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How To Think Like A Narcissist

Uploaded 7/15/2023, approx. 36 minute read

How to think like a narcissist?

Why would I want to think like a narcissist, you say, in unison?

First of all, because you presumably want to know what hit you.

What is this force of nature that had essentially consumed your life for a limited period of time, traumatized you, and is likely to have long-term effects via the entraining and the introject inside your mind?

What is it that struck you so suddenly and unexpectedly?

How does a narcissist think?

Is very crucial to understanding your thought processes in the wake, in the aftermath of narcissistic abuse?

Number two, you need to anticipate the next moves of the narcissist.

The more intimate you are with the way the narcissist thinks, the more likely you are to get it right.

Number three, there are bits and pieces in the way that narcissists process reality and the world in the way they think cognitively. There are bits and pieces which are useful and you may wish actually to emulate and adopt them.

Not everything is 100% dead and ugly and evil or 100% good and angelic and unadulterated. This is spleaking, the cosmos stinking. It's a primitive, infantile defense mechanism.

The world is never, never black and white, never good and evil. The world is gray. The world is a mixed proposition.

So today I'm going to introduce you to the way the narcissist thinks and that's hence the title, How to Think Like a Narcissist.


But some very important service announcements first and foremost.

I want to introduce you to this beautiful mug with my ugly mug on it.

It says in Hebrew, Shalom Shoshanim, which is essentially, "Hi there, Shoshanim, look it up." I can't recall who gave it to me a few years ago and I offered my apology, but whoever it was, thank you very much. I'm having my first sip of coffee.

Yes, coffee, no other liquid from Shalom Shoshanim, the Shalom Shoshanim mug with my ugly mug superimposed. I'll try to ignore this part.

Mmm, it tastes good.

Okay, the second service announcement.

You've all been beseeching me. I think legally you're harassing with a repeated question.

How am I supposed to search the channel?

Well, YouTube offers several search facilities. On desktops and laptops, you go to the extreme right of the screen and there is a magnifying glass and you click on it and you can search the channel. On a mobile smartphone, you click on the down arrow and there's a menu, a downward menu, drop down menu and you can select search.

But I aim to make it easier for you because I like you from time to time.

And so I divided most of the videos on my channel into thematic playlists.

So if you go to the playlist section, you will find your way. There's like an index of the website. So there's a playlist regarding borderline personality disorder. There's another playlist regarding the shared fantasy. There's another playlist regarding abusing relationships and so on and so forth. Just find the right playlist and then playlists are much more limited. They contain anywhere between 20 and 100 videos. And by title, you can find the video you're looking for. And finally, there's a website. Vaknin-talks.com. Click on this website. It's in the description. And you end up visiting the transcripts of most of my videos. They are available online. And if you scroll down on that website at the bottom, you can download an Android app, also called Vaknin Talks. An Android app that allows you to search the transcripts to all the videos on my channel. That's it. Don't push your luck. Remember who you're dealing with. Who am I?

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love and I'm also the author of Narcissism Revisited, which happens to be one book.

I am a former visiting professor of psychology and currently, and for a long time now, on the faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Toronto, Canada, and Outreach Program in Lagos, Nigeria.

We've covered the globe. We can move into the outer space of the Narcissist's mind, the big void, the quantum vacuum, the place where no one dares to tread, give up all hope, yea, who enter, the black hole that consumes everything and emits only deadly radiation.

Enough with the physics metaphors, Vaknin. Move on to the topic.


Okay, topic, here I come.

The Narcissist has something called dissonant thinking.

And before I explain what is dissonant thinking, I'm going to give you an example of dissonant thinking.

Sometimes examples are even better than different definitions.

Remember the video? Yesterday's video? Long time ago, yesterday. Remember the video?

In that video, I explained that the Narcissist first converts you, his intimate partner, into a maternal figure, into a mummy, stand in.

And then he tries to transform you into a transitional object, a toy.

But this is a mission impossible. Why?

Because the psychological role of the transitional object is to allow the child to safely separate from mother.

So you, the Narcissist's intimate partner, cannot be at the same time his mother and the transitional object that helps him to separate from his mother.

Evidently you cannot be.

And yet, in the Narcissist's mind, you can.

And because he wants to square the circle and demand the impossible, he gets frustrated, he gets disappointed, he gets aggressive, and he devalues and discards you.

All because you couldn't be simultaneously two contradictory things.

And this is called dissonant thinking.

But we'll come to it in a minute.


Before we define dissonant thinking, do not confuse dissonant thinking with paradoxical thinking.

Paradoxical thinking is a cognition, a thought, marked by contradiction of typical logical processes.

So paradoxical thinking is when I tell you, try to think outside the box. Push the envelope. Think paradoxically. Think counterintuitively. Exit your common sense. Defy the rules of logic. See where it takes you.

Now, of course, there are mental health disorders and mental health diseases.

But paradoxical thinking is common. A schizoid personality disorder. A schizotypal personality disorder. Even schizophrenia.

But these diseases apart, these illnesses apart, paradoxical thinking is a very healthy process.

It helps you to reframe problems and even get rid of negative beliefs in a positive manner.

So it promotes creativity. Personal, familial, organizational change.

Paradoxical thinking is a good thing. But it has nothing to do with dissonant thinking.

Dissonant thinking is when you hold simultaneously in your mind two beliefs, two wishes, two values, two demands, two seeming facts, two attitudes, and so on and so forth that conflict with each other, are mutually exclusive, contradict and destroy each other, to expect your intimate partner to be the mother, and also to expect her to be the transitional object that pushes the mother away is an example of dissonant thinking.

It sounds a lot like identity disturbance, like one minute you want A and the next minute you want anti A. One minute you have a wish and the next minute you have the opposite wish.

So it sounds a lot like your identity is not stable. There's no core. It's not formed.

So some people might say, those of you who are still awake, might say, what about identity disturbance? Not the same.

Identity disturbance is sequential. You have one identity. It is all pervasive. It is overriding. It is cohesive. It is coherent. It is clear. It is immutable for that time. And then you change identity. You move to another identity and it is as cohesive, as coherent and as stable as the previous identity.

This is identity disturbance. And it's verycommon, for example, in borderline personality disorder.

Dissonant thinking is not sequential. The parts of the identity that conflict, the two values, the two beliefs, the two requirements, the two wishes, the two fantasies, the two dreams, the two everything, the parts that conflict are co-extant. They exist dynamically, sub-alternously. They exert energy on the personality at the same time. They create something called the old psychoanalytic literature of reaction.

So it's as if the personality is broken or split, but the parts of the personality, the fragments, cannot co-exist. They have to annihilate each other.

It's very similar, those of you who know physics, it's very similar to particles and antiparticles, matter and antimatter. If you put antimatter and matter together, they extinguish each other, they destroy each other and there's a bit of radiation released.

So this is it. It's as if the narcissist has a mind, an accelerator capable of holding matter in one part and antimatter in the other.

And he says nothing wrong with it.

If you were to confront with the narcissist and say, don't you realize that your expectations, your wishes, don't you realize they contradict each other? Don't you realize that you contradict yourself? You're contradicting yourself. Don't you realize that there's no way on earth these things can co-exist in a single mind without driving you to insanity effectively?

And the narcissist would say, no, what are you talking about? I'm the most stable, consistent, coherent, cohesive, predictable, reliable person on earth. What's wrong with you? Can't you see that it all fits together perfectly?

And the narcissist is able to do this because the narcissist uses a series of defenses, instruments and strategies to cope with dissonant thinking.


But before we go there, we need to define dissonance.

Now, dissonance is any clash, any internal conflict between usually equally potent, equally strong dynamics, processes, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, values, requirements and so on.

So when there's a conflict, a clash, and both parts of the equation are equally powerful and try to take over, that is a dissonance.

So strictly speaking, clinically, it's not a defense mechanism, although it exhibits many of the hallmarks of a defense mechanism.

At any rate, a state of dissonance gives rise to anxiety because it fosters helplessness.

You can't solve or resolve the dissonance. It is intolerable.

So most people use a variety of psychological defense mechanisms, most of them agoplastic. We're not going to eat right now.

But most people use primitive, infantile defense mechanisms to resolve dissonances.

Why?

Why do people use infantile defense mechanisms? Why don't they use adult defense mechanisms? There are quite a few.

Because the dissonance causes you, as I said, causes you to feel helpless, to feel like a baby, to feel overpowered, overwhelmed by something bigger than you, stronger than you, threatening.

So dissonance regresses you, however temporarily, regresses you to an infantile state, which is why most people react with anxiety to dissonance.

And so people use very primitive, toddler, infant, baby defense mechanisms, such as displacement and rationalization, but also splitting, projection, projective identification, and so on and so forth.

So these are the defense mechanisms.


Another way to cope with dissonance is to write a narrative, come up with a narrative, a narrative which resolves the dissonance, a narrative that accommodates the two parts of the dissonance.

And by accommodating them, eliminates or removes the contradiction. They are no longer, these parts are no longer mutually exclusive, but they are elements of the bigger picture.

So for example, you have A and B. As stand-alones, A contradicts B. But then you come up with C. And C explains both A and B, thereby resolving the dissonance.

One way of doing it is called reframing, which is actually a therapeutic technique used in cognitive behavior therapies and other types of therapies.

So when we are faced with dissonance, we feel helpless. We tend to externalize the locus of control. We tend to give up agency, self-control, autonomy, even free will. We tend to say, it's not my fault. Something made me do it. I was inexorably and irresistibly led to what had happened, and so on and so forth.

So this is a general overview of reactions to dissonance.

The most famous form of dissonance is known as cognitive dissonance.

And here we come again, we revert, we return to the narcissist.

The vast majority of people, definitely healthy people and normal people, cannot survive with cognitive dissonance.

The minute they develop a cognitive dissonance, they resolve it. They resolve it one way or another.

They employ defense mechanisms, or they generate a new narrative, or you name it.

I have videos here on the channel which explain how to resolve dissonances and dilemmas.

And most healthy people do this.

This is one exception, possibly two. I'm not quite sure about psychopaths, honestly.

Narcissists live in a constant state of dissonance. They develop something which could be called cognitive dissonance tolerance.

Tolerance for harboring or entertaining to conflicting views, beliefs, norms, expectations, wishes, thoughts, emotions, where other people would fall apart because, you know, their mind will be blown by such contradictions.

The narcissist is happy-go-lucky. He simultaneously accepts two or more conflicting pieces of information or contradictory thoughts, and he thinks nothing of it. He holds conflicting views, values, bits of information, and these dissonances inside his mind, this is not a trivial matter. It's not like a tangential issue or a fringe topic, no.

Because cognitions, especially when coupled with emotions, they lead to motivation. And motivation is an integral part of decision-making, and choices, and finally, actions.

An internal and inner conflict triggers primitive infantile defense mechanisms such as denial or splitting or projection or reaction formation in order to allow the individual to eliminate one part of the dissonance, remain with the other part, thereby decide on a course of action and implement it.

A narcissist doesn't do this. His mind is split. He simultaneously holds two beliefs that contradict each other. He expounds one view, and minutes later, he will expound on another view, and he will not be able to see where has he gone wrong or why you are criticizing him. He will confess to a norm or a value or a belief system, and then act exactly the opposite, and he will fail to see the contradiction.

There is a disconnect in the narcissist's mind between the dissonant contradictory system and his choices, actions, and decisions. It's as if the narcissist's choices, actions, and decisions are brought on by someone else, not by the narcissist.

Indeed, this is precisely the case.

Remember that the narcissist's narcissism is a fantasy defense gone awry.

Narcissism is about renouncing reality. Reality testing so impaired that the narcissist is clinically kind of psychotic or pseudo-psychotic.

So there is a breakdown, a schism in the narcissist's mind.

Let's call it the thinking self and the acting self.

Whereas in most people, healthy and normal people, the thinking self dictates the action. The thinking self is the acting self. The acting self in healthy people is just the next stage, the next phase of the thinking self.

The narcissist with the narcissist is not the same because the narcissist inhabits his mind, is inwardly oriented, never public facing, because the narcissist is unable to perceive external objects.

And all the time refers to and interacts with internal objects.

There is one narcissist who is captured, is a hostage, is a captive of his own internal world.

So this kind of narcissist is ethereal, symbolic, a language narcissist, linguistic. It's a narcissist that plays with representations, with symbols, with internal objects, with introjects and with the language that represents them.

This is the thinking narcissist.

Then when time comes to act in reality and upon reality, the thinking self of the narcissist is incapable of doing it because it is held captive and hostage within the narcissist's mind.

So the narcissist acts almost, I would say, automatically.

The narcissist develops routines, procedures, habits that reflect the fantasy, the elements of the fantasy, the narrative that governs the fantasy, reflect early childhood unresolved conflicts and choices and decisions and actions that reflect automatism or reflexivity, reflexes in reaction to the environment.

So narcissist actions, choices and decisions are triggered from the outside, from the environment.

Whereas his beliefs, his norms, his values, his thoughts, his emotions are inside his mind. They never interact with reality. They never affect reality. They have no interface with reality.

I know how unbelievably difficult this is to comprehend. And I'm wrecking my mind trying to come up with a simile or a metaphor or an analogy or an allegory of what it is that's happening.

Let's think of it this way. Imagine that the narcissist is composed of two types.

One is a philosopher and one is a businessman.

The philosopher sits in his room, peruses books, browses manuscripts, thinks all day long, analyzes, synthesizes, you know, but he never exits the room. He never exits the library. And all he knows about reality comes from books.

And then there's a businessman. The businessman is more or less certifications, can obtain outcomes, is worldly or strikes people as worldly and is able to operate in the external environment.

However, there's no communication between the philosopher and the businessman. The businessman is actually a robot, an android, a form of artificial intelligence. It is programmed. It is code reified. It acts. It's an app. It's a software. The businessman acts on the environment, but not because it is informed by any internal dynamic processes in the narcissist's mind, but because that's the way it has been programmed.

The philosopher is the life of the mind of the narcissist, but it has no bearing on reality and on external objects such as you, the narcissist's intimate partner.

Sothe narcissist strikes people as robotic in many cases, an imitation, uncanny value imitation, an imitation that causes discomfort, an imitation of a human being that causes discomfort.

And the narcissist's fluctuation, the ability of mood, disregulated thinking, disregulated cognition, not emotion, but cognition, they're a bit borderline.

So the narcissist gives you the impression of someone who is in control, resilient, strong, well-informed, action-minded, worldly, efficacious, get things done, get things done and so on, until you get to know the narcissist. And then you realize whoever it is that's making the choices, reaching decisions and implementing them, acting, whoever this person is, it's not the narcissist. Who is it?

The false self? We don't really know, but there's a breakdown between the inner world of the narcissist and the way the narcissist manifests in his or her environment.

And when you push a narcissist to a corner and you force a narcissist to explain himself, in other words, when you try to force a narcissist to cope with this predicament of a split, a split mind, a mind that is in a constant state of dissonance, when you demonstrate to the narcissist something is wrong.

When you hold two values which are incompatible, that's wrong. When you have two thoughts which can't live together, can't coexist, something's wrong.

When you force a narcissist to transition from dissonance to consonance, when you coerce a narcissist to come up with a reconciling narrative, a theory which seamlessly accommodates both conflicting points of view, data, information, values, beliefs, attitudes, wishes, dreams, verbiage.

When you tell the narcissist, you have to do that. You have to explain to me how did you say something five minutes ago which you are now contradicting. How did you profess to believe something and then act exactly the opposite? How do I insist on an explanation?

The narcissist is likely to come up with one of the following explanations or a combination thereof.

Number one, what I said, A, let's call it A, A was true then, not A is true now. Everything is transient and temporary and in flux. I don't commit myself to anything. I am pragmatic, I'm practical, my eyes are open to the world, I am the one who is embedded in reality, you are not.

Reality is ever changing, it's mutable. So my views and beliefs and principles of action and everything is also in flux.

Let's explanation number one.

Explaination number two, A is the normal. Usually I'm A, the narcissist says. Not A, the opposite of A occurred, it happened because you triggered me, you provoked me. You changed the circumstances or the conditions unfairly so I had to resort from A to not A.

I'm usually A as far as I'm concerned, being not A is abnormal, it's an aberration, it's a curiosity, it's not who I am. You made me do it.

Solution number two, explanation number two, explanation number three. You're wrong, there's no contradiction between A and not A, they're not mutually exclusive. They simply are pieces of a bigger puzzle, picture or theory. Their contradiction is only apparent because we have no access, you have no access, you have no awareness of the true and full picture which I in my infinite wisdom can see.

My knowledge far exceeds yours, even my capacity to know is far superior to yours. You must obey and accept my authority, my intellectual authority and even my authority generally speaking.

So what to you appears to be a contradiction to me is not because I have a synoptic panoramic view of everything that's taking place.

Explaination number four, there's no contradiction between A and not A, both of them are true, both of them lead to the same conclusions. You're wrong.

Why do you keep saying that I'm contradicting myself or that I'm not the same person from one minute to another or that I've betrayed my values and beliefs or that my cognitions are mutually exclusive or why do you keep saying this? Not true.

A and not A are both true and they lead to the same conclusion. So there's no contradiction.

So, for example, if I love you, I love you.

Okay. But I also abuse you egregiously, verbally.

Okay. You keep saying that loving someone and abusing someone is mutually exclusive. It contradicts each other. If you love someone, you don't abuse them and if you abuse them, you don't love them.

I disagree, says the narcissist. My verbal abuse is a form of tough love. It's intended to educate you, edify you, make you a better person. It is intended to protect you from risks and dangers out there.

I'm being harsh with you because you need someone to be harsh with you. It's proof of my love. It's my way of showing and demonstrating my commitment to you, actually my compassion and affection.

So this is denial. A common way that narcissists resolve dissonances.


The last technique that the narcissist uses when you control the narcissist with his contradictions, with his constant wavering, with his inability to remain stable and predictable and reliable and responsible.

When you do this, the narcissist uses a fifth strategy.

He says both A and not A are valid. Both of them valid. They're both valid points of view. There's nothing wrong in contemplating or considering both of them.

But only A applies to me. Not A applies to other people. It applies to you.

And this is, of course, splitting. I'm all good. You're all bad. I'm all right. You're all wrong.

So, yeah, I do consider as a narcissist, I do consider, says the narcissist, I do consider A and not A simultaneously.

But that's because I'm aware of the fact that other people are not A. Not A is bad. It's a projection. And not A should be eradicated in other people in order to restore A to its rightful place as the sole and ethical alternative.

This is known as reaction formation.

So the narcissist says, you didn't catch me in a contradiction. I've been considering A and not A simultaneously because I'm on a research mission. I'm researching not A. And I'm researching not A because I'm a saviour. I'm a rescuer. I'm a healer. I'm a fixer.

I'm studying not A in order to be able to fight it more effectively, eliminate it in other people because not A is all bad.

Yeah, I may emulate not A. I may behave in a not A way or fashion. I may even profess to simultaneously hold the view that A and the view that not A. And it appears to be that I'm crazy making, but I'm not.

I'm not. I'm just exploring this terror incognita of evil.

And when I've mastered not A, I'm going to revert to my natural state, which is A, and I'm going to fight not A wherever I can cross it.

This is one form. This is cognitive dissonance in narcissism.

Narcissists have dissonant thinking. They use these five techniques to defend their ability to entertain simultaneously views, beliefs, attitudes, wishes, dreams, requirements, demands, statements, emotions and cognitions.

They can never ever sit together, fit together, work together, except in the narcissist mind.

The narcissist also sometimes is exposed to what we call volitional dissonance. It's when we act in ways which we perceive to be immoral, antisocial.

When we perceive our actions to have been the outcomes of a weak will, misbehavior, contrary to our best judgment.

When we act in ways which were not the outcome, the outcomes of good judgment, excellence of character, habits conducive to virtuous life.

This is how healthy normal people react when the narcissist is confronted with a volitional dissonance, because as opposed to psychopaths, as distinct from psychopaths, narcissists do have a conscience.

However, the conscience of the narcissist is an integral part of the bad object.

So the conscience of the narcissist is actually a harsh inner critic, a sadistic super ego, a group of introjector, cluster of introjects that hate the narcissist, loathe the narcissist, are enemies of the narcissist, one of the narcissist dead.

So when the narcissist's conscience is provoked, when the narcissist realizes that he has misbehaved, he has been, he has given in to temptation, he acted contrary to his best judgment.

Whatever he has done can be deemed easily immoral, antisocial, perhaps even criminal.

Whenever he comes across this and his conscience is triggered, and maybe not only conscience, but fear of consequences, at that moment there's a volitional dissonance in the narcissist.

And so he resolves it, applying the five techniques that I've mentioned.

He says, I acted this way temporarily because I had no choice. I did what I did reactively, because the circumstances have changed, the conditions force me to behave that way.

It's an aberration, it's abnormal, I usually don't act this way.

Or he says, the way I acted may appear on the face of it, on the surface, may appear to be, I don't know, immoral, antisocial, criminal, evil, but it's actually not.

Because if you see the bigger picture, if you see a big part, the bigger puzzle, you realize that I should have acted this way. It was the right way to act, it was the right thing to do.

But because your knowledge is limited, you don't know everything, you don't realize how right I was to have done it.


The next technique, when the narcissist acts wrongly, knows that he has acted wrongly and has conscious pangs or fear of consequences, is denial.

Is to say, what I've done is not immoral, it's not antisocial, it's not wrong, it's not evil.

You're misperceiving my actions.

And here I am, I'll give you the story, within which my actions make eminent sense and are actually pro-social, highly moral, and so on and so forth.

And finally, there's a defensive thing. I acted the way I did because I needed to elicit some consequences or some outcomes from the environment, from other people. And I needed to do this because I'm on a mission of good.

So I have a task, a moral task, an ethical task, a task which would enhance public welfare, a task which is condoned by society.

But sometimes, to attain such outcomes, you need to do bad things. So to make eggs, to make an omelette, you need to break eggs, to chip a tree, you know, their wood chips, etc.

So there's a cost.

And my actions, my immoral, antisocial, evil actions, wicked actions, were actually an inevitable price I had to pay in order to attain and accomplish good moral, ethical goals.

Sometimes a narcissist comes across an emotional dissonance, ambivalence. He experiences two opposing emotions, both of them, by the way, negative.

Narcissists are incapable of accessing positive emotions because in the narcissist, positive emotions are intimately and intricately connected, intertwined with life-threatening shame and helplessness.

So narcissists are capable of experiencing only negative emotions, but some negative emotions can contradict each other. And some negative emotions contradict the narcissist's cognitive distortions.

I'll give you an example. Envy.

The narcissist envies someone.

But to envy someone is to admit that the subject of envy, the object of envy, is superior to you.

You envy someone who has something you don't have. You envy someone who is above your station. You envy someone who is more skilled or more talented or more handsome or more intelligent than you are.

So envy implies inferiority.

And here's a dissonance between envy and the need to feel superior, the cognitive distortion known as grandiosity.

This is an emotional dissonance. Again, the narcissist uses the same defenses that I mentioned, the same five defenses that I mentioned.

Number one, it's a temporary state. It's a transient phase.

Number two, I'm reacting this way. I'm experiencing dissonance because the conditions and the circumstances have triggered the dissonance. I've been provoked somehow to develop these dissonance, but normally it's not a normal condition for me. I don't usually experience emotional dissonance.

Number three, both my envy and my grandiosity are parts of a bigger picture, a bigger puzzle, a plan, a cosmic plan in which I'm involved.

And so I need to accept both of them because I know that I'm never wrong. I'm infallible.

And these two urges, these two apparently conflicting drives, they are pushing me to an outcome which would be satisfactory and would gratify my grandeur, would ascertain and establish and buttress my superiority.

Number four, it's not true that there's a contradiction. Both my envy and my grandiosity either are directed to the same person, but for different reasons. There's no contradiction there.

And number five, I don't envy anyone and I don't feel grandiose. I completely deny that, says the narcissist. It's not true.

You are envy me. You're projecting, you are grandiose to presume that you could understand me, almost godlike, etc.

So these are the differences for emotional dissonance. We have many, many other forms of dissonance. There's axiological dissonance when two values are incompatible.

So the narcissist can hold values. All the values of the narcissist have to do with the extraction of narcissistic supply.

So the narcissist can hold values that conflict and undermine and sabotage his ability to extract supply.

There is deontic dissonance when the narcissist has two duties and two obligations which are contradictory.

There's attitudinal dissonance. There are two contradictory internalized beliefs or attitudes, statements or propositions. And there's executive dissonance. It's an inner conflict between two mutually obviating or mutually exclusive psychological functions held to be desirable and necessary.

Narcissist experiences all these dissonances, but contrary to healthy and normal people, he sees nothing wrong with it.

He remains egodystonic, egosyntonic, I'm sorry. He remains comfortable with the fact that he is so fragmented and broken and that he's in a constant state of civil war.

How to explain this?

We start with the body. I don't know how many of you have heard of paradoxical warmth or paradoxical cold.

Paradoxical warmth is a sensation of warmth produced when a cold object stimulates a cold receptor.

Ironically, you feel warm.

Paradoxical cold is an effect produced in the same nerve endings, the thermal nerve endings.

The nerve endings in the skin are sensitive to both heat and cold. They have double peaks, including one for heat that is above the threshold of pain.

So when you touch a hot object that fires the hot and cold receptor, you sometimes experience chill, cold.

So this is called paradoxical warmth and paradoxical cold.

Similarly, there is something called paradoxical motion. It's the global perception of motion, of movement, in a motion after effect, even though the individual elements in the image do not appear to move.

So a motion after effect is the perception that a stationary object or scene is moving, following prolonged fixation of a moving stimulus.

Why am I referring to all these? These are all, of course, illusions, delusions or even hallucinations.

Your skin misreports, gives you the wrong information. Your skin says it's warm. It's actually cold. It says it's cold. It's actually warm.

Your eyes, your brain are telling you that there is motion when there is none because you've been exposed to motion before.

So cognitive dissonance is more or less the same. It is a misreporting. It is when we receive wrong information about some elements, some elements in the environment, some elements inside ourselves.

The narcissist resolves this by insisting that the paradox is not paradoxical.

Paradoxes are self- surprising, self-contradictory statements. And sometimes they're true. We have all kinds of paradoxes, logistical, logical, semantic, semantic and so on and so forth.

So we will not discuss the issue of paradoxes right now.

But paradoxes in the human mind are very powerful.

We use paradoxes, for example, in therapy. We tell the patient, we tell the client or the patient do exactly what common sense would dictate paradoxical thinking.

Remember how we started? And we showed the absurdity and the self-defeating nature of the client's original intention or original automatic thought.

This is what the narcissist does. He administers paradoxical thinking to himself in a way that enshrines it, fixates it, makes it a feature of his mind, thereby becoming or transitioning from paradoxical thinking to dissonant thinking.

Now, what's the difference?

Paradoxical thinking induces insight, change. When the therapist forces you to think paradoxically, you have a light bulb moment. You end up saying, oh my God.

When the narcissist converts paradoxical thinking into dissonant thinking, he is saying there's no paradox here. My sense is the common sense.

What appears to be mutually exclusive is not using the five techniques that I mentioned.

And so dissonant thinking does not lead to insight, does not lead to change. On the very contrary, dissonant thinking preserves the dissonance. It legitimizes, it normalizes the dissonance.

And then the narcissist becomes an inverted human.

In the narcissist's mind, dissonance is normal. You are not normal. You are abnormal. You're mentally ill because you don't have dissonance.

Your thinking is linear, is one dimensional. The narcissist's thinking is synoptic, panoramic, kaleidoscopic, entertains all the possibilities. It's God-like. God is able to entertain paradoxes and dissonances because God incorporates everything, includes everything.

There is never a contradiction inside the divine body.

So same with the narcissist because his mind is infinite and definitely divine. There is no possibility for contradiction or mutual exclusion in the narcissist's mind.

Because he regards this as a superior mode of thinking, he regards you as inferior and somehow defective because you cannot entertain paradoxes.

Paradox is terrifying. Dissonance causes anxiety in you. You want to resolve it at all costs.

The narcissist uses what is known in therapy as paradoxical technique where the therapist instructs the client to continue undesired symptomatic behavior, even increase it, to show, to demonstrate to the client that he has control over it.

It's known as paradoxical intervention. And it engenders in the client a sense of potency, a sense of power.

The narcissist uses the same thing, same technique, unconsciously.

The narcissist says, "People are criticizing me for my actions. I'm going to double down. People disagree with me. I'm going to defend my views. People say I contradict myself. I'm going to continue to contradict myself. Defiant in your face. I'm going to do it even more.

Thereby, generating a sense of omnipotence, paradoxical techniques and paradoxical intention, which is ironically used in treatment of anxiety disorders, they are the pillars and the foundations of grandiosity.

The narcissist is grandiose because his mind is not like yours. It is capable of entertaining the totality of existence, all possibilities, all views and all beliefs and all attitudes and all dreams and all fantasies and all wishes and all fears, everything.

Never mind if they are incompatible.

In paradoxical intention, which is a therapeutic technique, we tell the client to magnify a distressing, unwanted symptom.

Someone who is afraid of something is instructed to imagine the feared situation and exaggerate it even, and so on and so forth.

It's a kind of mental exposure therapy.

Narcissist keeps doing it all the time. And by leveraging these therapeutic techniques, which he has developed as a child unconsciously, the narcissist administers therapy to himself.

It's a kind of self-administered exposure therapy.

The narcissist's greatest fear is mortification, to be humiliated and shamed and exposed in public, to come face to face with his true self, dilapidated and dysfunctional as it is, to realize, to be forced to realize his limitations, his shortcomings and his innate inferiority, thereby triggering his life-threatening shame and the reservoir of helplessness and rage that he had inherited from his early childhood.

This is the narcissist's greatest fear.

So the narcissist is immersed in a prolonged grief reaction, stress, anxiety, and he ministers to himself, he treats himself, he is his own therapist.

And he does this by exposing himself mentally, representationally to his greatest fears within a narrative that accommodates his greatest fears as controllable.

So he says, this is my greatest fear. I'm not going to embrace it. I'm not going to think of it. I'm not going to exaggerate it. I'm not going to imagine experiencing it, but I'm going to do it in a way where I am in control. I'm in charge. I can turn it on and off at will. I decide the parameters, the choices, the decisions, the actions, the content, the values, the beliefs that go into this.

I am going to heal myself. I'm going to cure myself of this vulnerability of being afraid and being ashamed.

And I'm going to do this by expanding outward.

It is known as hyper-reflexivity in psychotic disorders. By expanding outward, hyper-reflexively and embracing the totality of the world as if it were me.

I am going to become the world. I'm going to become the world. Anything and everything in the world is going to be me, just an extension of me.

I'm going to convert all external objects into internal objects. I'm going to assimilate all motivations, all human emotions, all human cognitions, and appropriating them as mine.

And by becoming this perfect being exactly like God Himself, I will never be open to the challenges of contradiction, mutual exclusivity, and the anxiety that rises out of uncertainty, indeterminacy, and inability to reconcile the irreconcilable.

By subsuming everyone and everything around me into my fantasy, I actually become perfection. And perfection by definition has no contradiction.

If you include the whole universe, there's no contradiction. Contradiction is external always.

And so the narcissist's solution to his dissonant thinking is psychotic. He becomes psychotic over the years.

And you are coping as the narcissist's intimate partner. You're coping with his psychosis. It is disguised psychosis. It is also reversed psychosis, whereas the psychotic can't tell the difference between his internal world and external world.

The narcissist simply assimilates the external world.

But it has strong elements of psychosis, including hyper-reflexivity.

And so this is what you're dealing with, as Otto Kernberg had observed. This is what you're dealing with.

And it's very important to understand this, because all the attempts to reason with the narcissist, to contract with the narcissist, to agree with the narcissist, to make agreements with the narcissist, to create therapeutic alliances with the narcissist, common goals and agenda. This is nonsense.

The narcissist is not only a child. It's a severely mentally ill child. It's a psychotic child.

And this child has been exposed to contradiction early on. A mother who was supposed to love him, hated him and tortured him. What greater contradiction is there, I ask you.

And what's the only solution to such a condition, but to assimilate mother, to become mother?

And then, of course, all problems are solved with the magic wand, the magic wand of becoming God himself.

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