It may come as a shock to you, but the narcissist doesn't see you the way you see yourself. The narcissist doesn't see himself the way you see him. And frankly, it's doubtful whether the narcissist sees anyone at all.
My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the smiling blue professor of psychology and the author of the inestimable Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, the Bible of the field, and the book that coined the phrase narcissistic abuse.
Today we are going to discuss the narcissist's point of view, how he perceives you and the relationship.
Are you truly a significant other or maybe just an insignificant other? Are you an intimate partner? Is there intimacy and is there a partnership in the relationship with the narcissist?
But most importantly, what does he think about you secretly in the inner recesses of his undisclosed mind, the occult areas of his demented soul?
I know you like this. You like to think that narcissists are possessed by demons.
They're not possessed by demons. They are demons.
I'm kidding. I'm just kidding.
Narcissists are flawed human beings with lacking equipment. Nothing more, nothing less. Terrified traumatized kids who throw temper tantrums and can't perceive other people as separate from them.
And so let's delve straight in.
When the narcissist sees you for the first time, he takes a snapshot of you, he internalizes a snapshot and he continues to interact with the snapshot, blah, blah, blah. You know these from previous videos. He also photoshops the snapshot, a process known as idealization.
By idealizing you, he can idealize himself. If you are perfect and he is in possession of a perfect object, you, then he is perfect or maybe even uber perfect, more perfect than even you.
But then gradually life intervenes. Reality intrudes. You begin to deviate and diverge from the idealized snapshot, which pisses the narcissist off.
And then he begins to change the way he sees you, the external object.
Mind you, the internal object, the introject, your representation in the narcissist's mind, the snapshot, the avatar, that doesn't change until very late in the relationship.
But the way he perceives you begins to change.
He cannot really accept you as separate from him. You are an extension, you're an organ, but it's like someone with a chronic illness who is very angry at his heart or his liver or his lungs because they give him trouble.
So when you get chronically ill with your kidneys, for example, you may develop a hate love relationship with your kidneys. You may resent your kidneys for giving you a tough time. Same, it's the same thing.
That's how the narcissist sees you. Another arm, another leg, if you're extremely lucky, another heart.
The narcissist, first of all, is likely to convince himself that he had judged you correctly when you have met. He needs to preserve his grandiosity. The narcissist never makes mistakes. The narcissist is never wrong. The narcissist is infallible. It's inconceivable that he has misjudged you, for example.
So he tells himself, I judged her correctly and appropriately when I met her. My perception of her was right. My judgment of people is intact. Nothing's wrong with me. She has changed. She has changed.
Why has she changed?
Well, I don't know the influence of bad friends. Her family is poisoning her against me. Circumstances, she is mentally ill or she is physically ill. The medication she's taking, exposure to left wing radical ideas in college, what have you.
Whatever the reason may be, the narcissist convinces himself that you are being transformed, that you are in the process of metamorphosizing into another person.
And so the gap between the snapshot and you, in reality, the gap between your introject, the internal object that stands in for you in the narcissist's mind and you, this gap grows not only because of what you are doing.
This abyss opens up also because of the internal narrative of the narcissist. And this narrative is about how you are changing for the worse.
Narcissists are paranoid. They have persecutory delusions. They regard the world as a hostile place, how to get them, ask Donald Trump.
The second process that happens with the narcissist, his point of view, is that you constantly blame shift. He thinks you're guilty. He thinks you've done something wrong. He thinks he is immaculate and innocuous and innocent. You keep blaming him for things. You keep assigning to him responsibility and guilt and accountability.
And he resents this. He thinks you're manipulating him. He thinks you're playing with his mind. He thinks that's a power play and a mind game that you have embarked on.
He is bewildered. He's disoriented. You are his mother. You're a mother figure. Why are you doing this to him?
And so whenever you disagree with a narcissist or criticize something or suggest something or prefer or suggest, give advice, or even offer help, the narcissist perceives this as shifting the blame, counterfactually.
The facts are in the narcissist's mind that he is blameless, that he is guiltless, that he doesn't deserve a newness and that what you're doing borders on malice.
Mind you, everything the narcissist thinks about you, everything he says about you may be true. Even narcissists get it right from time to time. And because it may be true, even in principle, it provokes in you profound self-doubt. You begin to ask yourself, maybe he's right. Maybe he has a point. Maybe I'm the narcissist. Maybe I'm misbehaving. Maybe I'm too onerous, ordinary, tough, harsh, strict. Maybe I should change my ways.
This is how the narcissist molds you, makes you malleable and mutable.
The narcissist presents himself at all times as a victim, a victim of his superiors, a victim of the state, a victim of circumstances. He was born in the wrong period in history.
And you, of course, swept in this tsunami wave of self-imputed victimhood. Today, it's known as TIV. It's a new personality construct.
And so the narcissist casts himself as a victim. And he does this because it affords him the high moral ground. And it's a tool of manipulation. It's also an integral part of his confabulation.
He rewrites his history. He re-composes his narrative in a way that casts him in a good light and all others in a bad light.
He is the angel. All the others are demons. He has always been right. They have always been wrong. He deserved much more. They got it. He has been discriminated against, underappreciated, and generally mistreated.
That's the victim's stance.
And he sees you as a victimizer. He sees you as an abuser, which makes communication with the narcissist very difficult because you don't have common ground and you don't have a common language. Even your most innocuous acts, even things you do which are unrelated to the narcissist, are going to be fitted into the victimhood narrative.
The narcissist is going to hypervigilantly monitor you, supervise you, spy on you, follow you around in order to gather incriminating evidence. Everything you say and everything you do can and will be used against you in the narcissist court.
You have been warned, Miranda.
And so this is the I am the victim thing, and you are my abuser.
And he also thinks that you guilt trip him. He thinks that you are an emotional blackmailer, that you actually sacrifice in order to leverage your sacrifice to make him behave in specific ways. He thinks that you love him because you want something from him.
It's not real love. It's conditional love. It's manipulative love, if it is love at all.
He thinks you make him feel guilty because by making him feel guilty, you can modify his behaviors.
And your goal oriented. In his eyes, you're very, very close to a psychopath. And that is regardless of how empathic you are, how caring, how compassionate and how loving.
Don't think you can, by caring for the narcissist and by sharing with the narcissist, you can somehow change his mindset or state of mind. You can't.
Because it's not about because it's not about you. It's about an internal world populated with avatars, a paracosm, an alternative reality where the narcissist writes scripts for movies. He's a movie director, an actor, and you're just an actress or prop on his theater play stage.
So it's not about you.
Still, the narcissist perceives himself as a victim who is being emotionally manipulated and blackmailed via guilt tripping. He accuses you when you disagree with this assessment of you. He accuses you of lacking self-awareness. You have no introspection, he tells you. You can see yourself really. You don't look at yourself in the mirror. You are totally unaware of yourself. You have no self-awareness. You really need to get to grips with who you are. You really need to accept how flawed and wrong and sometimes malevolent you are.
He is trying to convince you that there's in you a grain of evil.
Minnie, all those of you who miss her, here she is, always by my side and on my lips.
So he tells you you're not self-aware. He also accuses you of being self-destructive, of being hateful. You want to drag me down with you, he tells you. Your habits are self-defeating. I'm not going to succumb to this. I'm soaring into the stratosphere. I'm bigger than this. I'm cosmically significant. I am divine. I'm god-like. You're not going to drag me down to the level of a common human.
In extreme cases, the narcissist may deny you sex and become celibate because by denying you sex, he transcends the foibles and the weaknesses of the human species. He becomes uber-mensch. He becomes a superman.
So it's important for him to sustain his grandiosity by casting you not only as an abuser, but as a toxic influence. Someone who creates an ambience and environment that reduces the narcissist to the lowest common denominator.
The narcissist is not human. He's the next stage in evolution. And you're trying to transform him or transmute him or transubstantiate him back into human. You're trying to devolve him, not evolve him.
And he is not going to let you. He's not going to let you contaminate him and infect him with your low-grade humanity.
The fact that you can't appreciate the narcissist's amazing exceptionalism, the fact that you underestimate his rarity, his sui generis, the fact that you can't absorb or worship him as the god that he is, that just proves that you are disloyal. You're disloyal.
There is this cult, there's this narrative that you belong to, and you're betraying it. There's a sense of betrayal, a bit traumatic. The narcissist has been betrayed as a child by his mother.
And here comes a replay, a reenactment of his early childhood betrayal.
Actually, he pushes you to betray him. And then when you look for alternatives, he blames you for it.
You're out to get me, he tells you. You're just after my money. You lie to me. You're out to get my money. You lie to me. You deceive me, and you cheat on me with others. You entrapped me. I could have been much further in my career, in my life. I would have been much more accomplished, but because of you, I'm stuck here. Because of you, I can't self-actualize and realize my potential. You're a bad influence of me. You're a trap.
You know, in medieval times, they had this vagina dentata, vagina with teeth. Women were considered to be predators, actually, throughout the majority of human history, not men. Women were considered predators, the Venus trap. Venus trap, yeah.
So he has this misogyny, he has this deeply embedded hatred of women.
And by the way, everything I'm saying, just flip the genders, flip the gender pronouns, and it still works.
So if it's a woman, a female narcissist, a woman narcissist, she hates men, she's a misandrist.
So the choice of gender pronouns in this presentation is arbitrary. You can easily flip between the genders. It's equally, equally accurate with men and women, because there are no men and women left today. Women are just men with vaginas.
So he accuses you of trapping him. He accuses you of an elaborate scheme to shackle him, imprison him, prevent him from realizing his huge potential and from self actualizing. It's like Samson and Delilah. You cut his locks, hair locks.
You never mean what you say, he tells you. You are very devious. You double speak. It's difficult to tell the truth. I can't really make up what it is that you're after. I don't understand your direction and goals. You are not mysterious. You are more like devious. You're more like cunning. You're more like scheming.
Again, this view of you is a psychopath or a psychopath in the making.
He blames you for gaslighting you. He tells you, you are distorting reality and you are impacting my ability to judge reality properly. You create a hallucinatory, nightmarish world where I'm totally disoriented, dislocated, derealized, depersonalized and amnesiac. It's your effect or your impact on me that makes me lose my reality testing.
When I'm with you, I feel totally flat, totally empty, sometimes as if I'm dead or unreal. And so I need to get away from you because you create this alternative reality for me and you force me into it. And I know it's a lie. I know it's not true. I know the world is not like this. I know I am not like this. Everything you're telling me about yourself is intended to deconstruct me and reconstruct me in your image.
He's projecting, of course. This is projection. That's precisely what he's doing to you.
And he says to you, you hate me while I love you self-sacrificially.
I do everything for you. I did everything for you. I changed my life for you. You were the center of my world. You were my world. And look how you're treating me now. Why do you hate me? Having loved you so.
So in his mind, he's casting you as a persecutory object. You're becoming, gradually, the enemy number one, two and three.
He needs you to become the enemy because he needs to discard you because he needs to separate from his original mother via you, the substitute mother.
I've explained this in previous videos. Watch my interview with Richard Grannon about the fantasy lives of narcissists and borderlines.
So he is caught in this convoluted dynamics where, on the one hand, you are the mother figure. And on the other hand, he needs to hate you and discard you in order to separate from the mother figure and finally become an adult individual.
On the one hand, it's very promising and very alluring. And so devaluing and discarding you is an irresistible proposition.
On the other hand, it's very terrifying to abandon mother or to be abandoned by her.
He needs a secure base, a sense of safety. So he keeps coming back and forth.
And that is the narcissist approach avoidance, hot and cold, intermittent reinforcement.
Finally, he accuses you of humiliating, shaming him, especially in front of peers, mortifying him. He begins to truly hate you. He begins to truly hate you and plot revenge in many cases.
That is at the stage where you should bail out because he's no longer with us. He has lost touch with reality. He is immersed in his internal murky dynamics.
There's nothing further you can do for him. He is gone. He has gone far away, where you could never reach.