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Apocalypting Narcissist, Borderline: Drama, Crisis, Catastrophizing

Uploaded 2/29/2024, approx. 12 minute read

Have you ever heard this word before? I haven't. I woke up with it this morning. It's a new word to the best of my knowledge and it is the way that narcissists introduce drama and crisis and catastrophes into their otherwise mundane and dreary and intolerably stable lives.

What is the difference between the narcissist apocalyptic and the borderline drama?

Do they fulfill different psychological roles?

Stay with me for the answer.

And who is me? My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of C-ARMS Commonwealth Institute for Advanced Professional Studies.

This over with, we can make some progress.


Now, every self-styled expert and his dog and his mother-in-law would tell you that borderline personality disorder is just another name for complex post-traumatic stress disorder, CPTSD.

And as usual, I've been the first in 1996. I've written an article introducing Judith Herman's concept of CPTSD into domestic violence and abusive relationships.

Since then, of course, the whole thing has been corrupted and distorted.

Borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder are not the same as complex trauma. They're not the same as CPTSD.

Borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder are different ways of reacting to CPTSD.

Borderline personality disorder is not the same as complex trauma. It is a specific type of a multi-layered pattern of reaction to CPTSD.

It is partly genetically and partly neurobiologically determined. And the same goes for psychological, for pathological narcissism.

Pathological narcissism. It is a form of idiosyncratic reactive pattern to early childhood CPTSDtrauma suffered in early childhood.

These are therefore reactions. However, as I just said, they're different forms of reaction.

In narcissism, the emphasis is on cognition, cognitive overcompensation. That is because the narcissist is unable to access positive emotions. He buried them deep together with shame and guilt.

The borderline, on the very contrary, emphasizes emotions. So she has cognitive underrepresentation, emotional overcompensation, also known as emotional dysregulation.

The borderline's emotions overwhelm her, drown her, dysregulate her, make her lose control.

So there is a difference between the styles, the cognitive styles and the emotional styles of narcissist and borderline. One is cognitive and one is emotional or hyperemotional. But both of them do catastrophizing and both of them do apocalyptic.

Both of them engage in exaggerating the outcomes and the impacts of events to the point of catastrophe, anticipating disaster, preparing oneself for the worst possible scenario and so on and so forth.

This is known as catastrophizing. It is a cognitive distortion.

It is the assumption that if anything can go wrong, it will and egregiously so in a way that is both compounded, irreversible and all-encompassing, ubiquitous and all-pervasive.

And this is catastrophizing.

Catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion. And therefore, we should have expected to find little of it in borderline personality disorder because borderline personality disorder is about emotions, not about cognition.

Accordingly, borderline should not catastrophize.

Similarly, apocalyptic.

Apocalyptic is the deliberate introduction of crises, disasters, catastrophes, drama into one's life for a variety of reasons which we'll deal with in a minute.

That is usually a form of emotional thinking, emotional response.

We would have expected the borderline to engage in apocalyptic and yet narcissists do as well.

Why is that? Because there are mediating vectors. There are transmission mechanisms between pathological narcissism and salient features of borderline, such as emotional dysregulation.

That's a convoluted way of saying that when narcissists are exposed to stress, anxiety and trauma, they become borderline. And when borderlines are exposed to stress and trauma and anxiety, they become a lot narcissistic. They transition, they change roles when they are subjected to the exigencies and vagaries of reality.

When the borderline anticipates abandonment or faces rejection, she becomes a bit psychopathic, secondary psychopath.

Coupled with her grandiosity, this gives rise to essentially pathological narcissism.

When the narcissist is exposed to deficient narcissistic supply or to mortification, public humiliation, or to a severe narcissistic injury, the narcissist loses control, loses it, becomes emotionally dysregulated and is indistinguishable from the borderline.

That is why both the borderline and the narcissist engage in catastrophizing and in apocalyptic.


The second vector of transmission is paranoia.

So the first vector is stress, anxiety, trauma.

The second vector is paranoia. Paranoid ideation includes both catastrophizing and apocalyptic.

Paranoid ideation is grandiose. The paranoid is the center of the world. He is the pivot around which other people revolve with their malevolent intentions and conspiracies. The paranoid isn't the center of attention. He is the life of the party, so to speak. So paranoia or paranoid ideation is a form of narcissism. Definitely, as far as grandiosity goes, it's a cognitive distortion and the paranoid catastrophizes.

The CIA is going to assassinate me. Donald Trump is going to appoint me vice president. You know, horrible things are going to happen. So this is a form of catastrophizing and it's very common in paranoia.

The paranoid having been having been exposed to his own delusional catastrophizing then reacts with apocalyptic.

The paranoid generates drama, crisis, introduces real life disasters into either is otherwise peaceful and mundane life, pedestrian life.

So these are the two vectors that cause flux and transmission between narcissistic pathologies of the self and borderline personality organization.

And that's why we see catastrophizing and apocalyptic in the same person or borderline or the same person with narcissism.


Now, what are the roles?

Why to apocalyptic?

What are the roles of apocalyptic?

Why introduce drama and crisis into your life?

If you can avoid them, if they're avoidable, who wants to be subjected to danger, to risk, to crisis, to drama, to the slings and arrows of other people, to malevolent intentions, to conspiracies? Who wants this? Who seeks this?

We're not talking about insane people. We're not talking about psychotic people. We are sometimes talking about irrational people. Why would they do this?

For several reasons. First of all, drama and crisis are control and manipulation tools. They're Machiavellian. By creating drama and crisis, the narcissist enhances his or her ability to control the environment because she's or he's the source of the drama and the crisis. He or she has privileged information about the unfolding of the drama and the crisis. So the secret script, the covert plan.

So drama and crisis are about control and about manipulating others. Drama and crisis also serve as an organizing and explanatory principle. Two principles, organizing principle and explanatory principle.

The drama and the crisis structure the narcissist or the borderline's life. They give them shape and direction and purpose. They need to survive the crisis. They need to rechannel your energy.

All this organizes your life, affords your life with some kind of structure channels your life, if you wish.

The drama and the crisis also serve to imbue your life with meaning, to make sense of your life. If you are the subject of a conspiracy, for example, that would explain many things. If you are in the throes of a divorce from a malicious malevolent, scheming and conspiring partner, that would go a long way towards explaining your state of mind, your state of finances and so on.

So drama and crisis serve to explain life, to structure life, to make sense of life. And of course, there's the element, the antisocial element, the psychopathic element of thrill seeking and risk taking, which are embedded in an inseparable part, an integral part of drama and crisis.

Drama and crisis are forms of defiance and consummation, hatred of authority. Drama and crisis lead the narcissist or the borderline to a territory which is essentially psychopathic, adventurous, gratifying.

And so it serves to uphold the borderlines and the narcissist view of themselves as unique, special, amazing, fascinating, unprecedented, somewhat unpredictable.

Drama and crisis, therefore buttress uphold grandiosity. They also invert the locus of control from external to internal.

The narcissist and the borderline have an external locus of control. The borderline goes to the extreme of handing over the regulation of her state of mind, her moods and her emotions to an intimate partner or special friend. She is totally out of control in every sense of the word.

Someone else controls the borderline. Similarly, the narcissist believes himself to be the butt and the victim of conspiracies, maligning influences, envious people, other narcissists, and so on and so forth. Victimhood is an external locus of control. You're not in charge of your life. Someone else determines it for you.

Similarly, external regulation in borderline is a form of external locus of control. But when the borderline and the narcissist apocalypse, when they initiate crisis and drama and disasters, when they risk everything, when they go on adventures, when they disregard themselves and others, when they do all this, they are in control. They are in charge. They're calling the shots. They're running the street. They're the film, the directors of the film of their own life.

So this is a form, drama and crisis, a form of regaining control over your life, devolving an internal locus of control.

This is very common in narcissistic modification, where the narcissist would say, "I made it happen. It's all because of me. I pushed them to behave this way." That's a way of subverting reality, reframing it to reestablish an internal locus of control.

The narcissist often finds himself, and the borderline, often find themselves trapped in a life which is unwanted, a life which is alien to them, a life that puts them down, depresses them, causes them anxiety, a hateful, a hateful life, a life which they resent and reject and would rather not live.

But how to transition out of such a life? How to give up on one phase of life and move on to another?

How to affect a life transition, what Gayle Sheehy called passages? How do you dump your own life, abscond with everything you are and everything you have and start a new, reinvent yourself?

The only way narcissists and borderlines know how to accomplish this is through what Chumpeter called creative destruction. They destroy everything in an orgy of crisis and drama and insanity and crazy-making and acting out and defiance and consummation and criminality. They destroy everything, but they regard this as a creative effort, an act of creation, because they are at the same time inventing a new life for themselves, which is more palatable, accords more with their grandiose self-perception, or somehow elevates them in their own eyes, or at least a new life that has much more potential than the old one.

The pedestrian, the mundane, the routine, the dreary, the stable, the predictable, they are shackles. Then the narcissists and the borderline feel imprisoned in this kind of life.

Commitment, investment, hard work, no way, study, no way. This is for the hoi polloi. This is for the masses. The narcissists and the borderline are such unique entities that they should cruise through life entitled to its benefits without any commensurate effort or accomplishments.

And in order to do this, in order to embark upon this trajectory of constant internally generated transformation, they need to destroy.

So they go through phases of construction and destruction, construction and destruction, and there's never reconstruction. They never visit the same place twice. It's like a river. You can never step into the same river twice.

Thank you, Heraclitus.

So, creative destruction.

The same happens on a mega scale in institutions, nations, geopolitics, the same process of apocalyptic.

Our civilization has become both borderline and narcissistic. Our civilization is personality disordered for many reasons, which I've gone into in many other videos, which I encourage you to watch.

But this is more or less a well-established fact. Younger generations are five times more narcissistic than previous ones. This is a situation nowadays, social media, the technology. Technology caters to grandiosity, to atomization, to solipsism, to rejection of the other, and so on and so forth. It's a narcissistic ambience or environment.

And the masses, the narcissistic masses, feel that they're being held hostage and enslaved by rapacious, venal and mendacious, knowledge narcissistic, possibly psychopathic elites.

Elite is the new curse word. Narcissist and elite. The masses regard these elites and the values of these elites as avowed enemies. Enemy is not another country or even another ethnicity. The enemies are the elites. The West, governments, academia, migrants, mainstream media, science, the finances industry, and of course inevitably, and always, the Jews. These are the enemies.

And the enemies of your enemies are your friends.

So the enemies of the elites are the friends of the masses, terrorists, anti-Semites, conspiracy theories, Russia, Putin, China, populist authoritarians, the alt-right. These are all the friends of the masses only because the only qualification to be friends of the masses is their hatred or rejection of the elites.

The masses abuse democracy and empowering technologies in order to destroy the established order. And this is the apocalyptic phase of narcissism.

This is Jose Ortega's famous book, Revolt of the Masses, 1933, if I recall correctly.

And this revolt of the masses, which is essentially massistic apocalyptic, always results in mob rule, oclocracy, and in atrocities. And we are very nearly there.

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