Codependent-Narcissist Co-idealization Dance, Borderlines too! (Convo with Daria Żukowska)

Uploaded 11/3/2020, approx. 54 minute read

I will record and, okay, I'm nervous.

Are you recording as well? Should I?

Or no?

I will record.

Are you recording?

Yes, I'm recording. You're recording? It says there's a small button on the left, a small button that says recording.

Yeah, it is recording in my left corner. In your left corner.



Well, hopefully, one recording will survive. We'll see. Sometimes Zoom is not very reliable when it comes to recording. That's why I personally use Webex.

Okay, so welcome then, everyone. And today, we've got a special guest. Some of you may know him, some of you may not. That's why I would like to introduce him.

Tom Bachman, his narcissist, psychopath, and abuse YouTube channel has more than 32.1 million views and 145,000 subscribers. Congratulations, it's incorrect.

Tom is visiting professor of psychology in Southern Federal University, Roscoe, London, Russia. He's also professor of finance and psychology in Center for International Advanced and Professional Studies, Founder Healthcare Committee, Ministry of Health, Republic of Macedonia.

Tom also, Tom is the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. And if I remember, you wrote like more than 3000 more books, I think, if I remember.

It's more like 60, but I'm still young.

I'm very happy to have you here today.

Today, we'll be talking about narcissist personality disorder and dependent personality disorder, and especially about dynamic between these two personalities.

And so, so yes.

One more time. Welcome Tom and thank you.

My first question, maybe it's like we can start from your point of view about narcissist personality disorder and dependent personality disorder, like in a perspective that it's two sides of the same coin.

If you could say how you see this perspective and maybe even referring to childhood.

Well, I wouldn't say two sides of the same coin, but I would say that both of them are solutions that the child chooses when the child is confronted with a dysfunctional family with abuse, with trauma, with what André Green called the dead mother, a mother who is selfish, depressed, emotionally unavailable, a mother who makes the child parentify her, a mother who instrumentalizes the child, uses the child to realize her dreams and wishes, a mother, of course, or parents who abuse the child classically, physically, verbally, psychologically and so on.

I'm saying mother because in the critical years which are zero to probably four, what we call the formative years, it is the mother that has 90% of the influence. It is the mother that dictates the developmental trajectory of the child.

The father comes much later, the father comes in as a socialization agent, as a representative of society. The father also contributes very greatly to gender differentiation. The father also teaches the child skills, survival skills, social skills.

The father is a very important figure. I'm not underestimating the father's contribution or the father's ability to damage the psychology of the child, but that comes much later. Much, much earlier, it's the mother and almost exclusively the mother.

When the mother is dysfunctional, the child has several options.

And two of these options are narcissism or codependency, or what we call dependent personality and so on.

The child can emulate the abuser, can internalize the abuser, can imitate the abuser. The child can make a kind of internal, mostly unconscious decision that it's better to be the abuser than the victim.

And then the child tries to become an abuser and succeeds, then becomes a narcissist.

The alternative is, of course, for the child to merge, to merge with a frustrating object, to fuse with the mother, to become one with the mother.

To merge or to fuse in this sense, to assimilate the mother, to assimilate the bad object, and thereby to neutralize, to render the bad object innocuous, not frightening, not threatening.

Because if the bad object is part of you, then it gives you the illusion of control.

And indeed, dependent personality or codependency is a disorder of control. It's the use of various behavioral tactics, such as clinging, such as neediness, in order to control the partner.

Now, in both cases, in narcissism and in codependency, the person, the patient, the client, whatever you want to call it, the person with the disorder needs the intimate partner, not only physically, but needs the intimate partner psychologically.

The intimate partner fulfills ego functions, fulfills internal functions.

The narcissist uses the intimate partner to regulate his sense of self-worth, uses the intimate partner to gain access to reality, to gain what we call reality testing, and uses the intimate partner for a variety of functions that are usually internal functions, usually functions that are not dependent on other people.

The narcissist depends on other people, and more specifically on his intimate partner.

The codependent needs her intimate partner so as to regulate her internal environment.

In both these cases, and of course in borderline, there is a dysregulated, chaotic environment, an environment that is labile, up and down, an environment that's unpredictable.

The situation with borderline is so bad that in the last 15 years, we are reconceiving of borderline. We are beginning to consider borderline personality disorder as a form of multiple personality, as a form of dissociative identity disorder.

Because in borderline personality disorder, we have self-states, several states of self, which are very, very distinct from one another.

Similarly, in narcissism, we have at least two self-states. We have the true self and the false self. These are distinct, they have nothing in common whatsoever. They're actually kind of enemies. They're hostile to each other.

So we have at least two, I wouldn't say, personalities, but self-states, distinguishable self-states.

And so we see that this entire family of disorders, formerly known as cluster B personality disorders or erratic or dramatic personality disorders, we are beginning to see that they have common etiology, common causation, common developmental pathway or trajectory.

First of all, all these disorders are post-traumatic conditions. We can reconceive of all these disorders, not as personality disorders, but as forms of complex trauma.

So we can reconceive of these disorders as forms of CPTSD.

Indeed, in recent studies, we are discovering that victims of CPTSD, for example, victims of narcissistic abuse, victims of domestic violence, victims of emotional abuse, victims of these types of abuse, they are psychodynamically indistinguishable from people with borderline personality disorder. CPTSD and borderline personality disorder are literally indistinguishable.

So we are beginning to rethink these disorders as combination post-trauma and dissociation.

So there was a trauma. It created a post-traumatic condition. This condition was so severe, the child couldn't cope with it, so the child broke to pieces. The child was shattered like a Ming vase, shattered to pieces.

There was a personality fragmentation. There was no personality at age four, or even at age nine, there is still no what Jung calls constellated self.

But there were the rudiments of self, and they broke to pieces. And these pieces are what we call the self-states.

In other words, to summarize, I regard all these personality disorders as forms of dissociative, post-traumatic, multiple personality disorders.

I think we need to reconceive of them that way, and then we can become a lot more efficient in administering therapy.

Yes, I completely agree with what you said, especially when you compare borderline and CPTSD.

I think it's a lot of mistakes, especially from psychologists, that they, for example, give someone, diagnose that the person has borderline.

To be honest, it's not true, because it's just CPTSD, right? So I completely agree with what you said.

If I may add one thing, it is this attempt to reconceive of these personality disorders and to connect them to trauma and to connect them to dissociation.

This attempt is part of a much bigger war, much bigger battle.

In the 19th century, when the modern discipline of psychology had been established, because psychology has been around for 4,000 years, but the modern discipline, let's say the German discipline, because psychology started as experimental science in laboratory, went and others.

So when psychology started in Germany, in Austria, later in the United States, it was heavily influenced by the ethos of individualism. At that time, it was the beginning of the capitalist phase of individualism.

Free enterprise, private enterprise, profits, the individual as a risk taker, people immigrated, there was huge immigration.

So when you immigrate, you are an individual. You break apart from your community, you break apart from your country, from your language, you become total atom individual.

So there was an ethos, there was a kind of spirit, ambience, atmosphere of individualism. And of course, modern psychology started as the science of the individual.

What has happened since the 60s? We are beginning to reconceive of modern psychology, not as the science of the individual, but as the science of interpersonal relationships.

You see Freud, for example, Freud wrote about individuals. It's very difficult to find in Freud's writing anything about relationships.

For Freud's trilateral model, he's 99% about the individual and 1% about society. Society is kind of abstract. Afterthought is not really there.

Same with Jung, of course. Although Jung tried to compromise somehow by introducing the collective unconscious. But the collective unconscious is so bizarre, so non-scientific, so not open to study and experimentation, it might as well be occult, you know.

So until the 60s, because Jung died in the 60s, yes, until the 60s, it was all about the individual.

And then we started to shift. We started to realize that individual is an obstruction and not a useful obstruction.

Not obstruction, but obstruction. Something that makes it very difficult for us to understand how humans function.

Today we have emphasis on relationships, interaction, groups, dynamics, and so on.

The new disorders, because narcissistic personality disorder first appeared in 1980. It's a very new disorder. The first time NPD was mentioned was in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Edition 3, 1980.

That's new. In terms of history, it's new.

Borderline, the first serious attempt to study Borderline was in the 70s. And the most serious attempt was with Otto Kernberg in 1975. That's also new.

I was already a teenager at that time. I was alive. Okay, I'm a dinosaur, but you know.

So these are new disorders. And if you look at these disorders, they are social disorders.

Now, narcissistic personality disorder is not an individual's disorder, but it's a disorder of how individual relates to other people.

The criteria are interrelational, interpersonal.

One of the main criteria of narcissistic personality disorder is a lack of empathy.

Empathy. There's no empathy without other people.

Another criteria, that the narcissist is exploitative. There's no exploitation without other people.

Another criteria is the narcissist is envious. There's no envy without other people.

Same with the Borderline. If you look at the diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and especially so in the fifth edition, 2013, just published, you will see that these are not disorders of the self. They are not disorders of the individual. They are disorders of how the individual functions within networks of other people, within communities, within families, within romantic relationships.

So intimacy is a crucial determinant.

Empathy, envy, negative emotionality, reactance.

In other words, defiance, lack of impulse control in relation to other people, exploitation, harming and hurting other people.

All these are critical facets of these disorders.

Now, Freud was the first to describe narcissism, but he didn't describe it as we understand it today.

He described it as a reaction of the individual as a baby.

His work in 1914 was about baby narcissism. He called it primary narcissism.

That's not the narcissism we are talking about today. Not the same.

Yes, I agree, because he was writing about the stage that everyone is going to, right?

And it's like, let's say, good narcissist, right?

And today we are talking about completely different things, like you said, about dynamics between personalities.

And yes, but if we are talking about dynamics, then I would like to stop here and ask you about, because we've got a lot of experts, especially on YouTube, that they're showing this dynamic between narcissists and codependents as a magnet.

And I can't agree with this point of view, because then I'm asking myself, like, okay, to take the magnet, where is the responsibility, right?

So what do you think about that? How do you see it?

There is not a single expert on YouTube. All the real experts in narcissism and codependency are not on YouTube. You cannot find them on YouTube.

The leading experts on narcissism today are John Twenge, Keith Campbell, even Kernberg was alive, Theodore Millon, when he was alive, there was YouTube already and so on.

And similarly, the leading experts on codependency are Linehan and others. These names, the real experts, you will not find them on YouTube.

The people who find on YouTube are not experts. They have published nothing in the field. They don't teach the subjects in their own universities, if they are in any university at all.

And I would use the word experts very judiciously. I have yet to come across a single expert online. One expert, exactly.

So let's put this aside.

Now, I think the source of the confusion is this.

The narcissist is indiscriminate. The narcissist is promiscuous in the sense that the narcissist doesn't care who you are, what you are, what is your identity, what are your traits, what are your qualities, what are your preferences, your dreams and wishes, etc., because for the narcissist, you don't exist.

So the narcissist doesn't care if you are codependent at all. He doesn't care if you have empathy or don't have empathy. He doesn't care if you're a psychopath. He doesn't care if you are another narcissist. He doesn't care about anything whatsoever. He doesn't care even to a large extent how you look. He doesn't care.

He cares about one thing only. He's one track-minded. He's totally goal-oriented.

And that's why we think that there is a lot of overlap between psychopathy and narcissism because both are goal-oriented.

So the narcissist's goal is narcissistic supply. And that's the only thing that attracts him to you or repels him from you.

He has gauges. He has something that I called empathy. He scans you. He scans like a scanner. He says, this girl, this woman, this man, this object, this car, this smartphone, this laptop, they can give me narcissistic supply.

At that moment, the narcissist begins to invest emotionally in that woman, in that man, and in that object.

Catharsis, emotional investment in narcissism is indiscriminate and promiscuous in the sense that there are no standards, there are no criteria, and there are no preferences. That's the narcissistic side.

On the other side, it is true that certain psychological profiles would tend to gravitate to narcissists, would tend to be more attracted to narcissists.

They include codependents, borderlines. Other people, for example, bipolar in the manic phase, would be attracted to narcissists. Depressives, people with depressive illnesses.

So, there are whole groups of people with mental problems, with mental issues, who would be inexorably, powerfully, irresistibly attracted to the narcissist.

That part is true. But it is not reciprocal, because I read online a lot of nonsense by these so-called experts, and most of what they say regrettably is nonsense, but a lot of nonsense that it is the narcissist who prefers women who are codependent or empathic.

No, that is not true. It is true that they end up together.

Now, the first one, real scholar, who does not have a YouTube channel, of course, because she is a real scholar, she is also a very good personal friend of mine.

The first one to describe the attraction between borderlines and narcissists was a woman called Joanne LaChark. And Joanne LaChark wrote the seminal book about this attraction and about this type of couple, Narcissist Borderline Couple. That's the title of the book, Narcissistic Borderline Couple. And she was the first to describe it in the 80s, 10 years before I started my work.

I started my work in 1995. I'm a pioneer, and I coined the phrase, narcissistic abuse. I invented this phrase.

But she preceded me. She preceded me by at least 10 years. And she described the dynamic between narcissists and borderlines, narcissists and later codependents and so on.

And what she had described is that the two parties fulfilled functions, psychological functions for each other.

But the truth of the matter is that the narcissist is absolutely goal oriented and he's focused on supply. He's a junkie, an addict, drug addict. He doesn't care how you look if you can give him the drug. He doesn't care if you're a nice person, if you can give him the heroin. He wants to inject. He wants his drug. He doesn't care if you're nice, empathic, borderline, codependent, 96 years old, tall, short, blonde. He doesn't care about any of this.

The junkie cares about one thing. Do you have my fix? Do you have my heroin? If you do, I'm going to love you. I'm going to adore you. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get the heroin out of you.

We must think of narcissism as an addiction. It's an addiction. So is borderline. So is codependence.

The narcissist is addicted to supply.

Borderline is addicted to regulation. She uses the intimate partner to regulate. And when she fears abandonment, when she anticipates abandonment, she disregulates. She falls apart.

And the codependent is dependent on this codependent. She's dependent by definition. These are addicts. And like all addicts, they are indiscriminate. Simply.

So what you said, and I have a question about that. Because that narcissist is scanning. He's like a scanner, right? And you call this cold empathy.

Cold empathy.


What exactly is he looking for them if he's not feel anything from us, right? What is he looking for? What is the supply then for narcissists?


Empathy has three components.

There is reflexive empathy. That is the empathy that the baby shows to mommy. When mommy smiles, the baby smiles.

Reflexive empathy develops probably already in the womb. As babies react within the womb to mommy's moods, mommy's movements and so on. This is reflexive. Animals have it as well.

Then there is cognitive empathy develops a bit later. And it's the ability to think, to see someone and then to think about that someone's condition.

But you don't have any emotional reaction.

One of the reasons you don't have any emotional reactions as a child when you have cognitive empathy is you don't have enough life experience.

To develop full empathy, you need to have life experience. You need to have experienced the same condition like the other person.

If I see that you are sad and I've never been sad because I'm two years old, it's difficult for me to have emotional empathy with you because I see that you are sad. And I can even say mommy is sad because I learned that when people cry, they are sad. It's called sad. So I can say mommy is sad.

But I don't feel that mommy is sad because I'm two years old and I've never been sad. I didn't have the opportunity to be sad.

So this is cognitive empathy. Much later, we have emotional empathy and morality is the hyper structure.

So we have based on empathy, we have morality, what not to do to other people.

The narcissist, because the narcissism is arrested development. The narcissist stops his development as a child. He remains a child forever.

So because he remains a child forever, he's stuck in the cognitive phase. He has reflexive and cognitive, but no emotional.

And when he goes through life without access to his emotions, so he never develops emotional resonance because he has no access to his positive emotions. He has no access to his positive emotions because he also has strong negative emotions and he's afraid that if he allows himself to emote, if he allows himself to feel, it will be very painful.

So to avoid pain, to avoid hurt, the narcissist prefers not to feel anything, not to have any emotions.

Good, at least good, not to have emotions.

So because he doesn't have emotions, he cannot identify you with you. He cannot empathize with you emotionally. He can just understand in his cognition, in his mind, in his thinking what is happening to you.

He has seen such situations before.

So if he sees that you are crying, he goes into his database like a computer and he says, oh, I have seen 36 other people crying and they told me that they are sad. So probably she said, but it has no resonance. It's like a computer would say this.

But if you are sad, I can take advantage of you. If you're sad, if you're broken, if you're damaged, if you're afraid, if you're happy, if you're in any state of mind, any of your emotions, I can leverage, I can use to take advantage of you.

If you are very, very sad and broken, I can get you drunk and then get you to bed and have sex with you. If you are very happy and because of that you are not very careful, I can take your money.

Everything presents an opportunity to take advantage of you somehow.

And of course, the narcissist doesn't want your money. He doesn't even want your sex. He wants narcissistic supply.

But the psychopath wants your money, wants your sex, wants access, wants many things, wants your property, wants many things from you.

So both types, narcissists and psychopaths, they scan you. They see your weak points, your weak points, your vulnerabilities, your chinks, entry points, intrusion points. They're like a hostile army. The army is probing the walls, the walls of the castle where they can break through in the siege.

That's called empathy.


Thank you so much for this. It's explained a lot. But also, how then the relationship with narcissists affects codependents, especially codependent person when she or he was narcissist.

Similar to the narcissist, the codependent doesn't really see the other person. Both of them have something that I coined the term co-idealization. Both of them idealize each other.

Now, the narcissist needs to idealize his intimate partner because if her intimate partner is ideal, then he is ideal. If she is the most beautiful, intelligent, amazing woman on Earth and she had chosen him, that means that he is the most amazing, intelligent man on Earth by idealizing her, is actually idealizing himself as her partner.

So this is process of co-idealization. The codependent and the borderline need to idealize the narcissist in order to reduce anxiety.

For them, idealization is an anxiety-reducing mechanism. It's anxiolytic.

So the borderline is terrified of abandonment, abandonment, loss, separation. And she anticipates and she also mislabels and misinterprets many behaviors as rejection or as humiliation or as abandonment when they are not.

So she is on a constant state of alert. She is constantly stressed, anticipating the worst. We call this process catastrophizing.

So the borderline catastrophizes all the time. To reduce the – and catastrophizing creates anxiety, intolerable anxiety.

Now with the borderline, this anxiety creates mood swings, ups and downs. It's called lability. It also – this anxiety also dysregulates her emotions.

Because if she changes her emotions, she can control her anxiety. This is the way we solve dissonance.

For example, if I am very afraid that you will abandon me, one way to solve this is to say, I don't really love you. I don't care if you abandon me. Suddenly I switch from love to hate because if I hate you, you cannot hurt me. But if I love you, you can hurt me.

So emotional dysregulation and mood lability, they are derivatives of an underlying anxiety disorder.

And of course, borderline is very comorbid with anxiety disorders and depression. It's well known. It's in many studies. Same with codependents.

So these people – they are mostly women. These people, they anticipate the worst. They catastrophize. They misread reality. They have impaired reality testing. Everything to them is impending doom, abandonment, humiliation, rejection, disaster, breakup, loss, separation, you know, horrible.

So to reduce this level, they idealize the nonsense. They say, oh, he loves me a lot. He will never leave me. Or he is like my father, daddy, daddy issues, figure, father figure. Father will never harm his daughter, will never hurt his daughter.

So he is my father. He loves me unconditionally. Never mind what I do. He will never desert me. He will never abandon me.

So she also is not interacting with the real person, but with the idealized narcissist.

And so we have in this kind of relationships two interactions which have nothing in common.

The co-dependent interacts with an idealized version of the narcissist that has nothing to do with a narcissist.

And the narcissist interacts with an idealized version of a co-dependent that has nothing to do with a co-dependent.

And I call this situation Shirt Fantasy. That's the Shirt Fantasy.

Have you heard about Frog Syndrome?


Have you heard about Frog Syndrome? Frog?

Which syndrome I can't hear. Can you spell it?

Frog, like an animal. F-R-O-G.



Frog Syndrome.



When co-dependent, she was hoping that when she hit the frog, it will turn into a print. And it didn't, and she turned into a frog.

Yeah. There's also another variant of this that you can cook a frog, increase by one degree, and the frog doesn't realize until it's cooked.

Yes, that's true.

The thing is that given the right circumstances, these relationships are very long-lived. And this is what we call the trauma bonding.


The trauma bonding, the essence of the trauma bonding is the emotional investment in a Shirt Fantasy.

And this Shirt Fantasy is very powerful and almost impossible to break because the parties are not invested in each other, but they're invested in two things.

They're invested in a figment of their imagination, what we call an internal object.

The co-dependent is an internal object of the narcissist. She's interacting with the internal object, not with the narcissist.

And the narcissist has what I call a snapshot. It's an internal object of the co-dependent, and he's interacting with that.

Consequently, when the parties interact with these idealized images, simultaneously, they are idealizing themselves.

But that's a very crucial insight. It's very important to understand.

In a Shirt Fantasy, the two parties, let's say narcissist and borderline, narcissists are co-dependent.

In a Shirt Fantasy, the two parties are in love with themselves, not with each other.

Let me try to explain this.

I see you.

I think that you can be my intimate partner as a narcissist, let's say.

I'm a narcissist, and I think you can be my intimate partner.

I idealize you.

I take a snapshot of you.

I take a photo.

I internalize this photo.

It becomes an internal object.

I idealize the internal object.

And from that moment, I'm not interacting with you anymore.

I'm interacting exclusively with internal object, which is an idealized internal object.

Because this internal object is idealized, it allows me to idealize myself.

In other words, it allows me to fall in love with myself.

This is super crucial insight because both the narcissist and the co-dependent don't have self-love.

They don't love themselves. They hate themselves. They loathe themselves.

There's no self-love in narcissism and co-dependency.

The only way a narcissist can experience self-love is by falling in love with an internal object, which is a part of him.

So I'm using you to love myself, and you are using me as a co-dependent to love yourself.

This is the core, this is the addictive nature of trauma bonding.

Trauma bonding allows both parties to finally, for the first time in life, love themselves.

It allows for self-love, true self-love.

This is intoxicating.

It's like a drug.

It's very difficult to break.

Now, the mechanism that underlies trauma bonding is called intermittent reinforcement.

Intermittent reinforcement is when I give you feedback which is not stable, which is unpredictable, which is hot and cold, black and white, love and hate.

I keep the environment such that you are constantly on your toes.

You don't know what to expect.

How is this part of idealization? How is this part of self-love?

It's a power play.

It's a power play.

When I fall in love with myself as a narcissist, I fall in love with my self.

And my self is grandiose.

It's omnipotent. It's all-powerful. It's godlike.

I need to prove it all the time using the internal object.

Because I'm in love with the internal object.

The internal object is part of me. I'm in love with the internal object.

I'm in love with myself.

But if I'm in love with myself, I need to prove to myself that my self is real.

And this self is grandiose.

Godlike, powerful.

I need to show my power.

And the only way for me to show my power is to torture you.

To keep you on your toes.

I need to be the only source of certainty in your life. The only source of power.

I need to be the electricity utility without when you die.

So this intermittent reinforcement is actually a grandiose-enhancing behavior on the part of the narcissist.

Why does the borderline accept it?

She accepts it because I would say the adrenaline or dopamine rush.

After each bad period, there's a good period.

And it is the bad period that makes the good period look so good.

We make the mistake, we think, that if we have a stable relationship where someone loves you 100% of the time, no interruptions, that's the strongest love possible.

That's the strongest intimacy possible.

Not true.

The strongest love possible, the strongest intimacy possible, is after a period where you did not have intimacy and where you did not have love.

It is the contrast that creates the potency and the power of the emotions that follows.

If you didn't have love many years and then you fall in love, believe me, it's 100 times more intense than if you had love all the time.

If you didn't have intimacy and then you finally have intimacy, even with a pet, with a cat, with a dog, it's very intense, it's very strong.

And intermittent reinforcement does exactly this.

It creates highs, like a drug-induced highs. It creates highs by creating love.

The narcissist gives you a love so that you feel the high much more intensely.

He is getting a sense of power by tormenting you and torturing you and keeping you on your toes and being the only source of certainty in your life.

So this gives him a sense of God-like power, allows him to continue to emotionally invest in his grandiose self.

And you also want it.

You also want it because you are addicted to intense emotionality. You are addicted to intense emotions.

And it is not true that intermittent reinforcement is that unpredictable. It's not.

I will give you the rule of intermittent reinforcement.

After each bad period, there's a good period. And after each good period, there's a bad period.

It's totally predictable in a way. And you keep waiting.

It's like being hungry and eating, being hungry and eating. You keep waiting for this, you're addicted.

I agree.

You said that it's almost impossible to break it, this dynamics between narcissists and codependents. And I totally agree with you. I was in this kind of relationship 10 years almost. And it is like addiction. I completely agree with it.

But how can you see this, like when you can break it from your point of view?

This type of relationships, which are essentially trauma bonded and based on intermittent reinforcement and based on falling in love with yourself within the relationship via the agency of your intimate partner, I call it the Hall of Mirrors.

The narcissist invites you to his Hall of Mirrors. When you enter the Hall of Mirrors, what do you see?

You don't see the narcissist. You see yourself.

When the narcissist love-bombs you, when the narcissist grooms you, he lures you, he seduces you to come into his carnival attraction, into his Hall of Mirrors.

You step gingerly, carefully, you step into the Hall of Mirrors.

The minute you step in, you're doomed. You're finished, you're hostage.


Because when you step into the Hall of Mirrors, you see your idealized self. You see yourself in the mirror.

It is a distorting mirror. It's not a real mirror. It's a mirror that shows you in an unrealistic light, makes you look super beautiful, amazing, intelligent, sensitive, empathic, incredible, unique, unprecedented.

You fall in love with this. You fall in love with this. And you fall in love, in essence, with the idealized image of yourself.

But still, it is self-love.

First time in your life, it's self-love.

So to break this is very difficult because it's like asking you not to love yourself anymore. It's very difficult.

And it happens usually in two cases.

When the narcissist had enough of you, he begins to have difficulties to idealize you.

So after some time, there is accumulation of information, accumulation of incidents, of events, of behaviors, you know, that this accumulation becomes too much.

And the narcissist can ignore two items of information, ten items of information.

But after ten years, there's a thousand items of information.

For example, if I think you're very intelligent and then you say something stupid, I can ignore it. I can continue to idealize you.

But to ignore it, I must invest energy. I must repress the information that you're stupid. I must deny it. I must reframe it. I must ignore it.

It takes a lot of, and it's called confirmation bias, takes a lot of effort.

Okay, so one case, okay, two cases.

The next day you also say something stupid. Then after ten years, there are a thousand incidents where you said something seriously stupid. That makes it very difficult for me to consider you as intelligent. It's impossible to idealize you.

After some time, the narcissist gives up the idealization and begins to see you as you truly are.

And that he doesn't want, because as you truly are, reflects on him. It makes it difficult for him to idealize himself and to fall to be in love with himself.

Also, it makes it difficult for him to maintain his grandiosity.

Therefore, he switches. He switches from idealization to devaluation.

And in the devaluation phase, it's intended to help him to get rid of you.

That's one way of getting out of the relationship.

You may have convinced yourself that you walked out.

But I have a secret and a surprise for you and for your listeners.

If the narcissist doesn't want you to walk out, you will never, ever walk out.

It's very simple.

You can think that you are the one who packed your things and left. You can think that you are the strong one, that you woke up, that you made the decision, that you are the narcissist wanted you to do this.

He manipulated you to think that you are the initiating party.

He's good in this. Psychopaths, definitely.

So this is one way.

The second way is when you went through a trauma, a life crisis, something that woke you up and changed you in a way that rendered you more healthy.

This could be in therapy. This could be a life crisis. This could be a good friend, a good friend with great influence on you.

There are many pathways.

We know, for example, that borderline personality disorder. Close to 50% of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder lose the disorder completely after age 45, spontaneously. The spontaneous healing of borderline personality disorder after age 45 in half. We know, for example, that dialectic behavioral therapy, DBT, is very efficient with borderline.

So if you go to DBT, you can get rid of borderline.

Similarly, we know that the prognosis for codependents who are in therapy, all codependents who develop a social safety, social network, social support network, the prognosis is excellent, which is precisely the reason why the narcissist isolates you, does not allow you to have family and friends.

Narcissist knows this.

So life helps you, and at some stage you have changed.

But you must understand this.

The minute you have changed, you can no longer be idealized.

If you become assertive, independent, autonomous, strong, decisive, the narcissist doesn't want you.

It's not that because of that you are able to walk out.

It's because the minute you become like that, the narcissist pushes you away.

He doesn't want you. It's impossible to idealize you this way.

You push back. He doesn't like that. He doesn't like resistance, criticism, disagreement. He doesn't want you as a living thing.

The narcissist wants to mummify you. With your permission, I'll try to explain why.

Why the narcissist wants you dead, mentally dead.

You remember that the narcissist, when the first time he meets you, he takes a snapshot, photo, literally a photo, internalizes it. He also internalizes your voice.

So now he has an internal object and an introject, your voice. So you are made of an internal object and an introject. Together it's you.

From that moment, he interacts with his internal objects.

It is crucial for him to interact with his objects, to allow him to idealize himself.

In other words, it's an integral part of his grandiosity.

He cannot afford to interact with you, really, outside.

Because he cannot control you. He needs to control you to feel grandiose.

And you cannot control a living human being. You cannot control an external object.

But you can control an internal object, okay?

It's the background.

Now, if I see you, let's say I'm a narcissist, you're codependent. I see you. I say, wow, she has two advantages.

One, she's blonde. Second, she can give me narcissistic supply.

Okay, great. I will ignore the blonde part. But she can give me supply.

So she can be my intimate partner. I will love-bomb her, I will groom her, I will make her mine.

This process is called acquisition. I will acquire you.

But that second, I take a snapshot of you. I internalize it.

And from that moment, I interact with the snapshot, not with you.

Why is this a problem?

Because you are a living thing. You develop. You grow. You change. You make new friends. You have a new job. You buy new books. You watch new movies. These movies make you think. These faults change you. You are not the snapshot. You have a life of your own. You're animated. Gradually, the differences between you and the snapshot become bigger and bigger. You diverge from the snapshot. As you diverge from the snapshot, it makes it more and more and more difficult to idealize you. More and more difficult to idealize me based on idealizing you. More and more difficult to maintain my grandiosity. You are challenging my grandiosity by separating from the snapshot.

So the more independent you are, the more autonomous you are, the more assertive you are, the faster you divorce the snapshot, and the less useful you are to me.

I can state with absolute certainty that it is the narcissist who gets rid of the codependent, the narcissist who gets rid of the borderline.

Many narcissists instinctively, automatically, or cleverly make their partner think that she had initiated the breakup, that she was the one who walked away.

And later, the narcissist tries to hoover these partners, usually for short-term supply gaps.

And so because he tries to hoover them, it convinces them even more that they are the ones who walked away.

But if the narcissist doesn't want you to walk away, you will not walk away.

It's Bluebeard. You're in his cave.

The narcissist is a mastermind in creating such total addiction, even the most basic primitive narcissist, by the way. It's animalistic. It's instinctual, reflexive. It's not even, you know, especially intelligent narcissists, but even not intelligent. They create such addiction that trust you, me.

By yourself, you cannot, you need the narcissist to push you away.

And the more you change, the better your chances are that they will push you away.

Okay, thank you so much for this one. It's a really important thing.

And also, I have a lot of questions from people.

They asking, is the narcissist aware that she's a narcissist or she's a narcissist? And what exactly he or she is doing?

A lot of people are asking about that. And also, they are asking, how can they help narcissists?

So, what do you think about that?

As usual, there's a lot of nonsense online, a lot of myths.

And one of the most common myths is that narcissists are not self-aware.

The truth is that all narcissists are fully self-aware. They fully know who they are. They know definitely what they're doing.

And so, the reason people think they're not self-aware is because the narcissist disagrees with them on how to interpret his disorder and his actions.

So, when the narcissist is being obnoxious, arrogant, hurtful, sadistic, aggressive, disagreeable, etc., you would say, this is horrible. This is unacceptable behavior socially and individually. This is this.

Narcissists wouldn't say that. Narcissists would say that he's being efficient. Narcissists glorify and glamorize their disorder. Narcissists fully believe that what you consider a disorder is not a disorder. It's the next step in human evolution. It is what makes them superior to you. You are too stupid.

Hello again. Hello.

We're still recording. I'm recording. You're still recording?

Yes, I just stopped, I think. But, yes, I'm still recording right now.

So, the narcissist fully realizes that he's special, that he's unusual, that he's idiosyncratic, or that he's eccentric.

And he also realizes that many people disagree with the way he is, don't like the way he is, rejecting, etc.

But in his mind, people are stupid, inferior. They can't grasp.

Narcissism is an evolutionary positive adaptation that it endows the narcissist with advantages.

Narcissists will often tell you, had I not been a narcissist? I would not have been so accomplished. I would not have been so creative. I would not have reached the top of my company, or the top of politics, or I would have not been a famous surgeon.

Narcissists also find many behaviors amusing. It's a psychopathic side of narcissism. They find them amusing, where you don't find them amusing at all.

So, if they humiliate someone, their sense of humor is very aggressive. Humiliating, blunt honesty, being too honest, insultingly.

So, I mean, so, the answer to your question is yes.

Narcissists are fully aware. They know what they're doing. And I can prove it to you very easily.

When the narcissist goes to jail, to prison, it doesn't behave the same. If the narcissist were to behave as a narcissist in prison, he wouldn't last one night. The next morning, they would take him out in a body bag. He knows it.

Suddenly, in prison, he becomes a pussycat. He's the most loving, empathic, caring person. He pays attention. He's sensitive to other people's needs. He doesn't behave aggressively. He doesn't insult and attack. He's a totally changed man overnight, because in prison, the price for being a narcissist is your life.

So, yes, these behaviors are totally conscious, because had they not been conscious, he would not have been able to change them. And they are totally deliberate.

The narcissist is proud of what you consider disorder. He's proud of it.

Can you help a narcissist?

No, not really. It's the shortest answer you're going to get in this show.

Not really.

Therapy is, some kinds of therapies are effective in modifying some antisocial and abrasive behaviors of narcissists.

But it's impossible to touch the core.

Narcissism is not like cancer. It's not that you have the patient and you have the cancer. Narcissism is the patient. Narcissism is the narcissist. It's not that the narcissist has narcissism. Narcissism has the narcissist.

If you take away the narcissism, there will be no one there, no one left.

Narcissism is not a disorder of existence, not a disorder of presence. Narcissism is a disorder of absence. There's no one there.

It's a huge emptiness. It's a trap, open and dark trap.

So you can't cure. It's meaningless to ask if you can cure narcissism because there's the assumption.

When you cure something in medicine, when you cure something, there's the assumption that after you remove the disease, what is left is the patient.

But in narcissism, if you remove the disease, nothing will be left.

Okay, I understand. Thank you so much.

And I have one more question.

Last one, but not the least one.

Have you got any advice to someone who just, let's say, finish a relationship with narcissism? Let's say that it happens.

Any advice after the relationship is over?

Yes, after. What's now?

What's after?

Yes, my main advice would be to try to understand what is wrong with you.

Why you ended up in a relationship with a narcissist.

It implies severe problems with boundaries, personal boundaries. It implies internal dynamics, which are not good dynamics. They're as pathological as the narcissist dynamics.

Inability to regulate emotions. Inability to control moods, liberal moods.

Maybe problems of impulsivity and recklessness. Maybe defiance. Maybe misperception of reality, impaired reality, destiny. Maybe emotional blackmail and manipulation, manipulativeness.

To be needy, to be needed, to be clinging is to blackmail, to manipulate. These are not positive things.

Maybe a belief that you are incomplete without someone else. Not necessarily a narcissist, but generally a belief that you are incomplete.

So a feeling of lack of wholeness, lack of completeness. The feeling that you are not sufficient for yourself.

These are all pathologies.

Maybe shame, extreme shame, maybe extreme guilt. There's something there.

No healthy person ends with a narcissist.

Forget that particular myth. There is a myth online that the narcissist are such amazing actors that they deceived you and you found yourself suddenly discovering the truth.

Narcissists are very bad actors. You can see and spot a narcissist within less than five seconds. The way he carries his body, the way he talks, the way he treats taxi drivers and waiters.

I mean, there are so many signs. The way he doesn't respect your boundaries. He decides where to go to eat on the first date. On the first date, he decides where to go to eat. He orders the wine. He takes your purse. He tells you what to do, what not to do.

And I have something.

When it's over, narcissists, it's easier. When it's covered, it's more difficult, but I agree that you can feel after 10 seconds who is standing next to you.

The covert narcissist, both overt and covert, the grandiose.

And it is impossible not to notice grandiosity.

So the overt narcissist is grandiose about himself. The covert narcissist would be grandiose about other people.

So a typical sentence of overt classic narcissist. I'm at the top of my profession. I'm making $2 million a year. That's overt narcissist.

The covert narcissist will say, I'm very good friends with the overt narcissist who is making $2 million a year. He will redirect the grandiose, but it will still be grandiose.

It's not true. It's a myth, it's a lie.

Victims generally, survivors and victims generally, have a problem admitting that they had contributed to whatever had happened to them.

They want to participate in a morality play of angels and demons, where they are, of course, the angels.

This is grandiosity.

To say that you are impeccable, that you are perfect in anything, even if perfect victim, claim to perfection, is grandiosity.

These empaths, so-called empaths, and I don't know what, these are people who are, in all probability, covert narcissists.

They are aggrandizing their victimhood. They are transforming their victimhood into something to be proud of. They are converting victimhood into an identity. They are leveraging victimhood to have power over other people.

You don't have to believe me. Try to argue with an empath.

See the reaction. The reaction is identical to the reaction of a narcissist.

Try to argue or disagree or criticize an empath, so-called.

They are sometimes worse than us. They are vicious.

So victimhood, victimhood is the most common disguise of the covert narcissists.

And even classic and overt narcissists, they also sometimes claim that they are victims.

So real victims, because they are real victims, of course.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is a battle zone. It's a war. You are a casualty. I'm not denying this. I'm the first who said it.

I coined the phrase, narcissistic abuse. I'm the father. You're talking to father. I'm the father of the film.

You don't need to teach me that narcissists are abusive, that they cause people damage.

I told people that narcissists are abusive and they cause damage.

You know this because of me. Even if you don't know me, never heard of me. You know all this and you're discussing all this because I came first in 1995.

So I don't feel any problem saying what I'm saying.

There are real victims out there. Most of them are not online, making a display in an exhibition of their suffering.

But there are real victims.

The thing is that they need to seriously think what went wrong, not with a narcissist.

And not with a relationship, but with themselves.

It's a time for soul searching. It's an opportunity to get to know yourself much better.

Now no one guarantees it will not happen again.

But still, it's an opportunity.

Maybe for the first time in your life you can really love yourself by getting to know yourself.

And to throw that away and to say there's nothing I need to know about myself.

I know myself. I'm empathic, I'm good hearted, I'm wonderful, I'm sympathetic, I'm helping people.

You see, how many people love me? I don't need to. It's him. He's a demon. He's a possession. He's a devil. This is religiosity and morality play that are not helping the narcissist.

Now if you go online, 99% of self-styled coaches and self-styled experts, that's precisely what they're doing.

They're telling you you're perfect. You're blameless. You're guiltless.

Things have been done to you. You're a magnet. You couldn't help him. Magnets cannot help him.

You are, you know, and now having told you all this, give me your money.

These are con artists. Narcissistic con artists. And victims want to hear this. They gravitate to such videos because they want to hear that they are perfect.

Is this not narcissism?

The narcissist wants to be told that he's perfect. That he's blameless.

Narcissists, exactly like victims, believe that the world envies them, conspires against them. They believe that they are victims. They're paranoid. They believe they are victims of external forces.

Narcissists will be the first to tell you, I am as clever as Albert Einstein. Why I'm not famous like Einstein? Not my fault. My boss, my wife, society, the government, the universe.

They conspire against me. They envy me. They destroy me.

Both victims and narcissists have an external locus of control. The victim's external locus of control is the narcissist.

The victim says, everything bad that happened to me was the narcissist's fault. My life was not in my control. He controlled my life, 100%.

So go to him. Don't talk to me.

And the narcissist says, everything that happens to me, everything bad that happens to me is not my fault. It's happening to me from outside. Don't talk to me. Talk to the government, to the CIA, to my boss, to my wife. I'm innocent.

Both of them make the claim of innocence. Nothing is worse. There's no bigger enemy of healing than to claim that you're innocent. No one is innocent. There are no saints here.

I completely agree, especially with this dynamic and a lot of, like we talked on the beginning, that a lot of people, speaking about black and white, like angel and devil.

And it's not about that because when I was in a relationship, even with a narcissist, I wasn't angel at all.

It's like about dynamic. And that's what I'm trying to show on my channel, also on YouTube.

That's why I'm so grateful for your time, for your knowledge and your wisdom. Thank you so much, Sam.

I would add one sentence. I would add one sentence based on what you said. I'll try to keep it very brief.

When you think about something in black and white, demon and angel, I am perfect. This is called splitting. It's an infantile defense mechanism.

Splitting is pathological, is sick, is infantile, is aggressive, and it is characteristic of narcissists and psychopaths.

If you are displaying splitting, it is extremely strong indication that you are a narcissist. We are not aware of any other mental health disorder. And we are definitely not aware of any healthy person showing splitting, using splitting.

It is unique to narcissists and psychopaths. You split the narcissist. You say he's all bad, I'm all good. He's all black, I'm all white.

I have a surprise for you.

In all probability, you are narcissists.

Completely agree because it's not about black and white. It's not about that and never was. It was Dr. Sam Vaknin. Thank you so much.

And I'm Dario Ricoza, clinical psychologist and therapist. Thank you so much.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you so much.

Thank you.

I stop recording.

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