The Ghost in the Machine (Narcissism and Rootlessness)

I have no roots. I was born in Israel but left it many times and now have been away for five years. I haven't seen my parents since 1996. I have met my sister (and my niece and nephew) for the first time last week. I haven't been in touch with any of my "friends". I haven't exchanged one additional word with my ex after we split up. I - an award winning author -am slowly forgetting my Hebrew. I do not celebrate any nation's holidays or festivals. I stay away from groups and communities. I wonder, an itinerant lone wolf. I was born in the Middle East, I write about the Balkan and my readers are mostly American.

This reads like a typical profile of the modern expatriate professional the world over - but it is not. It is not a temporary suspension of self-identity, of group-identity, of location, of mother tongue and of one's social circle. In my case, I have nowhere to go back to. I either burn the bridges or keep walking. I never look back. I detach and vanish.

I am not sure why I behave this way. I like to travel and I like to travel light. On the way, in between places, in the twilight zone of neither here not there and not now - I feel like I am unburdened. I do not need to - indeed, I cannot - secure narcissistic supply. My obscurity and anonymity are excused ("I am a stranger here", "I just arrived"). I can relax and take refuge from my inner tyranny and from the anxious depletion of energy that is my existence as a narcissist.

I love freedom. With no possessions, devoid of all attachments, to fly away, to be carried, to explore, not to be me. It is the ultimate depersonalisation. Only then do I feel real. Sometimes I wish I were so rich that I could afford to travel incessantly, without ever stopping. I guess it sounds like escaping and avoiding oneself. I guess it is.

I do not like myself. In my dreams, I find myself an inmate in a concentration camp, or in a tough prison, or a dissident in a murderously dictatorial country. These are all symbols of my inner captivity, my debilitating addiction, the death amidst me. Even in my nightmares, though, I keep fighting and sometimes I win. But my gains are temporary and I am so tired...:o((

In my mind, I am not human. I am a machine at the service of a madman that snatched my body and invaded my being when I was very young. Imagine the terror I live with, the horror of having an alien within your own self. A shell, a nothingness, I keep producing articles at an ever accelerating pace. I write maniacally, unable to cease, unable to eat, or sleep, or bathe, or enjoy. I am possessed by me. Where does one find refuge if one's very abode, one's very soul is compromised and dominated by one's mortal enemy - oneself?



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APA Reference
Vaknin, S. (2008, December 26). The Ghost in the Machine (Narcissism and Rootlessness), HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: July 2, 2018

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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