Thank you for accepting this interview call as well. I know you're a very busy person, so I will not dig up too much of your time.
First of all, I'd like to thank you again for agreeing to this interview, and once the article is being published, I will include your social media links, and I will send you the article.
I'm just going to ask you a few questions, and then I'm recording now, so I'm just going to ask you a few questions and have you answer.
First of all, could you explain why I read that it's not possible that people with narcissistic personality disorder, they cannot change, and they do not respond well to psychotherapy, and they make very little progress because they always blame other people except themselves.
It's very difficult to diagnose as well, is that true?
Yes, change, and even if they agree to go to therapy, they don't get much progress, is that true?
Narcissists have alloplastic defenses. In other words, they tend to blame other people for any mishaps, defeats, failures, things that go wrong, etc., etc. They tend to blame other people exclusively. They consider themselves to be, by definition, perfect and infallible, like the Pope, and so they're not likely to find blame or fault with themselves.
However, they are capable of a modicum of introspection when nothing works, when they hit rock bottom, when there is a systemic failure, and they're unable to supply narcissistic supply from anyone in any situation. When this happens and when the failure is overwhelming, therefore not allowing them to filter information, countervailing information, reactivity intrudes, they go through a process called mortification, narcissistic mortification.
At that point, all their defenses are disabled, including the false self, and so they come face to face with reality, unfiltered, unmitigated, unamirrorated, and unable anymore to lie to themselves in a process known as confirmation bias, unable to lie to oneself, they disintegrate. They go through a process called decompensation, and then they literally fall apart, and they need to be reassembled.
At that stage, they would generally resort to therapy, they would come to a therapist, but they would resort to therapy in order to recreate the days of glory, to reinstitute themselves as the way they used to be.
They don't come to the therapist because they say, well, the road I traveled either to had been counterproductive and led me astray, I want to travel another road.
What they do expect from the therapist is to put them back on the old road, so that they can be as centrifugation as before. They want the therapist, in other words, to fix them, so that they can become their old selves again.
But generally speaking, everything you said is true.
Okay, that's a little bit sad, but it's better to know the truth for people to know the truth.
So what's the best thing that a person can do if their feelings and their boundaries are not being respected or acknowledged by someone that they love or care about and cannot walk away from, for example, if they're already married with kids or this unable to leave the person.
The best thing is of course to leave a narcissist, but if you cannot, and then obviously your boundaries always enroach and disrespected, what can they do?
First of all, it's important to tie this question to the previous question.
Narcissists have an external locus of control. In other words, narcissists regard everything as happening to them. Ironically, narcissists are very passive in the way they perceive the world.
So if something bad happens, it's someone else's fault, or if they are not promoted at work, it's the boss who is envious of them. It's always out there, and we call it an external locus of control.
Now this extends to the intimate partner as well. The narcissist regards the intimate partner as an extension of himself on the one hand, as an internal object to be manipulated and interacted with, and on the other hand, as a persecretary object.
It's a process actually.
Initially, the narcissist regards the intimate partner as an internal object. Something that can reside in his mind is safe because it's in his mind. He can never be abandoned, and because it's in his mind is infinitely manipulable and can be manipulated to infinity.
That's the initial phase, and the second phase is when the partner begins to deviate and diverge from this internal object, inevitably, the narcissist begins to regard the intimate partner as an enemy of the persecretary object and begins to devalue the intimate partner and ultimately discard her.
So there is nothing the intimate partner can do about this process because this process is motivated by a need to resolve early childhood conflicts.
The narcissist goes through a simulation of his relationship with his mother, a simulation which involves separation, individuation, or an attempt to separate from the mother and become an individual, an attempt that keeps failing.
So it's important for the intimate partner to realize that she stands in for the narcissist's mother and therefore can never win. There's no winning strategy.
The only thing that can be done, only things that can be done, are to somehow modify the narcissist's behaviors by providing sticks and carrots.
Clinically, it's called reinforcements.
Somehow, avoid, not provide the narcissist with narcissistic supply so that he loses interest in the intimate partner. That's called gray rock. Service background noise. In other words, never to antagonize the narcissist by displaying any autonomy or agency or independence or centrifugacy or sufficiency. Never challenging the narcissist, never challenging him, never criticizing him, never disagree with him, never be. Suspended animation. Service of background noise. Respond when asked, limit yourself to the content of the question, never initiate, never offer help or advice. These are perceived as challenges to grandiosity, as narcissistic injuries.
And so it's a very constricted life, a very restricted spectrum of possibilities.
And if you're willing to deny yourself to that extent, and you convince yourself that you're doing this for the kids, or because there's no other option, because I beg to differ, there's always another option. No contact is always an option. End of story. I don't buy any of the sob stories that I read online for 26 years. They're all utter nonsense.
If you want to go no contact, you can go no contact with your mother, with your father, with your brother, and definitely with your husband or wife. That you refuse to do so teaches us a lot about your state of mind, and perhaps your pathologies.
Because there is no such thing as I cannot go no contact, unless of course, you're in a Nazi extermination camp. That would make it a bit difficult. And even there, people escape. That's a very good answer, Professor.
So do you think that narcissists are cognizant and aware that their behaviors and the toxicity of the, or do they lie to themselves about that as well?
First of all, narcissists regard themselves as a next stage in evolution.
They are proud of their disorder. They don't regard it as a disorder. They regard it as a set of adaptive advantage, adaptive advantage, positive adaptations.
So if they have a lot of rage and anger, they would say that it promotes their goals. If they are unpleasant and unkind, they say that fear is the best motivator. They would always reframe in a positive way their behavior.
Narcissists don't have to be negative. They can be too positive. For example, communal narcissists and communal narcissists and pro-social narcissists, they are too moralistic. They're moralizing. They're dogmatic. Or they are charitable coercively. They force you to accept charity, or they use charity as a leverage to manipulate people.
So narcissists could be positive, so-called positive, socially acceptable people, but still the narcissist would manifest.
And so it's very unlikely that the narcissist will transform himself because he perceives his condition as an advantage, a competitive edge. That's one thing.
And the second thing is the narcissist considers it a privilege for you to be in his life. He allows you to be in his life. He lets you in. It's a privilege. You should be grateful.
His presence in itself is an immeasurable gift. He feels entitled to special treatment, including by you, by his mere existence. He doesn't feel the need to invest effort, to commit, to work hard, to study. So he expects outcomes which are incommensurate with efforts invested. He expects, in other words, magic. He has a magic. He has magical thinking. He believes surreptitiously that his mind is the world, is the universe, that whatever happens in his mind must somehow manifest in the outside.
And his intimate partner is not exempt from this magical thinking. She is a figment of his imagination. She is an internal object. And she will be eternally grateful that he had allowed her into the inner shrine and abode of his existence because it is somehow divine. He is a divinity. The false self is a deity. It's omniscient. It's omnipotent. It's perfect. It's infallible. It resembles God very much.
And so why would you not be grateful for being allowed to share your life with a God? And of course, being a God, he is exempt from mundane pedestrian day-to-day activities and chores and responsibilities. They are yours exclusively.
Oh, wow. You know, I think, you know, what you just described, you know, narcissists are often very charming and they are, you know, very attractive and they portray a very shiny, perfect exterior to the outside world. But then, you know, they can completely flip and drop their mask and they're downright mean and nasty to those who are closest to them and who love them.
And this is not a sight that, you know, unless you're close to them, that you see, but to other people, the outside world, they are perfect.
So people often question the victims and they don't believe the victims and they say, oh, you must be lying because, you know, to us, he's like, you know, so nice and so loving. So the victims become more isolated.
Yes, but narcissists don't lie or this psychopaths do this. Unfortunately, online there's a lot of nonsensical misinformation about narcissism. Narcissists don't lie. They really believe everything they say. And it's not that they have a mask and the mask slips. It's that in the initial stage, the love bombing, bombing stages and so on, they really consider you as an idealized intimate partner. They really idealize you. They idealize you because if you are ideal, they are ideal. So they call idealize you.
And then as you deviate, as you diverge, as you disagree with them, criticize, go your own way, have your own friends, travel alone, as you diverge from the idealized image, you become an enemy. You threaten the narcissist's piece of mind, inner equilibrium.
So it's not that the narcissist is acting or pretending or he really believes that you are the ideal partner. And then he gets disappointed because he discovers that you are not. And then you become the enemy. And then of course he treats you as an enemy. He abuses you.
So it's not a mask. The psychopath has a mask. The psychopath intentionally is goal oriented. Intentionally grooms you because you want something from him, saves money, whatever it is.
So there must be a clear distinction between narcissistic confabulation and psychopathic lying and gaslighting. Unfortunately online, these are very often confounded and conflated and confused to the great detriment of victims.
So the victim needs to know.
So are you saying that there's only psychopaths that gaslight and not necessities to that gaslight?
You can't gaslight if you have no intention to gaslight. Gaslight is a strategy which involves power asymmetry leveraged deliberately and intentionally to cause you to doubt your reality testing, your perception of reality. It is a deliberate strategy. Narcissists don't lie ever. They don't gaslight ever because they truly believe 100% what they're saying. They inhabit a shared fantasy that was first described by a scholar named Sander in 1989.
A fantasy, when you are inside a fantasy, you don't know that it's a fantasy. That's why it's a fantasy.
So the narcissist believes when he tells you, for example, you're amazing, you're perfect, you're super intelligent, you're the love of my life. I've never come across anyone like you. He really believes it 100%.
When he tells you, I never said that, you're wrong. He's not trying to gaslight you. He really believes that he hadn't said it.
The narcissist fully believes every single word he says, even if he contradicts himself three times within two hours.
Yeah, but how can he flip so drastically from one extreme to the other and so quickly as well?
First of all, it's not always so quickly. And I think I've explained it already twice if my memory doesn't fit. I explained to you that at the beginning, the narcissist idealizes the partner.
And then when the partner deviates from the idealized image, the narcissist is angry, frustrated and aggressive because the divergence between the partner in reality and the image of the partner, the internal object threatens the inner balance and equilibrium of the narcissist.
So it's an enemy. What was it?
The partner that didn't do anything or didn't say anything, but yet you don't have to do anything.
You go to lunch with a friend. That's a sign of independence and autonomy. Your internal object is an extension of the narcissist. It is 100% under the control of the narcissist. The internal object cannot abandon the narcissist. So there's no abandonment anxiety. The narcissist needs you to die. That's, that's why I coined the phrase narcissistic abuse in 1995, because it's not like any other type of abuse. Any other type of abuse is targeted at the dimension of you. Something your sexuality, your money, something narcissistic abuse is intended to deactivate you, to mummify you, to convert you into an Egyptian mummy, to render you lifeless, inert, immobile. Any sign of independence, any sign of autonomy, decision making, self sufficiency. You have your own friends. That's a threat. You have a supportive family. That's a threat. You make your own money. That's a threat. You go to work. It's ominous.
You disagree with the narcissist or criticizing your dead. Any deviation, any divergence from the idealized image within the narcissist's mind, something called introject in clinical terms, any deviation from the introject threatens the narcissist.
And if you threaten the narcissist, you're his enemy, aren't you? So he will treat you as an enemy.
Okay. Last question, professor. Can you comment on how loved ones and family members can support victims of this kind of mental and emotional toxic abuse, but without themself, result?
Because sometimes they don't understand, because it feels like a movie, like it's so drama and like some people don't believe that this is happening. It's just so out of the world and it's not easily understood.
So, and then they'll try to say, oh, you know, they want the loved ones to get over it quickly.
But yet the victim is still grieving, is still like, you know, processing. What can, how can loved ones help?
First of all, it is very unfortunate that external people, people from the outside make judgments, that they appoint themselves as the arbiters of what is reality and what is not. It doesn't really matter what had really happened. This is not journalism. What matters is that the victim has a subjective experience of having been abused, that she is distressed, that she's traumatized, which is in pain or hurting.
It's not the family's role to determine who said what to whom exactly at what hour. It's not a courtroom.
If you love someone, you validate them and you validate their experiences and you definitely validate their emotions. So if you, if I love someone and she comes to me and says, you know, I've had a horrible relationship with someone, I think he's a narcissist, I think he had abused me narcissistically. I feel, I wouldn't tell her, listen, let's examine the evidence. Who cares about the evidence? It's my role as a friend or a family member to offer validation and support and support, not to establish, it's not an investigative committee.
So that's the first point.
The second point is if you're in doubt between you and yourself, because outwardly you should provide unmitigated, unconditional support. You should not question, you should not doubt, you should not undermine, you should not invalidate, you should just provide support, end of story. Internally between you and yourself, you may have your doubts.
So go and educate yourself, educate yourself about narcissistic abuse and then compare it to what you happen to know about the relationship and reach your own conclusions. Even if you reach the conclusion that it had not been narcissistic abuse or that the victim is not entirely right about her perception of reality and what had happened and so on, it doesn't matter because victimhood is a subjective, it's not an objective, it's not a scientific factor. It's a reactive pattern. It's a subjective perception of the world and how it operates.
You need to validate.
On the other hand, what you should refrain from doing is you should not perpetuate the victimhood stance. You should not encourage the victim to be a permanent and perpetual victim. You should not rend the victimhood, the victim's identity. You should make clear that your loved one had been victimized, but she is not a victim. A victim is an identity. Having been victimized, it's an event. So just be there, listen, offer your love and support unconditionally. Do not appoint yourself as a magistrate or a judge and make clear to the victimized loved one that she's feeling victimized right now, but it's never a permanent state. There is hope, assured hope of resurrection and reemergence. You do this and you are fulfilling your role.
You begin to doubt her, to invalidate her, to offer her fake hope, false promises, crazy timetables of recovery, and you're doing a disservice. You're pushing her deeper into the trauma.
Well, professor, I'm showing all of your answers still, you know, they're so in-depth. They really review your years of research and commitment and dedication to this subject and I really thank you for your service to humanity. And you know, all this is, I think especially with what's going on in the world right now, people need to hear this, you know, like, for example, with the crazy drama with Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, you know, their court case, things like that. And, you know, I think it's reflective of many people suffering through this kind of abuse from their loved ones and family members.
Before I let you go, professor, is there anything that you would like to add to what you've already said on this topic?
That I would like to add to, I'm sorry, you were cut off.
Is there anything else you'd like to add on this topic that you have not mentioned?
I would be very, very careful with online information. There are reliable sources, not all of them scholarly, some of them popular, mostly in print, unfortunately, but also also online. There are reliable scholars of narcissism online.
Kiss Campbell, Jomanns, Kranberg himself, you know, I would be if the aim is to educate myself, to understand what had happened to me, to refrain the past, somehow to recover from the event of having been victimized and not to wallow in eternal victimization. If that's the aim, they are very good academic sources about narcissism online.
If the aim is to remain an eternal victim, a morality play, where you are the angel and you have fallen prey to a demon, and now this defines the rest of your life.
Well then, YouTube content is just for you. You must make this choice early on. Do you want to recover really? Or do you find new passion in being an eternal victim?
Because it's very gratifying to be the eternal victim. You get a lot of attention, a lot of sympathy. Be careful.
Being a victim can become addictive. And if you make yourself a victim, rest assured, abuses will fight.
Wow, I'm just blown away from everything you just said. For me, I have to like really exorbit deeper. You know, wow, Professor, thank you so much for your time.
Thank you. Thank you for calling. Yes, I would condense everything you said, and once it's published, I'll email it to you.
You're very kind. And if you want to post this conversation that we have just had on my YouTube channel, I will be happy. It's up to you.
Okay, okay, okay.
After you publish the article, of course, there's embargo. So first you've got to publish the article, and then if you wish, we can post the role material in this conversation. We can post it online.
Sure, but is this going to be audio without any?
Yeah, no, I'm going to have it animated with video.
It will be images, all kinds of still images, but yes, hundreds of still images with our conversation.
So when you, of course, only after you publish.
Okay, so to do that, should I send you the audio clip that I'm recording?
Yes, you send the audio file. I will do that. You send me the audio file. I wait until you publish the article. Okay. Then I animate the whole thing with appropriate images, of course.
Okay, I'll do that. I'll send you the audio clip now, and then it's for you to do your editing.
Yeah, but I'll wait until you publish the article.
Okay, thank you, professor.
You can send me the audio file through WeTransfer or something.
Well, I'll see if WhatsApp can, I can send it. If not, I'll do a WeTransfer.