Darkest Side of Narcissistic Abuse: Is It Intentional? (with Claire Auden)

Uploaded 1/16/2024, approx. 1 hour 12 minute read

Thank you for having me.

Thank you for coming on.

I'm really looking forward to talking to you and getting your perspective on some of these questions that I have for you.

Narcissism is the latest buzzword.

I'm curious how many people in the population actually have this personality disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder is diagnosed in about 1% of the general population and 5% to 6% of the clinical population.

Population in inpatient settings, outpatient settings, in therapy and so on and so forth.

About 5 to 6%.

However, if we add to this what is known as narcissistic style, people who have narcissistic traits, they behave as narcissists do, but they cannot be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder because a few bits and pieces are missing.

So they are known as subclinical narcissists.

If we add these to the mix, then we're probably talking about 5 to 6% of the general population.

Now, take into account the following. Narcissists rarely attend therapy. Narcissists are very resistant to being diagnosed.

Narcissism is underdiagnosed in certain population groups such as minorities, women and so on and so forth.

So 5 to 6% is a lower limit. Probably it's more like 10 to 15%.

It's interesting that you mention women because I've always read that it affects significantly more men than women.

But in my coaching business, in my education, I have found that it's more around half.

What do you say about that?

Right now it's half and half. Yes.

In the 1980s, when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual added narcissistic personality disorder as a diagnosis, at that point, 75% of people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder were men.

But that was in 1980, up to 2000, more or less.

And then after the year 2000, we started to have an increase in the incidence and prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder, among women.

And today, half of all people diagnosed with narcissism are women and about one third of all psychopaths are women.

And that's a gigantic leap. It's an enormous increase.

Yeah. Do you think that there are more narcissists inside?

Claire, before you proceed, can we just establish a protocol while each one of us is talking?

Let us avoid interjections because it's very disruptive. Okay. Can we do this?

Let us not interject. Okay. Yeah. Nodding is great. Go ahead and nod.

Okay. Can I ask my question?

Yes, please go ahead. I'm nodding.

Okay. No, I was just going to ask, do you think that there are more narcissists and psychopaths Or do you think that it's just that more people are getting diagnosed?

No, there is definitely an increase in the dissemination of narcissism and psychopathy.

For example, in a series of studies of young people, people under the age of 25, especially in the United States, but not only, there has been an increase of three to five times higher than the 1980s.

Narcissism, therefore, is spreading. Psychopathy is increasing. It's an absolute phenomenon.

It's not the outcome of growing awareness or more pervasive diagnosing procedures. It's real.

This epidemic or pandemic is real.

So there are studies by Quangier, Campbell and others.

So for people who are unsure about whether or not they're dealing with a narcissist or a psychopath, what would be the difference between someone who's just a jerk and someone who is narcissistic?

A very useful way to tell a narcissist apart is to apply the alternative model in the diagnostic and statistical manual.

Most practitioners nowadays do not diagnose narcissism using the famous nine bullet points or nine diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV.

These are no longer used by most practitioners.

What is taking place instead, what is substituted for it is the alternative model, which is a dimensional model, a descriptive model.

So you can apply this model yourself. You don't need to be a diagnostician because it's very it's as I said, it's descriptive.

It's literary. It's like literature. So this model says that narcissists have a problem with self functioning.

In other words, their identity is defined from the outside.

They derive their sense of identity, their sense of self from the outside.

And when they are not surrounded with people, they fall apart. They disintegrate. They become dysfunctional and so on.

Additionally, narcissists are sometimes grandiose and then at other times they're inferior. They feel inferior.

So they are huge swings in a sense of self worth and self esteem, huge swings in self esteem.

We say that the sense of self worth of narcissist is dysregulated the same way the emotions of the borderline are dysregulated.

The narcissist cannot form a stable sense of who he is and how worthy he is. He needs constant input from the outside and he solicits this input coercively. He insists on getting this input, which is known as narcissistic supply.

The second thing is that the narcissist constantly seeks approval.

But even as the narcissist seeks approval and depends on other people for this adulation and admiration and affirmation, even despite this dependency, the narcissist constantly criticizes people, constantly demeans them and humiliates them and so on and so forth because he applies very high standards to other people, even as he would sometimes tend to apply low standards to himself.

So there's a double standard with narcissists.

The second, the next thing is that in the interpersonal functioning of narcissists, the interpersonal function is very disrupted.

So, for example, narcissists are incapable of emotional empathy.

However, narcissists are capable of empathizing with people cognitively and reflexively.

In other words, the narcissist is going to scan you on the first meeting, even first date, is going to scan you, is going to form a picture of you, of who you are, your vulnerabilities, your weak points, your needs, your wishes, your dreams, your preferences, everything about you.

And he's going to use empathy to do this.

But it's a very strange kind of empathy.

And I coined the phrase called empathy.

It's empathy devoid of the emotional component.

There are no emotions there.

So the narcissist is going to see that you're crying and the narcissist is going to say to himself, "She is crying. That means that she's sad." But he's not going to feel sad for you.

He's just going to note the fact that you are sad.

And if the narcissist is a bit psychopathic, a hybrid known as malignant narcissist, then the narcissist would say, "She's crying. She's sad. That's an opportunity for sex." So there will be a leveraging of your vulnerabilities.

The next thing is a total inability to maintain intimacy.

The narcissist doesn't see you, is not truly interested in you.

His protectiveness is perfectory. It's like by rote. It's rehearsed. It's robotic. He doesn't really display any positive emotions except during the love bombing phase in the shared fantasy, where this is actually performative. It's a performance.

So there's no intimacy there.

The narcissist constantly gauges what you can give him, not what he can give you.

So the narcissist wants to take from you the four S's, sex, safety, sadistic and narcissistic supply, and services.

And if you provide two out of these four, you're in. You've got the job.

But there's no intimacy there.

And finally, there's the issue of personality traits.

Nasties are very antagonistic. They constantly seek conflict. They introduce aggression into totally unnecessary situations and environments. They're grandiose, and they seek attention compulsively.

Now, all these things, even if you're not a diagnostician, you're liable to notice within a few days or weeks, weeks if you're slow.

I would even say within a few minutes. You just have to observe how the narcissist treats other people. The way he treats other people tells you who he is. The way he treats you is a performance, is acting. You can't trust it.

So don't pay attention to how he's treating you. Pay attention to how he's treating other people.

And then we'll get the true picture of who he is.

One last comment. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is the diagnostic book in the United States. The Chinese have adopted a version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual known as the CCMD. And so only narcissistic personality disorder as a diagnosis exists only in the United States and in China. It does not exist in the rest of the world. It's an American Chinese phenomenon, something to do with superpowers, I think.

But when you go to Europe, for example, there is no such thing as narcissistic personality disorder. In Europe and in the rest of the world, they use a book published by the World Health Organization. This book is known as ICD, International Classification of Disorders. And in this book, there's a single personality disorder, single diagnosis of personality disorder, with different aspects and manifestations and emphases.

So a narcissist, for example, would be someone diagnosed with personality disorder of a dissocial nature, dissociality, and someone with anacastia. Anacastia means rule-based perfectionism. So in Europe, you would never be diagnosed as a narcissist. You would be diagnosed as a personality disordered person who is dissocially and anacastic.

That's important to understand.

Interesting. You know, in your book, Malina and Self-Love, you propose some amendments to the DSM criteria for narcissistic personality disorder.

And when I read your proposed amendments, it was amazing because it was so accurate. It was encapsulated perfectly because the DSM criteria just kind of misses the mark a little bit.

But with your amendments, it was amazing to read that.

Well, I'm glad to say that I published my proposed amendments in the year 2000 when you were still baby ships.


And I'm glad to say that most of these proposed amendments, directly or indirectly, I'm not quite sure that I have contributed to it, but most of these proposed amendments are now reflected in the alternative model of narcissistic personality disorder in the diagnostic and statistical manner.

So today, a lot of the work that I started to do three decades ago today is reflected in the mainstream.

For example, I was the first to propose in 1997 that all personality disorders are one and the same, that the differences, the fact that there are different diagnoses is a mistake.

And actually, a narcissist is one day grandiose and overt and in your face and defiant. And the other day, the same narcissist is vulnerable and shy and fragile and covert and crying in the corner.

And then on the third day, that narcissist has emotional dysregulation and throws a temper tantrum and loses it. And clinically, it's a borderline.

And then the next day, he's a psychopath and he steals all your money. And then on the day after that, he becomes paranoid, etc.

All these distinctions between personality disorders in the DSM are wrong and artificial. And they date back to the 1970s.

The United States is stuck in the 1970s. And while the rest of the world has moved on.

And I would say the state of the knowledge reflected in the ICD 11 is 2022.

While the state of the knowledge reflected in the DSM is the year 2000, more or less.

So the United States is a quarter of a century behind the rest of the world.

OK, so the other personality disorders in cluster B that are related to narcissistic personality disorder, you say just variations because narcissistic personality disorder encapsulates a number of the different traits within each personality disorder that's listed there.

Is that what you're saying?

No, what I'm saying is that all personality disorders, A, B and C, all three clusters are a single personality disorder.

Now, I've been saying this since 1997.

And this is today the accepted wisdom all over the world, except the United States and China.

If you look at the narcissist, one day the narcissist is a schizoid.

The other day he's a paranoid.

The next day he's a borderline.

The third day is a fourth day is a narcissist.

And then the fifth day is a psychopath.

It's ridiculous to say that there is type constancy.

It's completely untrue.

Any any clinician will tell you this.

Any therapist who has ever worked with people with personality disorders would tell you there's no such thing.

Consequently, what is happening is known as comorbidity.

Comorbidity is when we are forced to diagnose multiple personality disorders in the same person.

And so this comes ridiculous because you come across patients who are diagnosed with like 20, 30 mental health diagnosis simultaneously.

And that's nonsense.

That's utter.


And you hear that a lot. I mean, all over TikTok you hear self-aware narcissists that I'm also a borderline and I'm also a psychopath and I'm also this.

But you're right.

They all play all the different times.

And I've certainly witnessed that in my own.

This is in my own studies.

Going back to something before about empathy, the difference between cold and then emotional empathy.

What does it mean for a person to lack emotional empathy?

How does that affect their interpersonal relationships?

And how does that inhibit the narcissist's ability to effectively act in relationships?

Well, as I said, the lack of the emotional component in empathy simply means that there is no emotional resonance.

Narcissists and psychopaths who possess emotional cold empathy, they're goal oriented.

So when they succeed to decode or decipher your state of mind, when they realize or understand that you are sad or that you're happy or the next question is, how can I use this?

How can I make good use of it?

She said, can I sleep with her because she's sad?

Can I take her money because she's sad?

Are her defenses down and can I exploit her in some way?

So there's no emotion there.

There's not a typical healthy person would say, she said, that makes me feel sad a bit.

I feel sad as well.

There's a kind of emotional resonance.

Healthy people revisit their own states of mind when they come across yours.

So when someone comes across you and you're crying, they would they would elicit in their own minds the occasions when they have cried.

They had cried and they would say, well, when last time I tried, I was sad.

So probably she said and then they would feel sad because of the memory of that event or because of, you know, but there's always an emotional reaction.

Narcissists and psychopaths are predators.

If they see you bleeding, it simply means your food, your prey.

And so the lack of emotional resonance leads to enhanced exploitativeness and an attempt to leverage your weak points and your vulnerabilities and your frailties and your shortcomings in favor of a goal.

Now, the goal could be in the case of a psychopath, could be money or sex or access or whatever.

In the case of the narcissist, it's narcissistic supply.

So if the narcissist sees you crying, for example, he's going to act the savior or the rescuer or the healer to your distress.

He's going to regard you as a damsel in distress.

It's an opportunity to show himself in a good light.

So but it's all goal oriented.

The idea is to obtain something from you.

And most people, most healthy people resonate with you emotionally and they want to give you something.

So if you're crying, they want to give you a hug.

They want to comfort you.

They want to soothe you.

It's instinctual almost.

It's reflexive.

You can't help it.

But the narcissists and psychopaths want to take something from you, not to give you anything.

If they give you a hug, they want it to lead to sex.

As simple as that.

Yeah, the narcissist responding to the damsel in distress really depends on the phase of the relationship, doesn't it?

In the last moment phase when they're still trying to win you and there's the co-id, they think then they're going to respond that way.

But once the evaluation stage, it's different.

Is that right?

Yes, this kind of reactivity playing, for example, the rescuer or the savior or the messiah or the healer or the fixer.

It's typical of the first phases of what is known as the shared fantasy.

The phase where the narcissist's love bonds you, narcissist's groans, the psychopath groans you.

There's an attempt to brainwash you in effect using a mechanism known as a training.

There is a strong push to merge and fuse with you symbiotically so that you become a single entity.

There's a dual mothership situation where the narcissist is acting as your mother and expects you to act as his mother.

There's an expectation that you should mother each other.

And during these initial phases, the narcissist is going to adopt roles that will get the business done and trap you in the shared fantasy and cause trauma bonding, which is a form of self-harm.

So, yes, narcissist is going to be nice and kind and likeable and helpful and useful and everything only in the initial phases of the shared fantasy.

Once the narcissist has acquired you, once you have become his position, he takes you for granted because he knows that you have become an addict.

You've become a junkie of the shared fantasy.

He knows that you're trauma bonded. He knows you're extremely unlikely to walk away.

And above all, he knows that he has implanted his voice inside your mind.

He has introjected himself into your mind.

And now your mind is infected and infested with his voice.

And through his voice, it's a control mechanism.

He controls you through his voice.

And his voice inside your head collaborates with other voices inside your head, with other introjects.

The narcissist creates coalitions with other voices in your head and they become a constellation.

And then he simply takes over your mind.

By the way, physiologically takes over your mind.

Studies have shown that in the process of training, brain waves, brain waves of the abuser and the abused, or brain waves more generally, are coordinated.

They become one.

So your brain waves become one with the narcissist.

He takes over your brain literally.

And then he's inside your mind and he doesn't need to worry anymore.

The emphasis conscious.

I'm sorry?

How conscious is this process?

How conscious is this process?

No more.

The love bombing phase, the shared fantasy, the co-idolization.

No more conscious.

Is it conscious or is it like unconscious?

It's no more conscious than a tiger, a tiger devouring an antelope or a virus penetrating the membrane of a cell.

These are embedded predatory strategies that the narcissist goes through.

Now, the narcissist recurs everything, refrains everything.

He writes narratives. He's a storyteller.

So the narcissist convinces even himself that everything is real.

The fantasy is real.

The narcissist, in other words, clinically is delusional.

So that's why narcissist never future fake.

That's not true.

When the narcissist makes you a promise about the future, he believes this promise.

Also narcissist never gaslight. That is also not true.

When the narcissist tells you anything, he believes in it.

When he lies to you about his past, he believes his own lies, a process known as confabulation.

Psychopaths gaslight. Psychopaths know what they're doing.

Psychopaths go through these phases consciously. Deliberately, in a premeditated manner, they gaslight you into submission. They make you doubt your sanity intentionally in order to render you vulnerable.

Psychopaths do all these things. Consciously. Narcissists do exactly the same. Unconsciously.

Now, of course, as far as the victim is concerned, it doesn't matter. Who cares if the narcissist is conscious or unconscious? The outcome is just the same.


What about types of narcissistic personality disorder?

Like we've got the COVID narcissist or the overt narcissist always here.

Can you elaborate a little bit on that?

There are several types of narcissists.

There have been topologies of narcissism often suggested throughout the last few decades. It's widely accepted nowadays to distinguish between overt grandiose narcissist and covert, vulnerable, shy, fragile narcissist.

The covert narcissist is usually a collapsed narcissist. It's a narcissist who is unable to obtain narcissistic supply, keeps failing at obtaining narcissistic supply.

So this kind of narcissist is introverted, is passive-aggressive, seething with envy, Machiavellian, manipulative, and covert in the sense that it is subterranean. It's very difficult to spot.

The overt narcissist is a Donald Trump type, is an in-your-face, defiant, reckless, consummation on top.

Yeah, authority-hating type.

So you see the overt narcissist coming, but you rarely see the covert narcissist coming.

That's why covert narcissists are snakes in the grass. They are much more dangerous than the overt variant.

Now, we have recently come to the conclusion that there's no type-constancy. Subject to life crisis and trauma and stress and collapse, failure to obtain supply, subject to these conditions, in these situations, overt narcissists tend to become covert.

And sometimes covert narcissists become overt.

For example, when narcissists are exposed to narcissistic modification, narcissistic modification is public humiliation in front of meaningful others, in the presence of significant others.

So when narcissists are exposed to narcissistic modification, most narcissists become covert for a while.

The covert narcissist is usually, but not always, schizoid. In other words, a hermit, socially inactive, avoids people.

So narcissists, wounded, wounded narcissists, injured narcissists, narcissists who have been humiliated in public or shame somehow or whatever, they become schizoid as well.

They become covert.

So today we don't think there is a type-constancy. We don't think the overt is always overt, and the covert is always covert.

We think these are two styles of narcissism that are adopted by the narcissist, depending on circumstances.

All narcissists are both covert and overt.

Another debate in psychology that has been going on for like forever is whether narcissism is compensatory or not.

Do narcissists feel good with themselves? Are they happy or lucky? Are they comfortable with who they are?

This is known as egosyntony. Are they egosyntonic?

And so for a long period of time, the belief was that narcissists are actually oblivious to their own shortcomings and so on and so forth, totally unaware, and consequently they're happy or lucky.

They're very pleased with who they are.

Today we don't think that's the case. Today we believe that all narcissists are compensatory.

In other words, all narcissists have an inferiority, what Abler called an inferiority complex. They have a bad object. In other words, they have a set of voices, constellation of voices, internally that keep informing them how unworthy they are, how inadequate they are, what loses their, and so on.

And to compensate for these internal voices which are intolerable, to compensate for these voices, the narcissist creates the false self, a facade, a facade, a mask, or a series of masks, a persona.

And he uses the false self to obtain feedback from the environment, which will counteract the internal voices.

So if the internal voice tells the narcissist, you know you're seriously stupid, the narcissist is going to pretend that he's a genius.

And then other people are going to tell him that he's a genius.

And then the narcissist is going to go back to that voice and say, you see you're wrong, I'm not stupid, I'm a genius.

That's the compensatory mechanism.

And today we believe that all narcissists are compensatory.

And the situation is that we are beginning to think that overt grandiose narcissists are actually psychopaths, not narcissists.

We think we've got the whole taxonomy, the whole classification completely wrong.

For example, in borderline, we have emotionally dysregulated borderlines, but very often they become psychopathic.

This is known as secondary psychopathy.

So there are narcissists who are overt.

When the borderline experiences abandonment, real or anticipated, when the borderline experiences the opposite, and government, enmeshment, being taken over by the intimate partner.

And in these two situations, the borderline essentially disintegrates. Her defense is shut down and she becomes a secondary cycle.

So we're beginning to reconceive of the whole field of cluster B personality disorders.

And we're beginning to understand that cluster B disorders are actually post-traumatic conditions.

And that they have a lot more in common than what separates them. And that perhaps it's a single thing, a single clinical entity, maybe with the exception of psychopathy.

We're not sure, but it's a single clinical entity.

So the field is in flux and there's a huge mess and numerous debates on who is who and what is what and so on and so forth.

But I would say generally, if you want to put it in a historical context, there's been a huge debate between two giants of the field.

Heinz Kohut and Otto Könbe.

Kohut is the father of the current approach in American psychiatry. It's an approach that divides mental states into discrete clinical entities, diagnosis.

It's an approach that is heavily influenced by the needs of insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.

And consequently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has ballooned from 100 pages in 1952 to 1,100 pages in 2022.

So it's because there has been a proliferation of new diagnosis all the time. This is Kohut's approach.

Kohut had a huge debate with Könberg. Kohut said narcissistic personality disorder has nothing to do with borderline personality disorder.

Kohut was the one who coined the phrase narcissistic personality disorder.

So America, United States, is Kohutian, follows Kohut.

Könberg, on the other hand, Otto Könbe, suggested that narcissism and borderline and so on, they are one and the same. They are single clinical entities.

And he created spectra and dimensions and so on. Könberg's thinking was much more modern and much more applicable, in my view, to mental health than Kohut's.

Although they both did their big work, their major work, in 1974-75.

So today, the rest of the world is Könberg. Is Könberg in the United States, possibly China, Canada, are essentially Kohut.

But I think the world is going to end up being Könbergian.

Because Könberg regarded the human soul, if you wish, the human psyche as a continuum, as a canvas, not as discrete units on a supermarket shelf.

But as a painting, a huge painting.

And then if you look at the left-hand corner of the painting, it's narcissism.

And if you look at the right-hand corner, it's, I don't know, schizophrenia.

And if you look at all, but it's a single painting.

And this is the approach of Könberg, which I think is far more advanced and far more accurate than Kohut's.

Makes sense. Definitely.

So what causes narcissistic personality disorder?

What are the theories?

There's a lot of misinformation online about every conceivable aspect of pathological narcissism.

A lot.

A lot. I would say 95% of the information online is anywhere between inaccurate and utterly completely wrong.

And that applies also to people with PhDs. When someone has a PhD in psychology, people say, but he has a PhD in psychology. He knows what he's talking about. Or she knows what she's talking about. That's nonsense.

Psychology is a huge field.

If you have a PhD in psychology, it doesn't mean that you're an expert on narcissism. Not at all.

For example, I am not an expert on speech reading.

So there's a lot of there's a lot of mess online. There's a lot of money sloshing about and it attracts charlatans and con artists.


Borderline personality disorder has a pronounced genetic component. We know, for example, that if you have a first degree relative with borderline personality disorder, your chances of having borderline personality disorder are five times better.

So there's clearly a genetic component. We also know that borderline personality disorder and psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder, we know that they have their brain abnormalities associated with these disorders. This is not the case with narcissism.

There are a few ridiculous studies that tried to find some brain abnormalities in narcissists among narcissists. These studies are based on a tiny sample.

The diagnostic procedures in these studies are dubious and are being charitable. It's nonsense. It's ranked nonsense.

At this stage, I'm not aware of any brain abnormalities linked to narcissistic personality disorder period, except if and when the narcissist is also a psychopath, in which case there are some brain abnormalities.

Similarly, similarly, there is no study that demonstrates genetic heritability of narcissistic personality disorder period. None.

So we, the majority of serious theoreticians and practitioners, we tend to believe that narcissistic personality disorder is the outcome of what is known as adverse childhood experiences, ACE.

Narcissism is a combination of two unfortunate outcomes of improper upbringing, bedparenting, especially bedmothers, because the mother has the greatest impact up to age 36 months, which is a period when pathological narcissism forms.

So unfortunately, it's the mothers, not the fathers. But there are two main issues with narcissism.

First of all, there is a disruption in the formation of a sense of self. There is a case of arrested development. There's no constellation or integration of the self or what Freud used to call the ego. Never mind which word you use. There's no sense of self. There's an absence. There's an emptiness there.

There's a void where a human being should have been. That's the first problem.

The second problem is disrupted attachment, because the parental figures are less than adequate. These kind of children fail to develop attachment in a proper way, so they grow up to have insecure attachment styles.

Now you put together a lack of self. Ironically, narcissists are selfless. You put together a lack of self combined with an inability to attach properly and securely, inability to experience, develop and nurture intimacy. You put these two together.

The second problem yet is a very defective, half-baked human being.

And this is essentially narcissism.

Now, abuse in early childhood has been linked time and again in literally hundreds of studies to the emergence of narcissistic personality disorder in later life.

But there is a misunderstanding about what constitutes abuse. A great definition of abuse is when the child is not allowed to separate from the parent, when the child is not allowed to develop boundaries, to fight back, and when the child is therefore forced to merge with the parent as a survival strategy to become one with the parent, either physically through incest or psychologically.

So this kind of child never becomes an individual. There's no individuation. This kind of child remains merged, infused and enmeshed with a parental figure, real or imagined, inside his mind and interject.

That's a great definition. Why? Because it encompasses dozens of behaviors. If you abuse your child sexually or physically or verbally or psychologically, definitely, you're abreaching the boundaries of your child. You're disrespecting your child. You're not allowing your child to become an individual. You're humiliating your child and you're imbuing your child with a reservoir of shame that is lifelong.

But if you're spoiling your child, if you're pedestalizing your child, if you're idolizing your child, if you're pampering your child, if you're instrumentalizing your child, forcing your child to realize your own unfulfilled dreams and wishes, if you parentify your child, if you expect your child to act as your own parent, these are all forms of abuse.

What does it mean to spoil a child? It means to prevent the child from getting in touch with reality. Because reality is bruising. Reality is painful. Reality pushes back on the child.

And that's the only way to personally grow and evolve and develop and become an adult.

If you're spoiling the child, if you're pampering the child, if you're pedestalizing and idolizing the child, you're not allowing the child to interact with reality. You're not allowing the child to grow up. You're not allowing the child to evolve and develop into a full-fledged adult.

In short, you're not allowing the child to separate from you.

So the definition of abuse is a lack of separation and individuation induced by bad parenting encompasses dozens of behaviors, some of which don't look, don't appear to be abusive, but actually a variant, perniciously abusive.

And that is the source, that is the psychological root and source of narcissism in general, morphological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder.

All the rest, genetics, this, that, is nonsense at this stage. It may be substantiated in the future.

For example, I believe there is a genetic component. It hasn't been proven yet, but I do believe there is one.

And I think I can prove that there is one.

You take five kids and you take twins and the twins are abused simultaneously by the same parent in the same environment. One of them becomes a narcissist, the other doesn't.

You take five siblings and these siblings are exposed to the same upbringing by the same not good enough mothers and dead mothers.

Dead mother is a phrase in psychology which describes a mother who is absent emotionally and unable to provide for the child's needs.

So you take five siblings and they are raised by dead mothers and so on. The same dead mother.

And yet only one of them becomes a narcissist, the other four are perfectly healthy.

So I think there is a genetic component. But you can't see this until there are studies to prove it.

So right now all we know is that adverse childhood experiences in an environment with bad parenting is the source of nothing.

So I wanted to talk a little bit about this concept of narcissistic abuse.

And what makes narcissistic abuse different from other forms of abuse?

I started my work on narcissism in the mid 80s.

And at the beginning of the 90s, or maybe in 1987, I'm not quite sure, somewhere around that period when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and everything, I coined the phrase "narcissistic abuse".

And I remember that at that time practitioners and professionals and so on, they asked me why did you feel the need to coin the phrase narcissistic abuse?

Why not say abuse? Or abuse by narcissists? Why narcissistic abuse?

Because narcissistic abuse is unlike any other form of abuse.

Now we are acquainted with many forms of abuse, even legal abuse, even financial abuse. I mean, of course, verbal, psychological, sexual, physical. There are as many ways to abuse someone as there are ways to interact with someone.

But all these forms of abuse are directed at a specific target, a specific goal.

If I abuse you financially, I want your money. If I abuse you physically, I want to beat up your body. If I abuse you verbally, I want to eff up with your mind. There's a target there.

And the target is identifiable, discernible, and specific. And the abuse is like a laser beam. It homes in on the target in order to destroy it or manipulate it or obtain something or whatever.

It's not the case with narcissistic abuse. It's the only form of abuse that we are aware of that targets everything without a single exception.

So it's like a cluster bomb. Narcissistic abuse targets your mind, your past, your future, your physical health, your mental health, your finances, your relationships. You name it. Narcissistic abuse targets everything.

And the goal of narcissistic abuse is also different to the goal of other forms of abuse.

Other forms of abuse wish to preserve the target of abuse. Abuses in other forms of abuse never eliminate the target of abuse because they would like to continue to abuse.

So take, for example, domestic violence battering. A man typically would beat up a woman to pulp, would send her to a hospital, but he would never kill her. It's extremely rare that he would kill her because he wants to beat her again. He wants to relieve the wonderful experience of beating a woman to a pulp.

So he needs to preserve the target. Similarly, other forms of abuse preserve the target. Narcissistic abuse is very reminiscent of murder or serial killers. The narcissist wishes to eradicate, obliterate, eliminate, negate, utterly destroy, devastate the target to the point that she ceases to exist in any meaningful way.

And the reason for this is that the shared fantasy, which is how the narcissist interacts with people, not only intimate partners, friends, family, the shared fantasy is a series of kabuki ritualized steps which lead inexorably to devaluation and discard.

The devaluation and discard are baked into the shared fantasy because the aim of the shared fantasy is to reenact the early childhood conflict with the mother of origin, with the biological mother.

So there is a, it's compulsive, it's what Freud called repetition compulsion. It's a compulsion.

So the narcissist is compelled to destroy you. He first converts you into an enemy in his mind. This is known as persecretary object. And then he needs to destroy you. He needs to destroy you because it's the only way he can separate from you and become an individual the way he failed to do with his biological mother.

So you are like a sacrificial lamb. He has to sacrifice you in order to please the deity, the divinity that is the false self.

More generally, narcissism is a bit like religion. It's a religion, it's a private religion where there is a God figure, a Godhead. And the Godhead is the false self because the false self is Godlike. It's omniscient, it's omnipotent, it's like God. It's perfect.

And the narcissist feels compelled to sacrifice human sacrifice to this God.

So the first sacrifice is the true self of the narcissist. And then the narcissist goes through life sacrificing other people to the false self, including and especially his intimate partners.

So narcissistic abuse is the psychological equivalent of murder, assassination, simply. And therefore it stands out.

People mistakenly believe that most abusers are mentally ill. That is actually not true. The vast majority of abusers are not mentally ill. They cannot be diagnosed with anything. They just say this to cruel people, whatever.

The case of narcissistic abuse involves mental illness. So it's extremely rare because any practitioner would tell you that mentally ill people tend to not abuse.

It's the famous sentence, "Hurt people, hurt people." Actually is limited to narcissism and borderline.

These are the only two mental illnesses where there is damage to others in effect.

Psychopathy is debatable because we are not quite sure it's a mental illness. It may be a lifestyle or it may be a personality style, whatever.

But narcissism and borderline harm other people. They hurt other people. They cause pain and devastation to other people.

And these are the only cases.

For example, people with psychotic disorders are very docile. They almost never hurt people.

Contrary to the popular images of Joker and so on.

So narcissistic abuse is one of the rare cases in psychology where mental illness translates into interpersonal relationships which are harmful to the partner to the point of physical or mental death.

It's a very serious form of abuse.

That's why it's on fire. That's why it's a buzzword. That's why it's like all over the place. People are talking today about narcissistic abuse. People today focus on narcissistic abuse much more than they focus on borderline abuse, for example.

Because it's a much more serious phenomenon, naturally. You need to die. You need to die.

Just one last sentence.

For the narcissist to survive, for the narcissist to become an individual, for the narcissist to exist, you need to die. You need to be sacrificed to the narcissist's false self within a ritualized ceremonial pseudo-religious shared fantasy.

Yes, go ahead.

So narcissistic abuse encapsulates all types of abuse. It can be financial, economical. It can be psychological, emotional, sexual.

And it includes the narcissistic relationship cycle, the activation delay, discard and often a hoover.

Can you tell me a bit more about the relationship cycle and the re-entering of the cycle, the hoovering?

Narcissists are clinically speaking, developmentally speaking, narcissist are children with an average mental age of four years old.

Many of them are two years old. Some of them are six years old. But the average is about four years old.

Narcissists are therefore incapable of adult perception of the world. They are not fully able to tell reality apart from fantasy the way children can all.

Children have imaginary frames. Children have paracossums, imaginary universes. Children identify with characters in books and so on because children are unable to distinguish reality from fantasy the way adults can.

Children have adult responsibilities and so on. They actually avoid adulthood in many ways.

So the narcissist is a child. That's the first thing that's important to understand. That's why therapy, psychotherapy, fails with narcissists because we are trying to apply adult-based psychotherapies to children.

The only way to work with a narcissist in therapy is to use child psychology. If we want to obtain any outcomes with a narcissist, we need to use child psychology.

And consequently, there's dismal failure in working with narcissists.

That's the first point.

Narcissists is caught in what Freud called the repetition compulsion. There are other names for it, theophobias and so on. It's simply the need to reenact time and again early failure.

So if you fail in something, if you fail to attach, if you fail to be loved, if you fail to separate from an important figure such as mother, if you fail to become an individual.

Failure generally pushes us to try again and again. And the more we keep failing, especially if we are narcissists and we think we are godlike, the more we keep failing, the more we are incentivized and motivated to try again.

And this becomes a compassion. The narcissist cannot help it. The narcissist has failed with his mother. Narcissism is a crisis of separation and division.

Narcissist was not allowed to become a person, was not allowed to acquire personhood. The narcissist is not disabled. Narcissist is not ego. The narcissist is a work in progress without progress.

So the narcissist feels compelled to go back to his shadow and try again. This time with a bizarre conviction that he's going to succeed.

Why is he going to succeed? Because this time he has found his ideal mother, you, his intimate partner, or his friend or whatever.

So the narcissist converts people around him to maternal figures. In his mind they become mothers.

And he says to himself, "Oh great, I found a new mother. Now I can go through all the phases of And I can become a man or a woman. Doesn't matter. I can become my own person." And so the structure of the relationship, especially intimate relationship, structure is rigid, ceremonial, ritualistic and therefore reminiscent of religion.

So the narcissist starts by converting you into a mother. He love bombs you the way a child love bombs his mother. He love bombs you. He then needs to convert you into a maternal figure so he idealizes you.

The mother in the eyes of the child is ideal. She's flawless. She's godlike. She's infallible. And she's always available. And she's the only guarantee for the child's survival. If the child fails to attract the mother's attention and attachment, this kind of child is dead.

So the narcissist converts you into a mother figure by idealizing you. You begin to notice that this is what a child does, not an adult.

And then having idealized you, the narcissist strikes a bargain with you, makes a deal with you. He says, "Listen, you're going to be my mother. You're going to be my good mother. You're going to love me unconditionally. No matter what I do, you're never going to abandon me and you're always going to love me.

That's your part of the deal and my part of the deal. I'm going to do the same for you. I have idealized you so you can do no wrong. And I'm going to love you the way a mother does. I'm going to love you unconditionally.

My love for you will know no bounds with the greatest love in history. And you will be my perfect partner forever." And this is the concept of dual mothership, which I've described.

So there's a dual mothership contract. The partners mother each other. But to accomplish this, the narcissist needs you to become a child.

Because how can the narcissist be your mother if you're an adult? It wouldn't work. So he needs to regress you to childhood. He needs to infantilize him.

Part of the dual mothership package, package deal, is that you will give up on your agency, on your independence, on your personal autonomy and on your adulthood. You will become a toddler or an infant, allowing the narcissist to love you unconditionally and in an idealized form.

Because as a baby you're idealized. You've done no wrong. You can't do wrong. You're a baby.

And similarly, the narcissist is an infant. He's really an infant. He doesn't have to work at it. He's an infant and you accept him as an infant and act the mother.

The point of the exercise is to separate from you. The whole point is to convert you into a mother so that this time the narcissist will succeed in separating from you and becoming an individual, isn't it?

So to separate from you, the narcissist needs to devalue you. The narcissist needs to convert you into an enemy, a secretary object, an inferior product, something he needs to get rid of you. It's the only way to separate from you.

The child, between the ages of 18 months and 36 months, gets rid of mother. The child gets rid of mother and explores the world. The child becomes aware of the existence of other people and develops what we call object relations.

The narcissist begins the process of separation by converting you in his mind from an idealized object to a devalued object or a persecretary object and then he discards you. And this is a symbolic reenactment of the separation/individuation phase in early childhood.

This is the inexorable, ineluctable, which is another word for inevitable, progression of the shared fantasy. There is nothing you can do about it.

I am listening to victims who are self-flagellating, self-justizing. They keep saying, "If I only behaved this way, if I only loved him more, if I only did this, if I only did that," the shared fantasy has nothing to do with you. You're a placeholder. You're interchangeable. You're commodified and commoditized. You're meaningless. You're meaningless to the narcissist. You're not special. You haven't been chosen. Get rid of this self-aggrandizing nonsense. You're just a placeholder, an avatar, an icon, an actress, if you wish.

And so whatever, there is no strategy or choice or decision that you could have made that would have altered the outcome of the shared fantasy and the progression of the shared fantasy.

End of story. You, regardless of your conduct or misconduct, you would have been devalued and discarded because the narcissist needs to do this for himself. The devaluation and discard has nothing to do with you. It is settling internal accounts. It is a kind of catharsis, kind of psychotherapy for the narcissist.

I'm getting rid of my symbolic mother.

It's a therapeutic tool. The shared fantasy is a kind of self-administered therapy.

Yeah. So what causes the real idea of wanting to come back for them?

It never works. The shared fantasy never works. And the shared fantasy never works because in order to convert you into a mother at the beginning of the shared fantasy, the narcissist creates an internal object inside his mind that represents you.

The narcissist doesn't idealize you. The narcissist never interacts with you at all. The narcissist interacts exclusively with the internal object in his mind that represents you.

So he idealizes this internal object and then he devalues this external internal object and then he discards you because there's no use for you anymore. The internal object is devalued and so on and so forth.

But this presents a problem. The narcissist does not interact with external objects. In this sense, the narcissist's narcissism is a mirror image of psychosis.

The narcissist doesn't interact with external objects, only with internal ones. So getting rid of you physically, breaking up with you, dumping you doesn't work because the internal object remains in his mind.

You are gone physically, but you have never been there physically as far as the narcissist is concerned. The narcissist's cathaxis, the narcissist's emotional investment and all the psychodynamics of the narcissist's revolve around the internal object and that internal object doesn't go away when you do.

The narcissist can dump you, but he can never dump the internal object. He can break up with you, but he can never say goodbye to the internal object. So he remains stuck with an internal object.

And now there's a problem. This internal object is devalued and persecretary. It's an enemy. The narcissist remains stuck with an enemy inside his mind that he can all get rid of.

The only way to get rid of this enemy, it's terrified by the way, to have an enemy inside your mind that you cannot get rid of. The only way to get rid of this enemy is to bring you back to re-idealize the internal object.

So he brings you back. He re-idealizes the internal object and he gets rid of the dissonance. He gets rid of the persecretary enemy internal object by re-idealizing it. But he cannot re-idealize it just like that. He is not psychotic. He doesn't have hallucinations.

The only way to re-idealize the enemy is to bring you back to have a physical presence of you.

So this is a cycle which can go on forever by the way, if it's not interrupted in some way.

So there are ways to interrupt this. There are ways to prevent over it.

For example, modification is a way to prevent over it. If you modify the narcissist, if you shame and humiliate and expose the narcissist in public, in front of peers, meaningful others, significant others and so on and so forth, the narcissist will never hover you. He will never hover you because there would be a match then between the persecretary object and who you really are. You will have become his enemy in public.

So now there's a match. There's no dissonance. And he doesn't need to bring you back.

The problem with hoovering is that there is a... It's not in public?

Yes, it has to be public.

The problem in hoovering is that there is an internal object which is bad enemy object and there is an external you and you did not act as the narcissist enemy. So there's a discrepancy. There's a dissonance.

You know, again, the narcissist cannot put the two of you together. But if you do act as a narcissist enemy, then you conform to the devalued persecretary internal object and there's no need to re-idealize you or to hoover you.

So modification works.

Similarly, if you are the first to break up with the narcissist, the first to dump him, but in a way that is humiliating and shaming and ostentatious and irreversible and involves real damage and harm to the narcissist and so forth, then you will have fit in with the devalued internal object and there will be no need to re-idealize you or to hoover you.

That's the mechanism. The narcissist never grows, never evolves beyond the age of 2 or 4 or 6 years old. Never.

The vast majority of narcissists are anywhere between 3 and 4 years old.

What about becoming self-aware? Because so many self-aware narcissists on TikTok giving people hope.

All narcissists are aware of their actions. The majority of narcissists are aware of the impact of their actions on other people.

And here I disagree with the DSM. The DSM says that narcissists overestimate or underestimate their impact on other people. I don't think so at all.

The most important thing is that narcissists are aware of what they are doing. They are aware of their behaviors and misbehaviors and they are perfectly aware. They just don't care.

Simply don't.

However, extremely few, if any, narcissists are aware of their psychodynamic processes and motivations.

So narcissists are not aware of their internal space, their internal world.

And there's a good reason for it. It does not exist.

The narcissist is an absence pretending to be a presence. There's a void there, a black hole, an emptiness.

So there's nothing to be aware of. There's no self.

So narcissists are aware the same way a robot is aware. A robot is aware of its environment, a robot is aware of its tasks, and a robot is aware of its impacts. That's how robots can put together cars in factories.

But robots have no awareness of an internal world, of a self, of an ego, or even of a mind.

Robots are perfectly aware of the environment and their part and functioning in the environment, but only the external environment, not the internal.

So all the self-awareness is online.

And some of them are con artists. They claim they're getting better, they're healing, they're going to therapy and so on. They tell gullible victims what they want to hear. They're telling gullible victims what they want to hear. Some of them are not all of them. The others confuse and conflate awareness of action and even awareness of choices and decisions with true self-awareness. True self-awareness is based on a stable self-regulated sense of self-worth.

Self-worth is a compendium of self-esteem, self-confidence, self-knowledge. So you need to know your limitations, strong points and so on and so forth. You need to know where you start and how other people begin, boundaries.

None of this applies to the narcissists. So narcissists can never be self-aware because there's no self.

However, as I said, robotically they can be aware of what their actions in the environment. Robots do this. I don't see any difference.

Not for underlying unconscious processes. They just see what they're actually doing. They don't understand why. They definitely don't understand why. Even when they try to theorize as to why, it's their narcissism speaking. It's not a trustworthy rendition. It's a manifestation and a demonstration of narcissism in action.

Narcissists, for example, when they're in a covert phase, narcissists like very much to act as victims.

Now, people think that narcissists self-victimize, narcissists adopt victim boot styles only in relation to other people.

Narcissists would say, "I've been victimized by my wife," or "I've been victimized by my boss who doesn't appreciate my talents." That's not true. Narcissists also feel victimized by their own drives and urges and personalities, personality and choices and so on.

A narcissist could say, "I can't help it. My narcissism is destroying me. My narcissism is trying me to make bad decisions and hurt people and I hate it." That is self-victimizing. That is another victim boot stance. It's to say, "I am distinct from my narcissism." Narcissism is like a third party that is victimizing me. My narcissism is victimizing me, not my wife, my narcissism. And it's a perfect example of narcissism in action, of course.

Narcissist feels a victim of everyone and everything, including his whole narcissism. And this is known as alloplastic defense. Alloplastic defense is the tendency to blame other people, the world at large, the universe, your own mental illness, to blame something for your own decisions and the consequences of your actions.

So if you see a self-aware narcissist online and he says, "I'm a horrible person. My narcissism drove me to hurt people. I regret it so badly. This is why I'm online because I'm trying to help victims to protect them against people like me." That is narcissism in action. That is grandiosity coupled with alloplastic defense.

I'm not to blame. My narcissism is to blame. It's like a sleepwalker. A sleepwalker would kill someone and then blame his sleepwalking. He would say, "I didn't know what I was doing. I was sleepwalking." Or like promiscuous people, they say, "It wasn't me. I was drunk. I had sex with multiple partners because I was drunk. It wasn't me. It was the alcohol." Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. My narcissism made me do it.


Can these relationships ever work? There are people that say in many decades long relationships with narcissists, what's going on there where there isn't a physical discard? There are so many myths and misconceptions and nonsense about narcissism. They like to spend my entire life, actually I am spending my entire life, trying to debunk them.

One of the myths is that narcissists constantly cheat. They engage in infidelity. By the way, there are studies that show exactly the opposite, but never mind.

Another myth is that narcissists are incapable of stability. They are itinerant and desultory and unstable and unpredictable and so on and so forth. That is borderline. That's not narcissism.

So most narcissists, not all, but most narcissists structure their lives so that they have an island of stability surrounded by an ocean of uncertainty and indeterminacy.

The island of stability caters to their need to feel safe, need for safety. And the ocean, roiling ocean of uncertainties and indeterminacies and accidents, this ocean caters to their need to experience thrills. They are thrill seekers, adventures and so on.

The organizers of their life are good. So typically you find a narcissist who has been married to the same woman for four decades, but in the meantime has changed 62 jobs.

So the island of stability is the marriage and the intimate partner and the ocean is the career.

You can find exactly the opposite. You can find a narcissist who has been toiling with the same company for 40 years, has reached the level of a chief executive officer in this company, started to work there when he was a teen.

So his stable, his career is stable. And in the meantime, got married, divorced and remarried six times.

So the island of stability is the career and personal life and interpersonal relationships are the ocean.

This is the typical structure of the life of a narcissist because of the dual need, the need for safety on the one hand and the need for adventure on the other.

Narcissists have this, they are novelty seekers and so on. In this sense, narcissists are antisocial.

The ICD, the other book, the other diagnostic book suggests that narcissists are desocial.

There is a trait called desociality. And the ICD actually combines narcissism and psychopathy. They don't make distinction between narcissists and psychopants. They say both of them are desocial.

One of the manifestations of desociality in narcissism, according to the ICD, is this need for thrill seeking, risk taking, adventures, defiance, rejection of authority, consummation and so on.

So it's not true that the narcissist's life is one unmitigated chaos. That is the borderline, not the narcissist.

The narcissist has, as I said, a core and chaos around them. This reflects the narcissist's inner environment.

The narcissist doesn't have a core identity. The narcissist doesn't have a cell, did not develop an ego. The narcissist is dissociative. Narcissists forget a lot. They have memory gaps for which they try to compensate by confabulating and people misperceive this as lying.

So they have memory gaps. In the absence of continuous memory, you cannot develop a core identity.

So the narcissist is an emptiness exactly like the borderline. There's what we call an empty schizoid core. The narcissist is an emptiness with a shell. And the shell is the false self. The false self is grandiose. The false self falsifies. Not the self, but the false self falsifies reality using cognitive distortions such as grandiosity.

So there's nobody there. That's what people are especially victims. They can't. Victims cannot accept two things. Number one, they were not special and they were not chosen. They can't accept this. They chose me because I'm empathic, I'm nice, I'm kind, I'm this, I'm that. Or she chose you because you were willing and able to provide the four S's, sex services, safety, supply. And because you were willing and able and eager sometimes to participate in a shared fantasy because reality is too much for you. You don't like reality. You want fantasy.

The sad thing about the narcissist is a major fantasy pusher, like a drug pusher. So and the second thing victims cannot accept is that they fell in love with a shimmering mirage with a fatamogano. There is nobody there in any meaningful psychological way. None. Nothing. There's a narrative, a piece of fiction, a movie called the false self. And it surrounds, it envelopes an emptiness, avoid deep space.

This is the narcissist. It's an animated shell, a simulation, if you wish. And victims can't accept this. They feel stupid for having fallen for it. So their own grandiose defenses kick in.

I saw something in him. His inner child called out to me. I couldn't walk away. I felt that he has been changing with my love and all kinds of self-deceptive, self-deceptions intended to somehow restore egosynthetics.

The truth is you fell in love with a black hole, masquerading, pretending to be a human being. And this black hole distorted reality around it the same way a black hole distorts a gravity field. A real black hole distorts a gravity field, now distorts reality.

And you were sucked in. You were sucked into the black hole.

Now does a black hole in space care if you're a planet or a star or dust or gas? A black hole in space, in deep space, a real black hole, astrophysical black hole, swallows everything. Even light. He doesn't care what it swallows. It digests and processes everything that comes into his remit, into his ambit. It processes exactly the same.

A black hole swallows light, digests planets and stars and other black holes, everything.

In a huge suction sun and processes them exactly the same.

This is the narcissist.

And you, what are you therefore, is a victim. You are what is known in warfare as collateral damage.

No one wants to be collateral damage. Everyone wants to be the target. You are not the target. You are collateral damage.

The narcissist solipsistically has been enacting his own drama. You just happen to be there. You're bad luck.

So when the victim feels like they see the goodness that's in the narcissist, is that just like a positive projection where they're projecting themselves onto the narcissist and filling in the gaps?

It's an attempt not to feel like the idiots that they were when they made the choice. It's a grandiose attempt to set the seat. To say, I haven't been incautious and a little stupid and gullible and vulnerable. I haven't been any of these things.

I saw something in him that others cannot see. It's a narcissistic difference. Narcissism rubs off its infections. You couldn't have seen anything in the narcissist because there's nothing there.

There's nothing there.

There is a child, a two, three, four year old child, and the narcissist uses this child, trots out this child, brings it into the open in order to captivate you, get you addicted, play on your maternal instincts. Maternal even for men. Even men are protective of children.

So, narcissists would use this inner child, but this inner child is a corpse. The true self is atrophied and dead.

The narcissist takes out an animated corpse of a child, and this is what you fell for.

And you can't admit it.

How needy you are, how broken you are, how damaged you are, how vulnerable, how easy it was to infiltrate you and convert you to the cause. It was a cult. You became a cult member. And you know cult members?

It colonized mine.

I have listened to many cult members. I've recently given an interview to a cult member, Mark Vicente.

Cult members have one thing in common. They blame the cult. They never blame themselves. Never.

I never came across a cult member who said, "I was a moron." I am seriously stupid to have fallen for this idiotic narrative of the cult. It's my fault. I take responsibility for it. I have made wrong decisions and adopted bad choices.

The cult leader? I use the cult leader as much as I use me. I haven't heard, and I've been working with cults and on cults and about cults for decades. I have never come across a single victim of a cult who blamed or assumed responsibility for his or her own actions. Not one. They all blame the cult and the cult leader.

It's the same with narcissistic abuse. Your relationship with a narcissist is a cult. And you blame the cult. You blame the cult leader. You blame the circumstances. You blame anything and anyone except yourself. And this is known as alloplastic defense. And it is a major hallmark of narcissism.

So you've become a narcissist. That's what narcissists do. Narcissists are never responsible. Never accountable. Everyone else is to blame. They are innocent. They are victims. And so are you. You've become a narcissist. You've been infected.

I find that a lot of victims of narcissistic abuse actually try to take on a lot of responsibility. They take on the responsibility for all of the behaviors of the narcissist because the narcissist is continually telling them that if you do this, I'll act right. I'm doing this because you did this. I'm angry because of this. I hate you because of this. I did this because of you. I find that a lot of victims take on a huge amount of responsibility in their relationships.

But not for their own basic mistake. No, not for their own. For the narcissist.

Yes. Yes. That's internal. That's part of the maternal. That's the dual mother shit. The narcissist keeps saying, "I'm a child. It's up to you as my mother to regulate me, to stabilize me, to make me feel good. You are the one who should teach me proper behavior. You should model. You should act in a way that I could imitate properly." So the narcissist, as a child would, if a mother were to confront her four-year-old child, imagine a mother confronts her four-year-old child. He says, "You are horrible. You misbehave all the time. You hurt me." The child would say, "Mother, I'm four years old, you know. It's really up to you. You are the adult in the room. You should take responsibility. Everything that's happening to me is I probably learned from you and reactive to you somehow. It's all you." Yeah, which is exactly what the narcissist does.

Yes, because he's a child. He's not lying about it. He's a child. He's a child. He's able to trigger the narcissist and so on.

You said before that in the beginning of the relationship, the narcissist needs their partner to regress mentally in age. Is that the aim of the psychological and the emotional abuse and all of the control and all of the power dynamics to make that person regress through that?

No. The regression is accomplished via the love bombing and the idealization. When the narcissist idealizes you, he gives you access to this idealized image or version of yourself. And you fall in love with this version of yourself. You get self-infatuated.

So you want to continue to see yourself as an idealized image through the narcissist's gaze. You fall in love with the way the narcissist loves you. You fall in love with the way the narcissist sees you. It's irresistible because now you're perfect. You're a drop-dead gorgeous. You're hyper intelligent. You're amazing. You can resist this. It's irresistible.

So this phase gets you addicted and inducted into the shared fantasy and the narcissist broadcasts to you maternal messages. You're ideal. I love you unconditionally. No one has ever loved you like this and no one will ever love you like this. And so on and so forth. These are maternal messages. You have to idealize the baby because raising children sucks and babies suck big time. They're horrible. This is one of the worst imaginable experiences in human life, comparable perhaps to a penal colony. It's really bad experience.

The mother needs to lie to herself about the baby. She needs to idealize the baby somehow. This is what the narcissist does to his intimate partner or friend.

The narcissist idealizes them and then he proves to them that his love is unconditional and he grants them access to the idealized image and they are addicted.

There's bonding here, immediate.

There's utter addiction.

The narcissist uses narcissistic abuse for two functions and it has two functions.

The first function of narcissistic abuse is to test you. Are you really a good mother? Are you going to love me unconditionally? Never mind what I do to you. Never mind how I misbehave. Never mind how egregiously evil I am and how much I harm you and hurt you. Are you still going to love me? Because real mothers do.

In the narcissist mind, a mother loves never mind what? Whatever the narcissist does, he deserves your love because you are his mother and mother's love unconditionally.

But how can the narcissist convince himself that you're a true mother? Maybe you are a fake, maybe you're pretending, maybe you're a gold digger. Who knows?

Narcissist to convince himself that you really love him as a mother does.

And the only way to accomplish this is to test you.

So he abuses you. He pushes the envelope. He abuses you even more. And you keep loving him. And he keeps abusing you. And you keep loving him.

At a certain point, the narcissist says, "I've done to her everything imaginable. She still loves me." She passes. She's qualified as a maternal figure because her love is clearly unconditional.

That's the first function of the narcissistic abuse.

The second function of narcissistic abuse is in the devaluation phase where the narcissist needs to push you to behave in ways that would uphold this view of you as an enemy or a persecretary object.

Now, this process is known as projective identification. It's known as projective identification.

If I believe that you're an abuser, if I expect you to be an abuser, I would push you and provoke you and so on so that you abuse me. And then I feel validated because that's what I thought about you to start with.

So if I need to devalue you, if I need to consider you a persecretary object, an enemy, I need to abuse you so that you begin to push back. You begin to shout back at me. You begin to undermine me. You begin to behave passive aggressively. You run out. You break up for a while. You do bad things to me.

Of course, this is reactive abuse. But in my mind, in my mind, in the narcissist's mind, it serves to confirm your persecretary nature.

So now you're behaving exactly as he has expected you to do. And now it's clear that you have been faking it all along. You are not a real unconditional mother. You are shouting at me, humiliating me, arguing with me, disagreeing with me, criticizing me. You don't love me. It's a baby. Look at my facial expressions. I'm doing it on purpose. It's just a baby throwing a temper tantrum because mommy doesn't love me because she refuses to give me the chocolate bar.

And I'm going to behave badly with mommy to attract her attention. And then I will see if she truly loves me because a real mother would love me, never mind one.

And if I want to get rid of mommy, then I'll behave really badly until she leaves me alone, which also happens. These are childlike defenses, infantile defenses.

Another thing is splitting. Splitting or dichotomous thinking is a primitive infantile defense mechanism.

The narcissist is incapable of relating to other people as nuanced totalities. Other people are either all bad or all good. They are never something in between. They are not gray shades. It's either you're all bad or you're all good.

So when the narcissist wants to separate from you individually, he needs to make you all bad.

It's not that he can say, listen, she has some good points, she has some bad points. And I think the bad points should, we should dissolve the relationship because I cannot cope with the bad points.

She has some great points. She's amazing.

But, you know, her bad sides. The narcissist is incapable of this. The narcissist is going to say she has only bad points. She's totally corrupted and evil and disloyal and hateful and abusive. And he's going to paint you black because he is a splitting way of relating.

Similarly, in the idealization phase, you're perfect. You could do no wrong. You could be no wrong.

Everything about you is perfect.

The way you talk, the way you speak, the way you, you name it, the way you cook, the way you don't cook, maybe if you don't cook, it draws you independent. You know, everything is recast and rewritten to uphold and buttress the idealized image.

Even bad things, even seriously bad things. Your argumentative, for example, your argumentative and opinionated. The narcissist is going to rewrite this in the idealization stage and is going to say she is so hyper intelligent that she is often misunderstood.

But in the devaluation stage is going to say she is opinionated argumentative because she's stupid. She can't get nuances.

So, all bad and all good. This is splitting.

I was going to say I'm laughing because I've been that character on both sides of a narcissist's collection.

All people in the narcissist's life, the shared fantasy is applicable not only to intimate partners, but also to friends and family. Shared fantasy is the way the narcissist relates to the world. So, he's going to coerce his boss to become his mother. That's why when you talk to employers, they say that narcissists are very high maintenance. They're difficult people, difficult employees because a narcissist keeps demanding special treatment, special attention, special concessions.

A narcissist wants to be the favorite or favorite child, the golden child of the boss. All of the colleagues are the scapegoat. He's the golden child. This is the shared... So, it's not only intimate partners. Everyone is going through this. Therapists are going through this. Therapists will tell you that the narcissist comes into therapy and idealizes the therapist. And then, a few questions later, the narcissist devalues the therapist.

Yeah, he just does the therapist. Can any headway be made in therapy with a narcissist?

I think we should make this our last question because otherwise the viewers are going to split us. We're going to say that we are all bad for 45 minutes. It's seriously inconsiderate. It's too interesting. It's too much. Can any headway be made with a therapist?

With therapy and narcissists?

Depends how you define it.

In all ages, and remember the mental or psychological age is always 3 to 6. So, regardless of chronological age, you're dealing with a child.

But in all chronological ages, it's possible to modify the behaviors of the narcissist. So, behavior modification is possible.

We can teach the narcissist to reduce abrasive behaviors, to control the expressions of his brandiosity, to act a lot less antisocially and psychopathically, to be less defiant, impulsive, reckless, consummation, etc.

We can teach the narcissist. We can domesticate, obtain the narcissist.

The way you do with a wild animal. You can, you know, you can, elephants and tigers and circuses are not elephants and tigers in nature. However, exactly like a tiger in the circus. It's a tiger.

There's no, the fact that the tiger in the circus enacts certain procedures or doesn't render him, doesn't render it less of a tiger.

So, you can teach the narcissist to behave in specific ways, condition the narcissist, induce positive reinforcements, negative reinforcements and so on.

It won't be usually long term, so you would have to repeat the procedure time and again. You have to repeat the therapy time and again. You can teach the narcissist, for example, not to be insulting or rude.

Okay, so for six months, he would mind his manners. There would be a relapse. It's similar to addiction because narcissists are addicts. They're addicted to narcissistic supply.

Anyone who has worked with junkies and I can tell you this, there's a relapse rate is enormous. The relapse rate alcoholism after three months rehab is 80% within one year. They start to drink again within one year. Same with the narcissist.

Core changes are impossible. There is no way to affect core changes in narcissism. Period. It's a lifelong condition.

But I think some mistakes are being made. And if these mistakes were to be corrected, perhaps we would have a better prognosis.

Mistake number one, in all treatment modalities that I'm aware of, the narcissist is treated as an adult. There's an attempt to strike a therapeutic alliance. There's negotiation about goals. This is nonsense. The narcissist is a child. We need to use child psychology.

Point number two, narcissism may be manifested or expressed via certain determinants and dimensions of the personality. But at the core, it's a post-traumatic condition and we need to apply trauma therapies to narcissists.

I have attempted to do exactly this. I combined child psychology with trauma therapies. More precisely, re-traumatization therapies for those like others.

And I combined these two. I didn't invent much that was new. I just combined these two methodologies or treatment modalities.

And I came up with what I call cold therapy. And cold therapy, I think, stands a chance at the very least of dismantling the false self and getting rid of the need for narcissistic supply or possibly for narcissistic supply and brandiosity.

But even these modest goals are endowed. And once they've been accomplished, let's say the false self is gone, grandiosity is gone. No need for supply. Let's assume that's not narcissism.

There's an element of narcissism. For example, grandiosity. Grandiosity is common in many other mental health disorders, in borderline, in psychopathy, in bipolar disorder.

So getting rid of the grandiosity part is restoring some cognitive functioning and doing the cognitive distortion, restoring reality testing to the narcissist. But that's not narcissism. That's not even 10% of narcissism. That's why many self-style experts online confuse narcissism with psychopathy. They say all psychopaths are narcissists, which is rank narcissists, only a minority, a small minority of psychopaths are narcissists. All psychopaths are grandiose, exactly like narcissists.

But that doesn't make them narcissists. Grandiose is not the same as narcissism. It's an elementary narcissist.

So cold therapy should succeed to get rid of grandiosity. But even cold therapy would have no impact on the core or dynamics or nothing. The damage is done. It's massive. There are problems without solutions and there are diseases without cures. We need to accept this. This is the American mindset. If you just throw money at it or whatever, everyone can change. Everyone can change. Every problem can be solved. Every disease can be cured. That's counterfactual. It's not true.

And narcissism is a great example of this. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. My pleasure. I hope the recording is decipherable. We'll discover in a few minutes. And I will be uploading it to my YouTube channel. Thank you. Yeah, sure. Okay. Take care, Claire. Thank you. Claire? Claire? I think I stopped the recording. Claire. Oh yeah, hi. Recording is mine. He's all mine. I like to control him. Here I am. I'm stopping it. Take care. That's okay. I understand. I'll go back and edit out some of the bits where there was a bit of interference or whatever was there. Or in the beginning when you told me to stop saying, "Uh-huh, uh-huh." I'll take that bit out.

Okay. Next time, we will know.

Yes, next time. Hopefully we have a better internet connection. But thank you. I honestly think that you're amazing. I find you incredibly inspiring and I've really, really enjoyed talking to you.

I could have listened to you for the rest of the night. Thank you. Thank you so much.

All right. See you again. We'll stay in touch.

Yes, definitely. Bye.

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