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Narcissistic, Psychopathic, Or Borderline Abuse

Uploaded 7/6/2023, approx. 18 minute read

Okay, precious and precious. My name is Sanvaknin and I am the author of Malignan Sefla, Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and an actual professor in CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced and Professional Studies, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Toronto, Canada with an outreach program in the thriving Lagos, Nigeria.

How can you tell if the abuse you are suffering is narcissistic, psychopathic or borderline?

In the absence of an official diagnosis of your partner, your partner refuses to attend therapy, refuses to be diagnosed, refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem whatsoever. How can you tell what it is that you are going through? What are the differences between these three types of abuse with hints as to how to recover from them?

This is the topic of today's video.

Stay with me if you are masochistic enough.

But before you do, I suggest that you watch yesterday's video.

Yesterday was 4th of July and many people were offline, good for them, traveling, meeting family, not good for them, and so on and so forth.

So the attention span, limited as it is, didn't extend to YouTube. I uploaded yesterday a video titled Narcissistic Abuse, 21 Signs that you have recovered, truly healed and moved on. I recommend that you watch it. It's the second in a series.


I want to start by quoting John Donne. John Donne was a metaphysical poet in England in the 16th century, an amazing mind with great psychological insights. He wrote many immortal lines among them. Nothing but men of all and venom things doth work upon itself with inborn sting.

It's a great description of self destructiveness.

But oh, self traitor, I do bring the spider love which transubstantiates all and can convert manna to gold. Be thy own palace or the world's thy jail. Magnificent, absolutely magnificent, encapsulates most of clinical psychology in fewer than four lines.

Back to history, ancient history.

In 1995, I coined the phrase narcissistic abuse to describe a subtype of abusive behavior that was all pervasive across multiple areas of life and involved a plethora of behaviors and manipulative or coercive techniques.

Narcissistic abuse differed from all other types of abuse in its range, sophistication, duration, versatility and express and premeditated intention to negate and vitiate the victim's personal autonomy, agency, self efficacy and well-being.

Now, before I proceed and distinguish narcissistic abuse from psychopathic abuse and these two from borderline abuse, let me just say that in all these forms of abuse, there is a marginal group, there's a small percentage of sadistic abuse.

Some narcissists are sadists, some psychopaths are sadists, some borderline sadists. In these cases, the original template underlying type of abuse is overlaid with sadistic abuse.

Sadistic abuse is the pleasure of inflicting pain and discomfort and humiliation and shame, public shame, upon another person.

So, some narcissists derive both narcissistic supply and sadistic supply. The same applies to psychopaths and boardlies.

Today, I'm not going to discuss sadistic abuse, although scholars are now proposing the construct of dark tetrad. Dark tetrad includes sadism as well as subclinical narcissism, subclinical psychopathy and Machiavellianism, manipulativeness.

So, and I have the videos dedicated of course to the dark tetrad and to my proposal of a dark pentagram.

So, I will not dwell upon these today.

Today, I will teach you the differences between three types of abuse and how the recovery and the healing from these, from each of these types of abuse is different.

So, each type of abuse requires a different way to heal and to recover.


Let's start with narcissistic.

Narcissistic abuse is all pervasive. In other words, it affects, infects, afflicts every single domain and area of life. It is not limited to any specific aspect or angle or dimension of existence. It is all consuming. It permeates everything. It informs and it imbues absolutely every circumstance, every decision, every choice, every happenstance. So, it's all pervasive, ubiquitous.

Point number two, narcissistic abuse is driven by the various phases of the narcissist shared fantasy.

Now, here I'll make a stop and I recommend that you watch my videos on the shared fantasy. There's quite a few of them, but the summary is titled "Seven phases of shared fantasy".

When you learn about the shared fantasy, you will find that narcissistic abuse comes in two flavors, two varieties, each one of which is attached to a specific phase, specific stage in the shared fantasy, each one of which fulfills highly specific functions, psychodynamic functions, behavioral functions, manipulative functions, and so on and so forth.

But the narcissist believes his own fantasy. He is immersed in it. He is identified with it.

That's why narcissists do not gaslight. Narcissists do not future fake.

Psychopaths do. Psychopaths gaslight. Psychopaths future fake.

And of course, psychopathic narcissists. Pure narcissists don't do this because as far as they're concerned, the shared fantasy with the intimate partner is reality.

The narcissist doesn't feel that he's lying or gaslighting or future faking. He would stake his life on the veracity of the shared fantasy and on its ultimate fulfillment and manifestation. He is the shared fantasy. He is co-extant with it.

They are one, the narcissist and his shared fantasy are one and the same. Take away the shared fantasy, the narcissist falls apart.

Narcissism is fantasy defense, gone awry. Fantasy defense extrapolated and interpolated to the point of consuming the totality of what used to be the narcissist's true self and personality.

Narcissism is nothing but fantasy. The narcissist is a creature of dreams.

Unfortunately, thwarted, sick dreams, but still is made 100% of dreams, aspirations, wishes, fantasies.

So the second point in narcissistic abuse, it is functional, instrumental, weaponized and an integral part of the shared fantasy. It is triggered actually by the transitions from in between phases of the shared fantasy.

Point number three, narcissistic abuse aims to negate the victim, to convert her into the idealized internal object that represents her in the narcissist's mind.

So it is a form of coercive snapshotting. Narcissistic abuse tests, is a form of testing whether the intimate partner could fulfill her maternal role and love the narcissist unconditionally, for example.

So narcissistic abuse is about making the victim disappear, vanish, annihilating the victim so that she can resurrect and re-emerge within the shared fantasy and in the form and shape of the idealized image of her carried inside the narcissist's mind.

The internal object that stands in for her.

Point number four has to do with recovery. The only way to recover effectively from narcissistic abuse, as I've been saying for many years, the only way is to separate, individuate.

What the narcissist does to his victims, he regresses them.

And by the way, when I say he, it could be a she, when I say she, it could be a he.


Okay, don't start the world with gender pronouns. I'm using the literary forms and the literary form is to use he.

Okay, so the only way to recover is to separate individually.

The narcissist pushes you back to childhood. The narcissist infantilizes his targets, his prey, his victims, and then plays or acts a maternal role.

This is part of the dual mothership concept.

So you have been infantilized, you have been regressed, you have been placed inside a time machine and then teleported back to your early childhood.

You need to start from scratch. You need to separate from the narcissist as your newfound mother.

And then you need to become a person. You need to acquire personhood by redeveloping a constellated self, resuscitating your ego and ego functions, which you have relegated to the narcissist during the shared fantasy.

And thus becoming an individual with autonomy, with agency, and with self-efficacy.

How to do this exactly? I have a playlist on my YouTube channel titled "Healing and Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse". There are quite a few videos there which describe the minutiae and details of how to accomplish this separation individuation. That's the only way to recover from narcissistic abuse.


Okay, this is narcissistic abuse.

What about psychopathic abuse?

You remember that narcissistic abuse is ubiquitous, is all pervasive.

Psychopathic abuse is exactly the opposite. It is domain specific.

So psychopathic abuse would have to do with your money, or with sex, or with contacts, or with access, or with a luxurious lifestyle.

In short, it will be domain specific.

Psychopathic abuse manifests and is expressed only in that domain, not in other domains, which makes it very difficult to convince other people that the psychopath is a psychopath, and that the psychopath is an abuser.

Because other people never witness the abusive aspect or abusive facet of the psychopath. He is goal oriented and domain driven and criminalized.

One major difference between narcissists and psychopaths, narcissists are pro-social. Narcissists depend on other people for narcissistic supply. They need to collaborate and collude with other people in order to extract supply from the environment.

Very often you find narcissists in teams, leading teams. So chief executive officers, presidents of countries, politicians, actors, directors, policemen, judges, the preponderance of narcissistic personality disorder among medical doctors, and so on and so forth, is much higher than the general population.

Yet all these people are essentially communal, pro-social, collaborative, and team workers, not so the psychopath. The psychopath is a loner, lone wolf, solitary, and the psychopath is very criminalized.

Whereas narcissists actually are not as criminal as self-styled experts would have you believe.

Psychopaths are highly criminalized. Actually most of the studies we have about psychopathy, starting with Cleckley and ending with Robert Hare, Babiak and others, most of these studies were conducted in jailhouses and prisons.

So point number one, psychopathic abuse is domain specific. The psychopath wants something from you and will abuse you in that direction and it is criminal.

Number two, psychopathic abuse is driven by power. It's a power play. It's about control.

The psychopath's aim is to control you. The narcissist's aim is to convert you. The psychopath's aim is to own you, to possess you, to control you, and then to leverage you as an asset on his march towards attaining and obtaining his goal.

Number three, the psychopath is goal oriented and psychopathic abuse is goal oriented. The psychopath will trample on people, crush them, kill them if necessary without a blink of an eye and then would have great dinner with fava beans and chianti. All this to accomplish an agenda, to realize a goal, to actualize an ideology.

So the psychopath is goal oriented. The narcissist's only goal is narcissistic supply.

And usually the narcissist uses a shared fantasy or imposes a shared fantasy and coerces people around him to participate in the shared fantasy. It's a cult like setting.

Psychopaths rarely lead cults. It's another stupid ill-informed myth.

Psychopaths are loners. Narcissists are cult leaders and gurus.

So the psychopath simply wants to steal your money and vanish, wants to have sex with you and never be seen again, wants you to introduce him to powerful and important people, wants you to open up markets for him, wants you to afford or finance his luxurious lifestyle, wants something from you.

The narcissist doesn't want anything from you. The narcissist wants you, narcissist wants you to become one with him, not by way of codependent merger fusion, but by way of rendering yourself an abstract internal object.

The psychopath wants to control you, wants to have power over you, but not because of you, because of what you can provide him with, because of any goods and services you can bring to the table.

So while the narcissist assimilates the supplier, the psychopath monopolizes the supplier, the codependent merges with the supplier.

These are three separate different coping strategies.

Recovery in the case of the psychopath revolves around restoring justice. Now restoring justice is a highly idiosyncratic individual thing. Some people restore justice by or via retribution, retributive justice, and they seek to punish the psychopath by other legal system, directly by naming and shaming the psychopath, exposing him in a variety of ways. This is retributive justice.

Others simply cut off the psychopath, denying him the potential in the future to benefit from their goods and services and help. That's a punishment in itself, and it is a restoration of justice.

And so each victim of psychopathic abuse must choose a way to somehow restore a sense of justice, order, structure, because what the psychopath does, he destroys the belief in a just, ordered and structured universe. And so the restoration of this belief is crucial and essential to the victim's well-being.

However, there's no single way about it, and we should not criticize victims for choosing this path or that path. Some victims are much better off by ignoring the psychopath, removing the psychopath from their lives and denying the psychopath future opportunities which might have been his. That's again one hell of a punishment.

Others don't feel comfortable until they've exacted retribution in public or via the legal system or in a variety of other ways among the peers of the psychopath or by isolating and denying the psychopath, access by disrupting the psychopath's activities and so on and so forth. There are as many ways to restore and obtain justice as there are people on earth, so we should allow each victim to choose his or her way of doing this.

Psychopathic abuse is usually time limited and it is goal oriented and domain specific. It is much easier to cope with than narcissistic abuse, actually, on a psychological level. It's a tit for tat. It's transactional. It's very clear.

Whereas narcissistic abuse is all pervasive, all consuming and subsumes the victim and somehow transforms, digests the victim. Borderline abuse, as we shall see, also is much more pernicious and problematic than psychopathic abuse.

So the proportion of the justice meted out to the psychopath is again a totally individual thing.

So I always advocate a limited victimhood period with very clear restorative justice goals.

Define to yourself, ask yourself, what would restore my belief in justice, order and structure? What would make me feel that I have received redress and recompense? What would restore in me inner peace and quietude of mind and then pursue these goals and only these goals?

And when you have attained and obtained them, step back, forget your victimhood and move on.

If you don't or if you can't, you may need help to do so because victimhood can and very frequently does become an obsession. And that applies to all forms of abuse, narcissistic, psychopathic, sadistic borderline.

But as I said, ironically, it is strongest with psychopathic abuse because of the implied narcissistic injury.

So while in narcissistic abuse, the aim is to silence the narcissist's voice in your mind and to undo the damage by separating from the narcissist and becoming an individual which has nothing to do with the internal object in the narcissist's mind.

So the way to recovery from narcissistic abuse is separation, individuation. The way to recovery from psychopathic abuse is simply to punish the psychopath.

What about borderline?

Borderline abuse and borderlines are very abusive. Most of the time actually borderlines are abusive, not because they are evil people. They're not, but because they're dysregulated and they're labile and they are half baked and they have severe problems like identity disturbance and they lose control very frequently. They're a bit impulsive, they decompensate, the defenses break down, then they act out, they transition towards a state, etc.

So borderlines abuse habitually, almost like a second nature.

And the characteristics of borderline abuse are again different to narcissistic abuse and to psychopathic abuse.

The borderline wants to coerce you into providing external regulation. The narcissist wants to assimilate you by converting you into an internal object.

The psychopath wants to control you, to have power over you in order to attain some goal.

The borderline wants to coerce you into providing the function of external regulation, stabilizing her moods, shoring up her emotions, providing her with a safe haven, taking over many ego functions like reality testing.

So the borderline needs her partner, intimate or otherwise, borderline needs her partner to actually provide external input that would substitute for internal psychodynamic processes. So she outsources her mind to someone, she outsources her emotions, she exports her moods, she offshores her cognitions.

And so then the other person becomes the repository of the borderlines, soul and psyche. And no wonder the borderline is terrified of abandonment, because when abandoned, the other person absconds with her interiority, with her internal landscape.

So she coerces, I'm saying she, it could be a him, of course, she coerces the intimate partner to provide these services.

That's the first element in borderline abuse.

Element number two, borderline abuse is driven by anxieties, a variety of anxieties, existential generalized anxiety, abandonment anxiety, also known as separation insecurity, engulfment or immeasurable anxiety, etc.

So the borderline is abuse is driven by anxiety.

When the anxiety overwhelms the borderline, when she can no longer take it, she takes it out on you.

She displaces, she splits, she projects, she deploys a host of primitive, infantile defenses in a desperate attempt to resolve the situation, ameliorate and mitigate the anxiety by exerting control over the object that is triggering the anxiety, in her mind, at least.

And finally, borderline abuse is a part of repetition compulsions.

Borderline has repetition compulsions. For example, approach avoidance repetition compulsion, borderline approaches, loves infinitely, is unbounded, offers her totality, and then suddenly she becomes cold and detached and even aggressive and violent, critical and walks away and could even, you know, have sex with a stranger or do something crazy.

So this is a repetition compulsion, it's an integral and very painful part of borderline abuse.


How to recover?

The only way to recover from borderline abuse is via mirroring. You mirror the borderline, in a way you become a borderline or an echo of the borderline. You render yourself unfit to serve the needs of the borderline. If you yourself become dysregulated, if you display mood lability, if you are not safe, if you're unsafe, you can no longer provide external regulation, obviously. You're not a rock in her life, you are not her special friend.

So by imitating the borderline, mirroring, throwing back at her what she's doing to you, you actually abdicate your position as an external regulator and she then avoids you.

She would then avoid you because you could be a source of hurt, a source of pain, and above all, a source of anxiety.

So let's summarize the three ways to recover.

You recover from narcissistic abuse by regaining yourself.

The narcissist forced you to lose yourself, to become not you, regain yourself by separating and then individually.

How to do that?

You have a playlist that I mentioned before. That is recovery from narcissistic abuse.

Psychopathic abuse, you recover by punishing the psychopath. Punitive recovery.

Borderline abuse, you recover by mirroring the borderline, rendering yourself unfit for her purposes, useless to her, and above all, threatening because you can cause pain, you can cause hurt, and you can definitely enhance and amplify her anxiety.

And there's nothing the borderline dreads more than anxiety.

These are the three types of recovery and these are the three types of abuse.

And I repeat again, I did not discuss sadistic abuse because sadistic abuse is overlaid, is like the cream on the cake, it's overlaid on all these three types of abuse. You can find it with narcissists, psychopaths, and with borderlines.

So I hope you had fun and see you next time, next video.

Precious and precious.

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