narcissists. And some of the most physically fit and well-dressed and groomed people are not.

A gorgeous woman who spends several hours a day trying to look perfect is not a narcissist if she also cares about the feelings of others and is making herself look good for her husband, boyfriend or herself. But if the same woman tries to look perfect because she wants to attract a man who is married to another woman–and feels no shame about this–then she is a narcissist.

There is nothing wrong with interest in one’s physical appearance. Most of us want to look attractive. For some people, it’s almost a hobby. An attractive man or woman usually knows they’re attractive, but that doesn’t automatically make them narcissists.

The only danger with having too much interest in your physical appearance is you may fail to develop other qualities that make you a more well-rounded, interesting person. Getting older will be tough for a person who has failed to develop their mind or their personality because their appearance was their first priority. A person only interested in how they look is also a very boring person. But they may not be narcissistic, just vain.

I used to know a beautiful woman who spent all her money on clothes and makeup, and worked out at the gym every day. People used to accuse her of being vain and narcissistic, but she was also one of the most sincere and sweet people you could ever hope to meet. Her vanity, in fact, was due to her anxiety that she didn’t look good enough for her overly critical, narcissistic husband. This woman was codependent and worked hard to please him, and that meant she had to look like a fashion model at all times–and it still was never good enough for him.

When her husband finally divorced her for a younger woman, she became depressed and let herself go. She gained about 50 pounds, stopped styling her hair, and stopped wearing makeup. It was hard to believe she was the same person. Eventually she recovered from her depression enough to start caring about her appearance again, but this time it wasn’t an obsession. She also began to develop her interest in art and signed up for art classes at the local community college. Today she looks attractive again, and has a fashion style all her own that reflects her artistic style.

Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes. Some are obsessed with their appearance, but the vast majority are not. Don’t dismiss someone as a narcissist just because they seem to spend too much time on their physical appearance. Like the woman I described above, they may not even be doing it for themselves.

Notes of first therapy session with Sam V., male, 43, diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

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The following is about ten years old, I think. I’m not going to editorialize this further, but let the therapist’s words speak for themselves. (I do not know who the therapist was). Pretty interesting stuff and a vivid picture of how NPD can manifest itself in one person, in this case a well known author who writes about his own disorder. Sam Vaknin suffers from the cerebral form of narcissism; the other type is somatic.

Notes of first therapy session with Sam V., male, 43, diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/personalitydisorders65.html

Sam presents with anhedonia (failure to enjoy or find pleasure in anything) and dysphoria bordering on depression. He complains of inability to tolerate people’s stupidity and selfishness in a variety of settings. He admits that as a result of his “intellectual superiority” he is not well placed to interact with others or even to understand them and what they are going through. He is a recluse and fears that he is being mocked and ridiculed behind his back as a misfit and a freak. Throughout the first session, he frequently compares himself to a machine, a computer, or a member of an alien and advanced race, and talks about himself in the third person singular.

Life, bemoans Sam, has dealt him a bad hand. He is consistently and repeatedly victimized by his clients, for instance. They take credit for his ideas and leverage them to promote themselves, but then fail to re-hire him as a consultant. He seems to attract hostility and animosity incommensurate with his good and generous deeds. He even describes being stalked by two or three vicious women whom he had spurned, he claims, not without pride in his own implied irresistibility. Yes, he is abrasive and contemptuous of others at times but only in the interests of “tough love.” He is never obnoxious or gratuitously offensive.

Sam is convinced that people envy him and are “out to get him” (persecutory delusions). He feels that his work (he is also a writer) is not appreciated because of its elitist nature (high-brow vocabulary and such). He refuses to “dumb down”. Instead, he is on a mission to educate his readers and clients and “bring them up to his level.” When he describes his day, it becomes clear that he is desultory, indolent, and lacks self-discipline and regular working habits. He is fiercely independent (to the point of being counter-dependent – click on this link: http://samvak.tripod.com/faq66.html ) and highly values his self-imputed “brutal honesty” and “original, non-herd, outside the box” thinking.

He is married but sexually inactive. Sex bores him and he regards it as a “low-level” activity practiced by “empty-headed” folk. He has better uses for his limited time. He is aware of his own mortality and conscious of his intellectual legacy. Hence his sense of entitlement. He never goes through established channels. Instead, he uses his connections to secure anything from medical care to car repair. He expects to be treated by the best but is reluctant to buy their services, holding himself to be their equal in his own field of activity. He gives little or no thought to the needs, wishes, fears, hopes, priorities, and choices of his nearest and dearest. He is startled and hurt when they become assertive and exercise their personal autonomy (for instance, by setting boundaries).

Sam is disarmingly self-aware and readily lists his weaknesses and faults – but only in order to preempt real scrutiny or to fish for compliments. He constantly brags about his achievements but feels deprived (“I deserve more, much more than that”). When any of his assertions or assumptions is challenged he condescendingly tries to prove his case. If he fails to convert his interlocutor, he sulks and even rages. He tends to idealize everyone or devalue them: people are either clever and good or stupid and malicious. But, everyone is a potential foe.

Sam is very hypervigilant and anxious. He expects the worst and feels vindicated and superior when he is punished (“martyred and victimized”). Sam rarely assumes total responsibility for his actions or accepts their consequences. He has an external locus of control and his defenses are alloplastic. In other words: he blames the world for his failures, defeats, and “bad luck”. This “cosmic conspiracy” against him is why his grandiose projects keep flopping and why he is so frustrated.

Grandiose and “vulnerable” narcissists: how do they differ?

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Both the beggar and the king could be narcissists with a different M.O.

An interesting article in Psychology Today explains the difference between grandiose (invulnerable) narcissists, and “vulnerable” narcissists. Either can be somatic or cerebral, and either can also be malignant or non-malignant.

The two kinds of narcissists can seem very different on the surface:

Grandiose narcissists can seem emotionally cold, convinced of their achievements or success, and rarely if ever talk about their fears or their problems. They can be very quick to judge others though. On the surface they seem strong and tough. You won’t see them show emotions other than rage or pride, and if they are ever sad or fearful, you will never see that side of them. Like all narcissists, they are never happy,but they can “act” happy if they need to. And like all narcissists, they are incapable of love but may be able to put on a show of “falling in love” to obtain a new source of narcissistic supply.

Grandiose narcissists are the CEOs, politicians, narcissistic celebrities and others who have achieved a high level of success. Those who haven’t achieved success will stop at nothing to rise to the top, even if it means destroying their competition in the process. They are ruthless predators. Our current society glorifies the traits of the grandiose narcissist and doesn’t seem to bemoan what they don’t have: the ability to show emotion and feel love or empathy. Grandiose narcissists don’t care what others think of them.

Vulnerable narcissists, rather than brag about their achievements and never showing their feelings, are given to bouts of self pity, and use emotions (like crying, whining, demanding, or sulking) to manipulate others into giving them what they want. They are less likely to be materially successful, and may be dependent on others for their survival. In fact, they may seem to take a kind of perverse pride in their failures and hard luck. Vulnerable narcissists are the emotional and financial vampires who will suck your funds dry and constantly demand attention and comfort for their many problems. They are high-maintenance “drama queens.” They seem to have no self esteem. They will wear down their sources of supply with their constant demands and mind games. Both types of narcissists will shamelessly manipulate others to have their way.

…narcissists feel emotions like vulnerability, sadness, empathy and compassion in a shallow way, if at all, and cover them up with rage, blame, manipulation and disdain for others. This coping mechanism has a heavy price: they don’t feel secure enough to relax and really feel happiness and joy, although they may have fleeting moments of those emotions.

Vulnerable narcissists tend to swing back and forth between acting superior and feeling hurt; may become self-destructive when their vulnerabilities are pointed out; they may accuse their spouse or significant other of having affairs and being unfaithful, and may resort to spying on their partner or constantly asking for reassurance. They also have a pattern of looking for the “perfect mate” and then demand constant reassurance they are loved and valued.

Grandiose narcissists have much in common with people with Antisocial Personality Disorder; while vulnerable narcissists have more in common with people who have Borderline Personality Disorder. Both of these disorders, along with NPD and Histrionic Personality Disorder, comprise the Cluster B (dramatic) personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It can be very difficult to distinguish those who have NPD from those suffering from one of the other two disorders.

Grandiose narcissists were more likely to have been spoiled as children and treated like a little king or queen by their families; vulnerable narcissists are much more likely to have been abused or neglected as children.

But both types are still narcissists, so they still have many things in common under the surface, especially their sense of entitlement, lack of empathy and inability to feel joy.

According to the Psychology Today article, the main difference between vulnerable narcissists and and invulnerable narcissists is in the way they feel:

With their fragile self-esteem, vulnerable narcissists experience helplessness, anxiety, and depression when people don’t treat them as they desire.

They feel shamed and humiliated by negative feedback or when others challenge their superior self-image. They also experience anxiousness, bitterness, dissatisfaction, and disempowerment.

They suffer from many BPD-like emotions, like feelings of emptiness and inadequacy. Others find them sensitive and emotional; preoccupied with fears of rejection and abandonment. They are touchy, quick to be offended, and easily provoked.

A vulnerable narcissist may seem “nice” at first, but their constant demands will wear you out and they will never ask you how your day was or how you feel. They don’t care. Vulnerable narcissists may seem sensitive but they are only sensitive about themselves and how others feel about them; they are oblivious (or just don’t care) if you are suffering or have been hurt or need to talk. They are unable to give love in return for the love they demand. They cannot feel joy or ever appreciate anything. They are vampires who will keep taking until you have nothing left to give–or leave.

Earlier I said both types of narcissists can be somatic or cerebral. My guess is that women, who are more likely to be somatic narcissists, are also more likely to be the “vulnerable” type of narcissist. Acting needy and helpless are traits that are still found more socially acceptable in females than in males. That being said, I’ve known several males of the vulnerable type and some of them are cerebrals. My ex-husband is a great example of a “vulnerable” cerebral narcissist.

I also think it’s possible to be both types at once, swinging back and forth between acting invulnerable/grandiose and vulnerable/helpless. Their dramatic mood swings would probably make this hybrid type of narcissist easily misdiagnosed as suffering from the manic-depressive form of Bipolar Disorder.

A narcissist can also be vulnerable in one area of their life and grandiose in another. The high achieving company president who never seems ruffled and terrifies his underlings may go home to his wife and demand attention and sympathy from her, and sulk or whine if he doesn’t get it. The snobbish, perfectly groomed and physically fit trophy wife may fall apart and act helpless and needy if forced to look for a job.

Cerebral vs. somatic narcissists

cerebral_narc somatic_narc
Either of these narcs are poison–run away as fast as you can. The chihuahua is probably okay.

I’m in a blah, uncreative mood tonight and can’t think of anything to write about (I had an irritating day and just want to read), so tonight I’m just going to post this interesting article by Sam Vaknin here where he describes the differences between the two types of narcissists: cerebral and somatic. Either type can be malignant or non-malignant. I haven’t really covered the two types of narcissists in much depth before, so this should take care of that oversight.

My mother is a somatic narcissist, histrionic type. They are prone to over the top dramatic behavior, shallow sexual relationships, and tantrums. If my daughter is a narcissist, then she would also be a somatic histrionic type (which can be confused with Borderline PD, which she may actually be). Female narcissists are probably more likely to be somatic (vain, preening, overly concerned with appearance and/or health) but both types can be found in either gender. Most gay male narcissists I’ve met are of the somatic type, but that doesn’t mean most gay narcissists are necessarily somatic. I’ve know one or two cerebral ones too.

Here is that article.

Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide: Cerebral vs. Somatic Narcissist

Narcissists are either cerebral or somatic. In other words, they either generate their Narcissistic Supply by applying their bodies or by applying their minds.

The somatic narcissist flaunts his sexual conquests, parades his possessions, exhibits his muscles, brags about his physical aesthetics, youthfulness, sexual prowess or exploits, and is often a health freak and a hypochondriac. The somatic narcissist regards his body as an object to be sculpted and honed (via extreme diets, multiple cosmetic surgeries, bodybuilding, or weightlifting). When coupled with psychopathic tendencies, the somatic appropriates other people’s bodies and treats these as “raw materials” to be dismembered, tampered with, altered, invaded, or otherwise abused.

Somatic narcissists are often portrayed as sex addicts or histrionic. But really they derive their narcissistic supply not so much from the sex act as from the process of securing it: the conspiracies and assignations, the chase and conquest, the subjugation and habituation of their targets, and even from dumping and discarding their prey, once having extracted the attention and admiration they had sought. These extracurricular activities endow them with a sense of omnipotence and all-pervasive control. Their sway over their paramours and would-be lovers proves to them (and to others) their uniqueness, desirability and irresistibility.

The cerebral narcissist is a know-it-all, haughty and intelligent “computer”. He uses his awesome intellect, or knowledge (real or pretended) to secure adoration, adulation and admiration. To him, his body and its maintenance are a burden and a distraction.

Both types are auto-erotic (psychosexually in love with themselves, with their bodies and with their brain). Both types prefer masturbation to adult, mature, interactive, multi-dimensional and emotion-laden sex.

The cerebral narcissist is often celibate (even when he has a girlfriend or a spouse). He prefers pornography and sexual auto-stimulation to the real thing. The cerebral narcissist is sometimes a latent (hidden, not yet outed) homosexual. [Interesting.]

The somatic narcissist uses other people’s bodies to masturbate. Sex with him – pyrotechnics and acrobatics aside – is likely to be an impersonal and emotionally alienating and draining experience. The partner is often treated as an object, an extension of the somatic narcissist, a toy, a warm and pulsating vibrator.

It is a mistake to assume type-constancy. In other words, all narcissists are BOTH cerebral and somatic. In each narcissist, one of the types is dominant. So, the narcissist is either OVERWHELMINGLY cerebral – or DOMINANTLY somatic. But the other type, the recessive (manifested less frequently) type, is there. It is lurking, waiting to erupt.

The narcissist swings between his dominant type and his recessive type. The latter is expressed mainly as a result of a major narcissistic injury or life crisis.

I can give you hundreds of examples from my correspondence but, instead, let’s talk about me (of course…:o))

I am a cerebral narcissist. I brandish my brainpower, exhibit my intellectual achievements, bask in the attention given to my mind and its products. I hate my body and neglect it. It is a nuisance, a burden, a derided appendix, an inconvenience, a punishment. Needless to add that I rarely have sex (often years apart). I masturbate regularly, very mechanically, as one would change water in an aquarium. I stay away from women because I perceive them to be ruthless predators who are out to consume me and mine.

I have had quite a few major life crises. I got divorced, lost millions a few times, did time in one of the worst prisons in the world, fled countries as a political refugee, was threatened, harassed and stalked by powerful people and groups. I have been devalued, betrayed, denigrated and insulted.

Invariably, following every life crisis, the somatic narcissist in me took over. I became a lascivious lecher. When this happened, I had a few relationships – replete with abundant and addictive sex – going simultaneously. I participated in and initiated group sex and mass orgies. I exercised, lost weight and honed my body into an irresistible proposition.

This outburst of unrestrained, primordial lust waned in a few months and I settled back into my cerebral ways. No sex, no women, no body.

These total reversals of character stun my mates. My girlfriends and spouse found it impossible to digest this eerie transformation from the gregarious, darkly handsome, well-built and sexually insatiable person that swept them off their feet – to the bodiless, bookwormish hermit with not an inkling of interest in either sex or other carnal pleasures.

I miss my somatic half. I wish I could find a balance, but I know it is a doomed quest. This sexual beast of mine will forever be trapped in the intellectual cage that is I, Sam Vaknin, the Brain.

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
And all my soul and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed,
Beated and chopp’d with tann’d antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;
Self so self-loving were iniquity.
‘Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

(Sonnet 62, William Shakespeare)

Plac’d on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus’d;
Still by himself, abus’d or disabus’d;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl’d;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

(Essay on Man, Alexander Pope)