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Is It YOUR Fantasy - or Theirs (Narcissists, Psychopaths, Borderlines)?

Uploaded 2/7/2024, approx. 22 minute read

In the wake of my interview with Dalia Zhukowska, the Polish clinical psychologist, people have written to me to ask how does the narcissist decide what to include in the shared fantasy?

What would be the ingredients, components, figments and elements of the shared fantasy?

Is there any algorithm?

Is there any rule?

Can one predict the shape and form of the shared fantasy, its evolution, its demise?

Are there any adaptations that dictate the trajectory of the shared fantasy?

Well, having read the question, I realized that there's a lot of confusion about the shared fantasy.

And I would like to take this a few minutes of your time to elucidate some aspects.

But first, who the heck am I?

My name is Sam Wachnin.

I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, the first book ever about narcissistic abuse.

I'm also a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CEAPs.

Now one thing is very important to remember.

The psychopath customizes the shared fantasy to fit the partner.

The narcissist coerces the partner to fit the fantasy.

If you are asking yourself, if you are in a debate, if you have doubts about whether your intimate partner is a psychopath or a narcissist, ask yourself the following.

Is the fantasy in which I find myself inured, in which I find myself enmeshed and immersed, is this fantasy a perfect answer to everything I've ever dreamed?

The ultimate actualization and realization of all my wishes and all my hopes?

If the answer is yes, your partner is a psychopath.

If the answer is no, if you find the fantasy to be actually uncomfortable, intimidating, frightening sometimes, if you find the fantasy to be not always geared to cater to your needs and to your wishes, if you find yourself within the fantasy, basically invisible and transparent, if you feel that you are being objectified and instrumentalized, used as a tool, then your intimate partner is a narcissist.

Now I'm going to repeat this because many self-styled experts online are making this mistake are confusing narcissism with psychopathy on a regular basis and it applies also to the shared fantasy.

They are confusing the psychopath's fantasy with the narcissist's shared fantasy.

I'm going to repeat this key sentence.

The psychopath customizes the fantasy to fit you, his intimate partner, his target, his mark, his friend, whatever.

He customizes the fantasy like hand in glove.

He wants you to feel totally enmeshed and infused and merged with the fantasy that he creates for you.

The fantasy that the psychopath comes up with is dreamlike.

It's a dreamscape.

You feel as if you have transitioned to paradise.

It's a heavenly concoction.

The narcissist coerces the partner to fit the shared fantasy. The psychopath customizes the fantasy to fit the partner. The narcissist customizes the partner to fit the fantasy. The psychopath tailors the relationship fantasy to reflect the partner's wishes, dreams, needs, wants and hopes. Everything you have ever lacked, everything you have ever wanted, everything you have ever dreamed of, everything you have ever wished for are sure to be included in the fantasy constructed specially for you by the psychopath. The narcissist cajoles the partner, pushes the partner, coerces the partner, imposes on the partner the shared fantasy.

And there's a difference here.

The psychopath's fantasy is not shared.

The psychopath is not included in the fantasy.

The psychopath knows the difference between fantasy and reality.

His reality testing is not impaired.

The psychopath uses the fantasy as a manipulative tool.

We'll come to it in a minute.

So when you are with the psychopath, only you are inside the fantasy, inside the fantasy, looking out.

The psychopath is outside a kind of wizard of all.

He orchestrates the fantasy.

He maintains it.

He preserves it.

He augments it.

He enhances it. He amplifies and magnifies it. He introduces new elements into it. He manages it.

And sometimes micromanages.

The psychopath is in charge of fantasy production, productions, Inc.

And you are a character. It's kind of a Truman Show. You are a character within the fantasy. You're like an actress in a theater play or theater production. Or in a movie.

Where the psychopath is a director.

When it comes to the narcissist, the fantasy is shared. Both you and the narcissist are within the fantasy.

The narcissist fully believes in the fantasy and believes the fantasy. The narcissist is convinced that his promises are real and will be kept.

So narcissists don't future fake.

Psychopaths do.

The narcissist believes his own confabulations and concoctions and inventions and narratives. The psychopath doesn't.

The narcissist is in it with you. Both of you share a fantastic space, a paracosm, a virtual or augmented reality.

So the narcissist molds you, sculpts you, shape shifts you. In order for you to fit into or conform to the narcissist's wishes, dreams, wants and hopes.

This is a very important distinction.

The psychopath caters to your hopes, your wishes, your needs, because he wants to manipulate you.

The narcissist expects you to cater to his wishes, his needs, his wants and his hopes because the shared fantasy is all about him and because you don't exist as an external object, only as an internal one.

The goals of the psychopath.

When the psychopath comes up with a fantasy, the goals of the psychopath are varied.

Could be money, could be power, could be sex, could be access, could be contacts.

The goals of the narcissist are four and they're known as the four S's.

Six, supply, sadistic or narcissistic, safety and services.

The narcissist wants you to be present within the fantasy in order to allow him to feel safe.

There he expects you to service him one way or another, provide you with sex and be at his disposal as a source of narcissistic supply or sadistic supply, the target of his sadism.

So these are the motivations for the fantasy in the case of the narcissist, the four S's.

When it comes to the psychopath, the motivation could be anything.

The psychopath's fantasy is goal oriented.

The narcissist and the psychopath construct the fantasy after having scanned you, they scan you. They use empathy, the combination of cognitive and reflexive empathy. They scan you. They spot all your vulnerabilities, all your dreams and wishes and hopes, all your shortcomings and frailties, your fears, your emotions, your cognitions. They create a very detailed repository of you, a database, a map.

But then the paths of the psychopath and the narcissist diverge equipped with this database about you, this repository of information and knowledge about who you are and what you run, what makes you tick, a theory of mind.

The narcissist then proceeds to construct a fantasy.

And in the narcissist fantasy, you are supposed to cater to the narcissist needs. You're supposed to fulfill the narcissist dreams and wishes. You're supposed to actualize and realize the narcissist's hopes.

The narcissist uses the database that he had accumulated during the scanning, the called empathy scanning uses this database to push your buttons in order to make you perform. It's all about performance.

The narcissist perceives the shared fantasy as an exchange of love against performance. This is his original experience with his mother.

The psychopathon the other hand, he uses the database, the repository to construct a fantasy that promises to fulfill all your dreams and wishes, compensate for everything that you have lacked as a child. All theempathy scanning phase to construct a fantasy that is essentially your fantasy.

What the psychopath does, he externalizes your fantasy.

He kind of materializes it like a medium materializes a spirit, ectoplasm.

So the psychopath kind of dredges this fantasy, extracts the fantasy out of you.

I call it fantasy mining.

He minds the fantasy out of you and then he creates it and then introduces you into the fantasy and it feels like home.

It feels like home because it's you.

The narcissist on the other hand uses the information to construct a fantasy where he feels at home, not you.

He is the one who feels at home and it is your job, your job to be a homemaker, a mother in effect.

Psychopath distinguishes fantasy from reality.

He has intact reality testing.

He knows what he's doing.

He's premeditated.

It's intentional.

And in this sense, it's anti-social, sometimes criminal.

The psychopath uses fantasy to manipulate you in order to obtain goals.

This is known as Machiavellianism.

The narcissist and the borderline, they use fantasy differently.

They use fantasy in order to gratify themselves.

The narcissist fantasy is a mother figure who would provide him with unconditional love and the four S's.

The borderline's fantasy is for an intimate partner who would regulate her, stabilize her, feel safe to her, engender stability and predictability and allow her to function.

In other words, the borderline's main concern is to externalize regulation, to outsource into her regulation, project it onto the partner, to make it the partner's responsibility, to make her state of mind the partner's responsibility.

The narcissist on the other hand, it's all about himself self-gratification.

Fantastic supply, maintenance of grandiosity.

The fantasy is a defense against reality so as to preserve the cognitive distortion of an inflated, fantastic self and so on and so forth.

And you are just a helpmate.

You're a mother and you are helpmate basically.

And sometimes you are playmate within the narcissist fantasy, but it's 100% about him.

Ironically, the psychopath's fantasy is 100% about you, but in a manipulative way, intended to compel you to collaborate with the psychopath on obtaining his goals.

Now all fantasies involve an external locus of control.

The narcissist shared fantasy revolves around an intimate partner who is converted into a maternal figure and becomes a source, a source of supply, a source of sex, a source of services, and a source of safety in order to lay or ameliorate or mitigate the narcissist's abandonment anxiety, separation insecurity, and to reestablish object constancy.

So that renders the narcissist dependent on the intimate partner within the shared fantasy, creates a feeling of an external locus of control.

It's as if the narcissist is controlled from the outside by the fantasy, which involves his intimate partner.

Gradually, of course, this creates paranoid ideation.

If you're constantly controlled from the outside, you're beginning to feel helpless.

You're beginning to be afraid, develop anxiety, stress.

So this creates a persecretary mindset.

Indeed, the narcissist's external locus of control is persecretary.

The borderline's external locus of control within the fantasy is idealized.

The borderline has a shared fantasy with the intimate partner.

But whereas the narcissist's shared fantasy devolves into paranoia, devaluation, discard, the conversion of the partner into a persecretary object and an enemy, it ends badly.

The narcissist's shared fantasy ends badly.

The same way the narcissist's ended badly with his mother.

So it's a reenactment of early childhood conflicts.

The borderline's fantasy is ideal.

It's Disneyland.

It's pink.

It's Barbie.

It's wonderful.

In the borderline's fantasy, the intimate partner is ideal.

Because he is ideal, the borderline can safely idealize herself, the process of co-idealization.

So the borderline's external locus of control is idealized.

Persecretary external locus of control, where the belief is that only bad things can come from the outside and idealized external locus of control.

Where the belief is that only good things can come from the outside.

And this dictates the nature of the fantasy.

The narcissist's fantasy is persecretary. It's paranoid. It's dangerous. It's dark.

So the narcissist uses coercion to keep the intimate partner within the fantasy, to conform to the parameters of the fantasy, to continue to provide the four S's and continue to act as a maternal figure.

All this is done via imposition. It's a power play, coercion, conflict, because the external locus of control is persecretary.

In the borderline's fantasy, the external locus of control is idealized.

The fantasy is positive.

The locus of control, albeit external, can be trusted, is benign, is loving, caring, this merger and fusion.

It's a symbiotic state.

So the borderline's fantasy, the borderline uses within her fantasy enmeshment and engulfment.

Then she gets terrified.

She has engulfment anxiety, but we'll not deal with it right now.

So let's summarize.

The psychopath's fantasy is manipulative. It's goal oriented.

And the fantasy the psychopath constructs fits you like a hand in glove.

It is your fantasy, not the psychopath's.

The narcissist's fantasy is shared with you, but it is all about him.

It reflects the narcissist's dreams and wishes and hopes and the narcissist's psychology.

Not you.

It's not your fantasy.

It's the narcissist's fantasy.

And he coerces you and cajoles you into his fantasy.

Or like a guest or like a visitor.

An important one.

A mother figure, but still.

The borderline's fantasy is about an ideal, ideal engulfing, important intimate partner or friend who provides regulation, safety and stability.

And so the external locus of control of the narcissist is per secretary and paranoid.

He expects his fantasy to deteriorate and degenerate, to become corrupted and to lead to very bad outcomes.

So he uses coercion.

The external locus of control is per secretary.

And the only rational strategic choice is coercion to avoid the bad outcomes or to somehow control them or to somehow mitigate them.

The borderline is a positive fantasy, a pink fantasy, where the intimate partner is part and parcel of the borderline's mind.

She's meshed, infused with the intimate partner.

And so she uses enmeshment.

She uses a kind of exaggerated co-dependency.

The coercion of the narcissist doesn't have to be physical. He doesn't have to involve abuse, although it often does.

The narcissist uses a process that I call coercive snapshotting or coercive interjection.

He forces you to conform to the idealized internal object that represents you in his mind.

So he pushes you to change. He actually demands that you not be you anymore, that you give up on yourself, that you deny yourself and become that idealized object inside his mind.

Because this is an unrealistic demand, coercive snapshotting or coercive interjection always fails.

And when you do fail, this is perceived by the narcissist as intentional. You're frustrating him intentionally. You're aggressing against him, you're a bad person.

He converts you into a persecretary object, into an enemy.

The internal object now is not idealized, it's devalued and it's hostile.

And to cope with this, the narcissist discards you and terminates the shared fantasy.

The narcissist knows that his shared fantasy will not last.

The features of devaluation and discard are inexorably built into the narcissist shared fantasy.

He anticipates loss. He knows that loss is inevitable and he prepares himself by preemptively abandoning you or dumping you or devaluing you or discarding you or whatever.

The borderline's fantasy is everlasting.

As far as the borderline is concerned, the fantasy could be eternal beyond the grave if you wish.

And so she has no incentive to devalue her partner or discard the partner until engaugment anxiety sets in, but it's a different dynamic.

The psychopath's fantasy is very short-lived or short-lived.

It is dependent on the realization of the goal, the goal having been accomplished, the fantasy is over.

So these are the three types.

Not narcissists and psychopaths and borderlines and co-dependence, they're exploitative, they're deceptive and some of them are criminalized, especially psychopaths and malignant narcissists.

They're criminalized or antisocial at the least.

That's because they all seek unconditional love from the universe.

Exploitation, shortcuts, faking, criminal activities, it's like getting something for nothing.

You don't invest, you don't commit, you don't work hard, you don't study into the small hours of the night, and yet you're rich, get rich quick, yet you're famous, celebrity, famous for being famous.

So these shortcuts are perceived as expressions of love by the universe and this love is unconditional.

It's not conditioned on performance.

When the psychopath deceives someone, when he pulls a successful con and ends up with bazillions of dollars, the psychopath feels gratified because this is proof positive that the world loves him unconditionally.

It's a fact.

He didn't have to perform in order to end with a bazillion dollars.

He didn't have to work hard for decades, he didn't have to do anything, almost anything.

And yet the reward is disproportionate to the effort, the investment and the commitment.

And this is an expression of love.

It's a parental kind of love.

And similarly, a narcissist, when a narcissist exploits his intimate partner, obtains services, supply, sex, and so on and so forth.

And all he offers is a fantasy which is essentially self-directed.

It's a fantasy that is self-centered, not a fantasy which involves the other partner.

It's a fantasy about the narcissist and for the narcissist.

So when the partner allows the narcissist to exploit her, to take advantage of her in any way, sexual, financial, otherwise the narcissist feels gratified because this is proof of maternal, unconditional love.

The narcissist does not perceive the fantasy as a performance.

He believes in the fantasy.

He's embedded in the fantasy.

He's reified by the fantasy.

He trusts the fantasy.

The fantasy is his reality, is his life.

There are no distinctions.

So as far as he is concerned, he's not doing anything.

He's in the land and yet he ends up with a girl and with everything the girl has to offer.

That is a sign of divine blessing, the love of the universe.

These people are in a process of seeking maternal, unconditional love that they have not received as children.

And if they come get it in a straight and narrow way, they're going to get it in any other way.

And the less they invest, the less they commit, the less effort they put in, the less hard work, the detailed and thorough study, the less, the more gratified they are when the outcomes are favorable, when they end up with money or with sex or with anything or with narcissistic supply.

Because this asymmetrical exchange, this unequal, this inequality between investment and result are perceived as a signal from the world, a signal from the universe.

You're loved unconditionally.

You're loved not because you perform, not because you work hard, not because you study hard, not because you're successful.

You're loved just because of who you are.

This is known as entitlement.

Narcissists are addicted to the fantasy and to narcissistic supply.

Psychopaths are addicted to power.

Borderlines are addicted to external regulation, which makes them feel safe.

It's a womb-like, a matrix, a motion, an oceanic feeling.

These are all addictions, and many of them have external addictions to substances or to processes, behavioral addictions such as gambling or shopping or whatever.

These addictions are also forms of fantasy.

They involve a fantasy, the narcissist or the borderline.

They have a love affair with the substance or with their addictive behavior.

It's a shared fantasy, but the aim of the fantasy is regressive.

It's to take the psychopath and the narcissist and the borderline back to childhood, where they should have been loved unconditionally as children and were not.

And now they're trying to force people around them to give them unconditional love, unconditional money, unconditional power, unconditional narcissistic supply, unconditional sex.

Unconditional is the key word.

Not conditioned on performance, not conditioned on investment, not conditioned on commitment, not conditioned on hard work, not conditioned on study, not conditioned on anything.

I deserve, they say, the psychopath, the narcissist, the borderline.

I deserve this.

I'm entitled to this.

I should be able to experience unconditional acceptance, belonging and love just because of who I am.

And if I cannot accomplish this in reality, I might as well either construct a fantasy within which I can secure these outcomes or use a fantasy to manipulate other people to give this unconditional love to me.

These people interpret the outcomes, money, power, narcissistic supply as forms of love.

It's all about the pursuit of love.

How sad is this?

How heartbreaking.

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