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20 Signs that Narcissist Infected YOU (Zombie Narcissism)

Uploaded 7/7/2023, approx. 23 minute read

How can you tell if you have been infected? How can you tell if you have become a zombie narcissist?

This is the topic of today's video.


But before we go there, this self-supply corner.

By the time you watch this, it will be a bit of an old news. But still, today I received an invitation. I've been nominated as a finalist for the Mental Health Award 2023. It's an award given by the G20 Health Summits. The G20 Health Summits is a world tour of health conferences and summits in well over 50 cities in the world. It's a gigantic event. And I'm not sure whether it's annual or biannual or even decadal. I'm not quite sure regarding the frequency.

But this year I'm among the finalists for the Mental Health Award. And even if I don't win, it's still a great honor. Well done, Sam.

Okay, shoshanim, what can I do? You know who I am, right? It will be just our secret.

Another thing, a few days ago I published the 28th article in academic peer-reviewed journals. Some of them open access, others not. So this is 28 articles in five years. Not bad.

So again, self-congratulation to you. And would you mind moving on to the topic of the video?


Okay, Dr. Vaknin, I will. Before you start to watch this video, you may wish to have a look at the video titled "You and Your Body After Domestic Violence Rape Batting." "Pepitrator and Society Collude." I've included a link to this video in the description.

For those of you who are wondering, the description is always under the video, not over the video. So there's a link there.

I'm going to introduce you to a new concept. A concept which will help us, a mechanism, a process which will help us to understand how narcissism infects, how is it contagious, why people around the narcissist end up being considerably more narcissistic than they have been before.

And this is the concept of coercive, synchronized or mirror snapshotting in projection.

Now, my favorite is coercive snapshotting or coercive interjection because the narcissist punishes you if you don't adhere to his demands, requests, expectations and signals.

If you don't pick up on his wishes, if you don't fully comply with the environment that he has created for you, if you don't fit into his shared fantasy, if you don't collude with his delusions and with his grandiose self-image, if you don't do any of these things, narcissist punishes you.

It could be anything from silent treatment to verbal abuse in very extreme cases, also physical abuse.

So that's why I prefer the term coercive snapshotting or coercive interjection.

But what does it mean? Vaknin, you are great at coining new phrases. Would you mind explaining a few of them to us mere mortals awaiting your sagacity?

Not before I have a gulp of my fortifying wine. Yes, it is wine.

The narcissist, as you recall, entrains you. He synchronizes his brainwaves with your brainwaves using verbal abuse.

Repetitive verbal abuse is a kind of music. So he creates the effect of entraining.

He brainwashes you. He mind controls you. And he mind snatches. He takes over. You outsource many internal processes to the narcissist.

You develop external regulation and external locus of control. You feel that you have been somehow hijacked, kidnapped, that you're a hostage, maybe willing hostage, but still a hostage. Everything seems unreal, as if you woke up to find yourself in a kind of rendition of a mental asylum.

That is a narcissist entraining.

But the narcissist entrains you to introject his expectations.

Now, this is a super complex concept. And bear with me while I bear with you.


The narcissist, when he first comes across you, when he decides that you are a potential as an intimate partner or a source of narcissistic supply, the narcissist creates a snapshot of you and then internalizes the snapshot and photoshops it. He idealizes it.

And this creates an idealized internal object, an idealized introject in his mind that represents you. You are the external object.

And in his mind, there is an internal object that stands in for you. That is you in his mind.

So the narcissist cannot tell the difference between internal and external. He continues to interact with the internal object as if it were you.

But the narcissist needs you to collaborate in this. He needs you to collude with him. He needs you to agree that you don't exist.

Only the internal object does.

So the narcissist entrains you to introject the idealized internal object in his mind.

Look how complex it is. The narcissist forces you to adopt, to assimilate, to digest, to accept, to become one with your idealized image in his mind.

The narcissist wants you to merge seamlessly, to fuse inextricably with a snapshot of you in his mind. He pushes you to introject the way he sees you. He pushes you to define yourself and your existence via his gaze. The way he sees you as an idealized internal object, his gaze comes to define your boundaries. His gaze sustains your self-esteem and your self-confidence. His gaze tells you who you are. And his gaze replaces your reality testing, something that feels a lot like gaslighting, but actually is not.

So the process of coercive snapshotting is when the narcissist wants you to disappear as an external object and to accept the reality of the internal object as a full substitute and replacement to you.

The narcissist tells you, "I want you to not exist independently of the internal object. I want you to become the internal object. I want you to act as the internal object. I want you to lose your agency and your autonomy, and I want you to become a full reflection, faithful image of the internal object that represents you in my mind.

The narcissist coerces you into internalizing the internal object in his mind that represents you.

So he wants the two of you to share this internal object. He wants you to merge with the internal object, to fuse with the internal object, thereby removing any deviation, any divergence, any contradiction between you as an external object and the internal object that represents you in his.

And this is, of course, a great definition of the shared fantasy. The sharing of the introject, the sharing of the internal object, coercively, on pain of punishment if you don't comply and you don't obey and you don't follow through.

These are the rudiments of the shared fantasy.

And of course the narcissist uses all the tools at his disposal, intermittent reinforcement, silent treatment, you name it, humiliation, shaming.

So the narcissist comes to you and says, "I have an image of you in my mind. I have an internal object that represents you in my mind. It's ideal and it's the only reality. You're not real. The object is real. It's a fact that I'm interacting with the object, never with you.

So I want you to become this object. I want you to never contradict this object, never act against this object, never deviate from it, never diverge from it. I want you to suspend your animated existence outside my mind and to become a figment of my fantasy, an element of my imagination.

And so this is coercive snapshotting.

And coercive snapshotting is a mechanism that leads to the formation of a functional shared fantasy on the one hand and on the other hand, it's the vector of contagion. It's the virus.

This is how narcissists infect people around them.

Because of course the internal objects in the narcissist's mind are idealized. They are imbued and suffused with grandiosity. They are fantastic internal objects. They don't reflect reality. They reflect the narcissist's cognitive distortions.

And so when the narcissist forces you to become indistinguishable from the internal object that represents you in his mind, he also forces you to become grandiose, idealized, perfect.

In short, he forces you to become a narcissist.


So in this video, I'm going to discuss the psychological dimensions of narcissistic contagion.

Only the psychological ones, not the bodily signs of trauma and abuse, which I have discussed in the video that I mentioned earlier. We'll discuss only the psychological way signs that you had been infected.

And the major test, the major tell and litmus test is, have you departed from your previous identity? Are you no longer recognizable to yourself, to your loved ones, to friends, to family? Do you feel estranged like you are a stranger to yourself? Do you feel alienated from yourself? Do you feel a bit unsafe with yourself? Do you feel labile, somewhat dangerous, unpredictable, indeterminate? Is there an enhanced sense of uncertainty in you regarding who you are and what you might do? Your boundaries, anything else?

Well, if the answer to these questions is yes, then you have been infected. You've been infected with narcissism.


But I'm going to break this down to a few elements.

Number one, decline in empathy.

One of the major signs of narcissistic contagion is that you're unable to empathize with people any more, any longer. You used to be very empathic.

No, you're not. This is a post-traumatic artifact, this post-traumatic effect. It's been documented in people who've been exposed to trauma, anything from illness to an accident.

So in PTSD, we see a substantial decline in empathy. And the same to some extent in CPTST, in complex trauma.

That's the first sign. Ask yourself, am I being less kind, less compassionate, less empathic? Is it more difficult for me to put myself in other people's shoes? Do I not even want to?

Well, you've been infected probably.


Number two, irritability, short fuse, inability to tolerate people. People are perceived as annoyances or nuisance or very stupid or too demanding or what have you.

Can you react to this with irritability?

Number three, impulsivity. You used to be very cool-headed. You used to take everything into account. You used to analyze things before you acted. Your decisions were based on information. You were well informed. You made informed decisions.

And now you just go at it. You're impulsive. You can't control your drives and urges. You want to do something, you just do it. Pulsivity is a major sign of narcissistic contagion.

Next, mood lability. Ups and downs, dysphoria and euphoria. You may even suspect that you've developed bipolar disorder.

The shifts are very rapid and totally unrelated to external events or triggers. It's an internal process of a loss of control over your moods, an inability to regulate, and a roller coaster of ups and downs, a cycling that is rapid fire. And this is a surefire sign of narcissistic contagion.

Next, emotional dysregulation. If you feel that whenever you experience an emotion, regardless of what this emotion is, negative or positive, you're overwhelmed. You're drowning. You're out of control. You react with extreme depression or extreme elation. You wish to act. Emotions translate to actions without any intermediate phase.

And this is a process known as acting out. You decompensate. You have no defenses against your emotions. They are not filtered.

And so these emotions challenge your inner balance, equilibrium and stability. You feel that you're falling apart and disintegrating whenever you experience an emotion.

An emotion, again, never mind if it's negative or positive. And this is known as dysregulation. Borderline personality disorder is an emotionally dysregulated disorder.

And a proper borderline. If you suddenly contemplate suicide, suicidal ideation or even attempt suicide, it's a sign that you've been infected.

Each and every one of these is a sign that you've been infected. The more the more checkboxes you tick, the more of these elements correspond to your current state.

The more sure you can be, the more certain you can be that you've been infected.

Now, suicidal ideation, luckily for all of us, self-destructive drives, self-defeating behaviors, self-handicapping choices and decisions are less common. But they are a major sign of contagion.

Self-defeating and self-handicapping, of course, is much more common than suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts.

And it can, where it can disguise itself, it can render itself stealth under the radar.

You suddenly develop traits, behaviors, states of mind, emotions that you've never experienced before. You become clinging, you become needy, you become sentimental, you become impulsive, you become reckless, you become defiant, you become consummation, etc., etc., etc.

Many of these behaviors are self-destructive. They defeat your purpose. They handicap you.

And some of these behaviors are misperceived by you.

But then you, for example, you suddenly develop perfectionism. Or you begin to procrastinate. You postpone things.

Perfectionism and procrastination are self-defeating behaviors because they set you up for failure. You become your own worst enemy.

The narcissist, remember, the narcissist is his own worst enemy.

Contagion simply means that the narcissist passes on to you the burden of being a narcissist.

The narcissist is in a state of prolonged grief. He wants you to grieve and mourn.

The narcissist was unable to separate from his mother and individually. He doesn't want you to separate from him and become an individual.

So he regresses you. He pushes you back to infancy when you were symbiotically fused with mother.

And he refuses to accept your separateness. He is unable to do separation and individuation. So he rejects your separateness and he refuses to see you or to treat you as an individual.

Contagion means the narcissist wants to make you a fellow kindred narcissistic spirit.

Misery loves company, narcissism even more so. Narcissist wants you to become his co-narcissist, his co-conspirator.

And he wants you to reflect everything that he is, everything that he suffers, everything that he had suffered, everything that he endured, everything that he can do and everything that he wishes to do. He wants you to become his extension in the fullest sense of the word.

Self-defeating and self-handicapping and narcissistic behaviors.

If you suddenly develop these behaviors and never had them before, you've been infected.

Similarly, your cognition begins to be distorted. You begin to doubt your ability to adjudicate properly, to judge reality for what it is. You begin to kind of ask yourself, is this real or is it my imagination? Am I exaggerating? Am I okay? Am I calibrated or am I not? Who should I compare myself to?

The narcissist, of course, the narcissist induces in your cognitive distortions like grandiosity or the Donning-Kruger effect or other things.

You begin to inhabit the twilight zone of the narcissist, the substitute reality, the virtual augmented or artificial reality that the narcissist creates, aka shared fantasy.

You enter this labyrinth and you're unable to exit. And you become a hostage at the mercy of the narcissist's mediation.

The narcissist mediates reality for you. More and more, you find yourself dependent on the narcissist's opinions, on his judgments and on his interpretation of what is real and what is not.

These are all cognitive distortions. Fantasy is a defense mechanism that induces cognitive, multiple cognitive distortions.

It's a main, supreme symptom of narcissistic contagion.


Another thing, you suddenly become aggressive or passive aggressive or defiant or contumacious, you reject authority or hateful or envious or raging.

You've never been any of these things before, but now you are.

These are all known as negative affectivity.

Negative affectivity is intimately connected to aggression. It motivates aggression or passive aggression. Depends if your narcissist is overt or covert.

Covert narcissists infect you with covert narcissism. Overt narcissists infect you with overt narcissism.

So if your partner is a covert, you will end up being passive aggressive. If your partner is grandiose and overt, will end up being aggressive. At any rate, you will end up not being you.

And the aggression and passive aggression are going to be extensive. In other words, in all your interactions with all people, you suddenly find yourself chastising and castigating and shouting at your mother, your best friends, your boss, your employees, your colleagues, your employees.

The neighborhood postman, your neighbors in church, aggression had become the way you interact with other people.

And you've never been like this before. Yes, you've never been infected before.

You also become reckless. It's as if you cannot predict and you don't care about the consequences of your actions.

However, dangerous, risky these consequences may be.

This is a definition of recklessness, acting without mind to the consequences of one's actions, assuming that one is immune to such consequences, somehow, miraculously, godlike, divinely.

And you're developing this kind of immunity as well. You begin to not care. You begin to act mindlessly, unthinkingly, impulsively.

It's as if you don't have a care in the world. You're happy, good, lucky, you're untouchable, you're untouchable, invulnerable, invincible.

This leads to recklessness. Above all, this recklessness and the aggression are directed at people.

They're not just diffuse. It's not that you have become a generally aggressive person.

You react this way when you interact with people. You become defiant, hateful, contumacious, reckless, etc. when you are interacting with people.

In other words, it becomes a social behavior parameter. Your social behavior changes and your ability to relate to people deteriorates dramatically.

All in all, you find that you no longer recognize yourself. You keep saying, "This is not me. I've never done this before. I don't know what overcame me. I don't know who I am anymore."

Identity disturbance is a hallmark of borderline personality disorder and many narcissists, especially covert narcissists.

So, the narcissist exports his dysfunctions to you and one of the things is identity disturbance.

Your values, your beliefs, your decisions, your choices, your preferences, your wishes, your priorities, everything changes on a dime day after day.

It's as if you have multiple personality disorder, as if you have numerous personalities inside you competing for possession of your body and mind. These personalities are mutually contradictory. They're incompatible. They have nothing in common.

One such personality is a cheater, a romantic cheater. The other one abhors the very thought of cheating. One of these personalities is religious. The other one is an atheist. One of these personalities is aggressive. The other personality is not, etc.

Identity influx fluctuating when you no longer recognize yourself, when you feel estranged. It's a major sign of narcissistic contagion.

In hand-in-hand with your recklessness, acting out, defiance, contumacious and aggression, you begin to seek thrills, novelty and risk.

These are characteristics of the antisocial dimension of narcissistic personality disorder, both overt and covert.

It's also typical of covert borderlines who resemble very much narcissists, psychopaths, of course, thrills, thrill-seeking, novelty-seeking, risk-seeking.

They all become characteristics of your decision-making processes. The choices you make and the path or trajectories you embark upon.

Suddenly, you can have good sex only when you cheat. Suddenly, you are driven to steal. Suddenly, you drive recklessly or you go on shopping sprees or you spend all your savings on a two-day vacation or you plunge or you waste your children's college fund on free volitions.

None of this is familiar to you. It's as if you've been visited by a familiar, as if you are possessed in the Middle Ages, people used to call it demon possession. It's as if there's an entity inside you which has taken over you and it's just using your body to accomplish its own goals, to satisfy its own desires.

And yes, this metaphor is not a metaphor. The narcissist introjected himself into you. The process of entraining is intended to force you to synchronize your brain with the narcissist's brain. Literally, the waves measurable, the waves we can measure in EEG.

And so then the narcissist forces you to accept his internal objects as if they were external objects and that includes the internal object that represents you in his mind. You're no longer out there. You're inside the narcissist's mind. You're captive in his skull. And it is there that you are imbued and exposed to these new behaviors, new traits, new qualities among them, thrill, novelty and risk-seeking.

These are not you. This is not you. This is him or her. This is the narcissist.


Now, the narcissist also, as a bonus, inculcates in you, teaches you, forces you, coerces you to use his primitive, infantile early defense mechanisms.

How does he do this? How does he accomplish this?

I told you he regresses you when the narcissist snapshots you. He then regresses you to an infantile stage, to your early childhood when you were younger than 36 months old.

At that time, you were still fused and merged with mother in a symbiotic state.

Narcissist becomes your mother and you merge and fuse with him.

As a 36-year-old toddler or 24-years-old toddler, you share with the narcissist the same primitive defense mechanisms.

The narcissist regresses you, pushes you, coerces you to become a baby. As a baby, you have only primitive defense mechanisms the same way the narcissist has only primitive defense mechanisms, infantile defense mechanisms.

Because the narcissist is an infant, it's a case of what used to be called arrested development.

So suddenly you begin to project, you begin to project, you reject in yourself, things you don't like about yourself. You suddenly attribute to other people. Suddenly you begin to split, you develop what is called dichotomous thinking. You divide everyone into black and white.

Together with a narcissist, you create a shared psychosis, a shared psychogenic event.

So with a narcissist, you create a cult. It's we against them. It's you with a narcissist against the world. This is splitting.

The narcissist encourages you to split, rewards you every time you split, every time you conform with the internal object, every time you show behaviors that he can understand or appreciate, every time you resemble him and mimic him and imitate him, every time you become him, every increment of losing yourself and finding him, the narcissist rewards.

And every time you show a hint of agency, a trifle independence, a shade of autonomy, narcissist punishes you severely.

Gradually, you are conditioned, narcissist conditions you to become him.

And as a replica, because you become a replicant, as a replicant of the narcissist, as his clone, of course, you split the way the narcissist does or the borderline. You see the world in terms of black and white, good versus evil. Everything becomes morality play, for example.

Even when the narcissist has exited your life, even when the narcissist is long gone, you are still a slave to the narcissist's programming, to his contagion.

Your mind and brain are still infected.

So you still split.

Victims of narcissistic abuse still engage in splitting. They still see the world as all bad or all good. They are all good. Their abuses are all bad.

There is a morality play here. They are all moral. Their abuses are all immoral.

These are splitting. This is a splitting defense.

Who did you get the splitting defense from? So-called empath, so-called victim. Who did you get it from?

You got it from the narcissist.

Every single time you split people, you split the world, you split your situation, you split your history. Every single time you adopt a victimhood identity, you are in debt to the narcissist. He did this to you.

Every time you do any of this, you're acting as a narcissist.

That's why I keep saying, empaths are actually covert narcissists. They have been infected. They are zombies. They are narcissist zombies.

Not only do you adopt the narcissist's state of mind, internal structure, internal objects and defense mechanisms, you also adopt his behaviors. You become exploitative, goal-oriented, merciless, callous, ruthless, relentless and forgiving.

You develop repetition, compulsions. You approach and avoid. You become immersed in automatic negative thoughts about yourself and about others.

Your whole internal working model, the way you see the world, your theory of mind, the way you perceive other people, all these get infected, corrupted and distorted.

You develop dissociation exactly like the narcissist.

You forget things that are uncomfortable, egodystonic, challenge your view of yourself. Or you forget things that threaten to drive you away from the narcissist, to see him in a true light.

Because being inside the shared fantasy is cozy, is wonderful.

Seeing yourself through the narcissist's gaze as an idealized object makes you fall in love with yourself. It's irresistible. It's addictive.

You don't want to be cast out and expelled from this Garden of Eden.

So you dissociate, you forget things, you lie to yourself, you deny, you repress.

All these are narcissistic mechanisms.

The vast majority of victims of narcissistic abuse at the end of a relationship, however brief, are infected.

Narcissistic contagion can occur within hours, often does.

Exposure to narcissist, which is longer than 2-3 hours, already creates a modicum of rudimentary narcissistic contagion.

Of course, if you've been exposed for years or weeks or months, let alone decades, you're infected.

You've become a narcissist, you've become his replica, you've become his clone.

You need to detox, you need to decontaminate, you need to separate, you need to individuate, you need to rediscover yourself. You need to raise yourself, because you're now a child, you need to raise yourself, you need to parent yourself, you need to become your own mother for you.

I've dealt with all this in other videos, but do not kid yourself and do not deceive yourself and do not deceive others into thinking that having been exposed to this malevolent, evil, dark entity has had no effect on you whatsoever, that it did not demolish your defenses, eradicate your boundaries, penetrated you and invaded you in every way possible, physical and mental. Don't lie to yourself, don't deceive other people. Admit it and get to work.

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