Narcissists are characterized by their extreme selfishness, lack of empathy, and craving for admiration which they get through status and power. With grandiose thinking and arrogance, they demand that others treat them as special or superior.
There are degrees of narcissism, ranging from excessive self-importance to full-fledged narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). We all enjoy praise and admiration on occasion, but narcissists don’t enjoy occasional admiration- they crave admiration all the time (as can be had through status, power and money) almost like an addiction. To obtain the status that they seek, they will exaggerate or misrepresent their talents and accomplishments. They may even lie and cheat in order to get promotions, win races, or seduce people.
Narcissists are preoccupied with self-aggrandizement to sharpen public opinion of their image. They fantasize about, and seek out, power, fame, status and money; they are envious of others who have plenty of these resources.
Money as Love
According To Sam Vaknin, author and expert on NPD, money is another word for love in the narcissist’s emotional vocabulary. Having been deprived of love early on in the narcissist’s childhood, he constantly seeks love substitutes. To him, money is the ultimate love substitute. Dr. Vaknin states that all the qualities of the narcissist are manifested in his relationship with money, and in his attitude towards it. For example, due to his sense of entitlement he feels that he is entitled to other people’s money.
Secondly, his grandiose thinking leads him to believe that he should have, or does have, more money than he actually possesses. This leads to reckless spending, to pathological gambling, to substance abuse, or to compulsive shopping.
Third, narcissists engage in magical thinking which leads to irresponsible, shortsighted behavior for which they believe they are immune from the results of that behavior. They descend into debt, commit financial crimes, and hassle people- including their closest relatives.
Furthermore, their fantasies lead them to believe in their fabricated financial “facts” which are not commensurate with their talents, qualifications, jobs, and resources. They pretend to be richer than they are or pretend to be capable of becoming rich if they so desire. They are greedy but have an ambivalent, love-hate relationship with money. They can be mean, stingy, and calculating with their own money yet an eager spendthrift with other people’s money. They live lavishly and often well above their means. It is not uncommon for narcissists to go bankrupt and ruin their businesses.
Lastly, reality is distorted and does not match their grandiose fantasies. Nowhere is the grandiosity gap more evident than where money is involved.
We all have desires that we may obsess about: expensive clothes, sex, gourmet food, or exquisite jewelry. Many narcissists are obsessed with money. They think about how much money they have, how to get more of it, how to keep it away from others, and whom to manipulate to get more- including how to take family members money/inheritance. Money is their substitution for love, warmth, and affection. Having as much money as possible, even stealing it away from family members, is the narcissist’s unwavering goal. Thoughts about obtaining more money are always on the narcissist’s mind. Having an abundance of money makes them feel more entitled and superior to others.
Moneyed narcissists are always looking down on the working class. They don’t seek knowledge, wisdom, inner peace or insight. They seek to achieve their greatest goal-being able to have whatever they desire as well as attracting other people whom they can easily exploit to satisfy their money cravings. A too common situation is for a narcissistic sibling, male or female, to ingratiate the mother or father who is holding the wealth- to become their confidante, their favored and trusted one. This is done over many years and is a well planned scheme.
This sibling invariably becomes the executor of the parent’s sizable will and convinces the mother or father to bestow upon them the largest amount of the inheritance (leaving the other siblings with a minute portion of the total). He has no conscience and is just waiting for the parent’s death so that he can inherit the entire estate and lead a life of pleasure and comfort. The greedy, narcissistic sibling may even abandon his own children and spouse to move on to a life of luxury. He or she will not look back and view the psychological and monetary destruction they have left behind; they don’t worry about others. After they have their inheritance, they still feel the lust for money; some pursue other unethical, and often illegal, ventures to scam others.
For example, they may form romantic relationships that will allow them to gain psychological and monetary control of another victim. The desire to have more money never diminishes. The narcissist will not stop victimizing others i.e. disrupting their lives, leaving them without monetary means, and causing them unbearable distress and worry.
Narcissists use money to help them feel special and superior to others. Status items such as designer clothes, luxury cars, upscale homes, dinners and trips are essential ways through which a narcissist can enhance his ego. Spending money when you have it, is one thing; spending money when you don’t have it, is quite another. A narcissist believes that he is entitled to the best, even if he does not have the money to afford it. He easily fools himself into believing that the money will be there in the future, even if it’s not there right now.
Narcissists can fool others by making a show of generosity by being big tippers or picking up the bill. Look closely however, and you’ll notice that narcissists show such generosity for the sole purpose of establishing their reputations as VIP’s.
Narcissists do not have normal relationships with money. They may ask you for money even though they are the major breadwinner or they have the higher paying job. They may never take their partner or spouse someplace nice for dinner. Being frugal is fine, but being pathological about money is not. Someone that has a good job that never spends their own money may possibly be a narcissist. The opposite pathology surrounding a narcissist and his money is that of the showoff. This person spends money enthusiastically but unrealistically and unwisely; for example, the man with huge roles of bills in his pocket who always buys drinks for the bar, yet can’t save enough to pay his mortgage each month..
Narcissists make themselves feel bigger by convincing themselves that others are smaller by comparison. Narcissists with money look down on the working class. Narcissists in the working class look down on those with less money even if the other has a more elite job. Whatever narcissists have (or think they have) is what they use to look down on other people with. Narcissists lust for money and are never satisfied with the status quo; it is like an addiction and they will always need more.