My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
It is a fact that people's stay-on remain in abusive relationships. They tolerate verbal abuse, psychological abuse, taunting, humiliation, rejection, denigration, belittling. They tolerate psychological warfare tactics, brainwashing, manipulation, gaslighting, ambient abuse, abused by proxy, scare-mongering, and they shoulder on, they remain. They lack self-confidence. The self-esteem is short. Their so-called loving and intimate partner makes sure of it.
Consequently, they are not able to regulate their sense of self-worth. All is good and true, but why don't they simply pick up their things, those of them who can, and sign off?
Even in childless, loveless, sexless marriages, when nothing binds the couple, both of them stay on. The perpetrator, the predator, and his prey, the hunter in the hunt.
This is because victims adopt four negative automatic thoughts. These negative automatic thoughts are propagated and promulgated by the abuser, but over the years, years or even decades of brainwashing, repetition, and convincing displays of authority and supreme knowledge, the victim adopts the stance of the abuser.
The victim internalizes what the abuser says. The victim becomes his or her own abuser by extension. We call this process interjection, and the result of interjection is an introvert.
What are these four sentences?
The first sentence is, I am lucky to be with my abuser. I am worthless, damaged goods. I am lucky to have found even my abuser. If I leave the relationship, who else would want me? Where will I find another partner?
The answer is, of course, no one. Better the devil that you know than the numerous demons who would not even come here.
The second sentence is what I call the best of all worlds. It says, life is harsh. Life doesn't get much better than this. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but that is merely an optical illusion, but fake a Morgenstern.
This is as good as it gets, so get used to it.
The third sentence is, my partner is not worse than others, and he is really trying. This is what I call malignant optimism.
The sentence says, every other partner I may find will have his own flaws, his own quirks, his own character defects, and his own personality problems or even disorders. I will have to accommodate all these all over again. I don't have the energy for them. I don't have the stamina. Better stick with what I know.
No one guarantees that my next partner will not be even worse than the partner I have right now.
Of course, the fourth sentence is: "Life is a serious business. It is not about the selfish pursuit of elusive happiness. It is about meeting your obligations and getting on with it."
At best, one can expect companionship and mutual support in old age. All the rest is a delusion, anything more than that is self-defeating and destructive wishful thinking.
This kind, this last sentence, is much more common among non-Western societies. Western psychotherapy is centered around and focused on the restoration of the individual's functionality and autonomy, and the attainment of happiness.
I have lived in 15 countries on four continents. I have discovered that only a very small minority of humanity adhere to these values and principles.
Autonomy, independence, and happiness are not universal values. The majority of humanity emphatically and often vociferously reject them. Western psychology is vehemently castigated all over the world as decadent and even in some quarters as a colonial instrument. The West is out to get your mind now that it had lost control of your country.
Consider the most basic unit, the family. In most societies and countries in the world, the family is sacred. It is centered around procreation, not recreation. Children and property are by far more important than the pursuit of happiness.
Actually, the pursuit of happiness is considered both selfish and risky. In other words, stupid.
Why risky? Because to pursue contentment and gratification, to aspire to bliss, is to assiduously avoid making the long-term sacrifices required in order to maintain a harmonious and productive cooperative.
Everything is secondary to these long-term goals.
Children and property.
Women tolerate abuse and domestic violence. Women act meek and subservient in order to accommodate their bullying husbands in these societies. Women undergo harmful medical procedures to conform to their husbands or boyfriend's ideals of beauty.
Spouses, both wives and husbands, accept extramarital offense, accept infidelity and adultery. They accept it as inescapable.
You are permitted to secure love, intimacy, and sex outside the marriage because you are not likely to get them inside the marriage.
As long as you sleep at home, as long as you make children a business only with your spouse, everything else you do is your own business.
In some strange way, these societies are much more tolerant of polyamory than the West.
Everyone in such societies mocks the more individualistic and rebellious members as egotistical exceptions.
So women or men who are individualistic, who pursue happiness, pursue their own goals, are rebellious, do not conform to social mores.
They are cast as sacrilegious or insane.
To maintain the status quo, reactionary forms of medieval religion, the Church, join forces with oppressive patriarchy, inane psychiatry and medicine, and stifling political authoritarianism in most of these territories.
That is the true picture of the globe, not the enclaves in California.