Covert Borderline's Relationships (with Melissa Rondeau, LMHC, MBA)

Uploaded 2/16/2023, approx. 1 hour 15 minute read

And I'm super excited to be here with Sam Vaknin, who is the author of "Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited," and he's also a professor of psychology.-

Thank you for the plug.

Thank you for having me.

Excited to be here.

Shall we?

Let's do it, yeah.

Let's talk about covert borderline.

I'm eager to learn from you.


Covert borderline is a suggested diagnosis. It's not accepted yet. It's a diagnosis that I suggested.

My second, by the way, I proposed another diagnosis 25 years ago, inverted narcissist, which later became a subspecies of covert narcissism.

So this is the second diagnosis I'm proposing.

And the reason I'm proposing it is because there is a hole. There is a lacuna. There's a gap between the classic narcissist and the classic borderline. There are borderlines who are very, very narcissistic. They are very grandiose, for example. They are not self-harming. They are glib. They are defiant, etc.

So there are borderlines who cannot be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. They don't meet all the criteria, but they have very pronounced narcissistic traits and behaviors.

Lenn Sperry called it narcissistic style.

So these are borderlines with a narcissistic style or a narcissistic overlay.

Now, this is most common among men who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Less among women.

So there was this gap.

And the diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, including the latest text revision published a few months ago, don't cater to this gap. They don't describe narcissistic borderlines.

The diagnostic criteria capture a sliver of women, capture a sliver of borderline personality disorder, which is essentially the emotionally dysregulated borderline.

But there are other types of borderlines.

And I try to plug this all by suggesting the diagnosis.-

What I think is interesting is trying to understand if the covert borderline is a hybrid, what elements are psychopathy? What elements belongs to narcissism? And do they take on more qualities of covert narcissism or classic or possibly both?-

No, they are mostly, they borrow traits and behaviors and the psychodynamic of overt plastic narcissism.

Grandiose, used to be known grandiose phallic narcissism.

So no, there are no covert elements in covert borderline, no covert narcissistic elements, in covert borderline.

The reason I coined the phrase covert borderline is because they can easily be mistaken for narcissists.

But they have very pronounced and strong elements of borderline.

For example, they're emotionally dysregulated. So which is the main feature of borderline personality disorder.

Now narcissists are not emotionally dysregulated because narcissists don't have access to positive emotions. And so narcissists are never overwhelmed by emotions.

The covert borderline is overwhelmed by emotions, does drown in his own emotions, gets dysregulated, acts out, etc. by the classic borderline.

But is often mistaken for a classic narcissist because for example, he's very grandiose. He is very ambitious. He's usually very successful and loquacious, eloquent. He is the center of attention. He is the life of the party and so on and so forth. So it's extremely easy to mistake him for a narcissist, which he is not.

Now there are these one element common to covert borderline in the covert narcissist. And that's pseudo humility.

Covert borderline is ostentatiously modest. Is in your face humble. He emphasizes his humility and modesty, renders them ostentatious and open, and leverages his humility, pseudo humility, it's fake, leverages his humility and modesty to obtain essentially narcissistic supply.

So this is common to the covert borderline and the covert narcissist, but that's more or less the only thing that's common.-

If a covert borderline is emotionally dysregulated and acting out, would that be considered narcissistic rage or that's just the acting out of the borderline element?

Narcissistic rage is not about emotions. That's a very common mistake.

The word rage is very misleading. Or actually the word rage is appropriate because it's not anger. Anger is an emotion.

Narcissists don't experience anger. They experience rage.

And the difference between the two is the following.

Anger is intended to modify the behaviors of people around you. When you are angry, you're trying to influence or affect people who frustrate you in order to induce them to not frustrate you anymore. Anger is a signal, is a form of communication.

Rage has nothing to do with the environment. Rage is intended to restore an internal equilibrium, an internal balance by engaging in displays that restore grandiosity.

Like if the grandiosity of the narcissist is challenged or undermined, he would rage so as to demonstrate his superiority or his ability to harm other people, his power, his omnipotence.

So actually the rage is intended to convince the narcissist that he is still superior in some way. It's a form of internal dialogue, not external dialogue. The rage is intended to eliminate sources of frustration, not to modify their behaviors.

So there's a very clear distinction between rage and anger. And rage has nothing to do with emotion and dysregulation. It has to do with cognitive distortions.

The narcissist perceives reality wrongly, filters it through his grandiosity and inflated fantastic self-image. And then he needs to protect this, to defend this by raging.

The rage restores his sense of Godlike omnipotence.-

Speaking about interpersonal communication, something I personally observed in a covert borderline was perceiving slights, disappointments, hurts, making accusations of someone being a liar or withholdingalmost a paranoia.

So is that because the court borderline is also looking through the lens of a distorted reality?

Like what elements of those issues belong to classic narcissism or BPD?-

Yeah, again, there is a lot of confusion between paranoia and hypervigilance.

Hypervigilance is typical of both overt and covert molasses.

Hypervigilance involves scanning the environment, other peoplefor perceived slights and insults, reframing input from the environment, speech acts, gestures, laughter, reframing these cues that emanate from the environment in a way that could be perceived as humiliating, shaming, insulting, etc. This is hypervigilance.

Paranoia is something completely different. Paranoia is the belief that you are sufficiently important to attract and to warrant malevolent attention.

In other words, paranoia or paranoid ideation, to be more precise, is a grandiose defense, a narcissistic defense. It is part and parcel of grandiose.

The paranoid believes that it is important enough to attract the attention of the CIA. So it's a form of self-aggrandizement.

Nowthe covert borderline is paranoid, but he is not hypervigilant. And the reason the covert borderline is not hypervigilant is because, as distinct as opposed to the narcissist, the covert borderline has an internal locus of control.

In other words, he tends to believe that he is in control of his own destiny, that his decisions and choices matter, that he's able to influence his life and direct it appropriately, that he's not subject to outside forces that conspire to put him down and so on and so forth. So he is not hypervigilant. He doesn't scan for insults and so on and so forth.

And when he is paranoid, it's paranoia with an internal locus of control. Sofor example, the covert borderline can say, I know that I hurt him. I know that I hurt someoneand now he's gonna take revenge on me. It's a form of paranoia, but with internal locus of control, I made it happen. I made it happen.

If there is a conspiracy against me, it's because I'm really doing something wrong. If someone takes revenge on me because I deserve it, I had it coming. I'm still in control, I'm still in charge.

I actually am a puppet master. I control people. I make them do things, including make them venture.

So these are subtle distinctions between the covert borderline and the narcissist, both overt and covert.

This is a covert borderline is not a narcissist. He's not a narcissist. He's grandiose mostly and resembles a narcissist.

But in very important ways, he's distinct from classic and covert narcissism, sufficiently distinct to warrant or to justify a separate diagnosis.

So to be very clear, the covert borderline is not the same as a borderline who is also a narcissist.

We have comorbidities. We have many borderlines who are also diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

The comorbidity of borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder is very high. We often diagnose these two disorders in the same person, but that's not a covert borderline.

A covert borderline is a grandiosenear psychopathic borderline with the emphasis on the grandiosity.

While all borderlines are grandiose, in the covert borderline, grandiosity is a regulatory mechanism. It is a cognitive distortion that regulates the internal environment of the borderline, of the covert borderline.

So it's very crucial, this grandiosity.

And in this sense, it's similar to the narcissism, but that's where the similarities start.-

What function does the grandiosity serve to protect the covert borderline?

Like I researched in some of your work, if I understand it correctly, the narcissist doesn't really have an ego. There's nothing there, right?

So what about the covert borderline?-

Similarly, the covert borderline is a false shirt. Exactly like the classic borderline. Classic borderline also has a false shirt.

And all three of them engage in fantasy, which leads me to the questions that you send me.

All three of them engage in fantasy.

The difference is the type of fantasy.

The narcissist fantasy is a shared fantasy. It's a fantasy that involves another personand that person is allocated a role. And that person is supposed to fulfill the role, to conform to an image of that person in the narcissist mind that had been idealized.

So both members, both participants in the classic narcissist shared fantasy are equally important and equally crucial to the maintenance of the fantasy.

The borderline is a fantasy that involves her intimate partner, regulating her emotions, stabilizing her moods and generally serving as a rock around which she can construct a stable and safe life.

So her fantasy is other oriented.

In effect, the borderline does not see herself in the fantasy at all. The fantasy is 100% focused on her intimate partner. She disappears into the intimate partner. She merges and fuses with the intimate partner. And that's why she develops engulfment anxiety or enmeshment anxiety.

This is the borderline's fantasyis to disappear, to vanish. It's a kind of death wish. It is sublimated suicide, suicide by intimate partner.

It's like if the borderline finds the perfect intimate partner, she can rest in peace because he's gonna take over her mind. He's gonna stabilize her moods. He's gonna make her feel safe. He's gonna regulate her emotions. She might as well be in a vegetative state, in common because she outsources, relegates all internal functions to the intimate partner. That's her fantasy.

The narcissist, as I said, is an intimate partner within a fantastic space. And both of them are collaborating in this shared fantasy. They're both each other's mother in effect. This is something I call dual mothership.

The covert borderline is a borderline.

First and foremost is a borderline.

So the covert borderline fantasy also focuses on the intimate partner. Exactly like the classic borderline.

Classic borderline fantasy is centered around the intimate partner.

The covert borderline is the same.

His fantasy revolves around the intimate partner and includes only the intimate partner.

And the fantasy is ideal, everlasting love.

That's the covert borderline fantasy.

The narcissist shared fantasy is not about love.

It's a common mistake.

The narcissist shared fantasy is about mothering, is looking for a mother.

So to summarize, the narcissist is looking for a mother.

The borderline is looking for external regulation, someone who will take over her mind.

And the covert borderline is looking for ideal love, essentially.-

Is there the same element of shared fantasy, limited fantasy?

Like what happens if someone starts to break away from the covert borderline fantasy of everlasting love?

Because it's not working.

Maybe they're seeing the emotional dysregulation. They're seeing the crazy making. They start to pull away.

Is that the same?-

Nothing much.

The reaction of the covert borderline is much more subdued than even the reaction of the narcissist.

So narcissist can experience mortification in the wake of a shared fantasy that broke up. They broke up.

Borderline definitely falls apart. She decouples and says she loses her defenses. She begins to act out. She becomes a secondary psychopath. She does horrible things, definitely.

The covert borderline is very nonchalant about this. It's very, you know, because the covert borderline's fantasy is not about the ideal love, not the specific lover.

The ideal love. So he's gonna say, okay, it didn't work with this one. I'm gonna try it with the next one. It's the ideal love that is invested. He's in love with ideal love, never with any person.

So he switches among intimate partners very fast, much faster than the narcissist. So he will have a much larger number of intimate partners over the lifespan.

The investment in the intimate partner will be shallow. The narcissist's investment in the intimate partner is intense, is huge.

The narcissist has extreme cathect, extreme emotional investment in the partner. That's why the narcissist love bonds, love bonds, and you know, because there's a huge investment in the intimate partner.

The borderline even more.

But the covert borderline is very shallow investment, if any, and switches very easily between, you know, between intimate partners.

Actually, he doesn't have intimate partners. He's in love with love.-

Is there still a grooming phase, any element of love bombing?

Can you talk about devaluing, discarding cycles?-

The covert borderline is seductive, glibly seductive. So he's bound to be flirtatious, is very socially charming, is charismatic. So he resembles very much, if I have to make a comparison, he resembles the somatic narcissist. He is cold, he is greedily seductive, he's promiscuous. His sexual life is uninhibited. He's likely to be into kink and more. His relationships are unstable, including his marriage. He's much more likely to be invested in his children than in his spouse, for example.

So the narcissist would go through a phase of love bombing and the psychopath would go through a phase of grooming. And the borderline would go through a phase of idealizing, extremely idealizing a partner, and uninhibited, or disinhibited sex.

But the covert borderline would simply flirt, minimally invest, seduce, and then move on, more or less. It's a butterfly, it's like the wind, a player, effectively a player, or as the British used to say 100 years ago, a cad, you know, C-A-D.

So that's the covert borderline.

That creates dissonance in the covert borderline, because he once, he pursues ideal love. That's his obsession, his obsession is ideal love, his fantasy is ideal love.

But he is not willing or able to invest in a relationship to reach the stage of an ideal love. He expects to have an ideal love on a first date.

And that's why typically he would have sex and he would do everything within a first date. Because he believes in serendipity, serendipity, like fortuitous, it's gonna be fortuitous. He's gonna find ideal love by accident. It's meant to be, it's written in the stars, you know? One day he's gonna walk into a bar and she's gonna be there.

And hard work, hard labor is the antithesis, it's the opposite of ideal love.

Because ideal love is a cosmic force. It's very, it involves a lot of magical thinking.

And you know, if you have to work hard, to flirt, to court, to, you know, that negates the idea of ideal love. Because ideal love is spontaneous, it's instantaneous. It's like fireworks, it just erupts. It's a force that puts two people together and it's irresistible. It's a very infantile perception of object relations and love, of course.

And so the Cauffier borderline, exactly like the Mouses, is very mature, very infantile, and developmentally arrested.

Can we go through your questions, the questions you send me, because some of them were really good. I think I answered the first one, I answered the second one, but you can start with the third one, if you wish. Those are really good questions.

Do you have another one? I don't have them, yeah, I don't have the list. Do you have them in front of you?


So you wanted to ask me, is intermittent reinforcement the same as devalue and discard cycles? Is there any way you can put the list on the screen, because it's very bizarre if I ask myself the question and then I answer.

That's, I mean, it's narcissistic, but there's a limit even to narcissism.

Oh yeah, I just thought of a way that I can do it.

One second.

Okay, so.

I'm looking for it, sorry. While you're looking for it, I will answer the question.

Start talking, yeah.

Intermitted reinforcement has nothing to do with devalue and discard. Intermitted reinforcement is a control technique. It's intended to induce extreme uncertainty and dependency in a targetby behaving hot and cold.

I love you, I hate you. I'm here for you on good. These kinds of mixed signals or mixed messages, they create, as I said, fear, they create anxiety and they create dependency in the sense that the victim becomes dependent on the goodwill of the intermittent reinforcer.

Intermittent reinforcement is the precursor, is the foundation of trauma bonding because it induces mini traumas. It's like death by a thousand cuts.

Devaluation and discard have nothing to do with intermittent reinforcement. They are autonomous parts of the cycle of relationships with the narcissist. They reflect the narcissist's internal need to separate from the mother figure because the intimate partner is always a mother figure.

And so he needs to devalue her and push her away. He needs to discard her because he has this overriding urge or compulsion to reenact early childhood conflicts with the mother and to finally accomplish separation and individuationand he's compelled to repeat the cycle.

Also, when the partner deviates or diverges from the snapshot, when she deviates or diverges from the ideal image that the narcissist had created the snapshot, the Photoshop snapshot the narcissist had created originally, when there is a conflict between the real life intimate partner and the image of the intimate partner in the narcissist's mindthat creates a lot of anger and frustration and aggression and leads to devaluation and discard because the dissonance is unbearable, intolerable.

Every single time the intimate partner demonstrates agency, autonomy, independence, decision- making, every time she has new friends, she travels, she goes to work, she talks to her family, every single time is a challenge to the inert, zombified and mummified avatar of her in his mind.

When this challenge is intolerable because it induces anxiety, abandonment anxiety, separation and security.

The sudden narcissist needs to get rid of her because she makes him anxious all the time.

And then he devalues and discards.

And usually devaluing and discard are point operations.

In other words, it's devalued, discard, goodbye.

Intermittent reinforcement means that the abuser keeps coming back.

Like he devalues you and then he idealizes you.

And then he devalues you and then he idealizes you.

And then he hurts you.

And then he solves your wounds.

And then he loves you and then he hates you.

So it's a cycle.

Intermittent reinforcement is a cycle.

The valuation and discard is a line, it's linear.

It's not the same thing.-

So a narcissistic devalued discard might happen one time.

Is that like the element where the intermittent reinforcement could happen 10, 20, 30 times?-

Intermittent reinforcement is a control technique or tactic that is used repeatedly hundreds of times, thousands of times in a relationship.

And again, it's intended to induce an extreme state of uncertainty, an extreme indeterminacyso that you are terrified to move your parallines, freeze, freeze response.

The narcissist devaluing discard is very often final.

Not always, the narcissist hoovers sometimes, but very often it is final and the narcissist moves on to another partner to repeat the cycle, actually.

Narcissist is a sisyphean thing.

It is doomed for the rest of his life to repeat the pattern of finding an intimate partner, rendering hermother figure, devaluing her, discounting her, finding an intimate partner, etc.

It's a horrible existence.

Nowmany, many abuses are not narcissists and not psychopaths and not even mentally healing in any way, shape or form.

Many abuses just don't know any better.

That's the way they control their partners.

They need to control the partner because they're afraid of abandonment or more often because they're in an ego trip.

They want to feel in charge. They want to feel, they're the boss. They're calling the shots. They're thedriver's seat.

So it's a power play.

Intermitted reinforcement is a power play.

The evaluation and discard are internal, inexorable dynamics that the narcissists cannot control.

That's why I keep saying to victims of narcissists, it's nothing to do with you. You couldn't have done anything differently or else.

You're absolutely not to blame.

These dynamics play out and they play out regardless of you in a way, you're interchangeable, you're fungible, you're replaceable, you're nobody.

The victims of narcissists are nobodies.

They are just excuses to replay the internal dynamic.

Now you ask me one of the questions.

Do you have the questions in front of you or not yet?-

Yes, I do.-

All right, so we can move on to the next one.

Okay, is the covert borderline in a state of prolonged grief?

Like when I think about CPTSD and I've studied your work that BPD is like an extreme subtype of CPTSDand try and understand if they're also in a state of prolonged grief from childhood abuse and trauma.-

First I want to give credit where it's due, which I always am very careful with this because a lot of my work is stolen and appropriated and plagiarized and I know the feeling, it's a very bad feeling.

So to give credit where it's due, the idea that perception, the concept that BPD is a form of CPTSD is not mine.

It was first suggested by the mother of CPTSD, by the woman who coined the phrase complex trauma or complex PTSD. Her name is Judith Herman and she has been campaigning for a long period now, long timeto render borderline personality disorder a form of PTSD, post-traumatic condition with emotional dysregulation.

And I fully agree with her, I fully concur. I think narcissistic personality disorder is also a post-traumatic condition, not a personality disorder. I think borderline and narcissism are post-traumatic conditions.

And this is the answer to your question.

When you're traumatized, you experience grief.

This trauma takes something away from you. There's a loss, always there's a loss, a loss of innocence, a loss of sense of safety, a loss of a loved one, a loss of property. There's always a loss involved.

And so trauma induces grief.

And yes, the covert borderline possibly has double grief because he has the grief of the narcissist and the grief of the borderline.

And so I would say that he is in a deep profound state of prolonged grief.

But the covert borderline compensates for this in a variety of ways.

He borrows techniques from both narcissism and borderline.

So in a way, the covert borderline is much better adopted. It's a much higher level positive adaptation.

Whereas the borderline is disorganized and chaotic and out of control and dysregulated all over the place and crazy making.

And whereas the narcissist is divorced from reality, delusional and on the border of psychosis. It's totally nuts.

The covert borderline actually functions very well. He copes with his grief, with his internal dysfunctional dynamics much better than the narcissist or the borderline, possibly because of the combination.

Now there was a psychoanalyst by the name of Grozstein. And Grozstein suggested that borderline is a form of failed narcissism.

He said that the child is abused, child experiences trauma, and then the child attempts to become a narcissist.

Because narcissism is a wonderful defense against hurt and against pain. So the child attempts to become a narcissist and some children succeed and they become narcissist, lifelong narcissist, but some children fail. And the children who fail are actually borderlines.

So he said that borderlines are, border is a form of failed narcissism.

The covert borderline is an exception. It's a borderline who transitioned to narcissism and kept the best features, the best defensive features of both disorders.

So the covert borderline is much more self efficacious. We call it self efficacious. He is much more positively adapted to his environment.

He, for example, he has an internal locus of control. He is self-sufficient. And although he has mood lability and he's emotionally dysregulated, he has antisocial or psychopathic features which compensate for this.

For example, he rationalizes, he is defiant, he has reactants and so on. He doesn't have suicidal irrigation like the borderline. He directs his aggression outwardly, not inwardly. He doesn't self mutilate. He doesn't have addictive behaviors. He does succeed to have relationships, however shallow.

In short, he is better adapted. He's better adapted to reality. He's socially charming. He's charismatic. He has a very strong work ethic. He's a consistent hard worker. We call it pseudo sublimation. In other words, he's working hard in order to gain admiration. He's intensely ambitious. He's often successful. And he is, he fits in. He simply fits in. He is much more functional than either the narcissist or the borderline.-

When you were talking about some of the antisocial qualities or the psychopathy, what would that actually look like in a relationship? Like, can you give examples of how a covert borderline, what that behavior might, how it might manifest to see that play out in a relationship?-

Well, the covert borderline is simply likely to walk away.

The narcissist is so invested in the shared fantasy that the narcissist initially would try to keep the partner.

And ironically, the narcissist would use narcissistic abuse to keep the partner.

In other words, he would use intermittent reinforcement and so on, he would try to condition the partner to generate trauma bonding within the shared fantasy.

When the narcissist finally devalues the partner and discards her, people don't realize that it's a traumatic experience for the narcissist because it's like giving up on mother.

It's a mother figure.

It's not true that narcissists are happy or lucky and they break up with their intimate partners and they move on to the next partner without the second thought.

That's a psychopath, not a narcissist. That's a covert borderline, not a narcissist.

The narcissist is heartbroken. He lost his fantasy, he lost his mother, a substitute mother.

So the narcissist react very badly to the breakdown of shared fantasies.

Borderlines react even worse. They totally disintegrate. They do crazy things. They harm themselves.

The covert borderline is similar to a psychopath in this sense and that's where the antisocial traits come in.

He simply walks away. He backs his things literally or figuratively and just moves on.

He is not really emotionally invested in anything. He's shallow. He has shallow affect or even no effect.

And so he just moves on. He's very unlikely to engage in recriminations, fights, arguments, abuse, intermittent reinforcement. He doesn't do any of this.

You don't fit his ideal or you don't fit his image or his fantasy of an ideal love, you gun, your history.

And because no one does, he keeps moving on from partner to partner, forgetting the previous partner in like days or weeks, something like that.

He has no fantasy involving the other partner. He has a fantasy involving love.

So it's easy to carry this fantasy with you and be totally self-sufficient, which is exactly what the borderline does.

A covert borderline, I'm sorry, does.

So the answer to your question is you're not likely to see narcissistic behaviors or borderline behaviors with the covert borderline in interpersonal relationships.

And the reason is he has no interpersonal relationships.

Simple. He has flings. He has affairs. He has casual sex. He has one night stands. He has, you know, flirting. He does flirting. He is not into reality when it comes to romantic or intimate relationshipsbecause no reality can match up to the fantasy of ideal love.

So it's very frustrating and disappointing and heartbreaking and, you know, and he avoids it. He avoids testing ideal love in the laboratory of reality because it's bound to fail.

So he's avoiding failure.-

Are there some cases where a covert borderline could use the control tactic of intermittent reinforcement?-

Yeah, he does all the time.-


He does all the time, but because the relationship are very short and very shallow, he's gonna attempt it.

And then if there's no ideal love, he just gives up and moves on.

So he's not serious about intermittent reinforcement. Let's put it this way. Definitely not as serious as the narcissist, let alone the psychopath.

So he just, everything to him is kind of an afterthought. Not serious.

I would say the correct borderline is not serious about interpersonal relationships and very serious about his career, about his appearance, about his image, about his looks, about the way other people perceive him. So impression management is very serious about this.

He's committed, he's invested, he's hardworking, and so on. Although he's also superficial in some ways. For example, he will not, he will borrow still ideas from other people, other people's work, and pretend that it's his.

Very shortcuts, he will resort to shortcuts.

But still, I would say that all in all, he's pretty serious about his professional life.

But when it comes to his interpersonal life, it's like he says to himself, "I know I'm going to be disappointed.

No one can give me what I need.

What I need is ideal love." So forget about it.

I will focus on work, I will focus on career, I'll focus onand there, he's pretty successful. He's pretty stable. He's impressively knowledgeable, usually. He's decisive, opinionated. He loves language, so he's very articulate. He usually pretends to be moral, modest.

Many of them are activists, social activists, and so on and so forth. They pretend that they have contempt for money. They're spiritual, they have a guru status. They are, when it comes to authority, they are irreverent. They're contumacious, they hate authority, reject authority, but they are hard workers because they need admiration.

Hard work is their way of obtaining narcissistic supply, and this is what we call pseudo- sublimation.

They've intense ambition, and so on and so forth.

Now, they do intermittent reinforcement. They also do triangulation.

Some of them are sadistic and punitive. Some of them are goal-oriented, like a psycho-op. Some of them are reckless. Some of them have scorn and contempt for other people, masked as pseudo- humility. Some of them are attention-seeking. Some of them are passive-aggressive, or ostentatiously self-denying and ascetic. Some of them are cunning. Some of them are malevolent.

In other words, they're human, like all humans.

But I would say that they are focused on professional life and career, and they neglect the interpersonal side.

What about elements of chronic victimhood or vulnerability in the covert borderline?

No, no, that's not the covert borderline. That's the covert narcissism, but not the covert borderline. They don't have this. They have internal focus of control. They like to believe that they are in charge. They are in control. They made everything happen.

If someone is happy, they made him happy. If someone hurt them or harmed them or damaged them, they made him do it. They had it coming. They engineered the whole situation. They orchestrated the whole situation. They need to feel they are in charge.

And in this sense, they're very much like psychopaths.

So, psychopaths and grandiose narcissists, overt narcissists.

So, this is borrowed from psychopathy and narcissists. They have an internal locus of control.

Now, they do have alloplastic defenses. In other words, they can say, for example, "Yeah, I misbehaved, and I'm punished, I'm being punished, because I misbehaved. But I'm being punished disproportionately, because whoever is doing the punishing is evil and malevolent."

So, they mix alloplastic defenses and an internal locus of control. It's a very bizarre hybrid, very strange hybrid.

But they're not likely, for example, to scan for insults. They're not like a vigil. And they're never likely to complain about being victimized.

They're not victims.

However, superheroes fighting supervillains. They are modern versions of Spider-Man or Batman, more precisely. They're Batmans. They're all... they are Marvel Comics superheroes. They defend women, or they defend minorities. So, they gravitate naturally to activism.

Sometimes, one man crusades against some perceived social injustice or some identified villain. So, some of them would pick up a target. They would say, for example, "I don't know, Donald Trump." And so, they would pick on him, and they would go on a crusade against him.

Or they would say, "Women are mistreated, so we're going to defend women."

The biggest misogynistamongcovert borderlines are women defenders, because they think women need defense.

They perceive women as weak, stupid, and so on.

So, you have this...

You have this narrative of, "My life is cosmically significant and meaningful," because I'm modest, I'm humble, but I contribute to society with my benevolence, with my goodwill, with my activism, with my good heart, and with my charity and altruism.

So, anything that conflicts with this, they're going to reject.

So, you're very unlikely to hear a covert borderline apologize.

Extremely unlikely.

A covert borderline can go for decades without saying once, "I'm sorry, I made a mistake, I should not have acted this way."

Because whatever it does, it does for the common good, is self-sacrificial.

And we call this pseudo-sublimation.

Pseudo-sublimation means you present yourself as self-sacrificial and acting in socially acceptable ways, but this presentation is false and fake.

You're a fake person. You're inauthentic.

Covert borderline is inauthentic.

They are replicas, they're not real. They're absolutely not real.

Their appearance, their mirage, their fatamogana, they are just...

They're shimmering, shimmering mirage.

They're not real in any sense. And they adopt themselves. They shapeshift, like the famous movie "Zelling," "Woody Allen's Zelling." You know, they shapeshift all the time.

Because they're essentially people pleasers. They depend on people for input.

In this sense, they are like the narcissists. They need narcissistic supply.

But their dependence on people is not the same as the narcissists.

The narcissist message is, "I'm supreme, I'm superior, I'm godlike, and you have to confirm this to me." That's narcissistic supply.

The covertborderline's message is, "I love you. I care for you. I'm going to help you. I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to defend your interests.

And for this, you have to love me. You have to give me narcissistic supply.

And I'm modest. I'm humble. I am not demanding this supply. I just deserve it.

So, you know, ostentatious saints, so to speak.-

Coach Speaker thinks.-

That made me think, mixing those comments in with allopathic defenses, it's almost like, is there almost a moral justification for verbal abuse?

Meaning, well, I'm going to tell you off, and I'm going to devalue, put you down, criticize you, because I'm going to make you a better, I care enough to make you a better person.-

Tough love. - But it's justified.


Tough love.

Tough love.

I love you, and because I love you, I'm going to discipline you. I'm going to discipline you. I'm going to humiliate you. I'm going to push you to your limits. I'm going to change you, transform you, even if you don't want to be changed and transformed, because I know better, and I know what's good for you.

And I know that you are self-destructive and self-defeating, and I'm going to change this. I'm going to stop this. Whatever it takes, even if I destroy you in the process, I'm doing it for your own good.

And so, there is this moral high ground.

The covert borderline is always on the moral high ground. That's why we find many covert borderlines in politics, social activism, in the clergy, among medical doctors, among psychologists and therapists, always on the moral high ground.

They always know best what's good for you. And they're going to impose it on you, like it or not.

No one is asking you. They deny your agency because they have a narcissistic component.

Narcissists take away your agency. They take away your autonomy. They take away your independence.

Covert borderlines do the same, but the narcissist takes these awayfrom you because he wants to control you. The covert borderlines take these things away from youbecause they want to improve upon you. They want to make you a better version of yourself, you know.

And you can't argue with them because they know best and they know better than because they're very benevolent, not malevolent, and because they're very self-sacrificial. They're sacrificing their own best interests, time, money, resources, all for you, how ungrateful you are that you reject their altruism and charity. And because you are ungrateful, you need to be punished, of course, and so on and so forth. It's extremely distorted, convolutedand bloody sick.

The covert borderline is a seriously sick person.

Is part of that defense, is the allopathic defense part of that?

Well, I'm justified to rant, to rage, to rant, to put you down, to take away your agency because you're a liar or because you did this or because you did that. Is that the allopathic defense?

Alloplastic. Alloplastic. Alloplastic defense means that you attribute to others premeditation and malevolence in acting against you. So that's not necessarily part of the intercourse, interaction between the covert borderline and this intimate part of it, for example.

But yeah, the covert borderline, in order to render you helpless, in order to render you amenable to his ministrations and re-criminations, he needs to break you, he needs to tame you, he needs you housebroken. So he needs to demolish your defenses, including your ability to argue back, to debate critical thinking. So it's a barrage, it's an onslaught of messaging that is intended to what we call entrain you, intended to brainwash you.

And part of this messaging is you are inadequate, you're insufficient, you can't properly evaluate what's good for you. I can do it much better than you, you know? You're not competent enough to decide what's in your best interest.

So the covert borderline appoints himself, he's a self-appointed custodian or guardian over you. And henceforth, and from that moment on, you are discharged.

In short, the covert borderline infantilizes.

He tells you, you're a child, I'm the adult, I know what's best for you, and you're going to listen to me.

Because if you listen to yourself, you're going to end up badly. Never listen to yourself, you can't trust yourself. Don't trust yourself, don't trust your reality testing, don't trust your judgment of other people, you're naive, you're stupid, you're gullible.

You are, let me do this for you, let me replace your reality testing.

That's a classic borderline thing.

The borderline uses her intimate partner to regulate her internal environment. She uses his reality testing, she uses his stability, his safety.

So the borderline merges and fuses with an intimate partnerso that she can appropriate his ability to regulate her, to stabilize her, and to give her a handle, a grip on reality, which she lacks.

The covert borderline is doing the same, but in reverse.

In short, the covert borderline tries to convert you into a borderline. It tries to dysregulate youso that he becomes the exclusive source of regulation. He tries to destabilize youor your moodsso that he becomes the exclusive reserve and domain of stability. He tries to make you feel unsafe. You don't judge people properly. You don't perceive reality accurately. He tries to gaslight youso that you, so that he becomes the only reality testing in your life. He tries to isolate you from other peoplelike friends and familyso that you become utterly dependent on him.

These are narcissistic techniquesand the borderline uses them, of course.

The great luck of the covert borderline's victims is that he doesn't stick around for long.

So the narcissist can stick around for years and decadesand the damage is extensive and irreversible in many cases.

The narcissist penetrates your mind, installs an introject like an app in your mind, and controls you from inside. It's really harrowing. It's horrible.

But the covert borderline doesn't stick around for too long, luckily for his victims.

So the damage is usually limited.

If a covert borderline, which is not common, did stick around longer, you know, four, five, six years, would it create an introject just like a classic narcissist in a victim's mind?

Yes. It's the same process then.

Interjection, and then you would need to get rid of the introject somehow. And you need actually to go through process of separation and individuation because the introject would be a mother introject.

Because it's a mother who is telling you, you know, you have to rely on me. You have to trust me. My judgment is superior to your judgmentbecause now you're a child, you know. I'm your mother. You're just a child. You have to listen to me. I have to discipline you. So it's a mother introject. It's a maternal introject.

And if you stick around in the borderline, covert borderline, sticks around long enough, yeah, he does to you what the narcissist does to you. He instorts an introject in your mind that is extremely difficult to eradicate. Extremely difficult. And it's sometimes lifelong.

And so you need to work hard. You need to actually separate from this internal mother. This introject is a mother. You have to separate from them and individuate all over again.

That's why many victims say that like they're reborn. It's like a rebirth, you know. It's like starting from zero, from scratchand finding yourself and drawing up and everything as if you were two years old.

And just to impress you that I'm a good student following you.

So the the introject would be superimposed over the super ego gets superimposed with the introject.

Is that correct?

Super ego is a part of the ego.

People think that there are three things. Id, ego and super ego. That's not true. They're only two.

There is id and ego. And a part of the ego is called super ego. It's like the thief of an iceberg.

Soyes, you're right. The introject, you're a good student. The introject, the negative introjectthat the narcissist installs in your mind.

Immediately begins to collaborate, coops, colludes with other negative introjects. And with your super ego, your harsh inner critic, with your sadistic internal super ego.

So the narcissist introject creates a cluster of internal objects, cluster of introjects.

So it becomes a galaxy of negative voices.

That's why the narcissist introject is overpowering.

Because it's not a single ego.

It's like the leader of a coalition.

And this is a coalition of voices that want you dead.

Voices that hate you. Voices that detest you and loathe you.

They want you to fail. Want you to be, to selfdefeat. And want you to self-destruct.

And the narcissist's path, the introject, scans your mind, finds these other introjects, merges with them, finds your super ego, if it's sadistic, if it's malevolent, merges with the super ego.

And then you have a Trojan horse, a fifth column inside your mind, a group of traitors who are hell-bent on destroying you.

The narcissist wants to destroy youbecause once you are destroyed, he can control you. Once you're defenseless, once you're helpless, he can then control you fully.

Narcissists are obsessed with controlling their intimate partnersbecause they are terrified of loss and abandonment. And because they need the intimate partner to conform 100% to the snapshotto avoid dissonance and anxiety.

So the narcissist's mind is inhabited with dead internal objects. They're all dead.

And if you're not dead yet, the narcissist will kill you mentally.

Because the narcissist needs you dead.

It reminds me of the movie "Psycho", 1960, Alfred Hitchcock.

There is this guy, Norman Bates. He has a motel. And his mother is dead. But every morning, he dresses her up. He puts her in a chair facing the window. And every evening, he undresses her, puts her in bed and kisses her cheek. She's mummified. She's unbound.

It's not a real...

She's been dead for years.

But that is his ideal motherbecause she just doesn't criticize him. She doesn't disagree with him. She doesn't humiliate him. That's the mother.

He's capable of loving.

The narcissist wants you in this condition.

So he needs to destroy you. He needs to install this introject in your mind to poison you from within.

I would much rather be with a psychopath than with a narcissist.

Psychopaths are much more human than narcissists.

Psychopaths are exaggerated humans.

You know?

You want money?

The psychopath wants more money. He wants sex?

The psychopath wants additional sex. Everything you want, the psychopath wants more.

And it's ruthless and callous.

Okay, but it's human.

Psychopath is recognizably human.

The narcissist is not human. In any sense, I mean it.

I'm not just, it's not hyperbole. There is nothing in the narcissist's composition and mind that resembles a human being. Nothing.



I don't know how many times to emphasize this.

The covert borderline, because he has strong narcissistic elements, is partly human.

Shall we say?

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, he is more of a narcissist. When it comes to career and job, job is more of a psychopath. And when it comes to emotions, it's more of a borderline.

It's like a basket of all class to be personality disorders. But it's a muchneeded diagnosis because it bridges all the gaps between all these class to be.

Ultimately, we may actually reach the conclusion that the only diagnosis is covert borderline.

We may reach the conclusion that the covert borderline is the diagnosis.

But when the grandiosity is exaggerated, it's a narcissist.

When the defiance is exaggerated, it's a psychopath.

And when emotional dysregulation is exaggerated, it's a borderline.

The covert borderline is like a synthesis of all these diagnoses in one.

But if I had to choose to live with a covert borderline or a narcissist, covert borderline, there is nothing worse than a narcissist for your mental health and survival.

Nothing remotely, not a borderline, not a psychopath, not a covert borderline.

They're all recognizably human forms, mutated human forms, but they're human forms.

They're not so the narcissist.

It resembles some kind of malevolent or malicious artificial intelligence. It's like a swarm. It's like a hive mind. It's something there is entomological, insect-like.

I do not know how to explain it.

And for disclosure's sake, I'm a narcissist. I've been diagnosed twice with narcissistic personalities.

So no one can blame me of being anti-narcissistic. I'm a narcissist myself. I am very self-aware and very introspective.

And so I observe in myself these alien dynamics, which have no equivalent, no parallel in any mental health disorder that I'm aware of.

And of course, not in mental health. Something is happening in the mind of the narcissist, which puts him apart from the rest of humanity.

I don't know.

I mean, it's the outcome of childhood abuse and trauma, but I have to believe that it's also genetics and some brain abnormalities.

I have to believe because childhood trauma is common in borderline. It's common in covert borderline.

Yet we don't have these outcomes.

The narcissist, something happens that denuded him of humanity. And it's terrifying.

Even for a self-aware narcissist like me, I wake up at night, literally every night, terrified with myself, terrified of myself.

I'm bloody scary, even to myself.

Not because I'm a bad person, not because I'm an evil person. I've helped millions around the world.

That's not the issue.

I do good. I'm a good personbecause of how inhuman I am, how robotic, how artificial, how, I don't know what words to use.

This is such a strangement and alienation in clinical terms that it leads to extreme fear and dissonance of what I might do, actually, for example.

I don't know what I might dobecause everything I know about psychologyand I'm a professor of psychology. I'm a published author of psychology.

So everything I know about psychology doesn't prepare me for the narcissistic experience.


They have narcissists online who describe behaviors.

That's not the issue.

The issue is not behaviors.

People hurt people. Hurt people hurt people. Many people hurt peopleand they're not narcissists.

Focusing on what narcissists do is wrongbecause many people do the sameand they're not narcissists.

That's wrong.

We should focus on what the heck is going on in the narcissist's mind.

What is this life form? Where did it come from? Which planet?

It's like the 1938 Orson Welles invasion from Mars. The radio sketch. That's the alien aspect of it.


That was actually one of my questions.

If the covert borderline does stay long term in a relationship. So the victim is experienced some of that narcissism introjection and that narcissistic abuse.

The quite I think you answered the question just now, but I was going to askwho was the most toxiccovert borderline?

Narcissist by far. And I would say most toxic is the covert narcissist.

And the second most toxic is the overt.

Now, there's the overt narcissist, you seem coming. The overt narcissist is in your face, usually pretty stupid and grandiose. And it's more the overt.

Narcissist is more of a caricature, it's more is good for mockery and derision. Your word is funnycomic.

It's a but the covert is dangerous. It's a snake in the grass. It's someone who pretends to be modest and humble and altruistic and charitable and pro-social and communal and helpful and loving and caring and all the time underneath. There's a miasma swamp of seething hatred and envy and passive aggression.

And the covert narcissist is toxicity reified.

Reified the overt narcissist is a stupid twoyearold with temper tantrums and a misperception of reality and his importance in reality. The covert is much more sophisticated, much more cunning, much more scheming, much more underhanded, much more fallacious.

Is his humidity is humility is pseudo humilitydeep inside is arrogant and contemptuous. His sublimation is socially acceptable ways are socially acceptable only because he has anti-social criminal, automagically. I don't know what goes in my. His solicitousness and his politeness and his they are actually forms of passive aggression. His sense of humor is biting and dark and aggressive and hurtful. His brutal honesty is intended to demolish you. Is a snake, absolute snake.

And so the covert narcissist will be the most because also it's very difficult to convince other people that the covert narcissist is a narcissist. They say he's a wonderful person. He's a guru. He's a healer. He's a fixer. He's a savior. He's a rescuer.

He's so what is so self-effacing and so self-deprecating and so truthful and so honest. No one believes that the covert narcissist is a covert narcissist. That's why we call it a covert narcissist.

No, but in reality, it's the most egregious, sick, venomous version of the narcissist. I think that would be a really dangerous person to be in a divorce with. Or in a dispute with.

Any dispute.

Yeah, because you needyou're fighting a dual battle. You're fighting against the covert narcissist. And you're fighting to convince everyone else that he's a covert narcissist. They simply don't believe it. They don't believe you. They think you're crazy.

So there is a collective gaslighting. The covert narcissist creates collective gaslighting.

He has flying monkeys, people who do his bidding, but everyone around him, even if it's not a flying monkey, believes him, not you. And so this is gaslighting.

You're beginning to doubt your own perception of reality, your own judgment. And so you're destabilized. It undermines your sense of reality. Becoming a bit psychotic. It's a horrible experience.

When you're fighting a grandiose overt narcissist, when you're in a dispute or a divorce, everyone knows he's an asshole. Everyone knows he's a jerk. You know, it's not much convincing.

But what do you do with a covert narcissist who is, I don't know, a psychologist? What do you do with a covert narcissist who is a community leader, a clergyman, renowned and celebrated social activists? What do you do with someone like that?

How do you convince people, a cult leader?

These are the covert narcissists.

They gravitate to places where there's a lot of grass because they're snakes.

I know that you've developed cold therapy to treat narcissism. What is the likelihood that a covert borderline is treatable? And what therapies would work best for that person?

Cold therapy doesn't treat narcissism. Actually, it just eliminates the component of grandiosity. It eliminates the cognitive distortion.

So the narcissist is no longer grandiose. Doesn't need the false self. Has no false self after that. And does not seek narcissistic supply.

But everything else remains. He has no empathy. He is horrible in interpersonal relationships. He intermittently reinforces his abuser.

All this remains. Cold therapy doesn't help with any of this. It just eliminates the grandiosity.

So yes, cold therapy is useful with covert borderlines. It eliminates the grandiosity.

But everything else remains.

And it cannot be usually borderlines, for example, because of the suicide risk. Cold empathy takes away the defenses of the narcissist and eliminates the false self.

So for a while, for a short while, the narcissist becomes suicidal. There's a huge suicide risk in cult therapy.

So there are special procedures and so on to prevent suicide.

But if we were to do this with borderlines, many of them commit suicide.

So cold therapy is counter indicated in borderline.

And in the case of the covert borderline, what happens is we take away the grandiosity. The covert borderline becomes the classic borderline.

So there's a moral question here.

If we take away this defense, it's a defense. It's cognitive distortion. Take away this defense and the person becomes a classic borderline.

Is this morally justified?

When I treat narcissists with cold therapy, they go through a phase of a few weeks where they are clinically borderlines. They have emotional dysregulation, suicidal ideation.

But this is a temporary phase. It's a temporary phase and they recover.

With a covert borderline, it would not be a temporary phase.

If I take away the grandiosity, the covert borderline would be a borderline, classic borderline for life. That's a responsibility I'm not willing to take.

So I treat only people who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder with no other comorbidity.

None. And I never treat anyone with any borderline personality organization.

A classic borderline, covert borderline, I would never treat these people. It's dangerous.

11% of people with borderline personality disorder commit suicide successfully. That's a leading cause of death among people with borderline personality disorder.

If they were to develop narcissistic defenses, they would not have committed suicide.

Ironically, I think the way to prevent suicide in borderline personality disorder is to teach them to be narcissists. To kind of continue the Grozstein.

Grozstein said that narcissists are failed borderline.

So to undo the failure, to teach them to be narcissists, and then they will not commit suicide.

There are moral questions here.

There are serious moral questions here.

Imagine, for example, that I prove to you that I can prevent all suicides among borderlinesif I render them narcissists. If I teach them how to be narcissists, should I do that?

Imagine that I tell you that I can take away the grandiosity from a covert borderline, and then it becomes a borderline, and its chances to die of suicide are 11%. Should I do that?

Imagine that I tell you that in cold therapy with narcissists, they experience unparalleled torment and torture with suicidal ideation for a week. Should I do that?

There are moral questions here.

So that's why cold therapy, I'm taking it slowly.

I was in the process of certifying a few hundred therapies, but then the pandemic struck, and I'm restarting the process now.

But I'm very hesitant about the whole thing.

As distinct from other therapies, cold therapy is the only therapy I know.

And I think I know most of them, if not all of them.

The only therapy I know which substitutes one personality for another.

All other therapies deal with elements of personality, impulse control, suicidal ideation, emotional regulation.

But cold therapy destroys the previous personality, eradicates it, eliminates it completely, and replaces it with another.

That raises extremely complex ethical issues.

And that's why I'm taking it very, very slowly.

That makes sense.

I think we ran out of time.

No one will have patience to watch more.

Well, it's fascinating. I'm already thinking of more questions if we do this again.

Thank you so much for your time.

I hope everyone really gets a lot out of it.

Thank you, Melissa. It was a pleasure.

Take care.

Thanks, Sam. Bye.

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