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Negative Hoovering, Narcissistic Probing: YOU, the Enemy (Persecutory Object)

Uploaded 8/21/2023, approx. 18 minute read

Never forget that in the process of devaluation, the Narcissist converts you in his mind into a persecutory object, an enemy from idealized to "derialized", devalued and then discarded.

To reacquire you, to hoover you, the Narcissist must do two things.

One, he must re-idealize you, he must photoshop the snapshot of you in his mind so as to render you again an ideal maternal figure.

But that's only half the work.

The other half is to make sure that his hoovering would end successfully because Narcissists don't take kindly to failure and rejection, they're very fragile and vulnerable, even in black.

Ok, Shoshanim, my name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Serf Love: Narcissism Resented, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of SIAS.

And onward we move towards Narcissistic Probing.

Narcissistic probing is a phrase that I've coined to describe the Narcissist's hesitant tests probing attempts to ascertain that the hoovering will work and that it won't end in a fiasco and determination, the v-termination of the shared fantasy for good.

Narcissists attend therapy after collapse or mortification.

And so there are people who say that clinical Psychologies would regard Narcissists as mostly vulnerable and covert, while psychology professors such as myself would regard Narcissists as mostly grandiose and overt.

But it is of course nonsense. It's the same Narcissist. It's the same Narcissist.

The process of collapse exposes the vulnerable and fragile core of the Narcissist.

Every Narcissist has a fragile, vulnerable core.

Narcissism is 100% all the time, in all cases no exception, compensatory.

Narcissism cognitive distortions such as grandiosity, they compensate for an inferiority complex for a bad object that keeps informing the Narcissist how unworthy and inadequate he is.

What a loser.

And so the Narcissist needs to compensate for this.

Most of the time it works. Most of the time the Narcissist is able to coerce people to provide him with Narcissistic Supply, to participate in his shared fantasies, to adulate him, to surround him with a luxurious lifestyle, money, sex, you name it. Most of the time.

But some of the time the Narcissist fails. He fails to extract Narcissistic Supply from his human environment. He fails to secure his goals on the way to obtaining Supply.

So he collapses. This is the collapsed Narcissist.

It is then that all the Narcissistic defenses, the overt grandiose defenses are disabled. It is then that they are deactivated.

And this process is known as decompensation.

And then of course, having hit rock bottom, these Narcissists attend therapy.

And so clinicians, people who work with Narcissists as therapists, as psychiatrists, as psychologists, yes it's true. They see the vulnerable underbelly of the Narcissist.

And everyone else sees the overt and grandiose side.

But these are two sides of the same coin.

And all the self-styled experts, including those with academic degrees, are talking nonsense. I'm sorry to say. Absolute nonsense.

I've read an article in the September edition of Scientific American and only Elza Ronningstam made some sense. Everyone else there got it 100% wrong.

And I'm not talking about the YouTubers. I'm talking about the so-called academic experts, who I've never heard of by doing most of them.

Elza Ronningstam is definitely an expert on Narcissism, a very famous one.

So why am I telling you this?

Because the process of devaluation and discard exposes the fragile, vulnerable underbelly.

Remember that within the shared fantasy, the Narcissist is a child and you are the mother. You're the maternal figure.

The Narcissist needs to reenact with you early childhood conflicts, which are unresolved. He needs to separate from you and become an individual.

But you are still the mother. You are the adult in the room and he's just a baby, an infant.

So the Narcissist feels through all this process disempowered the way a baby does, the way an infant does.

And then having devalued you and discarded you, he feels uncertain, vulnerable, fragile. He in this sense becomes covert, or the covert aspects of him become a lot more dominant than throughout the duration of the shared fantasy.

The end of every shared fantasy, every shared fantasy ends in devaluation and discard. Period.

This has nothing to do with you as an intimate partner and there's nothing you can do about it.

The very purpose of a shared fantasy is to convert you into a maternal figure so that the Narcissist can dump you. End of story.

In the final stages of the shared fantasy, the Narcissist faces enormous stresses and huge anxieties because the internal object in his mind that represents you is being transformed in ways which are essentially ominous, menaces ways, ways that threaten the equilibrium and the precarious balance of the Narcissist's House of Cards, aka personality.

The Narcissist also has to get rid of you and the Narcissist is a creature of habit. The Narcissist risks a backlash or punitive measures by you and the Narcissist is a coward.

In short, the period of devaluation and discard is not easy on the Narcissist and tends to push him to become more vulnerable so he becomes more passive-aggressive and then he becomes more aggressive. He becomes more envious. He becomes more malevolent. He becomes more skimming.

He becomes, in short, a bit more psychopathic, secondary psychopathic.

You remember, I keep saying that when the Narcissist's faces collapse, he becomes a bit of a borderline. He becomes emotionally dysregulated. He decompensates. He acts out.

The same goes here.

The devaluation, discard process is the collapse of the shared fantasy.

During this limited phase, the Narcissist clinically is a collapsed Narcissist and therefore exposing his borderline covert side.

For a short period of time, mind you, it could last a day, it could last a week, it could last a month. It's never long term and it never comes to characterize the Narcissist. It's just a phase that the Narcissist is going through but still he changes.

The devaluation, discard, ironically, often changes the Narcissist more than it changes you.

And so, hovering is an example of this hybridity, this combination of grandiosity and vulnerability.

On the one hand, to believe that he is able to hover you, to develop the conviction that he can re-idealize you and you will come running back, that's grandiose, of course. That's cognitive distortion in some cases, unfortunately, not in all.

But it requires grandiosity, it requires the belief in one's own omnipotence and irresistibility.

So there's this grandiose element in hovering.

But hovering also contains a vulnerable element.

Hovering comes on the tail, on the tail end of devaluation and discard.

At that stage, the Narcissist is still self-motivated, if you wish, or self-injured, at least. And definitely self-collapsed.

So the Narcissist needs to make sure that he doesn't suffer yet another self-inflicted Narcissistic injury by being rejected by you.

If the Narcissist attempts to hover you and you reject him, that's Narcissistic injury. If you reject him in public, in a shaming way, that's Narcissistic mortification.

That's something the Narcissist does not want to go through, especially having lived through, having endured the collapse of the shared fantasy.

Admittedly, the collapse of the shared fantasy was brought on by the Narcissist himself. It is, as I said, self-inflicted. The Narcissist made it happen. It didn't have to happen. The Narcissist made it happen because of his compulsion to separate and individuate.

But still, it's a collapse.

The end of any shared fantasy, the terminal phase, is a collapse.

The Narcissist is vulnerable because he is clinically, has been rendered a collapsed Narcissist.

So he can't take the risk of another Narcissistic injury.

Rejection, mockery, humiliation, shame, mortification.

He can't take this risk.

He needs to make sure that if he were to attempt to hover you, he would say yes, and not just any yes, what we call enthusiastic consent, a resounding yes.

Narcissists generally, even overt and grandiose ones, or maybe especially overt and grandiose ones, cannot countenance rejection.

They're hypersensitive to rejection.

That's why they develop cold empathy in order to scan for people who possibly could put them down or take them down.

That's why they are hypervigilant, all the time scanning for insults and slights and interpreting even the most innocuous behavior and innocent remarks as a form of attack.

It's all because they have to protect the vulnerable, fragile, delusional, cognitively distorted core that is known as Narcissism.

That's the only form of true Narcissism. Anything that is not vulnerable, anything that is not fragile, that's psychopathy.

That's not Narcissism.

So Narcissists, real Narcissists, true Narcissists cannot countenance rejection.

Rejection terrifies.

They need to make sure of the outcomes of the hovering and to resolve any cognitive dissonance that may arise.

And so they probe.

They collect data. They gather information. They test you in small ways and big. They surround you. They create an environment which resembles a laboratory where your minutest behaviors and speech acts and words and writings are interpreted ad nauseam.

I call it the hermeneutic lab.

So this is probing.

Log bombing, for example, is a form of probing. Grooming is a form of probing. Log bombing is intended to condition you, of course, to shape you via operant conditioning, to render you docile, subservient, submissive, intimate partner who is in love with herself with her idealized image through the Narcissist gaze.

Yes, it's all true.

And grooming is intended to condition you to behave in specific ways which would uphold the Narcissist's inflated, fantastic self-image and allow the shared fantasy to unfold the way the Narcissist wants it to, with you as an eternal figure.

So log bombing and grooming have many, many crucial functions.

But one of the functions of log bombing and grooming is to test you, to see whether you're going to fit into the shared fantasy, whether you're going to fulfill your maternal role appropriately, whether you're going to accept and love the Narcissist unconditionally, regardless of his misconduct, misbehavior.

In short, log bombing and grooming are a testing phase, a probing phase.

So these are examples of narcissistic probing.

Narcissistic abuse itself is a form of probing.

The first phase of narcissistic abuse is intended to answer the question, will she love me unconditionally as a mother would?

Now remember, he and she are interchangeable. The half of all Narcissists are women, so just change the gender pronouns.

So we're beginning to see that many of the Narcissist behaviors which are attributed to the Narcissist's grandiosity, coercive nature, antisocial impulses, many of these behaviors actually emanate from insecurity.

The Narcissist's profound sense of insecurity, because the Narcissist has an internal image as a bad object and because he compensates for it by projecting a false self, a facade, acting, faking.

The Narcissist is very insecure. He knows what he's doing. Narcissists are self-aware. Don't let any self-styled expert tell you otherwise. They're definitely self-aware.

And so they tend to be hypervigilant. They develop paranoid ideation, persecutory ideation. They test people all the time. They trust no one, but they trust no one because everyone and his dog is an opportunity for pain, for hurt. Everyone and everyone can reject the Narcissist, humiliate the Narcissist, criticize the Narcissist, disagree with the Narcissist, shame the Narcissist in private or in public. Everyone is a potential for hurt, for harm.

So the Narcissist needs to neutralize these incipient, ambient threats, potential threats by gathering intelligence.

Think of it as a CIA, one-man CIA.

So love the men in grooming, narcissistic abuse, the old forms of testing your metal, verifying, making sure what you're made of and how you're going to behave in a variety of extreme conditions.

The Narcissist also probes via third parties, especially in the hovering phase when he's not sure of the outcomes, having rejected you, having abandoned you, having devalued you, having discarded you, having shamed you, having humiliated you.

The Narcissist cannot be sure of your response to his attempts to re-idealize you and re-acquire you as a participant and a playmate in a shared fantasy. He cannot be sure.

You may tell him to f-off naturally, as you should do.

So he uses third parties, flying monkeys, in various settings in order to collect information.

Are you predisposed to take him back? Would you be positively reactive to any attempt to over you?

Do you miss the shared fantasy and the Narcissist?

So there's a lot of information gathering going on through third parties.

You won't believe who the Narcissist recruits, your dearest and closest friends, family members, people you've trusted all your life. They are converted by the Narcissist and they become the Narcissist's eyes and ears and surveillance and listening devices.

And you're surrounded, you're besieged by extensions of the Narcissist.

And the information flows back.

The Narcissist analyzes it, contextualizes it and decides whether you are hovering material or not.

Similarly, the Narcissist stalks you on social media, of course, using anonymous accounts, fake accounts and sometimes his own accounts, if he doesn't care.

So he gathers a lot of relevant info through social media.

Be careful. Keep your private life private. Don't overshare. Come into think of it, don't share at all. Convert your accounts to private accounts.

Reject all kinds of friend requests.

I mean, there's a period after the devaluation and the discard.

Where, by the way, that's the most frequent period where hovering is the most frequent.

Hovering is most frequent almost immediately after devaluation and discard, believe it or not. There's a period of six months, one year, two years, three years maybe, where you are very open to intrusive attempts to gather data about you and then to deploy this data, to manipulate it and to abuse it or misuse it in order to coerce you or control you or convince you or persuade you to join a new shared fantasy where again, you would be the queen idealized, but you would be the queen mother.

And again, of course, this shared fantasy 2.0 is going to end up the same way.

Evaluation, discard, separation, individuation, and so on and so forth.

So immediately after the devaluation and discard, and for a period, I would say minimum period of two years, you should be very vigilant, very careful.

Because the narcissist is all over you, having ever devalued you, having abandoned you, having rejected you, having teamed up already with a new partner in the throes of another shared fantasy.

The narcissist is still all over you inside his mind.

You introject.

The internal object that represents you is still inside his mind. And still this object is still tormenting him because it used to be ideal. Now it is an enemy. Now it is persecutory. And it tortures him from the inside.

The only way to restore inner peace is to match you with the internal object, either as an enemy. And then the narcissist would push your boundaries and force you to become an enemy or as a re-idealized intimate partner.

And that's hoovering.

Narcissist can hoover you as an enemy. It's a common mistake online.

The narcissist hoovers you because he needs to reconcile you, the external object, with the internal object that represents you.

So if you refuse to become an intimate partner in a new shared fantasy, the narcissist would do his best to convert you into a true enemy. He would stalk you. He would threaten you. He would attack you. He would spy on you. He would try to destroy your life. He would do anything and everything for you to become a real active enemy.

And then he is at peace because he can reconcile this with the devalued, the persecutory object in his mind.

So to attain inner peace, the narcissist needs you post devaluation and discard.

The narcissist needs you in the aftermath to become either an enemy or again an intimate partner. There's no middle ground. And he's going to try to re-idealize you and hoover you one way.

But then if he fails, he will hoover you as an enemy. And that is something much neglected in everything I've heard online.

And by the way, in the literature, hoovering you as an enemy.

So it would explain many of the behaviors that you've come across, I'm sure, with a narcissist.

And narcissist can, of course, oscillate, vacillate between the two.

One day you are a potential intimate partner and you're ideal and you're wonderful and you're beautiful and you're amazing and so on. And the next day you're the enemy and you're hateful and you're vengeful and you've destroyed his life and it's all your fault. And the day after, again, you're an ideal.

So the narcissist attempts simultaneously to probe both possibilities directly with you in a channel of communication and at the same time always through third parties, social media and indirect intelligence gathering.

He consults other people. He talks to other people about you. He collects all the information from your social media accounts. He may impersonate people and call your bank or your workplace. It can get really bad if you don't collaborate with a narcissist in settling the internal object.

The narcissist can and does become antisocial to the point of acting criminally, identities theft and so on and so forth.

So your best bet is actually not to reject the narcissist's hovering attempts outright.

I mean, first you go no contact, of course, but if a narcissist insists on contact, I am not of the opinion that you should be contrarian and adverse and act with animosity and hostility and fandymorph and so on and so forth. As if you don't collaborate with the hovering efforts one way or another, he's going to settle on a version of you which would compel him to act in ways which could be detrimental to your personal safety, career and family.

So the way to react to a narcissist's hovering is to be firm with your boundaries but not aggressive.

To say I've moved on, I have another life now and I wish you all the best and so on.

So to be firm.

But at that particular phase to communicate.

Now you don't need to extend the communication and don't fall in the trap of the narcissist's attempts to recreate some portions of the Shelf Hunters Review.

You just keep repeating these are my boundaries and I will not relent.

When communicated these two or three times, go not contact again.

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