Narcissist and Psychopath Coping Strategies: Conflictive Posture

Uploaded 10/8/2010, approx. 3 minute read

I am Sam Vaknin and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

This is the second in a series of videos about how to cope with a narcissist or a psychopath in an intimate relationship.

Be sure to watch the previous video.

Today we will discuss what I call the conflictive posture.

Contrary to its name, the conflictive posture is actually about avoiding conflict, by minimizing contact and by insisting on your boundaries. It is about refusal to accept abusive behavior by demanding from the abuser reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. It is about respect for you and for your predilections, emotions, needs, wishes and priorities.

A healthy relationship requires justice and proportionality. You should reject or ignore unjust and capricious behavior. Conflicts are inevitable, even in the most loving and mature bonds, but the rules of engagement are different in a liaison, in a relationship which involves abusive conduct.

There, in such a sick relationship, you must react in kind. You must let your abuser have a taste of some of his own medicine.

Abusers are predators. They are attuned to the subtlest emotional cues of their prey. You.

Never show your abuser that you are afraid or that you are less than resolute.

The willingness to negotiate is perceived by the abuser as a weakness.

Violent offenders and bullies are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail or to emotional extortion.

Once you start compromising, you won't see the end of it.

The abuser creates a shared psychosis, in French, a foliar duet, with his victim. It is a narrative, a confabulation, a story, an overwhelming feeling of the two of us against the whole hostile world out there.

Well, don't buy into it. Feel free to threaten him with legal measures. Feel free to disengage if things get rough or to involve law enforcement or officials, judges, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

The abused feel ashamed. They feel somehow responsible, guilty and blameworthy for their own maltreatment.

The abuser is adept at instilling these erroneous notions in his victims. He passes the buck. He makes them feel responsible for whatever has happened. He says openly, look what you made me do.

So above all, do not keep your abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon.

So you should share your story with friends, colleagues, neighbors, social workers, judges, the police, the media, the courts, your minister, anyone who would listen. Don't make excuses for him. Don't try to understand him. Do not empathize with him, for he surely does not empathize with you. He has no mercy on you.

You, in return, do not bother to have misplaced pity on him. Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression.

Teach him a lesson he is unlikely to forget. Make him go elsewhere for his sadistic pursuits or to offload his frustrations.

The abuser sometimes uses third parties, his family, his peers in order to torture and torment and taunt you.

Well, often the abuser's proxies, his long arms, are unaware of their role.

You should expose him to them. You should inform them.

Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by your abuser. Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve other people. Bring it into the open. There is nothing like sunshine to disinfect abuse.

There are a few techniques which work wonders with abusers.

Some psychologists recommend to treat repeat offenders as one would toddlers. The abuser is indeed a kind of immature brat. He is dangerous. He is endowed with privileges and capabilities of an adult, but he is still an immature brat with temper tantrums.

Sometimes ignoring these temper tantrums is a wise policy, but not always and actually not very often and actually definitely not as a rule.

In the next video, we will discuss specific techniques and strategies for dealing with narcissists and psychopaths.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist's Victim: NO CONTACT Rules

Professor Sam Vaknin advises victims of narcissism and psychopathy to maintain as much contact with their abuser as the courts, counselors, evaluators, mediators, guardians, or law enforcement officials mandate. However, with the exception of this minimum mandated by the courts, decline any and all gratuitous contact with the narcissist or psychopath. Avoiding contact with the abuser is a form of setting boundaries, and setting boundaries is a form of healing. Be firm, be resolute, but be polite and civil.

Coping Styles: Narcissist Abuses "Loved" Ones Despite Abandonment Anxiety

Narcissists abuse their loved ones to decrease their abandonment anxiety, restore their sense of grandiosity, and test their partner's loyalty. Abuse also serves as a form of behavior modification, as it signals to the partner that they need to modify their behavior to avoid abuse. Coping styles for dealing with abuse include submissiveness, conflicting, mirroring, collusion, and displacement, but some of these styles can be harmful and should be avoided.

Coping with Stalkers: Psychopaths, Narcissists, Paranoids, Erotomaniacs

Stalkers come in different types, including erotomaniac, narcissistic, paranoid, and anti-social or psychopathic. Coping techniques suited to one type of stalker may backfire or prove to be futile with another. The best coping strategy is to first identify the type of abuser you are faced with. It is essential to avoid all contact with your stalker, but being evaded only inflames the stalker's wrath and enhances his frustration.

Mentally Ill: Bail Out, Save Yourself - Not THEM!

Mentally ill people often emotionally blackmail others into becoming their rescuers, and once they have, they want to infect them with their illness. This is because they want to share their pain and feel accepted. However, mentally ill people do not want to be helped, and they have strong resistances and defenses against healing. Therefore, it is important to harden your heart and walk away from mentally ill people to save yourself.

Narcissist's Reactions to Abandonment, Separation, and Divorce

Narcissistic abusers often resort to self-delusion when faced with the dissolution of a meaningful relationship. They may adopt a masochistic avoidance solution, punishing themselves for their failure, or construct a delusional narrative in which they are the hero. Some may become antisocial psychopaths, while others develop persecutory delusions and withdraw completely from social contact, becoming schizoids. Finally, some abusers resort to an aggressive stance, becoming verbally, psychologically, and sometimes physically abusive towards loved ones.

Body Language of Narcissistic and Psychopathic Abuser

Abusers emit subtle signals in their body language that can be observed and discerned. They adopt a posture of superiority and entitlement, and they idealize or devalue their interlocutors. Abusers are shallow and prefer show-off to substance, and they are serious about themselves. They lack empathy, are sadistic, and have inappropriate affect. They are adept at casting a veil of secrecy over their dysfunction and misbehavior, and they succeed in deceiving the entire world.

Masochistic Personality Disorder (Masochism)

Masochists have been taught to hate themselves and consider themselves unworthy of love, leading to self-destructive behaviors. They avoid pleasurable experiences and seek suffering, pain, and hurt in relationships. They reject help and render attempts to assist futile. Masochists tend to choose people and circumstances that lead to failure and avoid those that result in success or gratification. They adopt unrealistic goals and generate underachievements, leading to rage, depression, and guilt.

Abuser-Victim Bond: Emotional Processing and Object Inconstancy

Victims of narcissistic abuse keep falling for it because they are the spitting image of their abusers in terms of psychodynamic processes. Victims and abusers have unusual ways of processing information, and they share impaired object constancy. Victims and abusers bond via their resonating pathologies, and this bonding is an addiction. Abusers and victims fulfill each other's voids, and traumatic bonding is extremely difficult to break.

Abuse By Proxy

Abusers often use third parties to control, coerce, threaten, stalk, tempt, seduce, harass, communicate, or manipulate their targets. They use the same mechanisms and devices to control these unaware instruments as they plan to control their ultimate prey. The abuser perverts the system, and therapists, marriage counselors, mediators, court-appointed guardians, police officers, and judges end up upholding the abuser's version and helping him further abuse his victims. The victim's children are the abuser's greatest source of leverage over his abused spouse or mate.

Expose Narcissist’s Secret Speech

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses how narcissists use code and a cipher to manipulate others, including various techniques such as counterfactuality, victim language, projection, gaslighting, and passive aggression. He advises ignoring the hidden message and not responding to the occult message when communicating with a narcissist. He also discusses the evasiveness of narcissists and psychopaths, their competitive nature, and their use of alloplastic defenses to shift blame and deny responsibility for their actions. Finally, he explains that mentally ill people cannot be reasoned with, and their speech acts and decisions need to be deconstructed.

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