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Pandemics: COVID19 and Daddy Issues in Borderline-Narcissist Couples

Uploaded 3/23/2020, approx. 15 minute read

You ask for it.

My name is Sam Vaknin and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.


Today we are going to discuss twin pandemics and I am not sure which is worse.

One is the COVID-19 and the other one is borderline narcissistic couples.

Let's start with COVID-19.

I have received a series of repeated questions, also known as frequently asked questions, and I will attempt to answer them as briefly as I can because the main topic of this video is borderline narcissistic couples.

Virologists have written to me, medical scientists have written to me, medical doctors have written to me. I am a professor of psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry in various universities, so I am in touch with medical professionals and we are corresponding all the time and so on and so forth. I will be responding to some of these questions in a minute.

Before that, I would like to provide you with a reading list which will cheer you up.

The first book I recommend is The Plague by Albert Camus. It is about a cholera plague in North Africa.

The second excellent book is The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe. There is of course the seminal and perennial love in the time of cholera written by Marquez and blindness by Jose Saramago who is a Portuguese author.

These four are required reading during this pandemic.

Now, the panic started ironically with medical professionals, not with politicians, not with laymen, not with people on social media. It started with medical professionals.

The first one to panic and they panicked in public. They fostered and engendered hysteria in public or medical professionals, medical doctors, health officials, health care administrators and so on and so forth.

Medical professionals have become part of the problem in many places, not part of the solution and I deeply regret that because the role of medical professionals in a pandemic is to calm people down by providing them with verifiable and verified facts and interpretations of the facts which are conducive to real life evidence-based testing.

Instead, medical professionals the world over shared their nightmares, catastrophized and reacted like very, very unstable people and that's extremely regrettable.

This is the first lesson we should study once this pandemic is over and it's almost over.

Many of the comments that I received about my two videos were either trivial or frankly wrong. So for example, when I say COVID-19 virus, of course that's not the name of the virus. It's the name of the disease, of the pandemic, COVID-19.

But saying COVID-19 virus is exactly like saying AIDS virus when one refers to HIV, which is the virus.

The second thing is that someone mentioned that RNA is not made of proteins, made of nucleic acids and that is true. DNA is made of nucleic acids as well.

But what I said in the video was that RNA helps to translate DNA into proteins within the cell.

Another very much more important and crucial issue is that most people who wrote to me and that includes many epidemiologists and virologists tend to confuse case fatality rate with mortality.

These are two utterly different issues. The numbers for CFR, for case fatality rate are very different to the numbers of mortality within the general population.

The case fatality rate should always be calculated based on reported cases, self-reporting cases.

People who refer themselves to hospitals, to clinics, to doctors, to laboratories and an extrapolation, some kind of speculation as to the total number of cases, including numerous people who have mild symptoms and never went anywhere, never sought help and even a bigger pool of people who are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic.

Based on all this, the SARS-CoV-2, which is the official name of the virus, is far less virulent than other viruses, including the SARS virus. And that is because it has lower transmissibility. Its growth factor right now is one. In other words, one person infects only one other person. And its doubling time is pretty long, actually. The virus doubles in four to five days, which is long in terms of viruses. So it's a slow-moving virus.

I understand the pain and the frustration and the horror when 15,000 people die worldwide. But in terms of epidemics and pandemics, in five months, 400,000 infections and 50,000 dead is absolutely nothing. Nothing. It's a weak, relatively harmless virus.

Graphic descriptions of the disease contribute only to panic. All diseases are ugly, at least when I studied medicine. No one also said that the young will not get infected. No one says they don't get infected. No one says they don't die. Of course, some young people have contracted the disease and some of them had died.

But this is a numbers game. The young overwhelmingly survive. The old and people with comorbidities underline pre-existing conditions. These overwhelmingly die. Young survive, old die, sick die. These are facts, indisputable facts.

And finally, I happen to have degrees not only in medicine and other fields, but I have post-graduate education in physics and complex, high-level mathematics. I do a lot of modeling. Right now I'm working on a theory of mind in physics. I do a lot of modeling, which includes ultra-complex and sophisticated extrapolations.

Unfortunately, the majority of medical professionals suck in mathematics. They get their models and the predictions of these models. Utterly wrong. So some humility is in order and a collaboration, interdisciplinary collaboration with mathematicians is also in order.

And I've yet to hear of one.


Okay, enough with this pandemic and to another one which I, in the long term, consider to be much, much more threatening.

And that is the pandemic. And it's literally a pandemic of narcissistic borderline couples.

Narcissistic borderline couples, where one of the partners is a narcissist and the other is a borderline.

First, amply and beautifully described in her seminal work, Narcissistic Borderline Couples by Joanne Lachcar, my friend.

During these couples, there is a specific problem, which for lack of a better phrase, we can call daddy issues.

Borderlines within such couples have daddy issues.

And this is what I'm going to discuss today.

So as you all know, borderline women often end up with narcissistic men, but within these relationships, they feel overwhelmed. They feel overwhelmed because the narcissist leverages his cold empathy to push all their buttons cruelly and repeatedly.

Until these borderlines are triggered badly, they decompensate and they act out.

Only then the narcissist relents and is satisfied. It's a bit sadistic.

Borderline partner often claims that the narcissist made her misbehave in dramatic or histrionic ways. She says that he drove her crazy and that his very presence bothered her, that he was too much, that he was everywhere, ubiquitous.

Narcissist, strong and all pervasive personality compels the borderline to test boundaries and to mock or to challenge the narcissist omniscient, bloated self-importance. It grates on the nerves when you are confronted with a grandiose narcissist.

The narcissist is perceived by the borderline as a father figure or even because the borderline often dissociates and she has diffuse identity.

So in such moments, she may even misspeceive the narcissist as a real actual father.

The narcissist wants to possess the borderline. He wants to reduce her to a mute witness of his grandeur. He wants to transform her into a mere function or an extension.

This extended mistreatment by the narcissist provokes in the borderline, which a kind of reactance, a kind of defiance.

She reenacts her teenage rebellion, this time not against her biological parent, but against the substitute parent, the new narcissistic father.

And of course, don't forget that the current thinking, the bleeding edge thinking on borderline is a borderline personality disorder, is a form of secondary psychopathy, facto two psychopathy in women.

So the borderline, when she reacts, she would tend to be a bit psychopathic. She would tend to lose empathy. She would tend to split. She would have extreme objects in constantia. So she wouldn't even think of how she's hurting her intimate partner. She would cast him as a villain, as a bad object, as a bad person, and she would try to, you know, punish him.

We'll talk about all this later.

So there's a lot of psychopathy play in the borderline's reaction to narcissistic attempts to shoehorn her into her role.

And with her egregious misconduct, the borderline is communicating to the narcissist. She's saying, I'm not your daughter. I'm not your property. I'm an autonomous person. I'm emancipated. I'm independent. I'm accomplished. I'm a woman. I'm desired by other men.

If, for example, she engages in conspicuous infidelity, cast as an immature and even infantile object by the narcissist, the borderline just wants to grow up and leave him behind.

Ironically, it is exactly her misconduct which amounts to a regression to adolescence, stripping away any adulthood and its responsibilities.

So by attempting to rebel against the narcissist and to act as an adult, actually the borderline ends up being much more adolescent than at any other time.

The borderline is testing the narcissist unconditional love. She's saying in effect, will you love me unconditionally regardless of how extremely I misbehave? I'm going to do bad things to you. I'm going to hurt you. I'm going to cheat on you. I'm going to steal your money. I'm going to break your property, your things. I'm going to, I'm going to misbehave really badly, but I still want you to love me. I still expect you to forgive me. I still expect you to accept me unconditionally.

It's an attempt to make up for her emotionally distant biological original father or mother.

But the borderline is unable to accept unconditional love. Even if the narcissist were able to offer it, which some narcissists are capable of doing, it is the borderline who is unable to accept it.

And this is owing to her dread of engulfment and enmeshment. The borderline feels brainwashed. She feels that she's vanishing. She's in the throes of some vertiginous process of merger and fusion becoming one organism with a narcissist and thereby disappearing. Her boundaries, which anyhow are diffused and ill-defined are utterly eradicated.

What appears to be unconditional love elicits in the borderline paranoid suspicion. She smells a rat. She misinterprets any solicitous empathy and verbalize positive emotions as a kind of fake manipulative insincerity. She's asking what's in it for him? What does he expect me to do in return? What does he try to manipulate me to? What does he try to accomplish by being nice to me, by loving me, by buying me this gift, by forgiving me last night's indiscretions and transgressions with another man?

Consequently, when the borderline is truly loved and despite her paralyzing abandonment or separation anxiety, so when she's truly loved, she feels trapped. She feels threatened. She feels immobilized.

It's like a deer in the headlights.

This leads to an inexorable approach, avoidance, repetition, compulsion.

Confronted with a strong, boundaried, and centered partner, the borderline flees the scene, runs away. If the partner is on the other hand, codependent and spineless, she sadistically taunts, torments, and punishes him. Why punish him?

Because he failed to provide her with a stable core. He failed to compensate for her diffusion, kaleidoscopic identity, something which I called, which I dubbed identity cloud.

Borderlines have an identity cloud. Most people have an identity core. Borderlines have a cloud, shapeshifting, dissolving, reassembling, unassembling. It's a bit like the internet.

Her love has the potential for pain, for infinite pain. The more unconditional it is, the more infinite the pain.

The borderline is aware that with her inability, dysregulation, moods, hurtful acting out, she's bound to compromise, temper, or lose her loved ones. And it is going to kill her. She catastrophizes any abandonment, any rejection. As far as she's concerned, it's tantamount to death.

But the borderline also feels inadequate. She feels bad, unworthy, inefficacious, and defective. And so she knows, or she assumes, that she is unable to reciprocate the unconditional love given to her.

And this is a deficiency which she surmises guarantees eventual abundance. It's ineluctable. She's going to be dumped.

So she misbehaves in order to preempt and precipitate the abandonment. She will dump the narcissist before the narcissist gets around to dumping her. She's going to do bad things to him. She's going to cheat on him. She's going to steal from him. She's going to do something that he will not be able to overlook and forgive. And so then he will, you know, go away.

The borderline's ideal partner is someone who is strong enough to be weak, strong enough to be vulnerable at times.

But it is this confluence of strength and weakness which the borderline cannot tolerate because she has black and white thinking. She has dichotomous thinking. She has primitive, infantile, splitting defense mechanisms.

So if she has a partner who is complex and nuanced and subtle, she can't cope with him. She has to reduce him to a caricature. She has to somehow make him all bad or all good or right or wrong. Other motivations, of course, intermingle with the aforementioned dynamics and they result in antisocial and disempathic, hurtful or even sadistic choices and behaviors by the borderline.

So for example, the borderline is very envious. She's very competitive. The borderline is grandiose. She holds grudges and she's passive aggressive or negativistic. So she's virulently envious of her partner's superiority and ascendance. It doesn't matter if this superiority is real or if it is self-imputed. She resents it. She hates it. She needs to undermine it. She needs to destroy it and the source, her partner. She competes with her partner and she subtly undermines or actively sabotages, openly or vertically, his efforts and accomplishments. She is her intimate partner's worst enemy at times.


Another issue of punishment and power play.

The borderline splitting leads to a constant wish to punish the persecutory, evil, bad, villainous, frustrating and punitive object that her partner is or had become in her mind.

By punishing him, she restores justice, cosmic justice, and a balance of power within the relationship.

The borderline, of course, is attention seeking. The borderline goes haywire often conspicuously and ostentatiously, kind of in your face behavior, in order to secure attention. Attention. Attention. She wants to guarantee a monopoly on her partner's emotional and other resources.

The borderline equates her partner's ministrations to her tantrums and to her externalized aggression. She wants him to minister to her temper tantrums and externalized aggression because she equates such ministrations with vows of loyalty and faithfulness. As long as her partner cares about her, as long as he caters to her self-inflicted wounds, as long as he is discomfited by her temper tantrums, as long as he is cowed by her misbehavior, as long as he is reactive, as long as he is preoccupied with her antiques, she sees in him and has in him a safe and secure base. He is unlikely to abandon.

If you are busy with your partner's egregious misbehavior, you don't have time to think about finding another partner. It becomes a kind of an obsession.

The narcissistic partner is very often obsessed with his borderline partner.

And of course, in extreme cases, when the borderline feels very unsafe with her narcissistic partner, when she anticipates and predicts with absolute certainty, repeated rejection, humiliation and abandonment, in these cases, the borderline wants to get rid of the narcissist. But the narcissist fulfills so many important psychological and ego functions for the borderline.

The borderline has outsourced her self-regulation, her internal regulation, her internal linsky, her moods, her affects, her emotions. She outsourced all these to the narcissist and he had become over time indispensable.

So it's very difficult to get rid of it. She can't do it. She's addicted to him.

So what she wants him to do it, she wants to get rid of him, but she wants him to be the bad guy. She wants him to discard her.

And so the narcissistic partner's presence in the borderline's life involves rejection, abuse and withholding. He becomes intolerable. It's painfully unbearable. Agony, anger, frustration, repressed aggression, heartrending, disappointment, restrictions of freedom, emotional blackmail.

And all these overwhelm the borderline's fragile and dysfunctional self-regulation.

She needs absolutely to get away from the narcissist, to get rid of him, to never see him again, to make sure that he never sees her again.

Her antisocial and callous behavioral choices are then intended to lead to a dissolution of the hurtful bond. They are intended to motivate the narcissist to say goodbye forever.

There's also an element of revenge, of course. There's avenging. She avenges, perceives wrong, slights and abuse. She's hypervigilant.

So a lot of this alleged abuse or perceived slights are not real. They are imagined.

But she still engages in tit for tat and in escalating the confrontation.

Borderlines and narcissists tend to each other's archaic wounds or V-spots, as Lachkar calls them, vulnerability spots.

They fulfill very critical functions for each other. Some of these functions are healing and therapeutic, but they also aggravate and exacerbate the underlying chaotic disorganized structure of the personalities involved.

They provoke in the other extremes of emotion and behavior that are unhealthy in the long run.

Borderlines and narcissists are better off without each other. And the dissolution of these bonds should be welcome.

It's a little like healing and curing the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Loving the Borderline in Her Fantasy

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Borderline Woman: Partner Devaluation, Self-harm, Alcoholism

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Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the psychodynamic background of psychopathic narcissism, the compromise of the malignant narcissist with their partner, and the psychology of cuckolds and swingers. He also explores the concept of intimacy and the prevalence of casual sex, swinging, and cuckoldry in modern society, and the impact of these practices on meaningful relationships.


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How Narcissist/Psychopath Sees YOU, his Victim, and Why Borderlines Adore Them

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the inner experiences of narcissists, psychopaths, and borderlines. He explains how narcissists idealize their partners to reinforce their own grandiosity, while psychopaths manipulate and discard their partners for entertainment or personal gain. Borderlines exhibit a complex mix of traits from other personality disorders and may transition between narcissistic and psychopathic behaviors in response to frustration. Vaknin also clarifies that cheating is just one example of a behavior that can mortify a narcissist.

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