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Devoid of ability to empathize, permeated by haughty feelings of superiority and uniqueness, narcissist cannot put himself in someone else's shoes, or even imagine what it means. The very experience of being human is alien to narcissist whose invented False Self is always to fore, cutting him off from rich panoply of human emotions.
Thus, narcissist believes that all people are narcissists. Many serial killers believe that killing is way of world. Everyone would kill if they could or were given chance to do so. Such killers are convinced that they are more honest and open about their desires and, thus, morally superior. They hold others in contempt for being conforming hypocrites, cowed into submission by an overweening establishment or society.
The narcissist seeks to adapt society in general - and meaningful others in particular - to his needs. He regards himself as epitome of perfection, a yardstick against which he measures everyone, a benchmark of excellence to be emulated. He acts guru, sage, "psychotherapist", "expert", objective observer of human affairs. He diagnoses "faults" and "pathologies" of people around him and "helps" them "improve", "change", "evolve", and "succeed" - i.e., conform to narcissist's vision and wishes.
Serial killers also "improve" their victims - slain, intimate objects - by "purifying" them, removing "imperfections", depersonalizing and dehumanizing them. This type of killer saves its victims from degeneration and degradation, from evil and from sin, in short: from a fate worse than death.
The killer's megalomania manifests at this stage. He claims to possess, or have access to, higher knowledge and morality. The killer is a special being and victim is "chosen" and should be grateful for it. The killer often finds victim's ingratitude irritating, though sadly predictable.
In his seminal work, "Aberrations of Sexual Life" (originally: "Psychopathia Sexualis"), quoted in book "Jack Ripper" by Donald Rumbelow, Kraft-Ebbing offers this observation:
"The perverse urge in murders for pleasure does not solely aim at causing victim pain and - most acute injury of all - death, but that real meaning of action consists in, to a certain extent, imitating, though perverted into a monstrous and ghastly form, act of defloration. It is for this reason that an essential component ... is employment of a sharp cutting weapon; victim has to be pierced, slit, even chopped up ... The chief wounds are inflicted in stomach region and, in many cases, fatal cuts run from vagina into abdomen. In boys an artificial vagina is even made ... One can connect a fetishistic element too with this process of hacking ... inasmuch as parts of body are removed and ... made into a collection."
Yet, sexuality of serial, psychopathic, killer is self-directed. His victims are props, extensions, aides, objects, and symbols. He interacts with them ritually and, either before or after act, transforms his diseased inner dialog into a self-consistent extraneous catechism. The narcissist is equally auto-erotic. In sexual act, he merely masturbates with other - living - people's bodies.
The narcissist's life is a giant repetition complex. In a doomed attempt to resolve early conflicts with significant others, narcissist resorts to a restricted repertoire of coping strategies, defense mechanisms, and behaviors. He seeks to recreate his past in each and every new relationship and interaction. Inevitably, narcissist is invariably confronted with same outcomes. This recurrence only reinforces narcissist's rigid reactive patterns and deep-set beliefs. It is a vicious, intractable, cycle.
Correspondingly, in some cases of serial killers, murder ritual seemed to have recreated earlier conflicts with meaningful objects, such as parents, authority figures, or peers. The outcome of replay is different to original, though. This time, killer dominates situation.
The killings allow him to inflict abuse and trauma on others rather than be abused and traumatized. He outwits and taunts figures of authority - police, for instance. As far as killer is concerned, he is merely "getting back" at society for what it did to him. It is a form of poetic justice, a balancing of books, and, therefore, a "good" thing. The murder is cathartic and allows killer to release hitherto repressed and pathologically transformed aggression - in form of hate, rage, and envy.
But repeated acts of escalating gore fail to alleviate killer's overwhelming anxiety and depression. He seeks to vindicate his negative introjects and sadistic superego by being caught and punished. The serial killer tightens proverbial noose around his neck by interacting with law enforcement agencies and media and thus providing them with clues as to his identity and whereabouts. When apprehended, most serial assassins experience a great sense of relief.
Serial killers are not only objectifiers - people who treat others as objects. To some extent, leaders of all sorts - political, military, or corporate - do same. In a range of demanding professions - surgeons, medical doctors, judges, law enforcement agents - objectification efficiently fends off attendant horror and anxiety.
Yet, serial killers are different. They represent a dual failure - of their own development as full-fledged, productive individuals - and of culture and society they grow in. In a pathologically narcissistic civilization - social anomies proliferate. Such societies breed malignant objectifiers - people devoid of empathy - also known as "narcissists".
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory Bellaonline, and Suite101 .
Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com