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Decathexis: When YOU are No Longer Useful (Psychopath’s, Narcissist's Transactional Relationships)

Uploaded 4/17/2024, approx. 17 minute read

People often complain that narcissists are crazy making. They are unpredictable and because they are unpredictable, they are unreliable partners, irresponsible, they cannot be held to account and so on and so forth.

There's a lot of complaint about what we call in psychology, behavioral variability when the behavior is not consistent across domains and across the lifespan.

So are narcissists as crazy making as they are made out to be?

First of all, there's a lot of confusion between narcissists and borderlines. Borderlines are crazy. Narcissists are actually quite predictable.

If you become aware of a few ground rules, and this is a topic of today's video, I will attempt to provide you with a vadimekum, with a kind of guide as to how to decipher and then how to predict narcissistic behavior.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CEOPS.


Here are the rules.

The variable behavior of the narcissist is only superficial, only apparent. Actually, the narcissist's behaviors are very consistent and very predictable.

Rule number one, optimized allocation of resources. The narcissist regards himself as a treasure, as a cosmic gift. His time is invaluable. His resources, scarce as they are, should be cherished and allocated with perspicacity and ultimate considerateness.

So, optimized allocation of the narcissist's resources.

If the narcissist suspects at any point that you're being wasteful with his time, with his money, with his efforts, with his knowledge, with his presence, with his influence, with his contacts, anything he can bring to the table.

If he suspects that you are being disrespectful of his contributions, and of course he always over-values his contributions, and if he suspects that you're being wasteful of them, spend thrift, then he becomes very angry, rageful, even violent, definitely aggressive.

Rule number two, the narcissist resents it when you force him to act.

Act in any way, but he is especially resentful and rageful when you force him to act in ways which he perceives as disrespectful of his resources and wasteful.

Then he again becomes aggressive, rejecting, frustrating and even sadistic.

Two simple rules.

Everything the narcissist brings to the table is a divine endowment, and you should treat it as such.

Number two, do not force the narcissist to do anything, let alone do not force the narcissist act in ways which he deems to be less sub-optimal, less than optimal.

Now, if you put these two rules together, these two heuristic behavioral rules that the narcissist abides by, that drive the narcissist and motivate him, if you put them together, this could help you to disentangle and decode many of the narcissist's apparent, mutually exclusive, contradictory, crazy-making behaviors.

So, imagine a miracle. Imagine a piece of science fiction come alive. Imagine, in short, an honest narcissist.

Oxymoron, I know.


Okay. Imagine an honest narcissist who is also willing to talk, also willing to confess and confide and admit and self-analyze and has a modicum of self-awareness and so on and so forth.

There are a few of these, of those online, but I am extremely doubtful about their claims. They, in my view, are all mass manipulators.

Okay. So, imagine you come across someone like that, and you ask, and you're a good friend, you're a lover, you're an intimate partner, you're a narcissist's child, you're his spouse, you're his workwife, you're his colleague.

I mean, someone within the narcissist's life that is supposed to be a significant other.

So, imagine that you ask the narcissist, "Do you care about me?" And this is an honest narcissist. There's one, one in one.

So, the narcissist says, "I do care about you. You're useful to me." And this is a shocking answer as far as you're concerned. You say, indignantly, "But don't you have emotions for me?" And the narcissist, the honest narcissist reflects on this and says, "I don't do emotions. I do relationship maintenance. I'm going to invest in our relationship as long as you're useful to me. As long as you have some utility, as long as we can work together and so on, I'm going to maintain the relationship, and I'm going to commit to it, I'm going to contribute to it and invest in it." "I don't do emotions," says the honest narcissist. "I do business. It's a give and take world."

Now it's your turn to be indignant. "So, why do you want to stay in touch with me?" you ask. And the narcissist says, "Well, you could still be useful to me, and I can be useful to you. Again, it's a give and take.

Plus, I always repay my debts, and in some respects I owe you." So, as you see, the picture is transactional.

The narcissist regards all human interpersonal relationships, all human interactions, as basically some kind of deal, the art of the deal, some kind of transaction, some kind of business.

Ask me. Let's take an example, which is really outlandish, but absolutely true.

One of the major motivating forces in human psychology is the sex. Freud actually believed that everything is an emanation or manifestation or transmutation of the sex drive.

He later gave up on this notion, but it imbued most of his work. And regardless of Freud, yeah, sex is a powerful motivator. It drives us to do things. It alters our behaviors. They become more goal-oriented, etc.

So, imagine a narcissist, and he wants to have sex. It's autoerotic sex. It's kind of deformed sex. It's kinky sex. It's not anything you would recognize by the word sex.

But, okay, that's his version of sex, and that's how he perceives his innate drive. He wants to have sex.

So, what a narcissist would do, especially if it's a psychopathic narcissist, he would turn on the superficial charm. He would flirt. He would love-bomb you. He would idealize you. All this in order to get in your pants.

So, this is typical behavior. It's normal sexual script. And in this sense, a narcissist is indistinguishable from healthy, normal people.

But where there's a variation which sets the narcissist apart from the rest of humanity is the goal orientation.

If the narcissist were to reach the conclusion that the circumstances preventing him from having sex with you, if he were to decide that sex is not on the cards for whatever reason, that he cannot have sex, even though he fervently desires it and wishes to have sex, but he cannot have sex.

That second, the flip of a coin, the narcissist becomes indifferent, dismissive, bored, and impatient with you.

You could be the most drugged, dead, gorgeous man or woman, depending on the sexual orientation. You could be the most drugged, dead, gorgeous sexual object, sexy person, amazing. And fully interested in the narcissist, into the narcissist, you want to have sex with the narcissist.

And the narcissist wants to have sex with you. There's mutual attraction, irresistible, and yet the circumstances are such that you cannot have sex.

I can think of 100 situations where you cannot have sex, though you're mutually attracted, though you are attractive and drugged, dead, gorgeous.

And the narcissist craves you and desires you and is passionate about you and so on, but for some reason you cannot have sex.

While a normal healthy person would continue to be attracted to you, would probably continue to flirt with you, would continue to interact with you, would continue to, you know, to some extent fantasize about being with you and so on.

The narcissist would simply turn you off, switch you off.

All his cravings and desires and passion will vanish, will evaporate in a split second.

The minute he reaches a conclusion that nothing is going to come out of it, there's no deal to be made. There's no transaction to be had.

All his behaviors, his state of mind, his urges, his drives, his motivations, his passions, his intention, the total internal landscape and behavioral outward public facing behaviors, all of them would change super dramatically, radically, as if it were not the same person.

And this is unique to narcissists and to psychopaths, by the way, narcissists and psychopaths.

It's unique. This ability to transition from state A to state minus A, the exact opposite, the diametrical opposite, is unique to narcissists and psychopaths.

That's because they are not emotionally invested in any of this.

It's goal oriented. It's transaction based.

And if a transaction cannot be had and the deal cannot be concluded and the goal cannot be accomplished, why continue? Why waste precious resources on something that cannot yield any outcome?

As far as a narcissist is concerned, flirting with you is hard labor, is work, is investment. It's, you know, it's not something he enjoys.

Love bombing, idealizing, flirting. They're all means to an end.

In the end, it is a shared fantasy, not even the sex, by the way, the shared fantasy that is attendant upon the sex that is connected to the sex.

The sex is just an instrument to kind of affirm and buttress the shared fantasy.

But even narcissists, when the narcissist or the psychopaths reach a conclusion that, you know, nothing to be done with you, they lose all interest in you, all interest in you.

It's as if you don't exist, transparent. They see through you. It's a very disconcerting experience, very shocking because you're being negated. You're being eliminated, cognitively, at least.

It's as if you truly don't exist, as if your existence is a kind of self-deception or delusion.

And the alacrity and the abruptness of the transition are very destabilizing because you begin to doubt your judgment of people, your perception of reality.

It's a form of behavioral gaslighting in effect.

So this is an example based on sex.

But the same applies to everything else.

The narcissist could be someone's best friend and they could work together and they could, you know, have a great time together. They could help each other. They could be best friends.

But the narcissist is best friends in order to accomplish something which is ulterior, which is external to the friendship. It's a transaction.

And the minute the narcissist reaches a conclusion that you are of no further use, there's no utility in you or even worse. You're somehow detrimental, somehow sabotaging, somehow, you know, it's negative output. You're damaging.

The narcissist drops you like a hot potato. It's simply you don't exist anymore. You're gone. You're deleted. Even your memory is deleted.

And this is like from one minute to the next. I'm kidding you're not. This is not a hyperbole. It's not an exaggeration.

One minute you are his best friend, most intimate, most invested in you, is focused on you, is idealizing you. He's love bombing you. Everything in the next, you're gone. You're gone. You're ancient, boring, wasteful history. You're consuming his scarce resources. You're wasting his time. You're imposing on him. You're annoying your nuisance, your threat, which is even worse. You're out. You're out of his life. You've never been in his life. He raises your memory, your common history, everything. It applies in sex with a sexual prospect or a sexual opportunity, sexual object. It applies in friendships. It applies with the narcissist's own children. If they defy him, criticize him, disagree with him, disobey him, they're gone. They're history. They've never existed. Same with his so-called intimate partners, so-called wife, spouse, and so on.

I call them insignificant others. And all this is ruled, all this is governed, all this is directed and guided by the two principles.

Optimize allocation of resources, invest them where they provide yield, preferably maximal yield.

And number two, do not allow yourself, says the narcissist, do not allow yourself to be forced to act.

The narcissist says, "I'm optimizing my resources and investing in you would be a waste, so I'm no longer investing in you.

And you can't force me to act in a way that is wasteful." And if you do, if you have demands, if you have complaints, if you have grievances, if you mourn and grieve what we had together, if you keep consuming my time and attention without giving anything in return, the transaction is dead, the deal is broken, then you are being, you're in position, you're being aggressive.

And I'm going to become rejecting, called, distant, absent, frustrating, sadistic, and aggressive in return.

These are the two governing principles.

So if you want the narcissist to remain in your life, you need to keep giving.

You need to convince the narcissist time and again, minute by minute, day by day, that it's still a good business.

That the deal is still there, that the transaction still pays, that the relationship should go on, the maintenance fees and the contributions of the narcissist to maintain the relationship should proceed apace because the relationship is a net yielder, the reward exceeds the cost.

It's very business-like, like in business school.

So because this is the case, because there's no commitment or investment or attachment or bonding or any of this, love, I mean, forget all this, none of this applies to the narcissist.

It's a calculus, it's a ledger, it's financial statements, it's a bottom line.

Think business, because this is the case, the narcissist and the psychopath are motivated strictly and only, and exclusively, you hear me, only as in exclusively, as in strictly, as in no other way, they're motivated by opportunities.

They are opportunists. They have no loyalty, no fidelity, no commitment. They are profidious in this sense, they are disloyal. They betray easily.

And when they want to eliminate you, because you're a net loss, you're a loss center, you disrupt the bottom line, they want to eliminate you, they become super violent, super malicious.

There's no hint of recollection of the past. There's no kind of credit. You don't get credit for having been nice to them, for having been helpful and supportive, for having worked with them for years, for having, none of these matters.

The minute a new opportunity presents itself with a higher return on investment, a higher yield, the narcissist dumps you as if you've never existed.

And if you insist on reminding the narcissist of your existence and of your common past, you become the narcissist enemy, the secretary object, and he's going to come after you.

And narcissists have very, very, very long memories. They hold grudges for years and decades. Sooner or later, you're going to pay the price.

So it's not a good idea to insist, to stalk, to plead, to bargain, to offer, to nothing.

The narcissist gave up on you, walked away, no contact, is the only solution.

So the narcissist and the psychopath are opportunists. They're motivated by opportunity. They don't care. They don't even notice people. They don't care about people.

Narcissists don't do external objects. You're just a figment in the narcissist mind. You're an internal object. You're a toy.

They don't do emotions. They don't even do cognitions. The cognition is distorted. They have no social mores, no morality, no guiding principles, no religion, no belief, no faith, no nothing.

Narcissists and the psychopath have an inner optimizing, maximizing compass. More, more, more narcissistic supply in the case of the narcissist, more attention, more money, more sex, more access, more power in the case of the psychopath.

More. It's a principle of growth which characterizes modern economies, modern civilization, which is why modern civilization is essentially narcissistic.

It's transaction oriented and it is founded on the principle that we should grow all the time.

Growth.

So narcissists and psychopath are growth oriented. They lose all interest when there's no opportunity.

When no opportunity presents itself, the gun, the history, they vanish in a whiff of sulfur, as someone has written to me the other day.


Similarly, narcissists and psychopaths will disengage physically and mentally and move on once a task has been accomplished.

Like, okay, mission accomplished. Why should we linger? Why should we engage in social niceties? Why should we have small talk? Why should we display fake interest in other people?

The whole human dimension is missing. There's something to do, even maybe something to do with other people together in a collaboration.

We do it with a gun. When it's accomplished, when it's in the bag, when it's in the bank, narcissists and psychopaths are gone.

In so-called romantic and intimate relationships, this is the kind of transactionalism that goes on day in and day out.

The narcissist wakes up in the morning and his first question is, how is my bottom line with my partner, with my intimate partner, with my children? With a woman I supposedly love, with a man I'm supposedly committed to. What is my bottom line? Do they begin to bore me? Do they criticize me? Do they disagree with me? Do they gun?

That gun, I'm going to find someone else who's going to do all this.

The minute the cost of having a relationship with you exceeds the yield, the outcome of the relationship, the narcissist is out of your life.

It's one way to get rid of narcissists, by the way, to force them to force the maintenance fee up so dramatically that the narcissist will disengage on his own accord.

Narcissists utterly and psychopaths are utterly uninterested in other people. They find other people stupendously, stupefyingly stupid and boring.

It's like, what's in it for me? When narcissists or psychopaths come across another person, the first question is, what's in it for me? Who hears about that person's background and that person's predilections and proclivities and preferences and hopes and dreams? Who gives the, you know, you know what, about any of this? Unless, of course, it's relevant to manipulating that person.

Unless it affords a narcissist, psychopath, some kind of leverage to accomplish the goal. Otherwise, it's boring.

Boring like in dull. It's bloody dull. So they avoid people as much as they can, the minimus, minimus interactions and interpersonal relationships to the transactional part.

They're interested in other people, as I said, only if the information that could be gleaned could be then used or leveraged to manipulate the other person and accomplish outcomes.

The functions, the functionality of people, the possible contribution of people matter a lot. That's why I keep telling you, narcissists don't choose their victims because of who they are. They choose their victims because of what they can extract from the victim, what they can get from the victim.


Six, supply, sadistic or narcissistic services and safety. Same with the psychopath.

Psychopath chooses you not because you're beautiful, not because you're ugly, not because you're clever, not because you're stupid, not because you're anything. Who you are is irrelevant and not even noticed.

Psychopath chooses you because what you can provide. Can you provide him with money? Can you steal your money? Great. Can you sleep with him? Excellent.

Six, can you provide him with access to other people, connections? Superb. Do you represent power if he takes over you?

Does it make him more powerful? This is what drives these people.

Narcissists are like machines. They're devices, optimizing devices. They're programmed in a way.

And this even limited interest in other people's functions and contributions, even this, ceases to exist, evaporates.

Once the utility of these people is over, when these people are no longer useful, they are dropped abruptly.

Everyone without exception in the narcissist world is instrumentalized and objectified. And that, of course, includes all of you.

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