The Intimate Partner as a Persecutory Object: Love is a Battlefield

Uploaded 6/19/2018, approx. 3 minute read

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

Today we are going to discuss an obscure concept in psychology, and that is the persecutory object.

People with certain personality disorders, mainly borderline, narcissistic, compulsive obsessive-compulsive, schizoid people, and paranoid people, these people have a persecutory object.

What is a persecutory object?

It is a tormenting, devaluing, and sadistic inner voice, inner critic, known technically as introject. The introject repeatedly and authoritatively informs these patients that they are bad, worthless, weak, immoral, and generally a disappointment.

Such an inner critic, a relentless integrated prosecutor and judge, is of course intolerable.

In an attempt to exercise this interminable voice, the patient projects it, and the patient usually projects it, onto the nearest person, the intimate partner, the spouse, the mate, the lover. These people then become the outer embodiment or reification of the internal agonizing construct.

The persecutary object also serves as an organizing, an explanatory principle. It makes sense of the patient's world, life. The patient's inner processes and life events are accounted for by attributing them to the nefarious presence, intentions, and actions of the malicious intimate partner, also known as the persecutary object.

Even the patient's attachment to her spouse, or her lover, or her intimate partner is interpreted as the lamentable outcome of brainwashing and manipulation. Everything that goes wrong in the patient's tortured existence is her partner's fault, not hers.

This is an alloplastic defense. It is an almost supernatural emanation from the partner's malevolence, or at the very least indifference and rejection.

This explains everything. It creates relief. It makes the world sensible. It gives meaning.

The patient tries to coerce and shoehorn the intimate partner into behaving in a way that upholds his newfound status as an enemy and a threat.

This defense mechanism is known as projective identification. I have a video dedicated to it on this channel. So the patient tries to force the partner to behave in ways that support her view of him as a persecutory object.

If the intimate partner has his own issues, however, he will comply in his assigned role. He will transform himself into an abuser, and this is known as introjective identification.

If we talk to people who are not versed in psychology, they will say, well, I provoked my partner. That's why he is abusing. And to a large extent, it's true.

The patient then proceeds to rebel against her externalized persecutary object, to defy her intimate partner, to punish him by behaving, for example, promiscuously and by cheating on him, being a slut or whore, by envying and sabotaging her partner's career, by passive-aggressively challenging and provoking him, by humiliating, rejecting, and undermining his well-being and self-esteem, by compromising his public image and standing in society, and by penalizing him in myriad other ways. It's a war. It is a battle here.

Naturally, the patient, having engaged in these unsavory behaviors, then expects a penalty commensurate with her egregious misleading. She becomes paranormal, hypervigilant, and exceedingly anxious. These dissonant emotions also augment her perception of the intimate partner as a source of unmitigated sadistic control and judgment, an imminent and omnipresent threat, and the fount of ambivalence, love-hate relationship. It is a very sick dynamic, but unfortunately, very common.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Body Language of Narcissistic and Psychopathic Abuser

Abusers emit subtle signals in their body language that can be observed and discerned. They adopt a posture of superiority and entitlement, and they idealize or devalue their interlocutors. Abusers are shallow and prefer show-off to substance, and they are serious about themselves. They lack empathy, are sadistic, and have inappropriate affect. They are adept at casting a veil of secrecy over their dysfunction and misbehavior, and they succeed in deceiving the entire world.

How To Tell If Someone Is A Pathological Liar

Pathological lying is a compulsive behavior that is not goal-oriented and has no purpose. Pathological liars weave elaborate and extensive lies that are self-destructive and self-defeating. They are emotionally invested in the act of lying and create an environment that is conducive to their subjective well-being. Pathological lying is not a symptom of any other mental illness and is a long-term problem. There are eight types of lies, including utilitarian, smokescreen, compassionate, ceremonial, compensatory, confabulatory, inferential, and hybrid lies.

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.

Cerebral Narcissist: Woman? What's That For?

The cerebral narcissist lacks the sexual energy and magnetism of the somatic narcissist. The author, a cerebral narcissist, describes himself as a deceptive package, an I being, a mental alien in an uncanny carnal outfit. He is exhausted by the rites of procreation and rarely copulates. Women are attracted to him but repelled by his essence, and he is turned into a gaping black hole, out to suck the vitality of everyone around him.

N-Magnet: Narcissist's Ideal Victim?

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.

Psychopathic Bully and Stalker

Stalking is a crime and stalkers are criminals, yet the horrid consequences of stalking are often underestimated. Many criminals, and therefore many stalkers, suffer from personality disorders, most prevalently the antisocial personality disorder, formerly known as psychopathy. Psychopaths regard other people as objects to be manipulated, in instruments of gratification and utility. The best coping strategy is to convince the psychopath that messing with your life or with your nearest is going to cost him dearly.

Coping Styles: Narcissist Abuses "Loved" Ones Despite Abandonment Anxiety

Narcissists abuse their loved ones to decrease their abandonment anxiety, restore their sense of grandiosity, and test their partner's loyalty. Abuse also serves as a form of behavior modification, as it signals to the partner that they need to modify their behavior to avoid abuse. Coping styles for dealing with abuse include submissiveness, conflicting, mirroring, collusion, and displacement, but some of these styles can be harmful and should be avoided.

Savior/Rescuer as Entitled Narcissist (Excerpt)

Narcissistic saviors, healers, fixers, and rescuers are often predators who hide behind a facade of empathy, compassion, and altruism. They are grandiose, covert, and often move around in couples with someone who is honest and straightforward. They prey on vulnerable, heartbroken, sad, crying women and label someone as an abuser to pose as a savior or rescuer. They are fake friends who engage in perfidy, betrayal, and backstabbing. They are dangerous, sadistic predators who are much more dangerous than overt, open abusers.

Two Narcissists in a Couple

Two narcissists of the same type cannot maintain a stable, long-term, full-fledged and functional relationship. Two narcissists of different types or opposing types can, often do, maintain long-term, stable and rather happy relationships. There are two main types of narcissists, somatic and cerebral. The somatic type of narcissist relies on his body and sexuality to generate attention, adulation and admiration, while the cerebral narcissist leverages his intellect, his intelligence and his professional achievements to obtain the same. Stable and enduring relationships can and often do develop between dissimilar narcissists.

Why Narcissist Devalues YOU (Hint: Wants YOU "Dead")

Narcissists devalue their partners as a form of self-defense and control. There are two types of devaluation: preemptive and reactive. Preemptive devaluation occurs when a narcissist is in a transitional state between overt and covert narcissism, and they devalue potential sources of supply to prevent the overt side from using them against the covert side. Reactive devaluation is a response to a perceived threat to the narcissist's grandiosity or control. Both types of devaluation are harmful to the victim and serve to maintain the narcissist's sense of power and control.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy