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Narcissist’s Never Give, Always Take Delusion: Effort Reward Imbalance, Overcommitment

Uploaded 10/26/2023, approx. 34 minute read

The Narcissist considers himself God's gift to humanity. He feels entitled.

And when I say he, it applies to she, because half of all Narcissists nowadays are women. Way to go, women!

So, the Narcissist feels entitled.

What does it mean?

It means that he believes that he deserves recognition, compensation, perks and status regardless of his efforts, investment, commitment, hard work and accomplishments.

In other words, even a Narcissist who loaves around all day, makes redundant videos and drinks red wine, even such a Narcissist considers himself to be a genius deserving of the utmost respect, recognition and adulation.

Sounds familiar? It's because I am Sam Vaknin, the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, the first book to describe Narcissistic Abuse in the 90s. I am also a former visiting professor of psychology in a prestigious Russian university, Southern Federal University, and it's in the Shanghai list, by the way. And I am also a long-term faculty member in CEAPs, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies, Cambridge United Kingdom, Toronto Canada, and of course the inevitable outreach campus in Lagos, Nigeria. Got it? Students, let us proceed.

In an attempt to understand the Narcissist's disgruntlement, disappointment, anger and passive aggression, in an attempt to decipher the Narcissist's constant belief that he is being underestimated, undervalued, discriminated against, not promoted as it should be, not undercompensated, etc., etc.

Trying to understand this mindset, even when the Narcissist does not invest, does not commit, does not work at all, with a slacker, has no accomplishments, has no education to speak of, has no credentials, nothing. Even then, the Narcissist demands, absolutely demands, the treatment accorded to his accomplished peers, his credentialed peers.

Why is that? What's wrong with the Narcissist?

Even a delusional person who inhabits a paracosm of fantasy, even such a person, should be somehow interfaced with reality. Reality should intrude somehow. Is the Narcissist psychotic? That delusional? No.

I propose a different approach. I implemented in my work a model, a model known as Effort-reward-imbalance model. It links job demands to rewards that employees receive for their work.

So it's part of human resource psychology or industrial psychology, organizational psychology.

Yet I borrowed this model and I implemented it to the internal world of the Narcissist.

Because you see, the Narcissist constantly believes that he is subject to an effort-reward-imbalance.

The Narcissist exaggerates his efforts, however minuscule and laughable, he exaggerates the efforts and he expects commensurate rewards.

And when ineluctably these rewards do not materialize, because he has done nothing to earn the prestige and the recognition and the promotion and the wages, he has done nothing.

So there are no rewards.

In the Narcissist's mind there is a discrepancy between what he perceives to be his investment and the meager yield or outcomes of his exertions.

And the reason this happens is because the Narcissist overvalues himself. His very existence, his mere presence are sufficient endowments. He should be compensated for existing, for being there.

By frequenting the workplace or his relationships, he bestows upon other people his blessing, the blessing of his presence.

He is a kind of emanation of beneficence and his very presence guarantees positive outcomes. He doesn't need to do anything. He doesn't need to work hard. He doesn't need to work at all. He is entitled, but just by virtue of existing.

And so the Narcissist is subject to an internal effort reward imbalance model that keeps fueling his resentment, his envy, his self destructiveness.

The bad object in him is nourished and fed by this effort reward imbalance.

And of course his aggression. And in case of covert Narcissism, his passive aggression.

What is the effort reward imbalance? We're going to delve deep into it.

And as I do, you will see how similar it is to the Narcissistic Psychopathology.

The effort reward imbalance holds that high work related effort coupled with low control over extrinsic outcomes such as pain and low control over job related intrinsic rewards such as recognition.

So when you invest a lot of work, a lot of effort in your job, in your relationships, whatever it is, when you invest a lot.

And you get little by way of remuneration, compensation, other rewards intangible rewards such as recognition or status or acceptance, etc.

Allegiance, affiliation.

And so when there is this discrepancy, this triggers high level of activation of neuro hormonal pathways. And these exert adverse effects on mental and physical health.

Everything I've just said has been proven in numerous studies.


Now, the Godfather of the effort reward imbalance model is how else?

A German. It's a German medical sociologist. Yes, there is such a discipline, medical sociology.

His name is Ziegler, not Siegfried, Ziegler.

And in 1996, he proposed the model and gradually over the decades, his model panned out, proved itself.

And in occupational health studies, it's a major model along others.

But I'm focusing on this model and not other models, because this model is 100 percent applicable to narcissism and has predictive powers when it comes to foreseeing the narcissist actions, decisions, choices, effects and cognitions.

The model identifies unfavorable psychosocial characteristics in the workplace.

But as I said, I've applied it outside the workplace to interpersonal relationships. I think interpersonal relationships are indistinguishable from a workplace because you have to work on your relationships.

They don't just self actualize or self materialize. Relationships are not ectoplasm. You have to work hard to maintain them, to start them and restart them and reboot them every single day.

And so there's a mismatch between costs and gains in costs in these kind of social transactions. And this mismatch could be small, in which case everyone is happy.

But when the mismatch becomes big and out of hand and out of control spirals exponentially, there's a lot of bad blood, a lot of disillusionment, disenchantment, disappointment and disgruntlement.

This is the constant state of the narcissist because the narcissist believes everything he does should be valued much higher than everything he receives in return. His gift is much more than his take.

And he feels constantly cheated, deceived, discriminated against, taken advantage of, gullible, etc.

And he resents this even in intimate relationships.

Now the whole thing rests on a concept known as social reciprocity. Wine break.

Social reciprocity is at the work of what is known as the work, at the core, I'm sorry, what is known as the work contract.

There's a social contract and the work contract. And I applied social reciprocity concepts to the social contract and even more narrowly to the relationship contract.

And so the social reciprocity theorem says that stress is when people feel a mismatch between a high cost and a low gain.

Like, I give you more than I get. I'm invested more than you are.

You know, my efforts are much bigger than yours.

And so there's a recurrent experience of failed reciprocity. And this generates negative effects, negative emotions, frustration and stress and anxiety and aggression.

Also aggression.

There are three components in the effort, rewardimbalance model, effort, reward and what is known as overcommitment.

Effort means extrinsic demands, demands in the workplace, demands in the relationship. Everything is a job.

When you are someone's intimate partner, spouse, father, husband, you name it, you are called wife, of course.

You there's a job description. It's a job. It's a role. I refer you to my video on role theory.

So this is the effort part.

The reward comes from three sources, tangible remuneration or compensation, for example, a financial reward, money, mobility, career promotion, transitioning from a romantic relationship to a marriage and from a marriage to parenthood.

It's another example of mobility.

Mobility involves two elements, transitionality, transitioning from one face to another, a longer line that is perceived as progress.

But this must be coupled with security, safety, stability. So it's not only mobility, but it's mobility within a safe, stable and secure lane, secure base.

So this is what we call essentially status, status related reward.

This is the second element.

And the third element is esteem, recognition, social acceptability, social, emotional reward.

Now, recognition in an intimate relationship is also known as love. Love is recognizing the existence of the other, seeing the other in a way, helping the other, regenerating himself or herself through the partner's gaze.

So this is a social, emotional reward in an intimate relationship.

Recognition, professional status, authority, these are social, emotional rewards in the workplace.

It's a distinct personal pattern of coping with demanding situations. It could be under commitment or over commitment.

The narcissist is prone to under commitment and under investment because the narcissist exaggerates his own existence and presence as inputs.

He says, I don't need to commit, I don't need to invest. It's enough that I'm there. My very presence and my very existence are the necessary inputs into the machine. These are my raw materials, if you wish.

So employees that are over committed, for example, they show excessive devotion to the work.

And the theory postulates that over commitment leads to stress, but also amplifies other adverse health effects.

The narcissist under commits and this shifts the stress from the narcissist to the partner. While the narcissist under commits, the partner commits or over commits.


But relationally, by comparison, the narcissist partner always over commits because never mind what she does, never mind how little she commits. It's always more than the narcissist.

So there's always an asymmetry in relationships with narcissists. There's always a commitment asymmetry.

Never mind how minimal the partner's commitment is. She still is over committed compared to the narcissist and this stresses her, creates anxiety.

For example, in a borderline, you would create an abandonment anxiety. And adverse mental and physical physiological health effects.

The effort reward imbalance model is used as a theoretical framework to explain this stress and other health risks.

And for example, it generates all kinds of anxieties in employees about their employment. Is it uncertain? Question of job loss.

This is especially true in a globalized environment where jobs can be outsourced. The same happens. Same happens.

And there are studies about this by Zikris 2016. Same exactly. Same principles of operation occur in interpersonal relationships, intimate and romantic friendships of the narcissist.

Because the narcissist generates this precarious volatile environment where uncertainty and indeterminacy are the defining factors, the determinants, the dimensions that that kind of encapsulate and demarcate the environment.

So the narcissist environment always places the intimate partner, the friend, co-workers, none of that. Always places everyone else, the environment always places everyone else at a need to compete for the narcissist.

And it's a constant doubt whether the narcissist will be there the next day. Constant abandonment or separation insecurity.

And this is what I call the pathological narcissistic space.

The narcissist conditions his continued presence in the relationship, in the workplace. He conditions it on receiving narcissistic supply. It's a form of Machiavellian manipulativeness, coercion and extortion.

You want me here? You need to gratify me. You need to provide me with narcissistic supply, with money, with access, with sex. It's always a transactional, conditional thing.

The four S's, sex, services, safety and supply.

OK, now, this model, which I find exquisitely suited to describe the inner dynamics and the outer behaviors of narcissists, also, of course, is reactive to the partner.

The narcissist would gravitate towards partners who would collaborate and collude with him in generating a shared fantasy within which the asymmetry of effort, investment and commitment, these asymmetries are embedded and accepted as the ethos, the philosophy, the ideology of the shared fantasy.

The shared fantasy says, I'm superior to you, my dear intimate partner, my dear friend. I'm superior to you. I'm innately superior to you. I'm, I don't know, I'm a genius. I'm more handsome than you. I have the potential to be more accomplished than you, etc.

So you need to count how you need to succumb to me. You need to be submissive. You need to be obedient. You need to be adoring and fawning. It's built. It's a feature of the shared fantasy. It's built into the shared fantasy as a compensatory mechanism for misperceived problems with reward.

So there's a misperceived problem in the narcissist's mind between his efforts and his rewards. And you need to compensate for that by accepting this asymmetry.

Narcissist says in short, I'm here, I'm present in your life and that's an immeasurable gift. It's an endowment. I'm bestowing upon you myself.

You need to realize that this automatically creates an imbalance because my presence and existence are far more valuable than anything you could ever give me.

So if you want me to stay with you in whatever capacity, friend, intimate partner, father, you name it. If you want me to stay with you, you need to work hard. You need to work hard. You need to put in effort commensurate with the gift, which is me.

So you need to write the effort, reward, imbalance.

And so regardless of the narcissist's contribution to the relationship, you are expected to accept this asymmetrical or imbalance defining dimension of the shared fantasy.

And this is work done by Zegrist in 2017.

This leads, of course, to great tensions within the relationship, great stress. The partner inevitably develops resentment, this resentment and frustration at giving more than the partner receives.

There's always a give and take, but the partner gives and rarely takes. So this generates frustration.

And according to Donald in 1939, frustration leads to aggression.

But the aggression is either sublimated or converted into passive aggression. And I refer you to work by Hecainen in 2006, Unterbrink in 2007, Lehmann in 2009, Zurlow in 2010, Lehrbrox in 2014, Wang in 2015.

And of course, hints, which I mentioned in the previous video, 2016. These kind of relationships are by definition unstable, by definition, because in and out are not the same. They're not balanced.

And so the whole thing is shaking and in a tremor, in a constant state of tremor. This, of course, generates anxiety, both in the partner and in the narcissist.

And this anxiety within the shared fantasy kind of accumulates.

And then the whole shared fantasy becomes anxiogenic. In other words, the whole shared fantasy becomes an engine of anxiety, which leads, of course, to devaluation and persecretary ideation later on.


Studies by Yin and Li in 2012, Hansen in 2018, and so on and so forth, indicated that emotional communication, communication in general, and emotional communication, is a critical factor in somehow avoiding the perception of an effort, reward, imbalance.

Emotional communication also reduces stress, amiriorates and mitigates anxiety and allows the commonality of the bond, the couple or the dyad or whatever the relationship is, to somehow survive, extends the longevity of the interpersonal relationship.

This, of course, and I refer to studies by Schoich 2015, Hintz 2016 and so on. So this, of course, raises a problem.

The narcissist is incapable of emotional communication. Narcissists have no access to their positive emotions. Narcissists only have negative affectivity, anger, envy.

So when the partner attempts to communicate with the narcissist on an emotional level, the narcissist reacts to the emotional communication with the only emotions he has access to anger, rage, envy, hatred, rejection.

So any attempt to communicate with the narcissist via emotions triggers in the narcissist a cascade of emotions, all of which are negative.

And if the attempt to communicate with the narcissist emotionally persists, the narcissist devolves into borderline like emotional dysregulation.

You can push the narcissist to become a borderline by insisting to communicate with him regarding his and your emotions.

So it's not a good idea. Not a good idea.

There are also questions of boundaries.

The effort reward imbalance model is the outcome of no clear boundaries between work and life, no life or balance.

With a narcissist, there's no clear boundary between the narcissist and his shared fantasy.

This narcissist doesn't exist. It's nobody there. It's an emptiness, an empty schizoid core.

The shared fantasy, the workplace, so to speak, is the narcissist.

So there's no way for the narcissist to gain some balancing influences from his life.

For example, if you are discriminated at work, if you are passed over for promotion, if you are not rewarded and not recognized for your hard labor, you can still derive satisfaction and happiness and a modicum of balance from your girlfriend or boyfriend.

The narcissist can't do this. The narcissist doesn't have a life versus relationship thing.

The narcissist shared fantasy is the totality of the narcissist.

So if the narcissist perceives an effort reward imbalance in the shared fantasy because he's so great and he's so entitled and he's not getting his due, then this is total.

He cannot somehow ameliorate this or mitigate this by introducing inputs from other areas of his life because there are none.

And I refer you to studies by Yu and Yang 2017.


The narcissist pushes his intimate partner via the mechanism of projective identification.

He pushes his intimate partner, coerces her, in effect, to become gradually more and more narcissistic, more and more abusive and in extreme cases even psychopathic.

As the relationship devolves or deteriorates into a totally narcissistic space where the partner becomes narcissistic and the narcissist is narcissistic, so it's like two narcissists fighting it out.

The impacts in terms of stress and anxiety and mental health and physical health on the partner are enormous.

And I refer you to studies by Unterbrick, for example, in 2008.

So, social emotionally, the partner keeps deteriorating, keeps getting dilapidated, keeps withering and shrinking because the narcissist is invulnerable, is immune to this.

This is the narcissist. This conflict is the narcissist.

The narcissist lives for this conflict.

He needs to reenact the separation individuation cycle with his mother.

That's what the whole thing is about.

He's provoking the conflict on purpose. He's triangulating or is introducing betrayal. He's forcing the partner to be trained sexually. Otherwise, he is all into converting the shirt fantasy into a battle zone. Love is a battlefield to quote an eminent intellectual of the 20th century.

So in this battlefield, the partner is much less equipped than the narcissist.

You could think of the narcissist as an army while the partner is a small guerrilla unit, asymmetric warfare. The partner has no chance to survive this.

The more she's exposed, the more the outcomes would be horrendous for her in the long term.

And again, at the heart of all this, is the narcissist's misperception of his input and contribution versus the rewards that he's getting.

He's always under compensated. He's always giving more than he's taking. He's always entitled. He's always demanding. He's always criticizing. He's always berating and demeaning and chastising and attacking because he feels constantly under compensated, undervalued, underestimated on the wrong end of the stick.

And this, of course, offends against his grandiosity. He challenges the total structure of the narcissist's psyche.

This is not a minor issue. The narcissist always must have the upper hand. It's one upmanship.

The narcissist always must be the winner. The narcissist always must take more than he gives.

The narcissist must feel that he pulled the first one over people.

He's not always a con artist, but he has the mentality of a con artist.

So when in a relationship, for example, an intimate relationship or a friendship, there is expectation of very finely tuned and well-balanced reciprocity of which the narcissist is incapable, truly, because of his impaired reality testing. He doesn't gauge properly himself and others. He tends to overvalue, idealize himself, consider himself superior while undervaluing other people.

The overcommitment model is evolving.

Originally, there was no clear distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic efforts and so on and so forth. In 1996, when Ziggrist started all this.

But today we are much more evolved, shall we say, when we deal with issues of commitment and overcommitment.

You must understand the narcissist undercommits, but he perceives his undercommitment as overcommitment.

It's, as I said, a problem with reality testing, with an ego function. He misperceives, he misjudges reality, he misjudges his commitment because it is a part of reality. So it's all in his head, but he behaves as if it were true.

Ziggrist, in 1999, as early as 1999, when I published my book, he developed the extrinsic effort in the original model into effort and the intrinsic effort into overcommitment.

He said we should distinguish between real inputs, real work, real investment, real money, real factual material, tangible. We should distinguish this from intangibles such as commitment.

And he focused on overcommitment. He said effort, reward, imbalance is usually the outcome of overcommitment.

You don't calibrate your commitment according to what you're getting out of the situation, but you try to somehow compensate for the lack of reward by exaggerating your efforts. As if you believe that if you were to commit more, invest more, work harder, somehow the reward side will rectify itself, correct itself, and you will start to get the appropriate reward.

Overcommitment is a pressure response. It's kind of axiolytic. It regulates the relationship between the perception of balance or imbalance and stress responses.

So some studies found moderating effect overcommitment.

In other words, if you overcommit because of the anticipation of proper, appropriate reward in the future, this reduces your anger, your anxiety, your depression, and increases your job satisfaction.

I refer you to studies by Hogan and Dole, 2007, Kinman and Jones, 2008, Zollow, a aforementioned study in 2010.

But there were other studies, for example, by Preckl in 2007. They didn't find this effect.

It seems that according to Preckl, overcommitment does not reduce anxiety about future rewards.

Overcommitment is a kind of self-deception. It's like telling yourself the problem is me. It's an auto-plastic defense. I'm the problem. I'm not getting rewarded.

Not because the workplace is unjust. Not because the relationship is unbalanced. I'm not getting rewarded because I haven't committed enough. I haven't invested enough. I haven't worked hard enough.

So that's a lot of plastic defense and extremely unlikely with a narcissist.

That's why overcommitment in the effort-reward imbalance model is not a good explanation about the nature or the actual operation of the relationship with a narcissist.

But it's an excellent explanation of what's happening in the narcissist's head.

In the narcissist's mind, he is overcommitted, and the rewards never come.

So he gets angrier and more resentful by the minute.

You know, if you ask the narcissist, he says, "Oh, I'm investing in this relationship much more than she does, and I'm getting much less than I should."

Always, regardless of reality.

And by the way, studies clearly show, studies by Unterbrink, for example, clearly show that there are no gender differences here. So everything I'm saying has no age differences. Everything I'm saying applies to female narcissists as well as male narcissists, equally.

Hins in 2017, 16, I'm sorry, yeah, 16, Hins studied German teachers and oxymoron, I know. And he showed that female teachers felt a higher level of reward and a lower level of imbalance than male teachers.

But there was no significant difference in age.

This was one of a few studies that found gender differences, and I think Hins found gender differences because of the society he was studying, which is German society, essentially still a relatively traditional and conservative society.

In a way, in some ways, still patriarchal.

I think he would have obtained the same results in pseudo-patriarchal societies or quasi-patriarchal societies, such as Russia or even Israel.

Masculinity is closely associated with narcissism. Narcissism is competitive, narcissism is ambitious, same as masculinity. These are stereotypical traditional masculine values.

So I would try to fine tune to be more refined in what I'm about to say.

In traditional conservative patriarchal societies, we are likely to find a difference between male narcissist and female narcissist.

Male narcissist would have a much larger effort, reward, imbalance effect than female narcissist. Female narcissist would be under the influence of societal mores and cultural conventions. Their resentment and so on would be much more passive aggressive, less expressed and even less felt.

But in more advanced society, more progressive, not advanced, more progressive society, more liberal society, such as, for example, Scandinavia or parts of the United States or California, we are not likely to find a gender effect in my view and according to quite a few studies.


What else can I say about narcissists and effort, reward, imbalance?

While the vast majority of healthy people, normal people who experience a health reward, imbalance situation, the vast majority of such healthy normal people react with stress, with anxiety, with sadness, depression, dysphoria, and, you know, they internalize it. They internalize the situation. They take it badly.

The narcissist, because of the antisocial aspects of narcissism, the narcissist externalizes his reaction to the imbalance. He's likely to become angry, openly resentful, aggressive. He's likely to try to change the situation by, for example, devaluing his partner. Devaluing his partner would enhance his status, which is a form of reward. By devaluing his partner, he enhances his own omnipotence and that is very rewarding.

So the narcissist would try to change the environment to yield higher rewards, while most healthy and normal people would internalize the hurt and the pain, the resentment and the anger of not being seen, of being discriminated against, of not receiving rewards, commensurate with their work, and they would become sick, simply speaking.

The reciprocity of extrinsic and intrinsic rewards should be commensurate with extrinsic and intrinsic efforts. There's an effort-reward ratio and there's overcommitment, which is a reaction to perceived imbalance or a kind of prophylactic way to avoid such an imbalance, to fend it off, to prevent it.

According to Sigrist, an imbalance between effort and reward, in other words, a ratio that is higher than one, leads to a state of active distress by evoking strong negative emotions.

And the model also proposes that this process would be reinforced by overcommitment, so that overcommitted employees, remember that the narcissist in his mind is overcommitted, overcommitted employees respond with more strained reactions to an effort-reward imbalance compared to less committed employees.

And the narcissist, because he keeps feeling that he's overcommitted, wrongly, the narcissist would try to change the environment via aggression. It would become aggressive or passive-aggressive.

The ratio and overcommitment are significantly associated, statistically speaking, with adverse health outcomes.

We have studies from China, from Japan, from Gambia, I mean, you name it. This is well-established.

Your health as an intimate partner is going to suffer, because in your relationship with a narcissist, one of the conditions of the shared fantasy you have with a narcissist is effort-reward imbalance.

You invest effort and you're not getting any reward.

If the narcissist has a misperception of an effort-reward imbalance, he thinks he's giving you enough. He thinks he doesn't have to give you more. He thinks he's giving you too much.

So he never gives, and you always give. You always give and you never take.

So your health is likely to suffer. Again, this is a well-established fact in multiple studies.

These studies found that overcommitment predicted other negative outcomes, such as low satisfaction of life or job and low engagement gradually begin to detach. You give up on your partner, your narcissistic partner, and then you feel bad. You feel pangs of guilt and shame and with yourself. You're ashamed of yourself.

And there is a subjective feeling of illness. Ill it is discomfort. Your needs are not being met. You don't like the situation. You begin to dislike the situation. You begin to resent not only the narcissist, but you begin to resent the whole relationship.

And yet you feel trapped because there's an element of addiction and so on.

I mean, watch my videos in the shared fantasy playlist. And so it's a hopeless trap. You can't exit and you can't extricate yourself from it.

As your satisfaction decreases, your health problems increase.

Job satisfaction, for example, has significant negative correlations with headaches, gastrointestinal problems.

There's a study in Malaysia of working women. So we have studies from all over. In China, they studied nurses. And nurses who had a higher job satisfaction and no perception of effort-rewarding violence, these nurses were in much better health and had much fewer incidents or episodes of anxiety.

There's a mediating effect of job satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, with self-rated health. Not only does your objective health deteriorate, your subjective perception of your own health deteriorates. You begin to misperceive your own mental health and physical health.

In short, you become hypochondriac.

There's a study by Shimizu, and he identified job stress among Japanese full-time occupational physicians. And job stress contributed negatively to self-rated health through job dissatisfaction.

In your relationship, you need to be engaged. You need to feel positive. The relationship needs to fulfill you.

So it's a state of mind. You need to feel vigorous, dedicated, and absorbed in your dis-undertaking of a relationship with another person. Another person is another universe. It's a miracle.

Yet the narcissist doesn't provide you, doesn't give you access to himself, because there's nobody there.

So you're working full gas in neutral. You're not going anywhere. Just making noise.

Work engagement, for example, has been found to be negatively associated with health problems.

There are studies by Hekainen in 2012, Shoo in 2018, 19 also, I think.

So work engagement had a negative effect on depressive symptoms. The more you are into your job, the more you like it, the more you love it, the more you're committed to it, the more you look forward to getting up in the morning and going to your workplace, the less depressed you are.

Shoo's study found that the relationship between job stress and depressive symptoms is mediated by work engagement.

And everything I say about work applies, of course, to relationships with narcissists, because that's a full-time job.

Work engagement impacts personnel outcomes, such as job satisfaction, which then impacts depression, mental health, physical health, anxiety, you name it.

So the study of nurses in Bedouin hospitals, they had high levels of work engagement and high levels of job satisfaction, and they were very healthy.

Employees of petrochemical enterprises in China, same, interventions for improving job satisfaction, improved job engagement, and there was a massive decrease in complaints about mental health and physical health.

When you are with the narcissist, you're never rewarded, definitely not rewarded in accordance with or reciprocally to your investment.

Your effort goes unnoticed. You're never praised. You're never thanked. You never, there's no credit.

Like the narcissist, dissociative as a narcissist is your work, you don't accumulate any credit with the narcissist. Every day is from zero.

So there's no social reciprocity. There's no interpersonal behavior. It used to be called the grammar of social exchange. There's no social exchange. There's no mutual cooperative investment. There's no loan in the shared fantasy of return expectancy, where efforts are equalized by respective rewards. There's no regulating mechanism of reward, of rewards. The reward is so rare that you continue to invest and you continue to work hard in vacuum, in a black hole.

And so there's no feedback, regulatory mechanism or process, and you're lost. You feel disoriented. You feel dislocated.

The failed reciprocity, which results from the violation of this norm, norm of return expectancy. I invest. I expect return.

So the failed reciprocity elicits strong negative emotions and sustained stress responses because it threatens this very fundamental principle.

I give you, you give me. Give and take reciprocity.

Hey, the basis of all human relations. The model of effort, rewarding balance claims that failed reciprocity in terms of high effort spend and low rewards received in turn is likely to elicit recurrent negative emotions and sustained stress responses.

So positive emotions evoked by appropriate social rewards promote well-being, health, even survival.

And it's a kind of implicit contract. It's like the narcissist keeps violating the contract you have with him, keeps breaching the agreement. It's like he never cares to fulfill his side of the bargain.

And so we need to exit industrial and organizational psychology and realize that effort, reward, and balance model can be easily applied to social roles in adult life period, including intimate relationships.

Effort spent is a part of a social contract. Reciprocity is embedded in this social contract and should guarantee adequate reward. And rewards are distributed via free transmission mechanisms.

In work, it's money. In other relationships, it's recognition or esteem or compassion or love. And career opportunities and/or mobility within the relationship, some kind of progress or horizon.

Each of these components is critical to your mental and physical health.

So when the contract is poorly defined, when it is violated or breached, and when you don't have an alternative because you're somehow trapped, there's a lack of mobility, extrinsic mobility, mobility outside, extra-diadic mobility.

This is a horrible feeling. It's like prison. That's why many, many partners, intimate partners of narcissists end up betraying the narcissist and cheating on the narcissist.

You may accept this imbalance for strategic reasons. I don't know because you believe in the future or because you have no other option, as I said, or because of anticipatory investments or whatever.

You say, "Okay, I'm investing now. One day it will pay off. Somehow. I'm going to have children with this man. I don't know what.

This is strategic thinking.

But in the case of a narcissist, it's counterfactual. It's self-deception. It's part of the fantasy. This is exactly the shared fantasy. The shared fantasy induces you to lie to yourself about reality, to impair your own reality testing, to self-gaslight.

The experience of high-cost, low-gain is especially prevalent in specific cognitive types, specific motivational types. People who react to such imbalances with doubling their efforts, doubling down, over-committing. People who blame themselves clinically, what used to be called neurotics, the autoplastic defenses.

And of course, narcissists home into and onto people with weak or poor boundaries or non-existent boundaries, with a tendency to blame themselves. People pleasers. People who attempt to kind of gratify and satisfy the other party. People who are terrified, anxious about future aggression, and try to forestall it by acting submissive and obedient, and so on and so forth.

It's important to understand about yourself. Over-committed people suffer from inappropriate perceptions of demands and of their own coping resources.

You are the one undervaluing yourself. You're the one devaluing yourself. If you remain in a relationship with a narcissist where you only give and never take, you're your worst enemy. You are abusing yourself because you hold yourself in low self-esteem.

Your sense of self-worth is short. You can't regulate it properly.

And so you need to snap out of it. This is a perceptual distortion. You don't appraise. You don't evaluate accurately. You don't assess accurately.

Cost-gain relations. And you need to do so. You need to do so because there's an imbalance between high effort and low reward. There is non-reciprocity in the relationship with a narcissist.

And this increases the risks for you as far as your health, mental health, physical health. And these are long-term effects.

And you tend to react by over-committing. And this makes the situation, your health situation, even worse.

And you need to snap out of it to awaken somehow. Don't ever tell yourself that there are no alternatives or choices available.

There are always alternatives or choices available. For example, walking away, breaking up. That's a choice. That's an alternative.

Do not develop a strategy of anticipated outcomes. There are no outcomes. The narcissist doesn't have a future because he doesn't have a present.

You're not dealing with anyone. You're talking to yourself. This is not a dialogue. It's a monologue.

Your motivational pattern, over-commitment is deceiving you and misleading you, pushing you to an early grave.

That's not the way to cope with a relationship with a narcissist. It's not the way.

You need to understand that whatever you do, never mind how committed you are. Self-sacrificial, even. The narcissist would never appreciate because he's always giving more because he's much more valuable than you are. He's much more superior to you. And you should cater to his needs and you should service him.

Because of your innate inferiority, you are his servant for life without any remuneration or compensation except his divine, shining, benevolent presence in your life for which you should be eternally grateful up to and down into your grave.

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