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Expose Narcissist’s Secret Speech

Uploaded 2/21/2021, approx. 40 minute read

Hello, kiddos and kiddies. My name is Sam Vaknin. I am your favorite author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited and a professor of psychology.

Today we have a very interesting topic.

Narcissists, of all stripes, overt narcissists, overt narcissists, somatics and cerebras, narcissists who are passive-aggressive, and narcissists who are not all narcissists.

They use code, they use a cipher.

What you see, what you hear is not what you get.

And today I'm going to teach you to decipher the code, to decode the Narcissist Speech Act, to understand that he is not trying actually to communicate. He is trying to conceal in the various multifarious techniques that he uses in his attempt to manipulate you via this concealment. It's very pernicious, it's very insidious, it's very subterranean. It's invisible to all other people.

And when you try to communicate this to others, family members, friends, your lawyer, your therapist, they think something's wrong with you, because they can't see it for the life of them.

There's the text and there's the hidden text.

I've made another video on the difference between the manifest text, the difference between the master text and the difference between the hidden text.

When the narcissist communicates with you, he's sending you a manifest text, but underneath it, there's always an account, arcane, coded message, encrypted, and only you have the key. You and the narcissist, and nobody else.

So this is today's topic.


But before we go there, something critical, it seems, because it bothers a lot of you.

Why do I keep saying love bombing when I should say love bombing? The correct pronunciation is of course love bombing, not love bombing.

Well, the reason is my thick accent. Thick accent is a serious curse. Narcissism is a serious curse, and I have both. You can imagine where I am.

So at the beginning, in my earlier videos, I tried to use the correct pronunciation. I used to say love bombing. And people kept asking me love bombing, love booming, love beaming. I understood that something's wrong. So I decided to mispronounce the word just to be in order to be understood.

And so now I'm saying love bombing to leave no place for doubt. Apologies for my accent. I am not responsible for it, you know.

Okay, I would like to read to you two quotes, two comments posted on one of my videos.

And then we proceed to the topic.

Sunny Days had written the following. This is a quote at the beginning of the movie American Psycho, based on the book by Brett Easton Ellis.

And so at the very beginning of the movie, Patrick Bateman, the psycho in the movie, says the following.

There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of obstruction, but there is no real me, no real me, only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel the flesh gripping yours, and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable. I simply am not there.

Great quote about the inner empty schizoid core of narcissists and psychopaths.

M. Wars, Vaknin, whoever she is, had written a wonderful encapsulation of the borderline condition. Here's what she had written.

Here's what she wrote. I have BPD, borderline personality disorder, and you explain this very well. When I go into psychopathy, I ignore people and plot into future revenge and am comfortable being alone for months. When I am grandiose, I switch into narcissism tendencies.

I feel empty, no emotions left of my own. I can't be alone. I need validation to breathe. I am not good with any sexual rejection. I go into BPD rage. My narcissism will not allow rejection. When I go into my fragile BPD self, I am like a burn victim, filled to the top with empathy, and when it's not returned, I go back to psychopathic tendencies, then histrionic for attention, and then back to narcissism, because I can't accept that I'm simply not the best.

You may not be the best, but this is the best description of BPD I've ever come across, honestly.

Now, these are the self-states of BPD, you realize.

I encourage you to watch the videos on my channel regarding the various self-states in borderline personality disorder.


And now to the topic of today's video, not a minute too early, and it is speech.

When the narcissist communicates with you, there is what I call an envelope message, a manifest text, an overt text, and a hidden or coded message.

It's always two messages, always two, the envelope message and the hidden message. It's exactly like a virus.

The virus is an envelope, and within the envelope, there is the RNA, there is the genetic material. The genetic material is the coded message.

The virus needs a live cell to translate the coded message into new viruses, new proteins, and the envelope carries the coded message into the live cell, in a way deceiving the live cell.

So the envelope of the narcissist message is always reasonable, always flexible, always compromising, always socially acceptable, always commonsensical. The narcissist's envelope message is something any reasonable, rational person would write.

Someone with impulse control, mature, adult, responsible, reliable.

So this is the envelope message. It conveys this image of the narcissist, the appearance of the narcissist. It's an external facade, but deep inside the envelope message, there is the viral genetic material. There is the hidden or coded message which triggers you, pushes your buttons, and the coded message is based on your shared past experiences with the narcissist.

On previous speech acts, it's like a train of thought or train of speech.

The message seems to be standalone, seems to be self-sufficient, but actually, the message is intimately connected to previous messages, previous exchanges, previous fights, previous arguments, previous disagreements, previous gaslighting, and previous manipulation.

So the message is intended to push your buttons in order to manipulate you, and it is based on information that only you and the narcissist share.

No one else. This is privileged access information. These are experiences you have had together when you were alone. These are things he had told you and things you had told him that no one else has ever become privy to.

So the hidden message uses several leverages, deploys several techniques, and let's review them one by one.

The first technique is counterfactuality or non-facticity. In other words, the hidden message assumes that you had agreed on something that you had never agreed upon.

The hidden message pretends that you have a compact, that you have a contract, that you have decided on a course of action, that you have concluded something, that there is a decision already made, that there is a choice already adopted.

But none of it is true. It's counterfactual. It's against the fact.

The hidden message implies that the big picture is totally agreed upon.

Now let's go to the details.

And that is of course an element of shared fantasy or shared psychosis.

So counterfactuality is the first technique.

The second technique is the victim stance, the victim language.

The narcissist always pretends to be the victim. He is actually not pretending. He truly believes that he had been victimized.

Victimhood provides him with moral justification for his misdeeds and misconduct on the one hand, and with social approbation and support.

On the other hand, victimhood in other words is useful.

And so he maintains the victim's stance and language well into his hidden messages.

And never mind what you say, and never mind what you do, and never mind how you behave. You will always be cast. You will always be described as the abuser. The abuser is your role in the hidden message, and the narcissist insists ferociously, vehemently on his victimhood position. He is a victim, and you will not deny him his victimhood. It's his comfort zone, and he uses projective identification.

Projective identification is when the hidden message pushes you, manipulates you, into abusing the narcissist, elicits from you an abusive reaction. The narcissist forces you to become an abuser, because when you're an abuser, he's a victim. When you're the villain, he has the moral upper hand.

So he needs you to be the abuser. He needs you to be the villain. He needs you to act narcissistically and psychopathically.

And indeed, most victims of complex trauma develop narcissistic, psychopathic, and borderline traits and behaviors. And these are reactive to the narcissist's constant messaging, constant signaling.

I'm a victim, you're an abuser. I'm a victim, you're an abuser. It's brainwashing.


The third technique is projection, because the narcissist's victimhood is imagined, it's confabulated.

The narcissist has to project his own traits and misbehaviors onto you.

The narcissist as a victim needs to feel that he is pure, unadulterated, innocent, honest, good, upright. Sanctimonious self-righteous is the way to describe it. He is falsely modest if he's covert.

So the narcissist, he has pseudo humility. So the narcissist needs to believe that you are the opposite of all these things.

And what he does, he takes the traits and the behaviors that do not sit well with his state of victimhood and he projects them onto you.

And this encourages in you a feeling of ego destiny. You absorb these emanations, this miasma, these vapors from the narcissist.

This process is called entraining. The narcissist entrains you to become an abuser, to become a villainous character in his movie or in his theater production.

And you adopt the role. This process is called emergent roles within family system. This is the clinical term.

So you adopt the emergent role. You do become abusive, provocative, malicious, malevolent, impulsive, reckless, defiant, contumacious, hateful. You become everything the narcissist wants you to become.

And then you feel ashamed and you feel guilty. The narcissist guilt trips you, soars in your mind the seeds of self-doubt.

Maybe he is right. Maybe I am the abuser. Maybe I am the narcissist.

The narcissist accomplishes this incredible feat of reversal of roles via his hidden messages. His hidden messages contain the projection.

And then there is gas lighting via equivocation. The narcissist never commits, never says yes or no. He says maybe or really, or if you say so, or I could have agreed that, you know, it's always equivocal. It's always ambiguous. It's always in the air. It's always a maybe.

And in this way, he challenges your reality testing. He makes you feel that you're crazy, that you're not grasping what's happening correctly. He rewrites history and he rewrites your mind in the process.

The hidden messages are usually very hostile. The more appropriate, proper, formal the messages, the more hostile it is. This is passive aggression.

Passive aggression masquerades as civility and good manners and formality. While underneath the surface, there is enmity, hostility, hatred, and the wish to destroy the recipient, the frustrating object.

So there's a lot of hostility and you pick up on it. Your sensors, your seismic sensors via empathy, pick up on this hostility and it destabilizes you because being hated is an abnormal state.

And you kind of ask yourself, why am I hated? Is it justified in some way? And it unsettles you, disbalances you, ruins your equilibrium and homeostasis, and your view of the world is essentially benign, benign place with good people.


The next technique is manipulativeness.

Manipulativeness and coercionacting the way he wants you to act. The narcissist is a puppet master and his hidden messages convert you into a marionette, into a puppet.

The narcissist, for example, ignores your input or your requests as though you had never spoken. He renders you invisible and transparent.

Minnie break. And feeling invisible and transparent is the worst fear in the human mind. To not be seen is the most rudimentary, primordial, and first terror in the baby's mind.

The baby needs to be seen by his mother just in order to survive. Babies who are not seen are not fed. Babies who are not fed die to be seen as a survival strategy.

The narcissist, by ignoring things you say, by ignoring your requests, your wishes, your preferences, your priorities, your emotions, cognitions, by rendering you invisible, by not seeing you as a strategy, threatens your survival, at least your mental survival.

The narcissist also malingers, procrastinates, delays, postpones endlessly, wears you down. This is passive aggression. It's another technique borrowed from passive aggression.

He promises, and he promises to promise, and then he promises that his promises to promise were real promises and he is going to promise you and then he promises you and it never happens. Nothing ever transpires. Nothing reaches conclusion or closure or result or outcome or anything.

It's like waiting through swamp. It's like, you know, swimming in jam. It's sooner or later it becomes quicksand and you drown in it, inexorably pulled down by his constant procrastination.

Some narcissists procrastinate because they're perfectionists. They insist on a perfect outcome.

But the majority of narcissists procrastinate in order to frustrate you. Their procrastination is actually a transformation of aggression.

The same thing with forgetfulness. Narcissists forget. They forget as a habit. They are professional forgetters. They forget what you had asked. They forget your requests. They forget arrangements and agreements. They forget promises. They keep forgetting dates and hours and times and schedules and everything. Forgetting is another form of aggression, together with procrastination and truancy.

The narcissist is absent physically or mentally, emotionally, or both. In most cases, both. He is truant. He's not there and he's not there. He makes sure to not be there in the most crucial moments when you really, really need his presence for something, in order to decide something, in order to conclude something, in order to move on, in order to, you know, establish a schedule, in order to meet someone, in order to do business.

At the very crucial moment, you can count on the narcissist's sudden inexplicable absence with some stupid excuse and neglect, forgetfulness, procrastination, and truancy are the four horses of the narcissistic apocalypse. They are intended to inflict upon you armageddon to destroy you totally.

And all these are passive-aggressive techniques.

The key to communicating with the narcissist effectively is to ignore the hidden message, to ignore all this, to not respond to the occult message, to the hidden message, to not allow the narcissist to push your buttons and triggers.

But some people find it very difficult to accomplish. Some people are still in the throes of the over-indulgence with the narcissist, or the narcissist still has some hold over them via his introject, for example.

The narcissist is inside your head, even when he's long gone physically, he's still inside your head. You can get yourself out of the narcissist, but you cannot get the narcissist out of yourself.

So, the best solution is to use professionals to communicate with the narcissist.

If you can help it, never ever communicate with the narcissist directly. Force him to communicate with your lawyers, with your accountants, with your best friend, with your family member, with your father, with someone. Force him to communicate with people who are oblivious to the hidden message.

You remember that the hidden message is based upon shared experiences, shared past, shared past, shared communication in the past. And so, people from the outside, outsiders, they simply don't spot, they don't detect the hidden message.

And so, they're going to respond to the overt, open, reasonable, socially acceptable, commonsensical, envelope message. And that's what you want. You want to keep the communication surface on the surface. You do not want to go deep with the narcissist into the rabbit hole of his communications.

So, if you refer the narcissist to other people who are constitutionally incapable of even detecting the hidden message, the communication will devolve into envelope communication, surface communication, and you will not be triggered into actions that you're bound to regret later.

If at all possible, go no contact. Any communication refers to an intermediary, to a buffer, to a firewall, and this buffer or firewall will ignore the hidden message and convey to you only the open one.

And so, it's a filter. The narcissist engages in something called palindromic speech. The communication of narcissists is either inward facing, they verbalize their inner dialogues, conversing loud sometimes with themselves, with the audience as a mere foil to their stream of consciousness. So, this is the inward looking communication.

Or it could be outward facing. When the narcissist communicates with himself, you are just an observer. You're an audience. He's bouncing thoughts off you. You're like a blank screen upon which he can project anything. That's his inner communication, actually. You're witnessing his inner communication.

And I repeat, some narcissists do it aloud. I mean, they verbalize it.

And then there's outward facing communication. Narcissists talk in order to impress their interlocutors, in order to evade actually providing information, to obfuscate vulnerabilities.

So, what they do is they don't communicate, they impress, they manipulate, they obfuscate, they obscure, they evade.

Narcissists in the language is a narcissistic weapon in the narcissist's arsenal.

Pay attention to several warning signs.

Number one, the use of indefinite pronouns and modifiers like this or someone or that. When the narcissist does not specify, does not clarify any of the other parts of the speech, leaving the listener guessing as to what had occurred to whom, when, where, and why.

So, indefinite pronouns and modifiers are a major sign of palindromic speech.

By the way, many self-styled experts and coaches and so on online, they use the phrase word salad. Word salad is strictly limited to schizophrenics. Schizophrenics have something called disorganized speech and this is a word salad.

Narcissists do not engage in word salad. No one actually engages in word salad except schizophrenics or people with psychotic disorders.

So, it's a misuse of the phrase borrowed from clinical literature wrongly by ignorant people.


Number two. We are not discussing warning signs when you listen to the narcissist or communicate with him verbally or in writing. There are warning signs of palindromic speech.

Palindromic speech is the hidden message.

So, number one, indefinite pronouns and modifiers.

Number two, if the narcissist is addressing an audience or you demand the truth and accountability from him, you can safely assume exaggeration, confabulation, reframing, and outright lying on his part. This is done partly also to cover up the narcissist's pervasive dissociation.

Number three. When the narcissist expostulates on his motivation for doing something, or when he recounts what had happened, he is either wrong, reframing to justify his misbehavior or to restore ego syntony, or he's just lying out of self-interest, or he has dissociative gaps, amnesic gaps, and he's trying to bridge them with a confabulation. He tries to sell you on what makes sense rather than on the truth.

If he doesn't know the truth, he will provide you with a plausible replacement, substitute, or alternative.

You remember alternative facts? If you keep reiterating the question, if you insist on an answer, if you insist on the truth, if you persist, he often contradicts himself and comes up with conflicting versions of the same events.

Never trust what the narcissist says. Do not let his gaslighting undermine your trust in your senses, your judgment, your observations, your memories, your identity, and your common sense.

Make sure that only what you see is what you get.

Observe the behaviors and reactions of the narcissist and everyone around the narcissist for clues as to what had really transpired. Don't let the narcissist club you on the head and don't wake up in his platonic cave of shadows of an alternative reality.

Palindromic speech is any kind of statement about facts or inner mental states that intentionally, often, or inadvertently, more rarely, creates confusion and disorientation in the listener.

Gaslighting, lying, these are examples of crass and malicious palindromic speech acts.

Confabulation and illogical incoherent discourse. These are benign variants intended to breach dissociative gaps in memory or to buttress grandiosity.

And palindromic speech, which I'm saying again, that's the core of the hidden message, palindromic speech makes use of various semantic devices.

Pay close attention. When you talk to the narcissist, you need to be hypervigilant. You need to analyze any and every word, every phrase, every syntactical choice.

Why did he put the words in this order? Why did he choose to say something? Why did he choose to not say something?

That's the hidden text, the manifest text, the hidden text. So you're all the time on your toes, you're all the time analyzing when you can't just take it for granted.

And the narcissist makes use of several semantic devices.


Number one, referential shifts.

Referential shift is when the words refer to one thing while appearing to be actually referencing another thing. It seems that he's talking about A when actually he's talking about B.

He means to talk about B, but he's talking about A because talking about A disguises his real intentions, opinions, and judgments and manipulation with regards to B.

So this is referential shift.

Dabell and Tondoy, word when he uses words or phrases, which are open to two, sometimes mutually exclusive interpretations or meanings. So the same word can mean this thing, can mean A or can mean B, but A and B can't be together. They're mutually exclusive. They contradict each other.

And yet he uses a word that can be interpreted in several ways or a phrase that can be interpreted in several ways. This is double meaning.

The next one is contextual drift.

Contextual drift is when the narcissist subtly, subterraneanly, imperceptibly alters, changes the context of the conversation. And by changing the context of the conversation, he changes the message and he changes the reality test. He reframes the whole thing even as you're listening and you're not aware of it because he's very good at what he does.

So suddenly you find yourself discussing something you had no intention to discuss. And you ask yourself, how did I get here? That's contextual drift.

Next one is manipulative speech, goal oriented utterances intended to impress or to accomplish aims, not to communicate.

There is misattribution or attribution errors, suggesting or preferring the wrong connections, the wrong links between alleged or ostensible motivations and intentions and actual actions.

So he interprets actions in terms of wrong motivations, wrong intentions. And in this way, he deflects blame, for example, or he casts his own actions in the best possible light, or he casts your actions in the worst possible light. He assigns roles and he assigns roles by misinterpreting, very often deliberately, intentions and motivations.

Some narcissists, small minority, are paranoid. So attribution errors are very common in paranoia and among conspiracy theories, they have psychological trait called conspiracism.

The next semantic device used in palidromic speech and hidden messages is circumstantial mitigation, an external locus of control, a victim stance, events conspire, a people collude to yield the misconduct.

And so he says, I misbehaved, what I did was wrong, but you're guilty. It's your fault. You pushed me to do it. Or circumstances made me do it, or I couldn't help myself, or something overcame, came over me. So there's an external locus of control. And there's a victim stance, events conspired, people colluded, and this gave rise to the misconduct. And he abrogates personal responsibility. He assumes the passive voice.

And finally, there's logical policies, simply very, very famous example is post hoc, ergo poctum hoc. In other words, if A had followed B, it means that A had caused B, which is absolutely wrong. It could be, but it doesn't have to be. Or correlation is causation, or reference to authority, or ad hominem attacks, and so on.

Now, since he uses logical malapropisms and policies to support his palindromic speech, and palindromic speech is efficacious, efficacious because the base rate of the base rate cognitive bias states in one of its renditions that people automatically fully believe 95% of what they are told, sight unseen, people don't bother to verify, they don't bother to cross check, they don't bother to confirm in 95% of the cases, they just take it for granted. They assume that most people are good, well intentioned. They assume that most people are good, that the world is benign, that people are not evil and malevolent and malicious. So they have a base rate cognitive bias, they accept.

And palindromic speech uses this vulnerability, this weakness, and that renders palindromic speech very efficacious.

And palindromic speech mitigates the ineluctable hurt and pain associated with truth telling.

Honestly, no one likes to hear the truth. People hate truth tellers, which is why I'm hated. I'm kidding you're not. I think I'm hated because I'm a truth teller.

So people hate truth tellers.

And palindromic speech caters to this bias. I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with the facts.

And so palindromic speech colludes with psychological defense mechanisms, such as denial. And with behaviors, such as reframing and avoidance, it is powerful, powerful, very powerful, psychodynamic allies inside you.

The narcissist co-ops, the narcissist works with leverages your own psychological defenses. That's what makes the narcissist speech so irresistible, so hurtful, so accomplished.


There are two other obstructive speech patterns, the hypothetical speech pattern, and the counterfactual speech pattern.

The narcissist borderline psychopath, they use hypothetical speech to test the waters, to see how their interlocutors would react to certain information.

So sentences like maybe, or possibly, or it could be that, or I think that, or I thought so but wasn't sure, these are all forms of exploratory excursions.

The narcissist and borderline psychopath, they're testing the waters. How are you going to react if they were to convert these sentences into certainties? How would you take it badly if they say something?

So they say, maybe I should have done this, maybe you should have done this. Maybe it's kind of deniable, a plausible deniability. I said it, but it just said maybe, you know, it's like someone insults you, humiliates you online, and then at the end they write just saying, you know.

So maybe X in the narcissist speech, maybe X means X had actually happened. X is the truth, but how do you feel about it? Maybe X, I'm testing.

Counterfactual speech is a lie or misinformation disguised as either a rhetorical question or a statement of settled and universally accepted fact. For example, maybe she flirted with me at the restaurant, but she didn't come to my room later that evening now, did she?

Well, that's a strong indicator that she did visit his room that night.

And so this is counterfactual speech.

There are three types of manipulative speech.

Victim speech, entitled demanding, dependent, transparent, whining, whining, grievances, grudges, that's victim speech. It's a manipulative type of speech.

Codependents and borderlines engage in this speech a lot, and so do narcissists.

Then there is child speech, entitled demanding, dependent, transparent, manipulative, naive, immature, fantastic. Narcissists have this.

And then there is a psychopathic speech, entitled envious, competitive, malicious, opaque, coded, dense, and multilayered.


Let's discuss a bit, lying and confabulation.

If their mouths are moving, they're lying.

Histrionics, borderlines, psychopaths, narcissists, they move their mouth, they're lying. They lie all the time. Their lies may be goal oriented, to secure money, to secure sex, to secure narcissistic supply, or the presence of the intimate partner. The lies may be intended to regulate grandiosity, or a labile sense of self-worth, to buttress a stance of victimhood, or simply because the forbidden and the illicit and the risky are thrilling and novelty.

And this is in case of serial cheaters who lie and deceive promiscuous attention-allergic people and so on.

So when you communicate with these types, what they say is largely irrelevant. The only relevant information is why they had chosen to say what they had said. So don't be attention to what they're saying. Ask yourself, why are they saying it?

The selection of lies, the choice of confabulations, is revealing, telling, and informative.

And the same applies in psychotherapy, by the way.

The anomic, the intake phase. In the intake phase, most patients confabulate. They offer narratives that are egosyntonic, self-justifying.

So what the patient says is not nearly as important or crucial or edifying as to why the patient had chosen to say what the patient had said.

The choices they make in telling their stories are much more important than the stories.

Narcissists lecture. They never talk. They seek to impress. They never communicate. They ignore other people's input. They actively suppress such input rather than listen.

The narcissist is so invested, so immersed in extracting narcissistic supply from his interlocutors, so concerned with dazzling them with his brilliance or with his sexual irresistibility, that the narcissist is oblivious to his body language, to his verbal cues, to his interjections, to events around him, or to the environment at large. It's a compulsion, obsessive.

The narcissist expostulates, hemming and hawing, pontificates, opines, defines, edifies, rectifies, rants and raves and rambles for hours on end, ceaselessly and breathlessly.

All of you have been exposed to the narcissist's monologues, unending monologues like this lecture, and always from a position of pompous self-importance and verbose superiority and for authority.

Yeah. People, his mum and numb audience, find the narcissist exhibitionistic, delusional and coercive grandiosity, so repellent, so off-putting, that they shun his unilateral company altogether at the end. That's why most narcissists are left alone.

These people can't stand them anymore.

But what about speech acts which are abusive? What happens with the narcissist, psychopath, borderline, never mind, abuse speech?

Not only use speech, but abuse speech.


Let's start with big picture evasiveness.

It's my mini day. Let's start.

Oh, it's minis day with me. Let's start with big picture evasiveness.

Narcissists hate details. Narcissistspedestrian. They concern themselves only with strategy, never with tactics.

Narcissists lay out in sweeping synoptic terms the big picture. They leave it to lesser inferior mortals like you to fill out and fill in the yawning gaps and to iron out the glaring inconsistencies in the narcissist's big picture and her brain skims.

Any attempt to involve the narcissist in the minutiae of decision-making and the give and take of human endeavor is perceived by the narcissist as coercion, a humiliating, ill-intentioned, and deliberate challenge to his grandiose self-perception, his false self.

The narcissist's unwillingness to dirty his hands with the routine, the mundane, virtually guarantee that his herbarian schemes, hastily laid plans, convoluted stratagems, guarantee that they will go awry, they will end in failure.

The narcissist's coercive delegation of tasks, the cascade of often contradictory instructions, the grandiosity, the aggressive superiority that characterizes expectations, his fantasies, his so-called planning, always alienate and infuriate his bosses, his underlings, his employees, his collaborators, his partners, his suppliers, his customers, his intimate partners.

Some narcissists end up acting all alone because of that.

And some of the victims of the narcissist, the recipients of his harangs and his hectoring and preaching and tirades and vitriol and diatribes, some of these victims end up acting passive aggressively, despite fully undermining the joint enterprise.

Others worn by the narcissist's aloofness and godlike detachment from reality simply give up on him. They go through the motions robotically awaiting the inevitable meltdown of the narcissist.


Then a second abusive speech act is alloplastic defenses and shifting the blame.

Narcissists are hyper-vigilant and consequently they misspeceive rejection and insults everywhere.

Not being sexually desired, not occupying the center of attention, not garnering narcissistic supply, not being the alpha male in the room of the most intelligent person in the group, all these constitute grave narcissistic injuries to the false self.

The psychopath, as distinct from the narcissist, is goal-oriented. So he regards the very same rejections as mere obstacles, challenges to be overcome.

He says to himself, I am not desired. I will render myself irresistible and I will make her jealous by triangulating, or I will just move on to the next target. I am not the center of attention, says the psychopath. If I want to, I will make sure that I am.

And so on.

So both narcissists and psychopaths are competitive. They are both hell-bent on winning and prevailing, but for different ends and reasons.

The narcissist seeks narcissistic supply, the psychopath seeks power, money, connections, position, sex, and so on. The narcissist seeks to secure an uninterrupted flow, regulated flow of narcissistic supply. The psychopath simply aims to accomplish and achieve goals.

Another facet shared by narcissists and psychopaths is their alloplastic defenses. They are never fully responsible. They are never to blame. They are never guilty, accountable. Their misconduct is never their own. They don't own their misconduct.

Narcissists who cheat on their spouses, for instance, they're likely to say, I was drunk, I was taken advantage of, or you made me do it, or I had no choice under the circumstances, but to act the way I did.

The psychopath will use the theory of just desserts. The psychopath will say, they deserve it. They had provoked me. They mistreated me. They acted stupidly, so they had it coming. Or I deserved it, so I took it. Or this is the way of the world, and I had to do what I did just in order to survive. A man has to do what a man has to do.


The third abusive speech act is much more famous. I was the first to incorporate gas lighting into narcissistic abuse in 1995. Gas lighting preceded, of course, my work in 1995.

You have descriptions of gas lighting as early as 1968 using the term gas lighting. But I was the first to introduce gas lighting into the discourse of narcissistic abuse when I coined the phrase narcissistic abuse.

So passive aggressive gas lighting is an abusive speech act. Nothing is more infuriating than the passive aggressive evasiveness or gas lighting of the narcissist or psychopath. It's like trying to hold on to a slimy goldfish. You can never catch, you can never kind of settle. There's no fixed point. Everything is in flux. Everything is kaleidoscopic. You can't get a straight answer. You can't get to the truth of what had happened.

If anything had happened, the narcissist and the psychopath denies that anything at all had happened. Then he parades a kaleidoscopic array of protean contradictory versions of what may actually have happened or occurred. Then he minimizes the meaning of what finally he grudgingly acknowledges had transpired.

Throughout this teeth extracting process, the narcissist implies that to dispute his claims or to doubt him is a sure sign of mental derangement and prove positive of an impaired reality testing or else it's malicious.

Having admitted wrongdoing, the narcissist, axiologically, refrains the transgression. In other words, he misattributes it to some values. He did nothing wrong in his book.

The values of the injured party are old fashioned, possessive, plain irrational. The other party is insanely jealous. The narcissist's misconduct is common or accepted where he comes from. It's a question of culture. He could not have acted differently under the circumstances and constraints of the moment. Isn't this understandable?

Why do you keep harping at it? Can't we let go? He had not premeditated intention to act the way he did. It just simply happened. It just happened because he was drunk or high or stressed or angry or sad or disappointed or lonely or miserable or something.

So it's never his fault. Things happen to the narcissist or the psychopath or the borderline. Things happen to them.

They are the passive receptacles and recipients of fate, destiny, institutions, other people.

And finally, the narcissist shifts the blame. A laplastic defense with an external locus of control. He shifts the blame. He shifts the blame. You're guilty. He guilt trips you.

The narcissist and psychopath was drunk, for example, was high. He was forced into acting the way he did. He was co-opted. He got taken advantage of. He was raped or she was raped. He was taken by surprise. He was gallibly taken advantage of. He'd been abused. He's the victim.

And then there's the perennial. It is all the victim's fault. It's all the fault of the party that was hurt. She made him do it. She misbehaved. She had abused him and provoked him and pushed him to misbehave, to misdeeds, to the brink of insanity, to the point of no return where he could no longer recognize himself. She drove him insane. Usurping the victim role is sure far a sign that the narcissist or psychopath has done something truly rotten or truly dangerous.

When the narcissist goes out, goes all out on the offensive, you know that he did something really, really bad.

Gaslighting by narcissists and psychopaths is surreal. It's disorienting. They lie reflexively with a straight face and without missing a bit.

The psychopath's prevarication frequently involves very convincing mimicry of other people's behaviors and effects. And this engenders an alternative, almost hallucinatory or nightmarish reality.

So I'll give you two simple rules.

Number one, the psychopath is never said, is always mad. Not said, mad and sometimes bad. He's mad at you.

And number two, when the psychopath says, I'm bad when he's ostensibly contrite and repentant, what he means to say is, I'm afraid. I'm afraid of the consequences of my action. Or I'm pissed off that I was found out. I'm very angry that I allowed myself to be caught red-handed, inflamatory.

So when the psychopath and the narcissist say, I'm bad, I'm sorry, it's my fault, I regret it, I'm remorseful, they don't mean this. They mean to say, too bad you found out.

As Cleckley wrote, Herve Cleckley wrote in his masterpiece, The Mask of Sanity, actions and behaviors are the psychopath's only true forms of communication.

Actions and behaviors are the narcissist's language.

We should therefore pay attention exclusively to what the psychopath and the narcissist do and utterly ignore absolutely everything they say.

So why do we often believe and trust narcissists and borderlines and psychopaths when they tell us what had happened? Why do we fall for their lies?

Because they're not lies.

Psychopaths prevaricate to secure goals. Narcissists and borderlines rarely do.

Most commonly, they confabulate. Confabulation is a desperate attempt to bridge dissociative memory gaps, lost time, blackouts.

The narcissist and borderline desperate to make sense of a discontinuous, disjointed, fragmented world. And to do this, they accomplish this. They build these bridges by extrapolating from past experiences and creatively generating a fiction, a narrative so as to what probably plausibly might have happened in the missing hours or minutes or days.

Confabulating is intended to both restore identity continuity and cohesion and to hide the missing segments in the narcissist or borderline's personal histories.

Confabulations effectively a form of false recall or false memories. Confabulations are irresistibly convincing and alluringly reassuring because the narcissist or borderline honestly and firmly believe that they're true.

And confabulations have the power of memories and they appear to be objective and authentic. They're always very likely, very plausible, even highly probable.

So they're easy to accept by all people, by all parties.

In many cases, there's a fourth reason.

The confabulation allows everyone involved to negate and efficaciously ignore a painful reality or an uncomfortable alternative scenario or set of facts.

We all, including the confabulator, want to believe the confabulation because it affords us comfort, secure, peace of mind.

Mouses and borderlines dissociate and then confabulate ceaselessly. It is easy to be drawn into their counterfactual alt-reality or universe. The twilight zone of their inventive probabilities, the psychotic realm of their discontinuous existence.

Confirmation bias does the rest.

Having committed ourselves to the narcissist or borderline's version of events, having entered the alternative universe, we filter out, we suppress all countervailing information and contradictory or challenging facts or possibilities.

Now, I want to find out online, so bear with me for a minute. I want to find online something I had written a while ago and read it to you because it's an example of what I'm saying.

And here's what I wrote.

Your wife dolls up. She grabs a bottle of liquor, excited, and she rushes out the door at 9.30pm. She says that she had been invited for a late dinner by a friendly couple. Do you believe her?

Belief is not the same as trust. Belief is purely cognitive, not emotional.

First, you have to care enough to scrutinize and contemplate the issue. If the outcome is of no importance to you, the resource-efficient path of least resistance is to believe.

Next, the facts must align with the belief. The facts cannot be blatantly counterfactual, contradict the belief. If the facts match a possible benign interpretation, you're likely to adopt this interpretation in order to reduce dissonance and hurt, owing to the deceit of your wife, so you're likely to adopt confirmation bias.

If you wish or if you're forced to maintain the status quo the way things are, turning a blind eye self-deception is actually the only viable option.

And finally, awareness and even vigilance are inversely proportional to the extent of idealization, splitting, projection, reframing, and other defense mechanisms.

You are far more likely to believe your wife if you're still idealizing her.

For example, eyes wide shut are conducive to belief. So this is an example of gaslighting and why we believe gaslighting and lies and confabulations.


I want to end with a general statement.

There's no reasoning with mentally ill. Mentally ill people cannot be reasoned with, cannot be analyzed with any rationality. This is because mentally ill people are capable of harboring, opposing dissonance and contradictory cognitions and emotions at the same time. This is called paradoxical thinking, hyper flexibility.

So the mentally ill person can at the same time believe two contradictory things, think two mutually exclusive things, feel ambivalently two conflicting emotions. You can't.

Bateson called it the double bind. Laying dubbed it the incompatible knot.

The speech acts and decisions of mentally ill people need to be deconstructed, not merely observed. From the outside, people with psychiatric or psychological problems appear to be impulsive, erratic, labile, unpredictable, anti-social, dis-regulated, disempathic, dangerous, heartless, mendacious, and egotistical.

But the truth is, mentally ill people are simply meandering along the conflicting paths of their psyche.

This fragmentation of the alienated self, this affecting emotional investing in internal rather than external objects may have to do with what Giddens call ontological insecurity. Even in patients with milder syndromes, such as personality disorders, there is a glaring absence of order, structure, continuity, cohesive identity, meaning, emotional stability, reduced anxiety, inconsistent positivity, or negativity. There's no consistency. It's not the balance that matters, it's consistency.

And such epic fault lines, fracturing, fragmenting impedes the evolution of a theory of mind. A world life and a world view destroys logic itself, undermines it.

We base our perceptions, our understanding of other people, on intersubjectivity. And we use empathy. It's mentalization, a theory of mind, we place ourselves in other people's shoes.

But it is a speculative system, of course. It is founded almost entirely on trust. It is based on honest self-reporting by other people regarding their inner mental states. It is based on correlations of these self-reports with observable actions and behaviors. This honest self-reporting leads to discrepancies with observables and these engendered disorientation, anxiety, induced dysfunctional responses in us. People with cluster B personality disorders, dramatic, erratic. These people consistently mislead, misrepresent their psychological self-states, their emotions, their cognitions, their self-reporting is fallacious. This prevarication has to do with identity disturbance, dissociative amnesia, contribulation and manipulative lying and gaslighting. And consequently, it's hopeless.

Yes, there is no point in trying to grasp, analyze, comprehend, understand, record, predict these personalities. These personalities do not possess a stable core and in many respects don't exist. There's an empty schizoid core there. There's emptiness. It's not negotiating with the void. It's like howling into deep space. They're either subjected to and at the mercy of labile and dysregulated winds of their moods or emotions, or they are no longer with us, steeped in delusions of grandeur with fantastic landscapes, pseudopsychotic, impaired reality testing. And in many cases, they're simply lying through their teeth.

So mother? And every word I said here is the truth. Maybe.

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