Cerebral vs Somatic Narcissist

Dear All,

I've been a member now for about 2 weeks. I haven't yet posted my story but have been reading all of your posts and I have to say that your stories/comments, in addition to a couple of strong moments of clarity that came out of the blue over the past couple of weeks, have really helped me during the grieving process. Thank you so very much to all of you for being a large part of the recovery of my self-respect.

The reason for this topic is because my impression is that most of you have dealt with somatic narcissists. Those guys who are driven by all different types of sexual conquests as their primary source of supply. I haven't read as much about experiences with cerebral narcissists. My understanding is that cerebral narcissists derive most of their supply from intellectualizaion / rationalization of everything and target those who are smart, hard-working, driven, but perhaps over-compensating for low self-esteem or insecurities. That was definitely my experience and I would be interested in hearing from any of your experiences with cerebral narcissists.

I also understand that all narcissism exists on a spectrum of severity. My cerebral N did not demonstrate the more flagrant physical or sexual abuse that many of you describe (although I was a recipient of narcissist rage in the form of hysterical screaming in my face while I feared for my safety three times). My CN was less flagrant about his behavior and was a master mind F-er. I also understand that even CNs behave in a somatic, overtly sexual way when it will help them reel in their target and this is what happened with me. So for the four months we were together, he was very giving sexually with me (and I hope no one else!) but then reverted back to the life of a computer-geek hermit.

The rest will be left for the posting of my story but any comments or feedback would be appreciated. And a final question - which many of you will find humorous - do you ever feel guilty about "diagnosing" someone you once loved with a personality disorder, if you aren't a psychiatrist or psychologist? I've read tons of books and filled out the quizzes about narcissism and my N is off the charts but I still can't help feeling that it is very, very presumptuous of me to do so. I guess in the end, what does it matter if it helps me undertand what happened to me and helps me heal, right?

Thanks all!

hitandrun's picture

My ex narc was cerebral. However became somatic to reel me in. He was very sexual with me for quite some time. He was a satyr. He didn't cheat on me, but he lied about most everything else. If we actually did get married, I bet the sex would've come to a grinding halt. It seemed like it was becoming a duty for him towards the very end. I actually went off about it : ) No wonder he D&D'd me. At the end I kept calling him on his B.S.!!! He told me he thought he was asexual for a long time. And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he liked masturbating more than any sex he could have with anyone. It's just something I knew...can't explain it. So they can switch gears, especially if they've just gone through some sort of trauma, and need serious amounts of supply, which sex most definitely can give.
Kelly's picture

Yep - - I hear you on all of that! I don't really feel guilty about diagnosing him because I never really did - at least with my last narcissist. I know he is NPD, but I believe that there is co-morbidity going on there and since I'm not a pro, I can't say that's his only problem - see where I'm going? He could be bi-polar, or schizo-affective - or borderline - I really have no clue! Maybe he was molested as a child and never told me - There is so much I don't know about him. One thing that is certain - his behavior and what he had told me about his past and his family is consistent with everything I have read about NPD and two therapists I have seen have validated my knowledge of NPD. What we are learning here is very accurate and we can see the similarities in our stories as proof. It's the same cycle over and over and over again . . . I wasn't with any of my narc's long enough to know them to be a cerebral vs. somatic. I read a lot on Sam V's website about that and not much about it anywhere else, so I'm skeptical about that idea. I'm not sure about that concept. I think narcs can be both. They find their supply and they aren't discriminating. My last N, I believe, was a workaholic and received plenty of supply from the attention he got in school. He had a lot of trouble getting women in the past, so he got his supply using his intelligence. Now that he is good looking and successful as well, he gets his supply both ways. I'm sure he gets a thrill from "conquering" women, but that thrill may also be equivalent to the recognition he may get from being first in his class or lecturing - who knows? Someone like that can't be trusted no matter what in my opinion. You may think he is "cerebral" but he may be both. Even Sam V said they can go from cerebral to somatic. It's just a sexual phase for a narc.
Used's picture

i thought cn ment they were all about intelligence and using their mind, well my exh who i thought was a cn, i suppose was a som narc, i just dont know now,. b/c sexually he wanted it but cos he wasent like some of the men i read about on the board i thought he was cn. he never would say he would like to see me with someone else, sexually he treated me well, if i didnt want to do something i said no,and he was ok with that ,no talk of perversion, no talk i wouldnt be able to handle. but he did say to me once good job you are not married to a sex maniac, i said i thought i was. but i put on alot of weight in our marriage, he became nicer, he said it wasnt my fault, cos i had made a remark,it , i think now it was cos of the weight i became a mother figure, when a few years later i lost it all and looked like the girl he first met, he became horribleagain, but thats not possible is it, he simply after 9years of beign nice[and me beign fat]he could do it again be,now i was slim again and he was diffrent and more full on.and said things he had never said before. i have been so stupid, i am so gutted now i relize what that was about but he was definatly nicer, igave up trying. and i was glad. i think he happyer when i was fat, i became almost bovine, never went out just stayed in or visited his family, basicly he had me were he wanted me, i was so passive and medicated up. he felt safer still.he felt very threatend by weight loss and persona. learn something new every day.
NinjaGirl's picture

IF mine was a narcissist, and I think he had many of the symptoms, he was definitely a cerebral narcissist. He lost his virginity to me, and I can understand why. He was horrible at sex, didn't want it often at all, and was secretly (well, I knew) into transgender stuff. I do still call him a narcissist on occasion if I happen to be telling someone what happened, but I don't really try and "diagnose" him anymore. When I did, I did worry that I was wrong, but then I realized something: it didn't matter if he had a diagnosis from an actual doctor or not. The facts are: 1. He left me multiple times, all without warning or discussion. 2. He didn't want me anymore. 3. I was unhappy when I was around him most of the time anyway. For all I know, he could be perfectly fine with no diagnosable conditions (doubtful, considering his parents), but it doesn't change the fact that we weren't right for each other. Given that I'm happier and more relaxed now than I was during the past six years, I'd say that's a huge sign that something was wrong with our relationship. My psychologist read a long email my ex sent me and told me he thinks my ex is a narc, but in the long run, we agreed that it really don't matter if he is or isn't. He wasn't a good guy for me.
girlfriday's picture

I thought my exN was somatic until I read what you wrote. He is definitely a supply junkie; his supply being smart, beautiful, independent women. But I think his high comes from the duping and seeing what he can get away with. He, too, was a master mindf**ker. MASTER. Used seduction to reel me in, and then withheld sex to torture me. It made NO sense. And no, I have never felt guilty for one second diagnosing him. Guilt is when you have done something wrong. They should feel the guilt.
Meadowbrook's picture

I suppose it is possible they are just so self-absorbed that the idea of giving to others just doesn't occur. But I read somewhere that Ns get off on the idea that even though they don't reciprocate we still want them and love them which means they must be REALLY awesome. In my case, this man gave Christmas gifts to people who worked directly for him but gave nothing to me - not even a card. I was supposedly his "lover" and "best friend". It was rather devastating. I told him I had things for him and he refused to see me. He said, "we'll have a gift exchange when we get back to the office after the holiday break". I showed up with some thoughtful (and expensive) gifts and he took them with much gratitude and walked away. WTH?!!! Could he make me feel more worthless? It's not that I wanted "things" from him. I really didn't. I just wanted to feel like I mattered. He couldn't give me that though. Oh, I almost forgot. He bragged to me about his huge new salary and his huge sign-on bonus in his new job then gave me a candy bar (unwrapped) for my "milestone" birthday. Wow. He then inquired numerous times about whether or not I liked my gift. Weird. You can't tell me he was just being an oblivious guy.
Lim's picture

Mine didn't buy me anything for Valentine's Day, but rather said, "spending time with me is your gift." I'm off to puke.
loveofmylife's picture

I think you are right. It is the power of knowing that even though they don't give you gifts you still love them - adding to their awesomeness. Same with mine....took them with much gratitude and walking away. Wierd stuff.....
Meadowbrook's picture

The experience I had with a cerebral N (I feel confident and justified in diagnosing him!) was one of total confusion, mind games, objectification and lack of reciprocation all with PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY. We worked together and he came on very subtle at first until I showed interest. Then he turned on the charm. Looking back there were a few red flags but mostly he seemed like a normal middle-aged guy in an unhappy marriage, a little shy, self-deprecating, funny and charming. I clicked with him like no one else in my life and he and I bonded over how our spouses (yes, sadly this was an affair) were withholding of sex and affection. Before I shared anything about my situation he said things about his wife that were exactly what I had experienced with my husband so it all resonated. I didn't doubt what he said and believed that we were both trapped in sad situations -had finally found each other, etc... We met for sex and it started out very romantic and passionate and then he stunned me by calling me his little slut. Imagine my horror as I had just turned myself into an adulteress for what I thought was a meaningful romantic soul connection and that's what he calls me! Wow. I was stunned but he actually cried when he had an orgasm and said something like, "why can't my life BE like this". The crying and the comment seemed so sincere that I guess I discounted the "slut" comment and figured him, once again, to be sincere in his pain from a sad marriage like I was. Shortly after this encounter he withdrew. Later he came on strong to make sure I was hooked then withdrew again. Thus started the pattern. He would get me alone at work and tease me sexually then suddenly have to leave. He seemed to enjoy getting me aroused then leaving me hanging. I was in an essentially sexless marriage and thought sex was part of the point of our "relationship". But he was never interested in actually meeting me for sex after that first time. He wanted to have phone sex or chat but I was not into that so he stopped trying that route. (I now know he was getting that elsewhere). He did meet me a few more times for sex but it was more at my urging. He would schedule other times then cancel at the last minute. I guess I figured this was a sign that he was interested in me for more than sex and that seemed like a good sign at the time (thought perhaps he felt guilty about betraying his wife, etc..) I could go on and on about his manipulation, how he sucked me dry but was never there for me when I needed him. I gave him gifts, did him favors, gave tons of attention and validation only to realize too late that he had no intention of reciprocating. The way I finally figured out what he is was googling something about not giving gifts. Articles on narcissism popped up and I started reading and my jaw started dropping to the floor. The absolute clincher was when I read something called "Narcissists and Women". That described my experience so perfectly that I immediately started to cry and I KNEW. That article talks about how sex is not the primary goal of the cerebral narcissist, it is more about conquest and control and domination. It describes the "teasing" and sexual frustration they like to do to women. He was sadistic in bed and objectifying and it all fit the pattern. As I read it everything fell into place. I'm still struggling emotionally from what happened. I don't expect a lot of sympathy given that I was the OW and I was married myself. But I was extremely vulnerable and he had me convinced he was sincere and in the same situation. I now realize it was all a game and a big ego boost. He seemed to enjoy the fact that he seduced a married woman and one who was "conservative". He started sexual experiences in a loving and passionate way and then, SURPRISE, out came the name calling, the rough treatment, the hand around my neck, etc... I feel traumatized just thinking about it all! I sold my soul (betrayed my husband and trashed my moral values) for a LIE and a FRAUD. I also feel objectified and degraded and my self-esteem suffered tremendously. I ultimately quit my stable, lucrative job partly due to stress and the need to get away from him. These people are dangerous and for some reason the fact that he was more the "cerebral" version made him all the more hard to figure out. Watch out.
girlfriday's picture

I went through the same thing with the sexual leading on, teasing, withholding. I didn't know women could get blue-balls until he came along! Unless you've been through that kind of manipulation, you don't know how painful, confusing and frustrating it is. He had presented himself as very sexual. So when we finally had the opportunity--when we were finally in a relationship-- he would just let days and days go by without wanting it. Confused the hell out of me. This was not the man he presented himself to be. He would often come over to me, make sure I was turned on and ready, and then walk away. He once told me to come over on a certain night and he would greet me at the door in a very special way... Well, before I got there, he wouldn't answer his phone. Then when I got there, he just let me in and got on the couch to continue to watch t.v. He KNEW we had something special planned. It's sickening to think about. He loved having that control. Plus, he was keylogging me without my knowing it. So when I would type in my journal that I had had it with the withholding, he would come over and make things all better. It was magic! No. It was remote keylogging.
almostlydia's picture

I know exactly what you're talking about. I used to say that all the time - 'if I was a man I'd have blueballs in the worst way'. It was just another example of the withholding all the things they know you want. MF's. For somebody who had a Tu/Thur/Sun regular plus the many others it was ridiculous. Amazingly when I left for the longest time ever, way back when, he came in the house and went down on me for 30 minutes! (Sorry if that's too much info) and then got up and left. In his mind it was the 'greatest gift' that he never gave anyone else. But there was nothing else so I was left hanging again. Couldn't win for losing:) funny thing tho, when I spent the afternoon with the longtime Tue/thur/sun who was extremely proud and always a bit overly arrogant and mentioned the fact of the oral sex, she got a really quiet look on her face. I believe for once he was telling the truth.

almostlydia

better off's picture

Sadly then, probably the only reason he did it was to punish her, even if she didn't know about it (til now). He probably gave YOU what SHE was asking for, just to be a dick.
anonymous's picture

Meadowbrook - you absolutley have my sympathy and my empathy regarding what happened to you regardless of what kind of relationship it was, affair or otherwise. The relationship with my N occurred while I was married too (and still am married) and while some of the particulars sound a little bit different, some of them are exactly the same. I too have been in a long-term sexless marriage. And I completely understand your guilty feelings however I must say - the fact that your marriage was sexless, and therefore vulnerable, was not solely your fault. It takes two to have sex (unless you're a cerebral N and prefer having sex only with yourself, tee hee). If the marriage was sexless, at least 50% of the "fault" was your husband's. And the word "fault" is a terrible one. Fault implies judgment based on some prescribed code and the reasons for marriages becoming platonic are often varied and complex and way beyond some simple code that programs us to believe marriage means "thou shalt have sex, or else". I also so completely understand that you were in a vulnerable position and you believed he was too, because he mirrored you and made you believe he was. The same thing occurred with my N. They instinctively know exaclty how to pick at scabs and uncover the unhealed, fleshy vulnerable parts of the wounds we have, expose them, extort them from us, and then D&D us when we don't live up to the image they've built up of us. Don't be too hard on yourself. You deserve your own kindness and softness to yourself.
Meadowbrook's picture

Thank you, morty, for your kind words. Yes, my husband did contribute to my vulnerable state. He actually recognizes that and has been remorseful and I have seen tremendous changes in him even before I confessed to him about the affair. (He felt me drifting away months ago). The good news is he and I are actually in a better place now than we were before the affair. In spite of his own pain he has been extremely loving and kind to me. The contrast between this loving husband of mine and the evil of the OM is so stark to me now. Sad that it took this terrible thing to bring my husband and me together but I am so grateful.
loveofmylife's picture

Mine doesn't give gifts either. So what is that all about?
WellRed's picture

I only receive gifts if SOMEONE ELSE is there to see him give it to me. ie, if we have family over for Christmas or Birthdays - otherwise, I don't even get a card.
loveofmylife's picture

I just realized that mine did the same thing. He only gave me a gift if he got embarrassed that he didn't, and then he made sure to let 10 other people see it and announce it to 10 others... It became a huge show....and he was the star!
WellRed's picture

It's funny how bells can go off when reading about other's experiences, isn't it? It was obvious that he was only doing it for his own glory. As a matter of fact, everything he does is for the glory of HIMSELF.
agnesmurphy17's picture

Cannot bear to part with their money.
anonymous's picture

Would you give a gift to your toaster or your lawnmower? No, because they are inhuman appliances brought into your life by you for a specific purpose. To the N, that's what we are or were. That's why we get no gifts.
almostlydia's picture

Great analogy. I am the toaster. Love that. The one gift that stands out for me was the Xmas I asked for a leather jacket like the one he had that I loved. Leather jackets being another of the many, many things he bought in droves, like watches. Instead he bought me a suede jacket and skirt, one size too small in some god awful color and gave it to me while he was wearing the one I loved. then he proceeded to show me all the wonderful things he had bought for himself while he was there. So I knew he had spent 5 min on me and all day on him. That jacket and skirt just went into the Goodwill pile that is going out with the rest of the unwanted things in my house.

almostlydia

Meadowbrook's picture

Totally agree with that assessment! He KNEW how I felt about it and still did nothing to make it better. Refused to give me anything (not just "things" but anything that was just for me even if only his time when I needed it but he didn't need me for something). Strangely, even after finding out he was having unprotected sex with at least one other woman at the same time and fostering relationships with others the "no gift" thing bothers me more than anything. I'm not sure why that is but I guess it is just the utter lack of validation that hurts so much.
Susan32's picture

My ex-P gave me gifts anonymously junior year because he sensed I was "getting away" from him... and I was the one getting bored. He sent me a dozen roses, a birthday card AND a box of chocolates (for Valentine's Day and my b-day)... but he NEVER fessed up to it. He sent them anonymously to evade responsibility... and as a professor, well, he didn't want to get caught. My ex-P only gave me gifts TWICE in our 4 year "relationship." It's a form of silent treatment, of saying "you're worthless." It's quite callous when it happens within a spousal/romantic relationship. It's withholding affection. You give give and give, and all they do is take.
wholeagain's picture

He was a big gift giver, and he was good at it. But he also liked to make sure others knew what fabulous gifts he gave me, that he could pick out beautiful (expensive!) clothes and shoes and jewelry that I'd like. So there was another agenda there it would seem. And he'd spend money we didn't have. Chronically unrealistic about finances which put us in some precarious financial situations, which only made him worse because it is imperative that people see him as monied, successful, etc. And because I paid all the bills, I had to deal with the shoot-the-messenger stuff. :P I told new BF that I don't want to give/receive gifts for now. If it's an impromptu thing here or there that's fine, but I feel like I need to cleanse my palate. I'd rather we spend that money on a trip or something.
wholeagain's picture

I still can't decide what the ex is. He was a sex addict, but it seems like it was all about domination and control and knowing he could get laid, not the actual penetration bit. One of his favorite things to do was seduce a woman, get her to admit she wanted him the "regretfully" tell her no. I can just see exactly how he'd have done that too, with that false sincere, serious expression and some "deep" explanation. Then probably that lizardy smile as he gets his fix--her feeling humiliated but not understanding exactly why. Ick.
loveofmylife's picture

Mine would do the same thing....pursue a woman and push her to the point where she would ask for sex and then "regretfully" tell her no. And somehow telling her sweetly that he was not relationship worthy yet. Well, I don't know about you guys, but I think it takes alot of luring by a guy to get a woman to ASK for sex! It doesn't just come out of the blue! So I can only imagine that it was all a game to him, to see if he could get it - and was his beautiful body still in demand. Another ego boaster! oh god, same thing... the false, sincere, serious expression, the smug look on his face - and her feeling humiliated and not understanding why? And he tells me he doesn't like drama??? I've never seen a man generate so much drama in his life! At least four girls in one month that he turned down like this and all the drama that causes....and these are just the ones I know. But it gets back to that they are masters at generating drama, but claiming they don't like it, and punish us for creating "drama" and they have ZERO ability to recoginize that they caused it!
better off's picture

Reading that post turned my stomach. You know what that says to me? This is a man who HATES women. I mean, really hates them. What kind of fucked up scenario is that? Psychopathic. I can at least UNDERSTAND some stupid guy flirting with women to get laid, that at least makes some kind of rational sense. But to work them up so he can turn them down is MESSED.UP. Scary. I bet you any amount of money he secretly likes men.
almostlydia's picture

I completely agree with that and am sure of it because he used to project this on other men (esp. those he was envious of). That's when I begin to see it was really him. I do think he likes men but hates gays. So the irony is that he is still out there pillaging his hate on a new crowd. I think it all came from blaming his Mother for the abandonment and the separation of his family. Sadly, the poor woman only shot his father 5 times for the same reason I wanted to shoot him. Lying and cheating. After being around his father a number of times, I think that must have cured him. In fact the last time I saw his father he looked at me with this somewhat disappointed look on his face and said, 'You know, [almostlydia], he can look you right in the eyes and lie to your face'. Sad story.

almostlydia

Meadowbrook's picture

When I confronted my N about other women (by name) and implied that I "knew" what was going on. He immediately admitted that he likes the ego boost of "knowing" he "could" but that until me he hadn't actually taken the plunge. As messed up as that is I think I initially thought of it more as his online flirting via Facebook and the "notch" was just knowing they were interested in him. But now that I know what he is I realize that he was talking about getting them to the point where he knew they would have sex. As someone said here today, that takes a LOT to get someone to that point so it's not a small thing. It's very emotionally devastating. I found an article on emotional rape and cyberpaths that described the behavior that he essentially admitted to. So yes, it is all about control, domination and the "score" and seeing the woman writhe in pain. That was me, I certainly writhed....
Susan32's picture

Because that's EXACTLY what my ex-Psychopathic professor did to me. He WANTED me to be in love with him, that I be the student and he be the teacher... so he could publicly reject me and humiliate me. His principled "rejections" were just that... the false sincerity, the smug superiority, trying to make me look like the crazy one and I was the one CONSTANTLY apologizing, despite the fact I was the one emotionally hurting. Believe me, I've been romantically rejected before (as I told my ex-P "it's called high school") But such rejections were minor disappointments, the hiccups of life. I wasn't driven to despair,depression, humiliation, and heartbreak. My ex-P would reduce me to tears IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY, and wouldn't do anything to comfort me, or lead me to a more private place. He got off on publicly embarrassing me. What's worse is that he did it to the OW when she and I introduced ourselves to each other. He fled from the lecture hall SO FAST she had to run to keep up with him. As for my ex-P, yes, there were rumors that he was gay. He treated male students better than female ones. MUCH BETTER. He had a circle of young male disciples. He always spoke admiringly (and by his real name) of his famous father. However, he admitted to driving his grandmother crazy... and he spoke of his mother&his sister as cameos. I have plenty of gay friends... but my ex-P was definitely a misogynistic closet case.