Background

Flat Attachment, Dreading Intimacy, and Defiant Promiscuity

Uploaded 10/18/2019, approx. 7 minute read

Everyone and his dog has an attachment style nowadays. It could be secure attachment, avoidant attachment, or anyone with a set of four types of attachments.

But the truth is that some people have what I call flat attachments. They are incapable of any kind of bonding, any kind of relatedness to other people at all. Flat attachments, people with flat attachments, regard other people as utterly interchangeable, replaceable, dispensable, objects, functions, nothing more. They commodify people, they treat them as commodities, like grains of rice.

All people look the same to them. When a relationship is over, people go through a period that I call latency. It's a period where people mourn to a defunct point.

People, members of the couple, members of the dyad, process the grief, experience withdrawal symptoms associated with the breakup.

But not so the flat attacher. Someone with a flat attachment transitions instantaneously, smoothly, abruptly, and seamlessly from one insignificant other to the next insignificant target.

People with flat attachments fully substitute a new found go lover, mate, or so-called intimate partner for the one they had discarded. The one who is usefulness has expired for whatever reason.

As you have already surmised, many narcissists and almost all psychopaths are flat attachments. They have flat attachment.

Long time ago, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth in 1995, I coined the phrase, idealize, devalue and discard. It is rare for me to admit an error, but I did commit it. I should have rather said, idealize, devalue, discard, and replace. Replace. That's the key word.

You see, attachment, of course, has to do with intimacy. And here's the time to say that my name is Saint Duchy, and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, a host of other books about personality disorders.

Attachment has to do with intimacy past intimacy and future intimacy. Attachment is forged in early childhood through relationships with primary caregivers and primary objects, also known as parents. Attachment determines one's ability to engage in intimacy, to create and participate in intimate relationships.

And to some people, intimacy is like kryptonite, both sought after and dreaded and feared. The result is an intricate and crazy-making dance, dubbed, approach-avoidance-repetition-compulsion.

Another aspect of this ambivalence, this love towards intimacy and hatred of intimacy, rather aspect is what I call the menu scraps dichotomy. Those who truly seek intimacy want the entire menu of interpersonal togetherness. They want intensive talking. They want romanticized sex. They want it all.

But the intimacy challenge, the people with flat attachment, make do and are fully satisfied with scraps. They feel threatened and overwhelmed by the totality of the intimacy menu. They want to just taste, have a taste of things. They don't want the main dishes. They get by on occasional snippets of talk, on rare sex, and on swaths of personal space and time apart.

The two types of people, the intimacy challenge and those who seek intimacy, the intimacy start. They are utterly incompatible. They make each other profoundly unhappy. And yet, oddly, they are inexorably attracted and drawn to each other.

The menu types are parental fixes by nature. And the scraps crave the unbridled and unconditional intimacy preferred by their antithesis by the menu people.

They dread the intimacy, but they still seek it.

Mixed couples, flat attaches and deep attaches. Mixed couples invariably end up in a mushroom cloud of agonizing mayhem and unmitigated catastrophe. They may drive each other to insanity, or even to suicidal ideation, or actual suicide. At the very least, they subject each other, one another, to excruciating pain.

As the menu tries to alter and modify the scraps, and the scraps withdraws further and further and resorts to desperate measures, such as cheating or reckless behaviors, in order to undo the bond and revert to pristine loneliness. When rejected or abused, women, for example, overeat or abuse substances. And that's a perfect example, where flat attachment leads to outlandish and extreme outcomes.

Because, as I said, most women would overeat or abuse substances.

But a minority of women self-medicate with men. They hook up with friends, former flames or even total strangers for some good time for some sex, casual sex. It helps them to restore their self-esteem, regulate or doubt their negative emotions, buttress their femininity, stabilize their labile sense of self-worth.

Intimacy, however, is a different issue. Never mind how transient, limited or fake, even if merely physical, it does wonders to the assertiveness and resilience of such women, the flat attaches.

In some cases, such conduct involves defiant, in-your-face, rage-infused cheating on the internet bubble.

And so that's an example of how flat attaches react to the stresses of typical relationships.


But such misconduct has three other goals.

First of all, to hurt, to cause excruciating pain, to grievously and often publicly offend and humiliate the rejecting or abusive counterparty or the counterparty that is perceived as rejecting and abusing.

Because flat attaches, being narcissists and psychopaths of history, are very often hyper-vigilant. They find insults and humiliation when there's none or none intended.

The second reason for such behavior is to elicit a reaction, any reaction, from the indifferent and dismissive spouse or mate.

And this is usually done by ostentatious triangulation.

The third reason is to win points in the never ending power play of one upmanship and breakmanship between the misbehaving woman and the husband per date or boyfriend.

The flat attached women, the women with flat attachment, who default to this kind of choice, are able to engage in emotionless and casual sex. They are often histrionic.

Today we think of histrionic personality disorder as the female variant of psychopathy. That's the latest thinking in the field.

These women lack impulse control. They suffer from emotional dysregulation. She's also common among borderlines, trauma victims with PTSD or extreme complex symptoms, CPTs.

And of course when I talk about women, it's an example of flat attachment that is somewhat sexist.

Because this equally applies to histrionic men.

Only the number of histrionic women is much smaller than the number of histrionic men.

So this particular example applies much more to women than to men.

But men undermine intimacy in other ways, for example, by being passive aggressive or by being outright abrasive or by conspicuously cheating or in many other ways.

Flat attaches regardless of gender, male or female, men and women.

Being incapable of attachment feels threatened by it.

Intimacy within a relationship, especially if there's a child, this imprisonment has been put in shackles.

So to free themselves from this perception of being a hostage or a prisoner, these people would do anything. They would use nuclear weapons. They would soul murder others. They would hurt, they would defend, they would do anything.

The extremes to which flat attaches are willing to go in order to free themselves from intimacy, these extremes are absolutely mind-boggling. The things I've seen and the things I've experienced defy description.

Flat attachment is first becoming a global social problem. With technologies such as dating apps, social pressures, cultural pressures, disintegration of institutions such as family and community, people become atomized, alienated, isolated.

Incentive to become a flat attacher increases the rewards for being a flat attacher on the rise.

And as Skinner taught us in behaviorism, rewards dictate performance, dictate behavior patterns.

We are all becoming more and more incapable of true attachment. We are all in a way becoming flat attachments.

And in this particular sense at least, we are all becoming more and more narcissistic and even more and more psychopathic.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Mortification in Borderline Women, Narcissistic Men: Let Me Go, Give Me Life

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses mortification in borderline women and how it differs from mortification in narcissistic men. Both narcissists and borderlines have a false self, but the functions of the false self differ between the two. In narcissists, the false self serves as a decoy and a manipulative tool, while in borderlines, the false self functions as a host personality, moderating and switching between self-states. Mortification in borderlines is self-inflicted and serves as a way to feel alive, create drama, and experience transformation. When mortified, borderlines either disappear through dissociation or make others disappear through psychopathic behavior. In contrast, narcissists seek mortification to temporarily get rid of their false self and feel liberated.


Mourning Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of prolonged grief disorder (PGD), previously known as complicated grief, which is characterized by an inability to move on from a loss. He explains that grief can become a central organizing principle in a person's life, leading to a constricted existence and an inability to enjoy life. Vaknin suggests that everyone experiences prolonged grief at some point, and it is considered pathological if it lasts longer than a year. He also delves into the relationship between narcissists and their victims, describing how narcissists can induce a state of prolonged grief in their victims by offering a simulation of unconditional love and then withdrawing it, leaving the victim feeling abandoned and mourning the loss of the relationship, which was never real to begin with. Vaknin emphasizes the importance of separating from the narcissist both physically and mentally to break the symbiotic relationship and begin the process of healing and individuation.


Grieving Your Dead Narcissist

In this transcript, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the phenomenon of grieving the death of a narcissist. He explains that prolonged grief syndrome is typical of ex-partners who were or are narcissists and that closure becomes impossible when the narcissist dies. The grieving process is complicated by the narcissistic abuse, which is an invasion, a breach of boundaries, and a torment intended to modify behavior to the point of vanishing. The narcissist's absence in relationships and internal emptiness are on full display when he dies, and the introject of the narcissist is extremely active, taking over the mind of the grieving person.


Brain Injury, Head Trauma, Personality Disorders

Head trauma can cause temporary narcissistic behaviors and traits, but it cannot induce a full-fledged personality disorder. People with brain injuries may acquire traits and behaviors typical of certain personality disorders, but head trauma never results in a long-term personality disorder. Medical conditions can activate a narcissistic defense mechanism, and certain disorders, like bipolar disorder, are characterized by mood swings that are not brought about by external events. The biochemistry of narcissistic personality disorder is not well understood, but there seems to be some vague link to serotonin.


Alzheimer's Narcissist Dementias Of Absence

Dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to cognitive decline and memory loss. The impact of dementia on narcissistic individuals is particularly devastating, as it challenges their sense of self and exposes their vulnerabilities. The decline in cognitive function and the loss of narcissistic supply lead to withdrawal, depression, and aggressive behavior. Research suggests a link between narcissistic traits and an increased risk of developing dementia. Ultimately, dementia becomes a formidable adversary for the narcissist, leading to a profound sense of loss and despair.


Passive-Aggressive (Negativisitic) Patient Therapy Notes

The negativistic, passive-aggressive personality disorder is not a formal diagnosis in the psychiatric community, but it is widely diagnosed and treated. In a simulated therapy session, Mike, a 52-year-old male diagnosed with negativistic or passive-aggressive personality disorder, attends therapy at the request of his wife. Mike is emotionally absent and aloof, and he regards psychotherapy as a form of conartistry. He admits to being unappreciated and underpaid at work, and he believes that he deserves more than that. Mike is a cantankerous curmudgeon who sulks and gets into arguments.


Repentant Narcissist, Therapist Must Accept Diagnosis ( 12 Steps Of Narcissists Anonymous)

Therapists are hesitant to label and stigmatize their patients, but the narcissist must accept their diagnosis for any chance of growth and healing. The 12 steps of Narcissist Anonymous are outlined as a way for narcissists to come to terms with their condition and limit the damage they cause to themselves and others. The steps involve admitting powerlessness over narcissism, making amends, and seeking to improve conscious contact with the false self. While narcissism cannot be cured, these steps offer a way to contain its effects.


Lidija and Sam: The Tide of Narcissism (1st in Series "Fly on the Wall")

Social media blurs the line between virtual and real reality, leading to addiction and confusion. The positive reward system of likes and shares encourages extreme behavior and radicalization. Social media creates a clash between reality and virtual or augmented reality, and the false self is unique on social media, not the real self. Narcissists use social media as an addiction to maintain their grandiosity and avoid disintegration.


Narcissists and Negativistic (Passive-Aggressive) Personality Disorder

The negativistic, passive-aggressive personality disorder is not yet recognized by the committee that is cobbling together the diagnostic and statistical manual. People diagnosed with a negativistic passive-aggressive personality disorder resemble narcissists in some important respects. Despite the obstructive role they play, passive-aggressives feel unappreciated, underpaid, cheated, discriminated against, and misunderstood. Passive-aggressives may be sullen, irritable, impatient, argumentative, cynical, skeptical, and contrarian.


Narcissists Fear Therapy

Narcissists cannot cure themselves, and gaining insight into the disorder is not the same as healing. The best way for a narcissist to help themselves is by resorting to a mental health professional, but even then, the prognosis is dim. The therapeutic situation implies a superior/inferior relationship, which is difficult for the narcissist to accept. The narcissist must shed his false self and face the world naked, defenseless, and to his mind pitiful.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy