The Stalker as Antisocial BullyWritten by Sam Vaknin
Stalkers have narcissistic traits. Many of them suffer from personality disorders. The vindictive stalker is usually a psychopath (has Antisocial Personality Disorder). They all conform to classic definition of a bully.
Before we proceed to delineate coping strategies, it is helpful to review characteristics of each of these mental health problems and dysfunctional behaviours.
I. The Narcissistic Stalker
The dramatic and erotomaniac stalker is likely to show one or more of these narcissistic traits:
Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to point of lying, demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements); Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion; Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions); Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply); Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment; Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends; Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others; Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel same about him or her and are likely to act similarly; Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above law", and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy. (Adapted from "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited")
II. The Antisocial (Psychopathic) Stalker
APD or AsPD was formerly called "psychopathy" or, more colloquially, "sociopathy". Some scholars, such as David Hare, still distinguish psychopathy from mere antisocial behaviour. The disorder appears in early adolescence but criminal behaviour and substance abuse often abate with age, usually by fourth or fifth decade of life. It may have a genetic or hereditary determinant and afflicts mainly men. The diagnosis is controversial and regarded by some scholar as scientifically unfounded.
Psychopaths regard other people as objects to be manipulated and instruments of gratification and utility. They have no discernible conscience, are devoid of empathy and find it difficult to perceive other people's nonverbal cues, needs, emotions, and preferences. Consequently, psychopath rejects other people's rights and his commensurate obligations. He is impulsive, reckless, irresponsible and unable to postpone gratification. He often rationalises his behaviour showing an utter absence of remorse for hurting or defrauding others.
Misdiagnosing Narcissism - The Bipolar I Disorder Written by Sam Vaknin
(The use of gender pronouns in this article reflects clinical facts: most narcissists are men.)
The manic phase of Bipolar I Disorder is often misdiagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Bipolar patients in manic phase exhibit many of signs and symptoms of pathological narcissism - hyperactivity, self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and control freakery. During this recurring chapter of disease, patient is euphoric, has grandiose fantasies, spins unrealistic schemes, and has frequent rage attacks (is irritable) if her or his wishes and plans are (inevitably) frustrated.
The manic phases of bipolar disorder, however, are limited in time - NPD is not. Furthermore, mania is followed by - usually protracted - depressive episodes. The narcissist is also frequently dysphoric. But whereas bipolar sinks into deep self-deprecation, self-devaluation, unbounded pessimism, all-pervasive guilt and anhedonia - narcissist, even when depressed, never forgoes his narcissism: his grandiosity, sense of entitlement, haughtiness, and lack of empathy.
Narcissistic dysphorias are much shorter and reactive - they constitute a response to Grandiosity Gap. In plain words, narcissist is dejected when confronted with abyss between his inflated self-image and grandiose fantasies - and drab reality of his life: his failures, lack of accomplishments, disintegrating interpersonal relationships, and low status. Yet, one dose of Narcissistic Supply is enough to elevate narcissists from depth of misery to heights of manic euphoria.
Not so with bipolar. The source of her or his mood swings is assumed to be brain biochemistry - not availability of Narcissistic Supply. Whereas narcissist is in full control of his faculties, even when maximally agitated, bipolar often feels that s/he has lost control of his/her brain ("flight of ideas"), his/her speech, his/her attention span (distractibility), and his/her motor functions.
The bipolar is prone to reckless behaviors and substance abuse only during manic phase. The narcissist does drugs, drinks, gambles, shops on credit, indulges in unsafe sex or in other compulsive behaviors both when elated and when deflated.
As a rule, bipolar's manic phase interferes with his/her social and occupational functioning. Many narcissists, in contrast, reach highest rungs of their community, church, firm, or voluntary organization. Most of time, they function flawlessly - though inevitable blowups and grating extortion of Narcissistic Supply usually put an end to narcissist's career and social liaisons.
The manic phase of bipolar sometimes requires hospitalization and - more frequently than admitted - involves psychotic features. Narcissists are never hospitalized as risk for self-harm is minute. Moreover, psychotic microepisodes in narcissism are decompensatory in nature and appear only under unendurable stress (e.g., in intensive therapy).
The bipolar's mania provokes discomfort in both strangers and in patient's nearest and dearest. His/her constant cheer and compulsive insistence on interpersonal, sexual, and occupational, or professional interactions engenders unease and repulsion. Her/his lability of mood - rapid shifts between uncontrollable rage and unnatural good spirits - is downright intimidating. The narcissist's gregariousness, by comparison, is calculated, "cold", controlled, and goal-orientated (the extraction of Narcissistic Supply). His cycles of mood and affect are far less pronounced and less rapid.