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Treatment for Narcissism: Cold Therapy Questions and Techniques: Seminar in Vienna, May 12-14, 2017

Uploaded 3/17/2017, approx. 17 minute read

Hello everyone, my name is Sam Vaknin and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

In the past few weeks, ever since I posted the first video on my channel regarding cold therapy, I've been asked a series of questions which I would like to address today.


But before I do that, the event in Vienna would take place between the 12th and the 14th of May. That is 12th, 13th and 14th of May.

It would be a three-day seminar in which I would teach for the first time cold therapy to a group of therapists and it would be a certification seminar.

In other words, by the end of the seminar, I would provide the participants with a certificate attesting that they have completed the seminar and are basically acquainted with the rudiments of cold therapy and can begin to use it in clinical practice.

The seminar will take place in Hotel Amstel, Hotel Amstel in Vienna. It's right next to the Cathedral of Vienna and again May 12th to the 14th.

Half the places are already taken. There are only 20 places left.

So I urge you and encourage you to secure your place by clicking on the link in the description because otherwise when we start with the promotion of the seminar next month, you may find yourself out of luck and out of a seat.

The reason the number of seats is limited, the number of participants is limited, is because each and every participant in the seminar will have a hands-on experience. We will do simulations, gamification and mock therapy with Dr. April Jones from the United States.

So there's a lot going on and each and every participant in the seminar will receive personal attention.

This cannot be done in mass gatherings of 100 therapists.

So we had to limit the number of participants.

So hurry up and secure your seat by clicking on the link in the description.


Now let me recap and reiterate what is cold therapy.

Well historically, I mean the history of cold therapy is that I started to develop it six years ago and I started to develop it because all other treatment modalities and therapies haven't been successful in using a British understatement in coping with people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. These are difficult patients, therapists resent them and therapy quickly devolves into a power play between client or patient and therapist. There is no therapeutic alliance, there's no possibility to establish a holding environment, the patient's reactions are driven by fantasies, grandiosity and hypersensitivity or hypervigilance. So it's a very tough therapeutic environment and most if not all treatment modalities that I'm aware of have not been successful in tackling pathological narcissism. There has been some success with behavior modification but there has been no success in tackling the core or the kernel issues of narcissism.

I have spent 20 years of my life studying narcissism and even contributing some insights to the field. So I thought that I might try my hand at devising a kind of treatment modality of therapy which would be moderately or even not moderately more successful, more adept coping with narcissists and psychopaths.

I was also driven by a personal motive, I've been diagnosed twice with narcissistic personality disorder and once as a borderline psychopath, so technically a psychopathic narcissist.

The disorder has ruined my life several times over and I'm very keen to see whether once I teach cold therapy to qualified therapies, they can use it on me in order to affect, if not complete healing and complete cure, at least such a modification in my dysfunctional self-destructive and self-defeating behavior patterns that would render what's left of my life acceptable, agreeable and amenable.

So there is definitely a personal motivation behind all this.

So I spent the last six years developing what I call cold therapy.

I think there are two things that distinguish cold therapy from other therapies.

First of all, cold therapy does not regard narcissism or pathological narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder as a personality disorder. It does not regard pathological narcissism as a personality problem.

Cold therapy thinks or conceptualizes pathological narcissism as a form of complex post-traumatic condition, as a form of, shall we say, complex PTSD.

And so cold therapy uses tools that have proven to be effective in the treatment of post trauma, of post-traumatic conditions and applies these tools to narcissism.

And then the second crucial distinction between cold therapy and other treatment modalities is that while all other treatment modalities treat narcissists as adults, cold therapy regards narcissist as children.

It treats narcissist as though they were children.

The idea behind this is that pathological narcissism is actually a form of arrested development, a kind of extended attachment dysfunction.

And so relating to the narcissist or trying to interact with the narcissist as an adult would be a serious mistake.

Instead, cold therapy borrows tools from child psychology and uses them to good effect, uses these techniques to good effect with narcissism.


What do we do in cold therapy?

Well, in cold therapy, what we do is we re-traumatize the narcissistic client.

We force the narcissistic client with his consent, of course, to go through the same primary trauma that causes narcissism in the first place.

Now this could be an extended trauma. These could be years of abuse, years of idolizing, years of treating the narcissist as an extension of the parent or as an avatar or as a representation, years of reaching the boundaries of the child as the child tries to separate and individuate and so on and so forth.

So this could be damage that reflects years or even decades of mistreatment and maltreatment.

So how do we recreate the primary trauma if we don't have these scales of time?

So what we do is we identify the core of the trauma. What was the problem?

Breaching of boundaries, sexual, emotional incest, physical abuse, verbal abuse, or on the other hand, too much spoiling, too much pampering, treating the child as an extension or a tool of gratification.

So we identify the conceptual core of the abuse and then we deal with that core by creating an artificial trauma within the therapy setting, an artificial trauma which resembles as closely as possible, which is actually a facsimile of the original trauma.


But how can we traumatize another patient effectively?

Not by creating a holding, warm, and pathetic environment.

In holding warm and pathetic environments, people don't feel traumatized. Never mind what you try to do to them.

Most therapies, if not all therapies, are constituted on, founded on empathy, a therapeutic alliance, some mode of collaboration, goal attaining some form of holding, engulfing, encompassing environment where the patient feels safe.

But if the patient feels safe, the patient cannot be traumatized. Cold therapy is a first.

It's the first therapy ever to actually recreate a hostile, non-holding environment which resembles the ambience of the original trauma to the maximum.

The idea is that the other patient, finding himself again in a hostile environment where he is traumatized exactly as happened in his childhood, the other patient is much better able to cope with such a trauma.

Even if the other patient is the outcome of arrested development, he's still picked up in life some skills, some additional skills, some of them coping skills, some of them professional skills. He also developed some coping strategies, some adaptations.

Those could be dysfunctional adaptations, but there are still adaptations. Narcissism is actually a form of adaptation.

So now equipped with all these tools that the patient has aggregated and accumulated and amassed in his lifetime, the patient is much better positioned to cope with the original trauma and with the original hostile environment.

And another discovers that he emerges from this simulated trauma, from this secondary trauma, from this re-traumatization, from this round of hurt and pain. He emerges essentially unscathed, alive, functioning.

And this re-emergence, this triumph of the will, resolves early childhood conflicts and achieves finally closure.

And so once the patient has closure, once old conflicts had been resolved, the patient discovers that his or her maladaptive narcissistic defenses, narcissistic traits, narcissistic behaviors, fantastic grandiosity, even lack of empathy. He discovers that all these pain aversion strategies and techniques are redundant, unnecessary and obsolete because the original trauma is gone and it is gone because it had been coped with successfully.

So co-therapy makes use of 25 proprietary techniques, not available in any other therapy.

And this will be the core of the curriculum of the three-day seminar. And I will describe one or two or three of them towards the end of this video.


But it is important to understand that co-therapy should be practiced only by mental health practitioners who are trained to use it, presents some dangers during the therapeutic process because re-traumatization has to be handled delicately and incrementally. And that it works mainly with pathological narcissism, even in comorbid conditions, for example with borderline and with psychopathy and it works with both these disorders very, very flexibly and surprisingly also with some forms of multisoders, for example, dysthymia and acute or major depressive episodes.

I am not sure why it works with depression. It was not developed to cope with depression. But I think depression also has something to do with trauma, whether endogenous or exogenous.

So the success of co-therapy with multisoders might indicate that some forms of depression are actually post-traumatic conditions.


Now I would like to discuss some of the techniques, proprietary techniques of co-therapy.

But before I do so, another reminder from our sponsors.

There is an event, a three-day certification seminar in Vienna, Austria, May 12th, May 13th and May 14th in the lovely Hotel Stiffensplatz, adjacent to the big cathedral of Vienna. And number of seats is limited because it's a hands-on experience and already half the seats are taken.

So I advise you to click on the link in the description of this video to secure your seat and your participation.

So I would like to discuss three techniques developed specially for co-therapy not available in any other treatment modality anywhere and also rather counterintuitive in the sense that they run against the grain and against the consensus in psychotherapy today, contemporary psychotherapy.

So the first one would be erasure.

Erasure as the name implies is the suppression of speech.

Now all therapies or treatment modalities without a single exception encourage the patient to talk. This is why we call it talk therapy.

The patient is encouraged to disclose information and to reflect upon this information in a structured manner.

The idea is that the more information the patient provides, the more he is allowed to reflect on this information in a variety of ways, the more insight he gains and the better the psychodynamics that results.

Co-therapy is exactly the opposite.

Co-therapy believes in silence because in the traumatic, in the original trauma, the traumatic condition that engendered and fostered pathological narcissism, the child for example was not encouraged to speak. The child was encouraged to remain silent and was penalized, severely punished if he did speak out, if he did confront, disagree or criticize the abuser, whether the abuser was a parent, a caregiver, a peer or a role model like a teacher.

Still, speech was penalized.

In an attempt to create the original trauma of course, we penalize speech in coin Cold Therapy as well.

We do it by suppressing a series of key words.

When the patient or the client utters these key words, which are by the way unique to each patient, so the patient utters these key words, the therapist suppresses the speech, does not allow the patient to proceed.

The idea behind this is that we can learn as much from silence as we can learn from speech.

Think about it in terms of a dictatorial country, a country with a dictatorship.

There's not much free speech going around, but we learn a lot from what is not being said as we learn from what is being said.

So observing the patient's reaction to stifled speech, observing the strategic silences in their interrelationship with speech acts, this in itself generates a lot of additional information not available in any other treatment modality that I'm aware of.

I always like to compare it to a cake.

Imagine a cake.

If I gave you a whole complete round cake, what's the information you have?

You have a lot of information on the upper crust of the cake, and you have a lot of information on the perimeter of the cake, the roundness of the cake and the upper part, but that's it. You have no other information.

Now imagine that I cut off a slice of the cake, take it out and dump it.

Then what's the information?

What information do you have now?

You have all the information on the upper crust.

You have all the information on the perimeter, but now you have a view into the innards of the cake, into the internal structure and composition of the cake.

This slice of cake taken out and discarded is equivalent to the speech which is suppressed in Cold Therapy.

So this is an example of one proprietary, highly counterintuitive and unusual technique unique to Cold Therapy.


Another technique which I would like to mention very briefly is the map of happiness.

Map of happiness is an attempt to establish what are the things that really matter to the patient.

If you ask patients or clients what matters to you, what is the most important thing in your life, what gives you life meaning and significance.

The client would usually respond with a well-rehearsed list which he convinces himself or she convinces herself over the years are the things that matter to them.

So it would be family, religion, God, children, whatever, money maybe.

But then the map of happiness is a technique which unearths, uncovers the real, the core elements of meaning in the patient's life.

It does it, it does so, by a process of elimination using common denominators.

So for example if the patient would say, well, I like to travel very much, it gives meaning to my life, and I like to buy very nice clothes.

The common denominator to these two is of course money because you can't travel very often and you can't buy very nice, grand clothes, clothing if you don't have money.

So it seems that the underlying element which engenders and generates happiness would be money because without money that is the necessary and the sufficient condition for these two activities.

So we go down to money.

And then when we come to money we go down, we drill down further and further.

This is very similar to some techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy.

So we drill down further and further and we will reduce the map of happiness to two or three components which usually are a complete surprise to the patient or to the client.

Usually once the map of happiness is completed and we have the three or two elements which are the found and foundation of the patient's happiness, the patient is utterly stunned because they have nothing or very little to do with the initial list that he preferred to the therapist.

The third and last technique I would like to mention, remember these are only three out of 25 of prior techniques.

The third one would be other scoring.

Other scoring is a very convoluted technique because it asks you to, it asks the patient, I'm sorry, the client to reflect not only on what he thinks but on what other people think that he thinks and what he thinks about the way other people think about what he thinks.

So it's like a whole of mirrors, a series of dimensions like in string theory curled and curled again.

So for example, if a wife has trouble with her husband and the trouble is of an narcissistic nature of course, then we would ask her, what do you think about your spouse and what do you think your spouse thinks about you? And what do you think he thinks that you think that he thinks about you, etc.

So we will go through a series of iterations and the results are often fascinating, absolutely fascinating.

What we do then is again use a common denominator and we map the responses onto each other so that we discover commonalities.

We discover thoughts, cognitions and emotions which seem to be common to the parties involved, husband and wife, boss and employee, whatever.

So these are three examples of the techniques in the seminar.

I'm going to present all 25, not only present them but use them, not only use them but teach them, not only teach them but simulate with case studies and even more advanced techniques such as gamification.

I repeat again, I reached an initial understanding with Dr. April Jones from the United States and we went together, have a session of mock therapy.

I will have another session of mock therapy with Lydia, one galoska, my wife.

Lydia developed one of the 25 instruments, another instrument actually, number 26 which is very powerful and she will present that instrument, it's called the spiral of healing and it's a retraumatization instrument but far more gentle than the retraumatization of bedded cold therapy and could be used as supplementary second step to cold therapy but I will let her do the talking in the seminar.

I would be very happy to see all of you there, space permitting.

The seminar is intended for therapies, mental health practitioners and professionals, psychologists, etc.

But laymen, non-professionals can attend, the only difference would be that they cannot be certified. They can attend but cannot be certified.

See you all in beautiful Vienna in spring opposite the cathedral in Hotel Amstelzenplatz, May 12th, 13th and 14th. Be well.

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