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Signs You are Being Idealized or Devalued

Uploaded 11/4/2023, approx. 43 minute read

How can you tell if you are being snapshotted, idealized, devalued?

What are the telltale signs of the narcissist's subtle transitions, ups and downs, cycles?

Everything is happening inside the narcissist's mind. He is not interacting with you, he is interacting with the representation of you in his mind. He is interacting with your avatar, with your icon, if you wish.

And so how can you tell?

Is there any way to ascertain at which phase of the shared fantasy you are?

Just to remind you, when the narcissist comes across a potential intimate partner, someone who could accede to and adhere to the shared fantasy, when a narcissist comes across a potential source of narcissistic supply, the narcissist snapshots that person, internalizes the snapshot in a process known as introjection.

And then continues to interact with a snapshot of you. Never ever with you is an external object.

The narcissist has a convoluted and complex relationship with a snapshot.

It starts by photoshopping the snapshot, idealizing it.

And then he proceeds to devalue the snapshot and to discard it in order to reenact the incomplete separation from his own biological mother with the hope of becoming this time an individual of developing personhood.

Of course, it never works, hence hovering.

But I will not go into it in today's video.

There are other videos dedicated to hovering and I encourage you to search the channel. There's also a shared fantasy playlist on this channel. Everything is geared for your convenience and comfort because most of you are Americans.


OK, Shoshanim, am I American or not? Let us delve right in.

But before we do, allow me to present myself.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Surf Love: Narcissism Revisited. I'm a former visiting professor of psychology in Southern Federal University in Russia. And I am a long term member of the Faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Toronto, Canada, and an outreach campus in Lagos, Nigeria.

Having dispensed with these pleasantries and self bragging, let us examine you in the shared fantasy.

It is a very disorienting experience. The transitions are so abrupt that they take your breath away.

There is a sense of dislocation.

Many of you, many of the victims of the narcissist react with derealization, depersonalization and amnesia. These are dissociative responses.

The narcissist actually reduces you to a borderline state. He dysregulates you emotionally and otherwise you begin to develop moodlability, ups and downs, depression, elation. It's all within the set of manipulative techniques. It's a reaction.

Those are reactions to the set of manipulative techniques employed by the narcissist, very often unconsciously, one of them being intermittent reinforcement.

While the narcissist is fully aware of his behaviors or even misbehaviors, he is not aware of his own psychology, psychodynamic processes and motivations. He has no access to his own emotions. He is a half baked human being, a simulation and not a very good one.

So idealization requires from a few hours to a few days from the moment of interjection of snapshotting. And snapshotting occurs instantly when the narcissist decides that you could serve as an intimate partner in a shared fantasy or as a source of narcissistic supply.

So the snapshotting requires an elaborate process within the narcissist's mind to reach the conclusion that you could collude with him in his fantasies, that you could somehow buttress and uphold his grandiose inflated view of himself, his self-imputed affection, superiority and divine attributes.

So this takes time. Now it can take sometimes years. It can take decades. The narcissist can come across you in a work setting, in a church, in a club, on a trip.

And at first he would not judge you to be the right stuff, the right material. And then days later, weeks later, months later, following personal contact or correspondence or what have you, and sometimes with no contact whatsoever.

The narcissist suddenly reaches the conclusion that you are the one. You are the one and now he embarks on a predatory hunt for you.

No. Why are you the one? Who knows? Even the narcissist can't exactly tell why you are the one.

The narcissist never sees you, never truly sees you. He never interacts with you as an external object.

So if you were to interrogate the narcissist, why do you find me to be the ideal, wonderful, perfect partner for you?

He won't be able to answer actually in the vast majority of cases, or he would simply spew out unrealistic, detached idealizations of you which don't resemble you at all.

The narcissist just knows.

And because the narcissist is omniscient, he is all-knowing, he is godlike, he is infallible, he never makes mistakes.

The fact that he has reached a conclusion that you could be his intimate partner or his social supply is indisputable. He never doubts it. He never questions it. He never revisits it. Devaluation is an entirely different thing.

Devaluation is not about revising his original opinion. It's about revising you.

In the devaluation phase, the narcissist rebuilds or reconstructs or reframes or dismantles or deconstructs the original internal object that represents you in his mind and rebuilds it as a persecretary object, an enemy within. Trojan Horse, a fifth column.

So in both cases, the narcissist feels justified. Having decided, having reached a conclusion that you are perfect for him, he never doubts his own fallibility. He never says, "I may have made a mistake." Instead, he would say, "She has changed." Or, "She deceived me." Or something like that. He would put the blame on you.

So the devaluation is about revising the introject, the internal object that corresponds to you in a way that would exonerate the narcissist, render him perfect, perfect victim, for example, so as to allow him to devalue and discard you.


But I deal with all this in multiple videos. And again, I encourage you to visit the Shared Fantasy playlist.

So to summarize, the narcissist reaches the conclusion that you are the one, he snapshots you, and within hours, literally within hours, maximum a few days, he idealizes you.

What are the signs that you have been snapshotted, introjected, and that you are being idealized?

In short, what characterizes, what is colloquially known, is the love bombing phase.

First of all, probing. The narcissist scans you with his called empathy. Called empathy is reflexive empathy plus cognitive empathy, but absent the emotional component or emotional dimension of empathy. It's the kind of empathy, the future artificial intelligence program might have.

So the narcissist scans you, literally scans you, as an MRI machine would do. And he tries to spot your vulnerabilities, your weaknesses, your frailties, your predispositions and proclivities, your preferences, your wishes, your dreams, your tendencies, etc, etc. These are the chinks in your armor through which the narcissist will intrude, penetrate you and invade you in every possible way, physical and mental.

It's like an intrusion detection system reversed. The narcissist can be conceived of as a virus or malware, and it kind of pings you, it pings you until it creates, until the narcissist has created a map of you with access for invasion and penetration.

Now the probing, the scanning for vulnerabilities is disguised as limerence and infatuation. The narcissist is all over you, and he appears to be extremely infatuated with you. He appears to have fallen in love with you. He appears to be lovesick. And what is even worse, the narcissist experiences the probing phase as limerence and infatuation.

The narcissist is honestly convinced that he has fallen in love, that he can't live without you, that you are his other half, or if he's so inclined to inflame soulmate and other such nonsense.

So the narcissist deceives first and foremost himself. Having identified you as a potential target, his detection system is triggered, very similar to a military system, a military weapon system.

So his detection system is triggered, and he scans you. At the same time, he data mines. There's a process of data mining. The narcissist is going to interrogate you like few other police forces. He's going to ask you about everything imaginable. Every event in your past, in the minutest details, everything you've ever experienced, everyone who has ever shared your life with you. Your family, your friends, your former lovers, your bosses, your colleagues.

The narcissist is going to create a dossier, a file on you, the way some intelligence agencies do. It's the utmost ultimate surveillance operation.

The narcissist data mines you in order to generate a profile of you, which would kind of incorporate the vast majority of data, relevant data, relevant in the sense that he could use this data in the future, to somehow obtain favorable outcomes, in short, to manipulate you to do his bidding.

So probing and data mining. It's flattering. The whole process is couched in infatuation, charm, limerence, falling in love. And it's very flattering to be the focus of such laser guided attention. It makes you feel special, makes you feel complex, makes you feel amazing, makes you feel worthy of such an ordinate focus, concentration and in-depth penetration, makes you feel the subject of a biography. It's as if you become a mini celebrity in the narcissist's ambidextra circle.

So the narcissist becomes your biggest fan, your follower. He follows you around everywhere and he keeps interrogating you. It's like he is thirst for information about you is unquenchable and it is irresistible to you because you've never been exposed to such intensity, fire hot intensity of interest. Someone interested in you to this extent. It's addictive and so you, this compromises you because you dole out the information. You give the information about you to the narcissist because you want him to continue to be so focused and interested, focused on you and interested in you.

You want this to proceed. You feel elevated, you feel deified in some way. In short, the narcissist triggers your narcissistic defenses, your own grandiosity.

At this stage, the narcissist moves to the next phase. The next phase is accelerated intimacy and ostentatious trust.

Accelerated intimacy requires a compression of normal processes, processes that take time, a compression of these processes into an exceedingly short period of time.

Now these things do happen in couples. Every relationship, every intimate relationship proceeds into deeper and deeper levels of daydreaming and planning and imagining and fantasizing about your togetherness.

But it takes months. It takes years for such a process to be healthy. It requires certain benchmarks, certain yardsticks, certain goalposts.

The narcissist compresses, it's like a zip file, you know, the narcissist compresses everything and becomes very insistent on total intimacy now, as if you've been together for years. It's a very big red alert warning sign.

The second thing the narcissist demands is ostentatious trust. So the narcissist confides in you, confesses to you, shares with you, gives you access to all kinds of things within days and expects you to do the same. He expects you to do the same because gradually he wants to take over your life, to control it. It's a hostile takeover in effect because it leads inexorably to devaluation and discard.

The whole sense of the shared fantasy, the goal, the meaning of the shared fantasy is to lead the narcissist to separation and devaluation from you.

So trusting the narcissist to an ever growing extent is exceedingly dangerous. It's an ominous sign.

You should never do this.

But the narcissist pushes you. He feigns disappointment and disillusionment and anger when you refuse to trust him to the extent that he demands, which is infinite.

So accelerated intimacy and ostentatious trust, the trust has to be visible, has to be conspicuous. The trust has to be outlandish, self-defeating even, to convince the narcissist and yourself that you're one, that you're a single organism with two heads.

The narcissist, the narcissist, pushes you in effect to enmesh with him, to fuse and merge with him, not because he wants to merge and fuse with you, but because it's a controlled tactic. That's his way to maneuver you and control you and make sure that you don't abandon him until he is ready to abandon you.

All this leads to impaired reality testing. The narcissist intentionally pushes you to form a couple or a dyad within days or weeks, whereas the normal process, as I said, the habitual process takes years or months.

So this is very disorienting. You feel as if you were trapped, either in a dream, your dream is coming true, or in a fantasy or in a nightmare.

Now, the narcissist doesn't gaslight intentionally because the narcissist believes his own confabulations and his own promises and his own fantasies.

The first victim of the narcissist's deception is actually the narcissist, and he is convinced absolutely that you are going to get married and have three wonderful children within two days.

So he's not future-faking and he's not gaslighting intentionally, but as far as you're concerned, it amounts to gaslighting and future-faking.

The narcissist's motivations are not relevant because he ends up doing what the psychopath does, which is gaslighting and future-faking. He does it and owing to unconscious processes he self-deceives.

But as far as you're concerned, he's victim. It's the same. The outcomes are the same.

So the narcissist undermines, challenges and undermines your reality testing. He begins to make you doubt yourself.

You ask yourself all the time, "Is this for real? Am I getting it wrong? Am I no longer embedded in reality? Have I lost it?"

For example, the narcissist constantly justifies your behaviors. And even when you know that you shouldn't have done something, that you've misbehaved, the narcissist keeps telling you that you have acted rightly.

Now this drives you away from reality. You want to hear that nothing's wrong with you, that all your actions are utterly justified. This is very addictive, very enticing, very tempting and seductive.

So you succumb to the narcissist's offering of "I will always be there to justify"but it drives you away from reality.

The narcissist casts you as a victim, victim of your exes, a victim of your family of origin, a victim of your boss and colleagues. He drives you to develop a victim mentality, a victim stance and finally a victim identity, victimhood. He drives you to adopt victimhood as a defining determinant and dimension of your identity.

And this of course is not true. This is not real. It's another way of driving a wedge between you and reality.

The narcissist keeps comparing you favorably as superior to other people. He compares you to people in his past, to people in his present, to celebrities, to other people, to neighbors, to colleagues, to friends, to parishioners. And you're always on top. You're always blemishless. You're always perfect. You're always right. You're always right.

So this phase, the narcissist is distorting your self-image and self-perception. Healthy self-perception requires a recognition of advantages and disadvantages. Right and wrong. Shortcomings and superiorities, proper healthy normal self-perception is balanced. The good and the bad.

The narcissist drives you to develop a grandiose, counterfactual, unrealistic, fantastic inflated self-perception.

Therefore, he's driving you away from reality and weakening you because you no longer know yourself properly.

Your boundaries begin to dissipate and you are not quite sure what constitutes proper behavior and inappropriate misconduct.

The narcissist refrains your failures as unmitigated and alloyed successes.

That is also very disoriented.

In short, the narcissist becomes the buffer, the interface, the firewall between you and reality. He takes over your reality testing.

So whenever you want to judge reality, whenever you want to appraise it, you revert to the narcissist as the sole authority.

That is a cult. Nastasis creates a cult.

You might as well be in a prison cell with no access to the media.

Now, the narcissist communicates to you the idealized internal object that represents you in his mind.

He keeps describing to you the parameters and contours of this idealized object. He keeps telling you about his expectations, how you should behave, what you should think, how you should dress, etc.

So gradually the narcissist conveys to you the way you should be, which is the idealized perfect object in his mind and how you should behave to accomplish this perfection, behavioral expectations.

The narcissist becomes very possessive of you. That is not romantic jealousy. There's no fear of loss. It's about monopolizing your time and your resources so that you are utterly depleted, dependent and devoid of any independence, agency, self-efficacy and personal autonomy.

His possessiveness is about strangulating you, suffocating you. It's like the walls of your prison cell are contracting. He constricts your life because he is a controlled freak. He is a controlled freak because he has abandonment anxiety, separation insecurity. We're not going into it right now.

But he is a controlled freak. He is very intrusive. Surprises, for example, are a major weapon of the narcissist. The narcissist keeps surprising you.

But the surprises are not only intended to please you and gratify you. The surprises are also intended to disbalance you, to create a state of constant trepidation, anticipation, uncertainty, indeterminacy. Surprises keep you on your toes and utterly dependent on the narcissist's goodwill. Surprises are a form of intermittent reinforcement.

The narcissist seeks to realize your fantasies. Now that you have confided in him, in the beginning of the lab, Bobby, during the probing and the data mining stage, he came to learn everything about you.

So he knows your fantasies and he is hellbent and set on realizing your fantasies. Again, as a tool to control you, it's very edifying and very gratifying and very addictive to have your fantasies come true.

Narcissist does everything I've just mentioned in order to mold you, to become so dependent on him, that you would agree to shape shift in order to fully conform to the idealized internal object in his mind and change your behavior to meet his expectations.

And this is what I call coercive snapshotting because when you don't conform, when you disagree, when you criticize, when you fight back, when you resist, when you show any hint of independence and autonomy and personal agency and so on, the narcissist penalizes you. It becomes very punitive, anything from silent treatment to physical beatings.

So the coercive snapshotting phase is about coercing you into fitting the internal object in his mind, molding you, shape shifting you, sculpting you like Pygmalion and Galatea, sculpting you to become that internal object.

So that there's no discrepancy, no daylight between the external object, which is you and the internal object that represents you in his mind.

This lack of discrepancy or reduced discrepancy also reduces, mitigates, ameliorates the narcissist's internal tension, stress, anxiety. It's an anxiolytic stage.

The narcissist wants you to become that idealized, counterfactual, unrealistic, inflated, grandiose, superior, perfect ideal object in his mind and able to do anything to force you to become that object.

Hence coercive snapshotting. Once you have become, once the narcissist judges that you had become or that you largely conform to the internalized, idealized object, he then parades you. I call it trophy parading.

He shows you in public. It's a form of ostentation. He brags about you.

You see, he says to everyone, I am the proud owner of an ideal object. That makes me ideal. Only ideal people possess ideal objects.

Here's my object. Look at her. She's perfect. She's drop-dead gorgeous. She's amazingly brilliant and hyper intelligent. She's perfection. She's godlike. She's a goddess. She's a goddess that makes me a god.

This is co-idealization. Ostentatious trophy parading.

Throughout this process, this initial phase of the shared fantasy, throughout this process, the narcissist uses sex as a tool to control you, bait you, trap you, get you addicted to him, form a bond in an attachment.

Hypers sexuality. It's false advertising. The narcissist is incapable of having sex with another person. The narcissist is auto-erotic. Even when the narcissist is in bed with another person, the narcissist is making love to himself using the other person's body.

In short, the narcissist must abase with the other person's body.

So the narcissist's hyper sexuality, competitive sexual praises, he says you are the best in bed. I've never had sex like this and so on. All these are intended to captivate you, to entrap you.

And then the narcissist feels confident that he's not about to lose you. The sex diminishes, vanishes altogether or becomes overtly masturbatory. He doesn't bother or care anymore about your needs in the sex.

When the idealization is complete, the narcissist changes his interlocution. He changes his speech patterns, his speech acts.

Whereas throughout the initial phase, the love bombing phase of the shared fantasy, the communication was mostly about you. You were the center of attention. You were the focus. You were the subject to be learned, to be studied, a bit like an insect in a laboratory.

So in the initial phase, it's 99% about you. Once idealization is complete, you have been molded and shapeshifted into the internal idealized object. You're no longer yourself. You're no longer yourself. You conform to the narcissist's unspoken expectations, behaviorally. Even your thoughts and your emotions are controlled by the narcissist, let alone your moods. You're an extension of the narcissist now. You're a figment. You have become indeed an internal object. You have lost your externality, your separateness, your autonomy.

At that point when the narcissist decides that he owns you, possesses you so totally that there's no way for you to elope or to escape.

At that point, the narcissist stops talking mostly about you and starts to talk mostly about himself.

And from that moment on, for the rest of your relationship, it's about him, 90% about him.

Even if he were to ask you something about yourself, it's because he wants to ascertain that you're going to function, that your functionality is not hampered or obstructed, that you're not going to abandon him.

Even when he talks in this later stage of the shared fantasy, even when the communication is focused on you, it's because the narcissist is lacking some information. So it's a form of data mining.

Coffee break.

Devaluation resembles very much the separation phase, not only in early childhood, but also in adolescence.

There is a second separation phase in adolescence.

The narcissist, when he discards you, is very much like an adolescent. He's defiant and reactant. He's contemptuous. He distances himself. He defines his identity in contradistinction to your identity. We call it negative identity formation.

His identity is the opposite of your identity. He's not you. That's his identity. And his approach avoidance. All these are very common among adolescents who are separating from parental figures. And they are very common among narcissists in the discard devaluation phase.

So in the narcissist's mind, when he already starts devaluing you, he had already discarded you. He has already discarded you. In his mind, you are discarded.

The narcissist devalues you because he has already discarded you in his mind. He hasn't discarded you in reality because he has to keep you around. He didn't tell you to walk away. He didn't break up with you because he needs you to hang on. He needs your availability. He needs to have access to you in order to devalue you.

But in his mind, you are long gone. You are long discarded.

The devaluation in the narcissist's mind follows discard.

By the way, exactly like separation in reality. In the separation phase from mother, mother is idealized. Then the child separates and then the child devalues mother.

He develops a more realistic perception of mother, which includes her bad aspects, frustrating aspects, shortcomings, failings, flaws. The realistic image of mother following the separation phase at age two to three is a devalued image.

Prior to separation, mother is perfect. She is godlike. After separation, she is a mere human. She is devalued.

So the narcissist goes through the same phases in his mind and in reality, but in reality, he has to keep you around. So he gives you the impression that you have not been discarded, but that's a lie because in his mind, even before he starts with the first first hint of devaluation, you're long gone. You're no longer with him.


What are the signs of imminent devaluation? How can you tell when the narcissist has discarded you in his mind and is about to embark on a campaign of degradation, denigration, humiliation, contempt, devaluation against you? How can you tell?

The transition from love bombing, shared fantasy to devaluation is very often abrupt and inexplicable. It's a whiplash. It's mind contorting. It's utterly, utterly incomprehensible. It's a bolt from the blue. It's a thunder stroke.

People feel disoriented, dislocated, discombobulated, confused. They don't know what to do. They internalize shame and guilt. They castigate themselves and chastise themselves.

I've done something wrong, maybe. Did I provoke him? Did I misbehave? They don't know what to think. They don't realize that's an internal dynamic.

Since the narcissist's mind has nothing to do with them. The narcissist's intimate partner is flabbergasted. She's heartbroken precisely because she can find no reason, rational or irrational, for what's happening. She doesn't realize that she is just an artifact. She's just a symbol. The narcissist's mind is in operation.

These stages, idealization, discard, devaluation, they all take place within the narcissist's mind. They are artifacts of his mind. They are processes that unfurl and unfold in his brain. They have nothing to do with external reality. They have nothing to do even with you.

Any and all intimate partners go through the same inalienable, indistinguishable phases. You are utterly interchangeable. You're a commodity like a grain of rice or an internet service provider.

It's not about you and you've done nothing wrong. It's about the narcissist and the inexorable, inexorable, ineluctable, inevitable processes that infest his mind because it's an infestation.

But how can you tell that it's about to happen, this inevitability?

The first thing is emotional absence. Suddenly the narcissist is indifferent and cold and detached. There is affected civility, ostentatious politeness, the use of language which is not intimate and alienating, formal language, cold language, freezing language. The narcissist is absent in every possible way. He pays no attention to what you're saying. He doesn't commiserate, doesn't offer support or help or help or advice. He shows no interest in you and your life even more than typically. He's gone for all intents and purposes. He's gone.

That's the first telltale sign. You see this happening, a sudden transition from the warmth and affection and engulfment of the shared fantasy, transition from this to cold absence.

You know that discard and devaluation are a food to borrow from shadow calls.

And then the second phase is constant criticism and denigration of absolutely everything you're doing, of everything you're not doing, of everything you're thinking and everything you're feeling, every communication or lack of communication, every choice, every friend, every family member.

And even your past, total and constant criticism, for example, of your sexual history.

So putting you down, demolishing you brick by brick, undoing you, disentangling you, breaking you to pieces, to smithereens, leading to a state of falling apart and disintegration under these constant hammer blows or Chinese water torture.

The criticism is astute because the narcissist possesses cold empathy. He knows which buttons to push. He realizes where your vulnerabilities lie. He knows the chinks in your armor. He's able to penetrate and intrude and invade you in more ways than you know.

The narcissist knows you to some extent better than you know yourself. And if you have been long enough with the narcissist, you have become his creation.

So he's like a sculptor destroying his own sculpture.

And this constant barrage of degradation and humiliation and criticism serves as a voice, becomes a kind of externalized, harsh critic instead of an inner critic, an outer critic, but as lethal and as destructive as a sadistic super ego or sadistic inner critic.

The narcissist conflates this behavior with passive aggression, silent treatment, standing aside, non benign core, malevolent actually, nonintervention. He sabotages and undermines initiatives, rejects offers and suggestions, avoids contact, withdraws, denies sex and intimacy, for example.

This passive aggression coupled with aggressive criticism complete the entire picture of human aggressive behaviors.

In other words, the narcissist is aggressive during the devaluation phase in every manner known to humanity.

He makes unfavorable comparisons between you and other women, for example, if you are a female intimate partner, he would make unfavorable comparisons between you and other women in a way, triangulate, provoke your jealousy, get a rise out of you, humiliate you and make you feel ashamed of yourself. Utterly destabilize the foundations of your self-esteem and self-confidence drive you to the corner where you would cower with pain and hurt, cause you to neglect yourself and abandon these aspects of you which used to matter to you, for example, your looks or maybe your education or maybe your social life. He would constrict your life, he would denude you of everything that made you happy, he would push you into the territory of anhedonia, inability to experience pleasure and dysphoria bordering on depression.

He, the narcissist, sets you up for failure and pushes you to misbehave.

These are his instruments in order to shame you, to guilt trip you, to emotionally blackmail you, to prove to you and to show you how inferior you are, how imperfect you are, how stupid you are, how gullible you are, how much better you could have done had you just put your mind to it.

So how lazy and indolent you are.

In order to do all this, the narcissist needs you to fail, encourages you to fail, creates situations in which you are liable to fail, there's no other way but to fail.

And he pushes you to misbehave.

Narcissists have been known to push their partners to cheat on them, to misbehave with other men or women. Narcissists have been known to push their partners to commit antisocial acts, crimes, to behave recklessly, to develop addictions. Narcissists drive you into these misbehaviors because these misbehaviors, these misconduct is a weapon in the narcissist arsenal against you. Anything and everything you do or say or don't do and don't say can and will be used against you.

And the narcissist will make sure that to replenish this armory of slings and arrows, he acts as a cruel fate, if you wish.

The narcissist during the devaluation phase, develops paranoid ideation and pathological jealousy, including retroactive jealousy, jealousy of your former boyfriends or former sex partners.

The narcissist becomes overbearingly and overwhelmingly suspicious. He begins to scrutinize everything you do. He spies on you. He collects evidence and he creates an atmosphere of terror and intimidation and ambience of walking on eggshells.

This is also part of the devaluation because indirectly it leads you to doubt your own perception of reality and again sets you up for failure because who can function properly in such an ambience, such an environment? No one can.

The narcissist on purpose acts secretly. Suddenly he becomes very, very secretive. Clandestine activities, financial or romantic, a love affair, perhaps insinuated or real. He won't let you in.

Big swaths of the day, many hours a day. He's gone. You don't know where, you don't know with whom, you don't know what he's doing.

He behaves in ways which make you uneasy, make you terrified, make you suspicious. He saws doubt in your mind about his intentions and about his commitment to your well-being, to your health, to your prosperity, to your thriving, to your success.

His secret parallel second life is again intended to inject a dose of uncertainty into a situation which anyhow is high in anxiety and dread.

The narcissist disparages you and humiliates you, not only in private, but also in public, in front of your common children, common friends, your colleagues, other people, neighbors, family members.

He makes sure to expose your weaknesses, your errors and mistakes, wrong judgment, stupid utterances and sentences you have said and so on.

He depicts a picture of you gradually over time that is very, very non-complementary. A picture of you that renders you old or kind of shows you in the worst possible light, especially with people you care about, people who matter to you or people you seek to emulate and admire.

He undermines not only your image, but he undermines your prospects because if he does this with your boss, you're very unlikely to receive a promotion.

If he seess doubt between you and your children, that is the core of what is colloquially known as alienation. Some of it is goal-oriented to hurt you the most.

The narcissist is very angry at his original mother because she didn't let him become, she didn't allow him to be, to have a life. So he takes it out on you.

There's a lot of punitive attitude in the narcissist devaluation phase. It's not only about splitting, rendering you old, bad, and the narcissist all good. It's not only about justifying the narcissist's discard. It's also about putting you down, putting you down as someone who stands in for a figure in which you are not going to be.

The narcissist's life, who had let him down, frustrated him and put him down, frustrated him and put him down. Frustrated him and prevented his self-actualization, rendered him a non-entity, an emptiness, an avoid.

His mother, the narcissist's mother took away his life, took away his essence and identity and the capacity to ever regain them.

And he needs to punish her and all her successes, especially you.

So he withholds sex and when he does have sex with you, he degrades you.

Narcissists are known to engage in kink or to push you to have group sex with other men if you're a woman.

And the idea is to kind of prostitute you, devalue you, show you that you're a piece of trash, trick you as unworthy of boundaries and respect.

Narcissists use sex, weaponize sex and weaponize the absence of sex.

At the same time, during the devaluation phase, there are ongoing preparations for the discard.

The narcissist ceases to have any joint activities with you, backs off from things you used to do together. He reneges all the rituals and routines of common daily life in a couple. He avoids going out with you. So he dismantles your social circle and your social sphere, your common social circle and social sphere. He opts out of your life. He's gone. He waves goodbye if he ever does. He simply stop deactivates your togetherness. He steps out and steps aside and you're all alone on your own suddenly without a partner.

In the shared fantasy phase, the collaboration between you amounted to a merger or a fusion. You became one organism for all intents and purposes. You did everything together. Everyone in your social circle was both his friend and your friend. Or everything you did with your social circle, you did jointly.

There was a sense of becoming one. And this sudden schism is very much like surgery. It's like you're cut open, you're amputated. The pain is indescribable and it creates pervasive distrust. Your distrust in him causes you to gradually detach emotionally, build defenses and ultimately walk away.

Which is precisely what the narcissist wants you to do. He wants you to be guilty of the discard as well.

And in the meantime, he micromanages everything that has to do with him. Access you have to anything from his bank accounts to his daily life. He suddenly puts under a magnifying glass. He places it under a microscope. He studies every move you make, every breath you take. He micromanages you, makes you feel stifled, suffocated, struggling for a breath of air in a space that gradually constricts and closes in on you.

He is very reminiscent of a coffin in a funeral for your dead marriage or dead relationship.

By the 1990s, the process of idealization and devaluation has been fully described in the scholarly literature.

Both narcissists and borderlines idealize their intimate partners for different reasons. And then they devalue this very same intimate partners also for different reasons.

So when I came on the scene in the 1990s, I added a third phase, the discard. Much later, I added yet another stage, the replace.

Now we have a sort of quadratic equation of idealization, devaluation, discard and replacement.

But is this sequence identical to what goes on through the narcissist's mind?

In his demented and tortured mind, does the narcissist follow these steps sequentially in the same order or not? And why does he transition from one to the other?

How can you tell that the narcissist is about to devalue you and discard you? Are there any telltale signs, behavioral, cognitive, emotional?

This is the topic of today's video lecture.


Now, if you turn on captions in YouTube, it says, "My name is Sam Vaknin." Not Vaknin, but Vaknin.

I love YouTube. They get straight to the essence. They see through me and they realize that I'm not Vaknin at all. I am Vaknin. There's nothing more humorous than the auto captions in YouTube.

The cycle titles that are generated automatically by YouTube's supposedly artificial intelligence.

Artificial it is. Intelligent, I'm not quite sure.

Okay, Shoshanim, you've had enough of my not funny sense of humor. Let us get straight to the points promised.

The stage of discard. I've described the stage of discard in previous videos as a reenactment, a replay of the unresolved separation phase with the narcissist's original mother.

Just to refresh your memories of what's left of them, the narcissist was unable to separate from his mother as a child because he had been abused or traumatized.

The mother wouldn't let him go for various reasons. She could have been possibly selfish or maybe narcissistic or maybe depressed or maybe dependent on the child, parentified the child or maybe just found the child to be a satisfactory source of sadistic supply, tortured the child in various ways.

Whatever the reason may be, the narcissist's mother refused to let him go, refused to allow him to set firm boundaries to become an individual divided from her.

So the narcissist had never separated from his mother.

Fast forward to the narcissist adulthood. He finds you and he tries to convert you into a substitute mother, a maternal figure.

And the general idea is that he can replay with you his childhood like an old tape, a second chance.

He can reenact all the dynamics between him and his original mother with you.

But this time with a different resolution. This time the narcissist is going to succeed, to separate from the maternal figure, which happens to be you.

This separation is the discard. The narcissist is compelled, compulsively, is compelled to separate from you.

He is forced by internal dynamics, he is forced to discard you.

Disguising you is a symbolic separation from the original mother.

I've explained all this in much Following separation, there's a phase called individuation.

Individuation is setting boundaries, developing a well-constellated, integrated, coherent and cohesive sense of self, regulating one's sense of self-worth, etc.

Becoming an individual in individuation.

In the narcissist's mind, the only way to separate from you is to discard you. And the only way to individuate, to become an individual, is to devalue you.

Wait a minute, Vaknin. Say those of you who are still awake, why does the narcissist need to devalue me in order to become an individual?

The question is simple. The answer, regrettably, like everything else in psychology, is complex.

Remember what the narcissist does when he first comes across a potential intimate partner, you?

He takes a snapshot of you. And then he internalizes this snapshot, this avatar.

Introject in clinical terms. He internalizes it.

And then he photoshops it. He idealizes it. He idealizes you.

And now he has to get rid of you in order to separate from this new maternal figure, in order to separate from you, in order to complete the separation successfully with his new mother, which is you.

He needs to discard you.

But what justification does he have for discarding you? After all, he has idealized you. How can he explain getting rid of an idealized object, discarding a person who is ideal, perfect, brilliant, drop-dead gorgeous, supremely intelligent, almost as intelligent as Vaknin?

How do you account for suddenly discarding, suddenly getting rid, suddenly disengaging from someone like this?

You need to devalue that person. To explain to himself and to others the discard, the narcissist needs to devalue you.

But the stage of devaluation is the mirror image of the stage of idealization.

The devaluation is the opposite, the antithesis, the polar opposite of idealization.

So that's a problem because the narcissist has to admit to himself if to no one else, but usually to others as well.

He has to admit that he has been wrong. He has to confess that he has idealized the wrong person. He has to acknowledge a mistake. He has to accept the error of his judgment.

And the narcissist can never do this. The narcissist has idealized you and now he needs to devalue you.

But by devaluing you, it's as good as admitting the mistake of having idealized you. It's as good as saying idealizing her was a mistake. She was the wrong person. I made the wrong decision. My judgment was affected somehow adversely. I committed an error.

No narcissist would say this because it's narcissistic. Injury. And if it's in public and humiliating, it's a mortification.

Narcissists would never admit to a mistake.

So how to square the circle? How to square the circle?

The narcissist desperately needs to separate from you. But to do this, he needs to discard you and to discard you, he needs to devalue you.

And to devalue you, he needs to acknowledge that the idealization phase was a mistake that he had committed.

No narcissist would do this.

So what the narcissist does is a reversal of the internalization introjection phase.

You remember that when the narcissist first came across you, he took a snapshot of you and then he idealized this snapshot.

And now what he does, he externalizes this snapshot. He kind of hands it back to you, hands the snapshot back to you.

And rather than interject the snapshot, he projects the snapshot. So it's a reverse process. It's a mirror process.

The narcissist takes a snapshot and says, "Here you are, take the snapshot back." It's like giving you back a wedding ring or a gift that you had bought. Here's a snapshot, take it back.

And I'm projecting onto the snapshot all the bad qualities. And of course, many of these bad qualities belong to the narcissist.

The narcissist imbues the discarded snapshot with his own counter-productive traits, self-destructiveness, self-defeating behaviors, etc., etc.

The discarded snapshot becomes the narcissist actually. In a way, the narcissist disowns himself through the devaluation phase.

It's very difficult to wrap your minds or to wrap your heads around what I'm saying. So I'll go through it again one last time very briefly.


The narcissist needs to discard you. To discard you, he needs to devalue you. To devalue you, he needs to acknowledge a mistake.

But he cannot acknowledge that he had committed a mistake. He cannot acknowledge that his judgment had been wrong.

So what he does instead, in order to preserve his grandiosity, even as he exits the shared fantasy, what he does, he hands you back the snapshot.

But the snapshot that he hands you back is actually a reflection of the narcissist himself.

This process is known as splitting.

The narcissist makes you all bad. And by making you all bad, he renders himself all good.

And he says, "She is actually all bad. She had deceived me. She had changed from the worst. I'm a good person, so I was misled."

In other words, the narcissist aggrandizes himself by splitting the negative aspects of himself, placing them on the snapshot and handing the snapshot back to you.

The original process of creating the snapshot is called, in clinical terms, internalization in projection.

The reverse process that leads to devaluation and discard is externalization projection.

The narcissist actually regresses to a very early stage in his childhood when separation occurs.

Separation happens at age 18 months.

The narcissist regresses to age 18 months or two years.

And at that age, there is a defense mechanism called splitting.

And what the narcissist does, he renders you all bad and he renders himself all good in his own eyes, thereby preserving his grandiosity.

It's the only way for him to exit the shared fantasy without acknowledging his own imperfection, without experiencing shame for having failed to evaluate you properly.

So, he tries to do this.

Now, the vast majority of narcissists fail in this attempt to externalize the snapshot and to imbue the snapshot with all the bad aspects of the narcissist.

This attempt usually fails. And it fails because of something called repetition compulsion.

I have a video dedicated to why the narcissist hovers you. Please go and watch it. When this process fails, there is hoovering.

Okay. I don't know if you noticed something very interesting.

In the narcissist's mind, the discard precedes the devaluation.

In order to separate from you as a maternal figure, the narcissist in his mind emotionally first discard you and then uses projection externalization to devalue you.

So, in his mind, the sequence is reversed. It's not the same sequence as his behavior in reality.

In his mind, he idealizes you, devalues you, discards you, and then devalues you.

I repeat, in the narcissist's mind, he idealizes you. He then discards you as he would have discarded his original mother.

At age two, the mother is still idealized. The toddler, the two-year-old toddler who separates from mother, is separating from an idealized image, an idealized imago, an idealized internal object.

It's the same with the narcissist. He idealizes you, and then he discards you. He separates from you while you're still idealized.

But to explain to himself why he is separating from an idealized person, from an ideal person, from a perfect person, to explain this to himself, the narcissist devalues you.

So, we have a divergence. We have a discrepancy. In the narcissist's mind, it's idealization, discard, devaluation, replacement. In reality, it's idealization, devaluation, discard, and replacement.

How can we explain this discrepancy? How can we account for it if the narcissist has discarded you in his mind prior to devaluing you?

Why in reality, he devalues you before he discards you?

Because he has to hang on to you. He has to keep you around. He needs you there because he needs to complete the process with you.

Had he discarded you immediately after having idealized you, you will not be around for the devaluation phase.

Let me repeat this. If the narcissist were to idealize you, and then the narcissist were to discard you, you would walk away, and you would not be available there for the devaluation phase.

So, the narcissist has to reverse the order. He has to first devalue you and keep you around in order to complete the devaluation process, and only then he discard you.

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Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the process of idealization, devaluation, discard, and replacement in the context of narcissistic behavior. He explains the psychological dynamics behind these stages and how they relate to the narcissist's need to separate from their intimate partner. Vaknin delves into the complexities of the narcissist's mindset and the internal struggle they face in justifying their actions. He also explores the discrepancy between the sequence of events in the narcissist's mind and their actual behavior.

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