Narcissist’s Affair with Death Drive (Destrudo, Mortido)

Uploaded 10/29/2023, approx. 53 minute read

I haven't slept a wink and all for the wrong reasons.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

So if I start to sing songs in Russian or declaim in ancient Biblical Hebrew, please forgive me. It is the insomnia. It is all destructive.

To end a proper destruction, today's topic is the death drive.

No, not the death instinct. There is actually no such thing in Freud's writings. It's the death drive and the narcissist love affair with death.

The psychological background and how it evolves through life in view of various schools in psychology and various or in psychoanalysis to be more precise and various kind of approaches to this issue.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited and former visiting professor of psychology in Southern Federal University in Russia, where else?

And I'm currently on the faculty of CIAPS Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies all over the known universe, especially in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Toronto, Canada and Lagos, Nigeria. And we delve right in.

Today's video is a second Halloween treat.

So I suggest you watch the first one. It's titled Hitchcock's Halloween Treat or Trich, Psycho or The Embodied Introject. I posted it a few days ago. It's an analysis review of the famous Hitchcock movie Psycho.

And the other video I recommend you to watch. I recommend that you watch before you watch this one is titled Dead in quotation marks, Mothers and Their Offspring, Narcissistic Borderline Psychotic.

Having armed yourself with these two videos, you are ready for the deep dive that awaits you.

But before we go there, I want to introduce you to this book, The Luminaries. It's also a BBC series, I think. And it's a wonderful, amazing magnum opus. And I would like to read to you two excerpts because I think they capture the narcissist inner world very beautifully, very incisively and very insightfully.

The first one is about the narcissist's paranoid landscape. Their beliefs have become more fanciful. Their hypothesis less practical. Their counsel less germane. Unconfirmed suspicion tends over time to become willful, fallacious and pray to the vicissitudes of mood. It acquires all the qualities of common superstition. So brilliant observation.

And the second, the other paragraph I would like to read to you has to do with how she describes the author is a woman, Elianore Kattan, and she describes the narcissist state of mind.

Why does the narcissist try so hard to gain your approval, aka narcissistic supply? And here's what she has to say.

It crushed his spirit to be held in low esteem by other men. He could not bear to know that he was disliked.

For to him, there was no real difference between being disliked and being dislikeable. Every injury he sustained was an injury to his very selfhood.

It was for reasons of self-protection that he dressed in the latest fashions, spoke with affectation and placed himself as the central character of every tale. He built his persona as a shield around his person because he knew very well how little his person could withstand. And this vulnerability, this fear of life, this rejection of reality because it's too hurtful, too painful, is the exact equivalent of mental suicide and death.

A philosopher by the name of Heidegger coined the phrase "being for death". He said that the encounter with death most profoundly highlights the question of being.

To quote him, "Only humanity has the distinction of standing and facing death because the human being is earnest about being. Death is a supreme testimony to being."

That is Heidegger.

A few decades later, a woman by the name of Sabina Spieheir later to become Jung's lover, patient and then lover. She wrote a paper titled "Destruction as the Cause of Coming into Being". She published it in 1912.

She was the first to describe something that is recognizable as the death drive.

Freud, as usual, borrowed from Alfred Adler and from Sabina Speierich, combined their insights in 1920 into what became Thanatos, the death drive.

Freud never used the word Thanatos, not even as in contradistinction to Eros, the force of life.

The term Thanatos was invented much later, introduced by Wilhelm Stekel and the modern usage of the word Thanatos is attributed to Paul Federer.

What is the death drive that I keep talking about?

The death drive is the opposite of libido, the opposite of the life drive or the life force.

The death drive pushes us to die, to disintegrate, to break apart, to fall apart.

So the death drive undoes everything the life drive is intent on becoming.

We tend to form associations, we tend to network, we tend to socialize, we tend to collaborate, we tend to build internal complex, internal psychological structures, we tend to eat, we tend to grow and the death force, which is a biological component and a psychological component, the death force is like an internal clock taking the time, provoking processes that essentially unravel us, essentially reverseengineer everything that we have built.

So the death force or the death drive is about physical death, inexorable, unstoppable, always there is the final destination, everything geared towards it.

So therefore one can say that death is the goal, at least teleologically speaking, but it's also psychological.

Now in Freud's work and many many others to this very day, the death drive is the equivalent of the life drive.

So the death drive, Thanatos, the stadt, Mortido, it has many names, is the exact equivalent of libido.

We are born with libido and we are born with destudo, we are born with both.

Not in my work, in my work the death drive is not a primal drive, the death drive is actually learned, acquired, internalized, inculcated, not innate.

It is the dead mother's gift to her child.

Well in this case of course, not everyone has a death drive.

As you shall see in the continuation of this video, this is a very plausible hypothesis, actually much more plausible than Freud's contention that everyone has a death drive.

It seems that only people who have been exposed to abuse, trauma, maltreatment, adverse childhood experiences, ACEs, only this kind of people develop a death drive.

So it applies not only to children who become narcissists, but also for example to children who become co-dependent.

Because what is co-dependency?

It's about merging and fusing with another person.

It's about disappearing into another person.

It's about dying and reappearing, materializing inside the mind of the loved one.

Similarly the narcissist is unable to perceive external objects, everything as far as he's concerned is internal, so the narcissist is not alive in any meaningful sense of the world because it does not act upon reality nor does he operate in it.

The narcissist renounces life at a very early stage in life.

So it's in my work only people who have been traumatized and abused have a death drive.

Now why would they have a death drive?

Remember the concept of the dead mother?

It's not a physically dead mother.

It's a mother who is emotionally absent, unavailable, selfish or self-centered, depressed, a mother who instrumentalizes the child, objectifies the child, parentifies the child, breaches the boundaries of the child, a mother who does not let the child separate from her and individually because she is not there to facilitate this process and she does not serve as a secure base.

This is known as a dead mother.

This is a phrase coined by Andre Green, the psychoanalyst, in 1978.

So the dead mother engenders the death drive.

She installs the death drive in her child as if it were some kind of app.

So it's a piece of software.

But why is that? Why do dead mothers produce the death drive in their unfortunate children?

Because of what is known as ego ideal.

The ego ideal is a huge part of the super ego which is in itself a part of the ego.

So the dead mother produces in the child, induces in the child an ego ideal, a super ego that is so harsh, so sadistic, so critical that it becomes life-threatening and death-seeking.

The super ego represents an internalization, an interjection of voices of significant others.

First and foremost, the mother, the primary caregiver.

And remember when I say mother, it's anyone who fulfills the role of a mother. When I say mother, it has nothing to do with genitalia. It has to do with a role.

So watch my video about role theory. So whoever the mother is in the child's life, and normally it is a biological female mother, but not always. Whoever the mother is, if she is a dead mother, if she is dead to the child because she is not absent, because she is not there, emotionally unavailable, the child would internalize this death. The child would create a super ego, the voice of money, which promotes death, which is cold and detached and distant and unemotional and frozen. Money is the super ego in a process known as socialization, father comes later.

But money generates the initial structures that coalesce into the super ego.

And one of these structures is the ego ideal, what the child wants to become, the child's fantasy of itself later in life.

This is known as ego ideal.

When I grow up, I want to be a fireman or an astronaut or Donald Trump.

So the mother, the dead mother, creates in the child an ego ideal that says, what I want to be when I grow up is dead.

It produces a super ego that says, you're so bad and so unworthy, you should be dead. It all revolves around death.

But why?

What are the benefits of focusing on death rather than life?

It's because the child tries to accomplish four psychological goals to satisfy, to gratify or to cater to four major profound psychological needs.

Number one, the child is trying to emulate, emulate, imitate the mother. If the mother is dead, the child is trying to emulate the mother's deadness.

Child tries to become the mother in many ways.

All children, healthy and unhealthy, they all try to become the mother or emulator, imitator and gradually become, are shaped by her, sculpted by her.

Children are the mother's work of art.

And so the child of the dead mother develops a fantasy defense, fantasy with pH, unconscious fantasy defense that revolves around, I want to be like mommy and mommy is dead. I want to be dead as well.

This identification and incorporation are critical features of early childhood development.

Number two, by dying or by aspiring to die, the child wants to get rid of the bad object.

Again, this is a fantasy defense with pH.

It's an unconscious fantasy defense.

The child actually is told the mother's behavior or the mother's absence or the mother's coldness or the mother's detached, insecure presence. They communicate to the child. You're unworthy of love. You're not lovable. You're bad. You're deficient. You're defective. You're deformed. You're stupid. You're ugly. I don't know what. You're something bad.

And so the child internalizes these messages, some of them verbalize, verbal messages, some of them nonverbal messages. They internalize these messages.

And the child begins to consider himself as essentially bad. That is known as a bad object.

Child develops a bad object that defines his or her sense of self and identity, however primordial and disjointed.

The child grows up and the bad object grows with the child. The bad object conditions the child to fail in life.

And the more frequently the child fails, the more the bad object is confirmed, validated and affirmed. It becomes rigid. It becomes entrenched and impossible to eradicate.

The whole situation becomes intractable.

One way to get rid of the bad object for sure is to die or to render yourself as dead as mommy is.

Then you are not a bad object anymore because you are not.

The narcissistic solution is exactly this.

The child commits suicide as the true self, sacrifices the true self to a false self that exists only in the child's imagination. That is a concoction, piece of fiction.

The child is gone and becomes a narcissist.

So getting rid of the bad object is a second reason to develop a death drive.

And this is something that other scholars have noted long before me.

Akhtar in 1991, Shengold in 1991 as well and so on.

Akhtar called it the someday or the if only fantasies. And Shengold said that it is an attempted and I'm quoting an attempted reconciliation of everything and nothing fantasies which occurs transiently in dreamless sleep and in the ecstasy of orgasm.

But the promise of permanence can be realized only after our individual lives are over.

In other words, only death guarantees the permanence of being nothing.

And why would you want to be nothing?

Because the alternative to being nothing is being a bad object.

And this is intolerable.

So either you escape from yourself, you evade yourself, you shun yourself, ostracize yourself, put yourself aside, derealize and depersonalize.

It's a dissociative reaction by creating a false self.

A false self is a dissociative solution if you didn't realize it. Or you numb yourself. You numb, you wind down like a battery that's out of charge. That's another solution.

And then you become an extension of the parent, a co-dependent.

The third reason to develop a death drive is in order to re-experience the symbiotic phase.

Now we no longer use the phrase symbiotic, but I think it's great and I regret, I'm very sorry that it's no longer used.

Because what happens between the mother and the child up till age 18 months is indeed symbiosis. They are one and the same. They are single organism with two heads.

The child is unable to tell the distinction between himself or herself and the mother. Boundaries are just emerging.

The perception that there is a world out there, external, internal, this is all very new and exceedingly traumatizing.

The child is being seen by the mother and this fact that the child can discern itself in the mother's gaze is in itself a mega, absolutely supernova trauma.

So the child would wish, would wish to go back to the womb, to re-enter the womb, to re-experience symbiosis.

Freud borrowed from Roman Rola and called it oceanic feeling. It's a loss of boundaries. It is self-extinguishing. It's like finding love in self-denial.

Identifying love with not being, with self-annihilation, with self-extermination, with dissolution. Identifying love with merger and fusion and therefore disappearance.

In short, death is perceived by such a child as the ultimate form and manifestation and reification of love.

If you want to love, you need to die and reappear inside mommy's womb.

Clearly mommy is very unhappy that you have exited her womb because she's absent. She's dead. She is emotionally unavailable. She's depressive or she's abusive. She beats you up. She verbally and psychologically torments you.

One way or another. Mother is communicating unhappiness with the child's existence, the dead mother, the mother that is not good enough, the wrong kind of mother, the narcissistic mother, the psychopathic mother, in many cases the borderline mother, the psychotic mother, the paranoid mother. They communicate to the child, "I am not happy with the fact that you are out there, that you're alive, that you're separate from me. I want you back inside. I want you to undo, undo the spool of your life. I want you to reenter my womb and thus vanish and become a part of me because I, your mother, I'm all good and you, my child, you're all bad. You're a bad object.

So by reentering my womb, you will have become all good.

Isn't this a sign that I love you?

That's a message these mothers send.

These mothers send a message, "If you die, you will become good, so I wish your death. I wish your death because I love you."

And this is how love is identified with death.

And this is not Sam Vaknin. This is literally every major psychoanalyst, and every major thinker in psychology in my view.

So, in the last lecture, there were many people who were very interested in the world.

In this lecture, there were many people who were very interested in the world.

There were many people who were very interested in the world.

There were many people who were very interested in the world.

The mother, fusing with the mother, giving up on emerging identity, nascent boundaries, is a way to experience symbiosis and a feeling that you are suddenly an all good object, the outcome of splitting, this oceanic feeling.

The fourth reason to develop a death drive as a solution to trauma and abuse is to ensure immediate and automatic gratification of needs without agency, without guilt, without shame, without a sense of inferiority.

Because as the traumatized and abused child, if he were to develop agency, for example, if he were to feel responsible for who he is and for his actions, this kind of child is overwhelmed with guilt and shame.

So if he were to vanish, if he were to disappear, if he were to die metaphorically, a dead child with a dead mother, then he will have become one with mother and she would gratify his needs without granting the child independence and personal autonomy and agency and therefore by taking away the child's responsibility for his or her actions, the child would never feel shame and guilt again.

Of course, this is precisely what the narcissist is trying to recreate with his intimate partner.

You will be my mother. I will die for you. I will become one with you and you will gratify all my needs.

And as you gratify my needs, you won't be able to hold me responsible for anything because I don't exist anymore.

That is the core and essence of the shared fantasy, regressing to the symbiotic phase.

And then of course, the narcissist wishes to progress and separate and individuate and so on and so forth.

So Lakhani in 1964 said that the death drive is the suicidal tendency of narcissism.

I think it captures and encapsulates everything I've just said.

But then sometimes the death drive appears very late in life, middle age, for example.


Why are some traumatized and abused children? Why are they capable of maintaining a reasonably structured and functional life and others count?

Why in some cases the self destructiveness, the wish to die, the wish to obviate and negate oneself? Why do these appear late, late onset, self defeat?

While in others they appear early.

I think it has to do with something called deferred, deferred obedience.

Again it was Sigmund Freud who coined this phrase in 1923.

He said that unheeded parental threats, wishes and commands become manifest. They gain power much later on in life.

So the child, for reasons of self preservation, may reject the mother, ignore her, but the mother's introject, the mother's voice, the internal object that represents the mother is embedded and implanted and installed in the child's mind.

And when the child grows up and becomes an adult, this thing, this alien foreign body entity is activated. And then the child obeys these mysterious inaccessible voices in his head. It's totally unconscious. And this is known as deferred obedience.

I think deferred obedience explains late onset death drive.

Because the dead mother's message is I want you dead. I want you dead my child.

Because even when you're dead, I can take care of your needs. I can swallow you whole. I can reintroduce you to my womb. You will no longer be a bad object. You will not disappoint me. You will not let me down. You will not hurt me.

You know, so why don't you die?

That's the mother's wish. That's the mother's command. That's a message and her signal and her only communication overpowering, overriding and overwhelming.

And yet sometimes it takes time, years, decades even, until this voice suddenly erupts.

Maybe life circumstances, maybe stress hitting rock bottom. I don't know what a replication of the early conflict conflict with the biological mother in a romantic relationship, the right kind of partner who pushes the narcissist button and regresses him too far.

At that moment, the introject of the mother erupts, takes over, poisons the entire system. And Gopal Zita assimilates it.

The narcissist starts to act as a robotic zombie on the path to self-destruction, utter self-destruction.

Very often, this kind of narcissist would act out, crazy make and engage in activities that are utterly detrimental to his health, to his peace of mind, and sometimes his freedom.

And all this is a delayed activation of the mother's introject and then automatic deferred obeisance and so on.

But why the emptiness?

I keep saying in the footsteps of Kernberg and Gantri and others that there is an empty schizoid core.

Which the mother generates in the child, inculcates in the child, a death drive?

Why would the child feel empty?

In order to die, you first need to be. You can't die if you're not alive.

So why does the child feel empty and not alive? And how, if the child feels already dead, how can this kind of child contemplate death?

As a child, and later as an adult, the emptiness is not merely a subjective appraisal, a result of an introspective project. No. It's not the outcome of some amazing insight, lifelong insight.

The emptiness is a knowing feeling. It's I could bear it to hunger.


You know, when you're very, very, very, like very hungry, like me right now, that's how the emptiness feels. Like a small animal inside you that is knowing at your insides and somehow digesting them.

Relentlessly, inexorably, unstoppably, that's the emptiness.

So it's not an emotion. It's not even a state of mind. It's not a mood. It's not an effect. It's not cognition. It's none of these things.

What is it then?

I think the emptiness is the inner experience of the death drive.

When the child develops a death drive, he experiences his death or her death drive as this emptiness. It is anticipatory.

So if the child says, once I'm dead, this is how I'm going to feel, this empty, this black hole, this void is what I'm going to become.

So the child kind of samples his or her own impending death.

Structurally and clinically and etiologically, the emptiness has arisen.

Narcissists and borderlines feel empty, especially narcissists, because there is no ego there.

Remember that narcissists failed at the separation and divisiveness phase. They couldn't separate from mommy, from mother, and therefore never became individuals. And because they couldn't separate from mother, who was never a secure base, they didn't dare to take on the world to explore it.

So they have impaired reality testing.

So these kind of children, adults later in life, they don't have an ego.

Because they're not separate. They're not individuals and they have no access to reality.

These are ego functions.

Okay, so they don't have an ego.

What about the superego?

They don't have a superego either. They do have something that sounds a lot like a superego, looks a lot like a superego, talks and walks like a superego, but it's not a superego.

Because when you don't have an ego, you can't have a superego.

I have a surprise for all the self-styled experts online.

Super ego is a part of the ego.

So they don't have a superego.

What do they have instead?

They have the introject of the dead mother.

The introject of the dead mother is an internal object that fulfills all the functions of a superego.

It could be harsh, could be sadistic, could be conscientious, could provide advice all the time, passing running commentary.

So it feels a lot like a superego, but it's not.

So if you were to look inside the narcissist with a psychological microscope or telescope, you would find that there's no ego there.

Consequently, there's no superego there.

And the only thing inside the narcissist is a playground of internal objects, the most dominant of which is the mother's internal object, the mother's introject, which functions like a sadistic, harsh superego, but is not.

That's why it feels alien, ego alien. There's no, it doesn't feel, it doesn't feel, the narcissist doesn't experience his superego as is.

That's why narcissists and borderlines and so on are disinhibited because the superego is inefficacious.

It is unable to control behavior because it's not real. It's not the correct construct. It's not the true thing. It's not the real McCoy.

So if there's no ego and consequently there's no superego, what is there?

Something basically, some drives, some instincts, some reflexes, very animalistic, essentially nothing.

And this nothing is the emptiness that I'm describing.

It is a sense of being one of the walking dead, a zombie.

That's how narcissists experience themselves.

And I have a video about this as well, of course, about narcissists and zombies and symbols and what have you.

When the narcissist finds an intimate partner, he wants her to replicate his dead mother because he doesn't recognize any other type of mother.

The narcissist has been exposed to only one kind of mother, the dead mother.

So anything else is not perceived as a mother.

So the narcissist coerces his intimate partner to become more and more dead, more and more dysfunctional, more and more angry at him, more and more absent, more and more hating and ultimately to betray him the way his mother did.

That's the narcissist's betrayal fantasy.

Once the narcissist has identified his intimate partner as yet another dead mother, he is now ready to separate from her and to individuate the only goal of the shared fantasy.

The role of the intimate partner as a dead mother is to reactivate the narcissist's death drive, is to kill the child a second time, is to broadcast to the narcissist, I want you dead because I love you. I want you inside me. I want to merge with you, infuse with you so that you don't, so that you cease to exist.

That's what the narcissist wants from his intimate partner.

If his intimate partner truly loves him, if she recoils a disassociation, then she's a bad partner and she provokes in him frustration and aggression.

That's the irony.

A loving partner would provoke the narcissist to extreme aggression. A partner who resembles his mother, who is dead, who is absent, who is depressed, who is a borderline for example, labor, disregulated, a partner who seeks merger infusion, a partner who wants the narcissist to, wants to inactivate, deactivate the narcissist.

Once the narcissist is an inert object, that is the ideal partner for the narcissist because then he can devalue her and separate from her and discard her.

Now let's talk a bit about the history of the concept of the death drive.

In 1914, Freud linked narcissism to psychopathy and to aggression as well as to a lack of moral inhibitions. That was in 1960.

Then in 1920, in response to Adler's concept of aggression, Adler said that aggression is a form of healthy self-assertion. In response to this, Freud postulated what he called his words, a demonic force. He later renamed it, luckily for us, as the death instinct.

And he said that it is the death instinct that accounts for masochism, internalized aggression, sadism, externalized aggression, chronic hostility, PTSD and CPTSD, although he didn't use the term of course, rumination, obsession, guilt and repetition compulsion.

Now, as you can see immediately, not every human being has this. There are numerous human beings who do not have repetition compulsion and not masochism, and not sadists, and not chronically hostile, never experienced PTSD or CPTSD and are not obsessive. These people in my work, these people do not have a death drive.

Only traumatized abused people have a death drive.

And of course, Freud forgot to mention depression.

Freud went to the extent of saying, "The aim of all life is death." Talk about an optimistic person.

Freud borrowed a lot, and I'm being charitable, from the work of Barbara Lowe. She came up with a Nirvana principle.

And another guy called Fechner, Fechner came up with the Constancy or Stability Principle.

What these guys and girls said is that everything decays, everything degenerates, everything falls apart, everything is disassembled, entropy, everything returns to inorganic matter.

And Freud innovated by linking this process to pleasure and to death. He said that we're trying to convert this inexorable returning to disorder, return to disorder, we're trying to somehow externalize it via, for example, sex.

The ego, the ego and the libido in Freud's work, they deflect the death drive. They externalize it. They project it outwardly. And they use the body to do this.

And this is the aggressive instinct, which according to Freud is very dominant in sex, for example.

This also explains narcissist propensity for antisocial behavior.

Freud's final position on drive theory was postulated in 1923. He published a book, then The Ego and the Id. And in this book, Freud proposed his famous tripartite structure of the mind, id ego superego.

The life and death instinct in this work now existed side by side in one of these structures, the id.

So there's no death instinct in the ego, although the ego limits the id. The ego constricts the id and so in many respects, the ego imposes death, death upon the id.

Still, the residence of the death, the death drive is in the id.

Freud also observed correctly that the life force and the death force, eos and thanatos, combined, thanatos is not Freud's term.

He said there's no such thing as only death oriented activities and only life oriented activities. Everything we do involves destruction and renewal, disintegration and survival.

And I would add here that the French call orgasm leptino, the small death.

Much later, Greenacre, Melanie Klein and so on and so forth, they disagreed with this.

They said that psychopathy is a defensive, projective identification of the secretary, superego structures and attendant internal objects.

But we're not going into this right now.

I think one misconception is that the death drive is only about death.

It's not only about death.

It's about, as I said, decay.

It's about disuse.

It's about atrophy.

It's about entropy.

For example, take the work of Melanie Klein and Hoot Eisler, Envy, Primary Envy.

In their work, Primary Envy is an expression of the death instinct.

It is the narcissist, for example.

The narcissist envies everything that is good. Every good object, real or imagined, the narcissist envies the good object.

Now, the narcissist defines good very idiosyncratically, but whatever the narcissist decides is good, he envies.

This water is good.

So, for example, imagine a situation where the narcissist becomes a good object or develops a good object or a phase in the narcissist's life where everyone keeps telling him that he's a good object.

There will be a paradoxical reaction here.

The narcissist would envy himself and would try to destroy himself because he cannot stand a good object. He's a bad object. He cannot stand a good object.

The envy is too corrosive. It erodes him. It destroys him.

And he needs to remove the object of frustration that causes him envy, even if it is himself.

So, suddenly, when you tell the narcissist you're a really good person, suddenly he would do something horrible.

An example.

The death drive is used in Klein's work to explain mental operations that seek to destroy sublime and well-synthesized ego attributes and functions and the capacity for in-depth object relations.

So, the death drive also prevents the narcissist from interacting with other people in a meaningful way via object relations.

For example, falling in love, creating a family.

Don't confuse this with the shared fantasy. The shared fantasy has nothing to do with the intimate partner. Intimate partner is an actor on stage, is a figment of the narcissist's imagination and mind. The shared fantasy is imposed on the intimate partner. The intimate partner is rendered a prop, an object.

So this is not love. This is not object relations.

The death drive in the narcissist, the so overpowering and so deterministically determines his identity that the narcissist is essentially incapable of object relations.

And of course, when you are so flooded, inundated with death and the death drive, this creates a lot of anxiety. And narcissistic supply, the obsession and compassion with narcissistic supply is about mitigating and ameliorating anxiety.

Ironically, decades later, the fifties and sixties, object relations school reverted to Freud in 1915. They started to say that aggression is externalized, owing to frustration, rejection, privation and withholding. That's the work of Winnicott, Gant, Fairburn, Boulby and many others.

So they were actually implying there's no need for the death drive. We can explain perfectly well aggression, both internal and external. We don't need the death, but what they fail to see is that these frustration, rejection, privation, withholding by the mother is actually a death sentence. A mother who rejects, withholds, frustrates, deprives the child of his basic needs. It's a mother who is sentencing the child to die, if not physically, then definitely, definitely mentally.

This is the death drive. It comes from the mother, not from the inside. It is a mother's purloined, poisoned gift to the child.

Andre Green got a glimpse of this. He wrote various essays and so on in 1983, 2001, 2002.

And he said there are two forms of narcissism.

One that shapes a certain lifestyle, certain manner of living.

In other words, a narcissism that tells you how to live, how to conduct your affairs, what decisions and choices to make.

And he called it the life narcissism.

And he contrasted it with the death narcissism.

He says that the death narcissism fuels cynicism, avoidance, withdrawal.

Life narcissism, he said, results in living that is restricted to illusory relationships without genuine involvement with others.

Death narcissism embodies a culture of void, emptiness, self-contempt, destructive withdrawal, and permanent self-depreciation with a predominant masochistic quality.

Tears, tears, tears.

It's a quote.

So Green honed in on this.

He began to see the convergence between Freud's late onset realization of the existence of the death drive and the object relations school, which gave us the key as to how the death drive emerges.

Bed parenting, bed mothering, not good enough mother.

Now many analysts kept comparing the situation to sleep because the death drive implies wanting to go back to the womb, wanting to become a fetus, wanting to undo your life.

I want to unlive.

You know the famous word, I'm alive.

We don't say commit suicide anymore. I'm alive.

So this is it.

The death drive is about unaliving yourself, but unaliving yourself by reemerging, by refusing with your mother.

By the way, it's ironic that if I say to refuse, it's also like refuse.

So there's an ambivalence here. I love hate relationship with the mother.

Okay, mommy, I'm going to die because that's what you want me to do, but I hate you for it. And I hate you for it because I love you so much. And you hurt me.

So they discussed a lot sleep as a metaphor or equivalent, they compared it to sleep and so on and so forth.

They said that in sleep, we also assume a fertile position, an embryo position. I don't know. I don't know who they slept with. I don't, but okay.

And they said that when you sleep, it's like a fantasy of the maternal womb, like going back to the womb and Ferenczi called it the fallossal regressive trait.

So they said sleep and death, essentially the same because it's a return to the maternal womb and the bodies look the same.

And for example, in ancient graves, they were placing the body in a fetal position, like an embryo.

So according to some thinkers, the death drive is the equivalent of choosing an extended sleep comma, vegetative state.

I disagree. I and many others, of course, disagree because the death drive is an active thing, proactive. It's not passive. It's not like playing dead. Some animals do, you know, when they're terrified and so on, they freeze, they play dead. It's not like playing dead. It's like pursuing death. It's like having a love affair with death. It's like being emotionally invested in death, cathartic death. It's like believing, developing the unconscious conviction that death is love and love is life and therefore life is death.

The best environment to living is mother's womb where you could unbe legitimately and become.

So this is why Liechtenstein in 1963 said that the death drive is a deep seated wish for loss of human identity by metamorphosis.

Yes, not Kafka's metamorphosis, not becoming an insect, but becoming an embryo, becoming a fetus, losing the features of agency, autonomy, independence, externality, separateness.

Co-author Schmidt, Taylor Hall in 2006 published a brilliant paper on this and I recommend that you.

I want to read to you a short encyclopedia entry about a specific school in object relations, Fairbairn.

An amazing thinker, a bit too convoluted for my taste. I will place him together with Lacan in the indissipherable department and I think he multiplies entities unnecessarily.

So I'm not an adherent of Fairbairn, but there's no way to discuss the death drive without discussing Fairbairn because he came up with a very relevant concept, the internal saboteur.

Fairbairn described what he called the endocytic structure. He analyzed dreams, he worked with schizo-affective and so on and so forth, like a crazy house.

And he said the traditional structural model, the ego, superego, is wrong, or partial, at best it's partial.

And he suggested another taxonomy, another classification. And he said that the ego structure should be split into three parts, the central ego of the eye.

It is the seat of introspection, self-observation, self-experience that is owned, self-experience that you really assimilate and becomes you.

And then there is the libidinal ego, which is highly endowed with libido. And then there is a part that attacks the libidinal ego and the attack is vindictive, destructive. And this part is the anti-libidinal ego or the eternal saboteur.

I think it's just a fancy name for the death drive.

And I don't agree that everyone has this. I think it's acquired or learned under highly specific adverse life circumstances.

Libido according to Fairbairn is at the disposal of the libidinal ego and aggression is at the disposal of the internal saboteur.

And again, I beg to disagree. I think libido, life force, is meaningless and useless without aggression, even in sex exactly as Freud had observed.

So according to Fairbairn, these ego structures appeared with corresponding internal objects.

The libidinal ego is attached to the exciting object. The internal saboteur is attached to the rejecting object, rejecting mother, for example.

The central ego observes and relates to both the libidinal ego and the internal saboteur. The central ego in Fairbairn's work is a conscious part, a preconscious part and an unconscious part.

Now, the two subsidiary egos, the libidinal and the anti-libidinal or internal saboteur, these two parts are essentially unconscious.

Fairbairn said that these three structures have similarities, superficial similarities with the ego, the id and the superego, but there are very important differences as well.

Central ego corresponds to the ego of classical psychoanalysis, but it is not derived from something else. It is not derived, for example, from an undifferentiated ego-id matrix. It doesn't break apart from some primordial lump. And the central ego is not dependent for its activity on the demands of the id.

The libidinal ego resembles the id, but it is a derivative of the central ego and not a reservoir of instinctual tension, like in Freud's work.

The internal saboteur, which is of interest to us, the seat of the death drive in my work, resembles the superego, but differs in two important ways.

Number one, it is not an externalized object, but a split of part of the central ego.

And this is very similar to my work, because in my work, the death drive is not seated in a superego, because the narcissist does not have a superego.

The death drive inhabits in my work a maternal internal object that is rejecting and withdrawing and avoiding, hurtful and so on.

So the mother interject is embedded in the narcissist's mind, and it gives rise and birth to the death drive.

And that's very close to Freud in some ways.

Another feature of the internal saboteur is that it is devoid of all moral significance. It's amoral. It has no morality.

And this links in with Freud's disinhibition concept.

So these are very fascinating, glittering, amazing ideas. And many, many scholars fell for them.

Harry Gantner, Otto Kernberg, Ferenc Pál, David Schaff, and it's still ongoing.

Fairburn is still studied and analyzed and so on and so forth.

But as I said, I think he failed the test of parsimony, and he multiplied entities unnecessarily. There is no need for an internal saboteur.

The death drive is a drive. And there are enough constructs to accommodate the death drive without introducing yet another one.

Now sometimes the death drive is called destudo or motido. As far as I remember, Freud never used the word destudo, but did use the word motido, as far as I remember.

And in one of you who is a psychoanalyst and versed in Freud's writings, please correct me and I will ban you immediately.

So there was a joke, by the way.

So first of all, there's a big debate as to who invented the word destudo. That's very common in psychology. Everyone thinks they invented something when actually someone else did. Never mind.

So there's a debate.

But Eduardo Weiss, who claimed that he invented it in 1935, and he said that the destudo is the energy of the death or destructive instinct, in analogy to libido.

Others like Wilhelm Stekel claimed that they coined the word destudo in 1920 to denote the psychic energy of the death instinct. And again, it's analogous to libido, which is the psychic energy of the life instinct.

By the way, life instinct, death instinct, this is wrong. It should be life drive and death drive.

But Stekel used the word instinct erroneously. Then destudo was misattributed to Freud, which pissed him off no end.

And he made sure never to use destudo in his work, even though he was well aware of it.

He refused, Freud refused to postulate it. There is such a thing because Freud said there's only one energy and it's the energy of life.

The death drive is not an energy and there's no corresponding energy.

So he completely disagreed with destudo. He said this would create energy dualism and so on and so forth.

And a much later scholar by the name of Jean Laploche elaborated on this.

It sounds like an obscure, irrelevant debate, not germane to any, but actually it's very important because if it is an energy, you're born with it. It's innate. And if it is not an energy, it opens the possibility that it is acquired or learned somehow.

And Freud never decided, never committed himself to any of these interpretations as Laploche observed.

Paul Fedon used mortido instead of destudo. In Eric Bern of transactional analysis fame, games people play and so on and so forth. He saw mortido or destudo or whatever you want to call it as activating such forces of hate and cruelty, blinding anger, social hostility.

And he said, if this is directed inward, it creates enormous guilt and subsequent self-punishment.

And he actually focused on the death drive, mortido, again, whatever you want to call it.

He recognized that the death drive in many situations is more important sexually than the life drive. And that's how he tackled sadomasochism and even destructive emotional relationships or emotional coercion. Laploche I mentioned and so on and so forth. I want to read to you, to conclude, I want to read to you a thing or two about the unusual ways that we can apply the death drive.

It's a very useful concept.

Lacan wrote that every drive is virtually a death drive.


Because he said every drive pursues its own extinction, its own liquidation.

You know, you have a drive to eat, you eat, you no longer have a drive to eat.

So the drive to eat pursues its own end, its own ending.

When you gratify, satisfy the drive, it disappears.

So it's a kind of suicide.

The second reason is every drive, said Lacan, involves the subject in repetition.

Every drive is repetitive.

Every drive happens again and again and again, recurs like repetition compulsion in Freud's work.

And the third reason, every drive is an attempt to go beyond the pleasure principle to the realm of excess, joisons, excess enjoyment, to the point that the enjoyment, the pleasure is perceived as suffering, too much of a good thing.

And he said that drives are out of control.

They push you to more and more and more.

So if you're into sex, you become a sex addict.

And if you eat, you overeat, and then you become suffering.

So if you take these three reasons into account, every drive is a death drive.

It's a pretty revolutionary thing to say.

I now want to read to you a section, paragraph from an encyclopedia, and then I will read you farewell and hope that you survived this video.

The source of the death drive lies in the cathexis of bodily zones that can generate afferent excitations for the psyche then.

This certainly involves tension in the musculature, determined by a biological urge. Its locus is in the id, then later under the influence of the ego, as well as in the superego, where it functions to restrict libidianization. It operates.

So this is very important because a narcissist lacks an ego and a superego. There's nothing to constrain the death drive in the narcissist, and he will drag you into it as well.

Narcissist spreads death. He spreads death. His life is organized according to a death principle. It's a death cult.

The shared fantasy is a death cult. In melancholia, continues the encyclopedia, a pure culture of the death instinct governs the superego, such that the ego can impel the subject towards death.

The operation of this almost invisible energy has been described as a work of the negative by Andrei Green.

This object is the implementing organ, the musculature, that enables the aim to be fulfilled.

Paradoxically, the libido, subject restrained by the destrudo, and leading to primary masochism and sadism, is the object of the death drive here.

According to Freud's descriptions, its goal is dissociation, regression, or even dissolution. While leading organic life back to an inorganic state is the final stage, the purpose of the death drive is to fulfill as far as is possible a dis-objectalizing function by means of unbinding, says Andrei Green.

It is therefore an entropic process in the strict sense.

In his short article on negation, Freud explained, "Afirmation as a substitute for uniting belongs to Eros.

Negation, the successor of expulsion, belongs to the instinct of destruction." Furthermore, studies based on the treatment of psychotic subjects, particularly by post-Clineans, seem to have reinforced the theory of the prevalence of the death drive in the psychic apparatus of these patients as something that constantly tears at the fabric of their representations and undermines their attempts to establish an apparatus for thinking, thinking, thoughts.

This is the work of Wilfred Bion, actually.

We've gone a long way and we have circumnavigated the globe.

And I've reviewed the death drive from as far as I know every possible angle.

And I think it all leads to the conclusion, the sad conclusion, that when a child is born, it is given the choice between life and death by his mother.

When healthy mothers, loving mothers, caring mothers, Winnicottian good enough mothers, let the child choose.

That is exactly separation and individuation.

Some children choose death regardless of the mother, but the overwhelming vast majority choose life.

It is when the mother chooses for the child that she invariably chooses death, even if she believes that she is choosing life, even if she thinks she is being protective and loving and caring and holding and containing.

Whenever the mother makes the choice, she is choosing death for her child.

And once the child has become intimate with death, there is no going back because death is the woman.

It is an oceanic feeling. It is nirvana.

It's the beginning and the end. It is far superior to life, far more gratifying, far more engulfing and encompassing and soothing and comforting.

Once a child gets in touch and gets to know death, it never lets go.

And it keeps choosing death into adulthood and into its own physical death.

That is a mother's gift, poisoned gift. That is a legacy.

Mothers, a mother's main role is to push the child away, to reject the child in a loving manner, to serve as a secure base while the child is propelled by her, encouraged by her to explore the world out there, externally, separate from her.

A mother who is too insecure, too selfish to let the child go is a mother who chooses death for her child.

And her child will never, ever revive.

Thank you very much.

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