In today's lecture, we are going to discuss the covert narcissist narcissistic abuse.
The narcissistic abuse meted out by covert narcissist is not the same as narcissistic abuse typical of overt or grandiose narcissist.
These two subspecies of narcissist differ so dramatically that there is a debate going on in the profession whether overt grandiose narcissist are actually a type of psychopaths and the only real narcissist are the vulnerable, fragile covert ones.
But we will leave this debate aside.
I have a whole video dedicated to it for those of you who are interested.
And today we are going to discuss the special variant of narcissistic abuse, this pernicious, specious, horrible, penetrating, all pervasive, poisonous, toxic variant of narcissistic abuse that has little to do actually with the overt grandiose narcissist variant.
And that is because it's a bit of a virus, as I have said in a video a few years ago.
We are also going to discuss coercive control.
There's a multiplicity of misunderstandings regarding this word.
It's being misused the same way as gaslighting is.
And so I thought a bit of clarification with academic background would be useful, should be useful for those YouTube YouTubers open to learning.
Very few admittedly.
Let's start with covert abuse, narcissistic abuse, typical of covert narcissist.
Number one, such abuse is passive aggressive, obstructive. It has to do with sabotaging, undermining, preventing, derailing, challenging other people's wishes, hopes, tasks, assignments, agendas, etc, etc.
So there's a lot of passive aggression involved.
The covert narcissist creates intricate webs and coalitions of flying monkeys and kamikaze suicide bombers.
So the covert narcissist puts together networks of people and then activates them against the selected target.
Now the covert narcissist is a narcissist. He has no empathy. Although he fakes empathy, he pretends to be a rescuer or a savior or a healer or a codependent or a victim.
In reality, the covert narcissist is even more vicious and more psychopathic and more dangerous than the overt and the grandiose narcissist.
And this kind of narcissist does not hesitate to sacrifice other people to put them at risk, compromise their interests, to ruin their lives, to put in danger their nearest and dearest, anything to obtain the outcomes of impacting the target, destroying the target, the target of vengeance, the target of envy, a malicious envy, the target of lausistic rivalry, the target of some imagined fantasy, gun or eye.
When a target is settled on, when the covert narcissist decides, "This is my target and I'm going to destroy him or her," this kind of narcissist recruits people in a variety of ways.
Sex, money, flirtation, pretensions, pretending or faking. As I said, a savior, a healer, a rescuer, a good guy or a good girl.
And so this kind of covert narcissist puts together coalitions and attacks the target in the process, destroying the very people he uses without any remorse or regret or second thought, hiding behind the aprons of women and children as kind of human shields.
This is typical of the covert narcissist.
Now, this is one element of what I call the occult narcissist, the hidden narcissist. It's a narcissist who hides behind people, hides behind a facade, hides behind fake behaviors, hides behind social norms, hides behind cultural mores, hides behind superstitions and conspiracy theories and misbeliefs and misinformation, hides behind hidden occult narcissist.
He fakes empathy. He pretends to be what he's not, an expert, a rescuer, savior, a healer. He is helpful, ostentatiously helpful. He is smarmy, absolutely smarmy. He is altruistic or pretends to be altruistic and compassionate when actually this is prime manipulation.
Being a covert narcissist, he is adept at mimicking, imitating people, resonating with them, knowing not only which buttons to push, but how to become one with a flying monkey, how to create or generate the impression we are the same. We are a brotherhood. We have the same goals and the same enemies. Let's go for them.
The covert narcissist is manipulative and it usually is nonverbal. There's a lot of body language that goes into the covert narcissist Machiavellianism.
So whereas overt or grandiose narcissists are either cerebral and then they use their intelligence, they are somatic and then they use their bodies.
The covert narcissist is almost always somatic because the covert narcissist is a collapsed narcissist. He's a narcissist who has failed at obtaining supply using, for example, his intellect or his personality or his character and temperament or his accomplishments or his biography. What's left? His body.
So the covert narcissist doesn't have to be a somatic narcissist in the classic sense, but he is likely to emphasize body language, facial expressions, micro expressions, kind of friendly hugs, imitating the body language of empathic, accomplished, beautiful, kind, loving, nice people.
The main instrument, the main tool in this arsenal is the body. So most covert narcissists are nonverbal when it comes to manipulating, conspiring, colluding and then striking at the target.
Exactly like a snake in the grass. The covert narcissist exercises punitive avoidance and withdrawal. The aim is to increase or enhance the abandonment anxiety in the target.
The covert narcissist gives the silent treatment, withholds affection, shows no emotions. This is called reduced affect display. Has usually flat attachment.
So the covert narcissist is more of an absence than even the overt or grandiose narcissist is more of an absence, more of a void or vacuum, more of a black hole than even the grandiose overt narcissist. And as I said, he creates secret coalitions against you, smear campaigns, hiding, cowardly, cravenly behind others.
And all this is intended to control the situation, to control you and to obtain favorable outcomes.
For example, to get you back or to render you contrite and remorseful or to punish you, punitive vengeance, be the case as it may. These are the strategies used by covert narcissists.
Now, many people attribute to covert narcissists and to overt narcissists, coercive control.
Coercive control is an exceedingly rare phenomenon. And no, it is not typical only of narcissists.
The vast majority of people who exercise coercive control over their intimate partners are not narcissists or psychopaths or otherwise diagnosed with any mental illness. These are the statistics.
So coercive control is a strategy, a strategy of subjugating, subduing, taming, domesticating and housebreaking someone who is significant to you.
Now, some narcissists, of course, use coercive control, consciously and unconsciously, psychopaths use coercive control, to some extent, borderlines. I'm not saying that coercive control is not an element, not an element in the armaments, not a weapon in the arsenal of the narcissist, but very few narcissists do it. Very few narcissists use coercive control because it's a highly, highly defined term, clinical term.
So coercive control is another much misused phrase, exactly like gaslighting or narcissist. 99% of the videos about gaslighting online are trash, wrong, nonsense. 99.5% of the videos about narcissists online are trash, wrong, nonsense, because they are not backed by academic research. They're not based on studies and on 100 years of literature.
So same goes for coercive control. Coercive control must include the following elements to qualify.
Number one, the victims of coercive control are intimidated, they're terrified, they are terrorized to the point that they alter, they change their routines and modify their behaviors.
The main motivation in coercive control, the main emotional landscape and background is terror, extreme fear, even fear for your life as a victim.
Number two, social isolation. In coercive control, the victim is totally isolated from the environment on pain of extreme punishment.
Now coercive control takes place only within long-term committed relationships. Not in dating, not in a fling, not among friends, only in long-term intimate relationships.
Get it? It involves social isolation and the constriction of life.
In other words, the victim is gradually or not so gradually cut off from everyone else in the environment.
The only contact the victim has is with the coercive controller, with the abuser. It's the only lifeline, the only pipeline into the world, the only reality testing, the only interface with the universe. No one else is allowed to see the victim. The victim is not allowed to meet anyone, to socialize, to fraternize, to go out, not allowed.
Life itself is constricted. One by one, the victim sheds her previous hobbies, interests, occupations, jobs. She resigns, she stays at home and there she does essentially only what the controller approves of. If he disapproves of a hobby, she drops it. If he is irritated or annoyed by an interest she has, she doesn't have it anymore. If he wants her to do something on a regular basis, however boring and repetitive she will.
Life narrows, is constricted more and more and this is known as life constriction.
Next, invasive monitoring and supervision.
This is possibly one of the most critical aspects of coercive control.
When the monitoring of the victim and the supervision of the victim by the controller, by the abuser, is all pervasive, ubiquitous.
The abuser has the passwords to the victim's digital devices, smartphones, laptops, tablets, you name it. The abuser has the right to open the victim's post and read it first.
The abuser senses her speech. The abuser monitors everything she does, comments on it or forces her to change her habits and her behaviors.
She wants to watch television, he tells her not to. She wants to drink some wine, he tells her not to etc.
Monetary supervision, criticism, like an externalized, harsh, erstwhile inner critic. Sadistic, a sadistic super ego, reified in an intimate partner, reified in the abuser.
The abuser becomes the victim's super ego, externalized and sadistic.
The monitoring and supervision are micro. They go into every possible detail.
The abuser does not let the victim shut the door of the toilets when she uses them.
I will not go into details.
Or when she takes a bath or a shower, he is there, curtain drawn, watching the proceedings.
She can't change clothes without him being there. She can't go anywhere alone. She can't make phone calls without him listening on an extension or next to her.
She can't do anything without him present 100,000% in her life.
Nothing, not even open the door, not even say hello, not even buy a loaf of bread, not even watch television, not surf the internet. Nothing. Everything is monitored and supervised.
He installs spyware and other types of malware, key loggers and everything on her phone, on her electronic devices.
He insists on reading her email, her chats, WhatsApp, you name it.
He has full unbridled, unmitigated access to every second of every minute of every hour of her life, all her correspondence, all her output, verbal and non-verbal and everything she does, even the most private.
This is typical of coercive control.
Next, and this is what renders coercive control criminal.
Coercive control is a criminal offense in the United Kingdom, in several other countries, but not for example in Canada yet.
But gradually I think it will be, it will become a criminal offense in the vast majority of jurisdictions.
Because coercive control to qualify as coercive control must include a deprivation of needs, a denial of the gratification and satisfaction of basic needs like hunger or thirst.
The victim is denied food, not allowed to drink, not allowed to satisfy or to meet even the most basic requirements of existence without the say so of the abuser and the abuser and the abuser has a veto power. He can deny her food for three days or drink for one, for one day, fluids for one day.
I'm not mentioning other needs like sex and love and compassion and affection and contact with other people and contact with the family, interaction. I'm not mentioning any of these social dimensions, social needs, not none of this. I'm talking about the most basic things.
If you don't obey me says the coercive controller, your punishment is not going to eat today.
So the deprivation of needs, the denial of needs is a crucial component of coercive control, which renders it criminal.
Actually, coercive control involves the control and micromanagement of choices, decisions, behaviors, actions and micro behaviors. Everything is totally managed. Everything requires approval, explicit or implicit. Everything is subject to punitive measures, punishment.
If you deviate or diverge or disobey or display any sign of autonomy, agency, independence and self-efficacy.
So control and micromanagement, there's a denial of access, denial of access to money, to friends, to family, to help, to the authorities, to SACOR, to water, to food, to television, to internet, to your children, to your ex, denial of access.
The denial of access is a major control strategy and it is coercive in the sense that if you dare to oppose it or to try to haggle, bargain and negotiate, you're punished.
And the punishments in coercive control escalate and they can and often do reach the physical.
So physical violence is very common in coercive control.
Terrorizing, degradation, humiliation in a variety of ways, including sexually. Multiple modalities of abuse, verbal, physical, financial, sexual, they're all employed in order to control the victim.
There is a strong element of conditioning. I have a video about conditioning the victim on this channel. I have a video about everything on this channel, I think, except jumping cats.
So conditioning, compliance, automatic submission, unthinking, non-critical is rewarded. If you act as a slave or as a problemable robot and you respond immediately to the wishes, expectations and commands of the abuser, you're rewarded. If you don't, you're punished.
And this conditioning, operant conditioning, leads to automatism and to impaired reality testing. The will is broken. You learn to react the way Pavlov's dogs reacted. You salivate when you hear the sound of your abuser's voice. Your reality testing is so short that you believe everything your abuser is telling you. You believe that your abuser is the most and only faithful rendition of the world.
And so you become conditioned. Your submissiveness, your subjugation is also conditioned in the sense that you cannot contemplate any other alternative. Your behavior is so dictated by lower levels of the brain that it's no longer under your control. You no longer control your behavior. It's just there, automatically, beyond the can and the realm of your ability to modify, to kind of negotiate a compromise. You don't even think about it.
The abuser or the coercive controller uses a specific look of, I don't know, dissatisfaction or disapproval. You immediately follow the line, cow-tow and obey, automatic obeisance, total obedience.
To qualify as coercive control, the whole strategy is premeditated and that separates coercive control from the same phenomena in the narcissist's shared fantasy.
The narcissist's shared fantasy is not a premeditated, psychopathic strategy of control. The narcissist is as much a hostage of his shared fantasy as his victims are. He believes in his own deception. He adopts his confabulations as real. He doesn't future fake because he fully trusts that he will realize his promises.
So, coercive control, on the other hand, is goal-oriented, premeditated, cold, calculated, skimming, Machiavellian. That's why coercive control is much more typical among psychopaths than among narcissists.
Although, as I said, there are many coercive controllers who are neither psychopaths or narcissists.
Coercive control is therefore not the outcome of mental illness such as a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia or narcissistic personality disorder or bipolar disorder or some other personality disorder.
If the coercive control is the outcome of mental illness, then it is not coercive control. Coercive control is a cognitive, premeditated strategy.
Some victims misspeceive coercive control as love, as an expression of interest, as a display or manifestation of attention and/or as the abuser's insecurity expressed dysfunctionally. These are all excuses. There is no reason or excuse or justification for coercive control. It's criminal. It's horrible. It's soul-wracking. And it should be fought against by all and every means possible.
There is a big difference between typical abuse, even narcissistic abuse, which is the most extreme form of typical abuse. These types of abuse are interactive. They reflect dynamics, most of which are unhealthy and dysfunctional. They are usually not malevolent. These types of abuse are not malevolent. They're not skimming. They're definitely not goal-oriented. They simply reflect badly damaged people.
They reflect the dynamics of badly damaged people, not so with coercive control. The coercive controller knows exactly what he's doing, and he keeps doing it. He knows that he is isolating his prey. He knows that he's denying her food and water. He knows that he is punishing her disproportionately. He knows that he is conditioning her. He knows that he is terrorizing her and degrading her and humiliating her. He knows that he is altering her behaviors, decisions, choices, and actions. He knows that she's no longer the same. He knows that she had become a robotic automated machine responsive to his cues and his needs. He knows that he's doing all this, and he doesn't care. He doesn't even bother to justify it to himself or to anyone else. That's just the way it is. It's a reflection of a power asymmetry.
So, coercive control is qualitatively different to any and all other types of control, including narcissistic abuse.