So let me get it, you say. Can I trust the narcissist or I shouldn't trust the narcissist? What is it that you are saying? It's not clear.
Sometimes you say that the narcissist never lies, he never future fakes, he never gas lies. And at other times you espouse the policy of no contact, you advise us to stay away, to break up.
How come, how can we reconcile these two conflicting messages?
Cognitive distortion, shared fantasy, a lack of empathy, no external objects, no emotions and training, projective identification. How can you trust someone like this? How do you ever know if he is being fake or being authentic? If he is being false or if he is being real or true to himself?
Can you trust the narcissist?
The surprising answer is sometimes you can, it depends.
So you ask impatiently, what is finally your advice?
My advice is to never trust the narcissist. Let me put the two together.
Sometimes you can trust the narcissist, but you are well advised to never trust the narcissist.
And that is because you are not qualified to tell the different, the distinctions and differences and subtleties of narcissistic personality disorder. It's a very, very shape shifting kind of mental illness with shades and nooks and crannies that you will never ever visit.
You can't wrap your mind around the narcissist. You can't make sense of his or her world and motivations and attitudes and intentionality.
So better not try.
Still, for the sake of completing the picture, whether to trust the narcissist or not depends on what I call locus of grandiosity.
What is the narcissist proud of? His arrogance and haughtiness and sense of superiority. What do they rely on? What's the foundation?
The narcissist's grandiosity to remind you is a cognitive distortion. It's an impairment of reality testing. It's a way to avoid reality, to compensate for an innate sense of inadequacy, unworthiness and imperfection. So grandiosity is not about reality. It's about the narcissist's psychological needs. It's a constellation of introjects, of internal voices.
Grandiosity is a form of inner speech. In many ways, grandiosity resembles what passes in other people for conscience or other mentally healthy, normal people have a conscience.
The narcissist has his grandiosity. The narcissist's grandiosity affords him, provides him with self-regulation as well as impulse control and behavioral control.
But all this is subject to a cognitively distorted reality divorced, counterfactual, inflated, fantastic narrative of self-perception and self-image as godlike and immune to the consequences of his or her actions.
This is the internal landscape of the narcissist.
The narcissist is invested, emotionally invested, emotionally invested in upholding his or her grandiosity.
The narcissist has a story about himself, a narrative about herself and the narcissist would do anything not to deviate or diverge from this narrative because this would cause self-injury, narcissistic self-injury or even self-motification to avoid this, not to experience direct contact with a reservoir or repository of shame in himself.
The narcissist always closely adheres, adheres and obeys the story that he has concocted about himself. The narrative that she has come up with to describe herself to herself and to others.
This is known as grandiosity.
So if the narcissist's fantastic inflated self-image is about his or her trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, truthfulness, morality, altruism, giving contributions to the community. If this is what the narcissist is proud of, these things are what the narcissist is proud of, if they are the underpinnings of his sense of superiority, he says, no one is as honest as I am. No one is as moral as I am. No one is as giving as I am. I am unique in my trustworthiness. I can be fully trusted. I am so truthful that I sometimes sacrifice my own interest and self-sacrificial.
I am the epitome in the quintessence and the reification of morality. I contribute to my community. I love, I'm compassionate, I'm attentive, I am empathic.
If the narcissist, I'm a savior, I'm a fixer, I'm a healer, never mind. If the narcissist's grandiosity emanates from these self-convictions, the narcissist would never deviate from them.
And in this case, you can trust the narcissist. This is a pro-social, communal narcissist and you can trust him.
If his grandiosity is based on the fact that, for example, he is honest, then he would really never lie because to lie would injure him narcissistically, would undermine his grandiosity. If his grandiosity is based on the fact in his eyes that he is a great giver, a charitable altruistic person, he would behave this way.
If his grandiosity relies on the fact that he always gets things right, then he's bound to go deeper into research, find out all the facts and give you good advice and good tips or good professional service.
So narcissists can be trusted, but it depends very crucially on their grandiosity, the locus of the grandiosity, the type, the variety, the flavor of the grandiosity.
And here comes the complication.
Here is where things get complicated because you never know if the narcissist's speech acts, if the things he says, his utterances, you never know if they are meant to reflect his grandiosity or they are meant to manipulate you or they have the outcome of a cognitive distortion.
Let me explain this. It's a bit complicated even to explain.
The narcissist, like each and every other human being, makes statements about himself. He self-reports. We have no access to other people's minds. We have to rely on what he's saying and we have to rely on what he's saying about himself as well.
So if someone comes to you and says, I'm sad, you just have to believe them. Although there is a possibility that they're lying or that they're being manipulative.
It's the same with the narcissist. All you have to go on is what the narcissist says about himself.
If he keeps saying, I am moral, I'm truthful, I'm honest, I'm altruistic, I'm giving, I'm reliable, I'm trustworthy. If he keeps saying this, it may be the way that he perceives himself. It may be a reflection, an echo of his grandiosity, his inflated fantastic self-image.
But it could equally be an attempt to manipulate you, an attempt to provide you with the wrong information so that your decisions are ill-informed and tilt in the favor of the narcissist's self-interest.
So it could be a manipulative ploy, a manipulative strategy.
The third possibility is that the narcissist actually believes these things because they constitute a part of, for example, the shared fantasy.
Narcissists do not lie, they do not fake, they do not gaslight, they do not future fake.
But narcissists do confabulate, they try to bridge memory gaps. Narcissists do engage in fantasy, and fantasy is the opposite of reality. Narcissists do coerce you into the fantasy, they do try to convince you that the fantasy is real and reality is wrong, reality is untruthful.
So they try to coerce you and if you resist, they punish you.
So when the narcissist says, "I'm honest, you can trust me, I'm honest, I never lie." Or when the narcissist says, "I'm a giver, don't worry about it, I'm going to take care of you." Or when the narcissist tells you, "I love you, I love you like I've never loved before." Or when the narcissist tells you, "I'm a moral person, I would never commit a crime, I would never go against the law, I would never break the law, I'd never go against society."
And so when the narcissist makes these statements, there are three possibilities.
Either these statements are real, this is the seat of the narcissist's grandiosity and he would really adhere to these percepts and these tenets of behavior and he would never break them. He would comply with his own self-image and self-perception.
Possibility number one is bullshitting you in order to manipulate you to do his bidding.
And possibility number three, he really believes these things because they constitute an integral part, not only of his self-image and self-perception, but of the shared fantasy that he's trying to sell you on, he's trying to coerce you into.
So because of this uncertainty, because there's no way to tell, my recommendation is to never trust the narcissist. Never trust the narcissist, not because the narcissist can never be trusted. The narcissist can be trusted sometimes. Don't trust the narcissist, never trust the narcissist, not because the narcissist lies or gaslights. No, but because the narcissist believes his own lies and confabulations.
Narcissist gaslights himself, first and foremost, the narcissist self-deceives long before he deceives you. You can't play this game. You're not good at it.
And there's no way to decipher and decode and deconstruct the narcissist's statements about himself.
The narcissist self-reporting is suspect because the narcissist himself doesn't have full unmitigated, healthy, normal access to his own emotional and cognitive landscape.
The narcissist is the first one who should never trust himself and you should follow this good example.
The narcissist's great deception is not gaslighting or future-faking or even outright lying.
Narcissists believe their own fantasies, their own confabulations. They staunchly defend the veracity and truthfulness of everything they're saying, not because they're deceptive, not even because they are malevolent, but because they're deluded. They're sick. They can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality. They've lost this capacity in early childhood.
Narcissism is a fantasy defense written large in Gwen.
But still I'm saying that the narcissist is the most deceptive being ever.
How come? Doesn't deception involve premeditation, deliberateness, goal orientation? Doesn't deceiving people involve a plan, some stratagem?
Not in the case of the narcissist. The narcissist's great deception is the belief that he is human, that he is not an absence but a presence, that he somehow exists, that he is able to relate to other people, that he's able to comprehend the essence of being human, of humanness, that his dynamics are indistinguishable from the dynamics of other people, normal people, healthy people.
This is the great deception. This is the misleading message. This is the false advertising of the narcissist.
Look at me. I have two eyes and two ears and two hands and two legs and therefore I'm exactly like you. Rest assured, I know how you feel. I understand what it is to be you. I'm one of you and yet the narcissist is not.
The narcissist is a half-baked human, not full-fledged, a form of artificial intelligence, an alien.
Any epithet and any label that suits you. The narcissist is a shell wrapped around an empty schizoid core.
At the heart of the narcissist, where a heart should have been, there's a black hole sucking inwardly everything in the orbit of the narcissist.
Anyone unfortunate enough to enter the narcissist, ambit and remit.
The narcissist is a piece of simulation, sophisticated mimicry, emulation elevated to an art form. It is an absence pretending to be a presence.
Avoid claiming to be matter.
And so this is how the narcissist lies to you. This is how the narcissist gaslights you.
And this is why the narcissist's future fakes, not like the psychopath. It's not deliberate, it's not cunning, it's not skimming. It's just who the narcissist is. His very essence, his very existence is the big lie.
As children, we learn how to be men and women, grow up to be husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, lovers and abusers. These are all roles. We imitate and emulate role models, such as parental figures, influential peers and role models on mass media and social media.
This way we grow up and we become these roles. They are integrated into our identities, inseparable from our substance, our essence, and quiddity who we truly are.
The narcissist is none of these things and can never be. The narcissist grew up in a dysfunctional household where the parental figures were absent or selfish or depressed or instrumentalizing or parentifying or abusive in more than one way.
The narcissist said no one to imitate could emulate no one safely and was always or always felt rejected, abused, humiliated. In this traumatic childhood environment, the narcissist grew up with a disrupted identity. It is called identity diffusion.
Later on in life, identity disturbance. The narcissist doesn't have a core identity and this applies to borderline personality disorder as well.
So what to do?
You grow up and you're supposed to be a man. You're supposed to be a woman. You're supposed to be, I don't know, a spouse, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, or for pro-social and communal narcissist. You're supposed to be a healer, a savior, a rescuer, a fixer. You're supposed to be a role model to others. I don't know, a coach, a therapist.
What to do?
Narcissists imitate and emulate in a way that is a caricature. They become grotesque simulations of the real thing.
And this is because it's all external appearances. It's all a facade. It's all play acting. It's all a theater production. It's all a movie script. It's all a piece of fiction. In short, it's all a fantasy. There's no substance there.
If you pierce the shell, there's only emptiness.
Narcissism is about absence. It's not about presence and not about existence.
So how can the narcissist be a real man?
The answer is, he can never be a real man. He is a macho, caricature of a man.
How can a narcissist be a real woman?
The answer is, of course, she can never be a woman. She is a grotesque caricature of a histrionic woman.
How can a narcissist be a healer or a savior or a coach or a therapist or a psychologist or a medical doctor or any member of the helping professions?
The answer is, he can never be truly helpful, truly supportive. He can never provide saccord.
Saccord is out of his repertory.
What the narcissist does, he goes through the motions. He's like a programmed robot, an artificial intelligence, gun or eye and out of control. The narcissist doesn't even bother or can't be bothered with maintaining consistency, long-term consistency in his behaviors and cognitions and emotions. He has no memories. He's dissociative.
Therefore, narcissists have no stable core identity. And without a core identity, who are you? Who are you?
A nothing, a black hole, a void with the howling winds of what could have been and would never happen.
I'm a rude, ill-mannered, abrasive and contemptuous person. But I could easily fake being nice and pleasant and smiling and even to some extent empathic and possessed of emotions.
So what is better? Is it better to be a fake, pleasant person or a rude, authentic self?
Depends who you ask. Sigmund Freud, for example, advocated faking. He coined a word, sublimation, to describe the conversion of instincts and urges and drives which are socially unacceptable, antisocial, a-social and socially harmful. Conversion of these instincts and drives and urges into socially acceptable activities.
Freud was very big on sublimation. He thought we should all fake for the sake of maintaining a coherent, cohesive, functioning society.
So does, to some extent, Jordan Peterson, who advocates basically fitting in, collaborating, teamwork and not being too abrasive, too opinionated, too rejecting, too rude and too antisocial, in short, don't be too wackening.
So that's if you ask scholars over the last 100 years, they all advocate essentially conformity, fitting in by, if necessary, feigning social qualities such as empathy, succor, support, helpfulness, attentiveness, compassion.
Nature begs to differ. Nature is a lot more ambivalent about fakery.
You see, in nature, animals fake. This is known as mimicry, and there's a whole video dedicated to it on my endless YouTube channel.
But mimicry in nature has to do with predatory practices. Predators fake. They fake being pleasant animals, harmless animals, nice cutie pie animals, and then they eat you alive.
On the other side of the equation, the prey fakes being predators. Thus the prey pretends to be a predator or pretends to be unappetizing.
It's all about predation. It's all about dog eats, dog eats, dog. It's all about jungle. It's a jungle out there.
So faking in nature is not a good practice. It heralds, it's a harbinger of hunting and dying.
But in human society, the glue that holds all of us together is etiquette, manners, pretensions, fakes, white lies, omissions, purposeful omissions.
People who are abrasive, rude, contumacious, look it up, defiant, hateful, contemptuous. People who humiliate and shame others, scorn them and belittle them. People who fail to collaborate in teams with other people. These kind of people are shunned. They're relegated to outer oblivion. They're ostracized. They're punished even by the legal system. They end badly. Society punishes those who refuse to conform by play acting. You're not nice. It's okay. Keep it to yourself. Play nice. Be pleasant. Act collaborative. Listen to other people. Help other people. Heal other people. Save other people.
These are the social edicts.
And if you don't comply with them, society will fall on you like a ton of bricks and you will pay the price.
Self-awareness is knowing who you are. It is not the same as authenticity. Authenticity is being who you are, acting who you are.
And yet, in conditions of fear, incur and uncertainty, it is very difficult to be authentic. Fear precludes authenticity.
And so does pervasive uncertainty. We are in the world where there is a war between the genders, between straight and LGBTQ, between minorities and majorities, between self-proclaimed victims and their putative abusers.
So what to do? Stay at home. Stay celibate. Stay single. Do not expose yourself to this crossfire. The world is not safe right now. It is time, actually, to be both self-aware and authentic and self-sufficient. It is time to stand back and review your priorities and your necessities and your needs. And then to make a decision as to which level of risk you are ready to assume.
Because today, to engage with other people is to risk your freedom and very often your very life.
Narcissists and psychopaths make use of two techniques of mind control. The psychopath leverages these techniques knowingly, deliberately, intentionally, he is goal-oriented. The narcissist uses these techniques unconsciously. That's just the way he is. That's how he operates.
And so these techniques are entraining and projective identification. I've discussed entraining in many videos on my YouTube channel.
To summarize, entraining is the repetition of musical notes or words in a way that synchronizes the brainwaves of the listener with the brainwaves of the emitter of the signal.
So when the abuser verbally abuses his victim, when he repeats the same refrains, the same phrases, the same words, the same exhortations, the same criticisms, the same threats, this constitutes entraining because it synchronizes the victim's brainwaves with the abuser's brainwaves, rendering them a hive mind, a single mind, the ultimate in mind control.
The second mechanism is a lot more complicated and a lot more nuanced and a lot more difficult to explain. It's known as projective identification and the problem in projective identification is the identification part of it.
The victim identifies herself with the narcissist's projected parts.
Now let's first explain projection. Projection is when you have traits or emotions that you disown, that you reject, that you're not comfortable with, that you're ashamed of and then what you do, you take these traits and you take these emotions and you misattribute them to other people.
You say, "I'm not weak, he's weak. I'm not abusive, she is being abusive." There is projection.
Now projective identification involves projection. The narcissist projects the traits and emotions that he rejects in himself or herself and misattributes these traits and emotions to the victim.
Now of course whenever I say he, it's a she, half of all narcissists are women.
And then the projection having been completed, the victim becomes the parts that the narcissist had rejected.
The narcissist misattributes traits and behaviors to the victim and the victim owns them. He identifies with them. He accepts them as his own.
The victim becomes what the narcissist wants him to become. The victim becomes the part of the narcissist that the narcissist had rejected.
The traits and emotions and cognitions that the narcissist is ashamed of, that the narcissist rejects, that the narcissist renounces. These parts are owned by the victim. The victim is molded by the narcissist's projection and hence the word identification.
And then the victim begins to behave accordingly. He begins to conform to the parts of the narcissist that had been projected onto her.
The victim becomes the shadow of the narcissist, the rejected parts of the narcissist.
The traits and behaviors and emotions and cognitions that the narcissist cannot countenance now become the victims.
And so, projective identification is a defense mechanism of the narcissist, but it ends up modifying the victim's behavior.
The victim becomes an extension of the part of the narcissist which the narcissist disowns, denies, represses, rejects, hates, and is ashamed of.
Consequently, of course, the narcissist rejects, renounces, and hates the victim because she now represents the part of him that he wouldn't like to acknowledge.
She's a constant reminder of who the narcissist truly is. And her behaviors, having been modified by the narcissist, validate and conform the narcissist's expectations of the victim, but at the same time constantly trigger the narcissist by reminding him who he really is.
Self-awareness is knowing who you are. It is not the same as authenticity. Authenticity is being who you are, acting who you are.
And yet, in conditions of fear and terror and uncertainty, it is very difficult to be authentic. Fear precludes authenticity, and so does pervasive uncertainty.
We are in the world where there is a war between the genders, between straight and LGBTQ, between minorities and majorities, between self-proclaimed victims and their putative abusers.
So what to do? Stay at home. Stay celibate. Stay single. Do not expose yourself to this crossfire.
The world is not safe right now. It is time actually to be both self-aware and authentic and self-sufficient. It is time to stand back and review your priorities and your necessities and your needs, and then to make a decision as to which level of risk you are ready to assume.
Because today, to engage with other people is to risk your freedom and very often your very life.