This is the latest entry in my "Debunk the Online Charlatan" series.
And today we are going to discuss the differences between narcissistic collapse, narcissistic injury and narcissistic mortification. And why would we do that?
Because the vast majority, if not all, online self-styled experts with and without academic degrees are getting it utterly wrong.
So let us be charitable and altruistic and lend them a helping hand because charitable and altruistic are my middle names.
Okay, start with the easiest narcissistic injury.
Narcissistic injury is any event, any speech act, any action, any information that undermine, challenge, or contradict the narcissist's grandiosity.
The narcissist inflated fantastic self-perception and self-image. Clinically it's a cognitive distortion.
The narcissist's cognition misperceives reality, falsifies it, refrains it.
And so anything that challenges grandiosity causes narcissistic injury.
And in the vast majority of cases, narcissistic injury induces frustration, aggression, and what is known as narcissistic rage. It's a one-time thing. It passes and the narcissist moves on usually.
Now narcissistic injury is not "rate my lips", not narcissistic mortification. Narcissistic mortification is any sudden, abrupt, unexpected, public, shaming, and humiliation of the narcissist in front of significant others. It could be family members, but usually significant peers or publicly in the media or whatever.
So it has to be public. It has to include humiliation, shame, and exposure. And it has to include an audience of people the narcissist values as potential sources of narcissistic supply, as role models, as reference points, and so on and so forth.
One of these elements is missing. It's not narcissistic mortification.
If it's not done in public but in private, it's narcissistic injury. It could be a massive narcissistic injury, but it's still an injury and the narcissist will recover via narcissistic rage.
If it's not done in front of meaningful, significant others, it's not mortification.
And if it doesn't involve humiliation, shame, exposure, if it doesn't enhance the narcissist's fragility and vulnerability, that's not narcissistic mortification.
Narcissistic mortification results in decompensation, the deactivation of all the narcissist's major defenses, and that includes his false self.
He remains in the wake of mortification. He is skinless. He has no protection. He cannot refrain reality. He cannot lie to himself anymore. He is face to face with himself in the mirror and he experiences dysregulation.
Clinically, he becomes a borderline replete with suicidal ideation and depression. That's mortification.
As you can see, it has nothing to do with injury.
Collapse, narcissistic collapse, has nothing to do with mortification or injury.
Narcissistic collapse is the repeated, prolonged failure to secure narcissistic supply, to extract narcissistic supply from the environment.
In short, a failure of self-efficacy, but it has to be over a period of time, it has to be repetitive and without a single exception, it has to deal exclusively with narcissistic supply or the inability to obtain supply or to secure supply, and it has to conform, somehow enhance the narcissist's sense of shame in a fear-or-ity complex and inherent fragility.
Collapse leads to type inconstancy.
Following a collapse, the narcissist reverts to another type of narcissist, from somatic to cerebral, from cerebral to somatic, from covert to overt, from overt to covert.
It's a desperate attempt to secure supply by self-transformation. It never works.
And there is finally a reversion to the dominant type, the original type.
Collapse is at the core of covert narcissism.
Covert, fragile, shy, vulnerable narcissism is a permanent state of collapsed narcissism.
And so if you were to study covert narcissists, you would be actually witnessing slow motion narcissistic collapse.
Now, do not confuse narcissistic collapse with narcissistic failure, as many, many, many, like 99% of self-styled experts do, including self-styled experts with PhDs.
So narcissistic failure is a stage in personal growth and development in early childhood.
The phrase was coined by Grotstein, who was a psychoanalyst, and he describes the traumatized and abused child's failure to become a narcissist.
The child attempts to become a narcissist, tries to develop a false self, grandiose it is on, and fails.
When the child fails, the child remains stuck in a phase that is known as failed narcissism.
This failed narcissism is a precursor. It's the antecedent of borderline personality disorder.
So people with borderline personality disorder are actually failed narcissists.
Failed narcissism has nothing to do with collapsed narcissism. Non-narcissist can be a failed narcissist by definition because he or she is a narcissist.
All many narcissists can be collapsed narcissists, but they can never be failed narcissists.
So, phew, that tsunami of nonsense out there is beyond mind-boggling. And I don't know how to counter it except through these snippets of education.
And of course, the narcissistic defenses of these self-styled experts will prevent them from learning. They don't need to learn. They know everything. They have never written a paper on narcissism. They've never published anything on narcissism. They've never taught narcissism. They've never learned narcissism.
And yet they are experts on narcissism.
What to tell you? It's a miracle. It's a wonderland, this YouTube and TikTok and all these social media platforms where everyone can suddenly become whatever they want to be effortlessly and without commensurate investment and commitment to any long-term process of learning.
Everyone and his dog and his mother-in-law are experts on cluster B personality disorders.
Well, let me lend you a helping hand.
Dark triad personalities are not narcissists. They are not psychopaths.
Dark triad is a combination of subclinical narcissism. That means narcissism that cannot be diagnosed, subclinical psychopathy, that means psychopathy that cannot be diagnosed, and Machiavellianism, that means manipulativeness.
These are people who cannot be diagnosed as narcissists, cannot be diagnosed as psychopaths, but are highly manipulative and have a narcissistic style and some psychopathic traits and behaviors.
So, once and for all, all of you self-styled experts, dark triad is not narcissism, is not psychopathy, not like in N.O.T.
It's a simple word, even you can grasp it. It is a combination of people who are almost narcissists, almost psychopaths, and are a bit manipulative.
In short, your spouse, your boss, your friends, your colleagues, all of them, can be dark personalities without qualifying as narcissists or psychopaths.
Now, having learned this from me, teach your dog and teach your mother-in-law so that you don't continue to spread nonsensical misinformation everywhere.
Trauma and emotional dysregulation are unbearable. They threaten the inner peace and inner equilibrium, the balance, the sense of stability and sense of self that we all maintain.
Anyone can be exposed to trauma, sudden or complex, prolonged. And emotional dysregulation is a reaction not only in borderline personality disorder, but in many other mental health conditions and even among healthy people, taken to extreme, exposed to stress and anxiety, which are intolerable.
The processing of dissonance, stress and anxiety often leads to dysregulation.
And so, this causes enormous distress.
And naturally, exactly like people who have contracted cancer, people who are traumatized, people who are emotionally dysregulated, are all over the Internet looking for answers, looking for experts, looking for the truth and looking for correct information.
How to tell if the person you're listening to is a real expert on cluster B personality disorders and psychology in general, or talking out of a highly specific part of his anatomy and is actually a con artist charlatan.
Sam Vaknin to the rescue. I'm going to give you a simple test.
If the person you're listening to is using the word "disassociation", this is someone who has never read a psychology textbook, psychology paper, psychology article and never said in a psychology class. That is someone who has no idea what he's talking about and pay attention.
An academic degree is no guarantee of expertise.
Psychology is a ginormous field. You could have a PhD in psychology and know next to nothing about cluster B personality disorders and/or dissociation.
So if he or she uses the word "disassociation", click off, move on, watch my videos, of course, because I would never use this word. I would use the word "dissociation".
Now, dissociation is one of a family of defense mechanisms. The other two are compartmentalization and isolation.
These are three defense mechanisms intended to compartmentalize, isolate, cut off, slice off, repress, bury, eliminate impulses, thoughts, cognitions, beliefs, ideas, values, and above all, memories, which are traumatic, painful, hurtful, or dissonant. They conflict with each other. They cannot coexist in the mind without generating mayhem and chaos, something known as dissonance.
So when the psyche comes across such situations, it isolates certain ideas, impulses, thoughts, emotions, and memories and forgets them, isolates them, relegates them to the unconscious.
And this is dissociation. When dissociation fails, all other defense mechanisms shut down a process known as decompensation. It's very dangerous. The integrity of the individual, the equilibrium, which is always precarious in any case, can be unsettled. There could be a rapid process of disintegration. Disfunction sets in. The mind is geared, engineered, you could say, to prevent this from happening. And its main weapon, its main tool, is dissociation.
We recognize three major forms of dissociation. Amnesia, which is forgetting memories, relegating them no longer possess energy and the ability to interfere with the mind, with consciousness. This is amnesia, derealization, where the entire situation is perceived or rendered as unreal, as if it were a movie or a theater production. This is not real what's happening here. So I'm not at risk. There's no danger. I'm not going to fall apart because none of this is really happening. It's like a dream, a dreamscape. And depersonalization. I'm not here. This is not happening to me. I'm divorced and detached from my body. I'm somewhere else.
These three mechanisms, amnesia, derealization and depersonalization, together constitute the dissociative spectrum in very extreme cases when the stress and the anxiety and the fear and the threat are too much. Nothing, no defense mechanism can ameliorate them or mitigate them or cope with them efficaciously.
Even dissociation has a hard time of somehow managing the situation.
In these extreme cases, we have dissociative identity disorder.
Now, there are many, many variants of dissociative identity disorder. One of them used to be known as multiple personality disorder, but there are many others.
This is a hot button topic nowadays in psychology.
But dissociation is actually a daily occurrence, even in healthy people. And it is part of the diagnostic landscape and even diagnostic criterion in borderline personality disorder and other mental health issues.
So, dissociation appears either as a dynamic in certain mental health conditions or even as a criterion. For example, in psychotic disorders and borderline personality disorder and so on.
So, it's a very important topic, an issue. And there's no way for you to claim that you know anything about psychology without having been exposed to dissociation as a critical mechanism.
So, what is dissociation?
Dissociation is when people who know what they're talking about, like Moi, put distance between themselves and people who spew nonsensical misinformation online pretending to be experts. That is the only form of dissociation known in psychology.
Have fun and do not dissociate this mini-lecture for your own good.