Life is full of disappointments. For example, I'm still alive, back from Prague, Czechia.
And today we are going to discuss the narcissist's most mysterious behavior, devaluation, discard and replacement.
Why does the narcissist devalue you? Why does he discard you, even when you act as the perfect partner, submissive, fawning, adulating, admiring, loving, caring, empathic, warm, accepting, unconditionally there for him?
And yet, at some point, the narcissist turns around, becomes stone-cold detached, and then starts to devalue you. The mirror image of the love-bombing phase.
You had been perfect, now you are the reification of imperfection. You had been hyper-intelligent, and now you are dumb. You had been beautiful, and now you are ugly and fat and worn down.
What had happened in the narcissist's mind, or maybe in reality? Maybe it's something you did, maybe you're responsible for it.
The questions keep swirling in your mind. You can't make sense of this sudden turnaround, which ostensibly has had no external triggers, just out of the blue.
Well, today I'm going to reveal to you the secret reason behind the narcissist's inexplicable devaluation and discard behaviors.
I've touched upon it in previous videos, there's going to be a dialogue, which I had done with Richard Grannon in Prague on my recent trip, but this video right now would be a kind of a bridge, a bridge into the unknown, a bridge into eternity, a bridge into the narcissist's infinitely convoluted, contorted, confabulated mind.
What on earth is happening in this tortured labyrinth of the narcissist's brain when he suddenly decides that you are his worst enemy, a persecutory object, to be trashed? There's so much nothing.
My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Surf Lab, Narcissism Revisited, a professor of psychology in Southern Federal University in West Oveston, Russia, and a professor of psychology and a professor of finance in the Outreach Program of the SIAS consortium of universities, CIAPS, Center for International Advanced Professional Studies.
Phew, that was longer than the video itself, you hope.
Okay, Shoshanim, you missed it. Admit to it, you missed it.
Okay, Shoshanim, now let's delve right into the abyss known as the narcissist's mind.
I want to start surprisingly with a bit of news.
Men are using the replica artificial intelligence chatbot to create virtual girlfriends. This is an app that you can install, and then you can use this app to create virtual friends, virtual family members, virtual girlfriends, and so on and so forth, and these entities, these artificially generated entities, chat with you and gradually develop what feels very much like a relationship.
But here's a bizarre twist. These men create virtual girlfriends, and then they abuse them, and then they brag about abusing these artificial virtual girlfriends. They brag online. They boast in public. They swagger. They present themselves as the epitome of masculinity by virtue of having abused their virtual girlfriends generated by an artificial intelligence application replica.
This is a very interesting development because it constitutes proof positive that the victim's role in an abusive relationship is largely incidental.
I'm going to repeat this mind-blowing sentence because it undermines everything we think we know about abusive relationships. It utterly sabotages the science of victimology, and it casts victims in a totally new light.
And here is a sentence again. The fact that men abuse artificial intelligence applications pretending to be girlfriends, the fact that men are well aware that these are not real girlfriends, not flesh and blood, and yet abuse them and then go public about it. This is proof positive that your role in an abusive relationship as a victim is totally irrelevant, incidental.
Men would abuse artificial girlfriends, virtual entities, artificial intelligence apps as readily, as egregiously as they would abuse you, the carbon-based flesh and blood version.
Your role is largely incidental. Abuse revolves mostly around the psychological dynamic of the abuser.
In other words, abuse is not relational. It's not an external externalized behavior.
Abuse is internal. It's a form of psychodynamic. It's something that happens inside the abuser, a disturbance of regulation, a problem with identity, something internal, not external.
You just happen to be there in the crossfire.
Let's consider how else the narcissist, the entire relationship with the narcissist is intended to recreate the dynamics of the conflict with the narcissist's biological mother during his formative years.
The narcissist, like everybody else, is a baby to start with. He's an infant, but he has a dead mother. He has a mother who is not good enough, a mother who is selfish, absent, depressive, problematic, withdrawing, avoidant, anxious, a mother who instrumentalizes the child, parentifies the child, spoils and pampers the child, preventing the child from gaining access to corrective reality.
All these are forms of abuse, of course. Children are exposed to abuse and some of them become narcissists.
This early childhood conflict, this constant breach of the emerging boundaries of the child, the fact that the child had not been allowed to grow up, to separate, to individually, to become an individual. This remains as a burden, as an unresolved issue, no closure to your self-help balance.
The narcissist has unfinished business with his mother, accounts to be settled. A relationship with the narcissist has a hidden agenda behind it, a hidden text. It is an attempt, the narcissist's attempt, to recreate the dynamics, the conflict, the boundary breaching, the problem with separation and individuation that he has had with his original, usually biological mother, during the formative years, zero to six.
But why would a narcissist want to go back to that harrowing, desperate period? Why would he want to re-experience these emotions, which are essentially bad emotions? Why would he want to be told again that he's bad and unworthy, helpless, hopeless, etc.? Why go back to a period of your life, however remote, that had been all in all a very bad experience?
Well, because this time around, the narcissist hopes to have to accomplish different outcomes.
He firmly believes that if he were to recreate the early childhood conflict, the early childhood dynamics, if he were to recreate it now that he is an adult, the outcomes would be favorable and different and good.
And the main reason they would turn out differently is that he's no longer a child. The power matrix had changed with the original biological mother.
The narcissist as an infant was helpless, helpless. He was lacking in perspicacity, knowledge. He couldn't predict the behaviors of adults around him, his mother's behaviors especially.
He was not allowed to be in touch with reality and to develop reality testing. He was prevented or denied the ability to develop strict and firm boundaries and so his self did not emerge. He was rendered selfless, ironically.
And so here's a second chance.
The narcissist, regardless of his intimate partner, is a maternal figure, is a mother's substitute, a surrogate mother with whom he can reenact his childhood. It's a second chance at a second childhood, this time with different outcomes because the narcissist is strong, powerful, knowledgeable, unlike the infant who had suffered early on.
So the narcissist believes that he is going to rectify and remedy his faulty upbringing by teaming up with an intimate partner who would willingly collude and collaborate in acting out the maternal role.
So the narcissist hopes to obtain successful separation individuation.
Remember, with the original biological mother, the narcissist had failed. The mother did not allow him to separate and to become an individual. She emotionally blackmailed him, she stifled him, she spoiled him, she instrumentalized him, she parentified him, she physically abused him, verbally and psychologically invaded his turf, his mind, etc., etc.
The narcissist hopes that this time around with his intimate partner, he will be able to obtain perfect separation individuation. He will be able to finally say goodbye to mommy or to the surrogate mommy, to the substitute mommy.
But how can an adult separate individuals?
Children do it naturally. They walk away from mommy, they take on the world grandiosely.
What should an adult do?
The narcissist's way of separating, individuating from the intimate partner who is also a mother. The natural way to do that is devaluation and discard.
I want you to listen to this well because this is the core issue in relationships with narcissists and in narcissistic abuse.
The narcissist wants you to be his mother. That's the concept of dual mothership or dual motherhood which I have dealt with in my dialogues with Grannon and in other videos.
He wants you to be his mother. He wants you to love him unconditionally but he wants you to be his mother because he wants to obtain separation individuation from the very beginning of the relationship.
Hardwired built into the dynamic is the aim of saying goodbye to you, of becoming separate from you, of individuating, dividing himself from you.
The narcissist teams up with you as an intimate partner in a shared fantasy, forces you to act as a maternal figure so that he is able to separate from you and to become finally a grown-up, well delineated and boundaried adult.
But the only way he is able to separate from you and to become his own man is to devalue you and then to discard you.
In the original dynamic, the narcissist had been devalued and discarded by his own mother. Now that the power matrix had shifted, now that the narcissist is the strong party, the empowered party, now he's going to do this to his substitute mother.
It's all a mirror image. The narcissist continues his relationship with his mother through you.
He does not allow you to separate from him as his mother had not allowed him to separate from her.
And he devalues you and discards you the same way his mother had devalued and discarded him if he hadn't performed, if he had tried to separate.
So he is devaluing you and discarding you as a way of separating from you.
This is a crucial insight because it means there's nothing you can do about it. It's not your fault. You did nothing wrong. It's not about you.
Abuse, especially narcissistic abuse, is not about you. You don't exist. You are utterly replaceable, interchangeable. You are symbols. You are representations. You are internal objects. You are snapshots. You are introjects, everything, but you're not you. You're not real three dimensional human beings.
The narcissist and acts a monodrama, stages a theater play involving you incidentally.
The abuse has nothing to do with you. It's a series of steps and internal processes in the narcissist's mind.
In narcissistic abuse, the narcissist acts as a ventriloquist. Ventriloquist is someone who animates a puppet and speaks through the puppet. You don't see the lips of the ventriloquist moving. You see the lips of the puppet moving. The puppet is the one doing the talking, but actually it's the ventriloquist.
In narcissistic abuse, the narcissist acts as a ventriloquist. What happens is he creates a snapshot of you. He creates a representation of you, an avatar, an icon, which is embedded in his mind as an internal object. Then what he does, he animates this internal object. He brings it to life, a Pinocchio effect, if you wish. He brings this internal object to life by attributing to it a kind of monologue.
The internal object represents the victim and then the narcissist scripts the internal objects, tells the internal object what to say. It's like the famous saying, if I want your opinion, I'll give it to you.
So the narcissist allocates a lot to the internal object, a speech act. He tells the internal object, he gives the internal object a text and he says, please save this text aloud.
The narcissist misattributes his own voice and thinks that it is the voice of the introjects. He animates the introjects, kind of an animated film. He pulls the strings like a puppet master and he's a ventriloquist. It's a form of self gaslighting via attribution error.
The narcissist in his mind has a monologue going on and then he attributes parts of this monologue to internal objects which represent other people in his life, including you, the victim. And then he blames you because he misattributes the text. He misattributes the monologue. He thinks it was your monologue. Although the monologue is 100% his monologue, it's internal and it is carried out by internal objects.
The narcissist is a very confused person, almost psychotic.
Also he thinks you said it. That's why narcissists engage in behavior which is misinterpreted as gaslighting. It's actually a form of confabulation.
Now the external object, the actual partner, because you remember, there's you and you really exist out there. You're an external object, you're three dimensional, you eat, you breathe, you do other things which I cannot mention in good company. So you're alive, you're independent, you're autonomous, you're self-efficacious, you have agency, you're really out there, you exist.
Although after a few years with the narcissist, you begin to doubt it.
But let me tell you, you do exist and you exist as an external object. You're the narcissist's actual intimate partner out there, but the narcissist has a representation of you in his mind. That's the internal object.
What the narcissist does, the external object, you, is erased, erased in his mind, deleted, and it is supplanted, substituted for by an introject, which acts as a self-object or object representation.
I'm not going to the kind of academic and scholarly interpretation of self-objects and object representations. These are interchangeable concepts which describe what I call the snapshot or the introject or the avatar.
But for those of you who are clinicians and therapists and for my students, the external object is replaced with an introject and the introject acts as a self-object or object representation.
Narcissist said, the narcissist also usurps some roles in your mind.
So the first thing he does, he reduces you from an external object to an internal object and he takes control over the internal object and he animates it as a ventriloquist would do. He gives it voice. This voice is the narcissist's own monologue, but he does even more than that. He takes over some parts of you.
Most notably, he takes over your inner critic. Every human being alive has an inner critic. It's a kind of a voice, a voice that tells you what you're doing is wrong, what you're doing is socially unacceptable. You should stop doing this. It's bad for you. It's bad for others.
This is called the inner critic. Freud called it the superego. It's a part of the ego. The inner critic can be benign or benevolent, helpful, supportive, or the inner critic can be harsh and sadistic. We could have a sadistic superego.
There are conscious, conscience, which is another name for the superego, part of the superego. Your conscience can be rigid and demanding and punitive or helpful and supportive and in advisory capacity.
Some people have the types of inner critic and superego and conscious which are bad for them. They are enemies actually. They torture. They harangue. They criticize. They chastise and castigate. They're always there sitting in trial over you.
What the narcissist does, he enters your mind and he usurps, he kind of hijacks your inner critic and he turns it into a sadistic super ego. He takes over your inner critic. He renders the inner critic harsh, unforgiving, demanding, punitive, hateful, self-destructive, self-defeating, self-sabotaging.
So the narcissist not only takes over your inner critic, replaces your inner critic, he actually, the narcissist implants himself like a foreign implant in your mind as your exclusive inner critic.
From that moment on, whenever you want to resort to your inner critic, you actually find the narcissist there. The narcissist had taken over and now the narcissist is your inner critic.
The narcissist hates your guts because he has to replace you now. He has to separate from you. He has to individuate. He must devalue you and he must discard you and to do this, he must render you a bad, unworthy object. He must criticize you all the time.
So the narcissist inner critic function in your mind is sadistic. It's your super secretary object. It's an enemy, it's rigid and it's unflinching and unrelenting. In other words, it victimizes you.
The narcissist goes through three phases.
One, he converts you into an internal object.
Two, he takes over your inner critic or your super ego or your conscience and he starts to devalue you and torture you.
And then in order to separate from you and individuate, in order to complete reenact the early conflict with his original mother, this time successfully, he needs to devalue you. He devalues you, he discards you and this way he had conclusively separated from you. This time triumphantly as the victor empowered and strong, unlike the infant in his early childhood, when he was an infant and couldn't cope with mother, the power matrix as an infant was totally reversed. Mother was all powerful. The child is helpless, learned helplessness.
When the narcissist entrains you, we again refer you to two videos, one of which is a dialogue with Richard Grannon and another about entraining.
So when the narcissist entrains you, he takes over your inner critic and he takes over your ego boundary functions. There's a video dedicated to this, how the narcissist takes over ego functions or in the narcissist takes over your ego functions because he has no ego functions of his own. He outsources his ego functions from other people, a process known as narcissistic supply.
So he does the same to you. He forces you to outsource your ego functions to him.
Ego functions are very important. For example, your ability to understand reality, to comprehend it, is an ego function. Your ability to regulate your internal sense of self-worth is an ego function function.
And now all these functions are carried out by the narcissist. And because they are carried out by the narcissist, it's like you have outsourced your mind.
The narcissist had converted you into an internal object. He took over your inner critic, your super ego, and now he takes over your ego functions. He hollows you out. He empties you. He renders you a reflection and a resonance of his own internal empty schizoid core.
You become a replica, a mirror image of the narcissist. So he takes over your totality and suddenly you develop an external locus of control. You feel that your life, your mind, your emotions, your cognitions, your affect, your decision-making, your choices, everything, your moods, everything is determined from the outside by the narcissist. You are a puppet. You have been puppetized.
And so this is an external locus of control. It's like you had been rendered virtual. The narcissist assigns to you the role of a victim in his script, but more importantly is the role of a mother.
Now that he had taken over your inner critic, now that he is usurped and absconded with your ego functions, now that you are nothing but a representation and avatar, a symbol, two dimensional cartoon, now as a mother figure, he can do anything he wants to you. Now he is all powerful and you are totally helpless.
A mirror image of his relationship with his mother in early childhood, but a reversal.
Now he is the empowered party and he's going to do to you what he should have done with his mother. He's going to separate and individually by devaluing you and discarding you.
Once you're out of his life, he literally and figuratively he had separated from you.
The only way for him to separate from you is to separate himself from you.
And in order to do this, he needs to consider you unworthy of him. In other words, he needs to devalue you.
Now all this is the culmination of a historical process.
Now there's the whole field of social psychology and psychohistory and so on. And there are groups of scholars like the mouse and others who seriously claim and pretty convincingly sometimes that mental health disorders are culture bound. They're reflections of the period in history, culture and society.
I largely share some of these sentiments.
I think, for example, narcissistic personality disorder and more generally narcissistic disorders of character and self are do reflect a modern and postmodern civilization.
And so if this is true, everything that's happening to you as a victim is largely determined or at least heavily influenced by the period in history you live in, culture and society you inhabit and the technologies you use, which leads me to the metaverse.
Bear with me as I'm going to close the circle at the end of the video.
But we need now to step back and ask ourselves why this phenomenon of narcissistic abuse? Why narcissistic personality disorder?
These are hallmarks of the 20th century. Why did they come into being or come to be recognized at least in their current form in the 20th century? Why not in the 17th century or the 10th century?
And to understand that, I think we need to talk about technology.
And I want to go from the future to the past, the metaverse.
The metaverse Web3 is the future of the internet. It is an immersive environment. It is an artificial environment.
The metaverse is supposedly a universe on the internet that would provide you with anything you need. All your activities, including work, sex, emotional gratification, entertainment, all would be catered to fully within an artificial environment, the metaverse.
Now, the metaverse wouldn't be the first time that humans have transitioned from reality to an artificial environment. It is not an unprecedented instance of what I call virtualization.
Now, it's a bit surprising because people think the metaverse is unprecedented, never happened before. That is not true. Thousands of years ago, there was a process called urbanization.
Urbanization started. It's still ongoing, by the way. Thousands of years ago, urbanization, the move from village or farm to city, the move to cities, the habitation of cities, is called urbanization. Thousands of years ago, urbanization drove millions of people from nature to cities.
What are cities? Cities are artificial environments. Cities are virtual environments. They're not natural. Cities are not natural. Cities are not farmland. They're not forests. They're not lakes. They're not habitats or natural habitats. Cities are artificial virtual environments.
The transition from the farm or from the village to the city is the exact equivalent of the transition from reality to the metaverse. Thousands of years ago, urbanization drove millions of people from nature to cities. Cities are the reification and the quintessence of fantasy rendered in bricks and mortar.
Backpedal to agriculture. Agriculture requires an intimate acquaintance with nature. It requires a relatedness to nature. Agriculture is embedded 100% in nature.
But agriculture also fosters non-narcissistic traits. Agriculture, for example, engenders, encourages the capacity to delay gratification and to prepare for the future.
You put a seed in the ground today, you have to wait a few months until it becomes food or additional seed. This period of waiting trains you to be patient, trains you to observe, to be observant.
This period, the inevitable period of waiting, there's nothing you can do about it. It's the natural rhythm of nature. There's nothing you can do about it.
So you develop a capacity to delay gratification and you develop a view of the future. You develop a concept of time and the consequences of your own actions.
If you misbehave, you will have nothing to eat. You will go hungry. You need to tolerate adversity and you need to have humility in the face of the elements.
Now, how do we call all these traits and behaviors? Put them together. This is one word, maturity.
Agriculture forces you to grow up, forces you to be mature, forces you to have traits and qualities that encourage and enhance collaboration with others and with nature, integration with nature. These are all worthy parameters of human conduct and human character.
Agriculture cannot tolerate narcissism. If you're a narcissist in an agricultural society, you're bound to end up as a hungry or a dead narcissist. Agriculture tolerates no vanity, no egotism, no exploitativeness, no lack of empathy. Agriculture expects you to behave in ways which are conducive to your own benefit as well as to the benefit of all others.
In other words, agriculture is the antonym of narcissism.
All these benign traits and behaviors have been lost in the transition to cities.
When people move to dense, non-natural dwellings, they lost all this. They became increasingly more and more narcissistic in a desperate attempt to be noticed, to be seen and to kind of muscle in on scarce resources.
Allocation of scarce resources within cities required ambition, competitiveness, relentlessness, lack of empathy and other traits which are typical of narcissists.
The city had infantilized its inhabitants because it had rendered them dependent on the country. They no longer grew their own food. They had to wait for other people to grow their food for them. The city had rendered its denizens narcissistic, psychopathic and or codependent.
All these malaysians, all these diseases are the diseases of modernity starting a few thousands years ago with urbanization.
Megalopolises also precipitated and facilitated the environmental calamities that enshroud the planet today and that threaten our very survival as a species.
Ultimately, cities had created adverse dynamics between genders, between people. Cities led to the disintegration of communities, families, other institutions, the challenge to authority structures and hierarchies and so on.
All in all, I think as far as the psychology of human beings, cities have been an unmitigated catastrophe, unmitigated disaster.
I think also environmentally, the adverse outcomes of the metaverse, the adverse outcomes of the metaverse will far outweigh the adverse outcomes wrought by the mass migration to cities.
In other words, the next transition from reality to virtuality is going to be much worse.
The first transition from reality, from nature to the virtual and the artificial, the city had its horrible consequences, most notably the rise of narcissism.
The second transition from cities to the metaverse will have much, much worse outcomes.
And the reason is this, in physical human habitations, societies, institutions and other individuals constrain each other via intricate and ever-evolving webs of checks and balances, not so in cyberspace.
Cyberspace is solipsistic, self-sufficient, self-contained, asocial, competitive, self-centered and aggressive.
The transition from nature, from agriculture to the cities was a transition from communality and benevolence to narcissism. And the transition from the cities to the metaverse will be a transition from narcissism to psychopathy.