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Narcissist and Psychopath Coping Techniques

Uploaded 10/8/2010, approx. 5 minute read

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

This is the third video in a series about coping strategies and techniques with narcissists and psychopaths in intimate relationships. Be sure to watch the rest of the series.

Today, we will map out techniques of coping with narcissistic and psychopathic abusers.

Not all these techniques apply to all abusers. Watch the other videos in this series to decide which technique to adopt in which situation.


Right now, we are just going to map the territory.

The first technique is to mirror the abuser's behavior. Mirror his actions. Repeat his words.

If, for instance, he is having a rage attack, rage back. If he threatens, threaten back. Incredibly try to use the same language, the same content. If he leaves the house, leave the house as well. Disappear on him. If he is suspicious, act suspicious and jealous. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating. Go down to his level.

The other technique is to frighten him.

Identify the vulnerabilities and susceptibilities of the narcissistic and psychopathic abuser and strike repeated escalating blows at them.

If a narcissist is a secret or something he wishes to conceal, use your knowledge to threaten him. Of course, do so legally and only after you have consulted an attorney.

Drop cryptic hints that there are mysterious witnesses to the events and recently revealed evidence. Do it cleverly. Do it non-committally, gradually, in an escalating manner and, of course, again, in a legal way.

Let his imagination do the rest. You don't have to do much except utter a vague reference, make a nominous allusion, delineate a possible turn of events.

Needless to add that all these activities have to be pursued legally, preferably through the good services of law officers and in broad daylight. If done the wrong way, they might constitute extortion or blackmail, harassment and a host of other criminal offenses. They can also backfire and provoke the narcissistic and psychopathic abuser into violence and aggression.

I repeat, not all coping techniques are applicable to all situations and to all abusers.

Listen and watch the other videos in this series to make up your mind which technique applies when and to whom.


The next technique is to lure the abuser.

Offer the abuser continued narcissistic supply. You can make a narcissist do anything by offering, withholding or threatening to withhold narcissistic supply, adulation, admiration, attention, sex, all subservience, or even the appearance of being fearful.

Play on his fears of abandonment is the next technique. If nothing else works, explicitly threaten to abandon your abuser.

You can condition the threat. You can say, if you don't do something or if you do do something, I will desert you.

The narcissist perceives the following sentences as threats of abandonment, even if they are not meant as such.

He perceives every confrontation, every fundamental disagreement or protracted criticism as a sign of abandonment. He perceives abandonment when he is completely ignored or when you insist on your boundaries, needs, emotions, choices and preferences.

When you retaliate, for instance, when you shout back at him, all these in the narcissist's mind equate abandonment.

Finally, this is the technique that I recommend the most and always.

Refuse all contact. Be sure to maintain as much contact with your abuser as the courts, counsellors, mediators, guardians or law enforcement officials mandate, but no more.

Do not contravene the decisions of the system.

Work from inside the system to change judgments, evaluations or rulings, but never rebel against the system, the courts, the police, never ignore them. You will only turn the system against you and against your interests and you will be labeled the abuser instead of the victim.

But with the exception of this minimum, mandated by the courts, decline any and all gratuitous contact with the narcissist or psychopath. Dopsychopath.

Do not respond to your abuser's pleading, to romantic, nostalgic, flattering or threatening email messages. Return all the gifts that he sends you. Refuse inventory to your premises. Do not even respond to the intercom. Do not talk to him on the phone. Hang up the minute you hear his voice while making clear to him in a single polite but firm sentence that you are determined not to talk to him ever again. Do not answer his letters. Do not visit him on special occasions or in emergencies when he is sick. Do not respond to questions, requests or pleas forwarded to you through or via or by third parties. Disconnect from third parties whom you know are spying on you at your abuser's behest. Do not discuss with your abuser your children. Do not gossip about your abuser. Do not ask him for anything even if you are in dire need and dire straits.

When you are forced to meet your abuser, do not discuss your personal affairs or raise them. Do not discuss his personal affairs or raise them as well.

Relegate any inevitable contact with him when and where possible to professionals, to your lawyer, to your accountant, to the police, to judges or to court officials.

But is there anything you can do to avoid abuses and narcissists to start with? Are there any warning signs and identifying marks, rules of thumb to shield you from the harrowing and traumatic experience of an abusive relationship?

We have a special video which deals with these issues. Be sure to watch it.

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.


Signs You are Victim of Narcissistic Abuse, Not Common Abuse (Stress, Depression Management Webinar)

Narcissistic abuse is a subtype of abusive behavior that is pervasive, sophisticated, and can be practiced either covertly or overtly. Victims of narcissistic abuse often experience depression, anxiety, disorientation, and dissociative symptoms. This type of abuse can lead to complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and even elements of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The way individuals process and react to trauma can lead to either regression into infantile behaviors or personal growth and maturation, depending on their emotional regulation and maturity.


Narcissist and Psychopath Coping Strategies: Submissive Posture

In this video, Professor Sam Vaknin provides advice on how to survive a relationship with a narcissist or psychopath. He explains that not all abusers suffer from a personality disorder, but abuse is a multifaceted phenomenon. Abusers react with disproportionate wrath and rage, so it is important never to openly and repeatedly disagree with them or contradict them. The abuser seeks to subjugate their victims and transform their personal space into the exact opposite of their real life. The only way to treat an abuser is not to treat them at all, to disengage, and go away.


Narcissist and Psychopath Coping Strategies: Conflictive Posture

The conflictive posture is a way to avoid conflict with a narcissist or psychopath by minimizing contact and insisting on boundaries. It involves demanding reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions from the abuser and respecting one's own emotions, needs, wishes, and priorities. The abuser creates a shared psychosis with the victim, but it is important not to buy into it and to involve law enforcement or officials if necessary. It is also important to share the story with others and not make excuses for the abuser.


Victims of Abuse: Recovery and Healing

Sam Vaknin discusses the process of healing and recovery for victims of abuse. The therapist's first task is to legitimize and validate the victim's fears and make it clear that the victim is not responsible for the abuse. Facing, reconstructing, and reframing the traumatic experiences is crucial for healing. Education is an important tool in the recovery process, and the victim should be made aware of the prevalence and nature of violence against women, warning signs, legal redress, coping strategies, and safety precautions. The therapist should emphasize the survivor's strengths and help the victim regain control of her life.


Gaslighting and Ambient Abuse

Ambient abuse, also known as gaslighting, is a subtle and insidious form of abuse that is difficult to identify. It is the fostering of an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability, and irritation. There are five categories of ambient abuse: inducing disorientation, incapacitating, shared psychosis, abuse or misuse of information, and control by proxy. The abuser uses these tactics to manipulate and control their victim, often leaving them with low self-esteem and a sense of isolation.


Bad Therapy for Abuse Victims and Survivors

Therapy for victims and survivors of abuse is not always smooth, with therapists often experiencing counter-transference and struggling to identify with the victim. Male therapists may try to prove themselves as good men, while female therapists may blame the victim for their abuse. Many therapists expect the victim to be aggressive and assertive, leading to premature termination of therapy if they fail to do so. However, good therapy can empower the victim and restore their sense of control over their life. It is crucial to find a therapist that is compatible with the specific victim or survivor of abuse.


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.


Narcissism, Trauma, Addiction: The Bridge

Narcissism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction are interconnected and comorbid. Narcissism is a result of childhood trauma and abuse, while PTSD leads to lifelong substance abuse, and most narcissists abuse substances. All three mental health issues resemble dissociative identity disorder, and they feed on each other. Addictions are the normal state, and they provide boundaries, rituals, timetables, and order, but they also provide hope, excitement, thrill, adrenaline, and dopamine. Cold therapy is a treatment modality that unites all these trends and fulfills a dire and urgent need in trauma therapy.


Good People Ignore Abuse and Torture: Why?

Good people often overlook abuse and neglect because it is difficult to tell the abuser and victim apart. The word abuse is ill-defined and open to interpretation, leading to a lack of clear definition. People also tend to avoid unpleasant situations and institutions that deal with anomalies, pain, death, and illness. Abuse is a coping strategy employed by the abuser to reassert control over their life and regain self-confidence. Abuse is a catharsis, and even good people channel their negative emotions onto the victim.

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