So, I have a riddle for you. Find the answer and you don't have to watch the rest of the video. Quite the bonus, you must admit.
My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited and I'm also a professor of psychology in CIAPS, Center for International Advanced Professional Studies, the Outreach Program of the CIAPS consortium of galaxy air universities.
Okay, here's the riddle. What is common to narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, also known as codependency, people pleasers and parentified children? What is common to all these?
Here's the answer, bad object internalization. The introjection, the internalization, the identification with a bad object.
Nowto remind you what is a bad object, it's a cluster of introjects, a cluster of inner voices, a cluster of internal representations of significant others, such as primary objects, parental figures, but could also be internalizations or introjects of teachers or peers or role models and so on and so forth.
So, all these introjects coalesce and if the messages, if the voices are negative, you are unworthy, you're inadequate, you're a loser, you're failure, you're ugly, you're stupid, you will never amount to anything, etc., if the messaging, if the signaling is overwhelmingly negative, you don't deserve to be happy, then we are dealing with a bad object.
These voices to remind you come first and foremost from primary objects, parental figures.
Early on in life, some children internalize a bad object whose main message is, you're not lovable.
These children learn to associate love with rejection, with pain, with hurt, with humiliation, with public shaming, with shame, with guilt.
In short, these children learn to associate love with conditionality and with negative affectivity. I'm going to love you if, and I love you despite the fact that you are shameful, disgraceful, unworthy of my love.
These messages bore into the core identity of these children, get integrated with it, become who the children are.
The child is unable to tell apart his or her authentic voice from this disparaging, harsh inner critic, harsh interjects, sadistic, superego voices.
These voices are like a tribunal, like a court, permanently in session with the charges unspecified and no possibility to ever exculpate or vindicate oneself.
And if this is reminiscent of Kafka's book, "Das Prozess", then for good reason.
Later in life, because children tend to grow up, that's one thing you can say about children with certainty, they tend to grow up.
So later in life, they become adults. They become adults whose main voices are disparaging, voices that put them down, pull them apart, drag them into the oblivion of their own void and emptiness.
And so the overwhelming voices, you cannot be loved because essentially you're not lovable, the liquidity is not lovable.
And later in life, these adults, they listen to this bad object. The bad object becomes the Northern Star, the Lord Star, the guiding light. The bad object tells these adults what they can and cannot do, what they should choose and what they should avoid.
So for example, the bad object affects mate selection, the selection of the intimate partner. There's a preference for rejecting partners, abandoning partners, dysregulated partners, withholding intimate partners. Adults whose dominant internal voice is not the authentic self, whose dominant internal voice is a bad object, these adults will choose intimate partners who will torture them, inflict pain on them, hurt them, abandon them, cheat on them, betray them, because that's the only way they know how to be loved.
And because it reaffirms their conviction, that they're not lovable.
You see, the bad object is extremely dominant. It's like the center of gravity. It's like a massive super black, a super massive black hole at the center of the galaxy.
And so everything revolves around the bad object.
And the child turned adult constructs his life in order to confirm the bad object's judgment in order to not negate and not conflict with the bad object, because conflicting with the bad object creates dissonance and dissonance leads to anxiety and anxiety results in drinking a lot of red wine.
We tend to go along with the bad object, because the bad object is mostly our parental voices. And we cannot disagree with our parents, we cannot criticize them, we cannot imply that they are less than all-knowing and loving.
So we split. The bad object actually becomes all good, correct, right, never in the wrong, all-knowing, godlike. And we become bad, unworthy, thereby proving the bad object right.
The splitting defense mechanism in people with an internalized bad object actually renders them all evil, all bad, and the bad object all good.
So they become slaves to the bad object.
The introjects in such people compel them, it's compulsive, compel them to either avoid reciprocated love or to deny love to others.
I'm going to repeat this because I like to hear the sound of my voice.
The introjects in people with an internalized bad object force them, they are coerced, they don't want to do it, but they can't help it. These voices force them to reject love, to deny it, not to reciprocate it.
And these results, of course, in an insecure attachment style.
But they also deny love as a form of sadistic abuse. They weaponize frustration.
You want to love someone with an internalized bad object and that someone renders themselves unavailable, detached, aloof, absent, gone. You want to prove to the person with a bad object that she is lovable, but she won't let you because this would challenge the bad object and that is unacceptable. So she won't let you love her. She would destroy the intimacy. She would cheat on you. She would run away. She would develop an engulfment anxiety if she's borderline, if she's a borderline.
People with an internal bad object crave love and intimacy more than anything in the world, but also fear it, fear love and intimacy more than anything in the world. Craving fear, craving fear, approachavoidance, approachavoidance.
The bad object creates a repetitioncompulsion.
These people cannot reciprocate love because they don't want to receive lovebecause love is pain. Love is inevitable anticipated, ultimate abandonmentand so they never reciprocate love.
They have an insecure attachment style.
They deny you the right to love themand if you do love them, they punish you sadistically. They weaponize your frustration.
Another coping strategy of people with an internalized bad objectand to remind you, we are talking about narcissists, borderlines, codependents, formally parentified children, people pleasers and so on.
So another coping strategy involves what is called projective identification.
Now clinically, projective identification is a defense mechanism.
But on the ground, projective identification leads people with internalized bad object, leads them to manipulate and to baitlovers, spouses and friends to the point of betrayal.
They push, they pull, they grind, they brainwash, they entrain everyone around them who loves them to the point of betrayal, to the point of cheating, to the point of just going away, running away.
Projective identification is the process that people with bad object, with an internalized bad object, it's the process that these people use to convert friends into enemies, lovers into hatersand loyal people into cheaters and betrayers and traitors.
Because people with an internalized bad object expect the worst and want the worst to happen.
Because once the worst has happened, once the other shoe had dropped, they're relieved, their anxiety is mitigated, the bad object has been validated.
They need to affirm the bad object. They need to fulfill narrative expectations. They have a narrative that the world is hostile, how to get them, etc.
The hypervigilant, the comfort zone of people with an internalized bad object is a world where bad things happen to people. Bad things happen to bad people, because people with an internalized bad object consider themselves bad, corrupt, unworthy, unlovable, not desiring of happiness.
And so they need to construct the world around them, to shape the world around them in a way which will fulfill these expectations, that push everyone away.
They push anyone who tries to love them, who tries to integrate with them, who tries to help them, who tries to be there for them. They just won't have it.
They just won't have it, because love is pain. Pain is hurt, hurt is death. They don't want this. They don't want to reciprocate love. They don't want to receive love. They can't give love. They can give only pain, because that's the currency of love, isn't it, in their worlds?
Bad object adults have alloplastic defenses. They tend to blame others for the consequences, the predictable consequences of their actions, choices, and decisions. Everyone else is guilty. Everyone else is to blame. Everyone else is responsible. Everyone else had contributed to what had happened, exceptof coursethe bad object adult.
Bad object adult feels victimized.
But bad object adults have simultaneously autoplastic defenses. The bad object keeps telling them, "It's your fault. You are to blame. You are guilty. You got it wrong."
And so they have this duality, which essentially is neuroticpsychotic. It's like two personalities. One, for example, a narcissist or a borderline, would have alloplastic defenses. She or he would blame others.
And at the same time, there's another voice, the voice of the bad object, which keeps telling these people, "It's all your fault. You made this happen. You had it coming. You deserve what's coming to you. You should punish yourself."
These people are very self-punitive.
And oddly, they perceive the environment as an instrument of punishment. And so they feel that they are being punished from the outside, although most of this punishment is self-inflicted.
That's where the psychosis comes in. They completely confuse internal and external.
And so they have a constant feeling that they are being victimized. A voice inside them, the bad objectkeeps telling them, "You're being victimized because you deserve it. Because you're unworthy. Because you're a failure. Because you're not serious. Because you're delinquent. Because you're stupid. Yes, you deserve to be mistreated."
And yet, the mistreatment seems to come from the outside all the time. So there's a feeling of victimhood. It's as if these people are saying, "I'm a victim, but I had it coming. I'm a victim, but it's okay. It's okay. It's justified. I should be a victim."
This is an exceedingly extreme self-punitive, self-hating, self-loathing, and self-destructive posture.
Bad objects, bad object adults regard themselves as innocent babes in the wood. Everyone else is tasked with safeguarding and promoting their well-being and their interests. Everyone else is supposed to protect their emotions. Everyone else should cater to their needs.
They're like babies, helpless. It's a kind of learned helplessness. So they're helpless.
And they expect everyone else to be there for them and to make sure that they are not harmed, that they're making the right decisions, that they're on the right path, tell them what to do and what to avoid, what to choose and what to decide and where and when and how and why. Totally disregarding their soul-destroying, inegregious abuse.
Because adults with a bad object are abusive, period. Always.
Each type in its own way.
The narcissist is overtly abusive. The borderline is abusive intermittently. When she is faced with rejection and abandonment, she becomes a secondary psychopath and acts out as a form of abuse.
Co-dependent abuses from the bottom. She controls via emotional blackmail. The people- pleaser controls via people- pleasing and so on and so forth. These are all forms of extreme abuse.
Some of it ambient and some of it open and clear to be seen, to be old, but there's always abuse involved. And if these people, despite their abuse, they don't feel that they should own up to it. They are angry at other people.
Why didn't you pay attention? Why didn't you protect me? Why didn't you look after my interest? Why didn't you, why did you hurt me?
Not taking into account my emotions? Why didn't you cater to my needs?
They're like needy, clinging, demanding babies.
And of course, the message of the bad object is you're not an adult, you're not mature, you're not grown up, because you're inadequate, you're a failure at growing up, you will never amount to anything because you're not serious, because you are incapable of being serious, because you have no endowments, no gifts, no skills, and no one will ever love you. No one will ever love you because you're not an adult.
Regardless of their chronological age, bad object adults are never the adults in the room.
You're beginning to see the duality, the maddening duality of the bad object.
On the one hand, the message of the bad object is you're bad, you're unworthy, and it's all your fault. This is auto-plastic defense.
And the other message is you are a victim, you're a victim, you're an innocent baby. People do bad things to you, people harm you. Yeah, you deserve it, but they're still abusing you.
So it's a crazy, crazymaking message. And that's why these people are crazymaking. It's a crazymaking message because what? If you suffer from a bad internalized bad object, which voice should you listen to? Are you a victim? Are you an innocent babytoddler?
If so, then it's not your fault.
But there's another voice emanating from the same source, telling you, "Yeah, it is your fault. You are to blame. You are responsible. You made this happen. You're guilty.
And so it's a little like dissociative identity disorder. It's as if there are two personalitiesand the switch between them, between these self-states, is very, very clear to anyone who has observed, for example, a borderline personality disorder person in action. Borderlines switch between these two competing voices very often.
Being unlovable in one's mind is terrifying. It causes a lot of anxiety and paranoid ideation. If you're unlovable, people can and will do bad things to you. They wouldn't care because they don't love you. They can't love you. You're unlovable. The world out there becomes a hostile jungle. Dog eats dog. Dog eats dog.
And then the two dogs eat you. There's a lot of anxiety and a lot of paranoid ideation because you can trust no one to love you. You can trust no one to have your best interest in mind. You're not lovable. You anticipate the worstand then you preemptively act to bring it about.
You say, "Let the other shoe drop. I know you're going to cheat on me. I'm going to push you to cheat on me. I know you're going to abandon me. I'm going to abandon you first." Preemptive action.
Additionally, if you are not lovable, if you have an internalized bad object, you cannot trust your judgment of people because you have a cognitive distortion. There's a cognitive distortion field.
The bad object is like a, as I said, a supermassive black hole. So the bad object creates a distortion of space- time, a field of cognitive distortion.
I'll give you an example. Narcissists, narcissists in a shared fantasy, they're grandiose. So narcissists grandiosely trust that they are so special that regardless of how badly they behave, regardless of their abuse, no one will ever cheat on them, retaliate against them, or betray them.
Why? Because they're special. It's likeno one will dare risk losing me. I'm so amazing. I'm so unique. I'm so spectacular that no one will betray me. No one will cheat on me. No one will retaliate against my abuse because then they will lose meand no one will take the risk of losing me.
Such people mislabel and misinterpret their anxiety artifacts as emotions.
Heartbreak is not real heartbreak. It's an anxiety of loss. Love is not real love. It's about control and consuming the love object.
Disregulation sometimes is not dysregulation at all, but a form of anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are commonly co-diagnosed with personality disorders. Very high comorbidity, for example, in borderline personality disorder.
And lately we find out that many psychopaths have anxiety disorders.
So the anxiety is rampant, is explosive. It's like the rumblings of an underground volcano inside the bad object adult.
And he or she tend to misinterpret these rumblings, these tremors or pre-tremors. They tend to misinterpret these as, for example, dysregulated emotions, even when they are not.
And they somatize a lot. The body tells the tale, the body keeps the score.
These are all transformations of anxiety.
Trapped with a bad object inside you, you experience anxiety on the one hand and an inability to relate to other people and to let them love you.
It's a constant tale of self- undermining, self- harming, self- sabotage, self- destructiveness, self- hatred, and self- loathing.
The ancient voices of your parents, your hateful parents, your dead parents, your absent parents, your depressive parents, your selfish parents, your insecure parents, your instrumentalizing parents, your parentifying parents, they're all inside your head. They're not going anywhere. And they're there to make sure that you will never have a life of your own.