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Narcissist and YOU: Tour the Nightmare (with Monique Rigney)

Uploaded 12/15/2023, approx. 1 hour read

It seems that I'm recording, I'm not quite sure, but let's open this.

No, as long as you're both co-hosts, you should be able to record. We're recording on this side too, but we're also recording a backup in Audacity Audio only as well, just in case we like to quadruple check everything.

Okay, thank you for your help.

No problem. This is certainly not my first Zoom anything.

I thought we were over it, but we're not.

Okay, so just for the audio levels only through Audacity, what did you have for breakfast today? What I had for breakfast today, I had an apple and a pretty oily peanut butter bar.

Excellent. Your levels are great. That's lovely.

So we've got, we're triple locked here. The peanut butter wasn't.

Oh really? I love a bit of peanut butter actually. It keeps it going for a good one.

I'm going to leave you two to us and we know that we're happy and we're ready to go.

And everything's recording. You could actually injure somebody with a book. That was the intention. It's substantial. That was the intention.

We're not moving now, Paula. It's okay, is it? Okay. Okay, yeah, I just, I brought the books as well, Sam, just so I can, you know. Thank you. It's really lovely to meet you. I can't believe it. I'm a little bit star. I'm a little bit star. I know you, I know how you get on and talk and I know there's no problem. Let us talk. Okay, so I'll start with your introduction and then I'll obviously ask you about the start with the definition.

Allow me to introduce myself. It's going to be shorter. I don't want to take too much of the show on Bragi. I'm Sam Vadmin. I'll do it separately and you go ahead. Yeah. Well, I'm Sam Vadmin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited and many other books about personality disorders. I'm a former visiting professor of psychology and currently I'm on the faculty of CEOPS, Center for International, they change a name. It's a Commonwealth Institute for Advanced Professional Studies in the United Kingdom, Cambridge, Toronto and Nigeria. They have an outreach conference. So that's me in a nutshell. Yes. And your Bible, of course, I'll just, you know, this is the Bible for everybody. Sam, we'll start with your definition of and what is actually a narcissist and maybe the variant types that you know you can come across.

A narcissist is a person who cannot conceive of other people as separate from him. He cannot conceive them as external objects. He converts everyone around him into an internal object. Everyone's significant, everyone meaningful, everyone useful, everyone who can provide him with narcissistic supply, everyone who can fit into his shared fantasy.

And when I say he and his and him, these gender pronouns are interchangeable. Today, 50 percent of people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder are women. So women caught up in this un-elustriated field as well.

So when I say he, you can safely replace it with a she. So this is a person who converts everyone into an internal object.

And because everyone is an internal object, he feels comfortable. He feels convenient to exploit them, to manipulate them, to use them, to abuse them. He lacks empathy because one does not empathize with one's internal objects.

Everything flows, everything comes from this fact that the narcissist is alone in the universe. He is solid cystic. He is the single operating mind. Everyone else is a two-dimensional rendition, a caricature, painting, a drawing, an internal object, whatever you want, a voice, whatever you want to call it.

So narcissists treat other people as extensions, as instruments, as objects.

And I think that's the best definition of narcissism. There are many others, but I think there's a lesson.

And there's different categories. There's the overt, the covert. There are different types of narcissists.

But today we are beginning to think that we have committed a serious mistake in the past few decades.

Until the 1960s, narcissism, pathological narcissism, has been perceived as compensatory.

The narcissistic person supposedly felt bad about himself, had an inferiority complex, had what we call a bad object, considered himself unworthy, inadequate, a failure, stupid, ugly, you name it.

And to compensate for this internal dissonance, for this discomfort, to compensate for this, these people developed pathological narcissism.

They said, "I'm not stupid. I'm a genius. I'm not ugly. I'm drop dead gorgeous. I'm not what I know I am. I'm the exact opposite." And they created a false self. This was until the 1960s.

And then starting in the 1960s, we began to say, "No, there are two types of narcissists. There are compensatory narcissists, narcissists who don't feel well with who they are.

And there are overt, grandiose narcissists. And these overt, grandiose narcissists actually love themselves. They adore themselves. They think they're perfection.

And so this has been the prevailing orthodoxy until recently.

But recently we are going back to the roots. We are beginning to believe that overt or grandiose narcissists, narcissists who are in your face, they are defiant, they are always happy or lucky, they're never wrong. They are, you know, these kind of narcissists we believe are actually psychopaths.

And the only true narcissist is a compensatory narcissist, someone who compensates for this bad object inside himself.

And now within the compensatory range, we have narcissists who externalize their narcissism.

They are ostentatious, ostentatiously narcissistic. And they use narcissism to elicit or to trigger or to provoke reactions in people which confirm to them their own inflated, fantastic self-image and self-perception.

And we call this kind of feedback, "narcissistic supply."

There is another type of narcissist. It's a narcissist who is not very good at interacting with people. A narcissist who constantly fails to elicit praise and compliments and adulation and admiration or even attention.

Narcissist who is very bad at securing attention from his environment. And this kind of narcissist is known as a covert narcissist.

It's essentially a type of collapsed narcissist. Collapse in narcissism is a situation where the narcissist repeatedly and habitually fails to obtain or secure a regular flow of narcissistic supply.

And then if this happens over the lifespan, you become covert. You hide the fact that you are narcissist. You simply hide it. You act. You develop thespian skills. You play act. You pretend. You fake. You develop what we call pseudo-humility, false modesty.

You become pro-social and communal, overtly and ostentatiously charitable and altruistic and moralistic and so on and so forth. These are all covert narcissists.

Many, many so-called victims, and definitely the majority of so-called empaths, are actually covert narcissists, in my view.

Yeah, you say that you don't even think the empath is a real thing often. You know, a real personality type, empath. There's no such thing as empath. It's not a personality type. It's not a political term. It's complete nonsensical online hype. And it's actually inverted narcissism. I think it's a form of covert narcissism.

Now, inverted narcissist is a subspecies of covert narcissism that derives narcissistic supply via an intimate partner who is an overt grandiose narcissist.

So the inverted narcissist teams up with another narcissist, and then she busks in his glory. She obtains supply vicariously by proxy through him. He's very good. Her intimate partner is very good at obtaining supply. She is not.

So she teams up with him. He becomes a kind of provider, but not provider of money, but provider of supply.

Think of the whole thing as the economy of a drug. It's actually a drug environment.

Narcissistic supply is a drug.

And think about junkies and pushers.

So the inverted narcissist is a junkie, and her intimate partner is a pusher. The narcissist is a junkie, and everyone who provides him with narcissistic supply is a pusher or a source of drugs. It's absolutely comparable to drug addiction.

And indeed, you can recast narcissism as a form of addictive response to trauma, early childhood trauma. Which we'll touch on in a little while.


So could you maybe just set out for anyone that's not very familiar with narcissistic behavior and narcissistic abuse, which is one of your own phrases that you coined in the 90s in your book.

What type of behaviors would such people demonstrate, and what kind of things would you look out for?

There's of course a very long list of behaviors. It is a common myth that you're unable to spot a narcissist because they're great actors. They put the wool over your eyes. They deceive you.

And then much, much later you find out that they're narcissist and you're devastated. That's a myth. It's complete nonsense.

The minute you come across a narcissist, your intuition, your gut feeling is that something is wrong. Something is awry. Something is off key.

The narcissist is too much in many ways. He's over the top. He's a caricature. He's not a human being. He's a caricature.

And there is a reaction known as the uncanny valley reaction where we react to people, we react to entities that simulate human beings. We react to them with unease, discomfort.

And this is exactly the reaction when you come across a narcissist.

So why do people ignore their intuition or gut feeling and proceed with their relationship?

Because people are lonely. They're lonely. They compromise. They compromise. They deceive themselves. They're malignantly optimistic. They're orthological hope. They shadow the angelicist's phrase.

And so they delude themselves into thinking either that their perceptions are wrong, their intuition is wrong, or that somehow with their love and investment and commitment, they may be able to transform the narcissist into a normal, healthy, loving, empathetic, caring, nice, kind human being.

Both are forms of self-deception.

Just one second, please.

And Lydia, would you mind closing the door here? Thank you. I'm sorry. I forgot. I forgot. Your other half.

Yes, my better half. My slower half, but better half.

Yes, of course.


So what are the signs? Why? What triggers our intuition or gut feeling?

First of all, as I said, they are caricatures. They're exaggerated simulations of human, exaggerated imitations of human beings.

You see the imitation. It's very visible. It's conspicuous, the fact that they are imitating a human being.

Number two, they almost have a ghost like... They're kind of ghost like in a way, aren't they? They kind of don't even exist, really.

They are like a rendition of a human being. They're like a CGI script. They're like a rendition of a human being.

The second thing is they treat you differently to the way they treat everyone else. So they treat you nicely. They're very attentive. They're very compassionate. They are emphatically empathic. They are into you completely like a laser beam. They consume everyone you say with astonishment and amazement. And they immediately start to idealize you. And they tell you that you're the most fascinating person they've ever met and that you are so intelligent and so beautiful and so business all that. And at the same time, they insult the waiter. They shout at the cab driver. They humiliate the next...

the people at the next table.

So when you see a discrepancy between the way you are being treated and the way everyone else is, that's a narcissist.

The next thing is that narcissists take over. They immediately assume a position of dominance. They decide what movie you're going to see, which restaurant you're going to go to. They take the keys to your apartment and they lock your door. They shove you into the nearest cab. They immediately monopolize you and the situation.

Do not allow you to have any agency, any independence, any decision-making powers, and so on and so forth.

This is... I would say that maybe a fourth sign is inappropriate affect.

So you may be discussing something horrible. Like, I don't know, the war in Gaza. And they're going to laugh. Their reactions are going to be...

The cruelness. Their reactions are inappropriate.

So this is another indicator. There are many. There are dozens. There are so many indicators that it is utterly impossible for you not to notice that you're with someone who is mentally ill. Not impossible not to notice. It's possible to lie to yourself, which a vast majority of people do.


And so before we start into how they go about that, how do they actually see the person before we talk about the stage setting and all of that?

How do they actually see the person, the people who they care about or who they're supposed to care about, their loved ones around them?

They don't really see them, do they?

You have used words which have no place in the narcissist's vocabulary. You'veused words like "care" and "loved ones" and so on. This is no place in the narcissist's vocabulary.

The narcissist is not interested in who you are. So it is a myth and online, again, online nonsense that narcissists choose intentionally, empathic and kind and nice people. They don't... they couldn't care less if you're empathic and kind and nice. They don't care who you are. They care about what you can give them. They care about what they can take from you.

And they are focused on four things which I call the four S's.

And that is sex, supply, narcissistic or sadistic. Torturing you is a great supply. And safety, your constant presence, owing to trauma bonding or addiction or whatever.

So supply, sex, safety and services. You're supposed to service them in a variety of capacities. A short-payer, a personal assistant, a cook, a mother and so on.

So the narcissist focuses on whether you can give him two out of these four.

And if you can, he couldn't care less about your traits, your beliefs, your values, your personal history, your family, your loved ones, your nearest and dearest, your interests, your vocation, your occupations, your hobbies, your hopes, your fears, your dreams.

None of this is of any interest to the narcissist. You are like an internet service provider. We want the internet service provider to provide us with reliable broadband. And we don't particularly care about the personality of the people who are working in the internet service provider's office.

So you are a provider, you're a supplier, that's it.

And they isolate people. These type of personalities, they isolate the people, the supply.

So they are.

So the first thing they do is they convert you into an internal object.

If you pass the test, if you succeed in the job interview and the narcissist believes that you can fit into a shared fantasy and you can provide him with supply and or sex and or services and you're a safe personin the sense that you're unlikely to just walk away, break up with him, abandon him or betray him.

If he reaches this conclusion, your profile fits.

Not your profile, but the profile of what you are able to give him fits.

Then he moves on to the next stage. He converts you into an internal object.

He begins to ignore your external existence. He is unable to accept or even to experience your separateness and your externality because as a child, he was not allowed to separate from the mother. He never experienced separation, individuation.

So he doesn't allow you to be a separate person or object.

Now, if you are too independent for his taste, if you are too agentic, if you have a modicum of personal autonomy, if you have too many friends, family, a support network, if you are able to secure SACOR elsewhere, advice, that's a threat. That's a threat to the safety element in the four S's.

So in this case, the narcissist would need to constrict your life.

The clinical term is constriction. The narcissist would need to constrict your life.

So as to render you safe, it's not a malevolent attempt to kind of control you and then torture you.

No, it's about him. Not about you.

He wants to feel safe with you. And he cannot feel safe with you as long as you are an external object, keep conflicting with your representation in his mind, which is the internal object.

You need to conform 100 percent to the internal object.

The narcissist idealizes the internal object. He divorces the internal object from reality.

And you need, therefore, to seize your separate existence and to mold yourself, to shape yourself in the form of the internal object.

And of course, if you make decisions on your own, if you have choices which are not influenced by the narcissist, if you maintain reality testing so you're able to conflict with the narcissist, disagree with him and criticize him and so on, then you are diverging, you're deviating from the internal object.

And you no longer can be considered ideal because you are a threat to the precarious balance of the internal landscape of the narcissist.

If you challenge one of the internal objects, which happens to represent you in the narcissist's mind, then all the other internal objects are at risk.

The principle of interjection is at risk. So you're threatening the narcissist's worldview, the narcissist's perception of reality, which is totally devotional reality. You're threatening all this.

So he needs to get rid of you. He needs to convert you into a persecutory object.

From idealization, he switches to devaluation.

Of course, the narcissist pushes you to undermine the internal object because he needs to separate from you. He reenacts his early childhood conflicts with you.

You stand in for his mother. You're like a mother, maternal object.

So he needs to separate from you. And so he needs to convince himself that there's a good reason to separate. And the good reason is you have changed. Something's wrong with you. You are the bad influence. You have been acting. You've deceived him. You've manipulated him. You're just, I don't know, a goldier.

So he converts you into a persecutory object, an enemy within an enemy inside his mind. And then he devalues you.

And by any means necessary, you know, devaluation involves can be very dangerous.

Demolition involves a recasting or re-characterizing of the internal object in terms of persecution, danger, risk, threat, and so on.

And then, of course, he needs to get rid of the threat.

And he would go to any extent because the threat is existential.

When you challenge the narcissist's internal world, you become an existential threat.

It's no longer about money or power. It's about his existence.

Because he can't bear any sense of reality.

I listened to you a few weeks ago talking about the force.

Yes, reality has not been kind to the narcissist in his early life.

And he has chosen as a child to transition from reality to the paracosm and fantasy world where there is a deity or a divinity with which he merges.

And this divinity is the false self. So he becomes a god in a fantastic world.

The coping mechanism. It's the only way to survive the extreme environments which breed narcissists.

Abuse in these environments doesn't necessarily mean physical abuse or sexual abuse. Abuse is any situation where the parent does not allow the child to become a separate person, to acquire personhood. The parent does not allow the child to separate, to individuate. The parent does not allow the child to have boundaries. The parent invades and bridges the child's boundaries. The parent merges or fuses with the child. The parent instrumentalizes the child. The parent parentifies the child.

And some parents sexually abuse the child or physically abuse the child or verbally abuse the child.

But a spoiled, pedestalized, idolized child is being abused. These are forms of abuse because the child is denied access to reality and to his peers. So he is denied the ability to grow and develop. And he is denied the capacity to become an individual.

So these are all extreme forms of abuse which threaten the existence of the narcissist, of the body narcissist, of the child who is about to become a narcissist.

So this kind of child cannot tolerate an environment which doesn't allow him to become. It's an environment that doesn't allow the child to become. The environment that kills the child, assassinates the child, objectifies, instrumentalizes the child.

So to escape this, because this induces a lot of rage in the child and a lot of shame in the child. And the child is unable to externalize the rage and the shame because mother and father are not legitimate targets of rage and shame. So he internalizes the rage and shame up to the point that they threaten his life.

So then the child needs to escape, needs to flee the situation. And he creates a very complex fantasy space. Paracosm.


And he populates this fantasy space with something, an entity, which is the exact opposite of the child.

The false self, this God-like, Godhead figure, this divinity, this deity, is everything the child is not.

The false self is all-powerful. The child is helpless. The false self is all-knowing and therefore can predict the behavior of a dance.

The child cannot predict the behavior of the dance in his life. They are capricious, they are arbitrary, they are absent, they are manipulative, they are so terrifying.

So gradually the child says, "Okay, the only way to survive is to merge with my God, to sacrifice myself to this God." It's a primitive religion. The child creates a primitive God, a Moloch. And then the child sacrifices his true self to this God. It's human sacrifice.

The child ceases to exist but reappears as the false self merges and fuses with the false self, becomes one with the false self.

And from that moment on the child is invulnerable, untouchable, invincible. You can't hurt a God.

So never by what you do to the child, after the emergence of the false self, he is immune, he is impermeable, he is untouchable. He can never experience pain or hurt or fear because he is a God.

And that loss throughout the narcissist's lifespan, to the very day he dies.

Yes, because you mentioned that you get less and less connected as time goes on to that child that is split. Would you say it's a split? Or would you just say the child is hidden into the background?

There's no child. The child dies. There's only the false self. The false self survives.

The only survival of this mega disaster, this catastrophe, is a false self. The child disappears into the false self because the child judges this, gives this survival strategy.

Completely understandable. You described it a few weeks ago in one of your lectures online, and you said, "A vacuum that cannot tolerate nature and a mere observer of your own life never present. One day waking up to realise you would never wake up again. Caught in an endless looping silent film, an alternative infinite void existing as a non-entity."

So I'm going to go and ask you about the setting up of the stage for you developed your own from your own framework.

You started with Sanders, as you always refer to him, 1989, and you developed your own psychological conceptual framework.

And I just wanted to ask you about that. And so you started with Sanders, and then you, in addition to your idea of dual mothership.

So, yeah, can you tell us all about that and how you framed it?

The narcissist starts off as a child, but then grows up, and as he becomes an adult, at least physiologically, he's obsessed with normalcy. He wants to be like everyone else, he wants to be normal, or he wants to be considered normal. An accomplished person, an unusual person, but still normal, he doesn't want to be considered crazy, or, you know, mentally ill.

So narcissists are very focused on presenting a facade of normalcy.

And so what does a normal person do? They find an intimate partner. They have relationships.

So narcissists are obsessed with relationships, much more so than, much more so than normal people, than truly normal people, truly healthy people.

Narcissists are obsessed with it because it's an ostentatious display of normalcy.

So it's like some gay people who are egodystonic, they're ashamed of their sexual orientation, they get married. They get married and say, "You see, I'm married. I have children. I'm not gay." The clinical term for this is reaction formation. You create a set of behaviors and you make statements that belie, that defy who you truly are.

So if you are a latent homosexual, you will be homophobic and say, "I hate homosexuals. They're horrible."

No. But actually, you're doing this to protect yourself, to defend against the shame of being a homosexual in your mind.

Similarly, the narcissist defends against the shame of being who he is by pretending or insisting to be treated as normal.

And so what's more normal than a relationship?

So the narcissist goes around hunting for people, hunting for friends, intimate partners, even colleagues and so on. And he tries to elicit from them a confirmation that his false self is not false, that he is not delusion, that his life is not a fantasy, that he is embedded in reality.

Reality testing, clinically speaking, is what Freud used to call an ego function. It's a function of the ego.

The ego is just a word. There's no such thing, of course. No one isolated an ego in a laboratory.

But the ego simply means the interface with reality. When we interface with reality and we get feedback from reality, which modifies our behaviors, that's the ego.

The narcissist doesn't have this. He has forsaken reality in his early childhood. So he doesn't have an ego.

Ironically, narcissists are selfless. They're selfless. They don't have an ego. They don't have a sense.

And so what they do is what we call external regulation. Borderlines do this as well. Borderline regulates their emotions and their moods via an intimate partner.

So they outsource internal regulation. It becomes external. They externalize regulation.

The narcissist does the same, but the narcissist regulates his sense of existence, his sense of self-worth, and his perception of reality via other people.

His regulation is external. His reality testing is outsourced. So he goes to other people and he says, "I'm a genius, right? Tell me I'm a genius." Of course, his false self is that of a genius. And maybe in reality, he's a moron, but he wants people to tell him that his delusional, fantastic, inflated self-perception, grandiose self-perception as a genius is not false, is not delusional, is not grandiose. It's the truth.

He wants them to provide reality testing for him. Same with an intimate partner.

When the narcissist finds someone who he deems to be a potential intimate partner, the first thing he does, he converts her into an internal object and tries to convert her into a source of supply.

And he hands over regulatory function to the intimate partner. He tells the intimate partner, "From now on, I want you to confirm to me that my false self is not false, that it is reality, that I am truly a genius, irresistibly handsome, whatever. I want you to tell me this. I want you to confirm this to me."

But who does this? Mother does this. Mother with a newborn baby, she idealizes the baby because raising children sucks, truly sucks.

The only way to survive the process of upbringing and raising children is to lie to yourself, to deceive yourself by idealizing the baby.

So what the narcissist does, he says, "I want you to idealize me. I want you to tell me that I'm perfect. I want you to tell me that I'm a genius. I want you to tell me that I'm irresistibly handsome.

In short, I want you to treat me the way a mother treats her baby. I want you to idealize me.

And once you've idealized me, I want you to love me the way a mother loves her baby, unconditionally.

And now, because I can't be sure, I'm a bit paranoid, I can't be sure whether you're acting, whether you're just manipulating, maybe you're just telling me what I want to hear. I can't be sure of your motivation and/or of your identity because I didn't even bother to get to know who you are.

So what I need to do, I need to test you. I'm going to test you by abusing you. If I abuse you egregiously and you still love me, you still provide me with love? That's unconditional love.

Then I know that you're a maternal figure. I know that you're idealizing me. I know that you are telling me what I want to hear because you love me.

And now we can stay together. So this is the core function of narcissistic abuse. It's essentially a test initially. Later it has another function.

But initially, it's a test. And from that moment on, the intimate partner is a maternal figure, some other, the second mother.

But this leads to a conundrum, no problem.

The narcissist has had a very bad relationship with his original mother, with his real mother. Otherwise, he would not have become a narcissist.

So now there's an intimate partner in a shared fantasy. She's compliant. She's submissive. She's obedient. She's obsequious. She tells the narcissist what he wants to hear. She loves him unconditionally, never mind how much, to what extent he abuses her. In short, she's the perfect intimate partner.

But she's still a mother. She's still a maternal figure.

And narcissists hate mothers because of what the original mother, the biological mother has done to the narcissist.

So this creates a dissonance. On the one hand, the narcissist needs the intimate partner as a maternal figure. It's a safe environment. He goes back to the womb. He's again a child, loved as a child, adored as a child, treated as a child, accosted as a child. He's a child. Second childhood. Maybe this time it will end well. Who knows?

On the one hand, on the other hand, it's a mother, this detested, hateful, loathed figure. So he needs to separate from them.

What he has failed to achieve with his original mother, he now needs to accomplish with his new mother. He needs to separate from her.

And only this way can he become an individual person, acquire a self and a personhood. He needs to sacrifice him the way he has sacrificed himself early on. Now he needs to sacrifice her.

And so he needs to devalue him. He needs to push her away. He needs to discard her and he needs to get rid of her.

But she is wonderful. She loves him. She cares for him. How can he get rid of someone like that?

By devaluing, by telling himself that she's actually an enemy, by converting the idealized internal object that represents her in his mind, converting this object into an enemy, like the secretary object.

What I'm trying to tell you is that devaluation and discard are not the outcomes of the intimate partner's behavior, choices and decisions or traits.

No, they have nothing to do with the intimate partner. It's a built-in feature in the shared fantasy.

The shared fantasy is built, constructed to inexorably lead to a reenactment of the failed separation and devaluation with the original mother.

It's what Freud called repetition compulsion. It's doomed, always doomed. It's doomed because that's the way it's built.

The shared fantasy is built to lead to a second attempt, a separation and devaluation which might work this time. Maybe it will work. So of course it doesn't work.


And the last is keeps repeating the shared fantasy and separation, devaluation shared fantasy with multiple intimate partners throughout his life and to his dying day, possibly in the afterlife.

I don't know. I'm not privy to that.

Yeah, so you have the shared fantasy, then the stage one idealization.

Stage two is the dual mothership phase and then page three, the mental disregard.

So I found it interesting, you know, when I was preparing the notes in that, in that mental disregard stage, it's the separation process by discarding the victim or the person who is in the relationship with the narcissist and his mind by creating dissonance.

But the result of that has two adverse effects for him.

So you know that it's a very difficult psychological process at that particular stage.

And they have it results in abandonment anxiety, separation and security and narcissistic injury.

So can you tell us a little bit about that stage and what happens?

Yeah, but first I need to elucidate a bit the dual mothership also.

Because I've explained how the intimate partner becomes the narcissist's mother.

But the narcissist also becomes the intimate partner's mother.

The narcissist idealizes the intimate partner.

And then he provides her with access to this idealized image of herself.

The intimate partner begins to see herself, to perceive herself through the narcissist idealizing gaze.

She sees herself through the narcissist's eyes as perfect, ideal, amazing, drop dead gorgeous, hyper intelligent, unique and unprecedented.

And it's absolutely intoxicating and addictive. I call it the whole of mirrors effect.

I love that description.

Yeah.

The intimate partner doesn't see the narcissist. She sees herself reflected by the narcissist and she becomes self infatuated. She falls in love with herself, not with her real self, not a reality, but with her idealized self.

Now, remember what I said about mothers? Mothers idealize babies.

The narcissist idealizes the intimate partner so he feels like a mother. It feels as if a mother is doing this.

And the intimate partner regresses to childhood. She becomes infantilized. The narcissist regresses her to childhood so that he can act as her mother and idealize her and love her unconditionally so that she get addicted to him and to his gaze and will never abandon.

This is the dual mother. She acts as his mother. He acts as her mother.

And this is a good foundation for trauma bonding.

Trauma bonding is a form of self-harm. It's self-harming. It's like suicide by narcissists.

You want to punish yourself, harm yourself, trash yourself.

Narcissist is great at doing all this. He would willingly help you with all this.

Oh, absolutely. It's a kind of a demo. So, you know, it fits and so on.

So when the devaluation process starts, the narcissist needs to convert the ideal object, internal object, the idealized internal object that represents the intimate partner in his mind. That he has created.

He needs to convert this object to the opposite, to a devalued, inferior, threatening, persecutory object, the exact opposite, white and black.

This presents two problems.

The first problem is the narcissist has to admit that he got things wrong. He has to admit to having made a mistake.

If the narcissist idealizes you and then has to devalue you, it means that his idealization of you must have been wrong.

So he needs to acknowledge that he is fallible, less than perfect, not omniscient.

That flies in the face of his grandiosity and threatens his balance.

The second problem is that if the object is the secretary, if the object that represents you in the narcissist's mind is now an enemy, that means that he has to get rid of you, which he ultimately does.

But it also means that he's about to remain alone. He's about to be left behind.

And that's his worst nightmare.

The abandonment anxiety, which is the colloquial term, the clinical term is separation insecurity.

Separation insecurity or abandonment anxiety, separation anxiety, never mind. These are terrifying to the narcissist and to the borderline as well.

The narcissist can't contemplate abandonment and being left alone because he needs an audience.

The narcissist has a hive mind. He has an empty core. There's nobody there. He's an absence, not a presence.

So the narcissist has to recreate himself on the fly all the time. Every second he needs to recreate his totality.

Like if it stops for a minute, if he vanishes, like a magician's sleight of hand.

So he needs to constantly solicit and consume feedback from the environment, also known as narcissistic supply. Otherwise he will evaporate, fade, vanish, boom.

So if he were to be left alone, that would mean his end, his death.

So converting the idealized object into a secretary one triggers in him existential fear of vanishing.

And this is why narcissists immediately find alternatives or monkey branch, the final alternatives before they devalue, because they can't stay for a single second without an alternative.

This is not about being treacherous or cheating or infidelity or none of these things. This is about being seen.

The narcissist's existence relies crucially and exclusively on being seen all the time.

If the narcissist were to find himself in a situation where he is not seen, then he would have ceased to exist.

There's a famous painting by Dali Galathere where she dissolves into molecules or into bubbles.

Same with the narcissist.

He needs an audience because it is the audience that forms his existence and his mind.

He has a hive mind. He has a compounded mind. It's like the eye of an insect. It's actually thousands of eyes that give the wrong impression of a single eye.

But the narcissist is the outcome of input from thousands of sources. And the input is seamless, seamlessly congealed into an appearance of a human being, of a person.

And yet there's nobody there. It's crucially dependent on the maintenance of a regular flow of this feedback.

In its absence, the narcissist would simply freeze, cease to exist.

Imagine, for example, a robot who is connected to an electricity outlet. If you put the plug, the robot freezes.

The same with the narcissist. The outlet is other people.

Converting anyone into a secondary object is a very threatening experience. I think it's probably the most dangerous stage, is it?

What do you think, Dr. Vaknin?

Because they will literally do anything.

And then there's the hoovering thing as well that can occur often, where they go back and go back.

And the interm-- we'll talk about that as well-- the intermittent reinforcement.

But the hoovering, you know, they can't let go. They're afraid to let go. And they go and they torture.

The other person might be trying to get away from them. And they just keep going back and torturing them. And they just won't let that line off.

Yeah, very often the narcissist, having experienced the persecutory object, having experienced the conversion of his intimate partner into an enemy in his mind, finds the experience harrowing and terrifying.


So then what the narcissist does, he re-idealizes the internal object. He repaints it, renovates it. And then he tries to match the idealized internal object with the external object that gave rise to the internal object.

And this is what we call hoovering.

Yeah.

And when you think about it, it's like they have abused the person so much with the narcissistic abuse. And then, you know, it's such a messy type of lifestyle and relationship. They don't say it this way. They don't say it this way. They would disagree with you that they've been abusing.

First of all, they would say that it is a privilege for you to be with him. The narcissist would say it's a privilege for you to be with him. You have access to him, which is a gift. You share his life, your weakness to his moments of glory and accomplishments. You are privileged. You should be eternally grateful for this amazing serendipity.

Second thing, the narcissist would recast or reframe all his behaviors in terms of- in terms which are socially acceptable. He would attempt to sublimate them. He would say, for example, "Yeah, I may have shouted at you or verbally abused you, but it was the only way to get through to you and it was a form of tough love. I was doing it for your own good.

So he would reframe or rephrase everything. Again, it's the attempt to present a facade of normalcy and benevolence.

Normacy and benevolence.

Very few narcissists, there are.

There are psychopathic narcissists, also known as malignant narcissists, and sadistic narcissists. They would take pride in bringing you- in taking you down. They would take pride in dismantling you, in destroying you. This is their art form. It's like art, you know?

But there's a tiny minority, only about 3% of narcissists are either psychopathic or sadistic.

97% alone. That's good. That's a good thing.

Yes, it is.

Because there is a cruel element to all of this too at times, you know, with the intermittent reinforcement, which often narcissists, they apply that, don't they?

Yes, but again, online, self-styled experts, everyone in his dog and mother-in-law are experts on narcissism. But self-styled experts online, they tend to confuse psychopaths and narcissists.

Psychopaths are premeditated. Psychopaths are premeditated, deliberate, intentional, and very often cruel. They take pride and pleasure in inflicting pain on others. They link their dominance with pain. They rule through pain. They believe that pain is a much stronger motivator than love. Fear is the best. So they want to be feared.

These are the psychopathic. These are the psychopaths.


Narcissists, is the psychopathic type, would they also have a traumatic background, or is it a biological thing?

Not necessarily, let's put it this way.

Many of them do because they're grown up in underprivileged environments or in poverty, or many of them do.

And these would tend to be criminalized psychopaths.

But studies haven't demonstrated any connection between psychopathy and early childhood abuse or trauma.

So it seems that psychopathy is a mix of genetics, brain abnormalities, and physiological abnormalities, not only brain.

Abnormalities, biological abnormalities, medical.

And, of course, an environment which had been conducive to the development of psychopathy, rewarded psychopathy, for example.

But narcissists are not malicious. They're not malevolent narcissists. They believe their own lies, for example. That's why we don't call them lies. We call them confabulations.

Narcissists never futurist think. When they make your promise, they intend to keep it. They just never get to it. They never get around to it.

Why?

But they intend to keep it.

So when they make the promise, they believe in the promise. They visualize the promise. They live in the promise. Why?

Because they're creatures of fantasy. They're very bad when it comes to reality, real-life accomplishments, accomplishments, hard work. They're very bad with it. They're dream creatures. So they dream together with you. And they dream is their reality.

So if the narcissist gives you a promise about the future, that's his reality. And it's enough to give the promise.

You don't really need to work on it or actualize it or realize it. The promise is their reality.

So narcissists are not...

That's the thing about the narcissist.

Sorry.

No problem. Yeah, the thing about it is that they shape-shift.

Narcissist shape-shifting is how we would describe it.

I think you've described it.

Narcissists are very malleable and reactive to the environment.

Yes, they are shape-shifters, but they're not malevolent.

So, for example, narcissists don't gaslight. It's a common myth or nonsense online. They don't gaslight. They don't gaslight because in order to gaslight, you need to know the difference between reality and fantasy. You need to realize that what you're doing is not reality.

When you try to influence someone else's mind and to convince them that their perception of reality is wrong, that's what gaslighting does, you need to know what is real and what is not.

Narcissists are incapable of this. They cannot tell the difference between reality, dream, fantasy, wish, etc.

So in this sense, narcissists, in my view and in the view of bigger intellects such as Kernberg and others, narcissists are psychotic in this sense.

They are on the verge of saying...

So what we would understand as gaslighting is actually, through the narcissist's view, isn't actually gaslighting.

He just believes it. He believes it 100%. He would fight for it.

If you were to confront him with evidence, hard evidence, he would fight you tooth and nail. He would dispute. He would disagree. He would seek to refute it.

The psychopath, if you were to confront him with incontrovertible evidence, would fall and go away.

Because they know reality. They know reality, yes. They know, okay.

I've tried, I've failed, I tried to con you, I tried to deceive you, I failed. I'm on my way to the next victim.

Not the narcissist.

The narcissist would stand his ground. He would argue with you. He would dispute your version of reality.

He would, you know. And even if you present the narcissist with incontrovertible evidence, like video recordings or audio recordings, the narcissist would not countenance them, would not incorporate them into a new perception of reality.

So narcissism is a fantasy defense. That's a type of psychosis. Would you describe it as...

It absolutely borders on psychos...

It is psychos.

The difference between psychotics and narcissists is the directionality.

The psychotic confuses internal objects, voices in his head, images in his mind. He confuses these with reality. So if there's a voice in his head that says something, he would think that the voice is coming from outside. If he has an image that passes through his mind, he would have an hallucination. He would perceive the images coming from outside. That's a psychotic.

The narcissist, and this is called, by the way, clinically, hyper-reflexivity. The narcissist is exactly the opposite. The narcissist would confuse external objects with internal ones. The psychotic confuses internal with external. He thinks that internal objects are actually external. The narcissist thinks that external objects are actually internal.

But in both cases, there is a massive confusion between reality and...

Massive.

In fact, it's a list between external and internal.

So you can call it reverse psychosis, inverted psychosis, mirror psychosis, but it's psychosis all the same.

It's a psychotic state, which is the outcome of a trauma so extreme, so prolonged, so all pervasive, so existential, that it led to a dissociative state that didn't have to do with memories, because most dissociations are about memories, but a dissociative state that had to do with reality itself.

Whereas people who are traumatized as children, sometimes forget traumatic events. They repress them. That's right.

Yes, they repress them. They forget them. This is amnesia.

So it's a dissociative defense against memories or content that is intolerant.

That is unacceptable.

So most people, when they're confronted with trauma, would dissociate itself.

The narcissist dissociates not the memory of the trauma. The narcissist dissociates all of reality. Cuts it off completely.

So kind of forgets it.

What's it like?

It doesn't forget the event.

If you were exposed to sexual abuse as a child, you would forget the rape.

This is dissociation.

And later on you may develop borderline personality disorder and so on.

But this is classic dissociation.

In narcissism, you dissociate the event, but you don't dissociate your school days, your peers, show you a signal television.

You dissociate only the event.

Only the traumatic locus, the event.

The narcissist, on the other hand, dissociates the totality of reality.

That's why narcissistic dissociation is so ubiquitous and so all pervasive that narcissists, I can generalize and say that narcissists have literally no memory, no ability to form long-term memories.

And consequently, narcissists are incapable of learning.

So they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again.

What happened to you then?

You seem to have learned pretty good in life.

Not that kind of learning. Autobiographical.

That's a different skill. Different type.

So they don't learn how to remember. They don't derive lessons from life because they don't experience life and they don't remember life.

Simple.

I once made an exercise with myself in the very early stages of my study of narcissism, which was about almost 30 years ago.

Now I'm a professor of psychology and so on. At the time, I was just a guy trying to understand what hit him, what hit me.

So I'm coming across a convoy of trucks, not one truck. I believe.

So I did an exercise. I wrote down all my memories from my eight-year-long marriage to my first wife. All my memories. Every single one of them.

And then I assigned a time value to the memory. For example, I'm walking down the street. That would be about 15 seconds or 30 seconds. I'm opening the jacuzzi faucet. That must have been 10 seconds.

Like I assigned a time, reasonable time, periods to. And I discovered that if I were to assemble all my memories without a single exception and assign to them reasonable time frame, they would amount put together to about one hour.

I remember that I recall one hour out of eight years of marriage to my first wife. That's how bad it is in narcissism.

I mean, I've come across narcissistic personalities and I, they wouldn't remember things that happened last week. And I'd say, sure, do you not remember? They'd have a whole brand new story, maybe completely remember it differently.

That's why they congratulate when you have such gigantic memory gaps.

In order to survive, you need to tell yourself, you need to construct a narrative, a bridging, bridging narrative to bridge the memory gaps.

You know, you need to ask yourself, here I am at point B. I recall having been point A, what has transpired between A and B? I don't remember. I can't remember. I'm dissociative.

So I'm going to invent a plausible, probable, reasonable narrative as to what it brought me from A to B. And then I'm going to believe in it. I'm going to claim that it is factual and this is confabulation.

And so people are saying, such that the next person is saying, the narcissist is lying. He's not lying. He's trying to create an autobiography, autobiographical memory, personal memory out of thin air.

That is the real sense of a loss of touch with reality when you describe it like that.

They literally don't have a connection with real time reality.

The only two medical conditions that are reminiscent of this are Alzheimer's and Cossackoff syndrome.

Cossackoff syndrome is a medical syndrome. It's the outcome of damage done to the brain by excessive consumption of alcohol. So it's the outcome of alcoholism, but excessive alcohol.

So in these two conditions, there's no memory, long term memory formation because it's damage to the hippocampus. It's not long term memory formation.

And so these people try to make sense of their world and of their existence and of their next of key memory, the last memory. They try to make sense of... It's terrifying. It's a terrifying feeling.

People don't appreciate it, but it's a terrifying feeling. People don't understand it.

And people also confuse this with intellectual memory and with memory that is utilitarian.

I'm talking about autobiographical memory.

Who am I? My identity is determined by the assemblage and the amalgamation and the aggregation of my memories. If I don't have memory, I don't have identity.

People without memory have no identity. So this is the narcissist problem, but intellectual memory is something completely different.

I'm in possession of an encyclopedia in my mind. Not only psychology. I do work in physics and economics and philosophy. I have other personalities that you are not aware of. So I have a whole encyclopedia in my mind. I know of them. I have always had a Wikipedia in my mind. So my memory, when it comes to intellectual things, is actually possibly one of the best. A parallel maybe.

I think when I listen to you, sometimes you don't even have notes, it seems.

Yes, I think intellectual memory is intact and even superior to some extent.

Similarly, other types of memory, utilitarian memory.

I need to remember the balance in my back account. I need to remember something you've done to me so that I can use it against you.

These are utilitarian memories. They're intact.

The narcissist utilitarian memories are intact. Survival. These are memories that are conducive to survival. There's a tiger.

So these memories are intact. It's the autobiographical memory. The thread, the crimson thread that connects our memories like beads, like a necklace. This necklace is who we are.

In Drusnate. These beads put together are who we are.

If I were to take away all your memories, most of them, they wouldn't be you. You could still remember, by the way, when we come across people with traumatic brain injuries and so on, they can still read a newspaper, they can calculate, they can watch movies, they can do many things. They can dance, they can enjoy music. They just don't remember who the hell they are. They don't know anything about themselves.

So these are different types of memory.

People get very confused because it's not true that the narcissist has memory problems. He remembers everything I've done to him. Or they say he does gas light. They do gas light.

Yeah, or they do gas light. It's that the narcissist is an organism, like every other organism. Organisms maintain memories that are useful to them.

A tiger would maintain memories where antelopes are convened by the water.

But a narcissistic tiger wouldn't have a memory of his own identity. He's not very helpful in the journal.

That's fascinating. I didn't actually realise that. That's something I didn't know that I learned today about the memory. That's unbelievably debilitating.

But it makes sense because of the whole trauma element. And that happens with people who have deep trauma.

When you're sexually abused, the integrity of your body is challenged. But nothing else. Just the integrity of your body.

When you are verbally abused, some elements of self-esteem and self-worth are challenged. But nothing else is challenged.

When you are brought up in a totally abusive environment, a total environment of abuse, everything is challenged. Every aspect of you is challenged. Even your own separateness. Even the fact that you're separate. Even the fact that you're an entity. Even your boundaries. Even your ability to become, to transform, to grow, to develop, to evolve. All this is challenged.

So you need to cut off the totality of the environment. You need to get rid of the whole environment.

That's why narcissistic abuse, which is a reenactment of early childhood abuse, narcissistic abuse is total.

It's not like verbal abuse or psychological abuse or physical abuse or financial abuse or legal No. It's total.

That's why I came up with the phrase narcissistic abuse because it is distinct from other types of abuse. Other types of abuse are dimensional, goal-oriented and highly specific.

Narcissistic abuse is about making you vanish. It's about negating your very existence and separateness. It's about denuding you, denying you your autonomy and agency and self-efficacy.

Narcissistic abuse is about mummifying you the same way Norman Bates mummified his mother in Psycho, the famous Hitchcock movie. It's about mummifying you like ancient Egyptian mummy and also mummifying you like a mother. It's about converting you into someone you've never been before.

Absconding with your identity, rendering you an abstract, an affigment, an idea. It is so obliterating that it marries a separate classification, separate taxonomy.

Narcissistic abuse is not like any other kind of abuse. Narcissistic abuse is not like the way his mother abused him. Narcissistic abuse is not like the way his mother abused him.

Narcissistic abuse is not like the way men have come up with a masculine model in the past. Rather than do this, women have adopted the masculine model.

So women want to be, women want to out men, men. They want to be more masculine than men. They don't want, for example, to introduce an alternative of empathy and compassion and networking and cooperation and collaboration, which women are very strong on.

They don't want this. They want to be ambitious. They want to make money. They want to subjugate the men. They want to punish the men, meet two movements.

They want to, you know, women became as violent and aggressive as men. And this is not sub-bacne. These are studies by Lisa Wade and so on and so forth that show that women nowadays have a totally masculine self-image.

That is a disastrous mistake for women that they have chosen to become men, that is a disastrous mistake for men and women.


The third mistake is that women want it all.

They want to be mothers, they want to be bosses, they want to be employees, they want to be scientists.

Women refuse to accept a trade-off. There is a trade-off in life. If you are pursuing a career, you are very unlikely to find a lifelong intimate partner to have children. It's a fact.

If on the other hand you choose family and home as your vocation or avocation, then you are very unlikely to prosper in a career.

So for example the whole debate about wage equality is nonsensical because it represents women's perception that they should have it all. They should have a wage equal to men but not put in the same number of hours or days or years as a man because they are raising children.

Women have to accept that everything in life is a cost. There is no free lunch. They have to accept this.

And these are the three catastrophic mistakes of third and fourth wave feminism. I don't know how we are going to recover.

There is no doubt in my mind that women will be in charge shortly.

But what kind of women, ugly women, vengeful women, hateful women, sadistic women, narcissistic women, psychopathic women will be in charge.

And then may I ask what would be the difference between this kind of regime and the previous regime of men? This would be just men with vaginas.

I say that today there are two types of men with penises and with vaginas. There are no women anymore. Or at least no women that matter.

I do think that there has been a loss of identity. I don't know if you'd call it identity but women have certainly either lost or given up or compromised their femininity.

I would agree with that. I don't say I'm a feminist because I think even to say that says that I need to be or something. I do believe in men and women and their roles. And not just their traditional roles but their masculine feminine roles with each other. And I do believe that we've made a bad turn here. I think we are seeing it playing out with the childlessness rates and the people who are living singly.

So many of us particularly. You said about 30% live singly all their life. Or to present.

So we're seeing the results of it. I'd feel in and on your side which I think is a bad thing for us all. I think it's a private case. A private case of a much bigger, much larger and much more threatening phenomenon.

And that is the sacrifice of synergy for victimhood.

We no longer seek synergy. We no longer seek to work together, to collaborate. We no longer pursue agendas and goals which are common formalities. We seek to be victims.

Even feminism is a victimhood movement of course. Me too is definitely a victimhood movement. These are victimhood movements.

So today if you're faced with the option to work even with your former abuser, work together towards a common goal. Even if you were in charge, you would dump all this. You would give up on all this just in order to acquire a victimhood identity. This is competitive victimhood. All victims compete in a limited victimhood space.

Who is more victim than they are?

Now men are claiming to be victims of women with some justification. So victimhood is now the organizing principle. Not dignity.

Campbell, the famous sociologist said that we've transitioned from the age of dignity to the age of victimhood.

But I think the situation is even much worse than this. We've transitioned from the age of collaboration or operation to the age of victimhood. Adversarial victimhood.

A hateful victimhood. Victimhood which seeks to eliminate the other.

And this is not sustainable, species- wise. So sustainable. We are not going to survive this. We're not.

You see for example, dropping replacement rates. In other words, population is dying. Dying often in many many countries. In Japan it's 25% people over the age of 65. They're dying.

And Japan is not an exception. China is heading there.

So we are short anywhere between 200 and 300 million children. We are short. There's not overpopulation. There's overpopulation of old people like me. We are short.

In the young end we are very short. It's a deficit, a normal deficit. We are dying as a species and we are committing suicide. But it's very slow and glacial so no one is paying attention.

There are still many people around because medicine. Medicine keeps us alive artificially.

You know I should have died 20 years ago and I'm still alive.

But this is a delusion. This is self delusion. Certainly self delusion.

Of course with the technology as well. I mean in Japan you mentioned Japan. I think an awful lot of young people under the age of 30 barely have had a date.

I can't imagine we spent so much time.

There's a study published in South Korea two days ago. About 60% said they have every intention to never have a relationship. 60% of young people under age 25 never have an intention to have a relationship. That's 60% 80% said they would never get married.

But the other is perceived as a nuisance or a threat. Other people are perceived today either as nuisance or threat. Not as a delight. Not as a wonder. Not as a miracle. Not as something that opens you up and causes you to grow up and evolve and develop.

No. Other people are perceived as taking your time bothering you disturbing you. That's in the best case. In the worst case they want to take you down. They're your enemies. They compete for your job.

So there's little incentive to interact with other people. Society is disintegrating and technology is reflecting this. Our technologies nowadays are solely existing.

I always give the example of a screen. When I was growing up, which is when the lost dinosaurs were dying, when I was growing up, we had this huge screen and 2000 of us were sitting in front of this screen eating popcorn and sharing the same image on the screen. This was known as cinema. Then 20 years later there was another screen. But this time it was a much smaller screen so only 20 people could watch it and share the popcorn and the experience, the content. And this screen was known as television. And then there was another screen. And this time only two or three people could sit opposite this screen, facing this screen and sharing popcorn and a common experience. And that was the computer.

And today we have a screen where only one person can have any experience. And that is the smartphone.

The screens are metaphors of what has happened to us. We used to be communities of 2000 people. Now we are communities of one. So simple as that.

Let's call it a day here. It's been a pleasure.

I'd say what you are talking to all day. I think I have such a good time for you. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. I really do. I'll be in touch and hopefully we'll do something again next year.

But I've just been so happy to meet you. Really happy to meet you. Thank you. Have a nice day there. Take care. And have a new year. Merry Christmas, have a new year.

Exactly. Yeah, have a lovely time. And hi to Lydia as well.

I'm signing off now. Take care. Bye.

Pleasure. Bye.

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