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Dangerous Shared Fantasies: Coercive Control and Collusive Infidelity

Uploaded 2/26/2021, approx. 35 minute read

The other day, Minnie and I were having a séance, and who materialized, but Charles Darwin. I said, Chuck, long time no sin. How's you doing, dude? And Charles said, don't ask. I'm in a mess, among all the old gizzards. I said, well, heaven sure sounds like hell.

Yes, answered Darwin, it sucks. And the worst thing is, my theory of evolution, it has a problem. I can't find the missing link between monkey and man, between apes and Homo sapiens.

Oh, I said, here, Chuck, I can help you. The reason you can't find the missing link is that you don't visit YouTube often enough because the missing link is on my channel posting comments on my videos. This is the missing link between monkey and man.

And so I'll give you a few examples.

I said, which you can then incorporate in your next work.


One of the comments I had received is that the female brain is a larger percentage of her body mass because the female is smaller than the male human female.

Well, here's the thing. The female brain is smaller in absolute terms, smaller than the male brain because human females are generally smaller than human males.

Luckily for us, human males.

However, as a percentage of her body mass, her brain is larger than the male brain, which comes as no surprise to any sentient and conscious female.

Another comment I had received is that women are not a minority. They are a majority.

Wrong. Women are a minority. 51% of the global population are men. 49% of the global population are women.

And because women outlive men by anywhere between six to 15 years, depending on the country, if you check the ratio, if you look at the ratio up to age 70, actually there are many more men than women.

So sorry, technically women are a minority. But of course, minority, majority, majority is not about numbers. It's about power, about power.

Women have had no power until recently and thereby functioned and acted and had the awareness of a minority.

So I said, you see Charles, all you have to do is visit my channel on YouTube. You could even subscribe and read the comments and this will plug in the hole in your evolution theory.

Charles was so beside himself. He said, I don't feel like a ghost anymore. I feel I have a reason to get up in the morning.

Thank you, Sam. Thank you. No wonder you are such a gifted and endowed professor of psychology and the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, the book that started it all.

People have been asking me whether the concept of shared fantasy is my invention or a well-known clinical construct in accepted psychology because people have been writing all over the place on Reddit, other bastions of human intelligence and intellect. They have been writing that shared fantasy is Sam Vaknin's invention. No one in academe accepts it.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint the geniuses on Reddit. The missing links. Shared fantasy is actually not my invention. Shared fantasy was first clinically described in 1989 by Sander, S-A-N-D-E-R. I think his first name was Frank. At any rate, it's F Sander.

1989 in the article, in the academic article, shared unconscious conflicts, marital disharmony, and psychoanalytic therapy. It was published in the book, The Middle Years, New Psychoanalytic Perspectives, edited by Oldham and Liebert. It was published in New Haven, Connecticut by known as the Yale University Press.

There, in this article, Sander launched the concept of shared fantasy based on his very rich clinical experience, and it has taken hold. Shared fantasy is an absolutely accepted art of academic knowledge of interpersonal relationships, interpersonal dynamics in relationships.

Okay. What is a shared fantasy? And what is the topic of today's video?

Today, we're going to discuss two new concepts. New to you concepts. Of course, they are not new to me because I'm perfect, and I'm a genius, and I'm omniscient.

The two new concepts are coercive control and collusive infidelity, which is a counterintuitive, amazingly insightful idea first described in 2014.

I'm going to introduce you to cutting edge research.

As usual, dangerous shared fantasies, coercive control, and collusive infidelity.

But first, I want to read to you a quote from Albert Camus.

Albert Camus, the non-Jewish existentialist, had written this, not knowing that he was actually describing a shared fantasy. He had written this.

It is only our will that keeps these people attached to us, intimate partners, attached to us. Not that they wish us ill, but simply because they don't care, and that the others are always able to be interested in something else.

What he said is actually, we create a shared space in order to hold people hostage and captive within this space because otherwise they will abandon us. They will wander away because essentially they don't care and they're interested in other things and other people.

Camus, of course, had a very, very pessimistic view of human nature. And in this sense, we are kin and kith. Look it up.

This is from the book, Escapism.

Escapism by Yifu Tuang.

Yifu Tuang was a cultural geographer, or is a cultural geographer, one of the most prominent cultural geographers.

Escapism is a great book, fascinating book, and you will hear of it in future lectures.

A shared fantasy is something that Sander introduced, as I said, and I want to read to you an excerpt paraphrasing Sander's work, and I'll refer to the original article a bit later when I discuss bibliography.

Couples whose unconscious contents by the sometimes cruel miracle of selective mating match up like puzzle pieces that they continually feed to each other's fantasies. These couples are strongest.

This may lead to a shared fantasy, a concept introduced by Sander in 1989.

If a couple's shared fantasy involves the triangulation of relationships, secrecy, and the dichotomy of victimizing and being victimized, we have a situation fraught with psychological danger and ripe for collusive infidelity, topic we will elaborate upon a bit later.


But first, as usual, terminology, a common language. Everything revolves around object constancy.

Self-imputed experts and coaches make the mistake of telling you that object constancy is about being there, about being present.

Well, that's a part of object constancy.

The narcissist wants to ascertain, wants to make sure that you will not abandon him, that you will be there for him forever. You become a kind of transitional object, a self-object, to use Kohut's language. He wants you there. He wants you mummified. He wants you inanimate. He objectifies you in reality and then internalizes you as an internal object.

But object constancy has another facet. It means that only you can fulfill this role. No one else.

You are, as long as the shared fantasy continues, you are actually not replaceable, not interchangeable, not disposable. The minute you show signs of autonomy, of independence, of bolting out, of breaking up, the minute you bargain and negotiate and express dissatisfaction and make demands, that minute you had broken the spell, you had destroyed the shared fantasy.

Only then, the narcissist seeks to devalue you, discard you and move on and replace you.

But until then, object constancy requires two elements, your presence and your indispensability.

Ironically, serial cheating actually creates object constancy.

You see, the serial cheater cheats and returns cheats and returns into the shared fantasy. The serial cheater exits the shared fantasy by cheating and then returns into the shared fantasy.

And so this is perceived by the narcissist as choice. It's like the narcissist is telling himself, she keeps choosing me over all her other men, or he keeps choosing me over all his other women. It's like the serial cheater goes out there, experiments, tests other options, and then comes back and coming back is a message, you are the best.

So when the narcissist's spouse or intimate partner or mate cheats on him repeatedly with multiple men, but then comes back into the fold, into the shared fantasy, this creates object constancy, which is one of the reasons.

Narcissists push their spouses and intimate partners to cheat. They're testing them. They want to enhance object constancy and this is collusive infidelity. We're going to discuss it a bit later in this video.


People have been asking me, what is mortification? Mortifying the narcissist and abandoning the narcissist.

I said that there are three steps. You have to confront the narcissist, then you have to humiliate and shame the narcissist by reflecting him to himself. This usually should be done in public. The humiliation and the shame and the disgrace should be public.

But then there's a third step. And the third step is to soothe, comfort the narcissist.

Why? Soothing the narcissist creates internal mortification.

You see, if you only confront the narcissist, if you only humiliate the narcissist, if you only shame the narcissist, then narcissist can blame you. Narcissist can say that you are malevolent, that you are malicious, that you are evil. He can put the blame on you. He can transfer the guilt and the shame and everything projected on you.

And then he would not experience mortification.

But if after having humiliated him and shamed him, you again become his best friend. You soothe him, you calm him, even apologize. It's very difficult for him to say that you ought to think that you're evil. He can't blame you anymore. He has to soul search. He has to look inside. He has to introspect. This creates internal mortification.

The narcissist then cannot cast you as the evil one. He has to blame himself for his predicament.

And this is the definition of mortification.


Before we go further, we need to discuss the topic of enabling in codependency. And again, I would like to read to you an excerpt, a quote from the famous book that launched the codependency movement, so to speak. It was written by Berti, B-E-A-T-T-I-E, in 1986, and was titled Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself. It was published by HarperCollins in New York.

A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that the third party takes responsibility, blame, or makes accommodations for another person's harmful conduct with what the third party considers to be the best of intentions or from fear and insecurity that inhibit his or her constructive action.

The practical effect is that the person with the problem does not have to take any responsibility and is shielded from any awareness of the harm that his or her behavior is inflicting.

And so the person feels no pressure to change.

Enabling prevents psychological growth in the person being enabled. It can contribute to negative symptoms in the enabler.

Generally, individuals who enable others are thought to have weak boundaries, low self-esteem, and difficulty being assertive.

So we have reviewed already a few concepts that I'm going to use a bit later when I discuss coercive control and collusive infidelity. We discuss shared fantasy. We discuss object constancy. We discuss mortification. We discuss mortification.


And the last topic I would like to mention is toxic masculinity. Coercive control is considered to be an element of toxic masculinity because according to the most recent statistics, 2014, 2016, still the majority of abusers, the overwhelming majority of abusers, are men. Never mind optics and never mind perceptions or misperceptions. Still the majority are men.

It is true that women are given the pass. It's true that women are far less likely to be cast in the role of abusers, partly because women are deploying the weapons of the weak. Women are deceptive much more than men. Women are more passive aggressive than men because they had been enslaved for millennia and they must, when they do abuse, they abuse surreptitiously under the radar in ways that cannot immediately be discerned as abusive.

But still having taken this into account, men are still by far the majority of abusers. So it is a part and parcel of what is coming to be called toxic masculinity.

Masculinity is a good thing. Masculinity is a great thing. Numerous very important values which had kept us as a species alive, flourishing, which had brought on culture and civilization in its best forms, can be attributed to masculine traits and masculine values.

Disparaging masculinity is one of the major errors of feminism, second wave, third wave and radical feminism. They have, they shot themselves in the head by destroying traditional masculinity.

But the reaction to feminism had created toxic masculinity.

And the exaggeration of masculine traits and behaviors. You remember Eric Fromm in my previous video?

Exaggeration of traits is a weakness. When you exaggerate your strength, you're actually creating a weakness. Some men exaggerate their masculine traits, machos, miktows, others, they exaggerate their masculine traits.

And this creates a toxic environment and this toxicity infiltrates and permeates and invades intergender spaces.

Now, they are not to blame. There's gender vertigo, there's change in gender roles. I went into this in previous videos.


Let me read to you another excerpt from the National Institute of Justice.

A National Institute of Justice study found that partners who exercise control over their partners' daily activities were more than five times more likely to kill their partners.

So if he micromanages every single thing you do, how you dress, who you talk to, how long you meet someone, who you socialize with, how you manage your day, if he interferes, if he calls you 40-50 times a day, if he interferes on a micro level in your life, that's a seriously worrying sign. These kind of partners kill their partners. They're five times more likely to kill their partners at the end.

Elizabeth Sheehy found that coercive control factors are more predictive of intimate homicide than the severity or frequency of physical violence.

Coercive controllers pose risks not only to their partners but to their children, particularly in cases of divorce.

In the handbook, Risk Factors for Children in Situations of Family Violence, in the context of separation and divorce, the Department of Justice of Canada warns the risk of lethal violence is particularly high following parental separation.

The handbook lists as risk factors for such violence using the child as a weapon to continue to intimidate Harris or exert control over the ex-spouse.

The United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, in the aforementioned study, reports that up to 88% of battered physically abused women in shelters suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. 72% have depression, 75% have severe anxiety.

Physical violence is just as detrimental to the victim's mental health as the physical counterpart, the physical violence.

I refer you to a study by Maria A. Pico Alfonso at Allies, studies titled The Impact of Physical, Psychological and Sexual Intimate Male Partner Violence on Women's Mental Health, Depressive Symptoms for Stromatic Stress Disorder, Stress Anxiety and Suicide. It was published in the Journal of Women's Health, pages 599 to 609, the 2009 volume.

Vanessa Bettingson, who is a legal activist and a scholar, she had written, a long period of coercive control creates psychological trauma, making victims vulnerable as the trauma overrides the ability to control their lives and experience periods of helplessness and terror.

The first to describe coercive control was a guy by the name of Ivan Stark, E-V-A-N, Stark, Stark Choice. Ivan Stark defined coercive control. He said that coercive control is intended to undermine another person's autonomy, freedom and integrity.

There was a slew of scholars who had entered the field because coercive control filled in the void between physical violence and mental health violence, psychological abuse. There was a void between these two because psychological abuse is evident, it's overt, it's clear.

Physical abuse is of course clear. Victims end up in hospitals with bruises and fractures, you know, whatever you.

But there's a void in between, there's a void in between, ambient. There's a need for something to describe ambient abuse, abuse that's in the air, that is diffuse.

And this is coercive abuse, coercive control, I'm sorry.

And scholars have entered the field and they refer to it as liberty crime.

Vanessa Bettingson and Charlotte Bishop said that when they were arguing for what had become later as the Serious Crime Act of 2015 in the United Kingdom, they presented an argument and they said, whereas many criminal offenses protect individuals against the reduction of options, domestic abuse involves not only the options of the victim being reduced, but also the options that remain being subject to unwarranted and arbitrary control by another person.

Deborah Torkeimer, T-U-E-R-K-H-E-I-M-E-R. Jesus. There ought to be a law against psychologist family names.

Anyhow, Deborah puts it that the transactional model of crime in which the system treats a single action such as battery as a cognizable offense. This transactional model of crime misses the reality of domestic abuse because as she says, it's an ongoing pattern of conduct occurring within a relationship characterized by power and control. And in this sense, it's very similar to rape.

As you all know by now, rape has nothing to do with sex. Ask Mini. Rape has nothing to do with sex. Rape has to do with power.

I will come in a minute to describing coercive control in great detail.

But what are the outcomes of coercive control?

Here's a partial list.

Disability preventing work, arthritis, chronic pain, migraine and other frequent headaches, stammering, sexually transmitted infections, chronic pelvic pain, stomach ulcers, spastic colon and frequent indigestion, diarrhea, constipation.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines domestic violence as a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

The aforementioned Evan Stark, the sociologist who developed the concept of coercive control, described it as the systematic nature of domestic abuse.

He said the main means used to establish control is the micro-regulation of everyday behaviors associated with stereotypic female roles such as how women dress, cook, clean, socialize, care for their children or perform sexually.

So you can see from this kind of definition, there's a pattern.

Coercive control arises from routine interactions, from routine conversations. If you view it from the outside as an observer, you don't see anything coercive or anything controlling.

But this goes on for decades, for years. Every day there are multiple conversations, instructions, commands, demands, endless and ceaseless criticism of how you dress, how you cook, how you clean, how you f-, you know, how you socialize, how you care for the common children, what you do with your property, with his property, how you represent him, how you damage his reputation, how you don't help him enough, how you interfere too much, how you, how you. You can do no right. Criticism, echoing and resonating with yourcritic, with your sadistic superego.

This criticism is a crucial part, a crucial part of coercive control. And it's day in and day out, minute in and minute out, hundreds of times a day. It wears on you. It, it, it, it kind of destroys you layer by layer.

It's not a frontal attack. It's erosion. You're being corroded by coercive control, by this routine run of the mill, nagging within the allegedly or ostensibly romantic and loving relationship.

Vanessa Bingerson, again, the longtime advocate for rendering coercive control a crime, she described key aspects of coercive control as reflecting extreme examples of accepted male behaviors, such as the control of financial resources, the use of credible threats which may or may not involve threats of physical violence, a victim feeling in need of the dominator, damaged psychological wellbeing of the victim and a high risk of suicide. Stockholm syndrome is an example of a kind of coercive control because the kidnapper, the hostage taker, micromanages the life of the hostage.

Evan Stark said that coercive control refers to a pattern of abusive behavior that some people perpetrate against intimate partners by using threats, rage, orders and demands to strip away the intimate partner's autonomy, isolate the partner from systems of social support, isolate the partner from friends and family, micro-regulate the day-to-day affairs and life of the partner.

He said in a very famous passage, he wrote, from the first woman we had in our shelter, because he was running a shelter in Connecticut, from the first woman we had in our shelter, these women were telling us that violence was not the worst part. It's an interview that even Stark gave to Time magazine. These women were telling us that all we could think to say in order to obtain restraining orders is to tell people about the violence.

But it took us 50 years, 5 years, to realize there was another way.

And so the now widely recognised phenomenon of battered women's syndrome, that's a small, it's a tip of the iceberg, it's a tiny part of the story or the problem.

Domestic abuse is much more like kidnapping, much more like slavery, much more like indentured servitude, it's not an assault. Assaults, battering, physical violence, it's rare actually. Even in the most extreme cases, we have six, seven incidents in 20, 30 years, it's rare.

But what's not rare is coercive control. Domestic abuse, physical violence, battering, erupt from, emerge from an environment, micromanage, micro-regulated environment of coercive control.


Criminal behaviorist Laura Richards said that abuse is a pattern, it's a war of attrition, it wears the person down.

And here is a definition of coercive control. Coercive control refers to a pattern of controlling behaviors that create an unequal power dynamic in a relationship. These behaviors give the perpetrator power over their partner, making it difficult for the partner to live. It is a form of domestic abuse or intimate partner violence. It describes a pattern of behaviors a perpetrator uses to gain control and power by eroding his intimate partner's autonomy and self-esteem, act of intimidation, threats and humiliation included.

There's a lot of research into coercive control and all of it shows conclusively that coercive control results in physical violence.

In 2015, a national intimate partner in sexual violence survey found that 36.6 million women and 33.1 million men in the United States had experienced some form of coercive control by the intimate partner. These are giant numbers, enormous numbers, 20% of population. By the way, 20% of couples are sexless.

I would have wanted to see a study correlating sexlessness with coercive control. I think coercive control destroys the intimacy and sexual desire within an intimate partnership, renders the parties sex averse to each other.

A 2008 study found that emotional abuse leads to negative mental health consequences which I described above among others PTSD and depression.

So now I'm going to read to you an extended excerpt from the Crown Prosecution Service, CPS in the United Kingdom where it described coercive control.

Signs of coercive control.

Number one, monitoring activities. A person may exert control by deciding what someone wears, where his intimate partner goes, who they socialize with, what they eat, what they drink, what activities they take part in. The controlling person may also demand or gain access to the partner's computer, social media accounts, cell phone or email accounts. The perpetrator may also try to convince the partner that they want to check up on them because they love them.

However, this behavior is not a part of a healthy or loving relationship.

Number two, exerting financial control. This occurs when one person controls his intimate partner's access to money and does not allow the intimate partner to make financial decisions.

And this can leave a person without food, without clothing or make it harder for them to leave the relationships or even to spend money.

Number three, isolating the other person. A controlling person may try to get their partner to cut contact with family and friends so that they are easier to control. They may also prevent them from going to work, from going to school. They may force them to remain at home, isolated, in a micro environment, totally infecting or mummifying them, rendering them an object.

Number four or whatever, insulting the other person. Insults serve to undermine a person's self-esteem. This may involve name calling, highlighting a person's insecurities or putting them down.

Eventually, the person experiencing this abuse may start to feel as though they deserve the insults and the slights. Making threats and being intimidated. Threats can include threats of physical violence, self-harm or public humiliation. For example, a person trying to control their partner may threaten to hurt them themselves. If the partner tries to leave or they may release sexually explicit images or personal data online, the controlling person may also break household items or their partner's sentimental belongings in an attempt to intimidate and scare the partner.

Using sexual coercion occurs when the perpetrator manipulates the partner into unwanted sexual activity. They may use pressure, threats, guilt-ripping, lies or other trickery to coerce the partner into having sex.

Involving children or pets, the controlling person may use children or family pets as another means of controlling the partner. They may do this by threatening the children or threatening the pets or by trying to take sole custody of the children, presumably of the pets, if their partner leaves. They may also try to manipulate children into disliking the other parent.

This is where the purported syndrome of parental alienation syndrome comes in, although it's highly controversial and debated.

All coercive control and coercive abuse and ambient abuse, as I called it in 1999, so all these forms involve projective identification.


Now, if you go online, as usual, you get a lot of nonsense about projective identification. We are coming shortly to the issue of collusive infidelity, which is an integral part of a shared fantasy, if you remember the beginning of the video when we were all much younger.

So now we need to discuss projective identification.

Robert Mendelssohn had written a brilliant article, published it in the Psychoanalytic Review, volume 101, number 4, in August 2014. The article was titledCollusive Infidelity, Projective Identification and Clinical Technique. And I am going to quote extensively from this article where he defines projective identification and later on collusive infidelity.

He is such a good writer that paraphrasing him would be counterproductive and would reduce the power, intensity and potency of the text.

So I'm going to simply quote from the article.

He starts with projective identification. Listen well. It's one of the best definitions of projective identification I've ever heard.

Projective identification, says Robert Mendelssohn, is a term first introduced by Melanie Klein in 1946. It refers to a psychological process in which a person strives for emotional balance by engaging in a particular kind of projection. It is more complex than simple projection because it involves an interactive process between two people.

At the core of this process of projective identification is the idea of acting as if. That is, a person engaging in projective identification in this defense is essentially making assumptions about the motives and beliefs of another person. And then he acts as if these assumptions were true.

So first you make assumptions about someone else, what they believe, what they want, what makes them tick, how they're going to behave.

And then, not having verified these assumptions, you behave as if these assumptions were 100% realistic and 100% true.

In other words, says Robert Mendelssohn, the person engaging in this dynamic projects, motives, beliefs, emotions, feelings into another person and then identifies with those projected contents, reincorporates them into himself and responds accordingly.

Projective identification, says Mendelssohn, is therefore a kind of closed circuit, which typically has the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy because it pulls the other person into the projector's exclusive closed loop.

He gives an example. He says, I may, for example, assume that you despise me because you believe that I'm weak and that I'm destined to fail. In response to my own assumptions about you, I may then become demoralized and defensive. I may withdraw. I may give up.

And now, whether or not you truly believe to start with that I was weak and destined to fail, you most likely do so now.

So it's irrelevant whether you had believed that I'm weak, that I'm a failure, that I'm a loser or not. My behavior, based on this assumption that you do believe it, my behavior is such that I become a loser. I become weak.

And then, of course, these agendas in the other person, this opinion. So I think that you think that I'm weak. I think that you think that I'm a loser.

So I begin to behave as a loser. I begin to truly be weak.

And then, of course, you really develop the belief that I'm a loser and that I'm weak because I am.

I created anew the belief that I had thought initially you had, even if you didn't have it to start with. Everything in my behavior and manner made you believe what I had thought initially that you believe.

This is part of this defense that is interactive, says Mendelssohn. Even though my behavior is the result of a self-contained loop, I enact it with such conviction. I draw you in. I draw you right into performing my drama with me.

What happens when my drama also includes an extramarital relationship? Can a couple push and pull each other to enactments that triangulate and are destructive to the marriage? And if so, how?

We are coming right into the concept or the construct of collusive infidelity within a shared fantasy.

Mendelssohn continues, the very name of this defense, Projective Identification, reflects a theory that the assumptions I have made about you really actually reveal my own unconscious contents, my beliefs about myself, my beliefs about other people, including you, my own fantasy, my own affect, constellations, my worst fears, my most unacceptable feelings.

Because I cannot acknowledge these things, I project my toxic thoughts, my feelings, my beliefs onto you, onto my intimate partner. And in doing so, I can disown them. They're no longer mine. They're yours.

This pushing off of uncomfortable thoughts, uncomfortable feelings is, according to McWilliams in 1994, the benefit of the defense of Projective Identification, it relieves you. You are unburdened.

This toxicity is no longer yours. You have handed it to someone else.


There's a video, a video, earlier video that I've made that describes this process, where the narcissist hands over his toxicity to you, gives you his poison, gives you his venom. Instead of being self poisoned, he poisons you, he exports his poison.

This is a Projective Identification.

And of course, the narcissist poison conditions you to behave in exactly the ways that the narcissist had suspected you would behave. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

By inducing, says Mendelssohn, by recognizing these unwanted experiences in the other, one is more easily able to avoid becoming aware that they're actually really part of one's own experience.

Ogden in 1982 sees Projective Identification as a complex developmental process, not simply a pathological defense. Ogden says that the defense of Projective Identification is the key to an individual's psychic psychological growth, because it enables the person, the individual, to expand his or her own subjectivity through interacting with others. Ogden views Projective Identification as an unconscious process involving three phases, a fantasy of placing one's mental contents in the mind of another person, and that other person is felt to be controlled from within.

So when you hand your mental content, your toxicity, your poison, your fantasies, whatever, your weaknesses, parts of you that you disown, for example, your latent homosexuality, when you hand these uncomfortable hated parts of you to another person, that other person now has your mental content. He becomes a part of your mind. That other person is introjected. He becomes an internal object.

So the first phase is placing one's mental contents in the mind of another who is thereby felt to be controlled from within, number two, interpersonal pressure on the other person to think, to feel, to behave in accordance with the fantasy and the mental content that was handed.

Not only do your slice off a part of your mind and give it to another person by slicing off a part of your mind and giving it to another person. You make that other person an internal object snapshotting, and from that moment you insist that the other person, the external object, should conform to the snapshot, conform to the internal object, never deviate, never display independence, autonomy, and unpredictability.

The other person is put into a procrustean bed, into a straight jacket, must behave in a way that will affirm and confirm and support and buttress the split of content, your own projected mind.

In other words, the internal object must conform to all other internal objects, objects must participate willingly in the shared mental space, fantastic mental space.

And Ogden says the third stage, the third stage is the mental content that was sliced off, split off, given to another person, is reincorporated, reincorporated as an internal object in altered form. It's a very intricate process.

And Mendelssohn continues to describe Ogden's work in 1982. The process of defense, communication, psychological growth is sometimes thought of as a way of metabolizing indigestible experiences or of preserving valuable experiences that the individual is afraid of destroying.

It can be reasoned that Ogden says, Mendelssohn, it can be reasoned that Ogden is suggesting that the defense of projective identification helps one to elicit another person's help in processing difficult or important experiences and in putting those experiences into a more accessible form.

And this is, of course, secondary narcissistic supply.

The intimate partner in the shared fantasy is a repository, is a warehouse, is an external memory, external hard disk, external memory, like in a computer, the narcissist stores memories, experiences, unpleasant facts, traits, behaviors, unacceptable emotions, ego, alien, ego, discrepant emotions, stores all this toxic waste in you, in the intimate partner. And he can retrieve these, it will alter them and put them in his mind so that they can interact with the internal object that represents you. And the internal object is like an icon on the screen. When you click on the icon, a whole program opens. Yes, you click on Microsoft Word icon, Microsoft Word opens on the screen. So the internal object is like an icon in the narcissist mind, your icon. When he clicks on this icon, you open up. And when you open up on his mental screen, you contain all this content that he had given to you in the shared fantasy. And now he has access to it safely, safely, because it's no longer in his mind, it is stored in you. You're like a toxic waste dump. And there's no EPA to help you, no Environmental Protection Agency.

And so the narcissist keeps poisoning you with this sick pathological split of content. And he keeps clicking on your icon, accessing you, retrieving content, altering it, and then dumping it back onto you, like saving a document in Microsoft Word.


And now we come to collusive infidelity, which is Robert Mendelssohn, brilliant construct, and ties in with Coercive Control and with the shared fantasy.

Mendelssohn says collusive infidelity is a relationship where one member of the marital couple is unconsciously encouraging the other member to engage in an illicit sexual relationship with an outsider to the marriage. Neither member of the couple is conscious of the collusion that is occurring, so that the member who is cheating is behaving in ways typical of someone who is faithful. The member who is cheating becomes deceitful. The member who is cheating, the member of the couple who is cheating, is pursuing a clandestine affair while safeguarding the secrets and conflicts of interest inherent in the practice.

And this act requires skill in deception and duplicitous behavior to hide an affair while encouraging the other partner to think that his or her suspicions are ridiculous, requires a degree of malicious lying, commonly called gaslighting.

So collusive infidelity is when the totality of the couple, the shared fantastic space, involves both members of the couple colluding and collaborating in a kind of fantasy where one of them is a cheater and the other is a victim. And the victim wants to remain a victim. And because the victim is invested emotionally in her victimhood as a dimension of her identity, she needs the other partner to cheat all the time. The more he cheats, the more she is a victim. So she encourages him to cheat in numerous ways via projective identification within the shared fantasy. And he wants to please her. He wants to cater to her emotional and psychological needs to be a victim. So he cheats. And he needs to really, really cheat. He needs to do a good job of it. Otherwise, it will not be convincing. And she will not feel like a victim. Plus, it's very dangerous for her to come to understand, to become aware that she is pushing him to cheat. She needs to feel that she is a victim, that she's victimized, that she is not pushing him to cheat.

So if he cheats in the wrong way, she will become aware that something's wrong. So he really cheats.

He deceives. He lies. He hides their secrets. It's forbidden. He does a good job of it. He acts the cheater with bravado and conviction. And he's caught in flagrante, which allows the other intimate partner who is a victim to feel like a perfect victim. His cheating is perfect. Her victimhood is perfect. They're both happy or unhappy in equal measures.

What about the criminal aspects of coercive control? Can we criminalize it?

Aaron Shelley wrote about it. Shelley S-H-E-L-E-Y. Yes, wrote about it. And I would like to describe, for example, the situation in the United Kingdom where I think there's the most advanced understanding, actually, of coercive control, ambient abuse, harassment, stalking. They're all criminalized in the United Kingdom and in Canada to a much bigger degree, much larger degree, much more advanced degree than, for example, even in Scandinavia or in the United States.

So there's an article which I strongly recommend, criminalizing coercive control within the limits of due process by Aaron Shelley.

The sociological literature, I'm quoting from the article, the sociological literature and domestic abuse shows that it is more complex than a series of physical assaults.

Abuses use coercive control to subjugate their partners through a web of threats, humiliation, isolation, and demands.

I would add to this projective identification within a shared fantasy, projective identification within a shared fantasy, including the kind of projective identification that involves collusive infidelity. That's a form of ambient coercive control.

One of the partners controls the behaviors of the other partner through emotional blackmail, through intimidation, through exposure, through threats, including the threat of suicide.

So there's a lot, and this is very typical in codependent relationships.

Relationships with the codependent is a form of coercive control by the codependent. Definitely relationships with borderlines involve coercive control by the borderline intimate partner.

I'm continuing with Aaron Shelley.

The presence of coercive control is highly predictive of future physical violence and is in and of itself also a violation of the victim's liberty and dignity.

In response, to these new understandings in the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom has recently criminalized nonviolent coercive control, making it illegal. Two on two or more occasions cause serious alarm or distress to an intimate partner that has a substantial effect on her day-to-day activities.

Such a vaguely drafted crime would raise insurmountable due process problems under the U.S. Constitution, for example.

Should the states in the United States wish to address the gravity of the harms of coercive control?

However, this article proposes an alternative statutory approach. It argues that a state legislature could combine the due process limits to traditionally enterprise related offenses such as fraud and conspiracy with the goals of domestic abuse prevention, this way creating a new offense based upon the fraud-like nature of coercively controlling behavior.

The article argues that the most useful legal framework for defining coercive control is similar to that of common law fraud and that legislatures should adopt the sign to the requirements of fraud to the actus reus of coercive control.

In so doing, this article also argues that it is risky for legislatures to punish gender-correlated offenses with specialized legal solutions rather than recognizing the interrelationship between such offenses and other well-established crimes.

When the article says fraud, fraud is the shared fantasy in effect.

Section 76 of the United Kingdom's Serious Crime Act 2015 criminalizes causing someone to fear that violence will be used against them on at least two occasions or generating serious alarm or distress that has a substantial effect on their usual day-to-day activities.

As the Director of Public Prosecutions put it at the time, coercive control can limit victims' basic human rights, such as their freedom of movement and their independence, being subjected to repeated humiliation, intimidation or subordination, and this can be as harmful as physical abuse, with many victims stating that trauma from psychological abuse had a more lasting impact than physical abuse.

Due to research showing that coercive control both imposes devastating harm on victims and predicts future physical violence, this research, in cases where the victim is not physically prevented from living, raises the question is how to criminalize conduct that can be highly subjective or interpretive, but criminalize it must be.

Thank you for listening.

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