Background

Paranoid (= Narcissist) Suspects YOU (= Persecutory Object)

Uploaded 1/13/2021, approx. 41 minute read

For those of you who missed my traditional introduction, my name is Sam Vaknin, you don't say, and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, and numerous other books on personality disorders, too many to enumerate.

I'm also a professor of psychology in several universities on several continents.

Okay, I hope you got this straight.

Today we are going to discuss a very interesting topic.

What happens when the narcissist suspects you, when he is hypervigilant, when he spies on you, when he invades your privacy, when he intrudes, when he tries to control and micromanage you because you constitute a threat, a menace?

What happens when you had become, in other words, the narcissist per secretary object?

Stay tuned. It's a long ride, but well worth your money.

Let me read to you a segment from the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Edition 5, published in 2013, a segment which I wholeheartedly disagree with for reasons I will touch upon a bit later.

Here goes. This is the orthodoxy. This is what we teach in universities.

Although antisocial behavior may be present in some individuals with paranoid personality disorder, it is not usually motivated by a desire for personal gain or to exploit others as in antisocial personality disorder, but rather is more often attributable to a desire for revenge.

Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder may occasionally display suspiciousness, social withdrawal or alienation, but this derives primarily from fears of having their imperfections or flaws revealed. Paranoid traits may be adaptive, particularly in threatening environments.

Okay. The part I disagree with is the differential diagnosis between paranoid personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

As you shall see forthright, I claim that all paranoids are actually narcissists.

Start with a basic fact.

The paranoid believes that he is the center of some kind of collusion or conspiracy. It could be a collusion or conspiracy by one person, for example, his intimate partner. It could be a group of people, for example, in the workplace or in the neighborhood pub where they, according to him, mock him or deride him or criticize him behind his back. Or it could be a collusion on a national level. The FBI is after him. The CIA is spying on him. Someone is planning to assassinate him.

Regardless of the type of conspiracy theory, pet conspiracy theory, regardless of whether the conspiracy theory is limited to a single individual or to a group of people or to institutions, the paranoid puts himself at the center of these elaborate schemes and plots.

And in this sense, paranoia is grandiosity in disguise. Paranoia is simply another form of grandiosity. And the paranoid is nothing but a highly specific subtype of a narcissist.

In a minute, we will begin to discuss the expressions of paranoia and suspiciousness in your relationship with a narcissist within interpersonal relations and in intimate settings.

It's not a nice and pleasant picture. Anyone who had lived with a narcissist had gone through such phases of suspicion, paranoia, spying, extreme romantic jealousy, delusional jealousy, envy, destructive envy, and so on.

And this is the topic of today's video.

Before I start, I would like to answer a few of the questions. Very, very briefly, I promise.

Question number one, what is the inner experience of a narcissist?

I deliberated on this for hours. And I think the best description I can come up with is that the inner experience of a narcissist is a weeping, crying, terrified, very, very small child faced with his own death time and again.

To be a narcissist is as close as possible on Earth to experiencing your own death.

Your life is your emptiness. You experience your emptiness. You are an absence. You are a void. You are nulled and annihilated.

So there are no words. Imagine, I'm speechless. Can you imagine this? There are very few words which can capture this experience.

Both Harvey Keckley and Alice Miller pointed out to the fact that many narcissists are actually very gifted. They are good looking. Just look at me. They're intelligent. Of course me. I mean, they have everything. They have all the gifts, except one, the ability to use any of these gifts.

As Bromberg says, the life of a narcissist is the life unlived.

As Keckley says, the narcissist rejects life.

And as Miller points out, the gifted child, that's a curse, not a blessing.

This child is trapped in a maze exactly like in every classic horror movie, in The Shining. He's trapped in a maze. He doesn't know how to get out. He's terrified. He knows he's going to die. And then he dies. And then he resuscitates, revives, resurrected, only to die again.

It's a little religious, you know? It's like a tiny Jesus or a tiny Zalatustra. It's a Zoroaster. It's a bit of a Zoroastrian cycle.

So in many, many religions, you have this figure who dies and then is resurrected. And many of these figures are very grandiose. And of course, all of them are psychotic. So they are mentally ill. It's the same with the narcissist.

Next, mono no aware. I have received, I don't know how many missives and comments and emails and I don't know. You got it wrong. Mono no aware is not what you said. You got it. I mean, I did not express myself properly.

I said in one of my previous videos that Mono no aware, the Japanese way of thinking, is actually the opposite, the antidote to grandiose thinking. I didn't say it's a form of grandiose thinking. I said it's the opposite of grandiose thinking. Mono no aware is awareness of an immersion in the beauty of the world. It's an aesthetic principle.

But by immersing yourself in the beauty of the world, the cherry blossom or whatever, you minimize yourself in a way. But not in a bad way. It's not like you disappear or vanish.

It's like it's more like getting integrated in your environment and getting integrated not in the fake Indian mystic guru style, not getting integrated by ego death or whatever, you know, but getting integrated by growing, by becoming one.

It's an experience of personal growth and development, not an aesthetic experience of emptiness and vanishing.

And in this way, it's the kind of nothingness I'm talking about.

Okay, keep it for the next video.

Next question you've asked me, shadow banning.

I don't believe in shadow banning, it's a conspiracy theory, but there is a process called deranking on YouTube. And there are human moderators monitoring specific channels and specific videos. These are facts.

Deranking simply means that if you use certain words, if you antagonize groups of users, if you're brutal, if you're impolite, if you're a troll, if you misbehave, if you use foul language, if you spam any of these behaviors, get you deranked.

Your videos will not show up on search results until you know, way down. And your videos will appear as recommended videos, but only after users have watched three, 400 videos from other channels. So you will enter the recommended list only after users have been exposed to channels which are more acceptable to YouTube.

So I'm not shadow banned, but definitely, I have been deranked.

And how do I know that?

Because the number of my subscribers has almost doubled to 134,000. Now, my click through rate CTR has gone up, not down.

In other words, more people are clicking on my videos when they are recommended. And yet the number of views on my videos has declined by 80%.

Now, anyone who knows basic mathematics knows it's impossible. Because if more people click on my videos when they see them, I should have had more views. If I have more, if I have a bigger number of subscribers should have had more views.

And definitely, there's no way to explain a decline of 80% except if I've been deranked.

Okay, next question, what do I think about prophets of religion with specific names?

Here's a general statement. Prophets of religion today would have been diagnosed as suffering a psychotic disorder.

People who claim to know God's will, who claim to know what God wants, how God wants you to behave, people who claim any knowledge about God's mind are narcissists, grandiose narcissists.

Because in a finite mind, a mortal mind has no access to an infinite mind, an immortal mind, end of story.

And psychopaths and con artists use religion to conquer, to subjugate and to take your money.

What about monks and nuns? They're asexual schizoids.

If I put all this together, religion organized and non organized, the very belief in God is mental illness. And religion inevitably and inexorably attracts mentally ill people. It's a mental asylum institutionalized mental asylum.

End of story, I'm sorry. I'm politically incorrect, which is why it got me deranked.

Okay, let's get to the point.

I said yesterday that personality disorders are narratives. And the aim of these narratives is to disguise and defend against discontinuities in identity and memory.

The person who had been traumatized as a child was unable to create a coherent cohesive self. The self constellation, the creation of a self, a unitary functional self has been disrupted by all forms of abuse and trauma.

And so consequently, this kind of person has a galaxy of fragments of self. He has a fragmented or fractured self.

And he tries to disguise this. He tries to pretend that his self is healthy and normative and unitary and cohesive and continuous.

And he does this by creating a story, a narrative, a piece of fiction, a movie script. And we call this a personality disorder.

Now of course, because it's a disguise, because it's a piece of fiction, because it's a plot, because it's a narrative, the personality disordered patient feels that he or she is an imposter. She feels that she's pretending. He feels that he's lying and deceiving others. They know that the personality disorder is a story. It's not real.

So they themselves don't feel real. They feel de-realized.

In the case of the narcissist, the narrative is called false self. It's everything the narcissist is not. The false self knows everything is all knowing, omniscient. The false self is all powerful, omnipotent. The false self is everywhere, omnipresent. The false self is perfect and brilliant, and a major success. Or, in Donald Trump's language, a winner, which a narcissist very often is not.

So the narcissist knows that he's an imposter and he develops the imposter syndrome.

The imposter syndrome simply means that personality disordered people feel that they are not really there. That the facade that they present to the world is not who they are. They feel they have no identity. It's called identity diffusion or identity disturbance.

And so to cover up for that, they have a series of what Bromberg calls ego resources, defenses, kind of cognitive deficits.

So they have, for example, grandiosity, and they're very hypervigilant. They scan, they want to make sure if there are any threats to expose them for who they are.

They are terrified because they know they're faking it and very often not making it. They know they're faking it and they are dimly aware that people see right through them.

And so they compensate for it by pretending to be even more so what they're not, via grandiosity.

And they scan all the time. They're hypervigilant to see who is about to reveal them, to expose them for the fakes and the fraudsters that they are.

And they have referential ideation. They all the time think that people talk about them, mock them, gossip about them.

And this imbues people with personality disorder with suspiciousness. They're all very suspicious people.

Gradually over the years, they begin to develop persecutory delusions and paranoid ideation.

Now, you notice that I'm talking about all personality disorders. I am not making a distinction between paranoid personality disorder and all the rest.

I think paranoid personality disorder should be abolished as a diagnosis because all personality disorders, disordered people become, inexorably, ineluctably, in due time, all of them become paranoid. All of them develop paranoid ideation, persecutory delusions and what is called a persecretary object.

A persecretary object is an internal object that represents the intimate partner or represents other people. It's persecretary because it keeps reminding the personality disordered patient that he or she is faking it, that he or she is not real, that it's all a theater show, a theater production. And they are about to be exposed for who they really are.

So it's persecretary.

It's a horrible feeling. It's like a tribunal. It's like Deportes, The Trial by Franz Kafka. There's a tribunal. The charge sheet is never presented, yet the trial goes on and you know that you are doomed. You're doomed to be found guilty. The verdict is guilty.

This inner critic, this sadistic superego, sets you up for failure in this court. And you don't even know what makes you guilty.

So everyone is a potential enemy. Everyone is a potential judge. Everyone can trigger you in one way or another. Everyone is a possible threat. Everyone is a looming ambient menace.

Gradually you become paranoid.

And so sometimes you choose the intimate partner as the persecretary object. The intimate partner becomes the repository of your suspicions, negative emotionality, anger, rage, fear being exposed and so on.

Why?

Because it's the intimate partner. The intimate partner has access to privileged information that other people don't have.

So the more the intimate partner is intimate with you, the more she has the potential to become a prosecutor and persecutor. The more she has the potential to hurt you, the more she has the potential to harm you, the more she has the potential to collaborate with others, to conspire with others against you.

Intimacy is a threat because intimacy is knowledge. Intimacy is information. Intimacy is data which can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion.

The intimate partner doesn't have many choices. If the locus and the focus of the paranoid ideation, if the locus and the focus of the suspicions, if this is in other people, if the narcissist or the borderline or the schizoid or if they suspect other people, if they direct their paranoia, their suspiciousness at others, not at the intimate partner, the intimate partner can collude in the delusion. She can go along with the delusional narrative of the paranoid conspiracy or she can oppose it.

But if she opposes the paranoid delusion, if she opposes the persecutory delusion, if she opposes the paranoid ideation, if she opposes the conspiracy theories, if she opposes her partner's way of reinterpreting reality, reframing reality as they are out to get me, they envy me, they want to destroy me, I frustrate them with my superiority so they want to pull me down to their level. If she doesn't collaborate with these narratives, if she opposes them, if she tries to inject a modicum of reality into the relationship and her partner's mind, she becomes the persecutory object.

So it's a no win situation.

Either she goes along with the increasingly more paranoid way of interpreting the world, her partner becomes more and more paranoid, more and more suspicious, more and more hypervigilant, more and more wary and more and more weirdo, eccentric and creepy, and she must go along with it.

Or she tries to bring him back to reality to save him actually, to save him, to wake him up. But when she does this, she becomes the focus and the target of his persecutory delusions, paranoid ideation. She becomes the enemy, she becomes the persecutory object.

On the other hand, if she is the persecutory object, if his suspiciousness, paranoia, hypervigilance, enmity, hostility, if they are directed at her and not at others, she again has two solutions.

She can collude, she can accept her role, but then she needs to act accordingly. She needs to conform to the paranoid expectations.

A very classic example is when the personality disordered partner, the narcissistic partner, the borderline partner, the psychopathic partner, have paranoid ideation regarding the intimate partner that manifests as romantic jealousy. They are convinced the partner is cheating on them. They're convinced and there's nothing that can convince them otherwise.

So some partners begin to cheat and they begin to cheat in order to gratify this paranoid ideation, in order to justify the partner, in order to actually buttress, help the partner, in order to convince her partner that his suspicions are not insane, that they are actually reality tested, evidence-based.

So many, many partners begin to act in ways that justify the paranoia and the suspicion.

If the personality disordered partner, the narcissist, the psychopath, the borderline expects them to cheat, is convinced that they are cheating, ultimately after a few years, after a few months, after a few days, they will begin to cheat. Even if they had no intention to and even if cheating is repugnant to them, they can't stand it, but they still cheat and they cheat in order to uphold, uphold, not undermine the paranoid ideation because they realize how important the paranoid ideation is to the functioning, to the survival of their partner, and they love the partner.

It's a sacrifice of love, ironically. A lot of cheating goes on because the partner wants it and you love the partner, so you satisfy his wishes.

The other option you have, if you are the target of the partner's paranoia and suspicion, is redirecting the suspicions at other people, and that usually includes family members.

Okay, I would like to read to you an excerpt from Theodore Millon's Personality Disorders in Modern Life, co-authored by Roger Davis, and it's about the fanatical or fanatic paranoid.

Pay attention. Notice the similarities between the fanatical paranoid and the narcissist.

Theodore Millon writes, fanatical paranoids share certain characteristics with the narcissistic personality.

Both seem arrogant, pretentious, and expansive. Both maintain a faint ear of content towards other people.

Whereas narcissists usually achieve some success, fanatical paranoids have run hard into reality, their narcissism profoundly wounded.

He's talking about collapsed narcissists.

Thus fallen from grace, the self-image of fanatical paranoids, this self-image of perfection is shattered. Fanatical paranoids seek to re-establish lost pride through extravagant claims and intricate fantasies. By endowing themselves with illusory powers, they become superheroes or demigods ready to prevail against an evil universe.

Eventually, delusions of grandeur become their primary coping mechanism. By assuming a grandiose identity, fanatical paranoids offset the collapse of self-esteem produced by objective reality. They may present themselves as a holy saint, inspired leader, or talented genius.

Elaborate schemes may be devised by which to deliver the world from sin, lead the planet to world peace, solve long-standing scientific problems, or create utopian societies.

This paranoia is needed, this grandiosity.

Often their plans are sufficiently detailed to draw at least some passing interest.

When their ideas are eventually dismissed by others, they are likely to attribute interference to intangible powers. Perhaps secret government agencies that have conspired to preserve this status quo.

Projection, righteous indignation, and a sense of omnipotence combine to create a defensive armor in this subtype.

Developmentally, the fanatical paranoid is similar to the compensating narcissist.

Overindulged and unrestrained by their parents, their imagination of what they might become in life was given free reign and encouraged by caretakers, perhaps as a means of compensating for poor family status.

Once beyond the protective confines of the household, however, their image of superiority was quickly and unmercifully destroyed by the outside world.

So, completely defeated, saddled with a crushed sense of self-worth, and unwilling to face reality, fanatical paranoids retreat deeper inside their private world of fantasy, creating a compensatory universe in which they can assume their former station, fulfill previous ambitions, and salvage their existence.

You see the extreme similarity between the paranoid and the narcissist, even according to Theodore Millon, 20 years ago.

Coffee, I swear.

Okay, a narcissist partner wrote to me these heartbreaking words:

I have made him sound like a monster, and in many ways he really is.

At the same time, I have always seen a vulnerability in him. The small, terrified, hungry child almost split off from the rest of him.

And I suppose this is why I tried so hard with him.

I knew, almost intuitively, that while his false ego was constantly swelling, his heart, true ego, was starving.

I tried, she writes, I tried as hard as I could, in as many ways as I could, to feed the real person inside. And I believed that there was a fragment of that person still alive, represented by the child.

In a way, I think the violence of his reactions near the end was due to my coming so close in arousing these ordinary needs.

When I realized he has become dependent on me, and that I knew it, I think he just couldn't take it. He could not finally take the chance of trusting me.

It was an orgy of destruction.

I keep thinking I could have handled it better, could and should have done things differently.

Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference, but I will say that there was a real person in there somewhere, and quite a delightful one.

But as you pointed out, the narcissist would always prefer his invented self to the true one.

I could not make him see that his real self was far more interesting and enchanting than his grotesque, inflated, grandiose, superman construct.

I think it is a tragic loss of a truly interesting and talented human being.

Wonderful.

It's from the intimate partner of a narcissist, at the very, very, very beginning of the discovery of narcissism online. When I coined the phrase narcissistic abuse, she was among the first who had written to me.

People with certain personality disorders, mainly borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, schizotypal, paranoid, they have a persecretary object. It is a tormenting, devaluing, and sadistic inner voice. It's an introject. It repeatedly and authoritatively informs them that they are bad, worthless, weak, immoral, and a disappointment.

It is the outcome of a failed attempt to internalize a cathected object, an object in which there is an emotional investment, such as a parent or an intimate partner. Such a failure is common when the object behaves in ways which defy or contradict the patient's grandiose fantasies and self-perception, or when the object, for example, the intimate partner, frustrates the patient's attempts to merge or to fuse with the object.

Such an inner critic, a relentless, integrated prosecutor and judge, is of course intolerable, unbearable, and in an attempt to exorcize it, the patient projects it, usually onto the intimate partner. The spouse, the mate, the lover, then become the outer embodiment or reification of the internal agonizing construct.

The persecretary object also serves as an organizing and explanatory principle. The patient's inner processes and life events are accounted for by attributing them to the nefarious presence, intentions, and actions of the malicious intimate partner.

Even the patient's attachment to her spouse is interpreted as the lamentable outcome of brainwashing, of manipulation. Everything that goes wrong in the patient's tortured existence is her partner's fault, an almost supernatural emanation from his malevolence, or at the very least indifference or rejection.

The patient tries to coerce, to shoehorn the intimate partner into behaving in a way that upholds his newfound status as an enemy and a threat. And this defense mechanism is known as projective identification.

And if the intimate partner has his own issues, he will comply in his assigned role. He will transform himself into an abuser, a process known as introjective identification.

Once this is done and the intimate partner really becomes an abuser, the patient then proceeds to rebel against her externalized persecretary object, her intimate partner. She proceeds to punish him to defy him by behaving promiscuously, for example, by cheating, being a slut or whore, devaluing his property. She can envy him. She can sabotage her partner's career. She can passive aggressively challenge him and provoke him, humiliate, reject, and undermine his well-being, his self-esteem, compromise his public image, and standing in society, penalizing in myriad ways.

And naturally, the patient then expects a penalty. She knows she has misbehaved. She knows. She realizes her misconduct. And so she expects to be punished. And she expects the penalty, the punishment, to be commensurate with her egregious misbehavior. And then she becomes paranoid because the punishment is looming. The punishment is imminent. And above all, it's inevitable. She becomes paranoid, hypervigilant, and exceedingly anxious.

And these dissonant emotions only augment her perception of the intimate partner as a source of unmitigated sadistic control and judgment, an imminent and only present threat, and the fount of ambivalence. She develops a love-hate relationship.

But do narcissists tend to react with paranoia when they're threatened or when they feel threatened? And how long do these attacks of paranoia last? Does the narcissist forever decry and fear the subjects of his paranoia, his persecutors, his enemies?

Specific paranoid reactions tend to fade. And the narcissist frequently homes in on new agents of persecution, new envious people, new enemies.

Arguably, the most hurtful thing about the relationship with the narcissist is the ultimate realization how interchangeable one is as far as the narcissist is concerned.

The narcissist is hungry for narcissistic supply. So even his paranoia is grandiose. It's a fantasy aimed to regulate his sense of self-worth.

It is true his paranoia that the narcissist proves to himself that he is sufficiently important, center of attention, interesting, target, enough of a threat to be threatened back, to have people conspire and worry about him, in other words, to be the subject of incessant focus. Yet this untoward mode of attracting narcissistic supply wanes easily if it is not fed constantly.

It is true, however, that many narcissists are paranoid by nature. Remember what Theodore Millon said?

Narcissism is a deformed emotional reaction to the narcissist's perception of the world as unpredictably hostile, precariously balanced, illusory. In such a universe, the inclination to see enemies everywhere, to guard against these enemies, and to imagine the worst, this inclination, this proclivity is almost adaptive, almost functional.

If the world is bad, you should be a badass. If the world is hostile, you should be doubly hostile, and you should preempt the world. You should attack first, abandon first, torture first, hurt first.

Moreover, the narcissist falls prey to delusions of grandeur. Important men like him deserve important enemies. The narcissist attributes to himself influence and power much greater than he actually possesses, and such overreaching power would look very dubious without a proper set of enemies and opponents.

The victories that the narcissist scores over his mostly imagined foes and enemies, these victories serve to emphasize his centrality and superiority. An unfriendly environment and the threat it poses, overcome by the superior skills and traits of the narcissist, these are an integral part of the personal myth of the narcissist.

Narcissism, remember, is a religion, it's a mythology, and narcissist is the godhead and the worshiper. It's a one-man cult.

The narcissist's partner, his mate, his spouse, his lover, his girlfriend. The partner usually craves and encourages the narcissist's paranoid or threatening attention. Her behavior and reactive patterns tend to reinforce his behavior and reactive patterns.

It's a game of two, a vicious cycle, vicious in the fullest sense of the word, especially if the intimate partner has their own issues, for example, if she's a borderline.

But the narcissist is not a full-fledged paranoia. He maintains his reality testing. His paranoid reactions are triggered by reality itself and egged on by the ostensibly innocent, the narcissist's partner or mate or spouse or colleague or whatever.

Actually, the narcissist's partner is likely to feel barren and vacuous when these games are over, for example, after she divorces him. She is a drama queen. She's adrenaline addicted. She needs this constant play for two. She needs the surprises and the threats and the adventure.

Moreover, the paranoid lives in constant fear and tribulation, and this, plus the deficient structure of the narcissistic personality, allow the partner to assume a position of superiority, elevated moral ground, and sound mental health. Remember all the empaths?

The partner feels justified in regarding the narcissist as inferior, a child, a monster, a demon, an invalid, a misfit. That makes her superior, angelic, blameless and blemishless. Very sick.

She tends to play the missing parent. The intimate partner more often even plays the role of the psychologist in their relationships.

How many emails do I receive from women who claim to have diagnosed their husbands and vice versa, playing the guru, playing the psychologist with no qualifications or training whatsoever.

And then this mind game, which passes for a relationship, the narcissist is assigned the role of the patient in need of care, of being objectively mirrored for his own good by the partner.

This endows the partner with authority and provides her with a way to distance herself from her own emotions and deficiencies and from the narcissist, of course. This presumption of superiority, this grandiose defense, therefore, is analgesic. It reduces pain.

The partner is permanently enmeshed in a battle to prove herself, both to her ever critical and humiliating narcissist partner and to herself. She wants to prove that she is worthwhile, to restore her shattered sense of safety, security, self-esteem, self-worth.

And she must resort to narcissistic techniques to do that. Gradually, she becomes a situational narcissist. And this phenomenon is narcissistic mirroring. It happens because the narcissist succeeds in turning himself into the partner's preferred or even exclusive frame of reference, the mental axis around which all judgments revolve, the fountain of common sense and prevailing logic, the source of all knowledge and authority on everything of importance.

The narcissist's paranoid illusions extend not only to intimate settings. They're all pervasive.

Take, for example, therapy, the therapeutic setting. One of the most important presenting symptoms of the narcissist in therapy is his or her insistence that he or she is equal to the psychotherapist in knowledge, experience, social status, skills.

The narcissist in the therapeutic session spices his speech with psychiatric lingo and professional terms to prove his equality to the therapist. The narcissist distances himself from his painful emotions by generalizing and analyzing them, by slicing his life and hurt in neatly packaging the results into what he thinks are professional insights.

His message to the psychotherapist is there is nothing much that you can teach me. I'm as intelligent as you are. You're not superior to me, actually. We should collaborate as equals in this unfortunate state of affairs in which we inadvertently find ourselves involved.

This grandiosity leads to paranoia because there is a lingering suspicion that the therapist is mocking the narcissist. Deriding his grandiose inflated claims does not agree with his self-assessment. The less predictable the world, the more ominous and precarious it is, the more paranoid the reactions to this world are.

Sometimes through the mechanism of narcissistic mirroring, the partner reacts to a prolonged period of emotional deprivation and stress by emulating the narcissist himself.

The narcissist is then likely to reproach the partner by saying, you became I and I became you. You have changed so much I don't know you anymore.

The narcissist has a way of getting under your skin. The partner cannot evade the narcissist because the narcissist is part of life, part of the partner's self and identity, as internalized and interjected as any parent is.

Paranoid ideation. The narcissist's deep-rooted conviction that he is being persecuted by his inferiors, detractors, powerful in-wishers and critics.

Paranoid ideation serves two psychodynamic purposes. It upholds the narcissist's grandiosity, but equally important, it fends off looming, threatening intimacy.

Let's discuss these two functions.

So we start by grandiosity enhancing paranoia.

Being the target of relentless, ubiquitous and unjust persecution proves to the paranoid narcissist how important he is, how feared he is, how hated he is, how envied he is. In short, he is the center of the world.

Being hounded by the mighty and the privileged validates his pivotal role in the scheme of things. Only vital, weighty, crucial essential principals, only important people are bullied and intimidated the way he is, followed, harassed, stalked, intruded upon.

The unconscious inner dialogue is, if I'm sufficiently important to be plotted against, if I am sufficiently important to be the focus of conspiracies, I'm important. The narcissist consistently baits authority figures, contumacious, he baits authority figures into punishing him.

And so by being punished, he upholds his delusional self-images worthy of attention and of punishment. This provocative behavior is what we call projective identification.

The paranoid delusions of the narcissist are always grandiose, they're always cosmic, historical. His pursuers, his detractors, his critics, his persecutors, they're influential, they're formidable. They're never inferior. They're equals or superior. They are after his unique possessions, how to exploit his expertise or special traits. They want to force him to abstain and refrain from certain actions, or they want to goad him into certain actions, or they steal his ideas and plagiarize or something. The narcissist feels that he is at the center of intrigues and conspiracies of colossal magnitudes.

Alternatively, the narcissist feels victimized by mediocre bureaucrats and intellectual dwarves who consistently fail to appreciate his outstanding, really unparalleled, revolutionary talents, skills and accomplishments. Being haunted by his challenged inferiors, being haunted by people who can't appreciate what he has to offer, it substantiates a narcissist's comparative superiority. Driven by pathological envy, these pygmies, these dwarves, these midgets collude to defraud him, badger him, envy him is due, denigrate, isolate and ignore him unjustly.

The narcissist projects onto this second class of lesser prosecutors, his own deleterious emotions and transformed aggression, hatred, rage, seeding jealousy. Those are his qualities, but he attributes his qualities to the people who conspire against him.

The narcissist's paranoid streak is likeliest to erupt when he lacks narcissistic supply. When narcissistic supply runs short, the narcissist becomes paranoid.

The regulation of his labile sense of self-worth is dependent upon external stimuli. He needs adoration, adulation, affirmation, applause, notoriety, fame, infamy, something. He needs attention of any kind to feel that he's alive, that he exists. And when such attention is deficient, the narcissist compensates by confabulating, by lying to himself, by self-deluding.

Narcissists don't do reality faking. When they fake, it's real.

The narcissist constructs underground narratives in which he is the protagonist and he uses these narratives to force his human environment into complicity.

Put simply, the narcissist provokes people to pay attention to him by misbehaving or by behaving oddly.

And then there's a second type of paranoia, which is intended to fend off, to defend against intimacy. Paranoia is used by the narcissist to ward off, to reverse intimacy, to create this intimacy.

The narcissist is threatened by intimacy because it reduces him to mediocrity and ordinariness. It makes him common. Intimacy exposes his weaknesses and shortcomings. It causes him to act normally and to seem normal.

The narcissist also dreads the encounter with his deep buried emotions, hurt, envy, anger, aggression. And he believes that it is the intimate partner with an intimate relationship which foists on him these emotions or triggers them at least.

The paranoid narrative legitimizes intimacy repelling behaviors, legitimizes conduct that destroys intimacy, such as keeping one's distance, keeping secrets, aloofness, reclusion, aggression, intrusion of privacy, spying, lying, desultoriness, itinerancy, unpredictability, idiosyncratic or eccentric reactions, sex withdrawal, emotional absence, etc.

Gradually, the narcissist succeeds to alienate his intimate partner, to wear down all his friends, colleagues, well-wishers, inmates, spouses. Even his closest, nearest and dearest, his family, feel emotionally burned out, detached.

The paranoid narcissist ends life as an oddball recluse, as a schizoid, derided, decried, feared, loathed, hated in equal measures. His paranoia, the narcissist's paranoia, exacerbated by repeated rejections, by injuries, mortifications, aging, and life circumstances, such as the pandemic, his paranoia pervades his entire life, diminishes his creativity, constricts his existence, reduces his adaptability and function. The narcissist's personality, buffeted by paranoia, becomes ossified and brittle, and finally atomized and useless. Even the paranoia succumbs. It disappears and leaves a great void behind.

The narcissist had been consumed into nothingness, in the bad sense, into emptiness. He had become a black hole, swallowing even itself.

Counterintuitively, with paranoid intimate partners, it is better to share everything and to utterly and unmitigatedly be honest. No matter how bad and hurtful, reality always comforts the paranoid because it is so much less egregious and menacing than their own fantasies, suspicions, paranoid scenarios, and hypervigilance. What goes through the paranoid's mind is much worse than any possible reality. The paranoid's best friend is reality. His worst enemy is his own rampant, morbid, catastrophizing imagination.

Let me give you an example. The paranoid is married, and his spouse comes to him and says, I like this new guy at work. I like him a lot. I'm attracted to him.

The paranoid's inner dialogue is going to be, inner monologue is going to be, she's honest. She's telling the truth. So she's trustworthy.

If something happens with this guy, she will also tell me it is only human to be attracted to other people. I'm also telling her when I find other women attractive.

Sharing honestly makes me feel safe, secure, and good, makes me feel that I'm on top of the situation. I'm in control. I will never be hurt and surprised because I will always know everything in advance and anticipate everything.

Let's take another example. The spouse is attracted to someone at work, guy, corresponds with him, chats with him, but doesn't reveal any of this.

And then the paranoid finds out. His monologue in this case is, she's human and therefore she's probably attracted to this guy. But she's not telling me. She's not sharing with me her attraction to this guy. She's being dishonest with me. Who knows what else she's not telling me. She's probably having sex with some of these men that she's attracted to and not telling me. I feel threatened. I feel unsafe. I feel insecure, deceived, cheated. I feel stabbed in the back. I feel betrayed. Things are getting out of control. I must end this relationship. He catastrophizes.

Share. If you're with a paranoid partner, on the contrary, share everything.

Paranoia, I said, is a reaction to deficient narcissistic supply.

When the narcissist cannot obtain supply, he resorts to self-delusion.

Unable to completely ignore contrarian, countervailing opinion and data, the narcissist transmutes them. Unable to face the dismal failure that he is, the narcissist partially withdraws from reality.

To soothe himself, he administers a mixture of lies, distortions, half-truths and outlandish interpretation of events around him. And he has quite a few solutions and I'm going to focus on two of them, which have to do with paranoia.

The paranoid schizoid solution.

When the narcissist lacks narcissistic supply, sometimes he develops persecutory delusions. He perceives slights and insults where none were intended. He becomes subject to ideas of reference. People are gossiping about him, mocking him, prying into his affairs, spying on him, cracking his email, etc.

The narcissist becomes convinced that he's the center of malign and malintentioned attention. People are conspiring to humiliate him, punish him, demote him, abscond with his property, delude him, impoverish him, confine him physically or intellectually, censor him, impose on his time, force him to action, prevent him from action, frighten him, coerce him, surround and beseech him, change his mind, usurp with his time, part with his values, even bother him.

So these are some of the reactions to deficient supply. And they're so frightening, they create a reality that is not reality, it's delusional and it's terrifying.

So some narcissists withdraw completely from a world populated with such menacious and ominous objects. These objects, of course, are projections of internal objects and processes in the narcissist, but they are still felt and perceived as external.

Remember that narcissists confuse external and internal objects. This is a psychotic process. The narcissist now externalizes internal objects, projects them.

And so some narcissists withdraw from the world, they refrain from meeting people, falling in love, having sex, they don't talk to others, they don't even correspond with people. In short, they become schizoids, not out of social shyness, not because they prefer to be alone, like the classic schizoid, but out of what they feel to be a choice to avoid threats.

The world, they say, threatens me. The world is dangerous. It's a risk I'm not willing to take, or the world does not deserve me.

The inner refrain is, I shall waste none of my time and resources on such a world.

And this is the paranoid schizoid solution.

Another solution is the paranoid aggressive or explosive solution.

Other narcissists who develop persecutory delusions when narcissistic supply is lacking, they resort to an aggressive stance, a more violent resolution of their internal conflict. They become verbally, psychologically, situationally, and rarely physically abusive. They insult, castigate, chastise, berate, demean, humiliate, and deride, especially their nearest and dearest, often well-wishers, loved ones.

These kind of narcissists explode in unprovoked displays of indignation, righteousness, condemnation, and blame. It's an exegetic bedlock.

They interpret everything, even the most innocuous, innocent, inadvertent remarks. They interpret such remarks as designed to provoke and humiliate them.

These kind of narcissists sew fear, revulsion, hate, and malignant envy anywhere they go. They flail and fight against the windmills of reality.

It's a pathetic forlorn side, like Don Quixote.

But often, these narcissists cause real and lasting damage to themselves and to others.

The narcissist is the center of the world. He's not merely the center of his world. As far as he can tell, he is the center of the world. And this is an Archimedean delusion. It's one of a narcissist's most predominant and all-pervasive cognitive distortions.

The narcissist feels certain that he is the source, the prime mover and shaker, prima causa, primum movens, of all events around him. He is the origin of all the emotions of his nearest and dearest. The moods of everyone depend on him. He is the fount of all knowledge. He is the first and final cause. He is the beginning as well as the end. Yes, Alpha and Omega, God.

And this is understandable. The narcissist derives his sense of being, his experience of his own existence, and his sense of self-worth from the outside, not from the inside.

He mines people for narcissistic supply the way many people mine for Bitcoin. His Bitcoin, his cryptocurrencies, adulation, attention, reflection, fear, their reactions stoke his furnace. They are the coal in the mine.

Absent narcissistic supply, the narcissist disintegrates, he self annihilates. When the narcissist is unnoticed, he feels empty and worthless, or not at all. He feels he is not there. He feels transparent, invisible.

The narcissist must delude himself into believing that he is persistently the focus and object of attentions, intentions, plans, conspiracies, feelings, stratagems of other people. The narcissist faces a stark choice, either be or become the permanent center of the world, or cease to be altogether.

This constant obsession with his locus, with his centrality, with his position as a hub, this obsession leads to referential ideas, ideas of reference. This is the conviction that one is at the receiving end of other people's speech acts, behaviors, even thoughts. The person suffering from delusional ideas of reference is at the center and focus of the constant and confabulated attentions of an imaginary audience in most cases.

When people talk about anything at the corner of a room, the narcissist is convinced that he is the topic of discussion. What other topic can there be? When people quarrel, fight, he is most probably the reason for the fight. When they smirk, he is the victim of their ridicule. If they are unhappy, he made them unhappy. If they are happy, he made them happy. If they are happy, they are egotistical for ignoring his contribution to their happiness, decisive contribution.

He is convinced that his behavior is continuously monitored, criticized, supervised, compared, dissected, approved of, or imitated by other people. The narcissist deems himself so indispensable, so crucial, such a critical component of other people's lives, that his every act, his every word, his every omission is bound to upset, hurt, uplift, or satisfy his audience, some reaction.

To the narcissist, everyone is an audience. It all emanates from him, and it all reverts to him. He is the be-all and end-all. The narcissist has a circular, enclosed universe. He is the world. His ideas of reference are a natural extension of his primitive defense mechanisms, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence.

Being omnipresent, being present everywhere, explains why everyone everywhere is concerned with him and talks about him. Being omnipotent and omniscient excludes other, lesser beings from enjoying the admiration, adulation, and attention of people.

And yet, the energy depletion and the attrition afforded by years of tormenting ideas of reference inevitably lead to paranoid or paranoiac thinking. If you constantly believe that people are talking about you, concerned with you, monitor you, supervise you, if you are in a constant state of self-imputed surveillance, you become paranoid.

And to preserve his egocentric cosmology, the narcissist is compelled to attribute fitting motives and psychological dynamics to other people.

And such motives and dynamics have little to do with reality in all cases. They are projected by the narcissist onto others, so as to maintain his personal mythology.

Let me put it simply, or more simply, the narcissist attributes to other people his own motives and motivations, his own psychological processes and psychodynamics.

And since narcissists are mostly besieged by transformations of aggression, since mostly they experience rage and hatred and envy and fear, these emotions they often attribute to other people.

The narcissist is envious, so other people are envious. The narcissist is hate-filled, other people are hateful.

And so the narcissist tends to interpret other people's behavior as motivated by anger, fear, hatred, or envy, and is directed at him, revolving around him, because he is the axis.

The narcissist often erroneously believes that people discuss him, gossip about him, hate him, defame him, mock him, libel him, berate him, underestimate him, envy him, fear him, steal from him.

He is, sometimes rightly by the way, convinced that he is to others the source of hurt, humiliation, impropriety, and indignation.

And the narcissist just knows that he is a wonderful, powerful, talented, and entertaining person.

But he only explains why people are envious of him, why they seek to undermine and destroy him, because he is perfect.

And so the since the narcissist is unable to secure the long-term positive love, admiration, or even attention of resources of supply, because of his misbehavior, because of his abuse, people end up hating him, people end up deriding him, people end up decrying him, people end up walking away, abandoning him, women end up cheating on him. I mean, people end up betraying him, stabbing him in the back because of his of his abuse. He knows this.

And he knows that long-term, he cannot rely on people, on their love and commitment and investment.

So he results to a mirror strategy.

In other words, the narcissist becomes paranoid, better to be the object of often imaginary and always self-inflicted derision, scorn, and bile than to be ignored.

He says to himself, if I cannot be loved, let me be hated. If I'm about to be betrayed, let me betray first, or let me prepare myself.

Being envied is preferable to being treated with indifference. If he cannot be loved, the narcissist would rather be feared or hated than be forgotten.

And there you are in the midst of this whirlwind vortex about to be swallowed into the deepest abysses of this so-called man or woman that you're with.

Extricate yourself, no contact.

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

Faces of Narcissist's Aggression

Sam Vaknin discusses the narcissist's belief in their own uniqueness and mission, their sense of entitlement, and their aggressive tendencies. He explains how narcissists express their hostility through various forms of aggression, including brutal honesty and thinly disguised attacks. Vaknin also warns about the dangers of narcissists and their potential for physical and non-physical violence.


How Narcissist Sees YOU

In this transcript, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the narcissist's point of view and how they perceive their significant other. The narcissist takes a snapshot of their partner and idealizes them, but as reality sets in, they begin to change the way they see their partner. The narcissist sees themselves as a victim and their partner as an abuser, constantly blaming them for things and accusing them of being manipulative. The narcissist also accuses their partner of being self-destructive and lacking self-awareness, and may plot revenge if they feel humiliated or shamed.


8 Things You are Getting WRONG about Your Narcissist (EXCERPT)

Professor Sam Vaknin debunks eight myths about narcissism, including that narcissists do have emotions, empathy, and dread abandonment. He also explains that grandiosity is about being unique, not necessarily the best, and that some narcissists are pro-social. Vaknin also discusses the problem of misattribution error and how people often misattribute motivations to others. He provides examples of why people may stay in toxic relationships, persevere with old decisions, or opt for lifelong celibacy. Finally, he advises people to try to understand why they are being lied to and create a safe environment for people with cluster B personality disorders to tell the truth.


Why Narcissist Never Says “ I Am Sorry”

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the narcissist's inability to apologize or feel remorse, attributing it to their grandiosity, sense of entitlement, and lack of empathy. He also delves into the sources of the narcissist's immunity to consequences, including their false self, magical thinking, and manipulative skills. Vaknin argues that narcissists should be held accountable for their actions, as they are aware of right and wrong but simply do not care about others enough to refrain from harmful behavior.


Narcissist's Vulnerability: Grandiosity Hangover

Sam Vaknin discusses the grandiosity gap and hangover in narcissists, and how these vulnerabilities can be exploited to manipulate them. He explains that narcissists react with rage to any criticism or hint that they are not special or unique. He also provides strategies for dealing with narcissists, including using specific sentences to make them go away.


Narcissistic Abuse Recovery: First Separate, Individuate

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the process of separation individuation, which involves dissociation, objectification, and grandiosity, and is a prime example of healthy narcissism. However, if anything goes wrong in this process, narcissism arises and erupts. Narcissism is a failure of separation individuation owing to a lack of boundaries between the child and their mother. The narcissist aggressively and grandiosely converts their partner into what is called a self-object or an object representation, eliminating their ability to separate from them and regarding them as a symbol, voice, or representation, not as a real person.


Dissociation (Amnesia) & Confabulation in Narcissism (Intl. Conf. Clinical Counseling Psychology)

Sam Vaknin, a visiting professor of psychology, discusses dissociation in narcissistic disturbances of the self at a conference in Tokyo. He explains that the narcissist's sense of self is regulated by feedback from others and that the narcissist's true self is suppressed and replaced by a false self. The false self serves as a decoy and absorbs pain, while the true self becomes dysfunctional and detached. The narcissist experiences life as a detached observer, feeling alienated and controlled by the false self.


YOUR LOVE, Intimacy FEARED: Narcissist’s Perfectionism, Envy

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the narcissist's hatred towards others and how it is linked to perfectionism. The narcissist's fear of failure drives them to be perfect, and they believe they are infallible. The narcissist idealizes only internal objects and internalizes external objects to eliminate competition. In this section, Professor Sam Vaknin explains that the narcissist believes they are the only good object in the world and that they have internalized this object. Therefore, they do not need to envy anyone else. The narcissist becomes immune to envy and talks to their envy, telling it not to direct itself at them because they are the good object.


Narcissists Uses You In Unfinished Mommy Splitting

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of splitting in psychology, specifically ego splitting and object splitting. Narcissists and borderlines use splitting as a defense mechanism, but when faced with a mother who is all bad, splitting becomes inverted and the child splits themselves into a true self and a false self. Narcissists have no ego and outsource ego functions, leading to a dissociative and dysfunctional state. They also use projective identification to gain an illusion of control over objects and gain vicarious satisfaction from their activities.


Narcissist's Outsourced Existence, Trauma-Bonded Fantasy with YOU

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses three solutions narcissists use to cope with their empty schizoid core: outsourced existence, substitutive existence, and displaced existence. Outsourced existence involves collecting bits of existence from the environment and experiencing it as their own. Substitutive existence involves internalizing whole people and assimilating their existence. Displaced existence involves living vicariously through others, experiencing existence by proxy. These solutions are often hampered by narcissistic traits such as devaluation, paranoia, passive aggression, and entitlement.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2023, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy