This is an essay and reflection on Narcissistic Wounding as it arises in adolescent cultures and reappears in online cultures populated by the same demographic groups who manifest narcissistic traits in face-to-face cultures.
There is a children’s game which involves a kind of sting known as Narcissistic Wounding. You can tell when children are playing this game because they punctuate a stinging remark with, “Neener.” The respondent then tosses a return barb, and signs it with, “Neener, neener.”
It is unknown what happens to stigmatized and traumatized youngsters who fail to heal themselves of Narcissistic Wounds, but I imagine it may become a burning issue for some.
A gamester from the English Language Wikipedia asks, “What is the point of this knol?”
In a typical game, one scores points. However, the mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content and effectively disseminate it around the world. That’s what we’re doing in these encyclopedic compilations.
On the English Language Wikipedia, the term “narcissistic wound” redirects to an article on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. However, the phrase “narcissistic wound” doesn’t even appear in the article it redirects to. That observation might have stimulated an opportunity for someone knowledgeable in the subject to be invited to help improve the quality of the articles that touch on this topic. However, there is a prohibition on the English Language Wikipedia from allowing subject-matter experts to contribute to articles, because that’s a prima facie Conflict of Interest.
While a neutral and disinterested editor might be happy to add an appropriate section on “narcissistic wound” to the Wikipedia article on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the material would have to rely on some relevant reliable published online sources. If Sam Vaknin were recognized to be a reliable subject-matter expert, there would be no shortage of commentary from him on the subject of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (including commentary on Narcissistic Wounding). However, Vaknin could not be a Wikipedia editor on his original research, since he wrote one of the better selling books on the subject.
A neutral and disinterested editor who otherwise knows next to nothing about the phrase “Narcissistic Wounding” and who is unfamiliar with Sam Vaknin would be unlikely to add content grounded in Vaknin’s published research. As a sensible rule, it is unwise for an editor to add content to Wikipedia articles until the would-be editor knows enough about a subject to know whose claims to trust and whose to be skeptical of — i.e. who are the recognized experts, who are the iconoclasts deserving of attention, and who are the (un)recognized “crackpots”. Where would one find objective evidence that demonstrates to a neutral and disinterested Wikipedia editor that it’s safe to trust what Sam Vaknin says about Narcissistic Wounding?
Sam Vaknin first came to my attention when I heard him being interviewed on this subject on public radio some months ago. (See the article on the British television documentary, Egomania.) His credentials are not in Psychology. He is Resident Political and Economic Commentator of Central Europe Review, a “fortnightly journal of Central and Eastern European politics, society, and culture.” According to the CE-Review masthead, “Vaknin has a combined doctorate in Physics and Philosophy. He is an economic and political columnist in many periodicals in a few countries and a published and awarded author of short fiction and reference books in Hebrew, English and Macedonian in Israel, Macedonia and the Czech Republic. He has collaborated with Israeli psychologists and criminologists in the study of personality disorders and is the author of Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited. He is the editor of the Mental Health Disorders category in the Open Directory Project and the editor of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder topic in Suite101. He is serving currently as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. His new book is After the Rain: How the West Lost the East.” His full CV may be found here.
My therapist describes NPD as ‘the inability to love oneself’. As she defines it, the ‘narcissistic wound’ is a deep wounding of the sense of self, the image of oneself. That doesn’t mean that other disorders – or for that matter, other life stressors – can’t also cause low self-esteem.
It occurs to me that the thrust of many conduct reviews on the English Wikipedia are in the direction of Narcissistic Wounding. Evidently, the standard defense against such ego-bruising “personal attacks” would be to invoke the Wikipedia policies on Civility or Assumption of Good Faith. That defensive tactic appears to be iatrogenic — i.e. ineffective at best and counter-productive at worst. Another commonly observed defense is to take a WikiBreak or somewhat longer hiatus.
Besides Sam Vaknin, I don’t know of any other self-styled experts in the subject who make themselves available to members of the public as a credentialed source on the subject of Narcissism.
Some sources refer to the “narcissistic wound” as the original cause of later adult narcissism, while other sources use it to refer to specific instances of ego bruising that results in an instance of narcissistic rage. Further, narcissism is the normal condition of children and teens, ranging to the dominant demographic who frequent Wikipedia, where it is not uncommon to observe a lot of narcissistic rage. Narcissistic behaviors may well be an acquired cultural trait that arises in cliques who achieve notoriety, or who see themselves as being on center stage at a top ten web site.
In such adolescent cultures, the Middle School variety of barbs and taunts supply a daily dose of Narcissistic Wounding, ranging from mildly endearing or amusing teasing and kidding to mildly annoying obnoxiousness. Occasionally a cutting remark leaves a deeper wound, and in some rare cases, a severe instance or recurring pattern of Narcissistic Wounding can spawn the adult onset of some variant of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.