Background

Narcissist's Femme Fatale - or Mother?

Uploaded 2/12/2021, approx. 29 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm a professor of psychology and the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

The narcissist confuses states of mind generally, and he definitely confuses romantic jealousy with possessiveness and both of these with mortification. The narcissist experiences all these three identically. There's pain, there's rumination and brooding, there are grandiose defenses, there's repression, there's denial, there's projection, there's reframing in all these three reactive states of mind.

And so the narcissist cannot tell them apart.

Additionally, the narcissist confuses external objects with internal ones, he internalizes external objects such as, for example, intimate partners.

So, when something happens, when there is a psychodynamic which is aversive, which is hurtful, which is problematic, the narcissist doesn't know to tell whether this is something totally self-contained, utterly inner and internal or whether it's actually coming from the outside, whether it is something done to him by external objects and this inability to tell inside from outside, this inability to tell apart emotions, states of mind, self-states, this is very common in narcissism but also in borderline and several other personality disorders such as schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal, paranoid personality disorder and so on.

So, let us try to introduce some method, rhyme, reason and order into these totally disparate emotional forms of reactivity or even reactance.

So, possessiveness is driven by fear, possessiveness is driven by terror, is driven by anxiety and the overriding anxiety is abandonment or separation anxiety. Where there is abandonment and separation anxiety, the narcissist, the borderline, etc., is likely to react with possessiveness.

Put it aside. Now, mortification. Mortification is a state of introspection. It's a state of soul-searching. It's when the narcissist, the borderline's defenses completely crumble, a process known as decompensation and so denuded of defenses, the narcissist gets in touch directly with the very reality that he had been denying all his life.

He has no grandiosity to firewall him. He has no false self to rely upon. He has nothing to protect him and to shield him. He has no sanctuary. He is thrust into harsh, hostile world and he doesn't know how to cope with this and it forces him to look at himself, to observe himself from another person's point of view.

It's the closest the narcissist ever gets to empathy because he suddenly puts himself in other people's shoes and sees himself as they see him.

And the contradiction between what they see and what he had seen up to the mortification. This contradiction is intolerable. It's unbearable. It's even, in many cases, life-threatening.

So, possessiveness is about abandonment, anxiety, separation, the terror of separation, the fear of loss.

Mortification has to do with the crumbling of defenses, decompensation and then forced introspection.


What about romantic jealousy?

Romantic jealousy is pain, simply about pain and this pain results in aversion towards the frustrating object and then withdrawal.

In other words, if someone causes you pain by cheating on you, flirting with others, triangulating, you're likely to develop as a narcissist. The narcissist is likely to develop aversion and then withdraw.

possessiveness is the first topic.

possessiveness, as I said, is intimately linked to abandonment and separation, anxiety and fear of loss.

As long as object constancy is maintained, the narcissist is not romantically jealous, nor is he possessive. In other words, as long as the narcissist can take the intimate partner for granted, as long as the narcissist feels that he owns the intimate partner, that she is never likely to abandon him, bail out, divorce, get away, run away, as long as he is assured and ascertained of her constant presence regardless of circumstances and ignoring his abusive behavior. As long as he is sure that never mind what he does to her, she's going to stay within the relationship. She's going to service him, she's going to medulate him and in some cases she's going to give him sex if he's somatic.

As long as the object constancy is preserved and assured, the narcissist doesn't care whether his intimate partner is intimate with another person, he doesn't care whether she had found love and sex outside the bond, outside the marriage, outside the dyad. He doesn't care in other words if she outsources all the sexual and emotional needs from others.

The only prerequisite and the only requirement is that she should not abandon him. She is free to do whatever she wants, with whomever she wants, whenever she wants, for as long as she wants.

On condition that abandonment is not on the table, divorce is not on the table. As long as there is no fear of loss, no separation anxiety, no abandonment anxiety, the narcissist does not become possessive.

But he does become possessive when he senses imminent abandonment.

Because the narcissist remember has called empathy. He scans continuously in a mental state known as hypervigilance. He's like a human breathing walking scanner and he keeps scanning his intimate partner hundreds of times a day, hunting for clues, gathering incriminating evidence, applying his conspiracism and paranoia to patterns of events, behaviors and misbehaviors so as to ferret out and to home in on any possible separation, abandonment or intent to bail out.

So when he does reach the conclusion that his intimate partner is about to give up, he's about to elope, he's about to go away, he's about to kind of decide that there's no hope.

When he spots that his intimate partner had become hopeless, had become indifferent, had become hateful, had become malicious, when he spots these changes, sometimes very subtle changes in behavior, in effect, in mood, in verbal, in verbiage, in the choice of vocabulary and how sentences are syntactically put together.

When his antenna, when his seismograph tells him that there is a tremor, the earth is shaking and it's like there's a templar on the way, there's an earthquake on the way, when he feels this, he becomes possessive.

It is then that he becomes possessive. He may engage in reclaim sex suddenly after many years of sexlessness, he would suddenly demand sex or he may suggest to go on a vacation together or he may try to hoover desperately or he may suddenly re-engage in love bombing and grooming.

He tries to reclaim, re-acquire the object, re-acquire the intimate partner and he does it quite desperately, ferociously, intensely and throughout this period he is exceedingly possessive. He limits his intimate partner's freedom, he monitors her, spies on her, supervises her, he vets all her contacts, all her social interactions, he tries to isolate her from other people and from family, from a support network, from the best friends, he tries to render her again his partner in a shared fantasy, which is essentially a slave.

So possessiveness is triggered by a perception, correct perception or wrong perception, doesn't matter, by a perception when the narcissist perceives that abandonment, separation, loss, breakup are imminent.


And so this is one type of reactive behavior.

During the possessive, during the stage of possessiveness, the narcissist becomes very angry at any attempt to lie to him. Whenever the intimate partner tries to deceive him, tries to lie to him, tries to distract him, divert his attention, tries to reframe events and behaviors, tries to come up with explanations and excuses, tries to disown her own misconduct, whenever all this happens he regards this as a challenge to his grandiosity, he regards this as an undermining of his self-imputed omniscience, a sign that he is not as feared, he is not as respected, he is not as held in awe as he had imagined himself to be.

So any attempt within the possessiveness phase to kind of calm the waters by putting a veneer or a coat of fresh paint over what had happened or what is happening actually aggravates the possessiveness instincts and reflexes.

So because the narcissist says to himself, does she think I'm stupid? Does she think I believe these idiotic stories? Does she not respect me as a genius? Does she not understand that I can see through her? I can see through her. I know everything. I'm all powerful. Is she not afraid of me?

So these are multiple narcissistic injuries, narcissistic injuries by a thousand cuts and the narcissist resents this and so in the possessiveness phase there is a heightened risk of aggression and violence, including physical violence, definitely verbal aggression or verbal abuse, but also sadistic or simply violent reactions.

Possessiveness phase is very, very dangerous because the narcissist's, the pillars of his personality, disorganized personality, whatever is holding him together, however precariously and tentatively, the glue is threatened. The possessiveness is an attempt to reconstitute the crumbling edifice of narcissism.

It's one stage before mortification. It's to fend off, the idea is to fend off the compensation by reestablishing a grandiose state of things. She is mine. I own her. She will never leave me. I'm too good. I'm unique. She will never find someone like me, etc.

So possessiveness is triggered by abandonment, fear of loss, fear of imminent separation and breakup and during this phase if you try to pull the wool over the narcissist's eyes, if you lie to the narcissist, if you try to deceive him, if you tell him all kinds of stories and excuses, if you come up with alibis as to your misconduct, if you misbehave ostentatiously, egregiously, this can end very badly. It's a dangerous phase.

So this is possessiveness.


What about romantic jealousy?

The narcissist clearly distinguishes two types of intimate partners. There are the intimate partners with whom he fancies himself in love.

The narcissist like the borderline mislabels emotions. He relabels his dependence on narcissistic supply as love. He relabels the good feeling that adulation gives him, the comfort that his grandiosity affords him. He relabels this as infatuation.

So he's likely to have one or two or three women, in case he's a heterosexual male, where he would say, well, I'm in love with this woman. I love her. So he's going to use the word love, but he's going to use the word love to describe a group of women who cater to highly specific needs. And we're going to come to that in a minute.

All other intimate partners, he doesn't kid himself. He doesn't lie to himself that he's in love. He's in a shared fantasy with them, but they are mere service providers. And we'll come to this second group a bit later.

Romantic jealousy. The narcissist is capable of experiencing romantic jealousy, and you should distinguish romantic jealousy from possessiveness.

Possessiveness drives the narcissist towards the partner. Possessiveness impels the narcissist to re-acquire the partner, to hoover the partner.

So possessiveness is the narcissist's way of re-establishing the relationship, the connection, the bond, the détente.

Possessiveness is about the narcissist actually informing his intimate partner, I want you to stay in my life.

Romantic jealousy. When the narcissist experiences romantic jealousy, he has the exact opposite reaction. He's romantically jealous only of women whom he fancies to love. When he's infatuated, when he's in a stage of limerence, or when he's lusting after a woman, or when he's dependent on a woman for the provision of certain functions, in all these cases, he would say that he loves the woman.

And then when he had convinced himself that he's in love, he would then feel romantic jealousy.

But romantic jealousy, in contra-distinction to possessiveness, pushes him away.

Romantic jealousy threatens him with mortification.

And to avoid mortification, he develops aversion towards the intimate partner.

So when the intimate partner cheats on the narcissist, when she ostentatiously, conspicuously triangulates with someone, flirts with someone else, seduces someone else, when she misbehaves with others, doesn't have to be full-scale sex. She can misbehave in numerous other ways.

When there is a question of faithfulness, loyalty, fidelity, when cheating is in the air, when the possibility of betrayal crystallizes and becomes tangible, at that point, if the narcissist had convinced himself that he loves the woman, then he would experience romantic jealousy. And romantic jealousy is one step removed from mortification.

The transition to mortification is literally instantaneous.

So to avoid mortification, which in most cases is life threatening, the narcissist would pull away, disconnect, disengage from the intimate partner who had caused him romantic jealousy with her misconduct or misbehavior. He would pull away, he would develop aversion, sometimes revolt, disgust, revulsion. He would disengage, he would go, essentially he would go no contact in effect.

So romantic jealousy is the opposite effect of possessiveness.

For example, the narcissist's sexual desire and lust will evaporate after romantic jealousy.

Romantic jealousy is the narcissist's system of alarm. Romantic jealousy is the way the narcissist's mind informs the narcissist that he's about to be mortified and that he should pull away before it's too late.

And then the narcissist does.

Romantic jealousy, when it's real and it's rare, narcissists are possessive. They are very rarely romantically jealous.

Don't confuse the two things. When he rarely, extremely rarely experiences romantic jealousy, you have lost him. You will never see him again. Exactly like mortification. He will walk away. He will keep away from you because you have the power to disintegrate him. You have the power to destroy him via mortification.

Now, which kind of women can provoke romantic jealousy in a narcissist?

Put differently, which kind of women convince the narcissist that he's in love with them?

The narcissist is incapable of love, definitely incapable of mature, reciprocated adult love. So which kind of women push the narcissist to tell himself convincingly that he had fallen in love?

Where these women are usually what used to be called in the 19th century, decadent women or incorrigible women. They're both promiscuous and sophisticated, elegant, worldly, cosmopolitan. And the French used to call these kind of women femme fatale.

When the narcissist comes across a femme fatale, you know, drop dead gorgeous, elegant, educated, erudite, funny, super intelligent, but also totally promiscuous, totally immoral and amoral, a bit psychopathic, a lot histrionic and a lot borderline.

So this combination, borderline, secondary psychopathy, histrionic, put together is irresistible to the narcissist. And when this combination resides in a woman who is also highly educated, very intelligent, well-traveled, exposed to the world, strong, etc., the narcissist finds this kind of women, as I said, irresistible.

And then he convinces himself that he is infatuated or that he is in love with them. All these elements must coexist.

The narcissist does not react well to homely women, even if they are promiscuous. If you're promiscuous and homely, the narcissist is going to regard you as a service provider. He's going to have a relationship with you, but it's going to be a very transactional relationship because the minute you're homely, you're a mother figure. And the minute your mother figure, the narcissist settles into a shared fantasy, which revolves around a maternal figure. He converts you into his mother.

But if you're promiscuous and elegant and worldly and cosmopolitan and amazing and a bit vicious and psychopathic, immoral, reckless, adventurous, callous woman, if you're a fanfatal, it's impossible to convert you into a mother figure. You're the antithesis, the opposite, the anathema of a maternal figure.

So then the narcissist settles into a shared fantasy, which is a bit like a game of thorns, a bit like a Netflix series. He settles into a shared fantasy, which is a Hollywood fantasy, like a movie.

And within this shared fantasy, he convinces himself that he's in love with this kind of woman. And only this kind of woman can provoke romantic jealousy in the narcissist when she misbehaves with other men.

There are three tests to tell whether the narcissist regards you as a fanfatal or whether he regards you as your home, homely domesticated mother.


The first test is the narcissist socializes with the friends and the family of the fanfatal.

He will do anything for the fanfatal, even sacrifice his cosmically precious time, even bear the inferiority and the stupidity of her social circle and her family, because the fanfatal is his life. It's the pivot around which his grandiose movie revolves. She is the star in his film production, his co-star.

So when you are the fanfatal type, the narcissist will do anything for you, including socialize with your friends, socialize with your family, go out with you, spend a lot of time with you, an inordinate amount of time with you. When you are the homely mother type, when you are the homely mother type and the narcissist realizes that he shared fantasy with you is actually a recreation of his family of origin and a reenactment of his early conflicts with his mother, homebound mother, housewife mother.

Well, in this case, the narcissist would be extremely reluctant to provide you with anything above the minimum. He would give you the minimum. He would give you minimum attention. He would give you minimum socializing. He would give you very often minimum financial resources. He would give you minimum support and support, if any.

So minimum, maximum. With the fanfatal, the narcissist gives his everything, his utmost. He gives the maximum. With the homely mother figure, he gives the minimum.

Test number one. Test number two. With the fanfatal, the narcissist does react to triangulation. When the fanfatal triangulates, he reacts with romantic jealousy. When you triangulate, if there's no abandonment in the air, he doesn't care. You can triangulate. You can flirt. You can seduce other men in front of him. You can disappear for an entire night with another man. He doesn't care. As long as he is assured of your presence in his life, of your object constancy, that there is no question of breakup or divorce, you can do anything you want with anyone at any time for as long as you wish. Triangulation doesn't work if you are not the fanfatal type. Only when you are the fanfatal type, the narcissist reacts ferociously, vehemently, uncontrollably, impulsively, and sometimes aggressively to any hint of an intrusion by someone else. He becomes competitive. He becomes romantically jealous and he is in pain.


The third test is how do you react to the narcissist?

Women in the narcissist's life, because of the narcissist's overpowering personality, incessant demands, bullying, intermittent reinforcement, aggression, externalized aggression, because of all these elements, women try to keep the peace. They try to mold themselves to conform to the narcissist's expectations. They try to please the narcissist.

So the fanfatal type, she would overemphasize her sluttishness, her whorishness, her uncontrollable impulsive promiscuity. She would play act. She would exaggerate these features because she understands intuitively that this is what binds her, what binds the narcissist to her.

You on the other hand would try to emphasize the motherly side. You would try to render services. You would try to make life pleasant. You would try to introduce some color. You would try to redesign the home. You would try to create an environment of domesticated bliss, coziness, holding, loving, acceptance. You would try to act the good enough mother.

So the way you react to the narcissist tells you how he sees you because he's sending signals, he's signaling his expectations, how he should behave, how he should comport yourself, what choices should you make, should it be ostentatious or discreet, etc. So his broadcast, the message he's sending to the fanfatal, you should be a slutt. The message he's sending to you, you should be my mother and women usually conform.

When the narcissist regards you as a playmate, a driver, a companion, a housekeeper, a personal assistant, or a sex slave, when the narcissist makes demands upon you, which are 100% self-centered and self-focused, a goodystical, when the narcissist transactionally pays you for your services, he makes it very clear, I bring the money home, I'm the provider and you should do A, B, C, D, or even you are the provider but you should still do A, B, C, D, when he links money, when he connects money, or economic issues, when the relationship is a give and take, it's a business deal, art of the deal.

In this situation, the narcissist is never romantically jealous. He may become possessive if you threaten him with abandonment, if you threaten to walk away, if you threaten to give up on the relationship, then he might become possessive, he might even re-engage in glove bombing and grooming and sex, but he would never be romantically jealous.

And the reason is that he expects from you to give him your presence, not to abandon him, services, sex, narcissistic supply, and if he's a sadistic, sadistic supply, he expects you to be his punching bag.

And having given him all this, he expects you to leave him alone. He has a schizoid core, he wants his solitude, he wants his solitary pursuits, and he wants the freedom to act in any way he pleases at any time, my way or the highway.

So when it's a transactional relationship, the narcissist withdraws from the relationship subject to minimum conditions.

You give him the minimum, he gives you the minimum. It's a minimal relationship.

With a fanfatal, it's an all-consuming, ubiquitous, all-pervasive relationship. It's a maximum relationship.

The narcissist is 100,000% involved in the relationship and expects his fanfatal intimate partner to do and to be the same, only with him, all the time with him. Any glance, any flirt, any look, any comment, even regarding past lovers, is interpreted immediately as triangulation, triggers romantic jealousy.

Should this continue and be repeated?

Finally, the narcissist develops aversion and withdraws from the relationship.

So relationship with the fanfatal is maximum, minimum. All-out withdrawal, relationship, transactional relationship with the service providing, maternal figure is minimum, minimum, maximum.

The narcissist gives his minimum. If you threaten to leave him, he gives his maximum.

And sex reflects these dynamics.

Narcissists generally have sex within shared fantasies. Very few narcissists, as opposed to psychopaths, very few narcissists engage in casual sex. Casual sex is more psychopathic.

Narcissists need the shared fantasy because they engage in sex within a grandiose script. They need to believe, they need to convince themselves that they own the partner somehow.

So anyhow, narcissists engage in sex within shared fantasies. And within the shared fantasy, the narcissist continues to engage in sex as long as there is a risk of abandonment or a risk of breakup.

And because the fanfatal is utterly, unmitigatedly, uncompromisingly promiscuous, thisis looming in the air all the time.

So sex in the relationship with fanfatal is permanent, a permanent feature. It never stops. There's never sexlessness with a fanfatal because she constantly, she is constantly available or makes herself available to other men, at least in the narcissist's mind. And she broadcasts this to him. She tells him openly that she's available to other men.

So this keeps him on his toes and he keeps offering sex.

Actually, the love bombing and grooming phases of the shared fantasy never end with a fanfatal. Not so with a homely domesticated maternal figure, even if she's promiscuous, because she is committed to the relationship. She is embedded in the relationship. She is invested in the relationship. She is much less likely to abandon, much less likely even to stray from insecurity notwithstanding.

So at some point when object constancy is accomplished, when the adulating presence of the intimate partner is guaranteed, when he can take her for granted, the sex stops, the sex seizes, and the relationship divorce is demoted to services only relationship, totally transactional, business-like relationship.

So with a homely type, it starts with a lot of sex in love bombing and grooming phase and ends with no sex. Once the relationship has coalesced and congealed and object constancy is guaranteed, no abandonment will ever happen.

At that point sex stops because it's no longer necessary in order to secure the partner's presence because the fanfatal is never owned, can never be possessed, can never be owned. She's too strong. She's too worldly. She's too promiscuous. She's too beautiful. She's too everything.

So the narcissist never feels, can never take her for granted. He never feels that her presence is guaranteed so that he has to continue to re-acquire her time and again. It's a cycle of approach, avoidance that never ends. It's like Groundhog Day. The same day repeats itself every day.

So the narcissist in this type of relationships continues with sex, unabated, uninterrupted and unimpeded, which may explain why he's actually romantically jealous. You are romantically jealous when what you give is not enough and your partner seeks the same thing from others.

So if you give your partner sex and she has sex with others, it proves your inadequacy. Your sex was not good enough for her. She needed more. She needed better. She needed a variety. That's humiliating. That's insulting. Provokes romantic jealousy.

In the relationship with the domesticated, homely partner, there's no sex. And so the narcissist doesn't care. If she has sex with other, other men, because you know, he's not giving her sex. There's no comparison there. There's no narcissistic injury. There's no challenge. He is not giving her sex. So she's looking for sex elsewhere. It's normal. If he, if he, if he were to not give her food, she would go to a restaurant. It's totally understandable. And there's no, it's not perceived as personal, but with a fun fatale, the narcissist provides sex all the time. And if she betrays him and cheats on him, it provokes romantic jealousy. Romantic jealousy is driven in large part by comparing yourself to the other men. There's an element of competition in romantic jealousy, very strong. I mean, it's documented in studies.

Men are focused on the visual side of the cheating and they compare themselves every parameter, every organ, every bit of performance to the other block. What did he give you that I did? I mean, was he better than me? The, was he longer than me? Everything was he thicker than me? So these are, these questions are more common than you know, in romantic jealousy.

So romantic jealousy is about competition and there's no competition within the transactional dyad, within the transactional couple, because some things are missing. There's no love, there's no intimacy, there's no sex. So it's normal for the intimate partner to look for these things outside the marriage.

With a fun fatale, it's different.


What about mortification?

I've dedicated several videos to mortification. Before we go to mortification, I want to reiterate one thing.

The core of narcissism is a schizoid core. At heart, the narcissist is an abused and traumatized child. And this child just wants to not be. This child seeks absence, not presence. This child doesn't want to live. This child wants to be unborn, to go back to the womb.

The child withdraws from the world and withdraws from objects in the world, other people, because they cause him a lot of pain, a lot of hurt.

The child just want to be left alone, solitary and pursue solitary things that give him pleasure, his hobbies, his collections, whatever.

So the transactional relationship is service oriented and minimal because the main commodity, the main good within this relationship is solitude.

The intimate partner of a narcissist agrees to seek intimacy and sex and love outside the bond, outside the marriage, in order to let, to give the narcissist the time and the space and the loneliness, the solitude that he really needs.

This is the compromise. I will let you have all the time in the world to do anything you please, as you wish. I'm going to leave you alone. I'm not going to nag. I'm not going to ask for anything, says the intimate partner.

But let me outsource my needs. Let me find others who will.

And the narcissist says, okay, fine with me. Just be here. Just service me. Just admire me. And everything is fine with me. No problem.

But with the femme fatale is not the same.

The femme fatale, the narcissist doesn't want to be left alone, doesn't want his solitude. And the reason is he cannot reach object constancy.

To be within the space of solitude, to pursue, to be alone, to be left alone. The narcissist needs to feel safe. He needs to feel that his intimate partner is present. Nevermind what she is doing at any given moment, but she's present. She will always be there when he needs her. If he's in trouble, if he's, you know, he wants, he wants a mother, a mother figure in his life.

The femme fatale doesn't give him that. So he's constantly motivated to pursue her. It's an endless chase.

The mortification is not possessiveness and it's not romantic jealousy, although the narcissist experiences it as romantic jealousy and as possessiveness.

Ironically, mortification is soul searching. It's process of introspection, process of looking when the narcissist looks inside himself through other people's eyes. He adopts other people's gaze, other people's opinions of him, other people's reactions to him.

For a minute he vanishes and he becomes other people and he sees himself through their eyes and it's shattering. It's utterly destructive. It creates a need to brood, to soul search, to introspect, to think deeply about for the first time, perhaps who he is, his identity. What makes him tick? Why does he misbehave the way he does? Why does he make certain choices and avoids other? Why does he act or doesn't act?

He, for the first time, he kind of self-administered therapy, actually, and it's a very, very dangerous process because the narcissist, when he's mortified, he goes through the compensation. He loses all his defenses and he's a child. He's a child who has survived only because of his defenses and when this defense is a gun, he does not cope. He does not survive. He's mortified.

Romantic jealousy doesn't lead to introspection, doesn't lead to soul searching, only pain, only aggression, only aversion, only withdrawal, but rarely any question, self-questioning, self-doubt, self-analysis. It's rare.

Possessiveness definitely is not mortified, but mortification does.

The narcissist is mortified, is never mortified by the femme fatale because the femme fatale is taken to be, essentially, an incorrigible, viscous, hopeless, broken, damaged woman.

The narcissist expects the worst from the femme fatale. Nothing she does surprises him. Nothing she does shocks him. Everything she does makes him angry. Everything she does provokes romantic jealousy, but no surprise, no shock. It's not sudden. It's not abrupt.

So a femme fatale can never mortify the narcissist. The narcissist is mortified only by women in a transactional bond, women whom he considers, who he considers inferior to him and women he did not love, women he's not infatuated with, homely, transactional, maternal women.

It is the betrayal of the mother that is humiliating, that is unexpected, that is shocking and abrupt and sudden. And the betrayal of this mother figure is a wake-up call.

The narcissist says, what the heck? How did I drive her to do this? How bad must I have been for her to have adopted this course of action? What am I doing wrong?

This is the first mortification. It's the sole occasion where the narcissist is sincerely remorseful and self-critic for a while, for a while. Usually, he then refers to external mortification and he blames his intimate partner.

But there's a short window, days, weeks, sometimes months, a short window where the narcissist is open, open to acknowledging and accepting his responsibility, his guilt, and feels very ashamed, remorseful and regretful.

Only a mortification, no other condition.

And so a narcissist can be mortified and realize, for example, that he's a schizoid narcissist. He can reach a conclusion that he should stay away from people, that he should pursue narcissistic supply or sadistic supply, that he's commodified, anonymous, that he should lead a solitary life, that he should avoid sex, love and intimacy with people, that he should be single.

Many narcissists reach this conclusion, that they should be single for life. It's an example of the outcome of mortification.


Another possible outcome of mortification is for the narcissist to accept that he's abusive, sadistic, not all there, mentally ill, and his own worst enemy.

Mortification can lead to this conclusion. Mortification can lead to the conclusion that the narcissist is actually not superior to other people, especially other men, but inferior to them because he is irredeemably disabled, infantile, or not a man at all.

Another possible conclusion is that the narcissist is disrespected, hated, feared. People are revolted by him because he disrespects and humiliates and berates himself with his misbehavior, with his bizarre eccentric choices and decisions, with his temper tantrums, with his childish conduct and comport.

So, mortification could lead to really, really important therapeutic breakthroughs, self-inflicted, self-generated, therapeutic breakthroughs, which Hornay called self-analysis.

And even on that occasion, when the narcissist is mortified, he is in touch with a professional, with a mental health practitioner. A good practitioner capitalizes on these breakthroughs, these insights, Freud called them insights, and uses, leverages, the practitioner, leverages the insights to transform the narcissist.

Actually, it's precisely what cold therapy does. In cold therapy, we mortify the narcissist via re-traumatization. The narcissist then begins to realize many things about himself, unsavory things, bad things, non-grandiose things, humiliating things, shameful. He begins to realize this, and he goes through a phase of suicidal ideation, depression.

But this phase is a window of opportunity. It is from the depths of the abyss that we can uplift the narcissist back, now equipped with self-knowledge. And self-knowledge is empowering.

Self-knowledge is transformative. This is the only hope for a narcissist. Mortification is his only hope to get in touch with his humiliated, ashamed, broken, damaged, crying, sad, painful, hurting inner child, his only hope is mortification.

And so ironically, intimate partners, transactional intimate partners, maternal intimate partners, who betray the narcissist and mortify him, they do him a great favor.

If you love your narcissist truly, you would walk away in the most egregious and ostentatious, backstabbing way possible, so as to wake him up into the reality of himself, and to allow him to gradually come to grips with it, and maybe once in a million, to change.

So sometimes what looks bad is actually good, and what looks good is bad.

And this is one of these cases.

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Express Constructive Anger, Not Narcissistic Rage!

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Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2023
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