Addicted to Trauma Bonding? WATCH TO THE END! (with Stephanie Carinia, Trauma Expert)

Uploaded 9/5/2022, approx. 1 hour 1 minute read

So, hello. I'm with Stephanie, who is a trauma expert. She will introduce herself using hopefully her full name so that you can find her online. She has a prolific Instagram presence as well. Very interesting account. And I will hand over to her.

Stephanie will introduce herself, and then I'll introduce myself.

Thank you so much, Sam, for introducing me and for having me here. It's such an honor to have this discussion with you.

So, my name is Stephanie Carina. You can find me on Instagram. I'm posting there. I'm a clinical psychologist, specialized in trauma and personality mainly. Yeah. So.

And I understand that you are based in Netherlands. You're in the Netherlands.

Okay. My favorite accent. Okay. I'm Sam Vaknin. Those of you who are watching this on my channel, know me already and are tired of me, probably. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisiting, and a professor of psychology in the universities, which would have me, which has quite a few.

So, today we're going to discuss, essentially, I believe, trauma. And more specifically, we're going to start with trauma bonding. And then Stephanie and I will have a free exchange. We'll have a conversation, in effect, about things that interest her. And maybe I'll have some new ideas. She will contribute. I will contribute. And we're going to have lots of fun. And you're invited to be witnesses to the whole thing.

So, we start with trauma bonding. And Stephanie is going to present six questions, six basic questions about trauma bonding.

This is more in order to lay the groundwork so that we have a common language and an ability to communicate on this phenomenon from a common base point.

And so, we define the terminology and then a little of the dynamics of the whole process and so on and so forth.

So, again, like in tennis, over to Stephanie.

Yes. And I'm excited about this topic because this is basically a hot topic also on social media.

I think a lot of people are suffering from what is called narcissistic abuse. So, I'm excited to get to this topic.

Could you define for us what trauma bonding is?

I'm going to use my favorite definition, the one I'm using usually in international conferences.

And it's my favorite definition because it includes, I think, all the elements of trauma bonding.

And it goes like that. Extreme. Trauma bonding involves extremes. Extremes of everything.

Extremes of abuse. Extremes of attachment. Extremes of inability to extricate yourself from the bond, etc., etc. So, it's extreme. Unidirectional attachment. The abused is attached to the abuser, but the abuser is not attached to the abused.

Now, this is very important because this is what differentiates between trauma bonding and Stockholm syndrome.

In Stockholm syndrome, we have mutual bidirectional attachment. Both the abuser or the kidnapper or whatever, and the abused are bonded with each other. In trauma bonding, it's one direction. Only the abused is attached to the abuser.

And the definition continues. Fostered, created, by traumatizing, unpredictable, intermittent reinforcement. Intermittent reinforcement is a fancy phrase, a clinical phrase, to describe hot and cold. Hot and cold, loving, hating, but in an unpredictable way.

The abuser wakes up in the morning and he is all flowers and caring and loving and so on. And then in the afternoon, he becomes a monster. And then the next morning, he's again, love bombing and grooming and everything. And so, it's impossible to predict the behavior of the abuser. And it creates what we call intermittent reinforcement. We'll discuss it a bit later.

And finally, involving power asymmetry. There must be a power asymmetry in trauma bonding. The abuser is holding all the cards. The abused is needy in the sense that she needs the abuser.

So, I'm going to repeat the definition.

Trauma bonding is extreme unidirectional attachment, fostered by traumatizing, unpredictable, intermittent reinforcement, involving a power asymmetry.

And this definition is derived from what we call in psychology, learning theory. Yes, there is such a thing, learning theory. It also borrows a little from behaviorism.

And that's my favorite definition.

But I must warn you, there are others.

Thank you for that.

So, sometimes they call it an emotional attachment. So, it's only a one-sided emotional attachment for that respect.

Yes, in trauma bonding, it's one-sided. It's Stockholm syndrome, it's two-sided.

Okay. So, then one would ask why stay in such an abusive relationship, right?

So, what are some of the dynamics in trauma bonding? Why would one stay?

I would come to why would one stay a bit later. But I think the dynamics are important.

There are several extremely unusual dynamics in trauma bonding. And the reason is, the abused person is a highly specific profile, a highly specific autobiographical profile.

And so, within trauma bonding, we find people, we find, I hate to use the word victims, because trauma bonding is a collaboration. It's a danse macabre. There is a collusion between the abused and the abuser.

The abused needs the abuser, and the abuser needs the abused. And they're working together on joint project, which is called trauma bonding.

So, I hate to use the word victim, but I think the abused, the abused person. The abused person confuses, has a series of confusions.

For example, the abused person confuses intensity with truth. The bond in trauma bonding is very intense.

So, the abuse says to herself, it is so intense, it must be real, because it's so strong, it's so extreme, it must be true, it must be real.

There is another confusion between attention and love. The abused person tells herself, and I'm saying herself because the majority of the abused in trauma bonding are women, and that happens to be a fact.

So, the abused person tells herself, he's giving me attention. It may be bad attention, it may be abusive attention, it may be violent attention, but it proves that he loves me. The fact that he's jealous when I just look at another man, it's proof that he loves me. The fact that he beat me up from within an inch of my life and I'm in a hospital, it proves that he loves me. He couldn't control himself. Actually, I provoked him.

So, there is a lot of confusion. And the reason the abused have all these confusions is because they dread loneliness. They have extreme separation insecurity. Separation insecurity is the clinical term for abandonment anxiety. So, they have extreme abandonment anxiety, very much like a borderline.

And so, they dread loneliness, and they lie to themselves. They say, the abuser, the abusive partner loves me because he pays attention to me, and because he's so intense and extreme, it proves that he loves me. And then, in many cases, there are coercive circumstances. The abuser isolates the prey, isolates the victim or the abused person from her family, from her social circle. He isolates it to the point that she totally depends on him, even for daily functions, let alone mental functions, psychological functions. And he creates in her the belief that she is unable to escape. He gaslights her into believing that she doesn't have any capacity to extricate herself and to walk away.

He, for example, teaches her helplessness. This is called learned helplessness. He teaches her that she is helpless. She's stupid. She is inadequate. She's uneducated and ignorant. She will never make it. No one else will ever love her. She will not find a job. She should not walk away because he is her only guarantee, her only source of safety, and she buys into this story.

And finally, another important dynamic is what is called betrayal trauma.

Betrayal trauma was first described by Carnes, and expanded upon by a very important scholar from Stanford. The name is Jennifer Fred. And Jennifer Fred coined the phrase betrayal trauma blindness.

And together with Carnes' work, there is a betrayal trauma theory. And I'm going to read you the definition, Fred's definition of betrayal trauma.

When you are not allowed to express your experience of trauma and abuse, when you are not allowed to communicate the breach of trust, the disempowerment, the negative emotions, and the profound betrayal by someone that you depend on in a crucial way, such denial and repression lead to severe mental health outcomes, dependency, dissociation, and a host of other long-term mental health disorders.

So all these dynamics work together in trauma bonding, which is the reason trauma bonding is by far the strongest bond and attachment we know. It's even stronger than the maternal bond to a child or a love affair. It's extremely strong and extremely difficult to bring.

And so how come is it so strong, even stronger than with a relationship with the mother, childhood?

It is so strong because it fulfills all these needs. It fulfills multiple psychological needs.

And because the victim learns to internalize the view of the abuser, the way the abuser sees her or wants her to see herself, so the abuser communicates to the victim, you're hopeless, you're helpless, don't even bother to walk away, you will not survive one day without me. I'm the guarantor of your survival and well-being, peace of mind, and everything else you need, and so on, so forth.

So the abuser creates total dependency, and it's very difficult for the victim to break them.

So in a way, the abuser takes over the abused person?

He takes over in multiple ways.

He becomes, for example, her reality testing. In other words, the abused person loses her belief in herself. She begins to think that she is not capable of appreciating and appraising reality properly. She begins to distrust her own judgment. And so she resorts to the abuser. She asks the abuser, is this real? Am I not crazy? Can I trust my judgment in this case? What would you have done had you been me?

Et cetera, et cetera. The abuser's reality testing, the abuser's judgment displaces and replaces the victims. The abuser becomes an extension of the victim in this sense.

We can say that the victim outsources her internal world, her internal processes. She outsources them to the abuser, so that the abuser becomes an external regulator.

The abuser has the power to regulate the abused person's emotions, moods.

And this is why many of the people in trauma-bonding situations actually suffer from dysregulatory or dysregulation disorders.

For example, borderline personality disorder, where the person is incapable of regulating her emotions and her labile moods by herself. She needs an external input. She needs someone from the outside to regulate her.

And the dependency become total.

Now, consequently, the victim or the abused person lies to herself because there is a cognitive dissonance.

On the one hand, she's abused. She's not stupid. The abused people are not stupid. No one says they're stupid. They know that they are being abused, but they can't walk away.

So this creates a dissonance. This creates a conflict. I'm in a bad situation, but I cannot help myself.

So to resolve the cognitive dissonance, they lie to themselves. They rationalize what's happening. They're saying to themselves, whatever is happening to me is happening for a good reason. They justify the abuser. They say, I provoked him. I misbehaved. I had it coming. I deserve this.

Or they minimize the abuse. They say, oh, it's not a big deal. So he broke my finger. It's not a big deal. Three weeks and I'll be as right as new.

So there's a minimization of the abuse. There's dissociation. Simply, the abused person simply forgets, simply deletes the experience. And the memory comes back only when she's abused the next time.

This is called state dependent memory.

Then there is malignant optimism. False hope. The abused person lies to herself. She says, it's going to be OK. The abuse is not very frequent. The rest of the time he loves me. If I only get to his inner child, if I only love him properly, he's going to change.

This is malignant optimism.

And finally, there are autoplastic defenses. Autoplastic defenses is when you tend to blame yourself, when you tend to feel responsible for everything that's happening. When you feel guilty and ashamed about the abuse, someone else is abusing you, and you feel that you make it happen somehow. It's a form of magical thinking.

So all these mechanisms of self-deception are at work all the time. And they don't allow the victim to simply look reality in the face and say, I'm out of here. I'm not going to tolerate this anymore, because she can't see reality. She's a firewall. The abuse of firewalls. It's isolation from the outside. He cuts her off any social contacts, family and friends. And it's isolation from the inside. He cuts her off from her contact with reality.

And basically what you're describing is also gaslighting. Yes, gaslighting is a technique used by abusers to induce trauma bonding.


So how does the victim and trauma bonding cope with this reality of abuse?

There are two ways to conceptualize trauma bonding. Two new ways, let's say.

One way is as a fantasy defense, and the other way is as a self-harming activity. Actually, these are the two major coping mechanisms of the abused person in a trauma bonded relationship.

Either she retreats into fantasy, or she begins to harm herself by actively participating in the abusive cycle.

And I will elaborate a bit with your permission on each one of these two.

Trauma bonding is a fantasy defense. What the abuser does, he comes to the abused person. He comes to the victim, if you wish. And he says to her, I'm going to love you the way a mother loves. I'm going to love you like a mother. I'm going to play the maternal role. I'm going to idealize you. And then I'm going to give you access to the idealized image. And you will fall in love with your own idealized image through my gaze. I'm going to have a monopoly, says the abuser. I'm going to have a monopoly on your newfound self-love. Self-love. I'm going to love you unconditionally the way a mother loves you. And I'm going to allow you to love yourself unconditionally by idealizing you and letting you have access to this idealized image.

And they strike a deal. The abuser and the abused strike this deal.

The abused says you can do anything you want to me, as long as you love me as a mother does, and allow me to gain access to my idealized image because it's addictive. It's intoxicating.

And then the abuser suddenly switches. Instead of being a good enough mother, he becomes what is called in psychoanalytic literature, a dead mother. He becomes a dead mother. He becomes a vicious mother, an absent mother, narcissistic mother, selfish mother.

And this disorients the victim completely because she believed that the abuser loves her. She believed that the abuser loves her the way a mother loves her child. She saw herself in the abuser's gaze, in the abuser's eyes as an idealized infant.

And suddenly he hates her. He devalues her. He attacks her. This is exceedingly disorienting.

She can't give up on this newfound so-called fantastic love. It's a chance at a second childhood. It's a chance to get things right, to resolve conflicts, to experience the kind of love that maybe she had never experienced before, and to be seen as a flawless object. And she doesn't want to let this go.

But on the other hand, it's very painful because there are these constant attacks by the abuser.

So what she does, she retreats into fantasy. She idealizes the abuser, and she begins to have a relationship with the idealized object in her mind that represents the abuser.

So in a way, what she does, she takes a snapshot of the abuser. Then she photoshops the snapshot. She converts it into an ideal image. And then she cuts off the real abuser, and she continues to interact with the representation of the abuser in her mind.

She begins to have a relationship with an internal object, because the external object, the real life partner, the abuser, is too painful.

The second solution is self-mutilation.

We know, for example, in borderline personality disorder, when there is a lot of stress, where there is abandonment or rejection, real or imagined, the borderline self-mutilates. She cuts herself, she burns herself, or she engages in dangerous, reckless behaviors. For example, promiscuity with lots of strangers. These are all forms of self-harm. She harms herself.

Why does the borderline harm herself?

Because it's a coping mechanism and a very effective one, a very efficacious one.

The abused person, the victim in trauma bonding, does exactly the same. She uses the abuser to harm herself, to mutilate herself, to damage and injure herself.

Trauma bonding is a collaborative form of self-mutilation and self-harm, and it has three functions, as far as the victim is concerned.

To numb, to emotionally numb herself, to eliminate dysregulated emotions that threaten to overwhelm her. The emotions inside her are too strong, so by being abused, by collaborating with the abuser in a trauma bonded situation, these emotions that threaten to overwhelm her are numbed, they're suppressed, they're repressed, and she can forget about them, at least for a while.

The second function is to allow her to feel alive through pain.

The irony is that victims of trauma bonding often describe the drama in trauma bonding, the abuse, even the physical attacks. They describe these experiences as lively experiences. They felt alive in other situations where there's no abuse and no pain, physical or psychological, they feel dead inside.

Otto Kernberg called it the emptiness.

Seinfeld, another psychoanalyst, called it the empty schizoid core.

At the heart, at the heart, at the nucleus, at the core of trauma bonded victims, there is an emptiness, there is a deadness, they're dead inside.

The abuser brings them back to life, revives them and resuscitates them with his dramatic antiques and with his abuse.

Finally, trauma bonded abuse is intended to punish, to defeat, and to destroy the victim. It is a form of self-destructiveness.

You could ask, why do the victims not walk away?

One of the main reasons they don't walk away is that they hate themselves, they love themselves, they have a very low negative view of themselves, they have extremely low self-esteem and self-confidence and self-worth. It's not fluctuating, it's simply law.

Then they want to die, they want to destroy themselves, it's nihilism and the abuser comes handy because he offers them self-destruction and self-defeat on a silver platter.

So what you're describing is that basically this relationship gives them a kind of relief. Yes, the relationship reduces anxiety.

What people, many people and even scholars don't understand is that trauma bonding isn't zealic. It reduces anxiety.

The baseline of trauma victims, all trauma victims, not only bonded trauma, the baseline of trauma victims in post-traumatic conditions is extreme dysregulated anxiety and they would do anything to reduce the anxiety.

They drink, they do drugs and some of them self-harm and self-mutilate to reduce anxiety.

One of the best ways to harm yourself is to find the wrong partner because if your mate's selection is self-destructive, you will find a partner who will mutilate, who will harm you exactly like a cigarette or a knife.

So these women in most cases, they self-harm through their own partner or actually the right partner for them because they want to destroy themselves.

But you see, there's another thing. The abuser creates in the victim a set of mind. He inculcates in the victim beliefs. He replaces the victim's belief system with his own belief system and there are negative automatic negative thoughts and yes, automatic sentences, negative sentences that keep circulating throughout the victim's mind.

For example, I am lucky to have this abuser. I'm worthless. I'm damaged goods. I'm broken. I'm lucky to have found even this guy who is an abuser. If I leave the relationship, who else would want me? Where will I find another partner? I will never find another partner.

This is a sentence. This is a message that the abuser is implanting in the mind of the victim.

This process is called entraining. It's a form of brainwashing.

Another sentence, the best of all worlds. The victim tells herself life is harsh and it doesn't get much better than this. Actually, my life is not so bad. You know, I have a relationship. I have a man.

He clearly loves me because he beats me up. He's jealous.

And so the grass is always greener on the other side. It's an optical illusion.

My life as it is now is as good as it gets.

Another sentence. My partner may be bad, but he's not worse than other partners.

Every other partner I will find will have flaws. Every other partner will abuse me. Every other partner will have quirks and eccentricities. Every other partner I will have to get used to. I will have to accommodate every other partner. Better stick with what I know and what I have.

No one guarantees that my next partner will not be even much worse than this one.

So why not stick with this one?

And finally, there's another sentence that the abuser entrains into the mind of the victim.

There's no such thing as happiness. Don't pursue happiness. Happiness is for idiots. Happiness is for adolescents. Serious adults don't pursue happiness. They pursue utility and self-efficacy.

Life is a serious business. It's not about being selfish. The pursuit of elusive happiness is another name for selfishness. You should meet your obligations. You should get on with it. You should move on.

Yet the best you can expect, what I'm giving you as an abuser, that's the best you can ever give. This is happiness. Your life now is happiness. You just don't know how to identify. You don't know how to recognize it. You're stupid. You're deficient. You're dysfunctional. You're mentally ill. You don't realize you have the best life imaginable.

So all these sentences, these are negative automatic thoughts. All these sentences, implanted in the victim's mind by the abuser, are forms of control.

They control the victim because they teach her to be hopeless and helpless.

I think we should take a break now. And if you wish, we can return and have a conversation.

Yes. Thank you.

Yes. Yes, I'm recording. My backup is recording. I'm recording the backup. Everything is okay.

Yes. So I'm trauma bonded to my glass of wine.

And just to open the conversation, you can be trauma bonded to a substance. You can be trauma bonded to an institution. You can be trauma bonded to a parent, to a mother or father. You can be trauma bonded to a sibling.

Trauma bonding simply means that you can't walk away from a situation that traumatizes you with anything.

Now an alcoholic is traumatized by the alcohol because many bad things happen to alcoholics when they drink, you know, but they can't stop. So we could say that addiction is a subset, subspecies of trauma bonding.

Just to kick off the conversation, I'm not sure.

So that's interesting. I never thought of it that way. But yeah, so that's any type of abuse, including the alcohol, the negative aspects of alcohol.


Wouldn't you agree that the alcohol abuses the alcoholic in many ways? I mean, horrible things happen to alcoholics. They're robbed, they're mugged, they're killed, absolutely horrible things. And yet they can't stop. They can't just walk away.

If you analyze the psychodynamic of addiction, you discover huge similarities with trauma bonding.

Trauma bonding may be the mechanism that generates addiction, actually.

Yeah, interesting.

And you were describing about the training process that the user implements beliefs. And that's why the abuse stays with the purpose of controlling them, basically, making them feel powerless and helpless to not leave.

And now I realize, because I've been posting on gaslighting, now I realize why they say it's so important to leave as soon as possible, because otherwise this process gets worse and worse.

And then you have totally a different belief system and you will feel totally helpless and depressed and stay. Very true.

It's very true.

And training is a relatively new concept. It was first discovered 10 years ago among musicians. Musicians were playing music together and the brainwaves of the musicians became identical. It's like they had one brain, a high brain.

And so I extended this and I said, if someone repeats the same sentence to you all the time and does it in a kind of musical way, like with the same intonation and the same inflection and the same accent, so there's music in the background, isn't training you, in effect.

Now, this leads to a kind of brainwashing. It uses a mechanism known as internalization introjection. Used to be called identification, but the name is changing. Internalization introjection is a very powerful mechanism where we internalize other people who are meaningful to us.

So the abuser forces you to internalize him, so you have an internalization so you have an internal object of the abuser in your mind and then he attaches to it the verbal abuse. He attaches it to his internal object.

So the internal object begins to repeat the abuse inside your mind, simply. Even when the abuser walks away, you broke up with the abuser. His voice is still inside your mind and still repeating the same sentences and the same name, because he created this attachment, if you wish, between the internal object and then trained sound and trained voice. It's very powerful, extremely powerful, almost impossible to reverse. That's why you really must run away as soon as you can.

And that also makes me wonder, but perhaps we'll get there with the next question, is why does the abuser need, why does the abuser do this? Why is the abuser going to these lengths to do this?

So in your work, you compare trauma bonding to a fantasy. Could you elaborate?

The most abusers, not all abusers, let it be clear, but most abusers suffer from mental health problems. They could be mild mental health, but they could be very serious mental health problems, for example, narcissism, which is an extremely serious mental health disorder.

And so these abusers have serious problems with what we call object constancy. Abusers grew up in dysfunctional families and were exposed to dysfunctional mothers, also known as dead mothers. These are mothers who are selfish, absent, depressed, angry, neglectful, or what instrumentalize the child, parentify the child, bad mothers, mothers who don't know how to be mothers.

So consequently, this child is unable to form what we call object constancy. The child becomes very insecure, very clinging, very needy, terrified when the mother leaves the room because he has no representation of the mother in his mind. And this is what is known as object constancy.

So these abusers, when they come across an intimate partner, they have to objectify. They have to convert her into an object because objects can be controlled and objects never abandon and objects never cause pain and objects never frustrate and objects utterly controllable. So they need to objectify you immediately.

And the only way to objectify you is to take away your agency, your autonomy, your independence, and your ability to act, and your trust in yourself and in your reality testing and in other people.

They need to convert you to an ancient Egyptian mummy.

There's a famous movie Psycho by Hitchcock, where there's a guy who owns a motel, his name is Bates, and he has a mother, his mother died.

So what he does, he mummifies her, and every morning he puts her facing the window on a chair, facing the window, and every evening he comes back, goes up to the room, and puts her to sleep, but she's dead of course. That's the ideal partner of an abuser. This kind of mummy, mummified mummy, that's the ideal partner of an abuser.

Abusers, consequently, create fantasies. All abusers, by the way, even abusers who are not narcissists, they all create fantasies. And they invite you into the fantasy. And once you are in the fantasy, you become a fictitious character, because a fantasy is a movie, a fantasy is a story, it's a narrative, it's not real.

And the minute you enter, you become two-dimensional, a fictitious character.

And then of course, the author, the writer of the fantasy, has the right to tell you how to behave in his story. It's his story, it's his movie, it's like a director. So he has a right to tell you how to behave.

And only he has the key, which can release you from the fantasy. But he will never do this, he will never release you from the fantasy.

On the very contrary, he will squash you and squash you and make you more and more two-dimensional, until you become a symbol, what we call an internal object. You become an introject, you lose your real life presence, you become a figment in the abuser's mind.

That's why abusers, for example, have no problem to beat you up physically or to torment you verbally or psychologically, but they would never do this to other people.

You know, many, many victims of abuse, they say, my abuser is so kind and so nice to other people. He abuses only me.

And so people find it hard to believe me, because he's a pillar of the community, he's charitable, he's altruistic, he's a wonderful man, he's kind with everyone. Then he comes back home and it beats me to the point of having to go to the hospital.

And no one believes that he's capable of that.

Because when the abuser abuses his intimate partner, he is not abusing the external object, he's not abusing the real person, he's abusing the internal object.

And he doesn't have other internal objects, is his partner?

That's the reason.

No, he has many other internal objects, but one of them is his intimate father. He has what we call introjects, so he has a representation of his mother, of his father, peers, teachers, role models. He has other internal objects, for example, self-states, he has all kinds of states of the self. Everyone, by the way, even healthy people, have many, many internal objects.

But the internal object that is used to regulate some of the critical needs of the abuser is the intimate partner. So he develops a kind of sick attachment coupled with enormous anxiety.

And to reduce the anxiety, he needs to prove to himself that the intimate partner is a controllable object. That the intimate partner would never walk away. He needs to make sure that you would never walk away.

You know, in extreme cases, he disables her physically. He poisons her, he breaks her legs.

There's a famous movie, Misery. It's a movie with, you know, so in Misery, there's a fan, a fan of a writer. She's a fan. And the writer has an accident. And the fan of this writer finds him in the snow and takes her home to her home. And she nurses him and nurtures him until he heals. But then when he heals, he wants to walk away. He wants to return to his home. And she wouldn't have it. She breaks both his legs in order to keep him in her possession.

And this is what the abuser does. Trauma bonding happens when the abused likes this process, when she needs this process, when she responds positively to this process.

The overwhelming vast majority of cases, the victim tries to run away. The victim is unhappy. She's a good histonic. She tries to extricate herself. She seeks help. She wakes up and educates herself.

In the vast majority of cases, the victims have agency of some kind or another, and they try to walk away from the situation. But in a small minority of cases, the victims want this to happen.

Trauma bonding is collusive and collaborative. It's not true that trauma bonding happens to kind of innocent victims. It's a collaboration.

And the abused person is attached, bonded, loves the abuser because he abuses her.

This is the politically incorrect unpalatable truth. The reason she's attached, the reason she's bonded to him, why she loves him is because he guarantees to her unmitigated, uninterrupted mistreatment. And she needs it for the reasons that I described before.

So that's what you're describing with fantasy from both parties, the contract basically.

So the narcissist needs this love, this validation basically that he never received as a child and is afraid to lose her, has the fear of abandonment. And that's why he needs to control her. Of course, it can also be the other sex, but needs to control her.

Okay. And that's why.

And she needs to be loved.

The victims of trauma bonding are love addicts. They're love addicts. They need to be loved.

When they are not loved, they feel dead inside, but they mislabel, they misinterpret many, many behaviors as love when they're not.

They see love everywhere where it is not. For example, they mistake dependency for love. They mistake abuse for love. They mistake romantic jealousy for love because they are so addicted to love and because they feel alive only when they are in a dramatic, extreme love relationship. They tend to see love everywhere, in every behavior and with everyone. That's why I told you that trauma bonding is a form of addiction and can explain. It's a major mechanism in every addiction because there is a lot of fear between the alcoholic and his alcohol, absolutely and definitely.

Anyone, I worked with alcoholics for 10 years, anyone who had witnessed an alcoholic when he sees alcohol, when he sees a bottle, he sees a bottle. It's love. Love is in the air. And we call it cathexis. The clinical term is cathexis. There is emotional investment in the process of loving.

The trauma bonded victim loves to be in love. She's emotionally invested in loving. Never mind who, never mind what, she must love. Why is that?

Because she feels dead. She has no existence except through the gaze of another person. It is the gaze of another person that defines her and that convinces her that she exists when she is not loved.

And again, she misinterprets what is love. It calls many things love, which are not love.

But okay, when she believes that she is not loved, there is no external gaze and she feels that she is not seen. And because she's not seen, she doesn't exist. She falls apart. She disintegrates. It's a process called the compensation.

The borderline, the narcissist, many other mental health disorders. The glue that holds them together is another person's gaze.

The narcissist needs other people for narcissistic supply, attention. The borderline needs other people to regulate their emotions and moods. When these people are not loved, quote unquote, by another person, there is no glue and they fall to pieces and they feel dead, totally dead.

And with totally dead, you mean, is it like a form of total disconnect to the world?

Intense loneliness? What is it?

The clinical terms are emotional numbing and reduced affect display. They feel that they don't have sufficient energy to manifest. It's like they feel that they're in such a low level of energy that they can't prove to other people that they exist.

Because we communicate to other people all the time that we exist. It takes energy. You know, we are talking right now. You are communicating to me that you exist and I'm communicating to you that I exist and we are both using energy to do this.

The love addict, when she is not loved or believes that she is not loved, her level of energy is so low that she cannot communicate even her existence to other people. Even to herself, she cannot convince herself that she exists. So she wants to die.

She wants to die. Hence, self-harming, self-mutilation, because it's the only way to feel alive again.

It's like if I don't have love, I can have pain. Pain is like love because love makes me feel alive and pain makes me feel alive. So love is pain and pain is love.

That is the foundation of trauma bonding.

The misidentification of love with pain and pain with love.

So they need fuel basically, right? To feel this energy.


And you often hear the term narcissistic supply, which is to be seen and all these things.

But on the other hand, you have also the abused persons. That person also needs supply. So both need supply, basically.

The abused person needs, yes.

You could think of the abused person's version of love as supply, yes, because it's to be seen. You're right.

It's to be seen. To be regulated, all these things.

And could we state that because many people who get in a trauma-bonded relationship and have a sense of agency or are generally healthy can get out and will get out. Some people actually stay in it because they gain something out of it.

So do these people, are these people, mostly people with borderline or codependency or specific disorder, what are the factors?

Obviously people with regulatory disturbances, regulatory disorders such as borderline personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, also known as codependency. The codependent has difficulty to regulate her needs. She outsources her needs to an external, to an intimate partner.

The borderline has trouble to regulate her emotions and her labile moods. So she outsources the regulatory function to an intimate partner. So these kinds of disorders definitely are much more likely to end up in trauma-bonding.

But the truth is that even healthy people can end up in trauma-bonding. Even healthy people, depending on the period in life that you find yourself, for example, healthy people who have just undergone a major crisis are very vulnerable. And clinically, they have a borderline personality structure for a while, because immediately after trauma in post-traumatic state or immediately after crisis, there are severe problems in regulation. There are dysregulated emotions and so on. So clinically, if you wish, we are in a borderline state.

So if you find a healthy person and she's just went through a horrible crisis, I don't know, she lost her child, for example, she's vulnerable.

Now, every predator knows this. Every pickup artist knows this. They know to go to a bar, find women who drink alone, and they know, find a woman who is crying, and they know that she's vulnerable. And they home in on the vulnerability, and they leverage it, and they abuse it. So vulnerable people, whether they're vulnerable lifelong, like borderlines, or whether they're vulnerable in a specific period of time, they can end up trauma-bonding.

Okay. It's very interesting. And then I'm wondering if someone has the tendency to choose these types of relationships.

By the way, is it always, is the abuser always a narcissist?

As I said, some abusers have personality disorders, some abusers have other mental health issues, for example, bipolar disorder. But I would say that majority of abusers, the abuse in majority of abusers is not connected to mental health issues. It's a functional, it's a way of functioning in relationships that has to do with communication skills, attachment style, fear of abandonment, early childhood trauma, or problems with object constancy, predilections, for example, if you're schizoid, you don't like people, and you end up with an intimate partner, intimate partner is a person, you don't like people, so you're going to take it out on her.

So abuse is a behavior. It's not a mental health diagnosis. And it's not necessarily connected to mental health issues.

All narcissists, all narcissists, and all borderlines are abusers. All psychopaths, of course, are abusers. So all people with cluster B personality disorders are typically abusers, but not all abusers have cluster B personality, so.

And then trauma bonding, the way you have described it is in a way, is a codependency, right? Because they are dependent upon each other.

It's a dependency. It's not codependency in the sense that the abuser is not attached to the abused. The abuser can replace the abused any minute through the process of idealization devaluation. So he idealizes her in order to captivate her, and then he can just devalue her.

So to the abuser, who is abusing is not very important. The act of abuse is important. The act of abuse gives the abuser comfort.

Because when he abuses, he feels that he's in control. He feels he will not be abandoned. He feels his anxiety is going down.

It is the act of abuse, not the target of the abuse that is important.

Today, I abuse you. Tomorrow, I abuse someone else. It doesn't matter. I just need to abuse. It's like making money, you know? You can make money from one business, and then the next day you can make money from another business. It's not a business that matters. It's a process of making money. It's the same with abuse. So it's codependency is a very misleading term, which is why, by the way, we never use it in clinical settings or academia. I'm a professor. I never use this phrase because it implies reciprocity.

Codependency, like both parties are dependent, which is very misleading, because in majority of dependency situations, only one party is dependent.

In trauma bonding, only the abuse party loves the abuser. The abuser has no emotions, no attachment, nothing towards the abused. He just uses her. He uses her as a punching bag, you know? He punches her. That's all. He needs to abuse.

Now, if I'm an abuser, I need to abuse. You happen to be there. Bad for you, your problem. You happen to be there. If you move away and another woman enters the frame, I will abuse her. No problem. I just need to abuse.

Example, yes? I don't need to abuse you, but now I'm saying it's unacceptable.

But then I understand also, this might be hard for people who are abused to hear because they often have this hope that their partner loves them, their abuser loves them.

But from what I understand, those are from your videos, which were very insightful.

Is that the abuser doesn't form an attachment to them. It's an attachment to what he has, the snapshot he has from them.

So he never really cared. And what you're describing, he cared about the abuse, the feeling of control, not necessarily about the other person.

Is that correct?

That is correct for all abusers, by the way. Not only narcissists. All abusers abuses a power play. It's a control strategy. It has very little to do with the target of abuse.

Now, the targets of abuse, they want to feel special. They want to feel unique because they have their own grandiose narcissistic defenses. And they want to make sense of what happened. They want what happened to have meaning. They want the abuse to make some sense.

So they say, I'm being abused because I'm highly empathic. I'm being abused because I'm kind. I've been abused because I'm a nice person. I've been chosen to be abused. I haven't been abused randomly. I haven't been abused accidentally. I've been abused because I've been chosen.

They want to convince themselves that what happened makes sense.

But here's the breaking news. Abuse doesn't make sense.

And the abuse victims are not chosen. They just happen to be there conveniently.

There is no commonality. There is no typology of abuse victims.

We have a science. We have a field called victimology. And in victimology, we study profiles of victims.

And when it comes to abuse in intimate relationships, there is no typical profile. Everyone can be abused. Anyone can be abused.

Empathic and non-empathic. Good people and bad people. Anyone can end up being a victim of abuse.

So you're not special as a victim of abuse. You have not been chosen. You just happen to be there.

That is very difficult to hear because it means that the abuse was random, accidental, meaningless, senseless. And so your life was ruined by an accidental occurrence, by some random event.

And you can't digest this. You can't digest this because you attribute to the abuser humanity.

But when the abuser abuses, he is not human. In any sense, I'm aware of.

For example, we have shown, demonstrated that during episodes of abuse, there is a total lack of empathy, even when the abuser is otherwise empathic.

So when the abuse happens, exactly during the abuse, it's totally disempathic. He is also self-centered. He becomes highly grandiose and self-centered during the episodes of abuse.

It is another very interesting observation that is a bit under-analyzed.

Abuses are like multiple personality. They have one personality when they are not abusive and a totally different personality when they're abusive, which makes it impossible for the victim to comprehend what happened.

He says, I can't believe that he did this. Otherwise, when he's not abusive, he's a wonderful man. He's loving, he's caring, he's supporting, he gave me everything. And then he broke my arm or, you know, destroyed me verbally. And I can't put the two together. It's like two personalities.

And yes, she's right. There are self-states, what I call self-states. There are self-states. The abuser, when he abuses, when he abuses, is not the same person as the abuser when he is not abusive.

And that's very, very difficult to comprehend and accept.

Because you see, if you are a victim, and you need to give up on the abuser, you need to break up, you need to walk away, you're giving up also on the good personality. You're not giving up only on the bad personality.

It's like Dr. Jacob and Mr. Hyde. If you give up on Mr. Hyde, you're also giving up on Dr. Jacob.

When you give up on the abuser, you also give up on a wonderful man.

Because there are periods when he's a wonderful man, and there are periods when he's a monster. You give up on the monster, you give up on the wonderful man also. It's a package deal.

Can you do that?

Many victims come.

They say, okay, he's a monster sometimes, but he's also the most wonderful man I ever met. And I'm not willing to give up on this. I'm willing to pay the price to be with a monster every three weeks, you know?

So there's a lot of denial going on there for the victims, basically.

It reminds me, I've been working in addiction, and it's always important then to realize what are the disadvantages from the addictive behavior. And you need to really come clean in a way.

And so these people also really need to come clean with reality, really need to see what it is.

And I also have had clients who were so, and perhaps now I understand this is very, very positive development. And that coming out of such a relationship, they feel so bad about themselves. They feel so ashamed that they have allowed this to happen.

But at least there's a realization there. They're realizing what happened and that it was, in a way, useless, but they feel so bad about it.

Yeah. Shame and guilt.

Ego, ego in congruent emotions. Shame and guilt, on the one hand indicate facing reality, which is always good. But on the other hand, they can indicate an attempt to take responsibility for what happened, to feel responsible, to feel guilty for what happened, to feel ashamed because you could have behaved differently, or you could have made different choices or so.

And this, I don't encourage in my clients, because I tell them when you take responsibility for what had happened, you're trying to reassume control. You're trying to say my abuse was my fault. I controlled it. I could have prevented it.

I'm ashamed and guilty and responsible because I did not prevent it.

But the truth is you couldn't.

On the one hand, you must accept reality. You must face reality, but on the other hand, you must realize that there was sometimes very little that you could have done.

And in most cases, you're not responsible and you're not guilty and you're not to be ashamed.

And most people would have behaved identically to you. So I don't encourage shame and guilt because these are disguised attempts to assume control of a situation which was actually out of control.

It's another way of avoiding reality, in effect. It's saying, yes, I have been abused. I accept reality, I've been abused, but it was my fault. I controlled it, which is another way of avoiding reality.

Because in reality, the victim has no control or very little control. The only thing the victim can do profitably is walk away.

If the victim stays in the relationship, there's extremely little the victim can do.

So that's where there's a thin line between shame, guilt, responsibility, accountability, saying, yeah, I contributed to this situation by, for example, making bad choices.

Okay. But up to a point, beyond that point, it's falsifying reality. It's saying, I provoked him. I was in control. Or I chose the wrong partner. I could have not chosen this partner. Or I, I, I, it's all I, I, I, you know, it's like I was the God in the situation, which is wrong.

So a reason that people tend to do that, to take that control back is because they struggle so much to really accept what happened and grief the, the loss of the illusion of the hope, everything. It's multiple grief.

It's multiple grief. First of all, they grieve their own helplessness. There's a lot of shame in helplessness, even if it is justified and objective and could not have been avoided. There's still a lot of shame. They grieve the fantasy that is lost. They grieve themselves because they have been changed irreversibly. And you know, they've been damaged. They grieve this. They grieve what could have been the dream. They grieve the abuser. There's a lot of grief about the abuser. They still see the good sides of the abuser, the child in the abuser. They still love the abuser or believe that they love the abuser. And so there's a lot of grieving over the abuser and the abuser's wasted potential. Not only the abuser is a lost intimate partner, but what the abuser could have been, had he not been an abuser, there is grief about lost time and opportunities, lost social connections, lost family losses. So the grief, this is the most profound form of grief. When you exit a trauma bonded relationship, it's by far the most profound form of grief. If you lose a child, you grieve the child, you grieve the child's lost potential, you grieve your love for the child, etc, etc. But this is limited grief. When you lose the fantasy that was the trauma bonding, you lose your entire universe, past, present and future. Because in your mind, the trauma bonded relationship was a fantasy about to happen in the process of becoming. And it will never ever happen. It's also a huge loss. And you lost, lose yourself. You're no longer you. Sometimes you don't recognize yourself. So you lost yourself as well. And you lost the person you love, your abuser. So there's a cognitive dissonance here. How can I mourn or grieve? Someone would abuse me. Is something wrong with me? Is something wrong with my appraisal of the situation? Because now I don't trust myself. I don't trust my judgment. I don't trust my reality testing. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe he was not an abuser. Maybe he didn't abuse me. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I provoked him. Maybe so there's a lot of maybes, you know, this extremely disorienting, extremely, and profound is called, by the way, in the DSM. The text revision that was published a few weeks ago, they put finally the prolonged grief syndrome. Finally, it's there officially. And I think victims of trauma bonding, they undergo prolonged grief syndrome. Not regular grief, prolonged grief. I think we have to break up. Okay. So we'll say a temporary goodbye. Okay. See you soon. Hello, Stephanie. Welcome back.

Thank you.

Okay. So you, you warned me that you have a question.

I have a question. Yeah. So you've explained a lot about how it is for the person that is abused and how hard it is to get out. And also the grief, how hard that is. Yeah. A lot of things happening for such a person. And you're saying something very important that people should not blame themselves. They got into it. And the only thing they can do, they can do is get out of it. But if they don't have any influence on it, that can also be a little bit of a hopeless position, because that means that they can get into such an abusive relationship next time again. Right. So my question is, are, are people missing red flags? Can they do anything to prevent it next time?

Loneliness is the key. Loneliness is the key.

I think majority of abuse victims found themselves in abusive relationships because they implicitly, unconsciously, if you wish, thought that anything is better than being lonely.

In other words, they ignored red flags and red warnings. They compromised. They lowered their standards or eliminated the standards.

They ignored incidents of abuse early on.

All thisI think the core issue is a terror of being alone, terror of loneliness.

Because when these people, the abuse victims, are alone, they feel dead. They equate loneliness with a form with a form of death.

It's like being dead. Terror of loneliness is a very bad advisor.

And I know that there are many therapies for abuse victims. You know, this and that and how to reframe and how to understand your contribution and how to behave in abusive relationship and how to live abusive relationship.

You know, it's all very fine and needed definitely. But I think we need prophylactics. We need to prevent abuse or we need to prevent abusive relationships.

And the only way to do this is to teach people to be perfectly okay with being alone.

About 40% of the adult population nowadays is alone for life. 31% are lifelong singles and another 7% more or less exit relationships and remain life and become lifelong singles. About 38% of adult population.

It's a gigantic number. More and more people will tell you that it's impossible to find intimate partners.

As the more dating apps we have, the less proper dating we have. It's a disaster zone.

Finding a partner today is a disaster for a variety of reasons, which I'm not going to.

We are as a society, as a society, we're denying. We're denying this problem.

And instead of saying, listen, this is a situation, half the population is going to be alone for life. Now let's teach people loneliness skills. Let's teach people how to cope with being alone, how to be happy alone, how to engage themselves, how to entertain themselves, how to find meaning in life, being alone, to find meaning outside relationships, how not to rely on other people for regulation, how not to rely on other people for sustenance and support, how to accept that the modern way of life is atomized, lonely, and that's it. End of story.

Perhaps you can make a community base, but at least it's not so fixed on a partner.

This is a very interesting perspective because there's so much emphasis on relationships and dating apps, and this is very new. I've never heard this perspective that this is where, this is reality, and we are basically denying such a big aspect of it.

We are denying many things.

For example, take climate change. We're denying climate change. We're saying, we are not denying climate change. We're saying there is a problem with climate change, but we can prevent it. We can reduce emissions, and by reducing emissions, we will prevent the catastrophe. It's too late. We cannot prevent the catastrophe. Why not accept it? Why not prepare for the inevitable?

So we are doing this in all major crises. We pretend that we still have the power, we still have the control, we can still reverse, we can still cure, we can still heal, we can still fix climate change, we cannot fix climate change. It's out of control. We need to prepare for the inevitable apocalypse. It's the same with relationships, intimate relationships. We need to accept that half the population will never have a relationship, and we need to find meaning elsewhere in social activism, in community-oriented enterprises, in learning, in traveling. I don't know what, I don't know what, but we need to provide alternatives.

Today, we are broadcasting that if you don't have sex, something is wrong with you. If you don't have a relationship, you're defective, you're deformed, you're dysfunctional, that's wrong messaging. That's wrong messaging. If you don't have a relationship, either you're not built for a relationship, and many people are not, or you had bad luck, and you have to live with it, and you have to survive somehow, and you have to function, and you have to love yourself, despite the bad luck. Bad luck is not your fault.

You have to accept that the world is not just, you know, but the terror of loneliness propagated by the mass media, by show business, the Hollywood, and so on. The terror of loneliness pushes people to make very, very bad decisions in mate selection, and then even worse decisions within relationships.

If people, if loneliness was legitimized, and sexlessness was legitimized, many people would have been much happier, and this is the situation I think people, you're right, are ignoring, listen, let me tell you something. You have all the information you need on the first date. When you meet someone, and you spend more than two hours with him, you have all the information you need on that first date.

However, if you are terrified of loneliness, you would tend to suppress this information, ignore it, reframe it, justify it, rationalize it. You tend to play games, because you wouldn't tolerate it, you would lower your standards, you would compromise, you would do something, because better to be with an abuser than being alone.

So, abusers broadcast their problems very early on. The abuser, the way the abuser interacts with a waiter in a restaurant, the way he talks to a cab driver, the way he orders you about, he tells you what to do and what not to do in a first meeting, the way he decides which restaurant you go to, the way he interrogates you after you come back from the toilet, from the restaurant, all these are bad signs, all these are warning signs. He doesn't accept the boundaries.

The way he's not interested in what you feel like doing.

Yes, or talks about himself all the time. These are warning signs.

And abusers cannot suppress these warning signs for more than a few minutes.

It's a myth that abusers are very good at camouflage. It's not true.

If you are with an a-hole, if you are with a jerk, if you're with a narcissist, it comes out in the first 15 minutes, and that is if he's very good in acting. So, and if you're ignoring these signs, you're ignoring these signs because you feel compelled to ignore these signs, and you feel compelled to do this because you're terrified of the alternative.

You should compromise, of course you should compromise, life is a compromise, but you should never compromise on your well-being, you should never compromise on your health, physical or mental, you should never compromise on abuse in any form, even if it is directed not at you, but at third parties.

If you see your date abusing a waiter, walk away, that's an abuser.

But then the question will be, I can imagine that these people who are so afraid of loneliness, of not ending up alone, not being in a relationship, they would prefer everything to that.


Yes, so they need to, even if when they get out of such a relationship, they really need to make a decision for themselves, am I really willing again to self-sacrifice in order to be in such an illusion for the outside world, for not coping myself, they also need to make a decision themselves, and society should change the focus a little bit.

Yes, and you see that there is the rate of recidivism, it's very high. People who have been in one abusive relationship are likely to be in many abusive relationships.

They go from one abusive relationship to another.

By the way, the same goes for romantic cheating, for cheating. People who cheat once are three times more likely to cheat again.

We create habits and neural pathways, we habituate, so if your comfort zone is abuse, you're likely to seek abuses.

The minute you enter an abusive relationship, you begin to lie to yourself, you begin to deceive yourself, you begin to somehow accommodate yourself to the abuse, you normalize the abuse, you legitimize the abuse, and then all future abuse by future abusers would look normal and legitimate.

Especially if that's what you've witnessed as a child, but I'm wondering, so why would someone meet a wonderful person, you know, real love as in respectful, honest, accepting you for the way you are, how you are, and then you have an abuser type. Why would someone choose the abuser then over the healthy partner?

Because no abuser presents a facade of only abuse. That's intermittent reinforcement. That's what I said, the double personality.

There is a wonderful man element coupled with a horrible monster element.

But why choose someone with a combination when you can also choose one that has the love without the abuse?

Because the presentation is extreme. The abuser presents an extremely wonderful man.

The love bombing and everything.

Yes, it's extremely wonderful.

And the alternatives are average. The abuser is extremely dramatic. That's why we call personality disorders cluster B. We call them dramatic, erratic, because they're dramatic.

So you come across an abuser, yes, he will abuse you horribly. It's also extreme.

But when he's wonderful, there will be no one else like him. He will be the Mr. Wonderful. No one will come close to him as a wonderful person. And no one will come close to him as a monster.

So it's a dopamine rush as well.

Yes. It's you get addicted. That's what I'm saying. Like alcohol, you get addicted. It's a substance.

The abuser becomes a substance, you know. You consume the abuser the way you consume coke.

That's why it's so important for people to not confuse, as they say, drama with excitement. Right?

That's what I opened.

My opening statement in our conversation was that people confuse intensity with truth. They say if it is intense, it's real. If it's intense, it's real.

So they say, oh, he's so intense. It must mean that he is real. He's authentic.

But no, it could be acting or it could be compulsion. Compulsion is very intense, you know, but it's pathological. It's sick. I don't know. Serial killers are very intense. Psychotics are very intense. Intensity is not an indicator of mental health and is not an indicator of reality. It's just an indicator of intensity.

But people confuse. When you talk to abuse victims, they say that when he was wonderful, there was no one like him. He was the ideal man. He was the love of my life. He was the perfect match. He was my soulmate. He was my twin flame.

He was I don't know what.


When he was wonderful, which is 70, 80 percent of the time, abuse is abuse. It'll elect 10 percent of the time, 3 percent of the time, 5 percent of the time, 85 percent of the time, 95 percent of the time.

They are the ultimate partner, the perfect partner.

And so it's very difficult to give up on the package.

And I'm also wondering, could it be that with an abusive person, usually that person is not really interested in you and who you are and what you need, while a healthy person is interested in you. And that can be with wounded people, can be scary as well because you don't like yourself.

So perhaps these healthy people come very close and the abuser stays at a safe distance.

The love bombing is not being interested in you as a person, right?

There is what we call the dual anxiety, for example, in borderline between there's abandonment anxiety or separation insecurity, and there is engulfment anxiety.

This fear of intimacy, dread of intimacy, is prevalent, pervasive in multiple mental health disorders. The fear of intimacy can be because you consider yourself less than perfect. So if someone comes to know you, they run away because they would see that you're less than perfect. The fear of intimacy could be because intimacy had been associated with pain in childhood. So you anticipate pain, you anticipate rejection, humiliation, cheating, betrayal. So fear of intimacy could be because it doesn't fit a specific narrative.

For example, if you consider yourself to be superior, controlling, intimacy compromises you because it exposes vulnerabilities.

So what I'm trying to say is there are multiple reasons to fear intimacy.

And so yes, the relationship with an abuser is a relationship between two fantasies, between two internal objects, not real. The two parties don't see each other. The abuser doesn't see the abuser also.

So there's a safe distance. Yes, it's self-love.

That's why I said at the beginning, this is a process of self-loving, not other-loving. It's not object relations. It's not loving the other. It's loving how you see yourself through the other, how you see yourself through the other's gaze.

And when you talk to abused victims, they will tell you the way he looked at me, the way he saw me, no one has ever seen me like that. No one has looked at me like that.

You know, they are in love with themselves through the eyes of the abuser. And similarly, the abuser is in love, is implementing the fantasy. He's a child and the abused one is the mother. So both of them are focused on themselves, their internal processes, their needs, their images, their fantasies. They don't have time to see the other. They are too busy managing themselves in this joint fantasy in a movie. It's a movie like the actors, you know, in a movie, in a real movie, they often shoot scenes out of order, not chronologically. And very often they shoot one party and then the other party and they put them together as if they were having a dialogue.

This is exactly the abusive relationship. The two actors say their lines and are not aware of the presence of the other actor. The ultimate director put them together, but they go through their own lines. They have their own script. And the other person is just an excuse to implement the script.

It's very difficult for victims to hear this, because they want to believe that they had meant something to the abuser. They want to believe the abuser had some kind of connection or emotion or attachment or bond. They want to believe that they're special somehow, or at least were special to the abuser. They want to believe all these things, but the truth is they were never there. The truth is the abuser never noticed their existence. They were like an object, a punching bag, an excuse. They were like a trigger. They didn't have a separate existence in the eyes of the abuser. They were manipulable internal object.

This is terrifying to the victim, because it means that she never existed.

And anyhow, the victims have a fear that maybe they don't exist. They need another person's gaze to feel that they exist.

And here the abusive relationship implies that they never existed. So maybe really they don't exist. It's existential angst. Do I exist or not?

Yeah. So these people need to reevaluate that relationship and see how they actually weren't seen and start to identify when someone perhaps is less exciting, less of a dopamine rush, but actually does take into account how they feel that they are really interested.

Perhaps it won't be love bombing, but it will be someone really being interested in how they make you feel, which is a big difference.

It's an enormous difference, but these are addicts.

Coming back to the beginning of our previous segment where I said that these are addicts. I said that they are love addicts. They're addicted.

So a normal average person, potential intimate partner, would not excite them. They would be bored to death. They would not be sexually aroused. They would not be infatuated. There would be no drama. They would walk away.

They can't have this.

So the people who find themselves in trauma bonding find themselves in trauma bonding for good reason. They love the drama. They love the fantasy. They love the self harm. They love walking on the brink of death between life and death. They love to feel that they are alive and they exist because they're mutilated. They love all this.

When they come across a truly loving person, a person who really sees them, really, really admires or loves them for who they are, it's boring. They can't stand it. They just want to run away.

That triggers them not being alive again, which is their worst nightmare. So that's why therapy would be so crucial if they want to break this pattern, this dependency.

So there is a risk. Excellent that you raised this point. There is a serious risk of trauma bonding in therapy.

As you well know, your clinical psychologists, the initial phases of therapy involve transference. And there is a kind of bonding that takes place or attachment that takes place between patient and therapist, even the best therapist with boundaries, with therapeutic alliance, with all the defenses. Even there, the patient develops transference, develops emotions, projects onto the therapist, dynamics, psychological dynamics from her life. And so on. So there's transference. Inevitably, there's counter transference. The therapist reacts to this, nevermind how trained and how supervised and how we name it, still reacts to it.

There's a dynamic development as it is an intimate dynamic. Exactly like in every other intimate relationship, there is a tremendous risk of trauma bonding.

If the therapist is unbounded and trained and so on, if the patient is very forceful and invasive and intrusive there is a serious risk that the therapeutic relationship will deteriorate into a simulation of trauma bonding in an intimate relationship.

And I must say, and I'm sorry to say, that from my experience, many therapists don't know the line, don't cross the boundary. And in many therapeutic situations, they are very perverse or wrong bed dynamics as far as the patient is concerned. Many. I wish I could say it's a minority, it's not a minority. In many.

There could be, for example, a situation where the therapist would consider herself or himself to be a savior or a fixer or a healer. Yes. There could be a situation where the therapist would react adversely to the patient and create trauma.

It doesn't like the patient, you know, there could be a situation where the patient would impose a traumatic overstructure, superstructure on the therapy. She would do something very traumatizing, you know, she would introduce trauma into, she would, for example, commit suicide in the clinic, or try to commit suicide in the clinic, you know, or try to commit suicide in the clinic, you know, too.

So, and that's an extreme example, but there are many ways to create trauma, artificial trauma in there. So the therapy is more intimate than most intimate relationships I know. And the risks are there. Don't think that just because you're a therapist, you have control over the situation. Absolutely the risks are there. Not to mention the situations where therapists cross the lines and begin to have sexual liaisons, romantic liaisons with patients. I'm not talking about this. This is minority.

But even in standard terms.

So you're saying that that it's very important to identify, first of all, the dynamics of the code of the dependent person, basically, we're talking about, right? And then also, it's important to identify if that person actually comes there to really change or just create a new dependency. And then it's up to the therapist to be able to have good supervision and intervision to try to stay out of these dynamics, I suppose.

Yes, if the patient expects you to regulate her, to save her, to replace an intimate partner in some way, and so on and so forth. These are forbidden dynamics. You should tell her, I can't work with you anymore. If you have countertransference, I can't work with you anymore. You need to find someone else. And by the way, it's not gender dependent. You could have these dynamics, even if you're heterosexual, you can have these dynamics with same sex patient. These are not gender dependent dynamics. That's why, for example, a mother can traumatize her daughter. It's not gender dependent. You could have trauma bonding with the mother, even though you're a daughter. So it's not about sex. It's about control dynamics and regulation dynamics.

Yes, very interesting.

There's a lot of information for people out there I can imagine.


Yeah. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. Absolutely.

I'm very happy that we went into the subject in such a deep way. I think it's not spoken about this in this way. So I'm very glad about that.

Yes, I think we did some, we shed some new light.

I agree.

Yes, absolutely. Thank you.

It's been a pleasure.

Take care there. Thank you.

Okay. Bye.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Silencing Denying Your Pain Betrayal Trauma And Betrayal Blindness

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses betrayal trauma theory, which suggests that trauma is perpetrated by someone close to the victim and on whom they rely for support and survival. Betrayal trauma can lead to dissociation, attachment injury, vulnerability, fear, relationship expectations, shame, low self-esteem, communication issues, and barriers to forming new relationships. The section also explores the relationship between betrayal trauma and Stockholm syndrome, with the former being more common. Treatment for betrayal trauma is new, and relational cultural therapy may be the best approach. The section concludes with the idea that trust is essential in relationships.

Four Pillars of Self-love

Self-love is about having a realistic view of oneself and pursuing happiness and favorable outcomes. It is essential for living a proper life and being capable of loving and being loved. The four conditions for healthy self-love are self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-trust, and self-efficacy. These conditions are necessary for survival and guide individuals to make rational, realistic, and beneficial decisions. Experience alone is not enough without self-love, as self-love serves as a reliable compass in life.

Psychology of Swinging (The Lifestyle)

Swinging, also known as group sex or spouse-sharing, involves sexual acts performed by more than two participants. The psychological background to such pursuits is not clear, but thousands of online chats reveal ten psychodynamic strengths. These include latent and overt bisexuality and homosexuality, the Slut-Madona complex, voyeurism and exhibitionism, vicarious gratification, masochism, legitimized cheating, alleviating boredom, displaying partners, and objectification. Swinging can be a form of art, entertainment, and intimacy-enhancing recreation, but it can also provoke anxiety, romantic jealousy, and guilt.

From Insight to Self-love, Self-care: 4 Conditions, 4 Steps

Personal change requires self-awareness, empathy, motivation, and emotions. Self-awareness involves understanding oneself without pretension. Empathy is crucial for fitting into society and motivating change. Motivation to change is influenced by interactions with others and the environment. Emotions, including love and negative feelings, drive personal growth. Self-love is based on self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-trust, and self-efficacy, and serves as a reliable compass in life.

Narcissist's Romantic Jealousy as Negative Fantasy

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of positive and negative fantasies and their connection to romantic jealousy, control, and memory lapses. He explains that shame is a constant companion of narcissists and is generated by the gap between their ego ideal and reality. When this gap is too large, individuals may transition from a positive fantasy to a negative one, which is easier to actualize in reality. This can lead to romantic jealousy, coercion, and avoidance as strategies to modify reality or maintain the fantasy. These strategies can result in dissociation, memory gaps, and disturbed identity.

Narcissist’s Retroactive Jealousy Of Your Past Relationships

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of romantic jealousy, particularly focusing on retroactive jealousy in narcissism. Retroactive jealousy is a cognitive process that involves fear of loss and is irrational. In narcissism, retroactive jealousy is linked to the inability to idealize and infantilize the partner, leading to anxiety and control issues. The narcissist's fear of losing the idealized version of the partner and the inability to control the partner's past contribute to retroactive jealousy. This jealousy is characterized by obsessive information gathering, devaluing the partner's past, and a sense of insecurity and inferiority. Retroactive jealousy in narcissism is a built-in feature and is a sign of the progression towards devaluation and separation in the shared fantasy.

Capitalism: Religion of Envy

Capitalism is founded on envy, not jealousy, and this relationship drives the system. Envy is a pathological manifestation of destructive aggressiveness, distinct from jealousy, which is constructive. Envy is engendered by the realization of some lack, deficiency, or inadequacy in oneself, and it is a perpetual mobile that feeds on itself. The playing field in capitalism is heavily skewed and biased, and laws that were supposed to have amended or corrected justice and equity are not being implemented because politicians are in the pocket of the rich.

Covert Narcissist’s Sadistic Envy Fantasy

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of malicious envy and its connection to narcissism and sadism. He delves into the distinction between malicious envy and benign envy, and explores how malicious envy drives individuals to destroy those they envy. Vaknin also discusses the connection between sadism and narcissism, particularly covert narcissism, and how sadism is related to power and control. He references a recent study that explores the relationship between sadism, narcissism, rivalry, and envy, and discusses the implications of these findings. Additionally, he examines the role of envy and rivalry in narcissistic behavior and the association between narcissism and sadism.

Push Narcissist’s 4 Secret Buttons: Gamma Man or Agent of Chaos, Madness?

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the four secret buttons of the narcissist, which are the operating system of the narcissist's internal landscape. He explains how to push these buttons to manipulate or detach from a narcissist. Additionally, he delves into the debate about IQ tests and their limitations, and discusses the concept of gamma males in the social sexual hierarchy. He also explores the discomfort and chaos that narcissists bring into relationships.

No Narcissist Without YOU as Ego and Self

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the role of internal objects in the narcissist's fantasy life, the connection between the narcissist's latent homosexuality and autoeroticism, and the significance of imagination and creativity in the narcissistic experience. He delves into the psychological aspects of fantasy, its impact on personal development, and its connection to sexuality and frustration.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy