NO WIN: Narcissist Sees Himself in You (Projective Resonance)

Uploaded 5/18/2024, approx. 23 minute read

You recall the first time you have met the narcissist?

How you felt so perfectly and profoundly understood the first time in your life?

How you felt there's a mind melt?

You've met your soulmate, you're twin flame if you're so inclined.

The narcissist kind of understood you or grasped you or glommed you the way no other human being is ever done, not even your mother, not even your parents, previous lovers, no one.

For the first time in your life you felt accepted, you felt that you belong, you felt that there are no conditions imposed on who you are, on your existence, on your core identity.

You and the narcissist were one, if not physically, then definitely you were beginning to merge and fuse, you were beginning together to become a single organism, an entity with two heads and this is known as the symbiotic phase.

This feeling of being understood to perfection, of being grasped without judgment, of being considered ideal and perfect despite your flaws and shortcomings, this feeling is intoxicating and inebriating, it becomes an addiction and it has four reasons.

I've discussed three of them in previous videos and today I'm going to expand on the fourth.

My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, the understanding former visiting professor of psychology and the grasping professor of clinical psychology and business management in the CEPS Institute in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Okay, so you have met the narcissist, it could be a date, it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, it could be in church, could be a colleague, the first meeting is something never forgotten, either you react with extreme revulsion and you constrain the narcissist even for a minute and this is known as the uncanny valley reaction and I discuss it in other videos multiple or you fall prey to the narcissist superficial charm, penetration in every possible way, psychological penetration, insights, the ability to glom you and grasp you and understand you and comprehend you and be one with you in so many ways spiritually, psychologically, mentally and so on and so forth that you feel that you have found finally your other half and then it becomes an addiction.

There are four reasons for this process.

Number one, in all likelihood you and the narcissist have a common background, a common type of childhood with adverse childhood experiences, ACEs.

ACEs could include classical abuse, trauma, anything from sexual abuse to physical abuse to verbal and psychological abuse but could include other experiences which are essentially abusive because they breach the child's boundaries, they divorce the child from reality and from peers.

So we are talking about pedestalizing the child, idolizing and spoiling and pampering the child, parentifying the child, instrumentalizing the child and so on and so forth.

All these are forms of adverse childhood experiences in addition to objective circumstances such as the sickness of the parents or relocation or divorce and so on and so forth.

In all likelihood, as I said, you and the narcissist have this in common.

You come from the same planet, the planet of abuse.

You've been through it.

You've done it.

You've been there.

And so you recognize each other instantly.

There's a click, the click of tortured souls and suddenly you see in the narcissist the possibility of being fully, fully understood, fully accepted to finally belong to your community, the community of long suffering children.

And so a common background of adverse childhood experiences is the first reason for the instant attachment and bonding that happens with the narcissist.

Second reason is what I call the Hall of Mirrors effect.

I again expound on it in numerous other videos.

I recommend that you watch or search the shared fantasy playlist on this channel.

But in a nutshell, the Hall of Mirrors effect is when the narcissist idealizes you and you see yourself through the narcissist's eyes, through the narcissist's gaze, you're a perfect entity. You're amazing. You're drop dead gorgeous. You're hyper intelligent. You can do no wrong. This idealization communicated to you day in and day out becomes addictive and intoxicating. And so you become attached and bonded to the narcissist because it is only through his gaze that you are capable to see yourself this way.

And only by seeing yourself this way can you love yourself.

Sometimes for the first time in your life, you experience self love through the narcissist's gaze.

The narcissist allows you to ignore your flaws and shortcomings, your missteps, your bad choices.

You can ignore that because now the narcissist has magically rendered you a perfect being, almost God like I would say, devoid of all blemishes.

And so now you can love yourself safely because you're not going to let yourself down.

But you need the narcissist's gaze.

You need the narcissist's eyes.

You need the narcissist's presence to be able to continue to love yourself this way because he's the one idealizing you.

He lets you look into the mirror of his mind where you see yourself, queen like, idealized, amazing, unprecedented, one of a kind and so on.

And this is the whole of mirrors effect.

You don't fall in love with the narcissist.

You fall in love with the way the narcissist falls in love with you.

You fall in love with the way the narcissist idealizes you.

You fall in love with your own reflection in the narcissist's eyes and mind.

This reflection is an eternal hall of mirrors.

Each mirror reflects another mirror, which reflects another mirror.

And in all of them, you are the superstar.

You are the one and only.

There's only you.

This is the whole of mirrors effect, which leads of course to bonding and attachment because it triggers narcissistic defenses and your own grandiosity.

Next is trauma bonding.

I've discussed it in multiple videos.

In my work, trauma bonding is a form of self punishment and self harm.


That's how I see trauma bonding, but I won't go into it because I have a few videos dedicated to this issue and this channel.

And there are many other videos on trauma bonding online.

So well known well perceived concept.

The next reason you bond with the narcissist so intensely and so irrevocably one could say is the shared fantasy.

The shared fantasy is a narrative.

It's a storyline.

It's a script.

It's a movie.

It's a theater production and you're in it.

You're in it because you're in it.

You're a heroine or a hero.

Now all the pronouns, the gender pronouns are interchangeable.

Half of all narcissists are women.

So the narcissist in inducts you, introduces you into a shared fantasy.

The shared fantasy is so divorced from reality.

It's so perfect.

Colors of pink.

So amazing.

You're so Barbie like in the shared fantasy or Ken like whatever that shared fantasy itself becomes a golden cage.

You can't emerge from it.

You can't exit it because the outside reality is unbearable, boring, hostile, dangerous, risky, hateful and leads nowhere.


Well the shared fantasy is all these things in reverse.

And today I would like to discuss yet another reason for bonding and attachment.

But before we go there, I remind you of the concept of entrainment.

Entrainment is when the narcissist uses repetitive verbal mantras, verbal statements in order to synchronize your brainwaves with his brainwaves.

And no, this is not a metaphor.

That's a physiological fact in entraining.

And when he synchronizes his brainwaves with your brainwaves using these verbal slogans or verbal statements or verbal strings, when he does this, it's easy for him to penetrate your mind and to install in your mind the way you install an app on your smartphone, to install in your mind his voice and introject of himself and avatar of himself inside your mind.

And this avatar, this introject, this voice keeps talking to you, keeps brainwashing you from the inside and you are unable to tell that this is not your voice.

You think it's an authentic voice that represents exactly who you are while all the time, all this time it's actually the narcissist.

So this is a mechanism through which the narcissist invades your mind exactly like cancer, invades your mind and then metastasizes as his voice, his introject, collaborates with other voices and introjects inside your mind.

But let's talk about the fifth reason.

And the fifth reason is projective resonance.

Projective resonance is not the same as empathy and not the same as social cognition.

Let it be clear, I'm not implying that the narcissist has either empathy or social condition, actually I insist that he is impaired on both counts.

Projective resonance is when the narcissist sees himself in you the same way you see yourself in him.

But the outcomes are different.

When you see yourself in the narcissist, when you identify yourself and recognize yourself in the narcissist's mind, it causes you to attach to the narcissist, to bond with the narcissist, to get addicted to the narcissist because it's a very, very primordial, infantile feeling of being a child again and being loved unconditionally by a maternal figure, so to speak.

So in your case, when you recognize yourself in the narcissist's mind, when you see the similarities between his mind and yours, which are profound and overwhelming and so and so forth, to the point of identity, you're identical with the narcissist, at that point you bond and attach.

In the case of the narcissist, as usual, the reaction is exactly the opposite.

The more the narcissist sees himself in you, the more hateful, rejecting, resentful and aggressive he becomes.

When you see yourself in the narcissist's mind, you fall in love with the narcissist, you bond with the narcissist, you attach with the narcissist. It's a soulmate. It's your other half. It's your twin flame.

When the narcissist sees himself in you, he gets angry, he gets pissed off, he becomes resentful, violent, hateful, verbally abusive and so on and so forth.

Why is that?

Let's analyze two very common cases.

Imagine that you're a weak person, vulnerable, dependent, I don't want to say clingy, submissive.

This is one group of intimate partners of the narcissist.

Even when you start off as strong, willed, well accomplished, with personal autonomy, self-efficacy, agency, you know, independent woman or men, even when you start off this way, the narcissist crushes you.

The narcissist is like an industrial press. Industrial press, he demolishes you. He rearranges your molecules and atoms with enormous outside pressure. He uses a variety of manipulative techniques to alter or modify your behaviors so that they conform to his expectations. He renders you a slave, submissive, an extension of himself.

And so many, many intimate partners of narcissist end up the relationship, end up in the relationship being weak and vulnerable, independent and submissive and clingy and anxious and so on.

When this happens, you begin to remind the narcissist of his own true self because the narcissist's true self having been sacrificed to the maloc or to the idol of the false self in early childhood, the child kills the true self. The child ossifies, fossilizes the true self, deactivates the true self in order to merge with the false self.

So the true self becomes weak, vulnerable, dependent, submissive to the false self, inactive, passive and everything.

So when the narcissist forces you to become like this, when the narcissist forces you to become passive and vulnerable and weak and dependent and insecure, when the narcissist pushes you to this position with constant harassment, constant abuse, constant belittling and degrading and denigrating and shaming and so on and so forth, when you become finally what he always wants you to be, submissive, a slave, it reminds him of his own true self.

Now I keep saying in my videos the narcissist doesn't have a self.

Indeed the narcissist's true self is unconstulated, not consecrated, not integrated. It's not a functioning self. It's a wannabe self. It's a self in the making. It was a work in progress and then the false self took over and disabled the true self.

So it's no longer psychodynamically active.

When the narcissist sees you and you are helpless, needy, insecure, indecisive, dependent, submissive, clingy, panicky, anxious, it reminds him of his true self and it undermines his grandiose fantastic false self because the narcissist believes that he is the opposite of all these things. He believes that he is strong. He believes himself to be invulnerable, invulnerable, immune to the consequences of his actions, acting with impunity, independent, dominant, not submissive and so on and so forth.

And then you come along and he looks at you and he triggers in him the true self, not the true self, but the faint memory of the true self.

And this casts in doubt, this undermines the narrative of the godlike false self because if the true self is weak and dependent and vulnerable and possibly even stupid and so on, then the narcissist is not perfect. He is imperfect. He is not godlike. He is not unlimited. He is not uninitiated.

In other words, this seriously challenges the false self and endangers the precarious balance of the narcissist's personality, which took decades to construct.

Now let's take the other case.

The other case is that you're not weak, vulnerable, stupid and so on, but you are strong. You're resilient. You're magentaic in possession of agency. You're independent. You're self efficacious. You're accomplished. You're out there, out there. You have your own social circle, your own family, your own life.

Well, that's a problem. That's a problem because you keep clashing with your snapshot, with the image of you that the narcissist has in his mind, with your avatar, with your representation in the narcissist's brain. You keep confronting it. You keep diverging from it. You keep undermining it.

Personal autonomy, independence, self-efficacy, agency are bad for business as far as the narcissist is concerned because they keep challenging. They keep challenging and undermining the internal object that represents you in the narcissist's mind.

And this provokes in the narcissist's fear, abandonment, anxiety, separation, insecurity, but also the fear of losing control over you.

But even more profoundly, more problem, more problematically, if you're a strong, resilient, agentic, independent, self-efficacious, wise, clever, good looking, it's that if you're really that, then you are in effect very similar to the false self.

You're similar to how the narcissist sees himself. He sees himself as strong, resilient, super smart, agentic, independent, self-efficacious, amazing, unprecedented, and so on.

And if you are that way, then you are like the narcissist. You are like the narcissist's false self. You compete. You compete. It's a competition. You compete with the narcissist's inflated, grandiose self-image and that pieces of it off because you are challenging, you are casting in doubt his uniqueness. The narcissist's claims are one of a kind. No one is likely. No one is ever like me. There's never been anyone like me, never will be anyone like me. And not in the trivial sense, in the sense that I'm a supreme being.

And here you come along and you demonstrate to the narcissist that he is not one of a kind, he's not a sui gener.

There are other people like him. And this, of course, runs aparthe's not a sui gener.

There are other people like him.

And this, of course, runs apart.

He's self-perception is unique and threatens the balance of his personality.

It conflicts with your internal image in his mind.

So projective resonance is when the narcissist projects onto you either his true self and that puts him in touch with his life-threatening shame.

If he sees in you his true self, he is reminded of his childhood shame and childhood rage that are unreconciled and could lead him to suicidal ideation and major depression.

So you are like walking, talking, mortification.

So he projects onto you either the true self, that is when you're weak and dependent and submissive, then you remind him of the true self.

He projects onto you his true self and that is like a mirror. You become like a mirror and he sees the part of himself that is childlike, that is weak, that is shameful, that he had rejected the part, the dirty secret, the skeleton in the cupboard of the false self.

If you're strong and resilient and agentic, the narcissist projects onto you the false self and then you become the competition and you also undermine or dissipate the internal object that represents you in the narcissist's mind, the introject, the snapshot and that of course destroys the whole story and ruins the shared fantasy and so on and so forth.

Either case, the projective, the projective, the issue of projection, the projective resonance is a major problem that leads directly to devaluation and discard.

It's another mechanism to allow the narcissist to separate from you and to individually.

So these are the five mechanisms that lead to bonding and attachment with the narcissist.

The common background of adverse childhood experiences, the whole of mirrors where you see yourself idealized and you fall in love, when you see yourself idealized through the narcissist's eyes and gaze and you fall in love with yourself, trauma bonding, the shared fantasy and finally projective resonance which involves in training and so on and so forth.

All these lead to a very pathological kind of bond between you and the narcissist because on the one hand you get more and more enmeshed, more and more engulfed, more and more merged, more and more fused with the narcissist as he becomes your exclusive access to reality and to society by the way.

As he becomes your only exit strategy, as he has isolated you and rendered you utterly dependent on him for every need, psychological and sometimes physical, this is known as coercive control.

As on your side of the equation, on his side of the equation, he begins to resent you, he becomes more and more angry at you, more aggressive, more hateful, more rejecting.

This is an inexorable process that he pushes you away, he wants to separate from you because you become a mother figure, he wants to individually and he uses a variety of techniques and a variety of psychological processes to justify the devaluation in discard.

The closer you get to it, the more intimate you think you are with him, the more bound you are, the more attached, the more loving, the more caress and hug, the more the narcissist withdraws from you, avoids you, hates you, devalues you and discards you.

Part of the reason is of course the maternal cycle, the narcissist need to complete or replay or reenact the early childhood conflict with the original mother and this time to separate from her and become an individual, that's part of the reason.

The other reason is projective resonance.

Simply then, whatever you do, you remind the narcissist of something, something inside himself, whichever strategy you choose, they're going to be submissive, they're going to be a good wife or a good girlfriend or good boyfriend or whatever.

If you choose to be good, you remind the narcissist of the true self which is shameful and life threatening.

You mortify the narcissist by being good.

When you're good to the narcissist, you mortify him.

That's why he wants you to be bad, he wants you to abuse him.

I advise you to watch my interview with Azzam Ali on this topic.

On the other hand, if you're strong and independent and so on and so forth, you're competing with the narcissist, you're challenging his uniqueness, you're ruining his fantastic inflated self-image and you're threatening to push him back to the borderline phase where his emotions are dysregulated, he gets in touch with his shame, he develops suicidal ideation.

So this projective resonance is another reason why the narcissist snapshots you, why he introjects you, why he converts you from a real external object to an imaginary internal object because he can control the internal object, he can mold it, he can falsify it, he can manipulate it, he can play with the internal object, he can talk to it, he can win with the internal object.

The narcissist feels whole, elated, oceanic or idealized in the process of co-idealization.

But all this requires eliminating you as a separate external person and then withdrawing insight in a psychotic way and continuing to interact with the image of you in the narcissist's mind.

When the narcissist goes through the phases of the shared fantasy, he experiences all these emotions, going back to the womb, feeling whole, narcissistic elation, what Freud called the oceanic feeling, being idealized by idealizing you and so on and so forth and he's terrified of losing this. He gets addicted to this the same way you get addicted to the whole of mirrors. You get addicted to your idealized version in the narcissist's gaze, to your idealized version in the narcissist's eyes and mind. You get addicted to it, it's flattering. You fall in love with yourself through his eyes, you self-love through his gaze.

But it's the same for the narcissist.

When you play the mother in the shared fantasy, he's terrified of losing this and he's terrified of losing you as the source of this maternal symbiosis.

And so he snapshots you, he introjects you. This risk of resonance is when you're external, the risk of projective resonance is big, but when you're internal, it's somehow controllable, somehow reducible.

And that's another reason to snapshot you, to interject you, to internalize you and to pretend that you've never existed except as a figment of the narcissist imagination, fantasy and mind.

So when you remind the narcissist of his true self, when you're submissive and weak and vulnerable, you remind him of his true self and you're an internal object, not an external one, the narcissist actually gets in touch with his true self in a safe way. He feels that he has an internal secure base.

Even though your internal object reminds him of the true self, it's a good thing because it makes him feel whole. It makes him feel what, as I said, what Freud called oceanic feeling. It makes him feel that he's completed and this leads to narcissistic elation.

So when you are weak, vulnerable, dependent and submissive, you remind the narcissist of the true self. But since you are an internal object, this memory of the true self is perceived by the narcissist as positive because it leads to his completion, to wholesomeness and wholeness, to becoming one with his true self.

And similarly, when you remind the narcissist of his false self, when you're strong, resilient and so on and so forth, and accomplished and intelligent and you remind him of his false self, if you are an internal object, then idealizing you means idealizing himself, co-idealization. This is why the narcissist absolutely must convert you into an internal object because otherwise as an external object with the process of projective resonance, if you were to remind him of a true self as an external object, he would fall apart. He would become borderline and suicidal and full of shame. And if you were to remind him of the false self as an external object, if you were not perceived as internal, but as external, it would create competition and aggression, violence in him.

By internalizing you, the narcissist converts the adverse outcomes of projective resonance into positive outcomes, into an internal dialogue with himself. He says, "The ideal, the internal object, the introject that represents my intimate partner in my mind reminds me of my true self and in this sense completes me, makes me whole. I feel engulfed, I feel enmeshed and symbiotic with a mother figure. Only a mother would love my true self because it's so dysfunctional and so dead and moribund, only a mother would love it."

Similarly, the narcissist says, "The internal object, the introject, the avatar that represents my intimate partner in my mind is strong, resilient, accomplished, beautiful and so on and intelligent and so on. It reminds me of the false self. So it's ideal, this internal object is ideal, it makes me ideal by idealizing the internal object. There's no competition with the false self, there is enhancement of the false self because it's an internal object. If it's idealized, it means the narcissist is ideal and perfect and godlike. ###

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