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Hallucinatory Payback for Narcissist's Real Mother (with psychotherapist and author Kathleen Saxton)

Uploaded 12/8/2023, approx. 55 minute read

And you would just have to do that, everything that you wanted.

That's just how it's supposed to be.

So in a way, we're going to go through the last chapter, the initial two and the final two, and then we'll go through the next chapter.


So, Professor, I am in the process of writing a book myself. I'm also been a psychotherapist for around 10 years, but I'm no academic like you.

And clearly there has been so much begun to be written about this condition and the broader form of dark triad and narcissism, etc.

My personal view is that you are the most deeply researched and poignant in this space. And there's a lot of cranks on TikTok and various other places that I'm sure are trying to be helpful, but I certainly haven't found them that helpful in my own study.

So I wanted to come to you as a real source, as I'm beginning to write, to make sure that I get it right, because I'm concerned that in some ways proliferating what's wrong is not a great thing.

I've got about 13, 14 questions, if that's okay.

How much of your discourse?

I wanted to start really with the broadest question, which is there appears to be a huge rise in either the number of people that are being diagnosed or suspected of narcissism, but certainly it's being written about.

I know you've talked about between 5 and 7% of the population.

I'm just wondering in your view, is there an increase in people that are adopting or having these issues or is it more our understanding is increasing or a mixture of the two?


Well, first of all, the figures are a bit different.

It's 1% in the general population, people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. It's 1% in the general population, 5 to 7% in the clinical population.

When you say clinical, Sam, what do you mean?

People who are in inpatient clinics, outpatient clinics, in therapy on a regular basis, having been diagnosed with other mental health issues and so on and so forth.

Bear in mind that narcissistic personality disorder is very often comorbid with other mental health issues.

We find narcissism with borderline personality disorder, with mood disorders, with bipolar disorder, etc.

The people with pure, pure-bred narcissists, narcissists who have only this diagnosis, narcissistic personality disorder, are almost nowhere to be found because at the very minimum they would be abusing substances, for example, or they would be suffering from depression, or they would have episodes of emotional dysregulation and so on and so forth.

This, of course, reflects very badly on the diagnostic and statistical manual because such levels of comorbidity imply that the clinical entities, the diagnoses within this book are somehow erroneous. They are delimited wrongly.

The differential diagnoses are not clear enough. They're fuzzy.

Now, we have a new approach.

When I say we are in the profession, I'm not a therapist. I'm teaching clinical psychology.

So now we have a new approach.

That new approach says there's a single personality disorder with various manifestations throughout the lifespan and in reaction to stressors and life circumstances and changing environments.

So you would have a personality disorder.

Under certain circumstances, you would become emotionally dysregulated because you have been narcissistically injured or mortified, and then you would qualify to be diagnosed as a borderline. And then you would be anticipating abandonment and rejection and betrayal, and you would act in a very cruel, ruthless and callous manner. You would be reckless and defiant and contumacious, hateful of authority. That would make you a psychopath.

So everyone goes through every conceivable personality disorder once they have been diagnosed with a personality disordered personality organization.

In the vast majority of people, luckily for us, this construct, which is a bit of an artificial construct, the personality, seems to have a core and seems to be stable across the lifespan and seems to be predictable.

And to some extent rigid in a good way, with boundaries.

That's in the vast majority of healthy people.

But in people with personality disorder, none of this applies. Everything is chaotic and disorganized.

And so they're trying to compensate for this by imposing external rigidity. Everything inside is mayhem and tumult and the deluge.

So they're compensating for this by acting very rigidly and very robotically and very algorithmically.

That's their way of somehow maintaining control over the void and the insanity raging inside and seething inside themselves.

Yes.

But I understand.

What's interesting for me is that whenever there's a diagnosis of borderline that I observe, there's a lot of sympathy and empathy towards that individual knowing what a difficult life they are leading.

I noticed the opposite of those that get diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, that there's often an immediate dislike towards that individual as if they have a choice versus the borderline.

Would you say that's true and why that might be?

First, I think I already answered your first question.

And the answer is that we bandy about, we mislabel people as narcissists. We simply call them narcissists when they are essentially jerks or a-holes.

Just a bit selfish. We had a fight with them or we divorced them or something. They instantly become narcissists.

There hasn't been a rise in the corresponding rise in the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder in clinical settings with one exception.

And this exception are people under age 25. People under age 25, the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder and similar disorders did increase. I would even say increased dramatically.

And this has been attributed by scholars like Twenge and Campbell and others. This has been attributed to the exposure to social media and more generally, more broadly to screens.

The divorce from reality inhabiting a fantasy world. That is the essence of pathological narcissism.

Pathological narcissism is not about being nasty to people or being mean to people. Pathological narcissism is a withdrawal into a defense fantasy when reality becomes burdensome or even intolerable.

And this is the true self, full self, idealized self at play large, right?

Yes.

Well, the true self has been sacrificed usually in the narcissistic pathology has been sacrificed very early on between the ages of three and or maybe even two between the ages of two and six.

Yeah.

And in its place, what took its place was a divinity, a deity.

So this is a form of primitive religion. It's the way a child would conceive, would conceive God.

So a child, a child creates a false self, which is essentially a Godhead. And then the child sacrifices his true self to this Godhead, which is human sacrifice. And then the child continues to worship this deity throughout his life, having become an adult.

So narcissism is a much more onerous condition than borderline. Much more difficult.

Yeah.

In my view, narcissists, and here I beg to differ with Otto Kernberg. In my view, narcissists are much closer to psychosis than borderlines.

In borderline, psychosis is limited in time and it's usually in the form of reactive micro episodes.

Yeah.

The psychosis in borderline involves dissociation, amnesia, depersonalization, derealization. These are difficult things. Of course they are.

But throughout the borderline's life, psychosis is rare. It's pretty rare.

While the narcissist is in a constant psychotic state, the narcissist cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy at all.

And the narcissist converts every meaningful external object, every meaningful person into an internal object with which the narcissist continues to interact.

Narcissists are no longer with us.

No.

So narcissism is much, much worse condition than borderline. Much more difficult to endure.

Yes.

Much more painful and so on and so forth.

Yeah.

Good to understand.

Okay.


My next question again is blunt and you'll give me a yes or no, I suspect.

I'm curious around the connection within diagnosis or even suspicion around covert narcissism and the avoidant personality type.

Is there a correlation between the two?

I've observed that maybe there is in my limited clinical experience and I've just wondered what you think about that.

I think there's a question of cart and horse.

I think being avoidant might lead to the development of covert narcissism as a compensatory mechanism.

Yes.

Similar, for example, to autism spectrum disorder.

I was going to ask you about that too.

Yeah.

There's similarities of lack of empathy and things that can present in all of them.

Yeah.

But the autistic child is usually rejected by parental figures, by peers, by siblings.

This rejection is very difficult to endure.

And so the autistic child is very likely to develop pronounced narcissistic defenses and in extreme cases become a narcissist.

I think similarly people with anxiety disorders or depressive disorders might become narcissists.

I think people with avoidant personality disorder or social phobia or social anxiety might become narcissists.

To cut a long story short, narcissism is a way to compensate for shortcomings, dysfunctions and similar mental health problems.

Therefore narcissism is much more universal than we think.

Yes.

Although we must distinguish between pathological narcissism and what Len Sperry calls narcissistic style.

Yes.

Many, many people who have narcissistic style.

We estimate 10 to 15% of a population have narcissistic style.

Narcissistic style simply means diminished empathy, tendency to exploit other people, lack of awareness and sensitivity, lack of ability to put yourself in other people's shoes.

That's not exactly empathy. It's a lack of ability to imagine other people or to other, to regard them as other, etc.

This is narcissistic style and we all from time to time degenerate or deteriorate or devolve into a narcissistic style.

That is not the narcissistic pathology because someone with a narcissistic style is able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality and does interact with external objects.

Yes.

And it feels that those that work or deal with narcissists, whenever they challenge that fantasy in any form, that is when often they really feel the annihilation or the attempt of annihilation from that individual.

It feels that anyone tampering with something they truly believe or has to be true for them. That often feels the time when they most feel the heat of that.

Would that be fair?

The most recent development in the field is the realization that the only true narcissist is someone who's very fragile and has a disrupted, disintegrated self.

Therefore has no ego, actually.

Narcissist ironically, I'll selfless.

So this kind of person is teetering on the brink of self extinction.

Everything is precariously balanced.

This kind of person cannot afford any challenge, any undermining of the elaborate construction that he had labored for decades to create.

Any challenge to this would be perceived as an act of hostility and enmity.

And so you become the enemy. You become something called the secretary object. You become the enemy.

And you know, it's a war.

Yeah, I saw your post on that just the other day.

Narcissist lashes out.

Narcissist, first of all, devalues.

By devaluing you, he renders your input insignificant.

And then he attempts to eliminate you, to eliminate the source of frustration.

This has been first discovered in 1939 by Dole.

Dole described what he called the frustration-aggression hypothesis.

He says that frustration creates inevitably, inexorably creates aggression.

And so you frustrate the narcissist by even hinting that his perception of others, of the world and of himself is somehow either incomplete or fundamentally flawed.

Yes, understood.

The conversations around psychopathy and I always forget, sociopathy, is that the right word?

It feels, is that a spectrum?

Do people tip from one to the other? Do they work up and down those?

Because often again, you feel sometimes it's on the sadistic behaviors and it starts to edged into different levels of behavior.

Again, what's your view on that?

Do people, can people work up and down them? Do they promote themselves up and down? Do they get worse with age? What's your view? Are they very distinct conditions?

Well, this may come as a shock to you and to the viewers.

There is no such thing as psychopathy or sociopathy. These are not recognized diagnosis or clinical entities.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Committee has rejected four separate times over 30 years.

The possible diagnosis of psychopathy, having weighed all the evidence for a total, a grand total of 25 years.

So these are not, online and a bit offline, we have many terms that appear to be clinical, but actually are not and are not supported by any evidence or studies.

On these terms, we have empaths, a nonsensical self-aggrandizing label. We have emotional flashbacks, total nonsense.

A flashback is reviviveness. Flashback is when you have an experience that is indistinguishable in your mind from reality.

And so on. There's a whole vocabulary of non-sensical clinical labels, pseudo clinical labels, which are not accepted in academia or in the literature.

Sociopathy has infiltrated the literature to some extent and so did psychopathy because I think they do describe real phenomena.

However, the DSM committee has been right to reject them as clinical entities because psychopaths and sociopaths are not mentally ill.

Psychopathy and sociopathy are lifestyles. They are choices to resist society, its edicts, social mores, conventions, norms, rules. They're a choice to act by defiance, to adopt defiance as a main mode of communication.

In short, they represent a personality type rather than a mental health pathology.

To understand that difference given the DCM and the IC10, etc., I understand.


So, okay, that's really helpful to know. And interesting, as you say, that there's a choice rather than it's a mental illness that has some lack of control to some degree.

To some extent, even overt, grandiose narcissism is a choice.

Yes.

This is why today the cutting edge or the bleeding edge of the profession, we suggest that overt grandiose narcissists are actually psychopaths.

And the only true type of narcissist is what used to be called the covert narcissist or the compensatory narcissist in Theodore Millon's work.

This is the only real narcissist with a fragile inner environment, vulnerable, very, very hyper-vigilant, and so on and so forth.

And this kind of narcissist compensates with overt grandiose statements and so on and so forth.

The overt narcissist, the narcissist who feels good with himself, the narcissist who feels comfortable with his own self-imputed superiority, and so on.

This kind of narcissist may well be a psychopath.

And I can prove easily that these are choices because when the narcissist ends up in prison, all his narcissistic behaviors vanish.

If there's no audience, it's very impressive.

Not only a question of audience, being if you were to act narcissistically in prison, this would have an impact on your longevity and life expectancy.

It's a dangerous environment.

The victims are not so malleable and not so submissive.

So if you were to try to exercise your superiority and haughtiness and exploitativeness and lack of empathy in prison, you wouldn't survive for long.

And so when narcissists enter prison, most of their behaviors vanish.

I would say, they become indistinguishable from healthy people, normal people.

So it's clearly a behavioral choice, or at least a behavioral choice is involved.

This is not the case with covert narcissists.

Covert narcissists, regardless of the environment, are always seething with resentment and envy. They're always passive-aggressive and so on and so forth.

Understood.

And so the belief for you is that for a covert narcissist, for example, they have an early life experience.

You don't believe there's any genetic and no one's born with this?

Well, we have no proof that there is a genetic component, nor do we have any serious study that connects pathological narcissism to any type of brain abnormality.

However, it definitely stands to reason that there is a predisposing genetic element in narcissism.

And the reason is simple. Ten children are exposed to the same parenting style with the same parents.

Only one of them becomes a narcissist.

Why?

If narcissism were an ineluctable response to parental abuse and trauma, we would have expected all of them to become narcissists, and yet only one does.

And so that's not the true statistic. The true statistic is that only one of 100 does.

Yeah.

OK.

So there's good reason to believe that there is a genetic predisposition.

Yes, understood.


And trauma bonding, the term.

First of all, how do you feel about it?

I think there is a case.

Again, it's not a recognized clinical entity. You can't find it in the ICD or DSM or in a lot of literature.

So it's a bit of a hype.

But I think there is a case to be made that intermittent reinforcement breeds dependency on the source of the reinforcement.

Yes.

So if you are being treated by someone in a way that is capricious, arbitrary, unpredictable, potent cold, love you, hate you, you would become dependent on that person for your own internal regulation, regulation of emotions, your moods and so on.

And this, I think, would constitute a form of attachment or a form of bonding.

But the element we neglect in trauma bonding is the fact that it is a form of self-harm.

Self-harming. The victim mutilates herself via the trauma bond.

Yes.

The victim keeps coming back for more, more pain, more torture, more degradation, more humiliation.

And this is a form of self-harming.

We know, for example, there is an addictive element or dependency element between the borderline and her self-cutting, her cutting behaviors.

Yes.

Sexual self-trashing, promiscuous behaviors.

Yeah.

So there is an addiction here.

And I would say that trauma bonding is a misleading term. It would have been much more appropriate to use the term trauma addiction.

Yes, I agree.

And what I think is interesting, given the number of people I've worked with around this, is there are no groups. There is no N/A or A/A or CODA.

And I think often I see people searching around for a group that they can go to because of this form of addiction.

Should there be 12 steps? Should there be whatever comes with it?

And I wonder if there's still something like that that might need to be created.

I'm curious.


First, we need to recognize it as an addiction.

Yes.

The problem is that we, and when I say we, I mean scholars, academics, the public at large, everyone, we have difficulty understanding that a relationship could be a form of addiction, exactly like alcohol. Exactly like Coke, exactly like heroin. A relationship could become indistinguishably addictive.

Yes.

Exactly like any form of substance abuse.

Yes.

We haven't come, we're not there yet. That's why we use the terms, you use terms like trauma bonding or idealization.

We try to make sense of the insensible. We try to make sense of the incredible.

And we seek for people. And I think that adds to the isolation, doesn't it?

Because friends and family don't understand why you don't just leave him or her, but actually they don't understand there's something deeper going on.

But also what was already going on for that person, for them to even meet with and stay with that narcissist in the first place.

And then where's the self responsibility in that?

So I'm curious about that.

People have talked about the neuro wiring, the effect of, I don't like the word victim, survivor, let's say, but it is a victim, I suppose, that does it, does it change permanently their own wiring in their mind if they spend long times in these?

No.

Okay.

There is no trauma that changes the brain wiring permanently.

The brain is neuroplastic and even traumas in early childhood can be reversed.

Not fully.

They, for example, in post-traumatic stress disorder, the neuroplasticity allows for 70% of the brain's wiring to be reversed. So it's not total. There are traces left, trauma traces left. And you're likely, for example, to experience flashbacks because some parts of the brain remain untouched.

But there is no such thing as trauma that changes your brain forever.

And that's it. That's good news, Russell.

Okay. Shared fantasy. I've heard you talking about this a little bit more. And obviously it's in your book as well.

Just wanted to make sure that's fully understood, Sam.

So this is around both parties having a projected view of what this might be and both playing into it and trying to make it real.

No, it's far more complex than this.

The concept of shared fantasy has first been described by Sander in 1989.

I can't take the credit. The shared fantasy is an agreement struck between usually the narcissist, but also the borderline in most cases.

But usually the narcissist and his potential intimate partner or source of supply.

Now the shared fantasy involves a conversion of the partner into a dual role. A maternal figure and a child.

So the narcissist converts the partner into a mother substitute and at the same time acts as a mother substitute.

And this is my dual mothership principle.

And then the narcissist allows the partner to experience herself in an idealized form, which is extremely addictive.

She sees herself. She perceives herself through the narcissist gaze. And in the narcissist gaze, she's perfect. She's flawless. She's supreme. She's drop dead gorgeous. She's hyper intelligent and so on.

And this is this, of course, is irresistible.

So he becomes a pusher of this drug. He becomes her exclusive source of idealized self perception. And she experiences an extreme form of self infatuation through him.

And when he does this, the narcissist is acting as a mother. He's providing unconditional love for a mother to survive the infancy of her children.

She must idealize them. Raising children sucks big time. It's a really horrible thing.

So she must divorce from reality for a while. She must idealize the children, the babies.

This is what the narcissist does to his partner. He regresses her to her infancy.

And then he realizes her the way a mother does. And she has the capacity for a second childhood in which she's perceived and loved as a perfect being.

An irresistible proposition. Her role is to act as the narcissist's mother.

But that is to her to her detriment because the narcissist wants to reenact his conflicts with his original mother through her.

So he imports all his baggage into the shared fantasy. And she pays the price for the abuse and trauma that the narcissist has suffered as a child.

Because now she is his new mother and all mothers, all mothers should be punished for what his mother did to him.

And so this is why devaluation and discard are elements built in features of the shared fantasy.

They don't happen because the couple falls out or whatever.

The fantasy's main goal, only goal, is to devalue and discard the partner the way that narcissist wish he had done to his original mother.

His actual mother.

Yeah.

A process known as separation and individuation, which is essentially a healthy process. It's healthy.

I know when I studied our chemical process in my own training, the separation side of it was very important in order to become an adult's true self.

And the narcissist's mother did not allow him to separate and individuate.

He remained enmeshed with her.

He is in a symbiotic state.

Yes.

And so his only way is to find another mother and separate from her.

But why would he separate from this other mother, from this new mother?

Why would he do that?

Because she's bad. She's evil. She's imperfect.

So he has to devalue. He has to devalue her in order to separate from her.

That's really helpful and will help me in my work as well.

So thank you for that.


The next thing is actually involving enmeshed, Sam.

And this is quite a sensitive question and probably an unpopular question.

I've had some experiences of single parents who are displaying very strong narcissistic traits who appear to then enmesh with their eldest child in some form as a replacement almost for the absent parent and for their narcissistic wishes, I suppose, to be installed in that child and the child to not really understand that they've been fully enmeshed in with the parents. So they almost become part of a couple, if you like.

Do we see that?

Is that a trait? Is that a possibility?

Have I spotted something here that could be happening?

Yes.

This is called parentification.

Yes.

Parentification or a word I have coined adultification is when you force the child to act as an adult would.

And then as an adult, when you coerce the child into the role of a substitute spouse, and then the child becomes your confidant, you confide in the child, you share with the child all your tribulations and vicissitudes and ups and downs and so on. The child becomes the receptacle of your negative affectivity. The child becomes a receptacle of shame, the receptacle of guilt. The child is there to comfort you.

So the child begins to perceive itself as responsible for the well-being of the parent. It's a child's fault if the parent is depressed or unhappy or child must have been doing something wrong. So there's a lot of guilt involved in this and a perception of inadequacy, which lasts for life.

Parentified children always feel that they've done something wrong. They could have acted better. They could have made different choices. They could have and they feel the responsibility. They're responsible for everyone's happiness. Everyone's well-being. I see lots of perfectionism in there, which obviously leads off into high anxiety for that child as well.

Because here's the thing. A child can never act satisfactorily as an adult.

A child is not an adult.

A child does not have adult skills, does not have adult experience and so on.

So the parent is setting the child up for failure. The child will inevitably fail in this role assigned to it by the parent.

Perfection is about rendering the child a loser in a failure on a constant basis.

So the child then aspires to perfection because only perfect people don't fail.

Perfectionism becomes a...

And of course, many of these children compensate by becoming narcissists.

If they cannot be perfect in reality, they can be perfect in fantasy.

And then the parent acquires the status of an imaginary friend within a paracosm.

The child becomes a godlike figure, a god that can guarantee the parent's happiness, well-being, contentment and success and everything as a god, as a perfect being.

On the other hand, the parent has to reciprocate by becoming the child's sole social circle, an imaginary friend.

Yeah. I've seen this.

And then it becomes enmeshed and it's a realistic situation.

The best depiction of this is in the movie Psycho, Hitchcock's, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. That's the best depiction of this kind of relationship.


One step further and into the darkness, Sam, also emotional incest that couldn't come from that too.

Again, is that something that's written about, accepted?

Again, I've seen some situations where there has been erotic transference and other things between child and parent further down the road in relationships like this.

I think it was Freud who first enlightened us to the fact or reminded us of the fact that a mother is a woman and a son, her son is a man in the making.

Similarly, of course, a daughter is a woman in the making.

Yes, electrically, here we are.

Sexual tension within families is inevitable. It's always there. It's under the surface. It's held back via societal taboos and of course legal ramifications should you act on your impulses.

But the impulses are always there.

In an environment where there are no checks and balances, for example, there's no balance, there's no gender balance. In an environment where, for example, the single mother is a mother, but there's no man, there's no male. And the only male is the son.

In such an environment, this lack of checks and balances would lead inevitably to erotic tension.

And if the people involved are either too young or unboundary, they're not in boundaries. This could lead to actual incest.

Incest is more likely, I would say, although there's no statistics. There are no statistics because of political correctness. Incest has been very compromised by political correctness. So they're not being able to test for things because it's too important.

If you submit a research proposal saying, I want to check whether incest is much more common among single parent families, you lose your tenure and job.

As simple as that.

I want to check if there is a discrepancy in IQ between black people and white people. Forget about it. It's a legitimate research proposition, but it's off limits.

And so I think, but this is pure speculation, that emotional incest and actual incest is much more common in single parent families than in nuclear, classic nuclear families, let alone.

So emotional incest is the ambient unspoken message.

Yeah.

That the parentification and adultification of the child should include or does include the assumption of spousal roles.

Yes.

Which inevitably lead to intimacy.

At first, non-sexual intimacy, but all non-sexual intimacy leads to sexual intimacy.

I mentioned even prison.

Yes.

In prison, evidently, it leads to sexual intimacy.

Okay.

I think sexuality is simply the body's way of transmitting and communicating intimacy.

Yes.

Yeah.

When there is an emotional intimacy because you could have physical intimacy and other thoughts, but emotional intimacy.

Yes.

Okay.

Understood.


So in regards to the partners of these people, Sam, what do you see as the most common wound, if you like, that they have carried coming in?

Are there certain things within self-worth, identification, whatever, that seem to be quite common in people that fall for these narcissists and or indeed stay with them?

We must make a very important distinction here.

Nasties don't have a favorite type.

The Nasties online, the narcissists prefer empathic people or kind people or nice people.

This is nonsense because Nasties are incapable of spotting empathy. If it were to fall on their head, they wouldn't spot it. They don't like nice people and kind people. They regard them as weak.

Weak, yes.

So this is complete nonsense.

The narcissist wants four things from you, sex, services, supply, narcissistic supply, and safety. That's it.

And he doesn't want all four at once. Two out of four would do. If you provide two out of these four things, regardless of your age, height, education, empathy, kindness, personal traits, none of these matters. It's like an internet service provider. You don't really care who is behind your internet.

Okay, so this is the Nasties.

However, it is true. It is true. Certain people would tend to gravitate towards Nasties. It's a fantasy that the narcissist offers and so on. I think these people, not to elaborate about it, these people are number one, masochists, people who regard pain as desirable.

Number two, people with self-love deficiency or lack of self-love, and they experience vicarious self-love through the narcissist gaze.

Number three, people who have had conflicted relationships with their, especially mother, but not only, mother or father, parental figure, and try to reenact the parental environment with the narcissist.

Narcissists are great at being daddies, at being, you know, because they project authority and confidence and trust. They're very misleading. Narcissism is false advertising.

So there is this issue.

The fourth issue, people who prefer fantasy to reality. So people would gravitate to the narcissist's offering of fantasy.

The fifth type of a person who would gravitate to the narcissist is someone who is himself or herself narcissistic grandiose. And so they would garner narcissistic supply vicariously by proxy through the narcissist.

Codependency would be attracted to narcissists because narcissists are easily controlled from the bottom.

Codependency is a control disorder. It's about controlling. It's about securing your needs, emotional and otherwise, by feigning or faking helplessness and neediness on a permanent basis.

So it's a form of emotional blackmail.

Narcissists are easily emotionally blackmailed or manipulated. Narcissists are very gullible as long as you offer them narcissistic supply. They're junkies. Narcissists are junkies.

So these are the six types, I think.


But let it be clear one more sentence.

Let it be clear.

Many, many healthy, balanced people are attracted to narcissists.

It's not true that healthy, balanced people who are boundaried and who are strong and who are resilient would never be attracted to narcissists. That's rank nonsense. It's not true.

Good to hear.

But two more questions, Sam.

I know I've kept you a long time already.

No, no, don't worry about it. Thank you.

I think, Sam, I think that's a very good question.

I think that's a very good question.

In a dream, anything can happen. Would you believe a dream? Dreams are unbelievable.

Yeah.

And so my advice is to not try to communicate your experience to others who have not been through the same experience.

Yes.

Limit yourself initially to people who have endured the same.

Which is why I think we need this group to be formed so that people can genuinely speak to each other.


Well, there are groups online.

Unfortunately, they've been infiltrated by narcissists and psychopaths who have taken over. These are victimhood groups. They've become victims.

Yeah.

Identity politics.

Yes.

Which is very bad. And it perpetuates the victimhood for life. It's extremely bad. It's pathological.

But in theory, initially, it would be good to talk to people of your kind, people who have endured what you have endured.

And this is why, for example, in dialectical behavior therapy, there's a group of borderlinepeople with borderline. So the treatment involves individual therapy and group therapy. And in the group therapy, you talk to people who are like you. Same people who have gone.

So a Holocaust victim would feel validated and would heal much faster if he were to talk to another Holocaust victim.

Because the Holocaust has been a surrealistic dreamscape, nightmarish escape, which defies belief. That's why the Holocaust is being denied. It's unbelievable.

Now, the narcissistic abuse, I was the first to describe narcissistic abuse in 1995. And the reason I coined the phrase narcissistic abuse was to distinguish it from all other forms of abuse.

The narcissistic abuse is about annihilating you, denying you, your agency, your independence, your personal autonomy, and your identity within a hallucinatory landscape.

It's absolutely as if you were given some kind of drug.

And so even your recollection of what had happened and so on and so forth is bound to be impacted, the disbelief is partly justified because many victims do find it difficult to recollect, you know, objectively what they're doing.

Yeah.

So talk to your own kind, talk to therapists who are trained in this, not all therapists are.

Yes.

Yeah.

Talk to therapists who are trained in this and then detox. Treat the whole thing as a kind of substance abuse. Your substance was the narcissist.

Yes.

You need to detox.

The narcissist implants in your mind through a process called a training. The narcissist implants in your mind, interjects voice, voice of voices that keep controlling you and manipulating you long after he's gone physically.

Yeah.

You need to cleanse your mind and you need to detox.

Yes.

And that's a long process.

Yes.

And actually your post the other day, Sam, that was talking about, you know, there is no loss because they were never there in the first place.

I think sometimes that blunt truth is incredibly helpful for people that are recovering as well.

I think two sentences could be of great. None of it has had anything to do with you.

The shared fantasy is an automatic process, automated process, which is inexorable and disregards the identity of the intimate partner involved.

So never mind what you did, what you could have done, what you would have done, but never mind any of this. You would have been devalued and discarded period because that's the aim of the shared fantasy.

Number one.

Number two. You never meant anything to the narcissist.

The narcissist snapshot that you created an internal object in his mind that corresponded to you and corresponded to you very tenuously and very, you know, appusively.

So none of it was about you.

You've been rejected and devalued and discarded not because of who you are, what you've done, but because of the shared fantasy and game.

Yes.

And so it's not about you.

Don't take it personally. It's been an impersonal experience.

And I think this is what's very difficult for victims to accept.

Yeah.

They have never been there.

No.

And yet it's so helpful to have that level of clarity as tough as it might be to hear.

So I found that incredibly useful.


Last question.

The community of people, whether we're therapists, whether there were clinical psychologists, whether we're victims, whether they were friends and family, what would you like the community of humans to be doing to help in this space? What do we need to do better, to better understand it, to better move forward from it?

We must get rid of political correctness, especially in this space.

Some people who look very much like humans are not. They lack the basic modules of humanity. They have no empathy. They have no access to positive emotions, only negative ones. They are predatory, either instinctively and reflexively like the narcissist or in a premeditated manner like the psychopath. Whatever they may be, human they are not.

They are perhaps a form of artificial intelligence, the first aliens on Earth. I don't know.

Choose your favorite conspiracy theory, except their lack of humanity.

Yes.

Victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse have been exposed to an interaction that simulated a human relationship with a human being and yet did not involve any other human being.

It is a very lonely experience.

And if we insist that the narcissist and the psychopaths are flawed human beings, we are invalidating the victims and the survivors.

They have gone through something which is beyond human experience because they did not involve other humans.

I understand. And I guess that's the difficulty with the covert narcissism because they present incredibly like a normal human being to many other people.

Is that because they've learned how to do it, wrote in some form, Sam?

Covert narcissism is an adaptation to permanent failure to what is known as narcissistic collapse. The inability to secure narcissistic supply on your own.

So it's an adaptation and it is a form of mimicry, very similar to mimicry in nature, where a predator pretends to be prey and prey pretends to be predatory. So just in order to survive.

And so it's very atavistic. It's very primitive, primitive reaction.

And the covert narcissist projects outwardly simulated a simulacrum of a human being.

Yeah. And so you begin to interact with the simulacrum. He draws you into the shared fantasy.

And then to your horror, you begin to realize that you are trapped in a nightmare and there's nobody else there.

Yes. Nobody else there on your own. You're all alone. The isolation is excruciating.

Yes.

With the overt or covert narcissist, you usually with your vert narcissist, the grandiose narcissist, usually see it coming.

Yes.

Grandiose narcissist, the swagger, it's in there, you know, a bit of a bit on the stupid side. So you see it coming.

The covert is a much more, much more dangerous proposition.

Yeah, I agree. More stealth. The psychopath even more so. The psychopath can simulate human behavior, human empathy, emotions, everything for years or decades, if necessary.

Yeah.

And then in the pursuit of a goal.

Yeah.

And the goal could be anything. The goal could be totally crazy. The goal could be normal, like safe, money, access, power.

But the goal could be completely insane. For example, the number of dead bodies are going to accumulate in my refrigerator.

Yeah.

And it's impossible to with covert narcissists. There are telltale signs.

This, for example, covert narcissists are extremely controlling. They are the alacrity, the speed with which they induce intimacy is very crazy. Like they would offer to marry on the first date and have three children with you on the second and move in with you on the third.

This kind of thing, the alacrity, the speed is crazy. Yeah.

They are telltale signs.

Okay.

But there's none with a consummate cycle.

Yes.

Okay. What I said it was last question made me think about something else.

There seems to be quite a sadistic element sometimes that comes through.

So individuals laughing at victims crying or ridiculing them when they may have done something to really torment them.

Is this something in the sadistic nature here that we need to understand with narcissists?

There's a lot of confusion between psychopaths and narcissists.

For example, narcissists do not gaslight. Narcissists truly believe their own lives, confabulations, fantasies, promises. So they never feel the fake when they make the promise. They believe it.

Yes. They believe they are about to realize it as all.

But psychopaths, they are like psychopaths on purpose make you doubt your own judgment of reality and of yourself, which is gasoline.

So similarly, there's this confusion between psychopaths and narcissists.

The vast majority of sadistic people would be psychopaths, not narcissists.

Say is it very rare in narcissism.

You must understand that the narcissist is heavily dependent on other people for the provision of narcissistic supply.

Yes.

The vast majority of narcissists are pro-social. They are communal. They are collaborative. They work with other people to obtain supply simply.

The psychopath, on the other hand, truly objectifies people, dehumanizes them, uses them and then discards them, gets rid of them sometimes by killing them and so on and so forth.

And yes, psychopaths would find weakness and vulnerability very funny. This is their favorite type of humor. And they are likely to mock you and ridicule you if you show any frailty or any susceptibility or any.

Yes.

Narcissists is much less likely to act this way. Although narcissists share with the psychopath their disdain and contempt for humanity and especially the weaknesses, weaknesses, a weakness, for example, such as love, love is a weakness.

So yes, they share this with the psychopath. They're not going to show this because they're going to externalize this.

Yeah.

OK, so, Sam, in my book to finish, what do you want to make sure I include and what would you like me to absolutely avoid?

Your book is about covert narcissism. I understand. It is. Yes.

Well, I think there is a covert side to any and all personality disorders. I think there's a covert borderline, a covert psychopath, a covert narcissist and so on and so forth.

I would, if I were you, it's up to you, of course, but I would seek the common denominators of all the covert conditions, covert states.

Why do people become covert? And their motivation dictates their modus operandi, their method of operations.

And so this would lead to behavioral prescriptions, how to counter these behaviors, how to survive these behaviors and so on and so forth.

The covert narcissist is demonized online or reduced to a caricature.

Yes.

But this would be a mistake. This would be a mistake.

Covert narcissism has first been described by Akhtar and Cooper, the late Cooper, in 1989.

And if you have a look at the table they've published in that article, you will realize what an incredibly complex phenomenon covert narcissism is.

Even I would say more, way more complex than grandiose narcissism.

And then you I believe you would end up asking yourself, but wait a minute, this could apply easily to a borderline, this covert condition could apply to a borderline, could apply here.

So maybe to generalize the covert condition because people come across a narcissist and he's a covert narcissist.

OK, but then one day they abandon him or he goes bankrupt or he's incarcerated.

So he's subjected to intense stress.

At that point, the vast majority of the borderlines begin to emotionally dysregulate to decompensate.

They lose their defenses and act out.

So they become indistinguishable from borderlines.

Yes.

And so I came up with a new diagnosis, a suggested diagnosis, covert borderline, to describe a variant of borderline, which is covert.

And I think I gave a lecture in McGill University where I proposed a general principle of psychopathology, a general principle of mental illness, that there is a personality disorder.

Then there is a collapse.

And then there is a covert state.

The covert state is a reaction to the collapse in the personality disorder.

And then there is recovery.

And that is going back to the.

So it would be misleading to tell people that there is time constancy.

You start with a covert narcissist and then one day he becomes overt.

And then or he becomes borderline.

And you're shocked because you were led to expect some things.

And then, yeah, so it's not a fixed state necessarily.

It's not like constancy.

Today we know this.

Today, this is the orthodoxy.

Yeah, I've been saying it for 30 years.

But today, this is the accepted wisdom that there is no type constancy.

It's definitely not a narcissism.

People vacillate, people oscillate between overt grandiose and covert.

Yeah.

So this could be your contribution to to introduce type in constancy into the conversation.

Yes.

Yeah.

And then to deal with the issue of covert states generally.

Yes.

Not just in narcissism.

Yeah.

Okay.

Okay.


And the thing that you most hate seeing, Sam, that people write that you feel irritates you, angers you because you feel it's incorrect or pop psychology.

Regrettably about 90 percent of everything said online is wrong.

And it is perpetuated and propagated and promulgated even by people with academic degrees.

What irritates me most is people don't check credentials.

There's someone with a PhD and it's a PhD in psychology.

So what?

A PhD in psychology doesn't imply an expertise in narcissism.

Did he or she publish anything in the field?

Did he or she study narcissists?

Did he or she have a practice, clinical practice with narcissists?

I mean, and so people just blindly follow a victim of narcissism.

Suddenly an expert on narcissism.

Someone with a PhD in psychology is utterly unrelated to personality sort of is an expert as well.

This fake con artist charlatan expertise is what irritates me most.

Yes.

Okay.

I'llOkay.

I'll make sure I'm not one of those, Sam, otherwise I'm going to be in your dark gaze.

Yes.

Thank you so much.

I'm not going to.

Thank you so much. It's incredibly helpful as I continue to write and to finish this.

But again, I'll keep following and keep watching the things you're putting out. It's incredibly helpful, Sam.

Thank you.

Thank you for your kind words. I wish you success with the book. Thank you so much.

Appreciate it. Cheers, Sam.

Bye-bye.

Bye.

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