How Narcissist Conditions YOU

Uploaded 6/23/2023, approx. 48 minute read

A withering glare, a snide comment, a gesture of exasperation.

And suddenly, never mind how autonomous you are, how strong, how agentic, how accomplished and how independent.

Never mind all these, you find yourself aiming to please, attempting to meet unspoken or cult expectations, berating yourself feeling guilty and ashamed when you don't.

How the Narcissist Breaks Your Spirit.

This is the topic of today's video.

Now, the Narcissist doesn't do it intentionally. It's not premeditated. It's not malevolent or malicious or demonic.

Forget all these online nonsense. The Narcissist does it because that's who he is.

Same way, a virus infects the cell or a tiger bites your head off.

Do not confuse and conflate Narcissist with psychopaths.

Psychopaths are cult oriented and yes, they do everything on purpose. Everything is preplanned and everything is implemented ruthlessly and callously.

The Narcissist is different. The Narcissist just glides along on the waves of his inner world.

He needs you, he needs you, the external object to conform to the internal object in his mind that represents you, to the snapshot of you, to the introject that speaks to him and that he answers to. He needs you to mold yourself, to shape you, to shape shift in a way, to be in flux so that you fit into the container that you had become in his inner landscape.

And so the Narcissist has to coerce you, to tame you, to domesticate you, to housebreak you and simply to break you so that you don't diverge and deviate from the internal object thereby creating dissonance and intolerable anxiety in him. He needs you to be quiescent, mummified, dead emotionally and mentally for all intents and purposes in order for him to attain the peace of mind and the inner quietude that is necessary to transition to the next phase in your relationship, separation, individuation via devaluation and discard.

This is the inexorable Narcissistic cycle. There is nothing you can do about it and there is nothing he can do about it.

Now when I say he, of course, 50% of all Narcissists are women nowadays and so please in your mind try the following exercise.

Whenever I say he, replace it with she. Whenever I say she, replace it with a he and do your amazement, all the rest would remain valid because you are inside the maze of a Sam Vaknin video.

My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of the Lignan Search Lab, Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CIAPS, Center for International Advanced Professional Studies.

And today we are going to learn about the fourth technique, number four, that the Narcissist uses to mould you, to sculpt you, to shape you to his specifications.

A technique discovered long ago and described in minute details in a school of psychology known as Behaviorism, a technique called Conditioning.

Here the Narcissist employs and deploys multiple other ways and methods to render you compatible with the internal object in his mind.

He entrains you and I have videos about entraining and now to unentrain yourself, undo the entraining. He inducts you into a shared fantasy where you become a figment, an element, an object, a participant in role play and in the shared fantasy of course you have no independence, you have no autonomy and you're not allowed any agency.

He in extreme cases engages in what is known as Coercive Control, that is extreme, that is very extreme and very rare, contrary to the nonsense online.

But some Narcissists do ultimately degenerate and deteriorate and devolve into Coercive Control and the very process of snapshotting has to do with control.

By snapshotting you, the Narcissist creates a corresponding image of you in his mind, it's static and it is at the disposal of the Narcissist 24/7. It's also mutable and malleable, responsive to the Narcissist's ever shifting knees and internal psychodynamics and so the internal figure, the internal object, the introjector of you in his mind serves as a kind of handle, it's a way to lash you in, lash you, the external object, keep you tethered and chained to the Narcissist.

But I've discussed snapshotting at length in multiple videos and I'm not going to do this today.

Today I'm going to introduce you to the theory of conditioning.

Conditioning is the engine and the fuel and the chassis of trauma bonding.

Everything in trauma bonding has to do directly or indirectly with conditioning.

But to understand conditioning and it's going to be a long way and a long video, you have been forewarned, I'm not entraining you, I swear, but to get to learn about conditioning, I need to introduce you to a few terms, to some terminology.

Let's start with the word reinforcer.

Conditioning is about stimulus and response.

The idea underlying the school of behaviorism and psychology is that we are basically machines, devices we emit responses when we encounter stimuli.

Stimulus response and a reinforcer is a stimulus or a circumstance that produces reinforcement when it occurs in a dependent relationship.

Now a dependent relationship in behaviorism is known as a contingency.

So when I say contingency, it means a relationship where one of the parties is dependent on the other.

We could also have relationships where both parties are dependent on each other for different things.

For example, the Narcissist is dependent on you in an intimate relationship for secondary narcissistic supply and you are dependent on the Narcissist for other things.

Maybe you are codependent, maybe you are borderline and you require external regulation from the Narcissist. Maybe you are just adrenaline junkie and the Narcissist provides you with thrills and risk and adventures.

Whatever the case may be, this is a dependent relationship. All shared fantasies are contingencies. All forms of dependencies. They all involve stimuli and response.

Now when the stimulus encourages behavior, it is known as a reinforcing stimulus or in short a reinforcer.

Now all of you, all of us come across reinforcers in the natural environment.

For example, food is a reinforcer. We see food, we salivate, we eat, we overeat, we become obese, we feel guilt and shame.

So food is a natural reinforcer.

Water is a natural reinforcer and to some extent air of course is a natural reinforcer. These are inherently reinforcing stimuli. They don't depend on learning and they are not amenable to questions of desirability.

So like you desire water and you die. If you don't drink, you die.

So there's no question of desiring water.

I personally know people who hate water, simply hate it.

But you know, they drink. Natural reinforcers are known as unconditioned or primary reinforcers because they lead to primary reinforcement.

And we contrast them with conditioned or secondary reinforcers which are initially neutral stimuli that become desirable through training.

And this is known as secondary reinforcement.

For example, a light, a sound, they can become reinforces. They can produce behaviors because we have learned to associate them with a specific benefit or reward or response in a process known as secondary reinforcement.

I'm going to deal with each and every one of these concepts a bit later.

So worry not if you're not getting it 100% the first time.

I do recommend, however, that you rewind the video just in case and listen again and again and maybe even take notes.

And yes, I'm conditioning you right now.

Okay, conditioned Shoshanim.

Let's talk about another concept and that is a concept of pairing, making pairs.

In behavioral studies, pairing is when we juxtapose two events in time.

So for example, there's a sound or a tone and immediately after that there is food or there is a strobe of light and immediately after that there's a puff of air to the eye. And then the light and the puff of air are paired.

The sound or the tone and the food are paired.

So pairing is any combination of a neutral stimuli, light or sound and some kind of consequence, some kind of event like food or a puff of air.

Pairing, remember this word, nothing to do with sex. Get your minds out of the gutter.

Children, pairing is about conditioning.

Now before I proceed, let's talk about accidental reinforcement.

Not everything is malevolent, malicious and evil in my world. There are also accidents.

So accidental reinforcement is the accidental occurrence of a reinforcer after an act.

And this inadvertently strengthens the likelihood of the occurrence of that act.

Let's take for example superstition.

St superstition is often the outcome of accidental reinforcement.

A golfer might lean as a putt nears the hole and such leaning has been followed in the past by the ball going in the hole, which is the reinforcer.

So even though leaning has no causal effect, there's nothing to do with whether the ball goes in the hole or not, the accidental contingent relationship between leaning and the ball being hold lead to reinforcement of leaning.

So this is called advantageous reinforcement.

It's when we do something by mistake, we do something and then there's a consequence. Something happens, not a consequence, I'm sorry. We do something and then something happens. So there's event B, event A or behavior A and then there's event B.

We say, behavior A caused event B, although A and B are totally unrelated, totally not connected.

I, for example, developed the superstition that every time I go out, this rain is going to rain even in mid summer. I'm kidding or not. I honestly truly believe this. This is of course, accidental reinforcement.

But accidental reinforcement usually leads to behavior.

So you do, you, there is a situation, there is a circumstance and then you behave in a certain way and there's a certain outcome. You say, oh my God, every time there is circumstance A, I get result B. So I should make sure to find myself in circumstance A if I want to obtain result B, even though A and B are not connected.

Okay, I hope you got it.

Now this is a very primitive form of conditioning.

Conditioning is a process by which certain kinds of experience make particular actions more or less likely.

So if every time you say something to me, I punish you in some way, the likelihood of you saying this again diminishes. And if every time you do something, I reward you, the likelihood of you increasing the frequency of such behavior is high. Every time you're rewarded, the frequency of the behavior that leads to the reward goes up. Every time you're punished, the frequency of the behavior that leads to the punishment goes down.

We can even encourage people to change pronoun density in sentences.

There have been famous experiments where whenever a student used the words, "I, me, myself, and mine," the student was rewarded somehow.

For example, the professor smiled at the student or nodded his head or whatever.

The frequency of the usage of these words, known as first pronoun density, the frequency of the usage skyrocketed, skyrocketed after the positive reinforcement, after the reward.

Okay, this is conditioning in general, a process by which certain kinds of experience make particular actions more or less likely.

But we differentiate between several types of conditioning.

Start with classical conditioning, first discovered by who else?

A Russian.

Russia and conditioning go well together.

The Russian was Pavlov, and it's also known as Pavlovian conditioning, respondent conditioning, type I conditioning, and type S conditioning.

Don't let me go there.

In general, we say classical conditioning.

Classical conditioning is a type of learning.

It's when an initially neutral stimulus, known as the conditioned stimulus, when it is paired, when it is connected with a stimulus that elicits a reflex response, the unconditioned stimulus, results in a learned or conditioned response when the conditioned stimulus is presented.

So, what do we have here?

We have a conditioned stimulus, which is neutral, light, sound, powerful.

I mean, these are neutral things.

We have an unconditioned stimulus.

It's a reflex response, for example, salivating.

And we have, sorry, the unconditioned stimulus.

And then we have the response.

So we have conditioned stimulus, unconditioned stimulus, and response.

Let's take the famous case of Pavlov, the famous experiments of Pavlov with dogs.

There was a tone, there was a sound, and the sound was immediately followed by food.

Gradually, the dogs learned to associate the sound with the food.

Initially, the sound had no effect on salivation.

But then after several repetitions, the dogs learned to connect the sound with the subsequent appearance of food.

So they started to salivate.

So there was a neutral stimulus, a conditioned stimulus, which was the sound.

There was a stimulus that elicits a reflex, the unconditioned stimulus, which was the food.

And the juxtaposition, the pairing of the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli created a conditioned response, which was salivating.

Tone or sound, conditioned stimulus, food, unconditioned stimulus, which produces a reflex response, salivating.

Put the two together, pair them time and again, connect them time and again, juxtapose them time and again, and the reflex appears.

The dogs begin to salivate, reacting to the neutral stimulus, the conditioned stimulus, which has nothing to do with food, actually, the sound.


So this is classical conditioning.

Classical conditioning is used in abusive relationships, of course.

Various rewards, for example, gifts or trips, could be a smile, could be a nod of the head, could be a caress, could be sex.

So yes, there's a lot of use of classical conditioning in intimate relationships with abusers.

Whenever the abuser gets his way, whenever he presents a neutral stimulus, if you react the way he wants, he rewards you.

You learn then to connect the neutral stimulus with a reward and you react reflexively.

You succumb to the abuser's expectations and demands.

Now, the neutral stimulus could be anything.

As I said, the reward could be many things.

Similarly, the neutral stimulus could be anything.

It could be a gesture.

It could be a body language element.

It could be a smile.

It could be a specific piece of text.

It could even be verbal abuse.

The abuser teaches you to connect one type of behavior, one event, one word, one gesture with an expected reward or punishment so as to change your behavior.

And this is classical conditioning.

You're like Pavlov's dog.

You salivate because you expect food and you expect food because of the sound of your abuser's voice.

An unconditioned stimulus, as I mentioned, is a stimulus that elicits an unconditioned response.

For example, when there's a hot stove and you touch it, you withdraw.

When you're exposed to light, the pupil in your eye contracts.

When you're presented with food and you're hungry, you salivate.

All these are unconditioned responses and they are responsive to unconditioned stimuli.

Unconditioned responses is an unlearned response to a stimulus.

It is any original response that occurs naturally and in the absence of conditioning.

Salivation in response to food is not taught.

You don't learn to salivate.

You just salivate.

The unconditioned response is a reflex that serves as a basis for the establishment of the conditioned response in classical conditioning.

Unconditioned reflex underlies classical conditioning.

Similarly, the conditioned stimulus is a neutral stimulus that is repeatedly associated with an unconditional stimulus until it acquires the ability to elicit a response that it previously did not.

So an unconditioned stimulus could be anything, absolutely anything, a color, a sound, a light, you name it. Everything.

We pair it with some reward or some punishment and it produces behavior.

Behavior is pretty reflexive because we all recoil from punishment and we are all drawn to rewards and to benefits.

The response is elicit by the conditioned stimulus.

Is similar to the response elicited by the unconditioned stimulus, although not in all cases.

A light, for example, by being repeatedly paired with food, the unconditioned stimulus eventually comes to elicit the same response as food itself, salivation, when presented alone.

This is the conditioned response in classical conditioning, the learned or acquired response to a conditioned stimulus.

I hope you got that part.

Yes, hopefully not too complicated.

Narcissists and abusers generally use classical conditioning and another type of conditioning known as operand conditioning.

We'll come to it in a few minutes.

To transition from classical conditioning to operand conditioning, we need to discuss reinforcement.

Now we've all been exposed to the concept of intermittent reinforcement, or ten-I love you, I hate you approach avoidance, I'm here, I'm gone, etc.

Intermittent reinforcement resembles very much splitting, splitting defense. That's why it resonates especially strongly in people with borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and so on.

These people have primitive infantile splitting defenses. In other words, they have dichotomous thinking.

People with these cluster B personality disorders, they divide the whole world into black and white, good versus evil, with me, against me, friend and enemy, hot and cold, love and hate, etc.

So intermittent reinforcement reinforces actually the splitting defense. It leverages the splitting defense and it creates catastrophizing.

If you have a splitting defense and I'm hot and then I'm cold, I approach you and then I avoid you, I love you and then I hate you, I'm going to exacerbate, I'm going to provoke your splitting defense, I'm going to inflame it in a way and your splitting defense will take over you. It will overwhelm you, it will drown you out and it will become a catastrophe. You will feel that you are being consumed by your splitting defense.

Intermittent reinforcement derives its power by co-opting infantile regressive defense mechanisms such as splitting, projection and projective identification in order to creating the victim a sense of loss of control, a sense of being dysregulated because there's overwhelming inability to somehow master the environment and there's a total disappearance of self-efficacy. It's incapacity to derive beneficial outcomes from the human environment.

This is intermittent reinforcement but how many of you know what reinforcement is?

Reinforcement is a key concept in operand conditioning. It is a process in which the frequency or probability of a response is increased by a dependent relationship, a contingency with a stimulus or a circumstance with a reinforcer.

No, it is when we pair a response with a reinforcer, a stimulus or a circumstance.

Reinforcement is a procedure that results in the frequency or probability of a response being increased in such a way or decreased.

In classical conditioning, reinforcement is a presentation of an unconditioned stimulus after a conditioned stimulus. We discussed it before but we use reinforcement mostly in the theory of operand conditioning.

Before we go to this theory and how the abuser uses it on you, how he actually conditions you.

And this is amazing because abusers use extremely sophisticated techniques which take years to study and decades to research and they do it on the fly instinctively, reflexively, unthinkingly. It comes naturally to them.

They are predators. They are predators.

You have to understand this. It's not a malicious premeditated process. It's just who they are.

They prey on people.

So here I am talking for ages about concepts and theories and so on and so forth.

And a typical low life abuser implements all this within the first few minutes of the love bombing phase.

Before we go to operand conditioning and how abusers apply or leverage it, we first need to discuss a few additional concepts regarding reinforcement.

We discussed reinforcement. We defined it.

Now, what is reinforcement contingency?

Reinforcement contingency is the contingency, the relationship between a response and a reinforcer.

You remember what a reinforcer is? I hope.


If not, rewind to the beginning.

The contingency between a response and a reinforcer may be positive if the occurrence of the reinforcer is more probable after the response.

Or it may be negative if the occurrence of the reinforcer is less probable after the response.

Reinforcement contingencies can be arranged by establishing dependencies between a particular type of response and a reinforcer.

Let's take an example.

A rat presses a liver. And every time the rat presses a liver, there is presentation of food.

The rat learns to associate the liver with the food. And here there is a reward.

So there is a dependency created. There's a pairing created between the appearance of food and the pressing of the liver.

Now, if the food is presented frequently, the incidence of the behavior will increase. The rat will press the liver more and more, even when it's not hungry, by the way.

If, however, the frequency of the presentation of the food diminishes as the rat presses the liver, the rat will cease to press the liver or will press the liver much less often.

So it is the outcome, the food that determines the behavior. The food determines how many times, how frequently, the rat will press the liver.

So it's the same situation in human affairs and especially in abusive relationships.

The abuser modulates the frequency and the quality of the rewards and the punishments so as to regulate and control your behavior.

The more he rewards you, the more likely you are to repeat the behavior. The less he rewards you, the less likely you are to repeat it.

If he punishes you, the behavior is likely to disappear.

This is all contingency reinforcement.

Contingency reinforcement can happen naturally. It could be the natural consequences of a response.

So for example, when you push the door, it opens. That is a contingency reinforcement or by accident, in accidental reinforcement.

But generally speaking, contingency reinforcement is a procedure which yields behavior subject to the modulation of the frequency of outcomes.

What is an aversive stimulus?

Aversive stimulus is any stimulus or occurrence that evokes avoidance or escape behavior.

So abusers would use aversive stimuli to reduce the frequency of behaviors they don't like.

So if you talk back, if you resist, if you are unhappy and express your emotions, if you are emotional, let's say, if you are anything the abuser dislikes about you, they are going to create aversive stimuli or events or occurrences which will induce you, convince you, motivate you, drive you to escape, to avoid, to stop doing what you're doing, to control yourself somehow, to become highly self-conscious and self-aware, in short to walk on eggshells.

Walking on eggshells is the response to aversive stimuli.

Relatively reinforcement is the removal, the prevention, the postponement of an aversive stimulus as a consequence of a response which in turn increases the probability of that response.

So there is a response and the response removes some aversive stimulus, prevents it, postpones it.

And so it's like I'm telling you, if you behave in a certain way, I am not going to punish.

It's not the same like telling you, if you behave in a certain way, I'm going to reward you, if you behave in a certain way, I'm going to give you a gift, I'm going to make love to you, I'm going to smile at you, I'm going to love you. That is positive reinforcement.

But I can engage in negative reinforcement.

I can say if you behave in a certain way or if you refrain from behaving in a certain way, I'm not going to punish you.

There are not going to be aversive stimuli. There are not going to be unwanted consequences. There's not going to be pain, there's going to be hurt.

So I'm teaching you that by modifying your behavior, reducing it, changing it, regulating it, hiding it, I'm teaching you that behavioral modification on your part can remove an aversive stimulus or prevent it or postpone it somehow.

And this is negative reinforcement compared to positive reinforcement.

This is known also as avoidance conditioning.

The establishment of a behavior that prevents or postpones aversive stimulation.

Abuses do this a lot. They expose you to pain, to hurt, to insults, to physical violence, to verbal abuse, to psychological acute stress. You name it, they expose you to a panoply of aversive stimuli and then they smile angelically at you and they tell you, "You see what you made me do? All you have to do has been nice to me. All you have to do is agree to sex. All you have to do is buy me my morning paper.

It's not such a thing anymore. All you have to do is clean the house. All you have to do is this and all you have to do is that. All you have to do is don't talk back at me. Don't argue with me and don't criticize me because I know best.

So this is negative reinforcement.

The abuser exposes you to aversive stimuli and aversive circumstances which involve acute discomfort, extreme pain and so on and then tells you, "I can take it back. I'm in control of this. You have the power to avoid these consequences. You can be pain free. You can be fear free. All you have to do is behave the way I want you to behave perfectly, be submissive and obedient.

And this negative reinforcement leads to extreme obeisance or extreme obedience.

Have a look at the Mental Health Dictionary, letter A, a video I posted a few days ago.

So in a typical conditioning experiment, a buzzer is sounded. Then a shock is applied to a subject until the subject performs a particular act. So there's a buzzer. I apply a shock to you and the act you have to perform is telling me, "Tell me that I'm a genius."

You refuse to tell me that I'm a genius because I'm an idiot. I'm going to sound the buzzer. I'm going to shock you again and again.

This is the aversive stimuli. These are the aversive stimuli.

So until you relent, until you give up, until you submit and tell me that I'm a genius, at that moment the buzzer will no longer ring. The shock will not be administered.

On the very contrary, let me give you a piece of cake and a kiss on the cheek. This is negative and positive reinforcement.

When they alternate the way I just described, this is intermittent reinforcement.

After several trials, usually the vast majority of organisms, dogs, cats, humans, they obey, they conform, they alter, they modify their behavior.

It's a fact.

To avoid the shock, the shock would be electrical shock but it could be injured.

There are many forms of shocks, external shocks in abusive relationships.

This is also known as avoidance learning or avoidance training and it's a close skin of something known as escape conditioning.

Escape conditioning is a process by which someone acquires a response that results in determination of an aversive stimulus.

For example, if a monkey learns that pulling a string eliminates a loud noise, he pulls the string and this is escape conditioning or escape learning or escape training.

It's very close to avoidance conditioning but in avoidance conditioning, the subject is taught to modify her behavior to avoid the aversive stimulus.

In escape conditioning, the subject is taught to do something to avoid the aversive stimulus.

If you don't want me to mistreat you, if you don't want me to beat you up, you have to sleep with me. If you don't want me to abuse you verbally, you have to always agree with me, actively agree with me, not just keep mum or keep silent. If you keep silent, that is avoidance conditioning but I want you to tell me that I'm right and that is escape conditioning.

So this is negative reinforcement.

What is positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement is an increase in the probability of occurrence of some activity because that activity results in the presentation of a stimulus or of some circumstance.

So where negative reinforcement goes from stimulus to behavior, positive reinforcement goes from behavior to stimulus.

Can we know that some activity, some choice, some decision, some behavior and even some trait result in the presentation of some positive stimulus, some reward, some benefit, some gift, some circumstance that is very pleasing?

If we know this, then there would be an increase in the probability of the occurrence of the activity or behavior that lead to these benefits.

I discussed it before as well. It's a procedure of presenting a positive reinforcer after a response and this creates something called a schedule of reinforcement.

Would you believe that abusers do all this unconsciously and automatically?

Not all abusers.

Psychopathic abusers know very well what they're doing.

Narcissists don't and borderlines definitely don't.

Schedule of reinforcement in conditioning is a rule. It determines which instances of a response will be reinforced.

There are numerous types of schedules of reinforcement and reinforcement schedules depend crucially on the type of behavior you want to encourage or discourage.

But it's like making a map, creating a map which says, okay, here's a stimulus, aversive or desired. Here's the behavior I want to encourage or discourage and this is what I have to do.

Whenever there's a behavior I want to discourage, I have to expose the subject, my intimate partner, to an aversive stimulus. Whenever there's a behavior I want to encourage, on the contrary, a positive stimulus and so on and so forth.

And finally, we reach the theory itself.

We have reached operand conditioning.

Operand conditioning is simply the process in which behavioral change, learning occurs as a function of the consequences of the behavior.

The abuser teaches the intimate partner to anticipate the consequences of her behaviors, choices, decisions, the circumstances that she creates.

It's as if there's a tariff or a price list. If you do this, you're likely to get this and if you don't do this, you're likely to get this and so on and so forth.

And this creates anticipation, catastrophizing, anxiety and modifies behaviors in ways which are alien to the subject.

Very often victims of abuse keep insisting, "I don't know myself any longer. It's not me. I don't know what came over me. He has changed me to the point that I don't recognize myself anymore."

Truer. He has done it via operand conditioning. He has changed your behavior because he has created in your mind a mental map of the bad and good consequencesattendant upon your choices and decisions and behaviors, thereby encouraging you, incentivizing you, even seducing you into reducing or increasing the frequency of particular behaviors or even eliminating them altogether.

Teaching a dog to do tricks in a way, rewarding behavioral change in a misbehaving child.

These are examples of operand conditioning. It's also known as instrumental conditioning or operand learning.

Operand conditioning takes place via shaping and behavior modification.

Let's talk about shaping.

Let's discuss shaping.

Shaping is when we produce new forms of operand behavior by the reinforcement of successive approximations to the behavior.

It's also known as approximation conditioning or behavior shaping.

Let me explain.

What is operand behavior?

Operand behavior is a behavior that produces an effect on the environment and whose likelihood of recurrence is influenced by consequences.


It's like operand conditioning.

Operand behavior is nearly synonymous with voluntary behavior, a behavior that is intentionally in nature like walking or typing or making a YouTube video.

And it is distinct from opposed to reflexive behavior.

Reflexive behavior are responses to stimuli that are involuntary or free from conscious control.

The aforementioned salivation when you look at a tasty cake.

Reflexive behavior serves as a basis for classical conditioning.

Operand behavior involves choices, decisions, selections, intentions, planning in many cases.

Operand behavior navigates itself in terms of frequency, in terms of intensity, in terms of the content of the behavior.

It is influenced by anticipated consequences, expected outcomes and very often catastrophizing.

The abuser does. He exaggerates the outcomes and he is being very unjust, arbitrary, capricious, unpredictable, indeterminate, introduces uncertainty into the situation to some degree so that you never know what's coming on the one hand and on the other hand you learn to behave in ways that prevent punishment and encourage rewards.

You become, in short, hypervigilant.

Operand behavior, your operand behavior becomes ingrained and entrenched and one of the techniques to accomplish this that abusers use are successive approximations to the behavior that is desired by them and this is known as method of successive approximations.

I will explain it.

It's also important to understand that planned behavior, a behavior that is under the organism's direct control as opposed to reflexive behavior, is mutable, is malleable, is changeable.

Reflexive behavior is not.

You see food, you salivate, end of story. You can't control it.

Planned behavior is controllable.

The abuser knows this.

He actually wants you to have even more control over yourself, not forget the YouTube bullshit hype by self-styled experts.

The abuser wants you to control yourself.

He wants you to control yourself to perfection. He wants you to control yourself to the point that you have the power to suppress certain behaviors and enhance others because it pleases him.

It conforms with his goals. It furthers the shared fantasy. It affords him even more control over you, but he cannot control you if you can control yourself.

When he presents you with aversive stimuli, unpleasant things, uncomfortable things, frightening things, threats, he expects you to control yourself to the point that you can modify your behavior, change it, stop it, adopt other behaviors which would reduce, eliminate or prevent the aversive stimuli.

On the other hand, when he presents you with rewards and gifts and benefits, he expects these to provoke in you commensurate behaviors.

But if you don't control yourself, if you're incapable of planned behavior, what good are all these techniques?

There are two layers of control in intimate relationships with abusers and especially with narcissists.

Self-control, the narcissist expects you to self-control to the maximum, to perfection. If you don't, he gets very, very, very pissed off. He berates you, he demeans you, humiliates you, shames you into self-control. He wants you to have self-discipline and self-control because these are the tools he uses to control you.

This is the irony.

The narcissist can control only someone who controls herself to perfection.

If someone is labile and dysregulated, never mind how intelligent and amazing the narcissist is, he cannot control her. There's no way to control her.

So reinforcements, positive and negative, operant conditioning, all the aforementioned techniques are intended on the one hand to break your spirit, to render you an extension of the narcissist and on the other hand to establishing you a regime of terror, fear which would lead you to control yourself rigidly in order not to incur the rather the punitive measures of your intimate partner, the abuser.

One of the techniques the narcissist uses is known as the method of successive approximation. It's a way to shape operant behavior by reinforcing responses similar to the desire behavior.

Initially the responses roughly approximating the desire behavior are reinforced. Later only responses closely approximating the desire behavior are reinforced. The process gradually leads to the desire behavior converges on the desire behavior.

So if the narcissist wants you to tell him that he's a genius, for example, that's the desired behavior you need to provide him with no secondary narcissistic supply. You need to tell him that he's a genius.

He needs to reinforce you, he needs to operant condition you to tell him that he's a genius.

But he may use the method of successive approximations.

Initially he would expect you to agree with him, then he would expect you to praise his work and only then he would expect you to tell him that he's a genius.

So there are steps of reinforcement, a gradient of reinforcement. It doesn't come all at once. It leads you there imperceptibly, glacially. You don't even see it coming. Suddenly you're there.

And this is what is known as behavior modification. Behavior modification is the use of operant conditioning, biofeedback, modeling, aversion conditioning and reciprocal inhibition or other learning techniques as a means of changing human behavior.

Behavior modification is used in clinical contexts to improve adaptation and alleviate symptoms. We use it in organizational corporate contexts to encourage employees to adopt safe work practices, etc., etc. It's a kind of behavioral therapy.

And the narcissist and other abusers by extension, they use behavior modification. They modify your behavior. They do it in a variety using, deploying a variety of techniques. They model.

So there is a technique called modeling. It is used in cognitive behavior therapy and behavior therapy.

Modeling is when learning occurs through observation and imitation alone without comment or reinforcement.

So the narcissist would behave in a certain way, ostentatiously, conspicuously, in your face consistently. And every time he would behave this way, he would let you imitate. He would encourage you to imitate him, but not overtly. He would not provide stimuli to imitate. It's just like his presence would induce you to imitate him.

Remember that the narcissist regresses you to an infantile stage. You become a child, become an infant, a toddler. And the narcissist becomes a parental figure, a mother in this case.

So you have a huge incentive to imitate money, the new money, the narcissist.

This is called modeling. It's a process in which one or more individuals or other entities serve as examples, models.

And it's typical in childhood.

Children emulate these role models or entities.

Models are often parents, other adults or other children.

But they may also be symbolic, for example, it could be a book character or a television character. It's part of what is called social learning theory.

OK, another technique is aversion conditioning.

It's a process by which an noxious or unpleasant stimulus is paired with undesired behavior.

This technique is used therapeutically also, by the way, when we treat substance abuse. Then it's called aversion therapy.

So we give the junkie use drugs, but we give him a medication that renders the drugs noxious and then he throws up alcohol, same alcohol therapy, aversion therapy and exposure therapy are forms of aversion conditioning or aversive conditioning.

The narcissist uses aversion condition. He pairs your undesired behavior with his unpleasant or noxious stimuli stimulus.

Every time you behave in a way which he dislikes or doesn't want, he presents to you stimulus that is truly off putting or uncomfortable or terrifying or disgusting or something.

You learn to connect, you learn to pair your undesired behavior with this outcome and you need you learn to stop behaving this way to seize the behavior, behavior modification accomplished.

Another technique which I've discussed in the previous video is reciprocal inhibition.

Reciprocal inhibition is a technique in behavior therapy that aims to replace an undesired response, for example, anxiety with a desired response.

And this is also known as counter conditioning.

Reciprocal inhibition relies on the gradual substitution of a response that is incompatible with the original one and is potent enough to neutralize the anxiety invoking power of the stimulus.

The whole concept was invented by Joseph Grannon. It's also known as systematic desensitization.

The idea is that you have an undesired response.

So the narcissist thinks, for example, that the fact that you disagree with him is an undesired response.


And so he provides you with another type of response.

He provides you with an alternative response that is actually very pleasant, very powerful and neutralizes the original response.

He replaces one response with another. He inhibits the original response and later inhibits the substitute response.

This is why it's called reciprocal inhibition.

So a narcissist, if you disagree with him, may provide you with huge benefits whenever you agree with him.

But he would do it in a way that would reduce your anxiety about disagreeing with you.

Ultimately, he may preserve the substitutive stimulus or he may take it away. It doesn't matter. You already inhibited.

Reciprocal inhibition is the reason we cannot recall two associated ideas or items because they interfere with each other. They inhibit each other.

And the narcissist uses that abundantly.

There's also instrumental conditioning. It's a form of conditioning in which the correct response is essential for reinforcement.

Instrumental conditioning is very similar to operant conditioning. It involves complex activities in order to reach a goal.

So when we train a rat to navigate a maze to obtain food, that is instrumental conditioning.

In classical conditioning, reinforcement is given regardless of the response. In instrumental conditioning, reinforcement is given only subject to the response. It's operant conditioning in all but name. It's known as instrumental learning or type two conditioning or type R conditioning and so on.

But honestly, the distinctions are too subtle even for my own overpowering and over towering mind.


Last things that I want to mention are primary reinforcement versus secondary reinforcements.

Primary reinforcements in operant conditioning is the process in which a presentation of a stimulus or a circumstance following a response increases the future probability of that response without the need for special experience with the stimulus or the circumstances.

So every time the intimate partner behaves in a certain way, the narcissist presents a stimulus or a circumstance. And the partner does not experience the stimulus and does not experience the circumstance, but is just aware of their existence. And this is enough. This is enough to modify the behavior.

So the stimulus or circumstance known as an unconditioned or primary reinforcer functions as an effective reinforcement without any special experience or training.

Let me give you an example.

Imagine that the narcissist wants the intimate partner to be more sexually receptive.


So every time she's more sexually receptive, he would deposit money in their joint bank account.

Now, the intimate partner doesn't touch the money, use the money, experience the money, nothing. It's just there. It's just a fact.

But the very fact that the joint account is being augmented serves as an inducement and incentive to sleep with the narcissist more often, more frequently, or to be more passionate and enthusiastic about it. It's an example of a primary reinforcement, an event, circumstance, stimulus that's out there, not experienced by the partner, but induces behavioral changes in the partner.

So the contingent occurrence of such a stimulus or circumstance after a response is known as unconditioned reinforcement.

What is secondary reinforcement?

In operant conditioning, secondary reinforcement is the process by which a neutral stimulus – light, sound, you remember – a neutral stimulus acquires the ability to influence the future probability of a particular response by virtue of being paired with another stimulus that naturally enhances that probability.

Let me explain. It's very complex and a very beautiful way of actually conditioning without appearing to be conditioned.

So you know, for example, that you're a narcissist and you're a narcissistic abuser. I'm sorry, you're a narcissist, therefore you're an abuser.

And so you know that your girlfriend likes, what shall we say, likes chewing gum.

Okay, so when you wanted to do something for you, you offer her chewing gum.

She's a cheap girl. You offer her chewing gum.

If you were to find a way to connect something else with the chewing gum that would remind her of the chewing gum, that other thing would motivate her to change her behavior. It's linking one stimulus to a stimulus that is already working, that is known to be working.

Now the chewing gum example was not the best, honestly.

But I don't know.

Imagine that every time she pleases the narcissist, he takes her out to dinner. She loves food, takes her out to dinner.


And now he hires a chef. He hires a chef to come home.

Now the chef is not connected to the restaurant. It's not connected to the dinner, but it's the same kind of stimulus. He connects stimulus B, the chef, with stimulus A, food, because he knows that food works. Food alters, modifies a behavior.

He uses the initially neutral stimulus of circumstance, functions as effective reinforcement only after special experience or training.

So he links stimulus B to stimulus A, stimulus B to stimulus A, time and again, time and again, until she learns to associate stimulus B with the desired modification in behavior, as she used to associate stimulus A.

So now he has two instruments, stimulus A and stimulus B, and he can modify her behavior either way.

And this is actually secondary reinforcement.

So if we teach a dog to understand the command "sit" and then give the dog a treat, and at the same time, we sound a noise. We make a noise from a tool every time.

When we say "sit," we give the dog a treat.

But at the same time that we say "sit," we make a sound, a specific sound.

Eventually the noise, the sound itself, can be used alone to induce the dog to sit, to induce the desired behavior, with no treat or reward being necessary, actually.

So it's a contingent occurrence of such a stimulus of circumstance after a response that is called conditioned reinforcement.

This was a brief cursory glance at conditioning and how abusers deploy conditioning, use conditioning, to tame the shrew, or shall I say tame the shrewd.

Shakespeare as usual got it right. He knew more about the human spirit, with the exception of Dostoevsky, perhaps.

And let's see if I can recall some quote or find some quote from the taming of the shrew, because it would be an apt ending in this video.

If I were waspish, best beware my sting, to change true rules for old inventions.

Forward, I pray, since we have come so far, and be it moon or sun, for what you please.

The taming of the shrew.

William Shakespeare.

Had he lived today, he would have been probably considered a narcissistic abuser, and he would have his own YouTube channel and would annihilate mine.

I'm so lucky to have been born hundreds of years after him. And to benefit from his infinite wisdom regarding human nature.

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