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Borderline Bible: Switching to Identity Disturbance, Psychopathic Self-state (Compilation)

Uploaded 3/18/2023, approx. 2 hour 3 minute read

Hello, Shoshanim. What are you doing here? It's sunny outside.

Are you crazy to be cooped up with an old fat guy? I'm still in between.

Moving to Budapest. It's not easy to find a rental apartment in Budapest because they are all rented out via Airbnb, money talks, BS walks, or in this case SV walks.


Okay, today I'm going to upload a video which is actually a compilation of previous videos that I've made. It is an overview of borderline personality disorder and reviews the most recent advances in research. Anything and everything is covered there, from switching to self-states to secondary psychopathy to acting out this and that. Everything is covered in almost three hours and that's why I call it the borderline bubble.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm a former visiting professor of psychology and currently a professor of finance and I hope you enjoy the movie.

Learning about borderlines is a lot of fun. Living with them is a little more onerous and difficult, but who can resist them? Not me, for sure.

My name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.

And don't tell me that you didn't miss this introduction.

Today we are going to discuss borderline personality disorder and psychopathy.

Wait a minute, you see. Borderlines are the exact opposite of psychopaths. They have emotions, they have empathy, they are dysregulated, they are not goal-oriented like psychopaths.

What gives?

Well, it seems that we've all been wrong.

Borderline and histrionic personality disorders may be manifestations in females, in women, of secondary type psychopathy.

Secondary type psychopathy is a variant of antisocial personality disorder, a variant of psychopathy, which is measured by factor two, factor number two in the standard PCLR test.

In other words, borderline and histrionic women may actually be psychopaths.

A growing body of recent studies supports this extremely startling conclusion.

Let's add even more.

Survivors of CPTSD, survivors of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, victimsalso manifest psychopathic and narcissistic behaviors, what I call psychopathic and narcissistic overlay.

So, borderlines, victims of CPTSDand psychopaths or psychopathic narcissists or secondary psychopaths may actually be one and the same.

In the case of victims and survivors of CPTSD, the psychopathic behaviors, the narcissistic choices, the traits that develop, they're all transient.

Not so in the case of borderline women.

Intimate partners of borderline women will not be surprised. They are aware of, affected by, and familiar with the borderline woman's impulsivity, her defiant grandiosity, antisocial and interpersonal aggression, her manipulativeness, her dysregulated negative emotionality, paranoia, lack of object constancy or object impermanence.

In other words, out of sight, out of mind.

Attachment dysfunctions, hostility, splitting or dichotomous thinking, all whiteall black, high levels of distress, anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

This laundry list is typical of and common among secondary psychopaths, but also among borderline womenand men, of course, but the majority of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are women.

These women also defy gender roles and behavioral norms. They tend to be more masculine. They tend to adopt an ideology of anything a man can do, I can do better. And in this sense, they emulate and imitate psychopathic men.

But the borderline woman adds a twist to this extremely toxic and pernicious cocktail. And this twist is dissociation.

Whenever her stress levels, whenever her inner dissonance, for example, feelings of guilt and shame, pain, expectation or anticipation of abandonment, whenever there's inner turmoil inside her, when it becomes intolerable, she hands over control to her inner secondary psychopath. And then she proceeds to depersonalize, to derealize or to develop amnesia.

All three are considered dissociative phenomena, and we will discuss them at length a bit later.

As she hands over control to her inner psychopath, she becomes malicious, malevolent, some would say even evil.

When the borderline's life partner is another proud member of the cluster B tribe. In other words, when her partner also suffers from a personality disorder, a dramatic or erratic personality disorder, when her partner is another borderline, or another psychopath, or another narcissist, he reacts with equal measures of abuse to her frequent misconduct.

And the relationship ineluctably devolves into a kind of vicious power play. And with with numerous warping, cruel mind games, sadism, and this exacerbates the mental health outcomes for everyone involved.

Yes, even narcissists, borderlines and psychopaths can be traumatized, often are.


So let's go back to dissociation.

Dissociative depersonalization and derealization are common reactions in borderline personality disorder, but also in dissociative identity disorder, DID, formerly known as multiple personality disorder.

Similarly, dissociation is common in patients with post- traumatic stress disorder, such as PTSD or CPTSD. The experience of derealization and depersonalization is variously described as being on autopilot, sliding into anesthesia, or reverting to the status of an empathic or sad spectator. It is provoked by intolerable dissonance, as I say.

For example, when the borderline woman cheats on her partnerwhen she is having ambivalent sex, when she is breaking the law, or when she is breaching some deeply held mores and values.

In all these cases, just examples of dissonance, she would tend to dissociate.

Why does she dissociate? What's the aim? What's the psychodynamic aim?

Well, by dissociating, the patient distances herself from the events, from her pain, and from anticipated abandonment and rejection. By dissociating, she is no longer there.

There are these mechanisms of estrangement and alienation. It's like she is saying, "This is not happening to me. This is just a nightmare. This is not real."

Substance abuse and ambient distractions tend to exacerbate these reactive patterns.


And so we find borderline women with borderline personality disorder barhopping, or getting addicted to video games, or similar distracting activities, activities that are intended to take the borderline's mind off of the cataclysmic agony that she is experiencing, of the impending doom of abandonment and rejection, of the gileotin of intolerable, unbearable pain that is awaiting her once she is dumped.

And so these substance abuse and ambient distractions tend to exacerbate reactive patterns. The patient ends up usually misattributing to alcohol or to drugs the behaviors wrought by her alters, wrought by her different self-states.

So here's the sequence. She's in pain, or she anticipates pain. She can't take it. She can't tolerate it. So she distracts herself. She distracts herself by drinking, by engaging in all kinds of activities, by having sex with a stranger. She does all these things as she consumes drugs and alcohol, for example.

So then she has amnesia, or she depersonalizes, or she cuts herself off reality, derealization.

And then in an attempt to explain to herself what had happened, why she can't recall anything, she says to herself, "It must have been the alcohol. Must have been an alcoholic blackout. Must have been something the drugs did."

So she explains the subsequent amnesia via the substance abuse.

But that's not the truth. The truth is that another state of self has emerged.

Once the borderline is threatened with abandonment or experiences pain and rejection, another self emerges, the equivalent of an alter, alternative personality in dissociative identity disorder. And this self that emerges is very often a secondary psychopath.

Vaudeline personality disorder can best be described as a subspecies of dissociative identity disorder.

The moodlability and emotional dysregulation are merely outward manifestations of changes in selfstates. They represent switching from a host personality, A and P, to an alter personality, EP.

The dissociative trigger in borderline personality disorder is typically either actual abandonment or the perceived threat of rejection and separation from an intimate partner within an interpersonal relation.

And this results in unbearable abandonment or separation anxiety. Vaudeline is very low tolerance of uncertainty and anxiety. She preempts, she generates the various situations that she is so fearful of.

So she's afraid of being abandoned, she abandons. She's afraid of being abused, she abuses.

Indeed, severe dissociation is even now a diagnostic criterion of BPD, criterion number nine.

So borderline personality disorder is diagnosed partly based on dissociative states.

When one of the alters of the borderline is a psychopath, the borderline patient will be antisocial.

Impulsive, dysempathic, mendacious. She will lie about everything all the time, aggressive and defiant. She will be able to go for long periods without any romantic or sexual liaisons. During these periods, she would be like a lone wolf in her lair.

This is something that borderline personality disorder patients whose alters are not psychopathic cannot ever countenance or do.

So when we want to differentiate the borderline personality disorder patient with a psychopathic self state from a borderline personality patient without a psychopathic self state with some other type of self state, let's say a grandiose self state, all we have to do is look at the patterns of behavior and existence.

Borderlines with a psycho with an inner psychopath, they are lone wolves. They spend a lot of time alone. Sometimes they avoid social contacts or society.

And borderline with a grandiose self state, with a grandiose narcissistic, they would tend actually to seek company and they are incapable of surviving even for one day without an intimate partner. They feel horrible. They can't they feel abandoned. They feel dead. They feel dead inside. They don't feel alive.

Unless there's someone who loves them, or someone they perceive as loving and caring.

It is a myth that people with borderline personality disorder or even dissociative identity disorder cannot fully control the behaviors and the choices of their alters. They can.

This is why the courts, courts all over the world reject borderline personality disorder and dissociative identity disorder as a mitigating circumstance, as a defense. They throw people in prison, even when it is proven beyond doubt, that when they had committed the felony of the crime, they were under the control of an alter, an alternative personality, not the main personality.

According to Cavanaugh, Sullivan and Mulby, in a long forgotten clinical note, titled A Clinical Note on Hysterical Psychosis in the American Journal of Psychiatry, June 1979.

Well, according to these three scholars, again, Cavanaugh, Sullivan and Mulby, some narcissistic and histrionic people, mostly women, react with a transient form of psychosis to unwanted sexual advances.

But here's the surprise. They react exactly the same way with psychopathy and psychosis.

Also, when they are interested in someone sexually, when their fervent sexual interest is not reciprocated, when they want someone and they are rejected by that person.

In the footsteps of Martin, 1971, the three authors explicitly attribute such decompensation and acting outin some casesto oral narcissistic structures in the personality and to immature object relations.

In other words, what the three authors postulate is that in women with borderline personality disorder, they are internal narcissistic structures, which cause the borderline to decompensate and to act out sometimes psychopathically to sexual rejection or to unwanted sexual advances in both cases.

I would add to this list, women who succeed actually to bed, to have sex with the men that they desire, but are then abandoned or ignored emotionally, contrary to their wishes and fantasies.

So three cases.

If there's unwanted sexual advances, if the woman is interested in sex, but the man is not, or if they both end up having consensual sex, but then the man dumps her, vanishes, abandons her, and ignores her emotionally.

In all three cases, there is a process of decompensation. All the defense mechanisms are switched off and acting out. Acting out means reckless behaviors, such as unprotected sex or binge drinking or reckless driving or shopping spree.

And many of these behaviors today can be described as secondary psychopathy.

The connection between brief reactive psychotic episodes and symptomatic manifestations of dissociation, including amnesia and even dissociative identity disorder. This connection is well established.

See, for example, the definitive work Dissociations and Dissociative Disorders, DSM-5 and Beyond, edited by Dell and O'Neill, published by Rutter in 2009.

So when these women, borderline women, disintegrate under stress or trauma or pain or anticipation or abandonment anxiety, when there is this process of decompensation and disintegration, the transition to dissociative psychosis is abrupt and shocking.

It resembles switching from the core personality, the host personality, to an altered alternative personality in multiple personality disorder.

Patients describe it as brain fog, though they may appear to be perfectly oriented and goal-focused. Very often you can't tell from the outside that this is happening to the inside.

On such occasions, behavior changes markedly, becomes disorganized, and then escalates to become aggressive, impulsive, disempathic, reckless, promiscuous, and antisocial.

Sowhile you can't, very often, one cannot tell when the switching took place.

After the switching had taken place, a new personality emerges and takes over.

And this personality, as you've just heard, is a psychopath.

Amnesia sets in much later, and its aim is to repress painful and acutely uncomfortable egodystonic memories, which, had they remained in conscious awareness, would have provoked extreme shame, extreme guilt, and remorse. Where amnesia is absent, the borderline woman undergoes depersonalization and derealization. She fears that she was acting as an observer on autopilot.

Substance abuse, such as binge drinking or getting stoned, as I said before, exacerbates all these mental health issues and defenses.

More generally, I've been arguing in the past few years to reverse Kernberg's hierarchy, Otto Kernberg. He suggested a hierarchy whereby borderlines are closer to psychosis than narcissists. I postulate that the narcissist is far closer to psychosis. His personality is less organized than the borderline.

Only the narcissist's rigid grandiosity is keeping the narcissist together. And when this grandiosity is effectively challenged, the narcissist decompensates, acts out, and disintegrates.

Grotstein postulated that the borderline is the failed narcissist. The pathology did not progress or devolve into narcissism, which is a full-fledged form of binary dissociative identity disorder with two selves, the false and the true.

The narcissist's solution to this duality of selves, the narcissist's solution to having multiple personality disorder with two selves, true and false, his solution is to switch off the dilapidated, atrophied and dysfunctional true self and to relegate the true self to the deepest resources of the mind where it has no influence whatsoever on the narcissist's psychodynamics.

So what is left? The false self. Only the false self is left.

And this is the narcissist.

In contrast, the borderline fails to repress and dissociate the true self. Where the narcissist succeeds to eliminate effectively the true self, the borderline fails.

Consequently, she never becomes a narcissist. And this so-called failure causes the borderline's two selves, the true and the false, to compete for control of her identity and her memories.

There is no such competition within the narcissist. The narcissist is the false self. Take away the false self and there's nobody there. Nobody alone.

With the borderline, there are two selves in conflict, in battle. It is this inner struggle that mimics other dissociative disorders and led scholars such as Masterson, Dell, Putnam, Ross, Ryle and many others to suggest that borderline personality disorder may merely be another label for the identity diffusion and alteration common in dissociative disorders.

So what we have in a borderline is a dissociative psychopath. A dissociative psychopath, usually with the pronounced grandiosity of the narcissist and the seductiveness, the flirtatiousness of the histrionic when they are provoked by abandonment anxiety.

Borderline personality disorder is a basket diagnosis. It is a diagnosis that unites all Cluster B diagnosis and its foundation is in trauma.

Therefore, via the conduit of borderline personality disorder, we can begin to see a unifying picture.

These are all post-traumatic conditions and they all involve forms of all pervasive, ubiquitous dissociation. We are getting a sniff, we're getting a hint of the future.

The future will center around trauma and dissociation.

Psychopathy, borderline, narcissist, these are different behavioral modalities. They are not real clinical constructs.

This is exactly what led to the abnormal phenomenon of comorbidity. This is precisely why we had to make laundry lists which overlap so massively that we had to invent differential diagnosis, because these are not real clinical entities. They are simply facets of the kaleidoscope that is the soul of a cluster B.

Borderline is another name for dissociation, post-traumatic dissociation, and some borderlines act as psychopaths, others act as narcissists, and all of them usually act as histrionic.

It's time to unify all these diagnoses into a single one, a diagnosis of personality disorder with emphasis, personality disorder with grandiose emphasis, with psychopathic or antisocial emphasis, with histrionic emphasis, and with dysregulated emphasis, formerly known or called borderline.

Anyone with borderline will tell you that she switches between whole identities. She doesn't feel herself in various states.

And before I proceed, borderline personality disorder is equally diagnosed nowadays in women as in men. I'm using the female pronouns because the vast majority of scholarly literature hitherto had focused on the manifestations of borderline personality disorder in women.

And yes, I think this is a form of gender bias and sexism in psychiatry and psychology.

Having dispensed with this disclaimer, I'm going to proceed.

Borderlines switch between what looks to be completely different personalities and identities. It is eerily reminiscent of multiple personality disorder today called dissociative identity disorder, but there are of course very important differences.

Anyone living with borderline will attest that borderlines switch, especially when they feel rejected, humiliated, abandoned, or on the very contrary, engulfed, assimilated, merged, infused with a love object. They tend to switch.

I described all this in terms of self- states.

And no, I regret that I'm not the one who came up with this idea. It was Philip Bromberg.

Philip Bromberg was the first to conceptualize and propose the idea of self- states rather than a coherent, unitary self.

Borderlines, like everyone else, have self- states, but there is something very important, different about borderlines.

In addition to self- states, they have identity disturbance and internal emptiness.

And today in this video lecture, I'm going to discuss both of these concepts.

This lecture is a CIAPS, Center for International Advanced and Professional Studies lecture, part of the new syllabus on human sexuality and personality disorders that I have spent three years compiling.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. I'm also a professor of psychology and very well acquainted firsthand with borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder, sometimes on the receiving end.

Okay, Shoshanim, time to delve in and plunge in and get immersed in the Sam Vaknin horror show.

Until 1980, with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 3, borderline personality disorder was considered a form of schizophrenia. It was called pseudoneurotic schizophrenia. The ICD-8, the International Classification of Diseases, which is the world's DSM, the DSM outside North America, mainly European, so the ICD-8, Edition 8 and the ICD- Edition 9stated that schizophrenia, and I'm quoting, entails a fundamental disturbance of personality that involves its most basic functions.

Those that give the normal personhis feeling of individuality, uniqueness and self-direction. These experiential self-disorders were called pseudoneurotic schizophrenia. It was Otto Kanberg who had suggested in the 1970s that some patients are on the border between neurosis and psychosis.

Psychosis is a fancy term for losing it. So they were on the border between neurosis and psychosis. That's why he called them borderlines.

But people don't know that the original conception of borderline included what today we call psychopathy and narcissistic personality disorder.

In short, delectable characters, people you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Okay.

Lang, who was a controversial iconoclastic psychiatrist, described the experiences of what he called schizoid schizophrenic borderline cases. He described their experiences as a lack of autonomous identity, personal consistency and temporal continuity. They usually experience the selfhe saidas disembodied, not connected to their bodies. They feel empty, unreal, dead and differentiated from the world.

So well into the end of the 20th century, there was no real distinction between borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

Lang said, these patients are unable to sustain a sense of self as persons, which is why they are equally unable to experience neither separateness from nor relatedness to other people in a usual way.

They may fear losing their identity in a relationship as wellas feeling as feel dependent on the other for their very being in existence. That's an excellent description.

But borderline, although Lang was actually talking about schizophrenia.

In 1918, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 3, there was a very extensive description of identity disturbance, which was later mysteriously removed from consequent editions.

It said, identity is manifested by uncertainty about several issues relating to identity, such as self-image, gender identity, longterm goals or career choice, friendship patterns, values and loyalties. Example given, who am I? I feel like I'm my sister when I'm good. The DSM 3 continued to elaborate. It said that identity is the sense of self, providing a unity of personality over time. Prominent disturbances in identity or the sense of self are seen in schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and identity disorder. And yet, not a single edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual bothered to define what the heck is a self. When the DSM 3, Edition 3 had been revised when a text revision was issued, they added thismarked and persistent identity disturbance manifested by uncertainty about at least two of the followingselfimage, sexual orientation, longterm goals or career choice, type of friends desired and preferred values.

Fast forward to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5, published nine years ago, 2013. And they ventured a little into the territory of reforming the diagnostic criteria.

They didn't dare go all the way because of pressure from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, but they kind of hinted at what they call the alternative model of personality disorders, pageI think766.

And this is what they had written, what they have written in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5.

Identity, markedly impoverished, poorly developed or unstable selfimage, often associated with excessive selfcriticism, chronic feelings of emptiness, dissociative states under stress, selfdirection, instability in goals, aspirations, values or career plans.

And then you find identity as the experience of oneself as unique with clear boundaries between self and others, stability of selfesteem and accuracy of selfappraisal, capacity for and ability to regulate a range of emotional experience.

Again, there was no definition of what is a self.

In the International Classification of Disorders, they say that there are disturbances in and uncertainty about selfimage, aims, internal preferences, including very important sexual preferences.

So this is identity disturbance.

When the identity, when the self, whatever they may be, when this coreimmutable core, the feeling that you are the same person from one minute to another, the continuity of being you from one day to another are disturbed.

There are three types of identity disturbance to my mind.

One is cyclical, where the borderline into a very large extent of narcissist actually cycle between behaviors, which are mutually exclusive behaviors, don't characterize the same type of personality.

I will take the example of promiscuity.

Borderlines have stretches of unbridled selftrashing promiscuity, which is way over the top, extreme. And then suddenly, they hibernate, they go into a state of celibacy and abstinence which could last years.

Now the two behaviors are mutually exclusive. That's why we cannot say that borderlines are sex addicts, because they can go through long stretches of time without sex. But they alternate, they cycle between these modes, between these identity states or selfstates, between promiscuity and abstinence.

Abstinence and promiscuity are associated with mood disorders, such as depression, and with anxiety disorders.

So we can't safely say that the reason for the fluctuation of the cycling is the mood, that they had acquired depression.

And so consequently, they became abstinent or celibate.

No, that's not the reason.

Actually, borderlines are notorious for self-medicating and self-soothing with rampant, unbridled, unregulated or dysregulated sex.

So it's not about mood. It's simply an internal process, possibly a neurological process, we don't know, which kind of regulates these transitions between identity figments or identity elements, which are utterly incompatible.

Then we have allotropic identity disservice.

It's when there are two or three variants of the same person, and there is an alternation between them, subject to stressors, to stress, anxiety, and environmental and social cues.

So the borderline may switch between borderline A, borderline B, borderline C, and very frequently borderlines give names to these selfstates as if they were separate people.

And this is the allotropic identity disservice.

And finally, there's object relation, related identity disservice.

Preferences regarding friends, spouses, boyfriends, intimate partners, co-workers, role models, politicians, rock stars, etc.

Preferences regarding other people. These preferences reflect underlying values.

And yet, there is no consistency and continuity with the borderline. One day, she could be held bent against extramarital sex. The next day, she could see nothing wrong with it. One day, a certain politician is her role model. The next day, she decays him. One day, a spouse or intimate partner is the center of her life. The next day, she is the center of a twister.

So this is objectrelated identity disservice.

The problem is that autobiographical memory, memory of one's personal history, the narrative that is the glue that holds identity together is disrupted. It's disrupted because of dissociation.

There's a lot of dissociation in Cluster B, especiallyin narcissistic and borderline personality disorder. Dissociation involves amnesia, forgetting things. It involves depersonalization, the feeling that you're not really there. And derealization, the feeling that what's happening to you is not real.

And so all these processes, dissociative processes, disrupt massively the ability to maintain continuous, smoothly flowing autobiographical memory or even stream of consciousness.

And of course, given these conditions, it's impossible to form a core identity. It's impossible to feel that you are yourself at subsequent moments. It's like you're a different person every now and then.

This is intimately connected to splitting and other primitive defenses, where you can't see other people as a single unitary entity.

When you divide people in decontamous thinking into black and white, good and bad, as if there were fragments of people, split-off people, not real people. And there is selfsplitting, the application of the splitting defense mechanism to yourself, splitting yourself, breaking yourself apart, unable to connect the parts.

This is very reminiscent, as I said, to other dissociative disorders.


I'm going to read to you from the DSM Edition 5. I'm going to read to you what they say about other specified dissociative disorder.

They say chronic and recurrent syndromes of mixed dissociative symptoms.

This category, they say, includes identity disturbance associated with less than marked discontinuities in sense of self and agency, or alterations of identity, or episodes of possession in an individual who reports non-dissociative amnesia.

And the alternative is identity disturbance due to prolonged and intense coercive persuasion.

Individuals who have been subjected to intense coercive persuasion, brainwashing, thought reform, indoctrination while captive, torture, long-term political imprisonment, recruitment by sects and cults, or by terror organizations.

These individuals may present with prolonged changes in or conscious questioning of their identity.

I think they forgot one thing, abusive families. Children who are subjected to abuse in early childhood usually find themselves in a cult-like setting with a dead parent, a parent who is narcissistic, self-centered.

These children are subjected to what they perceive to be torture.

And so they're likely to show an identity disturbance due to prolonged and intense coercive persuasion, which is an integral hallmark and part of what today we call complex trauma, complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

In borderline personality disorder, the DSM has this to say.

Diagnostic Criterion Number Three, Identity Disturbance, Malignly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self, they elaborate in the DSM.

There may be an identity disturbance characterized by markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self. There are sudden and dramatic shifts in self-image. I call it switching, characterized by shifting goals, shifting values, and vocational aspirations. There may be sudden changes in opinions and plans about career, sexual identity, values, and types of friends. These individuals may suddenly change from the role of a needy supplicant for help to that of a righteous avenger of past mistreatment.

Although they usually have a self-image that is based on being bad or evil, individuals with borderline personality disorder may at times have feelings that they do not exist at all. Such experiences usually occur in situations in which individual feels a lack of a meaningful relationship, nurturing, and support, in other words, abandonment and rejection.

These individuals may show worse performance in unstructured work or schooling situations.

The French philosopher Paul Riccio suggested a typology or not typology, but let's say a reconstruction of personal identity.

He said that personal identity is a triangle.

There is what he called idem identity, sameness, ipse identity, sephud, and interpersonal relationships.

Idem identity or sameness refers to persisting yet malleable personal features such as personality traits, your character, temperamental dispositions, and values which can change and do change over lifespan.

And also can and do change in the throes of social interactions. These features are expressed in linguistic propositional terms, and when you self-reflect, you can spot them.

Now, Erwing, the mega- master of human personal development, the guy who got it all together in my view.

Erwing described identity as referring to a conscious self of individual identity, an unconscious striving for a continuity of personal character, a criterion for the silent doings of ego synthesis, and an inner solidarity with a group's ideals and identity.

Kernberg is the one who introduced a self-concept.

Kernberg said that it's the integration of representations of the self.

But it's not clear. Did Kernberg mean to discuss a person's beliefs about himself or herself, beliefs that she can verbalize, thematize, I don't know, express, or was he referring actually to subpersonal, unconscious, dispositional structures that only occasionally became actualized as a belief about oneself?

I don't know, through, for example, talking to me in therapy or treatment. So that part remained unclear.

Go back three decades from Kernberg to Deutsch. Deutsch had written a seminal article titled Some Forms of Emotional Disturbance and Their Relationship to Schizophrenia.

It was published in Psychoanalytic Quarterly, or Psychoanalysis Quarterly, 1942.

Deutsch said that there are groups of patients, and she called them as if personalities. It became a very widespread meme, as if personalities. It'spersonalities.

It's patients' readiness to mold herself according to the surroundings. The patient anticipates the widely used characteristics of everyone around her and kind of shapeshifts and morphs.

There's a famous movie by Woody Allen, Zelig. Zelig is a chameleon, a kind of shapeshift.

So the borderline patient, Deutsch described the borderline patient as having a chameleon-like adaptability to others. Deutsch said that her patients were not aware of their as-if personality, which is very similar to the idea of persona or mask in Jungian psychoanalytic theory. It's very similar to Goffman's work in sociology or social psychology.

But she proceeded, Deutsch proceededall of them.

Deutsch said that the patients were not aware of this mask, of this as-if personality. They felt an inner emptiness, which they tried to overcome by an exaggerated identification with other people. Deutsch considered these patients to belong to this schizophrenia spectrum.

Actually, there was no borderline conception at the time.

Ericsson described what he called identity diffusion. It's a psychoanalytic concept, actually, which preceded Ericsson. But Ericsson was the first one to suggest that identity is a mutual relation in that it connotes both a persistent sameness within oneself, self-sameness, and a persistent sharing of some kind of essential character with other people.

So there is this Deutsch mask or as-if personality, and there is a feeling that you are the same person.

And if you put these two together, you get your identity.

Identity diffusion is when there is a disintegration of the sense of inner continuity and sameness.

There are difficulties in committing to occupational choices and difficulties with intimacy. And of course, all adolescents go through identity diffusion.

But if identity diffusion persists beyond adolescence, it becomes identity disturbance.

And that is one of the main reasons we can diagnose borderline personality disorder fairly safely in puberty.

Kernbeck, though, provided the main contribution to formulating identity diffusion as a key pathology in borderline personality disorder.

Kernbeck took all this aforementioned information, and he said that identity diffusion is the lack of an integrated self-concept and an integrated and stable concept of total objects in relationship with the self.

So when we have a self-image or a self-conceptand an image of others, a theory of mind of other people, and other people's concept, a concept which represents us and a concept which represents other people, these are essentially internal objects.

But when they contradict each other, when there is a conflict or a dissonance between our self-image and the image of others in our mind, this, there is a split. There is a split and inability to synthesize these two.

So it's on the unconscious level, or what Kernbeck called the subpersonal level.

Klein described the mechanism of splitting and the association between excessive splitting and the disturbance in the feeling of the ego, as she called it. She believed it to be the root of some forms of schizophrenia.

What about the experience of self? How do people, how do you experience a self, and how does the borderline experience her disturbed self, disturbed identity?

On the experiential level, Kernbeck thought that identity diffusion is reflected in the patient's incapacity to give an integrated description of herself and of significant others.

"These people, these patients," said Kernbeck, "they are uncertain about their major interests. They don't know, they can't promulgate a consistent pattern of behaviors. They're very chaotic. Their commitments to work and to other people are very unstable.

So Kernbeck's seminal, very important, crucial concept of borderline personality organization includes patients with schizoid, paranoid, narcissistic, hypomanic, in bipolar, antisocial personalities, impulse-ridden, impulse disorders, as-is personalities, psychotic characters, inadequate personalities, patients with multiple sexual deviations, and so on and so forth. It's a kind of a basket.

In Kernbeck's terms, borderline personality disorder is a basket term, actually comprising most of what we call most of the diagnostic and statistical manual. He put together numerous categories, which at the time were considered strongly linked to schizophrenia. What he was trying to do, he was trying to create a schizophrenia light, schizophrenia light diagnosis, which he termed borderline personality disorder, capacity for reality testing, and the relative intact ego boundaries in patients with borderline personality disorder.

He said these are the differences between borderline and schizophrenia.

Borderlines are still enmeshed and embedded in reality. They can still judge realitymore or less accurately.

By the way, they can judge reality better than narcissists do. And their ego boundaries are pretty much intact, which is not something I can say about narcissists.

I therefore, as opposed to Kernbeck, I think that narcissists are the true borderlines.

Narcissists are the ones who are much closer to psychosis. They're much closer to a disintegrative framework of self and identity. They are very, very close to hyper-reflexivity.

In other words, a blurring of the lines between external and internal objects.

So I think borderline is a less severe personality organization than narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder.

Feeling of emptiness have also been described, but they've been described not only in borderline personality disorder. They've been described in psychosis, depression, schizoid conditions, narcissistic conditions, and borderline.

So emptiness is not unique to borderline. What is called the empty inner core or the empty schizoid core characterizes all these people.

There are descriptions of a sense of being dead, deadness, an absence of inner feeling, a kind of gaping hole, a black hole, a void, which many patients describe spatially, like in space. They do this with the hands. And many patients can even describe the size of the hole, small, big, fluctuating.

Borderlines very often say that when they're in love or in a relationship, the whole, the emptiness becomes smaller. It's a very common borderline utterance or description.

So there's an absence of inner feelings, a feeling of being dead, unresponsiveness. There's a lot of intolerable boredom, superficiality, anhedonia, inability to enjoy anything or to find pleasure in life, and depersonalization, the feeling that you are not you, that you're just an observer of what's happening to you on autopilot, so to speak. These experiences are not permanent. They're not a fixture, like let's say in psychosis. They are fluctuating. They're episodic. They are, but they are chronic.

In other words, these conditions are likely to recur the condition of identically disturbance and the attendant emptiness, and void, their life long. They're likely to happen again and again and again, but they don't happen all the time. They're not like permanent fixture or feature.

The feelings of emptiness in borderline patients, they are the experiential consequence of an identity disturbance or a disturbance in some sense of self.

When you don't have a core, when you don't have a self, of course you feel empty because there's nothing there. As I keep saying, there's nobody home. There's nobody there. It's a hall of mirrors. It's empty space.

And so there's a continuum of experiences from a sense of incompleteness, vagueness, a search for one's being, to a psychotic conviction of actual personal extinction or non-existence, which is not common in borderline.

That's why borderlines keep searching for something, searching for meaning, searching for the truth. They go from one cult and sect to another cult and sect. They follow role models and thought leaders and public intellectuals. They try to discover themselves via numerous therapies, conventional and alternative. They're constantly on a lookout and a search can describe that patients with identity diffusion experience various forms of emptiness, depending on the pathological structure of the personality.

So he said, for example, patients with schizoid personality experience the emptiness as an innate quality that makes them different to other people. There's a bit of grandiosity here, actually, and special and unique.

I can never be understood by other people.

The experience of emptiness is related to phenomena such as apathy and anhedonia, as I mentioned, in these patients, in schizoid patients. In patients with a narcissistic personality, the feeling of emptiness is characterized by strong feelings of boredom and restlessness. And this is a result of the potential lack of gratification from other people.

In other words, deficient narcissistic supply.

This, by the way, is also common to psychopaths, common to psychopaths.

And so the cutting edge knowledge we have, the latest thinking on the topic in contemporary phenomenology, philosophy, cognitive science, we think there's a distinction between a narrative self and a core or basic or minimal self.

The core self is the first personal manifestation of all experience. It's how you experience yourself in the world, in the world in you. This experience is never anonymous. It manifests as my experience. It's identified with a core, with a self, with a conviction of continuity and constancy across time with what Rico called idem identity, the sameness.

Experiencing articulates itself in a first person perspective. That's why we use the word, the pronouns, I, me, myself. Experience is always first, first hand.

And this is a persistent experience gives us a persistent feeling, persistent sense of self presence.

And self sameness to use Ericsson's term. This is the healthy, the healthy type of core self.

So it's a core self is a sense of self coincidence. The privacy of our inner world and a kind of boundary or demarcation between me and not me. A unity of body and mind, a psychosomatic unity or what we call embodiment in clinical terms.

An experience of being existing in a special way, a combination of being and becoming, having begun in or around birth, and liable to extinction with death, but transforming in the middle in ways which never negate the core.

So the core is the foundational fundamental layer. And on this layer, we have the narrative self.

The narrative self is an outcome of socialization and acculturation. It's largely about language. It's wholly about interacting with other people. It's story about you in the world, you with others.

The narrative self implies to use records term, the who. Who are you? Well, I'm introverted, I'm ambitious, I'm friendly. These are all outgoing descriptions, descriptions that have no meaning. If you were left alone

in the whole world, in a post-apocalyptic world, you're the only human being, these descriptions of no meaning, you can never have a narrative self. It's questionable whether you can have a core self.

The Object Relations School in the 1960s also believed that you cannot have any kind of self without object relations, without interactions with other people. In normal experience, the structure and the content of experience are interwoven, they intermingled, they're entangled. The structure of experience does not become an object of reflection or object of experience. It just happens. You're just in it. You are it in many ways. The distinction is artificial. But when you go to patients with borderline personalities or you observe patients with schizophrenia,

there are structural disturbances of self-experience, the distortions of first-person perspective. There's an incomplete sense of substance, substantiality, embodiment. There's a feeling of having divorced your own body sometimes. There's an ephemeral sense of self-presence. Very often these patients describe themselves as not here, or I was just observing myself, or an out-of-body experience kind of. So the disturbance of the structural level of selfhood and instability of basic subject- world relation also manifest as a disturbance of narrative features, including interpersonal functioning, emotional regulation, direction in life. What I'm trying to say to the uninitiated is that emotional dysregulation in borderline personality disorder is an outcome of identity disturbance. Contrary to what a few scholars say, I think the opposite. I think the directionality is from problems in identity formation to problems in regulating emotions, and not vice versa.

The disturbance of the narrative level of the selfhood is not in itself a structural problem. It's not a major problem, if you're confused about your career choice, or you're impulsive, or you're not friendly, or you're extroverted and introverted. It indicates some identity diffusion, but there's no problem in differentiating yourself from others.

The demarcation, the boundary between self and in self presence and others is perfectly okay.

But when the core identity is disturbed, when the core identity is ruptured, and you have identity fragments, self- states, pseudo- identities, sub- personalities, ego- states, as they're called in some schools, when you're not constellated, as Jung said, when you're not integrated, there is no host, there's no center, there's no pivot, there's nobody there to regulate your emotions and cognitions, actually.

So you have cognitive distortions, and you have emotional dysregulation.

The criterion of chronic feelings of emptiness is also an outcome of identity disturbance.

Of course, if you have no identity and no core, there's no one there, and you would feel empty.

I would like to refer to a few recent articles that have attracted my attention.

I'll start with an article titled "Autobiographical Memories, Identity Disturbance, and Brain Functioning in Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder," an fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging study on this issue. It was authored by Bozatello, Moesse, and others, and it was published in Helium, volume 5, March 2019. The authors say identity disturbance is a core feature of borderline personality disorder. "Autobiographical memory is a process of reflective thinking through which we form links between elements of life and elements of self. It can be considered as an indirect index of identity integration. With reference to the condition resolved," condition of identity disturbance, when it's resolved, when it's ameliorated, "they found increased cerebral activity in certain areas of the brain, an area known as ACC, the anterior cingulate cortex, and they also find enhanced activity in the right medial prefrontal cortex and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and bilateral insula. All these were registered in BPD patients and not in controls. Clearly, in borderline, there is some abnormality of functioning in the brain, as we had suspected for a long time. When the identity disturbance is not resolved, again, borderline brain differs to normal brains. There is increased brain activity in these patients in the bilateral ACC, bilateral DLPFC, and right temporal parietal junction. Hyperactivity in ACC and DLPFC in borderline patients with both conditions, in other words, fluctuating between resolved disturbance and unresolved disturbance, is due, maybe due, to an inefficient attempt to reconstruct a coherent narrative of life events. So this is the neurological background. Let's proceed to another article published in Psychiatry Research, volume 271, January 2019. And it's titled, "Fascets of Identity Disturbance Reported by Patients with Borderline Personality Disorder and Personality Disorder Comparison Subjects Over 20 Years of Prospective Follow-up."

This longitudinal study, this kind of study, is very valuable. It was authored by Muhammad A. Gaddah, Hannah E. Parker, your mind is in the ghaten, get it out, Catherine, E. Hein, and others.

And the highlights are, patients with other personality disorders reported less identity disturbance over time than patients with borderline personality disorder.

The recovery status in borderline personality disorder is significantly associated with a decline in negative identity.

For three or four inner states, three out of four inner states, recovered patients had higher rates of decline in this problem of negative image or negative identity.

Feeling evil or bad showed a steeper decline in the case of non-recovered patients.

So that's good news. It means negative self-image and the resulting disturbance to identity tend to decline with age in both types of patients, patients who haven't recovered and patients who have recovered.

The abstract is interesting. It says, "Participants were followed and reassessed every two years for a total of 20 years of follow-up. Borderline patients reported levels of these states that were more than three times higher than personality disorder comparison subjects, with both groups demonstrating significant declines in these states over time.

The good news. For three out of these four inner states, I feel like I'm worthless, I feel a complete failure, and I feel like I'm evil.

Recovered borderline patients had lower baseline scores and significantly different patterns of decline than non-recovered patients.

When it comes to the fourth state, I feel like I'm a bad person. Recovered patients had lower scores over time, but the groups declined at the same rate, even non-recovered borderlines got rid of this perception of being a bad object, a worthless object.

These results, say the authors, suggest that borderline patients report experiencing inner states related to having a negative identity less often over time.

Additionally, recovery status is significantly associated with decreased time experiencing these states.

A very interesting article, at least intellectually and philosophically, if not clinically, was published by Maya Sanderson and Joseph Parnas, entitled "Identity Disturbance, Feelings of Emptiness and the Boundaries of the Schizophrenia Spectrum." It was published where else in the Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 45, Issue 1, January 2019.

And here's what they say. "Historical and current research on borderline personality disorder reveal certain affinities with schizophrenia spectrum psychopathology.

This is also the case for the borderline criteria of identity disturbance and feelings of emptiness, which reflect symptomatology frequently found in schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder.

Unfortunately, the diagnostic manuals offer limited insight into the nature of these criteria, including possible deviations and similarities with schizophrenia spectrum symptomatology.

In this article, say the authors, we attempt to clarify the concepts of identity disturbance and feelings of emptiness with an emphasis on the criteria differential diagnostic significance.

Drawing on contemporary philosophy, we distinguish between a narrative self and a core self, suggesting that this distinction may assist differential diagnostic efforts and contribute to mark the psychopathological boundaries of these disorders, schizophrenia, as opposed to borderline personality disorder.

Fascinating article, which would lead you to conclude, and I think correctly, that there are very, very fuzzy and permeable boundaries between borderline and non-sophistic disorders of the self, psychosis, and schizophrenia, including schizophrenia light, like schizotypal personality disorder and schizoid personality disorder.


Onward Jewish soldiers to the Journal of Personality Disorders, volume 35, supplement B. The article is titled, "The Dijunction of Clinical and Developmental Science, Associations of Borderline Identity Disturbance Symptoms with Identity Formation Processes in Abolescence.

Very critical topic with borderline and the identity disturbance attendant upon borderline, associated with borderline, and the resulting clinical features symptoms of borderline.

All of them start in early adolescence, between the ages of 10 and 13, most commonly 12 to 14.

This article, timely article, was authored by Shauna Mastro-Campo, Melanie Zimmer-Gembeck, and Amanda Duffy. It was published in June 2021, and this is what they have to say.

Developmental scientists describe the raw confusion that can occur for adolescents as their forming personal identity. Clinical psychologists describe low sense of self-worth, lack of self-clarity, feelings of emptiness, and dissociation as the key elements of identity disturbance, and they link this to borderline personality disorder.

Emptiness stood out as the strongest correlate of borderline symptoms.

Youth, young people, reporting greater emptiness, were nearly twice as likely to report a high borderline symptom profile.

So, it seems that emptiness and identity disturbance are the twin engines that lead later to full-fledged borderline pathology and to full-fledged narcissistic pathology.

Narcissistic pathology is a more egregious stage, a more egregious form of the borderline pathology. That's why Gross Scheinz suggested that borderlines are failed narcissists.

Borderlines are children who didn't progress with their mental illness as far as narcissists. They stopped midway and they became borderlines.

Narcissism is extremely close to psychosis and schizophrenia. It could easily be conceived as a post-traumatic state that leads inexorably and under prolonged stress and abuse, complex trauma, and from complex trauma to a disintegration of the personality, sense of emptiness that are indistinguishable literally from schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and of course psychosis.

This is all emerging in current literature and current debates and I encourage you to read, to download, and read the articles that I've mentioned. They are available on schola.google.com.

Schola, S-C-H-O-L-A-R, dot google dot com. Just type in the titles of the articles which are available in the description of this video down and you will be rewarded with fascinating read.

Living with a borderline, with a person with borderline personality disorder, and I have had my share of such experiences, is harrowing. It's harrowing because you constantly have to mourn and grieve the person who is not there.

This absence, this fluctuating shimmering mirage, and this process of grieving and mourning affects you.

And if you are also mentally ill, and if you also suffer from identity disturbance, there is a resonance, an amplifying resonance between these two identity disturbances.

There is a confluence and congruence of the emptiness of your borderline partner and your own emptiness. It becomes the equivalent of a massive black hole at the center of an illusory galaxy. Some kind of a swirling vortex that threatens to digest and assimilate and swallow you and never spit you out.

This experience could be addictive because both the borderline and her typically narcissistic partner try to appropriate the other person's identity as a sound and a medicine to their own identity disturbance, and knowing emptiness, howling void. They try to annex each other, to digest each other, to merge with each other so as to form a complete person.

But the outcome is never a complete person. The outcome is more of the same, exponentially so.

This is the sadness. This is the frustration. This is the maddening recurrence and repetition compulsion at the core of the narcissistic borderline couple.

And here I refer you to Joanne Lachkar. Joanne Lachkar is pioneering work on the topic. She's about to publish a new book with the Rupressett about this. But she had pioneered the film. It is by far the most agonizing experience imaginable because through the borderline you get annihilated, you get disintegrated and you can't save her, you can't help her, you can't be her, you can't provide her with surrogate or vicarious or by proxy existence. She doesn't have her own and so she can't get it from the outside of course.

And so if you have a fixer and saviour type, if you have a healer type, there is no experience more horrible. Even in therapy, this inability to reach and touch something because there's nothing there is between terrifying and maddening in the sense it can drive you mad, drive you crazy.

It's not for the faint-hearted. You need to be very centered and very grounded to live with the borderline or with the narcissist.


Emptiness, identity discernment, personal discontinuity.

And so the show goes on.

You find yourself living with a kaleidoscope of people, a circus, a panoply, a smoggers board.

And every morning you get up and you're not sure who is in bed with you, who is sharing your life. It's the closest one gets to a horror movie.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm a professor of psychology and the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited and many, many other books that I've writtenand never read.

Now, let's start with a basic fact. The more empathy you have, the more enhanced or increased your empathy is. The older you are, and therefore the more developed your empathy, the less you are able to recognize emotions in other people.

But wait a minute, Vaknin, you say, all of you at once. You're wrong, of course. What you wanted to say had you not been drinking so much is the higher the empathy, the more you are able to read other people's emotions.

Empathy is the condition for reading and understanding other people properly.

So if you have a high level of empathy, you understand other people's emotions better. And if you have a low level of empathy, for example, if you are an narcissist, you are not able to recognize, decipher, decode and understand emotions in other people properly.

Right? Wrong. Allow me to repeat.

Studies show that increased empathy and age-related increase in empathy.

Decrease. Decrease as in down.

Your ability to recognize emotions in other people.

Yes, I know that all of the self-styled, self-proclaimed experts online are telling you otherwise, but they're telling you differently for one simple reason. They are not experts. That is especially true for those whose names are bracketed with academic degrees, real or fake.

The literature in the past 10 years at least is pretty unanimous on this. The higher your empathy, the less you are able to decipher, decode, understand and even recognize emotions in other people properly.

I refer you to studies, the most recent ones by Israel Shvili.

Israel Shvili is a single word. It's a family name.

Israel, like Israel Shvili.

By Agnetta Fischer and by Nannis, N-A-N-N-I-S. That would suffice.


This, one of these studies, for example, involves 830 people. So these are big studies and they show an inverse proportion, an inverse relationship between empathy and the ability to recognize emotions.

This fact is critical to the topic of today's video.

Today, I'm going to discuss how borderlines and narcissists experience their emotions.

Before we go there, let me dispense with another idiotic myth online. Everyone has emotions.

Psychopaths have emotions. Narcissists have emotions.

Borderlines have emotions. Histrionics have emotions. Everyone has emotions.

Even Donald Trump has emotions. Everyone.

The thing is that narcissists and borderlines and histrionics and psychopaths relate to their emotions, interact with their emotions, differently to what healthy normal people do in a different manner, in a different way.

Another differentiating factor is that people with cluster B personality disorders mislabel their emotions. They mistake their emotions. They feel one thing, but they call it another. They slap the wrong labels, the wrong etiquettes on their emotions.

This is today's topic.

A little primer on emotions.

Emotions start with cognitions. Every single emotion you can conceive of starts with a thought. There's a thought, a thought about yourself, a thought about people around you, a thought about your environment, a thought about the circumstances, a thought about the past, a thought about the future, a thought.

No emotion just erupts as it is. It's preceded by a thought.

Now it is true that some of these cognitions are unconscious. It's a bit of a contradiction in terms, unconscious cognitions, but there are some cognitive processes which are unconsciousand they lead to the emergence of emotions which appear to have materialized out of nowhere.

But that's a mistake. Every emotion is preceded by cognition. And then cognition alone, thinking alone, is not enoughbecause what people do is they take these thoughts. Then they monitor their own bodies. They pay attention to the body.

So there's a thoughtand then there's information gleaned from the body, coming from the body, emanating and exuded by the body.

So for example, you have a thoughtand then you pay attention to your heart rate. Your heart is beating fasteror you are perspiring, you're sweating, or you feel an enormous pressureor headache, somatization symptoms. Your body is talking to you. Your body is communicating with you through a variety of autonomous and non-autonomous functions.

And this, coupled with the thought, if it is conscious, leads to the next stage.

And the next stageyou try to understand why is your body reacting the way it does. You invest additional thought. This timeit's analytical thought. You're analyzing your body's messages. You're analyzing your body's language.

And so you do this by paying attention to the environment, by asking yourself, "Where am I? Who am I with? The people I'm with, are they friends or foes? Have I done something? Have they done something?

So there's data coming from the environment, contextual intake.

And these are the three elements that comprise the emotion and bring it on.

Cognition, thoughts, information gleaned from the body, and then data from the environment.

This is the raw material.

Once this raw material is available, you embark on hermeneutics. You embark on interpreting the raw material.

You ask yourself, "Here's the raw material. Here's what I've been thinking. Here's what my body is telling me. And here's the information from the environment. And here's how I feel, but I don't have a name for it. I don't have a name for it yet. What should I call it? Am I angry or am I afraid? Am I sad or am I tired? I mean, am I jealous? Am I envious? Or am I contemptuous?"

So you need to label the last stage in the emergence of emotion into consciousness and the translation of emotion to behavior and to affect.

This last stage involves a very important dictionary function. You're using a vocabulary of previously experienced emotions to explicate to yourself, to label these emotions, to tell you what they are.

Now, what do you do when your cognition is problematic?

Narcissists, borderlines, psychopaths, histrionics, and a variety of people with other personality disorders and other mental health disorders. They all have cognitive deficits, cognitive biases, and cognitive policies.

And these cognitive deficits are very, very crucial, very important. They are ubiquitous. They are all pervasive. They affect every dimension and every aspect and every sermon, every icon of the narcissist existence or the borderlines existence.

They distort reality. Take, for example, the narcissist's grandiosity. The narcissist's grandiosity is a cognitive deficit. It makes him misjudge himself. He has an inflated view of himself, a fantastic view, a view that has nothing to do with reality. He's divorced from reality.

Equally, he has a devaluing, contemptuous, disdainful attitude to others. So he misjudges them.

For example, he misjudges the damage they can do to him. So it's dangerous.

Cognitive deficits are dangerousand they are all pervasive in the sense that the narcissist can't say, "Okay, I will ignore that aspect of me. I will ignore this dimension of my brain processes, of my cerebral processes. I'll try to focus on something else."

There's not something else. Everything is affected by the narcissist's deficit.

The same with the borderline, the all-deaf cognitive deficits. So if emotion is critically dependent on cognition, if it actually starts with cognition, if there is no emotion without cognition, if it is a cynical or non-a condition that is both sufficient and necessary.

So if emotion is so crucially dependent and so derivative on cognition, then if your cognitive processes are malformed, if they are defective, if they are deformed, if they are problematic, your emotions will be as well.

You can't have a proper healthy emotion based on a cognitive deficit. You can't really experience emotions the way healthy people do.

If your thinking processes have nothing to do with reality or are utterly illogical and distorted, cognitive deficits, cognitive problems, cognitive issues in narcissism, borderlineand other personality disorders have massive effects not only on the narcissist and the borderline's ability to emote, but on the content of their emotions, on the structure of their emotions, on what their emotions are, on the liquidity, on the essence of their emotions.

Fundamental deficits and biases create emotions which are so deformed, so misaligned, so misassembled that it's very easy to misidentify them.

If your emotions are bizarre, outlandish, it's very easy to get your emotions wrong, to misjudge them.

One could say that the narcissism and borderline not only have an impaired reality testing, in other words, they not only misjudge the external environment, other people reality itself, but they have an impaired internal reality testing. They misjudge not only the outside landscape, but their own inner landscape.

And we know that cognition, we know that emotions are crucially dependent on cognition to the extent that many scholars suggest that we should not make this distinction. That emotions are just a subtype, a class of cognitions. That emotions are actually thoughts which provoke certain bodily and mental processes, but that's all, they are thoughts.

Many scholars advocate eliminating this ostensibly artificial difference that we are making today between emotions and cognitions.

But at any rate, no one would argue that they are very closely aligned, that they are twins. And we know that this is true because we have conducted multiple and numerous experiments.

There was an experiment where students were shown photos of women, male students were shown photos of women, and at the same time were given a mild drugwhich created tachycardia, created faster heartbeat.

The students trying to interpret why their hearts are beating faster, they came up with the explanation that they were infatuated with the women, with the photos.

So when your body signals to you, when there are changes in your body, you scramble, you try to understand, you try to imbue your existence with meaning. You're asking yourself, why is my heart beating faster? Why am I sweating? Why is my heart beating faster and sweating when I'm watching this photo of a woman? Oh, probably I'm infatuated with her.

And this is one of numerous experiments.

And so we know that cognitions affect emotions. We also have techniques, therapeutic techniques, which prove this beyond any doubt. There's a technique called reappraisal.

Reappraisal is when we teach people to change the cognition that underlies a certain emotion. So the client comes and says, "I'm feeling sad." Then we unearth the cognition behind this feeling of sadness. And then we teach the client to change the cognition.

And lo and behold, the minute the client changes the cognition, the emotion vanishes and is replaced by another emotion, which could be diametrically opposed.

From sadness to extreme elation and happiness. So reappraisal is a very powerful technique for reframing cognitions so as to yield emotions on demand in a way.

Another class of therapies, they're known as desensitization or exposure therapies. And one of them is called approaching the avoided emotion. For example, approaching avoided fear.

So we teach people to think their way to their emotions, to think their way through to their emotions. If there are emotions they're avoiding, like sadness or fear, we teach them to think.

And as they think the way we teach them to, suddenly the emotions are not threatening anymorebecause via the cognition, they totally control the emotion, intensity of the emotion. They modulate, they fine tune the emotion.

There is no doubt in clinical settings that emotions and cognitions are two facets of the same coin.

And so if this is true, and if borderlines and narcissists and psychopaths and histrionics and others have cognitive deficits, it's tend to reason that they will have emotional deficits as well.

Take for example, borderlines. Borderlines suffer from emotional dysregulation. Their emotions are so strong that they overwhelm them. The borderline feels that she is drowning in her emotions. The borderline feels that he is about to be consumed by his emotions, that his emotions are going to drive him, I don't know, to suicide. 11% of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder commit suicide.

The borderline's emotions are clear and present dangerous. And the borderline, as opposed to the narcissist, had failed to develop coping mechanisms. The narcissist develops narcissism, the false self. It's a firewall. It's a decoy. And it's godlike. Helps him to regulate his emotions.

Indeed, many people think, many scholars suggest that borderline is simply failed narcissism. That the person with borderline personality disorder had tried as a child to develop narcissism, pathological narcissism, and had failed.

And so borderline suffer from emotional dysregulation because they don't have active narcissistic defenses. They don't have a skin in a way. And so they get in direct touch with reality. Reality permeates them, triggers them. This is not empathy, by the way. Don't confuse this with empathy. Reality triggers them and permeates them to the extent that they regard emotions as mortal enemies.

And so both borderline's and narcissists exhibit inappropriate affect. Inappropriate affect is when they react in ways which don't sit well, do not conform, are inappropriate for a certain setting. I don't know. Laughing in a funeral is an example of inappropriate affect.

But the echology, the reason for the inappropriate effect is different in the borderline and in the narcissist, let alone a psychopath.

The borderline reacts with inappropriate effect because she is desperately trying to get a hold, to get a handle, to reassert control over the tsunami, the emotional tsunami that is inside her, that is threatening to drown her from the inside. The narcissist reacts with inappropriate effect because he misunderstands his own emotions. The psychopath reacts with inappropriate effect in order to manipulate and terrify his environment. It's an intimidation tactic.

But all three and the history of it, all of them get emotions misconstrued. They misjudge emotions. They misunderstand what's happening inside them. All of them experience inner skyrings. All of them experience volcanic eruptions and movements and emotions. It's like the furniture is being moved around by some whirlwind or tornado or hurricane. All of them have this inner turmoil, have this chaos. Their personality has a low organization. It's chaotic. All of them have this.

But when they try to understand what's happening inside them, when they compare themselves to other people who are healthy and normal, they get it wrong. They get it wrong.

And this leads me back to empathy.

Narcissists, borderlines, psychopaths, histrionics, they have empathy deficits.

The narcissist and the primary psychopath, they have cold empathy. Cold empathy is merely the reflexive component of empathy and the cognitive component of empathy, the analytical component.

The narcissist and the primary psychopath look at other people and they read them well. They scan people. They especially home in and focus and zero in vulnerabilities. Chinks in the armor, weak points, hot button, hot buttons.

And so they have cold empathy, but their empathy has no emotional correlate. They don't experience emotions in response to their use of cold empathy.

So if they look at a crying person, they would notice that the person is sad. They would label the person's emotions correctly. They would identify the emotion very appropriately.

And the psychopath would ask himself, how can I leverage this? How can I make good use of this momentary vulnerability? Maybe I could end up having sex with that person or taking money from her or him.

But this cold empathy, this ability to say this person is crying, therefore this person is sad, does not evolve or provoke or conjure up any emotional reaction in the narcissist and psychopaths.

So it's very difficult for them to create permanent correlations between information from the environment and inner emotional responses.

If you look at the environment only analytically and nothing happens inside you, you will never understand what it means to be sad. Truly understand what it means to love, because all you do is you're an observer. You watch, you classify, you create a normal database, emotional resonance database correlating certain behaviors with certain proclaimed emotions.

For example, if crying then sad, if smiling then happy. But the words sad and happy would mean nothing to you.

Similarly, the borderlineco-dependent and the histrionic, they have functional empathy. They have full-fledged empathy. Their empathy includes the emotional component, but it is very, very goal-oriented.

Borderlines want to ascertain that they will never be abandoned. They have abandonment and separation anxiety.

Co-dependent is clinging. And once her intimate partner performs important psychological functions and caters to her needs, the histrionic is interested in hyperemotionality and manipulatesvia seduction and flirtation and appearance.

So this is functional empathy. It's functional empathy because it's not other-oriented. It's not about the other. It's about you.

You as a borderline, you ask yourself, I'm empathizing with this person because it gives me the tools to make sure that this person will remain in my life.

If you're co-dependent, you're saying I'm empathizing with this person fully, also emotionally, because this guarantees that this person will continue to love me and be in my life and perform important psychological functions fully catered to my needs.

And if you're a histrionic, you're saying I'm empathizing with this person because this way I can understand him and make him fall in love with me.

It's functional empathy. Cold empathy with narcissism and psychopaths, functional empathy with borderlines, co-dependent histrionics, these are empathy deficits. These are deformedmutant. These are mutations of empathy, not healthy empathy.

Full-fledged emotional empathy is turned off in all these types. Full-fledged other-oriented empathy is turned off in all these types.


And why is that?

Because all of them experience overwhelming negative emotionality. If they were to allow themselves to truly empathize with another person, they would risk their own lives.

The trade-off in these characters, with the exception of the psychopath, exception of the primary psychopath, the trade-off in all these characters is between empathizing and emoting and survival. If they were to empathize and emote, they would be exposed to such overwhelming negative emotions that they may well die.

So they prefer not to emote at all. They prefer not to empathize at all.

And instead, they use primitive defense mechanisms, such as splitting, when they can no longer tolerate the risk of emotionality and the risk of overwhelming empathy, they split. They cast the other person, they convert, transform the other person into an all-bad object, they devalue the other person.

And there's object inconsistency, out of sight, out of mind. So these are all mechanisms that these seriously disturbed people are using to avoid emotions and empathy.


The primary psychopath has cold empathy, the secondary psychopath has functional empathy. That's why we think that borderline personality disorder is actually a form of secondary psychopathy.

And so this is the background. You're beginning to see that if you're a narcissist, you have cognitive deficits, your cognition is not working properly, you have deformed dysfunctional empathy, cold empathy. You don't have the basic tools to experience emotions and to label them, to recognize, to say, ah, that's love, oh, that's sadness, you don't have these ultrabasic tools.

Same for the borderline, same with the histrionic, same with the psychopath, some extent, the codependent.

The basic tools that healthy people use to recognize emotions in others and by implication in themselves, and to label what's happening inside them in accordance with empathizing, while empathizing, these are missing.

People with cluster B personality disorders, in other words, are missing the basic human experience.


Now, I started the presentation with a fact. The fact is, the more empathy you have, the older you are, and thereforethe more empathy you have, the more increased your empathy, because there are gradations of empathy, some people, very tiny minority, are highly sensitive people, HSPs.

They have super developed empathy, but even so, empathy is not equally distributed, some people are more empathic than others. So, but the more empathy you have, and the older you have, you are, your ability to recognize emotions in other people decreases.

Listen to this well, it's a critical insight, which we have come across in the last 10 years in psychology.

Those of us who bothered to read the scholarly literature, most self-styled experts onlineclearly never bothered to read scholarly literature.

So, the more empathy you have, the less you're able to recognize emotions in other people.

But if this is true, doesn't it contradict what I've just said? Didn't I just spend 20 minutes telling you that the reason narcissists, psychopathsand borderlines cannot label their emotions properly is because they don't have working empathy?

No, that's not what I've been telling you.


So, let's go over the same terrain again, armed with this new insight.

What I've been telling you is not that narcissists and psychopaths and borderlines have less empathy than other people. What I've been telling you is that they have deformed, malformed, sick, mutated forms of empathy.

This is an entirely different argument.

If you take 10 healthy people, five of them have high empathy, five of them have low empathy, but it's healthy empathy, proper empathy, properly formed empathy, the ones with less empathy would recognize emotions in other people better. The ones with more empathy would recognize emotions in other people, but will do a very bad job of it. The more empathy they have, the less they are able to read people properly, the less they understand other people's emotional landscape, reactionsand sensations and feelings. That's a fact.

Among healthy people, the less empathy you have, the better you are able to understand other people's emotions.

Narcissists, borderlines, psychopaths, histrionicsand to some extent codependent peopledon't have less empathy or more empathy. They are not in this group at all. They're not healthy. Their empathy is not healthy. Their emotional regulation is not healthy. Their cognitions are problematic, unreal, fantastic, sick. So they don't have the basic tools not only to understand and label and judge properly emotions in other people, they don't have the basic tools to understand what on earth is going on inside themselves.

What they do instead is what I call cognitive emoting.

Healthy people, when they experience emotions, they experience it so to speak wholeheartedly. Their entire body is participating.

By the way, literally the entire body is participating in the experience of emotions.

There are changes in the intestines. There are changes in the gut flora. There are changes in numerous other body systems, not only in the brain. Any emotionis a participatory sport. The entire body is involved, including the brain of course. The emotion is experienced in its totalityand it includes a very pronounced cognitive component and a very pronounced so to speak component of feeling. And it includes the assimilation, incorporation and interpretation of sensor sensory input. So it's a systemic enterprise.

When borderlines, these are healthy people, borderlines, narcissists, psychopaths do emoting. When they experience emotions, these are not emotions. These are truncated versions of emotions because they stop at the cognitive level.

In other words, where in a healthy person there is a process, a path, indeedthe current thinking about emotions is what we call a process thinking. So there is a path, cognition, body, information from the body, information from the environment, emotion. It's the path with narcissists, borderlines and so on, psychopaths, this cognition, end of story. That's it. That's where it stops.

These people, thesethe personality disordered people, people with cluster B, they don't emote. They think their emotions. They analyze when they try to understand what's happening to them. They analyze. They compare themselves to others. If they're very good with words, they verbalize.

So someone with a borderline might tell you, now that I think of it, yeah, yeah, what I'm feeling is love. Or she may tell you, I feel somethingbut I don't really know if it's love.

Because for example, when you are not near me, the intensity is much lower or it disappears. Only when you're next to me, I feel it. Or she may sayor he may say someone with borderline or when I feel, when I have an emotion, it's so huge, it's so intense, it's so devouring, it's so all consuming that I don't have the time or the capacity to stop and have a look at it and analyze it. I'm just like, I'm swept by the wave.

So these people, borderlines, narcissistsand especially psychopaths in history, some extent codependents, they think about their emotions. They need to stop, they need to sit downand they need to think, I'm feeling something. What is it that I'm feeling? Let me see. I think it's love coming to think of it, coming to think of it. Or I think it's anger. Because last time it was anger. Yeah, I'm quite sure. Last time it was anger. Or I'm overwhelmed, I'm drowning.

But what does it feel? Probably I'm afraid of something. I'm scared of something. What am I afraid of? What is it to be afraid of? Let me look, let me see.

Now, the same processes happen with healthy people. But then they segue, they seamlessly transform into emoting, into emotional reactivity.

We all look for clues in the environment as to why we feel the way we do. And we all listen to our bodies, consciously or unconsciously.

But then healthy people move on and they emote, they feel.

Narcissists, psychopathsand borderlines don't move on. They are in a permanent state of a puzzle, putting the jigsaw puzzles together. They are stuck at the initial phase of analyzing cognitions, thinking about it, listening to their bodies, collecting or gathering cues and information from the environment.

And this for them is perpetual mobile. It's a perpetual enterprise, never ending enterprise, leads nowhere, results in nothing identifiable as emotion or affect.

They are like, you know, you remember the old records when you put the needle and the needle got stuck? They are that stuck needle. The record goes on and on and on. You keep listening to the same music. You're never going to get to the end of the song. You're never going to get to the point of the song. You're never going to listen to 90% of the lyrics because the needle is stuck.

In cluster Bpatients cope with these horrible deficits in emotional cognizance, in several dysfunctional ways. It's functional because they are personality disordered. The personalities are very low levels of organization. They don't have the tools. They don't have the instruments. They're not of the capacity. They don't have the presence of mind to reason, to foresee consequences, to control their impulses. They don't have all this critical machinery. They are very infantile. They're very two-state. They're very primitive. They're very binary. And so they cope with these deficits by either repressing or avoiding the emotions.

So the narcissist, the primary psychopath, they would simply not experience emotions. Sometimes they would experience something, and it would bother them that they don't know what it is because they are control freaks, of course.

Narcissists and primary psychopaths are all about control. They want to control the environment. They want to control other people. They want to, because they perceive the world as hostile. It's either control or be dead.

So they need to control. The world is out to get them. Everyone is an enemy, the secretary in paranoid ideation.

And so they need to control. And if they feel something and they don't know what it is, they feel out of control. So they need to label this something.

So very often you would hear the narcissist tell you, "I love you." What he's doing, he's mislabeling his dependence on youfor narcissistic supply. Or you would hear the psychopath saying, "I'm very happy." Actually, it's probably not happiness, but it's goal attainment. He finally got there. He achieved his goal.

Primary psychopaths and narcissists actually don't experience emotions. They accept negative emotions. They experience anger or rage. They experience envy. Envy is a criterion, diagnostic criterion, in the DSM-IV for narcissistic personalities.

So some emotions get true. And these are the emotions that allow them to lord over other people, to control other people, to subjugate other people, and to convert them into slavesor sources of supply, or to cajole other people, charm other people. These emotions get true.

But even then, these are not real emotions. For example, the narcissist is never angry. He rages.

The psychopath is never really emotionally invested in any projector any endeavoror any activity. Anyone who had sex with a psychopath can tell you this.

Psychopath is not really into the sex. So they're not there.

These are people who are defined not by their existence, but by their absence. These are disorders of absence, not of existence.

So they don't experience emotions.

And when negative emotions break through, the protective veil breaks, the false self, in the case of the narcissist, or breakthrough the feigned indifference and defiance of the psychopath. When these emotions break through, they're malignant. They're cancerous. They're unrecognizable to a healthy person.


How can you compare anger to narcissistic rage? It's like the emotion is metastasized somehow.

The second mechanism that people with cluster B use when they are faced with their inability to grasp what's happening inside them, to label it, to judge it properly, to recognize it, to tell the world what's going on.

When they realize this deficit, so the first thing they do, they repress or avoid if they are narcissists or primary psychopath.

Second thing they do, they misjudge the intensity or the semiotics of the emotion.

In other words, they misjudge the signaling of the emotion, the cue that the emotion gives them, the information contained in the emotion.

So a histrionic, for example, is likely to misjudge the nature of the relationship, how deep it is, how long-lasting, how involved the parties are.

This is so true that misjudging the intensity of romantic emotions is one of the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV for histrionic personality disorder. They are totally clueless. They misread everything, social cues, sexual cues, virtue signaling, proper signaling, information of all kinds, environmental, sexual, interpersonal.

This is their way of avoiding the painful realization that they are divorced from themselves, that they have no access to themselves, that their emotions are artifacts way beyond their reach.

And so instead of admitting to this, what they do, they construct their own dictionary, their own vocabulary, their own private language, which no one else frankly understands, and they impose it. They impose it on other people. They impose it on the environment.

After one day, if you date a histrionic, after one day, you are the love of her life.

And on the second day, she wants to marry you. It's her way of asking herself, "What am I feeling? What are my emotions with this guy? Oh, probably I'm in love with him. Probably I'm in love with him. Looks like he stands to reason. Stands to reason that I'm in love. Makes sense that I'm in love with him. Well, if I'm in love with him, why wait? Let's get married.

This is radicalization and escalation, which I could call it even semantic escalation, escalation of meanings.

And the third mechanism is dissociation, dissociating the emotions. If you can't join them, beat them. If you can't understand your emotions, if you can't label them, if you can't judge them, if you can't recognize them, if you cannot communicate them to others, why have them at all? Dissociate them, cut them off, scissors them, scissor them away like so many coupons in an ancient newspaper. Just pretend they're not there. Pretend they're not there.

And this happens with borderline personality disorder, the secondary psychoan. The borderline, which today we think is female secondary psychopathy, borderline, essentially what she does, she leverages, she uses several very important defense mechanisms which survive from childhood, infantile defense mechanisms in order to dissociate her emotions.

Dissociation is a diagnostic criterion of borderline personality disorder because a borderline dissociates on multiple levels.

And in every conceivable way, she depersonalizes. A borderline would tell you, "I felt that I was on autopilot. I felt it wasn't me. I felt I was observing myself from the outside.

She derealizes. She can say, "I felt I was in a movie. I felt the whole thing was unreal.

Or she has dissociative amnesia. She will insist that she can't remember what had happened, what she had done. She will attribute it to drink. "I drank too much, so I had a blackout."

I mean, she would dissociate.

And while dissociating the emotions, she makes use of her object inconsistency. It's very difficult to forget your emotions if you have no object inconsistency, out of sight, out of mind.

You are married. You have a spouse. You go out. He no longer exists because out of sight, out of mind.

And so then it's easy to do all kinds of things, to misbehave because he no longer is.

And because he no longer is, there are no emotions attendant on him. And no emotions attendant on the misconduct.

In other words, there's no emotional reactivity when you can forget the trigger.

If you cheat on your husband as a borderline woman, and it's much easier to do if your husband is out of sight, out of mind, and you have no emotions connected to the act.

So dissociating emotions is a major defense against mislabeling, against this alienation, this estrangement between the cluster B personality disordered patient and his own emotional processes.

Coping strategies in all these, literally all these personality disorder. Disorders in coping strategies involve selfsoothing. And selfsoothing is dysfunctional. The vast majority of selfsoothing techniques or strategies are actually dysfunctional. They're self-defeating, they're self-destructive, they're self-trashing, they're reckless. Over eating is selfsoothing. Getting drunk is selfsoothing. Promiscuous sex is selfsoothing. Pathological gambling is selfsoothing. All kinds of bodily behaviors which are harmful, most of them are connected to selfsoothing.

You can selfsoothe with men, you can selfsoothe with sex, you can selfsoothe with drink, anything and everything can be selfsoothing.

And most selfsoothing has an addictive or at the very least conditioned element. You do it almost automatically, almost reflexively when you are under stress or traumatized or in pain.

The reckless behaviors are also selfsoothing. All the personality disorder, narcissist, borderline, sacrifice. When they're faced with their emotional invalidity, with the fact that their emotional triples, with their disability.

And it's not only a disability to emote, it's not only a disability to experience emotion. It's even a disability to tell yourself and others what it is that you're feeling.

When they're faced with this enormous limitation, with this loss, horrendous loss of 80% of what's beautiful in existence, in human existence.

They're not stupid.

Many narcissists and psychopaths are actually super intelligent, collective claims that most psychopaths are more intelligent than usual.

So these are intelligent people, and they know what they are missing. They know intellectually, they know rationally, they don't know in the heart, but they know in the mind, in the brain, what they're missing. They know they're missing out on everything that's beautiful. Everything that makes people human, everything that they're missing out on the most profound experiences.

There's nothing more profound than emotions. Falling in love. Is there anything that comes close to it?

They know they're missing on all this. They know they've been deprived.

They feel a sense, a deep sense of injustice or in resentment, which is the heart and the engine that drives, for example, the psychopaths, antisocial defined activities, acts. He's angry.

The borderline is angry. Add themselves to start with, but somehow in the world who haven't made them like this, they try to blame their parents, try to blame society. They're looking for a scapegoat. They don't know. They're thrashing about. They don't know how to, but, and so they try to self soothe very dysfunctionally and destructively.

And many of them, especially when they grow older, and self soothing no longer works, or the cost of self soothing had become such that even they understood, got it through the thick skulls, that enough with this, enough with this promiscuity, enough with this drinking, enough with this drug abuse, substance abuse, etc.

So then they switch from self soothing to repetition compulsions. It's kind of hope springs eternal.

They try againand againand again. And every time they fail, they withdraw, they isolate, they avoid.


So there's this approach avoidance, repetition compulsions, older narcissists, borderline psychopaths, and histrionic, let's say about the age of 30 or 35.

Their approach avoidance. They try to provoke in themselves some emotions, and to do it in a controlled, restricted, restrained, constrained way so that they can be sure what emotions they are provoking and evoking, since they cannot label emotions, they cannot recognize emotions, they need to experience emotions, they need to provoke in themselves emotions in controlled environments.

So if they want to experience love, they would select a partner, home in on the apartment that explains behaviors such as love bombing and grooming. These are controlled behaviors. These behaviors emanate from the need to control, not only the partner, it's a common mistake online.

The love bombing and grooming has somewhat to do with the partner is a lot to do with the narcissists and psychopaths.

Because love bombing and grooming are controlled tactics. And above all, they need to control their internal environment so that when there is an emotional reaction, when they do experience emotions, they will know what this emotion is. Why?

Because they narrow the protocol, they limited the space, they control the micromanage, the interaction. And gradually, as approach fails, is followed by avoidance. And then another approach followed by more avoidance and withdrawal. It takes more and more courage, more and more depleted energy, more and more effort to approach again.

There is hurt aversion and pain aversion, even in psychopaths and narcissists and borderlines, especially borderlines, but even in narcissists and psychopaths, histrionics, not to mention borderlines and codependents.

Borderlines are driven by hurt aversion or pain aversion. So it's very painful to approach and avoid approach and withdrawal, approach and lose, approach and be betrayed. It's very painful.

And so gradually, narcissists and psychopaths and borderlines develop persecutory objects. In other words, they gradually form paranoid delusions, the secretary delusionscentered around introjects, in other words, centered around internalized objects.

So very initial approach to other people would be very, very cautious, wary, suspicious, and they would immediately transform these other people. Take a snapshot, internalize a snapshot as an internal object in order to control the object, because as a snapshot, you're in total control.

But then gradually, as the real person deviates and diverges from the snapshot, they will begin to feel that the meaningful other, the significant other, the intimate partner is frustrating them intentionally and malevolently and maliciously. They would convert the intimate partner into a persecretary introjected object.

And this would be the topic of our next video.


So I'll tell you what you're feeling now. You're feeling tired and bored and you want to dislike this video, but you can'tbecause you don't want any bad blood between you and me. Trust me on that. Just kidding. Okay, baby seals and multiple shvanpanim.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism, Revisited and Yes, I am a professor of psychology in SIAS-CIAPS, Center for International Advanced and Professional Studies, the outreach program of this year's consortium of universities.

A few weeks ago, I made a video about how the narcissist sees you. Today, I'm going to tell you how the borderline sees you, her intimate partner. It's going to be a tough ride, very triggering.

Mind you, make frequent stops, drink water, think positive thoughts. The borderline is a harrowing experienceliving with the borderline, let alone loving a borderline. It's a suicidal mission, but it's intense. It's colorful. It makes you feel alive like nothing else. You had been warned, baby seals, shvanpanim, shvanpanim and shovarim. Look it up.

Okay, so there's a borderline in your lifeand you are her intimate partner.

Before I get an avalanche of some timbanias, self-righteous comments, 50% of all borderline personality disorder diagnoses are handed down to men. I propose a new diagnosis, covert borderline, which better suits menbecause one of the emphasis with borderline women is about emotionality and sexuality. The emphasizing borderline men is more about grandiose power and similar things.

Borderline men resemble much more narcissists than borderline women. That's why I'm proposing to break the two apart and to have an emotional dysregulation disorder assigned to women with secondary psychopathy as a self-state and covert borderline, which is a combination of borderline and narcissism assigned to men.

Okay, so every gender pronoun here is interchangeable. I'm going to use she. I'm going to use a female figure, female protagonist in this narrativebecause hitherto, which is a fancy word for until now, most BPD diagnoses were handed down to women. Women were diagnosed mostly with BPD.

Okay, enough with this gender nonsense. Let's get to the point.

How does a borderline see you? Her intimate partner.

And so, as you well know by now, there are two stages in borderlineand these two stages in the borderline's behavior correspond to her two anxieties, abandonment anxiety, the clinical term is separation insecurityand in government anxiety. The borderline's point of view is the outcome of her internal dynamics, especially the compulsive need to approach you and then avoid you. I hate you. Don't let me go. I love you. I want you dead. I detest you. Don't ever leave me.

These conflicting messages, these mixed signals render the life of the intimate partner of the borderline a mayhem, totally chaotic, utterly unpredictable, a roller coaster of emotions, reactionsand pain. Pain permeates every interaction with the borderline. Pain coupled with exhilaration, coupled with pain, coupled with exhilaration.

The ups and downs of the borderline infect the partner. They are contagious.

In the approach phase, this is how the borderline sees you. You're my world. You're my life.

And she means it. She means outside of you, apart from you, there's nothing. There's no one.

She kind of minimizes herself and projects herself onto you and into you. She renders herself the equivalent of an introject. She wants you to subsume her. She wants you to consume her.

This is not exactly merger and fusion, which are common in codependency. This is much more than that. This is identification and introjection. It's an infantile process.

The borderline is intensely childlike, which provokes in you paternal or parental reactions. The borderline parentifies you. You're my world. You're my life because I don't know any better. Because I don't have any other access. Because you are the vector through which I exist.

I resent d'etre to use my antiquated fringe.

The borderline sees you as a savior. She foists on you the role of a rescuer. You will save me from myself, she says.

I'm horrible. I'm intolerable. I'm poisoned. I ruin everything for myself and for others.

And you are going to change all this. You're going to save me for myself. You're going to save me from others. And you're going to save others from me. You're going to be the buffer, the firewall between me and my pernicious, radioactive impact on the world around me. Everythingthe borderline tells you, everything is meaningless without you.

Your existence as my intimate partner imbues the world, events, other people, interactions with sense. You, my intimate partner, you make sense of reality for me. You are my reality testing.

The borderline is likely to often ask you, do you think the same? Is it true?

Because you are the yardstick of her universe. You are her reality. You are a stable rock, guaranteed presence, permanence, constancy, determinacy. When you are there in her life, the borderline feels utterly oceanic, safe. You are, in other words, a secure base.

Again, these are infantile childhood dynamics.

But you have other roles in the borderline's life during the approach phase. Don't ever mix your drinks. You stabilize the borderline's moods.

She has ups and downs. It's known as mood lability. She's depressive and she's a bit manic, which is a reason why many diagnosticians confuse and conflate borderline personality disorder with bipolar disorder.

Wrong, of course. The first is a personality disorder. The second, the latter, is a mood disorder.

But people with borderline personality disorder cycle all the time. This rapid cycling of moods affects cognitions, decisions, choices, values, behaviors, reactions. This renders the borderline identityless. This is called identity disturbance. It's as if she has no core, no kernel, no stable atom inside her, which kind of oscillates and determines her time.

The borderline is a river in flux, an ephemeral cloud. And it is the role of an intimate partner. You, to stabilize, says the borderline, to stabilize my moods. You should regulate your emotions because with you I feel safe and with you I feel whole. I feel completed without you. I'm partial. Without you I am almost dead. Parts of me decay and decompose and fall apart and disintegrate without you. You are the "elain vital", you are the animating force within me, says the borderline.

When you are with me, committed to me, monopolized by me, a hundred percent mine, possessed by me, owned by me, inside me in every way, sexual and otherwise, you are me.

But you are a better me, you are stronger me, you're more stable me, and so I can merge with you, thus improving my functionality, allowing me to cope, to survive, to somehow go through life.

Because I don't like life, I hate life and I hate who I am in life. I need you to live another life for me, vicariously, by proxy, and I will give my life for you. I will sacrifice myself, self-sacrificial.

It's the same with the narcissist, by the way. He sacrifices his true self for a false self.

The borderline also has a false self, but her false self merges with the intimate partner, a process known as external regulation.

So gradually, you are sucked into the vortex of the borderline. You begin to feel responsible for her moods, her emotions, even her cognitions. She pretends to be dependent on you, all the time fostering dependency in you. You are becoming codependent on the borderline because she can't live without you. She can survive without you. You feel responsible. She is very childlike, she's very vulnerable, she cries, her beautiful eyes tear up anytime you threaten to leave or to goand you just can't take it. She pushes on your buttons, she leverages your softness and your empathy. All you need to be needed, all your grandiosity.

The borderline is adept at finding all the chinks in your armor, then invading you and penetrating you like no other. The borderline says I'm bad, I'm evil, I'm unworthy, I'm poisonous, I'm a bad object, but with you, my intimate partner, I feel good, I feel worthy because you accept me as I am, because you love me as I am, because you see me like no otherand because you enable and empower every part of me, every hue and every frequency in my spectrum, I become more through you. I self-actualize through your agency, the borderline borrows your agency in order to become more self-efficacious, but in the processshe renders you less agenticand this is merely the approach side.

Now we are heading into the real tumult, the avoidance. You'll come to win with a borderline, you love her, you're intimate with her, you lose her, you're cold and detached and neutral and aloof, you lose her. You try to help her too much, you very much advice, direct her, you lose her, you ignore her, you let her live her own life, you lose her. It's a lose-lose proposition or a lose-win proposition in some cases, but usually a lose-lose proposition. There's no winning strategy with a borderlineand some people are addicted to the right, to the drama, to the roller coaster. They don't care about the borderline, they want to experience the borderline's dysregulation vicariously. They love the ups and downs, they adore waking up in the morningnot knowing what the day will bring.

Borderline guarantees this serendipity, this unpredictability, this inconstancy, impermanence and indeterminacy.

Borderline is a bag full of surprises, a never-ending adventure, a risk, a novelty, a danger lurking in your own bed.

How is this resistible? It's not, it's not even for healthy people.

So approach is always followed by avoidance regardless of your behavior, behavioral choicesand regardless of your strategies with the borderline. Approach and avoidance repetition compulsion in the borderline is, as the name implies, a compulsion. It's out of the borderline's control and it is not mitigated or affected by any external factors or parameters.

Some stagethe borderline says I'm overwhelmed by pain, you are hurting meowing to your rejection and abandonment and yet the borderline tends to interpret almost everything as a rejection. Almost any behavior is a form of abandonment. You are too long on the phone with a business associate, you're abandoning and rejecting, go on a business trip, you're abandoning and rejecting, you have your own set of friends, you're abandoning and rejecting, you cast a glance at a beautiful woman in a restaurant, you're abandoning and rejecting, you refuse to countenance and accept the borderline's egregious misconduct and bad behavior, you're abandoning and rejecting, you disagree with the borderline more than once, you're abandoning and rejecting.

Everything is abandonment and rejection in the borderline's eyes and she often projects abandonment and rejection onto you. It is she who wants to abandon and reject you and she projects it onto you. She anticipates abandonment and rejection, after all, she is a bad object, she is unworthy, she's corrupt, she's unlovable, she's inadequate.

Why would you not abandon and reject her? It's inevitable, ineluctable that you should.

So she prepares herself, she preemptively cheats on you, she prophylactically abandons you first before you abandon her.

You're not protective, she tells you, you don't love me, really, your love is not true, you don't care about me, you found someone else to take my place, you're disloyal, you're looking for alternativesand no amount of proofs to the contrary, no amount of evidentiary presentation would help you.

She's made up her mind, don't confuse her with the facts.

Most borderline women are also misandrist, they hate men because they've been exposed to the vagaries of abuse and bad relationships, they're post-traumatic. So they're likely to punish you for being men, they're likely, for example, to cheat on you in order to cause you pain or to triangulate to accomplish the same, to get a rise out of you by sexually self-trashing.

With other men, the borderline accomplishes multiple goals simultaneously. She affirms and confirms the bad object in her, thus justifying her anticipation of rejection and abandonment. She also proved to herself that all men are immoral beasts, the all men take advantage of heartbroken, damaged women such as herself, and that upholds her misandrist, men-hating view. Cheating is only one type of reckless behavior from insecurity, one type of reckless behavior.

The borderline can become violent, aggressive in other ways, shopaholic, workaholic, pathological gambler, there are numerous ways to self-destruct.

But whenever the borderline anticipates abandonment and rejection, she decompensates, all her defenses collapse, and at that point she is ready to move on to a stage called acting out.

But not before she switches into another self-state, a secondary psychopathy self-state, she becomes merciless, disempathic, hateful, revengeful.

She needs to prove to herself that she is still irresistible, and she would do it with another man. She needs to prove to herself that she is omnipotent. Her grandiosity equals easily the narcissist, so she would, I don't know, overspend, deplete the family's savings.

In retail therapy, spray shopping, reckless behaviors are very common in borderline, in the acting out phase, be it with men, be it with money, be it with violence, be it with behaviors such as drunk driving, etc.

At some pointthe borderline decides upon the following sequence, you're a man, she's a bad object, because you're a man and therefore impervious to the needs, emotions and love of a woman, because you're a man, you're evil, you're a beast, you're immoral, because she's a bad object, you're going to abandon her, you're going to reject her.

She needs to strike first, so she would decompensate, she would switch to a psychopathic state, and she would act out. And while she does this, she experiences triple dissociation, three types of dissociation, amnesia, depersonalisation and derealization, and the borderline experiences typically two or all three during a period of acting out.

Amnesia, she deletes the memories, simply she has no access to them, she has very blurred memories, even when she's not drunk. Autopilotdepersonalization, she feels that she is not inside her body, that it's just, she's just going through the motions, that her body is some kind of independent entitytaking on a life of its own. Depersonalizationits own.

Depersonalisation, it's not me, I'm not there, this is not happening to me, I'm not doing this.

Derealisation, the whole thing feels like a movie, it's not real, it's dreamlike or nightmarish, these are three mechanisms of dissociation that operate in a borderline that had been hurt, that had been rejected, that had been abandoned, that had been humiliated.

This is her reaction, she acts out dissociatively, she says to herself, I need to do something, I have to do something, I need to do anything, I need to hurt him, my intimate partner, and then having hurt him, the power matrix restored, because it's a power play, of course, having hurt him and the power matrix, power balance restored, I can regain his love. I'm going to cheat on him and still regain his love, I'm going to destroy his finances and he would still love me.

I need to test him to the limits, I need to push beyond the most extreme nether regions of my world and then act in ways which are so egregious, so ostentatious, so horrible, so beyond the pale, that if he still loves me after all this, it means that he really loves me.

It's a test of loyalty, which many intimate partners or friends often fail. It's a test of loyalty and a test of the veracity of the intimate partner's love, because an borderline never trusts the intimate partner to truly love her.

How can anyone love her? She's horrible, so she acts horrible, she becomes the bad object, orish, or whatever, and then she returns to the intimate partner, begging for forgiveness, riven with guilt and shame and discomfort and egodystonic, begging on her knees to be forgiven and accepted back to the fold.

And if the intimate partner says yes, for a while, she rests assured that she's loved, she feels accepted.

In the avoidance phase, the borderline openly says, "You want me dead, you want to shackle me, you want to chain me to your world or to your bed, you want me to be only yours, you want to disappear into you."

She says to the partner, "You've changed, you blame shift, I'm the victim, not you, you guilt-treat me, I've done nothing wrong, you've rejected me, you've abandoned me."

And so I was just retaliating, and I didn't even know what I was doing because I was dissociating, it wasn't me, I don't feel it was me.

There's some wackening with his self-state theory, so I think it was a self-state, it wasn't me.

She says to the intimate partner, "You're not even self-aware, you're very self-destructive, you're going to destroy our relationship, never mind what I've done, you can forgive me, you know I can't help it, you know it's stronger than me, you know it's not me."

I wasn't there when I shagged this guy, when I slept with him, I wasn't there, it was just my body, and somehow meaninglessbecause I love you and only you. You're judgmental, you're over-critical, and you want to drag me with you. You just, after my leg looks, you just want to have sex, you don't really love me.

And paranoid ideation sets in in the avoidance phase, the borderline becomes paranoid, she has, she develops persecutory delusions, a persecutory objectwhich used to be you. The idealized object of the intimate partner, the idealized introject, the internal object, is replaced by a persecutory one. The intimate partner becomes the enemy. I love you, don't leave me, I hate you, stay with me, I want to kill you, I hope you live forever.

Persecatory object, and the borderline is likely to tell you, you're lying to me, you constantly deceive me, you constantly cheat on me, you're out to get me, you entrap me, you never mean what you say, you gaslight me, you hate me, while I love you unconditionally and self-sacrificially, you don't know how to love you, are humiliating me and shaming me all the time, you're malicious, you know how guilty I feel, you know how shameful I feel for what I've done, and yet you harp on it, and you keep bringing me back to these memories which I want to erase, which I just want to forget, and yes, of course it will happen again, but it's just the way I am.

It's a take it or leave it proposition, if you truly love me, you will accept me, and now that you have survived the ordeal, the test that I've imposed on you, now I know that you truly love me, and now I can approach you again, you become my world, you are my life, you will save me from myself and from others, everything is meaningless without you, you're a stable rock, you stabilize my moods, you regulate my emotions, with youI feel safe and whole, completed, I will give my life for you, I'm bad and evil, but with you I feel good and worthy, because you've just proven that you accept and love me, as I am a borderline.

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