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How Borderline, Covert Narcissist React To & Spin Rejection, Abandonment

Uploaded 6/13/2023, approx. 24 minute read

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Look it up.

Today we are going to discuss rejection and abandonment.

There's nothing the borderline dreads more than being rejected and being abandoned and there's nothing the covert narcissist dreads more than being ignored, which is also a form of rejection and abandonment.

Both these types, the borderline and the covert narcissist cannot accept the fact of separation. They cannot accept the separateness of the partner.

So when they are rejected, when they are abandoned, when there's a breakup, a divorce, they become stalkers, often vengeful stalkers.

And this is a topic of today's interminable video with the luckily terminable Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology in Southern Federal University in Westavong, Russian Federation, and a longtime member of the faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies with a presence in Toronto, Canada, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and an outreach campus in Lagos, Nigeria.

My academic credentials aside, we can delve right in.


First of all, before you all gang up on me, he, she, gender pronouns are interchangeable in this video and in all my other videos. All types of genitalia are equally represented in cluster B personality disorders. There's an equal number of men and women diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. This is not the 70s. We have progressed since then. Women made progress and conquered the fortresses of narcissism and psychopathy and men counter attacked and became borderlines.

So I'm going to use she when I discuss borderline personality disorder. I'm going to use he when I discuss covert narcissism, but feel absolutely free to exchange these pronouns in your mind.

Borderline abandonment trigger separation insecurity in both types, borderline and covert narcissist. They constitute extreme narcissistic injuries. They trigger cognitive, they trigger radical cognitive distortions, such as, for example, grandiose defenses.

Why is that?

Because both types, the borderline and the covert narcissist, perceive rejection as total.

Abandonment is irreversible.

When they are rejected, every dimension and aspect and angle of who they are is being rejected simultaneously. Their essence and quiddity are being thrown out the window.

Rejection is perceived as negation, vitiation, annihilation, eradication. It's that bad. It's like disappearing, like vanishing.

These people covert narcissists, borderlines and of course narcissists as well. They have an external locus of control and they also have external maintain, external regulation.

In other words, they regulate their internal space, they regulate their minds, their internal objects they have, their sense of self-worth, many other psychological processes and needs. They cater to all these and regulate them via the agency of other people.

In the case of the borderline and intimate partner, in the case of a narcissist, sources of narcissistic supply, in the case of a covert narcissist, very often another narcissist.

Since the regulation of their moods, their emotions, their sense of self-worth, their self-perception and self-image and even to some extent their ego functions because this regulation comes from the outside.

When the external source of regulation disappears, it's as if the borderline herself is vanishing, evaporating. It's the same feeling.

The narcissist has the same feeling when his narcissistic supply is deficient or non-existent and so does the borderline.

So it's about personal disappearance.

Rejection therefore is a life-threatening situation.

Literally, by the way, it provokes suicidal ideation, very often suicidal attempts.

Abandonment is catastrophized. He will never be back. He doesn't want me because I'm a bad object. I'm unworthy. I'm stupid. I'm evil. I'm a level end. I mismanaged everything. I'm a mess.

So it provokes auto-plastic defenses in the borderline and alloplastic defenses in the narcissist and covert narcissist.

But whatever the case may be, separation insecurity also damages the self-esteem, self-confidence, sense of self-worth, inflated, fantastic grandiose self-image and self-perception of these types, the borderline, the covert narcissist and the narcissist.

And so this is narcissistic injury.

And if the abandonment and rejection took place in public, in front of significant others or peers, then it's mortification.

See how bad it is.

Consequently, the borderline and the covert narcissist develop a panoply, a spectrum of reactions intended to reverse the process or to reframe it in a way which would be less injurious, less life threatening and more palatable and acceptable.

Because at the core of all this, there is a cognitive dissonance.

The covert narcissist and the borderline, they have a kind of object which is essentially self, which is essentially a bad object, in some respects.

So the borderline converts her bad object into an internal good object.

She tells herself, I'm actually a good person, but this works only if she receives input from an intimate partner.

So the only way the borderline can maintain an internal good object is through the services and agency of an external intimate partner.

Similarly, the covert narcissist, the only way the covert narcissist can maintain an inflated, fantastic grandiose image of himself is through the services of an external agent.

Could be an intimate partner, not necessarily, could be in the workplace.

There is a crucial dependence on other people for feeling good about yourself.

Both the borderline and the covert narcissist consider themselves good people, good persons, good objects, only when they are in the presence and team up with other people.

When these people abandon them and reject them, it is an affirmation and confirmation of the underlying bad object.

So they fall apart because then they perceive themselves as bad people, bad persons unworthy of life itself.

And this cognitive dissonance is resolved via a mix of aggression and passive aggression.

In both the cases of the borderline and the covert narcissist, I'm going to describe all the techniques shortly.


But before we go to the specific techniques that borderlines and covert narcissists use, it's important to understand the role of drama.

Drama is linked to hyperemotionality in histrionic personality disorder, in narcissistic personality disorder, and in borderline personality disorder.

Now, in borderline personality disorder, the emotions are negative. In narcissistic personality disorder, the emotions are negative. There's negative affectivity.

The narcissist is immersed in anger and rage and envy. It's all negative, but it's still hyperemotional.

The same with the borderline. Her emotions are overwhelming. Her emotions are dysregulated. That's the core of borderline.

And so there is hyperemotionality. And of course, histrionic personality disorder is just another name for ostentatious, in-your-face, hyperemotionality.

And drama is linked to this hyperemotionality. It's a way, it's a management technique. It's a way to manage, channel, and sublimate hyperemotionality.

Drama is socially acceptable to a large extent.

Hyperemotionality, less so.

So linking hyperemotionality with drama legitimizes the hyperemotional landscape and its outlandish and very often socially frowned upon behaviors.

Drama also fills the existential void, the black hole, the emptiness, at the core of narcissism and borderline.

It's as if the borderline and the narcissist say, well, maybe I am not alive, but I have a life. I myself am a zombie, a corpse. You know, but look at my life, how colorful it is, how spectacular, how amazing, how cinematic, cinematic movie-like, you know?

So drama fulfills the existential void. It's a simulated and compressed life substitute.

In any, in the techniques that the borderline and the covert narcissist use to cope with rejection and abandonment, drama plays a major role because it allows these characters to channel the potentially ominous, menacing, overwhelming, disregulating emotions, allows them to channel these emotions into a narrative, an organizing principle, a structure, the dramatic structure.

So they are on a constant pursuit or constant production of theater plays. So they're constantly acting in some theater play that is taking place in their heads, in their minds.

It's as if they adhere to some invisible script and participate as characters and antagonists in some kind of movie that only they are privy to.


Another important element to understand in the spectrum of reactions to abandonment and rejection is entitlement.

Now both types and also the narcissist, they feel entitled to be unique. They also feel entitled to be exclusive. They monopolize other people. They take over other people. They snatch bodies and minds in order to become the sole presence in the lives of other people. That renders them unique, at least to these other people, if not generally.

Uniqueness is crucial.

And the covert narcissist and the borderline, even more than the narcissist, even more than the classic narcissist, insist on being perceived and treated as unique, special, one of a kind, sui generis, none like them, unprecedented. And this is measured. They measure their success in conveying this uniqueness. They measure it via the currency of attention.

The more attention they garner, the more attention they extract from the environment, sometimes coercively, the more they feel unique and exclusive. So they are addicted to attention, attention-hose, so to speak.

Okay, get your minds out of the gutter. We continue.

The borderline and covert narcissist reaction to rejection and abandonment involve, how else could it be?

Involve defense mechanisms, infantile, primitive defense mechanisms, most notably splitting and projection.

The borderline and the covert narcissist, when they have been rejected or abandoned or ignored or overlooked, they immediately split the other person, the person who had rejected them, abandoned them, ignored them, overlooked them, demoted them, mocked them, ridiculed them. They immediately split that person. He is all bad. They are all good.

It's a splitting defense.

They then cast the person they hold responsible for their rejection and abandonment. They cast this person in terms of he is evil, he is demonic. And so they feel justified in hurting that person.

So if there's an intimate partner, the intimate partner abandons the borderline or rejects her, she immediately splits. She becomes all good.

The rejecting or abandoning intimate partner becomes all bad, evil, demonic, wicked, corrupted, worthy of punishment. And she develops a morality play and a moral crusade becomes her duty and obligation to punish that evil demon who had abandoned and rejected her because abandoning and rejecting her, rejecting her is an act of extreme wickedness. It's almost a sin. She should never be abandoned and rejected because she's so unique. She's so special. She's so amazing and so giving and so loving and so caring.

How could he ever abandon and reject her? Nothing is wrong with him. He is all bad. She is all good, splitting.


The second mechanism is projection.

It is a borderline of the covert narcissist who misbehave.

They are very frequently exceedingly abusive, coercive and sometimes criminal, criminalized.

But the minute they are abandoned and rejected, they project all these onto the abandoning or rejecting agent onto, for example, the abandoning and rejecting intimate partner.

At that moment, the intimate partner had been abusive. The intimate partner is wicked and vicious. The intimate partner is evil and bad. The intimate partner had mistreated them and molested them and wronged them and abused them and coerced them and everything they have done, they attribute to the intimate partner.

Total projection, unmitigated, unlimited with complete lack of self-awareness, a total rewriting of history and reframing of absolutely every single incident that had ever happened. The whole relationship is rewritten back to front, unrecognizable. Even when confronted with incontrovertible, countervailing evidence, they would ignore the evidence, rewrite it or reframe it as fallacious and wrong. Remember, they are now crusading knights, morally upright, on a campaign to eradicate evil. They are embedded in a morality play similar to a movie and they are the knights in shining armor. They are the saviors and the rescuers and the healers of the world.

Rejection and abandonment via the mechanism of projection turns into rejecting and abandoning the intimate partner and embracing the entire world.

It's a message to the intimate partner. You have been stupid. You have been evil. You abandoned me. You rejected me.

But look at me. I'm embraced by the entire world. You have been wrong. I have been right.

Infrontile of course.

These are all infantile defense mechanisms.

But very effective.

Hovering is the ultimate goal.

Ultimately, the borderline and the covert narcissists are invested in being right. It's crucial for them to be proven right.

And the only way to be proven right is if the intimate partner comes back, returns, begging on his knees for redemption and acceptance and reintroduction into the charmed circle of the borderline and the covert narcissists.

It's not only hovering. It's humiliating hovering.

The intimate partner or whoever had rejected and abandoned the borderline doesn't have to be an intimate partner. They have to be shamed, disgraced, humiliated and punished for the misdeed of having rejected and abandoned the borderline.

Because rejecting and abandoning the borderline is a crime. Nothing short of a crime. It's horrible. It's a horrible act. It's deplorable, reprehensible and absolutely punishable in any and every way imaginable. Assassination not excluded.

So the rage and the hatred that abandonment and rejection provoke are actually self-hatred, self-rage.

But this is very threatening. The bed object reawakens.

The borderline becomes self-loathing, self-hating to the point of suicide and to fend off suicidal ideation and the life-threatening experience of these negative effects, negative emotions. She projects them.

So instead of hating herself, thereby affirming the bed object, she projects the self-hate and converts it into other hate, hating someone else.

For example, her previous intimate partner or business partner or colleague or neighbour or whoever it was who rejected her or abandoned her. Mother or rental figures, siblings, you name it.

So there's a projection of the self-hatred. There's a projection of the self-loathing as well.

The bed object is hyperactive after abandonment and rejection. The emotions are all consuming, corrosive, eroding and exceedingly dangerous.

I keep repeating the phrase life-threatening and not exaggerating. There's extreme suicidal ideation in many points and she needs to expel these emotions, sponge them, expudge them, exparge them. She needs to purge herself. She needs to cleanse herself of these emotions.

And the only way to do that is project them, attribute them to someone else and say, "I don't hate myself. I've done nothing wrong. I'm perfection. I'm lovable. I should have never been abandoned and rejected. I've done no wrong. On the very contrary, I've done everything right. My love was infinite or my performance was impeccable.

So the abandonment and rejection have not been justified. So I hate him, not myself. I loathe him, not myself. And I'm going to destroy the object that had caused me this pain and frustration." This projection is also motivational by misattributing these emotions, by projecting them onto another person.

This creates the motivational landscape, the motivational background.

And now the borderline of the covert narcissists are motivated to act.

But remember, in all this, hoovering is the ultimate, ultimate goal and the key reason for the behavior, with one exception, mortification.

If the borderline feels unsafe with rejecting and abandoning and individual, she would not want to hoover him.

And similarly, if the narcissist or covert narcissist has been publicly shamed and thereby mortified, they would not want to hoover the mortifying agent, the person who caused them the mortification.

So no hoovering after mortification for the narcissist and covert narcissist and no hoovering when the borderline feels all pervasively unsafe with that person, when he has the capacity to hurt her repeatedly and to the quick.


What are the techniques that borderlines and covert narcissists use?

There are two families of techniques, aggressive ones and passive aggressive ones.

Now aggressive techniques are used almost exclusively by histrionic and psychopathic borderlines, when there is a comorbidity of histrionic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder, or covert narcissism with either of these two.

These kind of people tend to be aggressive.

They develop extreme revenge fantasies.

Now sometimes these revenge fantasies are not translated into actions beyond ostentatious demonstrative acts like, I don't know, a smear campaign.

So some of these people, they develop revenge fantasies, but they don't take real action because the fantasy is always perfect, while action may fail and exacerbate, make the narcissistic injury worse.

So it's better not to not act because if you act, you can fail. And if you fail, the narcissistic injury becomes worse.

These are some people translate the psychopathic ones, translate the revenge fantasy into action.

They actually act in order to exact revenge and they become stalkers or oars.

Another aggressive technique is delusional reframing.

Delusional reframing is, he didn't abandon me, I abandoned him. He didn't reject me. I rejected this sorry A. I'm the one who did the rejection. I'm the one who did the abandonment.

Here, let me prove it to you. I am hereby ostentatiously and publicly rejecting him, humiliating him and abandoning him.

See, he didn't do it to me, I did it to him.

And finally, of course, within the spectrum of aggressive techniques, there is actual violence against objects, so a borderline can break everything in the house, or violence against body. So it could escalate into very dangerous territory.

Aggressive techniques can also include financial abuse, misusing the family's savings. It could include legal abuse.

There are many forms of abuse. If action is taken, then it's an aggressive technique. And usually it's embedded in a revenge fantasy, which is itself embedded in a morality play.

So the borderline or the covert narcissist would deny that they are vengeful. So it's not about revenge. It's about making things right. It's about preventing this person from harming or hurting other people. It's about fulfilling my moral duties and obligations to the community.

So they would create a morality play in which they will embed their very, very personal revenge fantasy for having been rejected and abandoned unequivocally.

These are the aggressive techniques.


Now what about the passive aggressive techniques?

Action is top of the list, but having been rejected and abandoned, the borderline would seek to triangulate in order to inflict pain.

The aim is to hurt the rejecting and abandoning agent, which in the majority of cases is an intimate partner.

So she would triangulate in an emotionally injurious way. She would try to inflict narcissistic injuries if her partner had been a narcissist or just hurt someone, cause pain. So she would triangulate with a best friend or she would triangulate with one's worst enemy or she would triangulate with colleagues or she would triangulate with her exes.

She has a stable of exes. She rotates them all the time. And this applies to covert narcissism, covert narcissist as well.

Now one of the major passive aggressive techniques is to set the rejecting and abandoning agent to set him up for failure.

So imagine that an intimate partner had rejected her or abandoned her. She would set him up for failure. She would undermine him, sabotage him and his work, try to defeat him, handicap him, somehow prevent him from doing things. She would present unrealistic demands or communicate unrealistic, fantastic expectations, knowing full well that they cannot be met. She would engineer situations that are bound to trip the offending agent, the rejecting or abandoning partner, for example. She would engineer situations that are bound to trip him up somehow, bound to cause failure and defeat or even to lead to behavior that is criminally sanctioned or very, very problematic socially. She would motivate others, flying monkeys, to withhold help, support or to collaborate with her to actively conspire against the offending person, the person who had rejected and abandoned her.

And again, it doesn't have to be an intimate part.

Finally, the covert narcissist or borderline would foster an environment.

They would create an environment that requires talents, skills or knowledge that the offending party does not possess or excel at.

So they would engineer or create situations where the offending party, the person who had rejected and abandoned them, would prove to be inadequate, a failure, a loser.

It's again, a form of passive-aggressive technique.

All in all, when put together, these are life debilitating techniques.

The aim of the borderline and the covert narcissist is to disable, destroy, deactivate, paralyze the offending person, the person who had abandoned and rejected them to the point that he will come begging and seeking for mercy or try to negotiate some compromise or reach a modus operandi or modus vivendi or recant and say, I'm sorry, it was a mistake to abandon and reject you. I've learned my lesson. I'm back.

Now the thing is it rarely works. These are destructive techniques, horrible, cruel, sadistic, abusive techniques, but they almost never work.

That's the fact.

And so the borderline and covert narcissist and to a large extent the narcissist, who's narcissist also use these techniques, they remain caught in infinite loops, infinite loops of trying to fend off the resurgent empowered bad object by escalating their behavior to the point that it becomes self detrimental and endangers them.

In other words, they lose control.

These strategies and techniques very often spin out of control and leads to anything from social or program to worse outcomes.

These techniques don't work because the intimate partner or the neighbor or the friend or the colleague or the boss or the teacher or the, you know, the ones who had rejected and abandoned the borderline or the covert narcissist. They've had enough.

They have reached the breaking point. They're never going back. They're never going back to be with the borderline or covert narcissist is hell on earth and very few are brave enough or dumb enough to attempt it. And definitely not a second time with the same person breaks, breakups with cluster B personality disorders tend to be actually pretty permanent.

The narcissist hovers.

So that is an active attempt to re idealize the bot.

And this works, but when the strategy is negative because hovering narcissistic hovering is a positive strategy, it idealizes the bot.

It is a form of love bombing.

We do so.

But when the strategy is punitive, destructive, abusive, hateful, and vengeful, it leads nowhere.

It pushes actually the offending party even further. It generates even more, even increased and enhanced rejection, humiliation, abandonment, shame, including public shame. So everyone sees through these techniques. They're not, they're not, they're transparent. Everyone sees through the borderline and the covert narcissist. Everyone realizes what they're doing.

And so they become the bot of derision and they just fade away. Their influence fades away.

Rather than adopt constructive strategies of engaging in dialogue and obtaining potential re closure or recompense of some sort or whatever, these people engage in destroying in scorched earth policy, destroying everyone around them.

And yet they forget once a fire is started, it is often very difficult to control.

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Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
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