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Some Abuse Victims Never Learn

Uploaded 1/17/2014, approx. 2 minute read

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

He ends up killing the entire family. His mother is the sole survivor in witness to the massacre. He also goes on a rampage and eliminates or assassinates or exterminates numerous schoolmates before his apprehended, all smiles.

But the film ends with his mother, now reduced to a dysfunctional shell and shadow of her former self, visiting him in prison on a regular basis. And even hugging him for good measure.

Yes, it is true. Some victims never learn.

You hear these victims say, it is true that he is a chauvinistic narcissist or psychopath, and that his behavior is unacceptable and repulsive and frightening.

But all he needs is a little love, and he will be straightened out. I, the victim, will rescue him from his misery and misfortune. I will transform him. I will give him the love he lacked as a child.

Then his narcissism, psychopathy, anti-social traits and behaviors will vanish, and we will all live happily ever after.

I often come across said examples of the powers of self-delusion that the narcissist provokes in his victims. It is what I call malignant optimism.


People simply refuse to believe that some questions are unsolvable, some diseases cannot be cured. Some disasters are inevitable and just waiting to happen.

Such people, such victims, see a sign of hope in every fluctuation. They read meaning and patterns into every random occurrence, every utterance of sleep or thunk. They are deceived by their own pressing need to believe in the ultimate victory of good over evil, health over sickness, order over disorder. Life appears to them otherwise to be meaningless, unjust and arbitrary.

A heavy ending gives it all significance and restores the sense of comfort and justice.

So they impose upon this indifferent universe a design, progress, aims, and paths. And this is what is called magical thinking.

These victims say if only he tried harder or hard enough, he could have healed. If only he really wanted to heal. If only we found the right therapy or the right therapist. If only his defenses were down.

There must be something good and worthy under the hideous facade. Or no one can be let evil and destructive. Or he didn't mean it. He must have meant it differently. Or God or higher being, spirit, the soul are the solution, the answer to our prayers.

So let us pray and things will be fine.

The Pollyanna defenses of the abused are aimed against the emerging and horrible realization and understanding that humans are specks of dust in a totally apathetic universe. People are the playthings of evil and sadistic forces of which the narcissist and the psychopath are mere samples.

These are defenses against the unbearable realization. The pain of the victims means absolutely nothing to anyone but themselves. Nothing whatsoever. It's all in vain.

The narcissist holds magical thinking and malignant optimism in barely disguised content. To him, it is a sign of weakness. It gives off the scent of prey. It's a gaping vulnerability, a chink in the armor which you can exploit.

The narcissistic psychopath uses and abuses this human need for order, for good, for meaning. He uses and abuses all human needs, but especially this one.

Gallibility, selective blindness, malignant optimism. These are the weapons of the beast and the abused are hard at work to provide the narcissist and the psychopath with a very arsenal that will ultimately be used against them and against them only.

So Kevin's mother, in jail, having endured what she had to endure, still hugs him, still believes in him, still hopes she is a malignant optimist.

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Narcissists are not drawn to empathic, sensitive people, but rather repelled by them. Victims of narcissistic abuse come in all shapes, sizes, professions, genders, and ages, and there is no specific profile. People should not think of themselves as a "narcissist magnet" and instead review their life in detail to see that they have control over their destiny and can learn from their experiences. Bed relationships, no matter how harrowing, are opportunities to learn lessons.


Spot a Narcissist or a Psychopath on Your First Date

There are warning signs to identify abusers and narcissists early on in a relationship. One of the first signs is the abuser's tendency to blame others for their mistakes and failures. Other signs include hypersensitivity, eagerness to commit, controlling behavior, patronizing and condescending manner, and devaluing the partner. Abusers may also idealize their partner, have sadistic sexual fantasies, and switch between abusive and loving behavior. Paying attention to body language can also reveal warning signs.


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Victims' Malignant Optimism and Rescue Fantasies

Victims of narcissistic abuse often exhibit a form of magical thinking, where they refuse to believe that some things are unsolvable or inevitable. They see hope in every fluctuation and are deceived by their need to believe in the ultimate victory of good. This is a defense mechanism against the realization that humans are insignificant in an indifferent universe. Narcissists abuse and leverage this need for order and meaning, using it to maltreat and harass their victims.


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Narcissist’s Manipulative Weapon: Projective Identification

Narcissists and psychopaths use mind control techniques, such as entraining and projective identification. Entraining involves synchronizing the victim's brainwaves with the abuser's through repetition of phrases and criticisms. Projective identification involves the narcissist projecting rejected traits onto the victim, who then identifies with and adopts these traits. In a world of conflict and uncertainty, it is important to prioritize self-awareness, authenticity, and self-sufficiency, and carefully consider the risks of engaging with others.

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