The Narcissist's Inner World and His Intimate Partner: New Directions

Uploaded 2/3/2019, approx. 1 hour 1 minute read

So, first off, I'd like to ask what's the difference between healthy and unhealthy narcissism is to sort of lay the basis?

Well, both have been described first by Sigmund Freud in 1915 in his essay on narcissism.

Healthy narcissism, Freud postulated, was the narcissism that typifies, that characterizes infants, especially during the formative years, zero to six. And during these years, children essentially invest their libido, as he called it, their their force of life, invest it in themselves. Later on, they learn to redirect this force of life towards others.

And this is the foundation of a school of psychology called object relations.

As long as they invest this force of life in themselves, they actually kind of love themselves. They love themselves also sexually. So it is auto eroticism. This is the foundation of healthy narcissism.

Healthy narcissism underlies self-esteem, self-confidence, and the ability to regulate one's sense of self-worth.

Pathological narcissism is when this infantile stage continues into adulthood, when the narcissist is not able to emotionally invest and to redirect his sexual and emotional urges and drives towards other people.

So, all these powers, all these energies, remain invested in him. And in essence, the narcissist remains a child. He doesn't grow up.

And so it's a case of arrested development.


So it's interesting to me because it feels like someone who is very intelligent because a narcissist has this excellent cold empathy.

But on the other hand, the way that they deal with their emotions themselves is a little bit almost simplistic or primitive. So maybe you could say that it's sort of like you're dealing with, on the one hand, a little child, but on the other hand, someone who is extremely intelligent.

First of all, I wouldn't generalize and say that all narcissists are intelligent.

The prevalence of narcissism officially is 1% of the general population. And we did not find any correlation between pathological narcissism and its extreme manifestations, such as narcissistic personality disorder or malignant or psychopathic narcissism. We didn't find any correlation between this and any specific level of intelligence.

Today, we think that narcissism is becoming more and more prevalent. And studies by Twenge, Kemble and other epidemics have shown that narcissism is spreading much faster among younger populations. And in these populations, it's likely that about 3% to 5% of all the all the people between ages 15 and 25 actually have pathological narcissism.

So it would be wrong, I think, to generalize about any trait or behavior specifically attached to narcissism.

That's one thing. Second thing, there is a difference.

Again, describes first, but there's no way of avoiding this guy. There is a difference between what we call between self-awareness and insight. Self-awareness is merely cognitive. It's like knowing that you are something.

So many narcissists know that they are narcissists. Insight must include an emotional component. It is self-awareness, which is cognitive, plus an emotional component which motivates to action or motivates to internal transformation.

Without the emotional component, no internal change, no reframing, no internal transformation is possible.

And here, narcissists have a problem.

One of the main characteristics of narcissism is that the narcissist is shut off from his emotions, is isolated from his emotions. Narcissism is considered to be the outcome of early childhood abuse.

And the mechanism that the narcissist deployed that he used is by divorcing himself from his emotions, which were essentially negative emotions, pain, hurt, envy, fear. He didn't want to feel these things anymore as a child, so he divorced all these emotions.

Because he doesn't have access to his emotions, narcissist is incapable in principle of any true transformation.


But is it then that somewhere, subconscious, these emotions still are there? Or is it really like there's a complete void, there is just nothing in there to access?

No, of course, online, there's a lot of misinformation and mythologizing of the narcissist. The narcissist is demonized, reduced to one dimensional caricature. And there is absolute avalanche of misinformation and disinformation.

For example, in the vast majority of videos that I've watched, all the information about covert narcissism is utterly wrong. So I would advise very strongly to resort to academic texts and to studies and so on, rather than to online information.

Of course, narcissists like every other human being have emotions. These emotions are bottled up. They are compartmentalized. They are separated, but they are still functional.

The narcissist has access or allows himself access only to emotions that support his grandiosity.

The construct of grandiosity is crucial to certain types of narcissists, especially overt narcissists.

So to support grandiosity, the narcissist would allow himself access to some emotions, vast majority of which are negative. So for example, grandiose narcissist would feel very strongly envy.

Enypidity actually is one of the diagnostic criteria of narcissistic personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 4 Text Revision, which we used to be the bible of the profession until the fifth edition was released. So envy, which is an emotion, is actually part of the diagnosis.

Narcissists, for example, would experience anger. Some of it are controlled by anger, known as narcissistic rage. Narcissists experience mood lability. This has been recognized in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Narcissists experience depression and sadness, dysphoria. These are also, of course, emotions, etc.

Narcissists absolutely have emotions. The positive emotions have been quarantined. And they have been quarantined because in the narcissist's early life, positive emotions were strongly and intensely associated with pain. It's an outcome of pain aversion.

The narcissist as a child loved, for example, his mother, which is normal attachment sequence. But his mother abused him. In a minute, if you allow me, I will define abuse because there's a lot of misunderstanding about abuse as well.

His mother abused him. And so he cordoned off, he quarantined the emotion of love and the ability to attach. Because in his very young mind, these were invariably associated with ultimate pain.

So these are cordoned off.

Narcissists are incapable of experiencing positive emotions.

But of course there's a huge difference between experiencing something consciously and the psychodynamic activity of the emotions. These emotions are still active. Only they don't penetrate the consciousness. They are active unconsciously.

Now coming back to the issue of abuse.

There are two types of abuse, not one.

The first type is, of course, the classical type. That would be emotional abuse, physical abuse, verbal, psychological, and of course, sexual. These are the known types. These are the types that Hollywood likes a lot.

So they appear in movies and news reports and so on. Parents who molest their children or beat them up so badly they end up in hospital. Or mothers who torture their children psychologically and verbally, sometimes with religious overtones, sometimes otherwise, etc.

So all these are classic forms. But actually this is the tiny minority. Most abuse has nothing to do with any of these forms.

Abuse, we define abuse professionally as the breach and violation of the child's emerging nascent boundaries.

There is a process in early childhood that is called separation individuation. The child needs to separate from the parent, especially mother, needs to separate.

And then in the process of separation, which involves a lot of anxiety, the child needs to become an individual. He needs to individually. Insecure mothers, mothers who are themselves narcissistic and therefore they are children. Insecure mothers, narcissistic mothers, of course, psychopathic mothers, borderline mothers, mothers with mood disorders like bipolar, mothers with depression, they would find it extremely difficult to let go of the child.

They would not allow the child to separate or to individuate.

And they do this by emotionally blackmailing the child or by instituting an air of incest, emotional incest.

What is emotional incest?

Emotional incest means treating the child as though the child were an adult in a romantic relationship.

So a lot of sexual innuendos, a lot of inappropriate language involving the child in the relationship with the spouse, triangulating, etc., etc.

This is emotional incest.

It reminds me of them.

Okay, they go on.

Yeah, remember what you want to say. Just let me finish the ad.

And of course, the most virulent form, most pernicious form is using the child as an extension of the parent.

For example, considering the child as a tool or an instrument to realize the parents unfulfilled wishes, dreams and fantasies, a frustrated parent would put the child on a pedestal, would spoil the child, would pamper the child, would love the child, or condition that the child performs, or condition that the child compensates the parent by relieving or ameliorating the parent's frustration with her own life.

So these are all forms of abuse.

I'm sorry, you wanted to ask something and I had to...

No, it's no problem. No, I was thinking to myself, could it be that if you make it fairly simplistic, if you make it simple, that abuse is for the most part just that you see, for example, in this case, than a child or a person, not as an individual.

It's just that you see someone as not a person, but more so an object of yourself.

Yes, as I said, if you treat the child as an extension of yourself, if you don't allow the child to become an individual, if you don't allow the child to separate, to become a separate entity.

And how is it about, for example, mothers than say mothers as an example, who use their children more so as sort of their own parents, so the mother who goes for advice to a young child, how would you see that?

It's literally the same. It's called parentifying.

When the child is parentified, the parent, the mother, assumes the role of a child and in her mind, a child is an inseparable part of the parent.

So when she parentifies her own child, she merges with the child, she fuses with the child, they become one organism.

So there are several ways to become one.

It's all about pathological merger and fusion, which are, by the way, the main mechanisms in codependency.

So the mother merges with the child either by considering the child to be an extension of herself, or by becoming an extension of the child when she herself becomes the child.

Either way, they end up being one organism and the child is unable to become a person.

And also a thing that I found like really mind-blowing is I saw a video here how you explained that sort of the false self or like, say the ego that that self is sort of for most people, it is internally arranged as a skeleton. You said, but for narcissists, it goes external, it's like an external skeleton.

So could you then say that, in a sense, narcissists regulate their false self sort of manual, like not automatic, but completely manual external?

All children go through a phase of grandiose narcissism. They feel omnipotent, all powerful, they feel omniscient, or annoying and so on and so forth.

But this disappears very fast.

What happens with the narcissist when the narcissist as a child is exposed to abuse in the forms that we described earlier, the child tries to fight back, the child tries to separate from the abusive parent.

But of course, of course, the chances are zero. Because of the asymmetry in power, asymmetry in needs, the child needs the parent, etc. The child usually fails to separate.

What a child then does, the child suspends herself.

Does the narcissist somewhere deep down know that the false self is not true?

Because I saw, I wrote that you said something about that narcissistic supply.

So like the people around the narcissist, that they should like the narcissist idealizes them, or they should be people the narcissist sees some sort of value in.

And is that then that because if that sort of narcissistic supply praises them or tells them that they're great, that then it's sort of believable for themselves.

And by that they then maybe themselves believe more that their sort of religion is actually true.

All narcissists realize deep inside that the false self is false. It is because of this, they need constant validation from other people to tell them that the false self is actually not false, that it's real.

So for example, if the false self is all knowing, if it's a genius, the narcissist would go to other people and would solicit from them, would force them, would coerce them, would beg them, would control them, would manipulate them, to tell him, listen, it's true that you're genius. It's not false. It's not a fantasy. It's not fiction. That your false self is actually true is actually real. And of course, it's not enough that one person tells you that you need to build a consensus of everyone around you.

Because imagine if you have 100 people in your life, 80 people tell you that you're a genius, but 20 people tell you that you're stupid. Of course, that's not good enough. You need all 100 people to tell you that you're genius, so that you can believe in the real self.

Because if you don't believe in the real self, if you think it is not real, if you realize as an adult, that it is an invention, a concoction, movie script, then it will not be able to work for you. And because you have nothing else except the false self, if the false self disappears, you disappear.

Indeed, when the narcissist cannot obtain validation from the environment, that his false self is real, he feels that he disappears. He feels like he's vanishing.

It is existential threat. It's like a debt.

So narcissists go to other people and use every tool possible to force them to confirm that the false self is real.

And this process is called narcissistic supply.

And here's the problem.

In order for me, in order for the narcissist to accept the opinion of other people that his false self is real, he needs to idealize these people. He needs to value them.

Let me give an example. If the narcissist wants someone to tell him that he's a genius and that other person is stupid, then of course the opinion of a stupid person is not credible, is without value, has no value. So the narcissist needs to convince himself that the person who tells him that he's a genius is himself a genius. The narcissist needs to elevate to idealize his sources of narcissistic supply so that he can believe them when they tell him that his false self is real. As long as they provide him with narcissistic supply, he will continue to idealize them. The minute they refuse to continue to play the game, the minute, for example, they criticize him, the minute they disagree with him, or the minute they become bored with the narcissist because the narcissist drains their energy.

That minute, they can no longer serve as reliable sources of supply, and the narcissist switches from idealization to devaluation. So for example, if a source of supply was telling the narcissist for 10 years, you're a genius, you're a genius, you're a genius, you're a genius. During this period, the narcissist would idealize this source of supply. He would tell himself, this woman knows what she's talking about, because she herself is a genius. So if she is a genius, and she tells me I'm a genius, then it's credible, it's realistic, it's okay, I can believe it.

But then that woman, for example, has an argument with the narcissist, disagrees with him.

So the minute the source of supply disagrees with the narcissist, or criticizes the narcissist, or brings to the narcissist attention information that conflicts with the narcissist's grandiose self-perception and fantasy, the narcissist regards the source of supply as a threat, as a source of devaluation.

And then via a process called projection, he devalues the source of supply. He says, well, actually, she is not a genius, she is a very stupid woman. Whatever she says, I can ignore, and so on and so forth.

So narcissists swing between idealization and devaluation of the very same people, very frequently in the space of a few days.

But how do they cope with this contradiction? How do they sell that to themselves?

Well, one of the main coping mechanisms of narcissists is dissociation. Narcissists have no continuity of time, and they have huge gaps in memory. Actually, that's one of the reasons I suggested that narcissism is actually an identity problem, which today is accepted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5, which was published in 2013.

There, in the alternative model of narcissism, they propose that narcissism is actually an identity disturbance.

If you want, I can tell you about my work, because it's a bit pioneering. I've been working in the field for almost 25 years, and a lot of the developments in this field started with my work in 1995.

But until recently, until five or six years ago, I was working within the framework of the DSM. I regarded narcissism as a personality disorder. But then I began to notice some strange things which have nothing to do with personality. For instance, the narcissist's extensive use of dissociation, of forgetting, of deleting events, the narcissist's discontinuity, narcissists live a broken life. It's like someone shattered their lives, like a vase of glass, and someone shattered it. And they experience each piece, each shard, is totally distinct and separate from the previous and the next phase, etc.

And that reminded me very much of post-traumatic conditions. This is very typical of people who had experienced prolonged trauma, or what we call complex PTSD.

And so what I'm doing in the last six years, I'm reframing pathological narcissism, not as a personality disorder at all. I'm actually claiming that the narcissist's personality is healthy, but that the narcissist's narcissism is a post-traumatic condition and can be treated with therapies invented in order to treat PTSD.

This is one thing. And one of the things that people in after trauma develop is addiction.

Addictions are very common after trauma. People become addicted to drugs, they become alcoholics, they become sex addicts. They've developed reckless behaviors like pathological gambling and shopaholism, etc.

And so I said, the addiction to narcissistic supply, the addiction to attention, adulation, admiration, affirmation, all this addiction is actually a post-traumatic artifact. So I'm recasting narcissism as a post-traumatic condition with attachment disorder, addictive elements, and infantilization.

I think one of the mistakes in classic therapy is that when a narcissist comes for therapy, he is treated as an adult. The therapist's interact with a narcissist as he's interacting with all other adult patients.

But narcissists are not adults. They are children with arrested development. They are traumatized children.

So I developed a new treatment modality. I dubbed it co-therapy, which I'm now teaching to many therapists around the world.

I just returned from Brazil and I'm teaching it all over the world.

I'm sorry. How does that work? What are the basics of cold therapy?

Well, assuming that narcissism is indeed a post-traumatic condition, assuming that the narcissist is simply a traumatized child who reacts with addiction, what the therapy does, it re-traumatize the narcissist so that he can experience the trauma and emerge from it without any meaningful consequences, so that he learns that he actually does not need his narcissism anymore to cope.

And we have a principle in psychology called mental economy. And the principle is if something is not needed in psychology, it dies. It disappears. Any behaviors, any traits, any repetition compulsions, anything in psychology, there is no way to do it in psychology that no longer has a role or a function disappears automatically and spontaneously.

What cold therapy does, it takes the patient, puts him through trauma and shows him that he can cope very effectively with trauma without narcissism.

Yeah, that's really mind blowing actually, because before you always heard that narcissism isn't treatable, but maybe that is because they saw it as a personality disorder.

And they were interacting with narcissist as an adult.

Actually, the person who popularized the view that narcissism is not treatable was me. In 1995, I heard the first and only website about pathological narcissism for 10 years, until 2004 actually, sorry.

So between 1995, 2004, when you were still a child, I suspect, the only website about narcissism was my website, the only support group for narcissistic victims was mine. And all the language I had to invent.

So I invented the phrase narcissistic abuse. I invented somatic narcissism, cerebral narcissism, no contact, hoovering, ghosting, I mean, flying monkeys, I mean, everything you hear, I invented in 95.

And one of the things that I suggested in 1995 is that narcissism is not curable. Of course, I was not the first to suggest it. But I was the first to popularize it online.

So I'm very guilty for this. And cold therapy is my repentance, almost religious, my attempt to rectify this conception, it's not a misconception.

Using existing treatment modalities, narcissistic personality disorder is not treatable. Some behaviors can be modified, but that's it. The rest is untouchable.

Yeah, I saw you say in an other interview that that that indeed that it's modified, but not to completely be that you cannot completely get rid of it, you know, like erase it. And I found that actually fairly liberating, like a very liberating thought that because it's also some sort of exception within that, but of course, you can modify your behavior to some sense, I think that that is better than sort of always running after trying to fix something.

Well, you can modify behaviors, of course, for example, if you work with a narcissist grandiosity, if you don't control it, but if you tell him, for example, you can tell the narcissist, this behavior is not efficient. And you are perfect. You are an efficient machine.

So how can you behave this way? It's not efficient way. And if you prove to the narcissist that this behavior is not efficient, he will modify his behavior.

So of course, many antisocial behaviors, many abusive behaviors, many abrasive behaviors are truly inefficient. They have unfavorable outcomes. If you demonstrate it to the narcissist, his own grandiosity will force him to change his behavior. And that's an example of this process called co-optation, where we actually don't fight pathological narcissism, but we leverage it, we use it, but it's extremely limited, extremely limited, what we can do with traditional therapies, because they regard the narcissist as an adult, and they ignore completely after the post-traumatic aspects of narcissism.

And this is where cold therapy comes in. And I think it can help with narcissism substantially, not only modify behaviors, but eliminate narcissism altogether.

And what I was thinking, how does it work, for example, with narcissists who are very successful, for example, in business, they're very successful, but maybe they are like de-forced multiple times, then of course, they have the proof that they are, you know, sort of perfect in their business. So they can just say, oh, the reason that my, for example, my marriages failed, that is because of them, you know, these women, they're in the wrong, because obviously I have the proof that I'm a successful person. So would it then be harder to get a successful narcissist to go into therapy?

Not harder, impossible. Narcissists need to hit rock bottom in all areas of the life. They need to lose absolutely everything for them to even contemplate that something may be wrong with them. Of course, they contemplate it and immediately reject it, but at least they contemplate it. And then they are more amenable to therapy, but only when they actually devastated, destroyed, and demolished scorched earth.

But you touched on something very interesting. And if I may, I will elaborate on this.

Narcissism is a contradiction because the narcissist on the one hand believes himself to be God-like. And of course, God is an utterly independent entity. It's an entity that does not depend on anything and anyone for anything.

And yet the narcissist is 100% dependent on other people.

Actually, the most extreme form of dependence is narcissism because without input and feedback from the environment, which sustains the false sense, the narcissist disintegrates. His dependence on other is existential. The whole inner maintenance of his inner landscape and constructs crucially depends on uninterrupted flow of information and validation from other people. So he's totally dependent on other people.

So how can these two sit together? How can you reconcile being a God with being objectively submissive, codependent, dependent person?

So this is an inner contradiction. And this is why narcissists tend to relate. This is why they are perceived sometimes as unpredictable. They have rage attacks that are disproportionate and triggered by the most insane things because these are not external processes. These are internal processes.

And the narcissist seeks narcissistic supply. The more he seeks to supply, the more humiliated he feels. The more he is in need of supply, the more he feels that he is getting negative supply. So the narcissist can never be happy. He is all the time in search of a drug, but refusing to admit that he's a jockey.

So one of the defense mechanisms of narcissism is what we call alloplastic defenses. It's the tendency to blame the world, other people, your boss, your wife, your neighbors, society which doesn't appreciate your contributions, the government. Or in extreme cases, the narcissist develops paranoia. So he believes that he's at the center of some conspiracy, etc. So all responsibility, accountability, blame and guilt are shifted, projected technically onto the outside. This is called alloplastic defense.

So if the narcissist divorces repeatedly, simply he has found the wrong women. It's not his fault. It's just he tends to attract the wrong women.

But against this creates a contradiction. Because wait a minute, if you're God, then you're in total control. But if you have alloplastic defenses and everyone else is responsible for what's happening to you, then you have zero control. And this is called external locus of control.

So narcissists have two basic contradictions.

One, the contradiction between being totally independent God and being totally dependent junkie, junkie addicted to narcissistic supply.

And the second contradiction, blaming others for your condition while also claiming that you are superior and don't need anyone. So either your life is controlled. I mean, it's a contradiction. If you say that other people are responsible for what's happening to you, then you're not in control.

But if you're not in control, you're not God.

But for example, what I also find very hard to understand, like with narcissists, they often they really do not admit to, to being guilty for something.

But how can you sort of deny cause and effect? Like I have experienced with someone, something happened, like an situation occurred, and we both saw it and a third person.

But afterwards, he said that it didn't happen, even though we all saw it with our own eyes.

And how can you play it to yourself that you completely deny reality and cause and effect?

I would be very careful going around diagnosing people as narcissists.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a clinical entity, which requires a lot of expertise in diagnosing, even the vast majority of diagnosticians are not one of them to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder.

And unfortunately, everyone online goes around diagnosing everyone around them as narcissists.

And of course, the overwhelming, overwhelming vast majority of these diagnosis are utterly wrong.

There are many people who are difficult, many people who are unpleasant, many people who are disembarking, but that doesn't make them narcissists.

However, assuming the person is a narcissist, in the clinical sense, not in the toxic environment of online discourse, because online narcissism has become a buzzword, a meme, and has absolutely nothing to do with psychology or clinical psychology.

Limiting ourselves to the clinical entity, some narcissists, a minority, would tend to develop delusions. And some of these delusions would be of psychotic nature.

So they would tend to deny reality, reframing, ignore information that contradicts or conflicts with a grandiose or perception or self image or grandiose fantasies, etc.

It's a hard task, a hard assignment to defend all the time, a construct, a piece of fiction, a story, a narrative that is so insane and outlandish, like the false self. The false self is so ridiculous.

Actually, narcissists are pathetic. And they are caricatures. They're clowns. And, and I mean, even someone like Donald Trump, who is the president of United States is a clown. He's a very big clown. But he's a clown.

Do you think that for example, Donald Trump, because he has so he is so successful, and he has so many people who then cater to his false self, do you think that he then that there is a point in which a narcissist can truly believe that the false self is true, because it went to such big proportions, say, like you spoke about that it's sort of like looking at a play or a movie for narcissists.

But if so, like millions of people say to you that it's true, that at some point, maybe there is a point that you truly start to believe in the false self.

No, internally, no, internally, there's always a gap between the veracity of the true self and the functionality of the false self and the functionality of the true self.

In other words, someone like Donald Trump, who has true accomplishments, his false self would function very well, even in periods where he is lacking supply for a while or getting negative supply, because he has true life accomplishments to support the claims underlying the false self.

But inside psychodynamically, he would always doubt, in other words, he would believe himself to be fake. He would have the fraudster syndrome, he would feel that he's cheating everyone. He would say I'm very successful at cheating everyone. I am faking it till I'm making it.

So in externally, his false self will be validated even by his own accomplishments without need for constant supply. But internally, he would feel not that these accomplishments he deserves them, but he would feel that he succeeded to cheat everyone, that he succeeded to deceive everyone.

And in order to close this dissonance, in order to eliminate this dissonance, this discrepancy between external and internal, he would go compulsively and seek additional supply.

Narcissists, in this sense, are insatiable. They can't stop. Nevermind how many accolades, how many kudos, how many accomplishments, how many achievements, how many books you have written, how many times you lectured, how many times you were told that you are genius or handsome, or whatever, you will always go for more.

Why do you need this constant stream? Why don't you just stop?

Narcissist doesn't stop because of this inner problem, because of this gap. I call it the grandiosity gap. It is the gap between the self-perception, which is false, and reality.

Nevermind who you are, even if you are president of the United States. Always reality will offer you information that conflicts with your false self, contradicts it, and threatens to demolish it.

So you need to create a bubble, a confirmation bias bubble, where you isolate yourself from this kind of countervailing dangerous information.

So you absorb all the information that accords with your grandiosity, that is, consonant, and you surround yourself with people who are sources of supply. And the minute they stop being sources of supply, you discard them, which is exactly what Donald Trump is doing in the White House.

That's why the huge turnover in White House stuff, because at some point, each one of these people told him, listen, this is wrong, or I disagree, or let's do it some other way. That second, that person became a source of negative supply and had to go, had to be developed and had to go.

So the answer to your question is narcissistic, insatiable. It's like asking a normal person, you drink so much water in your life, why don't you stop drinking?

I can imagine, if there's just no way that you will ever truly believe in the false self, that the people who praise you, even though if you idealize them, that on the other end, you also feel this sort of disdain for them, because you think, you know, they're dumb, because I can really, you know, I don't know the English word, but manipulate them in believing in a lie. So they're not that intelligent.

That's true.

That's what I just said, the feeling, the inner feeling of a successful narcissist is that he pulled it off. He succeeded to cheat everyone. Everyone is so stupid that he succeeded to cheat all of them. He doesn't think like a normal person.

When I worked hard, I have good education, I invested in myself, and I deserve my achievements. I deserve my accomplishment.

What he feels inside is, wow, everyone is so stupid, that I succeeded to cheat all of them and get where I am.

But of course, this means that I also succeeded to cheat myself. So I need people to tell me constantly as a narcissist, no, it's not true what you're feeling. It's not, you didn't cheat. We really think you're a genius. We really think you're handsome. We really think you are, you are.

And it's never ending. I gave you the example of water. It's exactly like going to a person and saying, listen, you are 60 years old, you drink so much water. Why don't you stop? Isn't it enough?

And of course, it's a ridiculous question.

It's a life force. It's a life force.

Yeah, never mind how much water you drink, you need to drink more.

And always, same with narcissistic supply. Same, exactly. It's existential. It regulates the narcissist's self worth. And it regulates many other functions.

Today we know that narcissistic supply actually is the entire economy of the narcissist.

There is another phenomenon. And that is that narcissism is beginning to characterize collectives, nations, groups, religions, societies, cultures, in such an environment where whole civilizations, whole cultures, whole societies become narcissistic, more and more narcissistic.

Of course, narcissism, pathological narcissism becomes positive adaptation. It is useful to be narcissist in such societies. Narcissists are more likely to succeed, more likely to attain, more likely to accomplish, more likely to be on top in such societies, such sick anomic societies.

And so in July 2016, the famous scientific magazine, New Scientist, had a cover story where they said parents, teach your children to be narcissists. I'm not kidding.

Because today, I mean, if you go to Donald Trump and tell him, listen, Trump, I'm a psychologist, and I can tell you, you are seriously sick. You're a psychopathic malignant narcissist, which is, and you are seriously sick. You need therapy.

Donald Trump will laugh in your face. He will tell you, can you tell me why do I need therapy? I made billions. I dated the most beautiful girls in the world. I am president of the United States. I am rich. I'm famous. Give me one good reason why I should stop being an narcissist.

Being an narcissist works for me, is good for me in this environment.

So we today in mental health, we don't have this concept of normal or healthy. This is very old concept that we don't use anymore.

We don't say this person is unhealthy or abnormal. We don't use this anymore.

What we ask instead, we ask two questions. Is the person happy, comfortable with themselves?

We call it egosyntony. Is the person egosyntinous? Or egodystonic? Is the person unhappy, uncomfortable with themselves?

And the second question we ask, is the person functional? Does he function well in a variety of environments, in interpersonal relationships, in the workplace, at school, university, etc.

So if the answer to the two questions is yes, the person feels happy and they are functioning, then we don't regard this person as mentally ill or in need of any therapy.

If you go to Donald Trump, the answer to both questions is yes. He's happy and he's definitely functioning.

That's the issue. The issue is that narcissism, pathological narcissism, is beginning to be the new normal. It's beginning to be actually positive.

And you have academics, you have scholars like Kevin Duncan, like McCuby, like others, who are saying that it's good to have narcissism, that it's good to be psychopath, that in today's society, narcissism and psychopaths are high functioning.

This is an evolutionary advantage that brings them to the top of the business world of politics, offshore business, etc.

There have been studies by Robert Hare and Babiak, two Canadian scholars, and they discovered that 3.5% of the top businessmen, top managers in the United States, 3.5% are diabolosable psychopaths. I think the number is much higher. I just think, you know, the other managers didn't want to be, but at least three and a half percent. They're psychopaths, so why not to be a psychopath?

What is actually now the exact difference between narcissism and psychopathy?

Today the difference is very blurred, and actually the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Committee has suggested and is suggesting to eliminate all the distinctions between personality disorders, cluster B, personality disorders, and to combine them into one disorder with emphasis.

So to say the patient has a personality disorder with antisocial emphasis or with narcissistic emphasis. So I think there are two main differences between psychopaths and narcissists, but otherwise they are very, very closely related.

What do you think?

Indeed, when you test for psychopathy, even if you use the Robert Hare PCL test or other tests, they all have a dimension of narcissism. You cannot diagnose psychopathy without also scoring very high on narcissism.

I think the difference between narcissism and psychopath is in emphasis. One, the psychopath does not need narcissistic supply. The psychopath is goal oriented. Psychopath wants money, psychopath wants sex, wants power, wants something.

The narcissist wants only narcissistic supply. If he can get narcissistic supply via sex, he will use sex. If he can get it via money, he will use money via power, he will use power, he will use anything.

But the final aim is narcissistic supply, attention. The psychopath is not interested in attention at all. He is interested in the money or the sex or the power, so goal orientation.

And the second thing is that psychopaths are antisocial while actually narcissists are conformist and prosocial.

Narcissists needs other people. So because he needs other people, he fits into society some way. He plays along. He pretends. He fakes empathy. He tries to work with teams. He's trying to use society to provide him with supply.

Psychopaths are antisocial. He hates rules. He hates laws. He hates authority. He's criminal.

So these are the two differences.

Also you said that with narcissism, with the dissociation, that it feels like sort of you're not in life, but you're removed from life. Could you maybe tell me a bit about that?

No, that's not dissociation. That is derealization.

Narcissists have three mechanisms among many others. Dissociation is simply forgetting, repressing memories to the point that they are cut off completely and then there's no access to these memories anymore.

Narcissists experience life as a sequence of moments, each moment totally separate, totally autonomous, and so they have no memories. They have no memory, so their identity is fluid and they can also rewrite history because they don't have memory. So they can rewrite history in a way that is congruent with their false self and grandiosity.

So this is dissociation, forgetting. It's very comfortable, very convenient because it allows the narcissist to invent his life as he goes along in a way.

So many narcissists, for example, will tell you stories about themselves that they fully believe is true. They are true, but actually they're not true. They are what we call confabulation because the narcissist doesn't have memory and consequently doesn't have identity because he doesn't have self.

Because of that, narcissists invent a lot of stories about themselves, their biography, their achievements, their other people, and these inventions are called confabulation. They are actually not lies. They are the attempts by the narcissist to plug in the gaps in memory, to fulfill the missing parts.

And this process is known as confabulation.

That's one thing. Derealization is something completely different. Derealization and depersonalization.

But in the case of narcissism, it's mostly Derealization.

Because he has no memory, no self and no identity, is not there. Because he is not in his life, he is not emotionally invested in his life.

There is a process called catechesis. And the narcissist is not cateched. He is not invested in his life. He's not in his life. He is like an observer. He's like watching a movie. He is watching a movie where he is the actor, the director, and the screenwriter. And so he is watching the movie mildly interested, mildly amused, sometimes surprised, sometimes bored. But it's a movie. It's always a movie. And he is always detached from the movie.

Normal people experience their lives as their lives. They own their lives. And they are able to do that because every moment in their lives is imbued with, connected to emotions. When you have a memory of your recent trip somewhere, you remember not only the trip, you remember not only the physical details, the airplane or the airport or the road or the car or the museum, but you also remember what you felt. You remember the emotions that came with the trip.

Narcissists don't have emotions or access to emotions. So they cannot remember properly. What they do remember is only the cognitive part. So they remember the sometimes they remember the facts and gradually after some time they forget the facts because there are no emotions attached to the facts.

So they say to themselves, because what happened, I don't remember, but wait a minute, probably what happened is this and this. And this probably what happened is the story that they are building, the confabulation.

So they constantly write and rewrite their lives as though it were a movie script that they are adjusting. And of course, as they rewrite the movie script, they write it in a way that will support their grandiose God like view of themselves as divine entities. That's natural.

But you're right that they don't live their lives. I keep saying that there's no one there.

Well, I can imagine then, if you do not what you said, like that you do not have the emotion, say with with the memory, but just the plain facts, of course, you forget it. And that's of course, you can't even say it. It's a lie, really.


It's not a lie. I said, as I said, a few minutes ago, it's not a lie. It's a confabulation. There's a huge difference between lying and confabulation.

Lie is usually goal oriented, some goal, whatever the goal is. Confabulation is not goal oriented. Confabulation is a panic reaction. It's when you realize that some part of your memory is missing.

And you say to yourself, what happened to me? I don't remember this. But probably what happened is this. And then you adopt it because not to feel bad, not to feel dissonant about the fact that you don't have a memory.

The narcissist remembers his life. As you remember facts before an examination, you memorize, it's called in America, cramming, you memorize a lot of facts before you have an examination at the university.

But 48 hours after the exam, it's a fact by the way, 48 hours after the exam, you forget 50% of the facts. And one week after the exam, you forget 91% of the facts.

This is a fact by the way. So we forget about 90% of facts that we learn for examination. Why?

Because these facts don't come with any emotions. They are just facts.

Narcissist is the same with their lives. They memorize this life like it's an exam. And so after a week, they forget 91% of what happened because there was no emotional content attached to these facts. So they forget.

But it's one thing to forget an examination and another thing to forget your life. When you forget your life, it's very frightening. So there's a panic.

And the narcissist says, what the hell happened? I don't remember anything. Wow. I mean, unconsciously.

And then the narcissist says, well, knowing myself, knowing the situation, knowing the circumstances, knowing the other people, knowing all this, I think what happened must have been this. And then they adopt it as though it really happened.

Is that also one of the reasons why it is important for narcissists that the people around them are fairly predictable?

What do you mean by predictable?

Now that they can sort of know if I push that in that button, then that person reacts like this. So not only to sort of manipulate a person, but also so that you have something to grab on, to remember, because you know how the person will react in this and that situation.

Well, narcissists actually don't regard you, don't regard other people as persons. They regard other people as extensions of themselves. They regard other people as artifacts. They internalize people. So they regard people as avatars or representations or cartoon characters. They don't have concern of other because they don't have empathy in the absence of empathy, or they don't have emotional empathy. They have something which I dubbed cold empathy. They have cognitive empathy only. They realize that you exist. That is cold.

But because they don't have emotions, they don't know how it means to be you. They don't relate to you as three dimensional entity.

So in any case, they would assume that you are predictable, because you are, you know, not real. They do realize you as well, not only themselves.

They regard everything and everyone as a part of the movie. So there is a script, what they do try to do in this you are right, they are trying to impose their script on you.

So they create the equivalent of a cult. They create like a cult, where there are strict rules, there is a script that you must follow. And we call the situation shared psychotic disorder.

They create a shared psychotic environment where you must function according to prescribed rules, prescribed evolution of a story or a narrative, etc. And if you deviate from this, they become very angry and rageful. And then they devalue you and discard you.

So anyhow, they force you to behave in predictable ways, even if you are an unpredictable person. And they do it by punishing you and by rewarding you. And this process is called, yes, this process is called intermittent reinforcement.

They are hot and cold, approach avoidant, idealize the value. So they give you carrots and sticks. If you misbehave, if you deviate from the script, if you abandon the cult, if you don't supply supply, if you are not predictable, etc, you will be punished by being devalued and discarded. If you reduce yourself, if you eliminate yourself, as an autonomous entity, if you are no longer independent, but totally dependent, if you actually suspend your own existence.

In other words, if you don't separate, individuate, the narcissist was not allowed as a child to separate and to become an individual. The mother of the narcissist usually did not allow her child to go away to become his own person.

So the narcissist is doing the same to everyone around him. He also does not allow anyone to separate individually. He consumes them, he digests them.

It's sort of reliving what already happened only that you are then the narcissist, you're more the protagonist. It's, you know, like reliving it in a way.

Yes, true.

This is called technically in psychology, this is called repetition, compulsion.

True, it's repetition.

Freud, Freud and later object relations school, they said that narcissists try all the time to recreate original unresolved conflicts with the mother. And they do this with their spouses, with their intimate partners, and so on and so forth. Even in gay couples, it doesn't have to be there. It's what matters is the romantic attachment.

So they try to recreate the conflict, hoping to resolve it finally, in a better outcome. And indeed, this is called therapy.

It's exactly what I'm doing in called therapy. I'm recreating the original conflict and resolving it with much better outcomes so that the narcissist doesn't need narcissism anymore. He learns other coping techniques.

I bet you have seen quite some good experience with that in called therapy.

I've had very few patients 43 until now. I'm treating patient number 44 and 45 now. And 43 in our profession is considered zero. It's very small amount.

But all 43, five years, the oldest patient was six years ago. And I'm in touch with all of them. And I conduct follow-up tests, testing and so on. All 44, five years later, three years later, six years later, are showing no sign of narcissism. And when I say no sign of narcissism, I mean, no sign whatsoever.

No need for narcissistic supply. No, they live in their life. All the hallmarks, they develop some kind of empathy. Their success is more limited.

Yeah, yeah. They do.

Some kind, yeah. Some kind.

Well, that's great that you can, that it actually is possible that you can.

It's limited. I will not pretend that it's limited.

But the success is limited.

But there is a rudiment of empathy. They don't have mood disorders. That was the big surprise of Cold Therapy, that it's actually extremely effective with depression.

So they are totally mood stable. There's no ability. Their ability has been deleted completely over many years. It's pretty amazing. Some of these people were on antidepressants for decades. So I could say there is anecdotal success with cold therapy, not systematic.

The sample is too small.

Yeah, but it seems better than any other therapy because you always hear that it's not treatable.


Yes, vastly, vastly superior to any other therapy. True.

Even with anecdotal evidence, it is extremely impressive. Yes.

And something else that's like, like you told about, you know, that there is also this depression that narcissistsare addicted to, is that also one of the reasons why many narcissists tend to be addicted, not just to narcissistic supply, but also, you know, alcohol or drugs or basically whatever gambling.

No, that's not the depression. That's the addictive personality.

One of the, when you're addicted, you're addicted to usually to more than one thing. So most alcoholics, for example, would be, I don't know, gamblers or addicted to sex, most sex addicts would use drugs, etc. So you are never addicted to one thing. You're usually addicted to two, three, four, five. Sometimes you don't realize that you're addicted. It doesn't look like addiction, but it's actually addiction.

So this is the addictive personality. The depression of the narcissist is strange because it is exogenous. It's reactive. It can be alleviated with narcissistic supply. So it fluctuates a lot. And it looks a little like bipolar, the manic phase in bipolar.

So there is a reactive component.

But of course, after decades of reacting with depression to, or actually, technically, more precisely with the cyclothymic dysphobia, nevermind, some kind of depression, after decades that you are reacting with depression to lack of supply, it becomes a feature of your personality.

So gradually over decades, all their narcissists become depressive as a feature of their personality.

And so this is the impressive thing with cold therapy, reversing this process so that the depressive aspect of personality vanishes. But the depression has nothing to do with addiction. They don't consume drugs or alcohol to forget their depression. They do it because they are addictive.

And actually, their addictive behavior exacerbates, makes depression worse in the case of narcissists only.

How does that come exactly?

Well, because they have addiction. And when they cannot satisfy the addiction, in the case of narcissists of life, they react with extreme forms of depression. So in their case, addiction increases depression. Also, it has different functions. It's a whole theory. I don't think this interview is the right place. But addiction is a whole science in itself.

Addiction, for example, is something that provides meaning to life. The addict uses addiction as a goal. It creates goal orientation. So the addict gets up in the morning. He knows that he has to get money. This money has to go to his pusher. Then he has to buy his fix. Then he has to use his fix. There are ceremonies and rituals connected to addiction. So there is a strong obsessive compulsive element.

This is a whole theory in itself, a whole field. And of course, I deal with it a lot. I just published an academic article about it. I deal with it a lot.

Do you think that not only narcissism but also other disorders could be treated with cold therapy?

Only, I think, narcissism and depression, to my surprise, depression. I didn't realize that it could be useful with depression, but now I'm treating patients who are not narcissists, but they have only depression. And two of them recovered fully.

And then I was reminded that in the 1950s and 60s and 70s, there were scholars who suggested that narcissism is actually a depressive illness.

But because at that time, the pharmaceutical industry in the 1950s, the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry, healthcare insurance industry, were pushing to medicalize psychiatry, medicalize psychology. The views of these scholars were ignored because it could not be medicalized.

But they said that narcissism is a depressive illness. And I went and found many of these writings and I read them and so on. And I am thinking that there is a pronounced dimension of depression in narcissism.

Because like Melanie Klein suggested, the child goes through a depressive state when he discovers that mother has negative aspects, positive aspects. So I think the child that later becomes a narcissist is very sad. It's very sad to be abused.

I think there is profound sadness. It's very tragic. Narcissists are really, really sad. They are small crying babies who had to freeze themselves and to create a fictitious entity and to stop living in effect. The mother was communicating to the child, I want you to die. I want you to die as who you are and I want you to reappear as what I want you to be.

So the mother was broadcasting to the child, I don't love you as you are. I will love you only if you change. I retraumatize so I actually amplify the original trauma. I support the mother against the child in cold therapy.

But I showed the narcissist that never mind how big the situation is. Narcissism is an inefficient and unnecessary coping mechanism and then it disappears.

But how do the people react then to the abuse if you relate it?

Very badly. Cold therapy is very dangerous therapy, requires suicide watch during the second module, second phase, it has three phases. It's extremely, extremely dangerous therapy but it's a little like fifth generation antibiotics. Fifth generation antibiotics are utter poisons. They are totally toxic and normally we would never give them to human beings. But we ran out of antibiotics that work.

So now we have fifth generation antibiotics, that's it. It's the same with narcissism. We tried cognitive behavior therapy, we tried Gestalt, we tried Schema therapy, we tried EMDR. I mean you name it, we tried it. Nothing works, nothing.

We need fifth generation antibiotics. It's toxic, it's dangerous but it works.

None of my patients is dead. They're all extremely happy people and so gratified to see this.

I can imagine but how does that work when the people then they react obviously then very bad and sad. Like you said, they have to go on suicide watch. And then what is the point that it goes better with them? How does that process go when you then reinforce the abuse but then they cannot react with their normal narcissistic coping? How is that process?

Well there's a whole set of proprietary techniques that I developed. That's why I referred you to the article because it's described there in detail.

But what we do essentially, what I do essentially is that I take them through this valley of death, I take them through this extreme trauma and then they discover that they're still alive. That nothing happened, they're alive. They're adults, everything is okay.

This realization that everything is okay because there is a stage that they are convinced they're going to die. This is recreating the original child. When the child is one year old, two years old, three years old, he's convinced that he's going to die. If mother doesn't love me, I will die.

I'm recreating this in cold therapy. I want the patient to feel that his life or her life is threatened and then to discover that it's not true. They survive, they go through this, they feel exactly like the child that they're going to die and then nothing happens. So they realize they had been wrong all along.

Or also maybe as a child because of course in nature if your mother would abandon you, obviously you would die. But now as an adult maybe the situation also is just different than from as a kid.

Because now of course if your mother abandons you, even if you feel it internally, you're not going to die. You don't physically need her anymore.

Yes, that's precisely what they just said.

Yeah, it's very interesting and of course very positive that there is something out there that at least works better than everything else that has been tonight.

That's not saying much because nothing works.

Yeah, it is a bit at least if you look at these people then that they are doing now better and even that some people can feel some sort of empathy in the sense that also shows that actually the capabilities of the brain are intense. If you can later on in life, if empathy was completely shut up so young but if you go to these therapies then maybe there's a bit of empathy left that says a lot.

Well, in the case of cold therapy the empathy is learned. There's a part of the module that teaches empathy.

Teachers empathy is a kind of efficient coping technique.

Teaching empathy is a technique.

But then when the next narcissist realizes the empathy makes life more pleasant, more efficient, you know, you can motivate people with love or with fear.

So Stalin and Hitler tried fear, didn't work very well. I mean you can try this, you can try that.

Narcissists usually adhere to the notion that the best motivation is fear.

You can see Donald Trump for example. He relates to the world via fear.

So narcissists believe in that. If you teach them that love is equally, I mean empathy is equally effective or sometimes more effective depending on the circumstances.

But always equally effective as fear, always.

But in some situations more effective. In other words it's always an improvement to fear.

The narcissist will adopt empathy as a technique. Not because it comes from inside but because it works.

It's very cognitive, very retinal actually.

At the beginning yes, in cold empathy yes, in cold therapy I'm sorry, yes. At the beginning is from this aspect, in this way.

But later it becomes part of nature. You learn empathy as a child exactly the same way. I mean children are not empathic at the beginning, when they're infants and so on. You learn empathy.

Empathy has three components.

You have reflexive empathy. Even babies have reflexive empathy. When they look at mommy, mommy is smiling, they smile back. That is reflexive empathy.

But then on top of it you build cognitive empathy. And on top of cognitive empathy you build emotional empathy.

So the next stage after reflexive empathy is to say Suzanne is hurt herself, it must be painful. That is cognitive.

But you realize what's happening to Suzanne but you still don't feel what's happening to Suzanne. You don't feel bad about it.

And the third phase is to say Suzanne hurt herself, it must be very painful, ouch. Ouch means I'm also feeling the pain. And this is the third phase.

Narcissists stop in the second level. They have reflexive empathy and cognitive empathy. They can say Suzanne is feeling bad. So it must be painful.

But the narcissists and psychopaths continue in a different way. They say Suzanne is feeling bad, it's very painful, I can use it for my purposes. So that's where narcissists and psychopaths can be.

And then you learn that their purposes can also benefit from having empathy. So that's how you can learn.

You learn in cold empathy, in cold therapy, you learn that you can manipulate Suzanne either by realizing her vulnerable points and weaknesses. That's one way. Or you can manipulate Suzanne by becoming Suzanne's friend. And liking her and being empathic with her and so on and she will be yours.

So there are many ways to manipulate people.

You can be precise with honey, sort of.

Yes, exactly.

Narcissists believe that there's only one way to relate to people. And we teach them.

So in a way, cold therapy involves the process of growing the child from child to adult.

There is a process of growth, personal growth.

It's a very productive process. Actually, you just learn to use, well, how I see it. I understand you just sort of learn to use the narcissism, but then to a way that isn't detrimental for other people.

No, actually, narcissism is eliminated. But at the beginning of cold therapy, you leverage narcissism.

True. You use narcissism to teach a variety of skills, and then you get rid of the narcissism and the skills remain, more or less. But much more you can find in this article, much more details.

I will read it and I will also link it under the video.

But I also wanted to ask still is about actually people who willingly go into relationships with narcissists. And I'm sure they fast get the hang of that, you know, it's a little bit off for them.

And I wrote about trauma bonding. And I was interested in how you would explain trauma bonding.

Well, I earlier in my career, I studied torture victims. I interviewed hundreds of torture victims and so on. And of course, the most potent, the strongest form of trauma bonding is in a torture process where the torture victim bonds with the torture. And the second most intensive case of trauma bonding is in kidnapping.

That's the famous Stockholm syndrome. It seems that the source of trauma bonding is the mistaken belief that develops in the victim that only the person who took can give only the person who took away self-esteem, good feelings, positive emotions, only the person who humiliated, rejected, challenged, abused, only this person can restore the initial state.

There seems to be some infantile primitive identification of the abuser as the source of all good and evil. It of course involves highly pathological processes of idealization, parental idealization, actually, the abuser becomes a kind of parent. It also involves a dual process where the victim tries to internalize the abuser, to create an inner representation of the abuser.

When we meet other people, we create a representation of these people, representations of these people. And we interact partly with these people and partly with the representations of these people inside us.

So it's very common, for example, for us to have imaginary conversations with people that we know or people that we love. That's very common. It's very healthy. There's nothing wrong with it. These conversations, these inner dialogues are actually with the representations of these people because they're not with us at the moment.

What happens with the abuse victim because of intermittent reinforcement, because the message and the behavior are unpredictable, capricious, arbitrary and inconsistent. There is no possibility to construct a coherent, cohesive, inner representation.

So the process of building an inner representation continues forever. The victim begins to construct a representation. My abuser is actually good. He loves me. He's the source of positive emotions. I love to be with him, etc.

And then the abuser abuses. So the inner representation is destroyed.

And now my abuser is actually bad. He's evil. He's trying to destroy me. He's my enemy.

And then the abuser becomes again good, again becomes hot and pleasant.

So the process of construction of inner representation is disrupted so multiply that it actually creates conditioning.

The victim begins to invest herself in constructing this inner structure and actually detaches from reality.

Of course, in order to construct the inner structure, because we feel very threatened when we cannot construct stable inner structures, very, and we tend to become conditioned and addicted to the process, conditioned actually.

We tend to try to repeat it and repeat it and repeat it.

And sometimes people can tell you, I don't understand him. I want to understand him so much, but I don't understand him.

One day he behaves like that. One day he behaves like that. They become utterly obsessed with constructing a worldview that is consistent and predictable.

So the abuser becomes the source, the indispensable source. If you live with someone and then someone is hot and cold, approaches, avoids, tortures you, loves you, you will try to construct an inner representation of that person, but you will fail because he is totally unpredictable and inconsistent.

So what will happen is you will get addicted or conditioned to this process of constructing the inner representation, but he will become indispensable because you can't go to another person to construct this inner representation. It's an inner representation of him.

So the solution usually is to create two representations. One is per secretary object, it's bad, evil, threatening, menacing, unpredictable, capricious, arbitrary, hateful object, representation of that person.

And the other representation is exactly the opposite, good, benevolent, loving, engulfing, supportive, empathic, etc.

Now this process is called splitting. It is a very infantile defense mechanism. The child at the very early stages of life cannot perceive mother as both bad and good.

So he splits mother, he has like two mothers. One is bad, one is good. The bad mother and the good mother or Melanie Klein called it the bad breast and the good breast.

So same happens with victims of abuse, especially by the way narcissistic abuse, they split the abuser, they interact like they interact with two people, with two representations of the same person. And then they feel the need to reconcile, to recombine these two. So they are total hostages, they are stuck.

It's simply a situation of being stuck. You are stuck until you resolve the split in the inner representation. And because you can never resolve it, trauma bonding is possibly the most difficult form of bond to break. It's almost impossible.

How can people deal with having no resolution?

Because I guess that's the only way they can deal with it if they want to break out of such a relationship.

In therapy, we need to convince the patient, which is sometimes close to impossible, we need to convince the patient that one of the two representations is wrong. That, for example, the representation of the abuser as benevolent, loving, etc., is absolutely wrong. That it comes from the needs of the victim, not from reality. That the inner representation doesn't correspond to the outer object that created it, the abuser.

So we need, in other words, to eliminate one of our representations and to leave the victim only with the persecretary object at which stage she feels utterly liberated, the conditioning stops, and she can leave. Because at that stage she has a single coherent, cohesive and predictable representation.

So she has some sort of reconciliation?

The thing is that, no, not reconciliation. This is not combining the two. It's eliminating one.

That's my English. I mean, she just means that then she has something that is clear.

It's clear clarity. But it's not reconciliation.

In some mental health disorders, for example, dissociative identity disorder, which used to be called multi-purpose personality disorder, there we create reconciliation of internal objects. We take all the internal objects and we combine them. We integrate them. It's called integration.

We don't do this with traumatic bonding victims. With trauma bonding victims, we eliminate one of the internal objects. We don't combine it with the other, because the object that is good, benevolent, loving, empathic, supportive, etc., is fake, fictitious. It's not true. It was created because of the emotional needs of the victim, not because it's real, not because it reflects any reality.

The only true realistic object is the persecretary object, which is malevolent, evil, hateful, envious, narcissistic, etc., etc.

So then when she sees that the true face of her abuser, she's liberated. She wakes up. It's kind of waking up.

But I can't tell you how difficult this is, because the victim is strongly, emotionally invested in maintaining both representations.

The realistic representation, the persecretary object, allows her to cope with her abuser. It creates a comfort zone. It's a zone within which she knows how to operate, how to predict his behavior, how to manipulate him, etc., etc.

So the persecretary object in her representation creates a comfort zone.

The other representation of her abuser is a good person. That representation she needs in order not to collapse, simply not to collapse, not to disintegrate. So she's fighting like a typical victim fights like hell to keep both representations.

Because listen, if you eliminate the good representation, it means that you for 20 years, for 30 years, for 10 years, you have been a victim. It's a horrible realization. I mean, you can tell yourself, listen, he's a good person, but he beats me up from time to time. He's a good person, but he verbally abuses me. You can tell this story to him.

But if you tell yourself he's a bad person, and I've been living with a bad person all my life, it's extremely difficult to accept.

You could better just not live with somebody who has a narcissistic disorder.

Yeah, I invented the strategy of no contact in 1995, which is today, today, the mainstream strategy. Today, this is the main strategy to cope with.

Another thing I invented is narcissistic abuse.

And so that's just, yeah, I said, because for people, for example, I have children with someone or things like that, it's you said it's just to not give an emotional response to be really detoxed and only the when you have when you have children or common business or whatever, you structure your interactions.

First of all, you try to interact as much as you can, via third parties, like lawyers, accountants, you don't interact directly as much as you can, authorities, police, you try not to interact directly.

Second thing, you reject any hint or sign of intimacy. So if he sends you a gift, you return it. You do not have any emotional interactions. So you can discuss facts or plans, but never emotions. You do not have common activities. So it's a great mistake to go on common vacations. And so on and so forth.

I mean, you simply make the relationship very objective and as far as possible, indirect through other parties.

I know that you have a patient coming soon. So I see that it's almost time. So I'd really like to thank you very much for being willing to speak with me. And yeah, I'll link also all the all the articles that you mentioned. So yes, thank you very much.

Thank you very much.

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