Charming Social Mask
The narcissist strives to maintain and protect his concocted self-image at all cost. The pathological narcissistic syndrome may be likened to a wheel in which the grandiose false self is the hub, to which are affixed spokes. The spokes have a specific purpose, which is to maintain, protect, and sustain the hub of the grandiose false self. Attributes 3-9 of the DSM-IV checklist constitute some of the spokes.
To begin with, the pathological narcissist uses people as tools of self-aggrandizement to affirm and maintain his false self — others are used for a perverse kind of mirroring to reflect the narcissists ostentatious self-regard. This accounts for why the narcissist requires excessive admiration (DSM-IV attribute 4), seeks to associate with special or high-status people or institutions (DSM-IV attribute 3), and is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends (DSM-IV attribute 6). Like a vampire who must feed on others blood in order to live, the narcissist basks in the admiration, love, approval, and compliments he elicits from others. If the other person ceases to provide him with narcissistic supply, he no longer has much use for that person and the relationship will markedly cool, if not end altogether.
To lure people into his web, the skillful narcissist puts on an attractive social mask. The narcissist not only has a counterfeit self-image, he literally dons a false façade of physical appearance and demeanor. He can be charming, gracious, and socially adept. He must also be a consummate actor, skilled at simulating the whole range of human emotions, especially those of love and kindness. The more successful he is at simulation, the greater the circle of friends and acquaintances who can be his primary and secondary feeding sources. Perhaps it is not accidental that some of the greatest villains in fiction are portrayed as charming. A good example is Dorian Gray in Oscar Wildes The Picture of Dorian Gray
Admittedly, we all wear a public mask of some sort or another, for no human being is without any artifice or is totally honest with other people. What distinguishes the mask of the pathological narcissist is the enormity of the discrepancy between the mask and the person it conceals. Aside from using his charming social mask to attract admirers who provide him with his narcissistic supply, the mask also conceals the narcissists contrived false self from scrutiny and exposure. Concealment requires secrecy, evasion, dishonesty, and deception, which means that the pathological narcissist is a consummate liar who habitually lies, even about seemingly small or inconsequential matters.