Hair-splitting diagnosis, nitpicking, often lead to confusion.
Following my recent videos about the schizoid narcissist, I had received missives from my few remaining viewers, asking me, is my husband a schizoid? Is my wife a sadist? Is my dog a covert narcissist? I don't know about the dog, but I'll try to help you with your spouses. And I will do that by clarifying the differences between overt classic narcissist, sadistic narcissist, covert narcissist and masochistic narcissist and the combinations thereof.
I will discuss shared fantasy, but not only shared fantasy.
And this one, as opposed to my previous videos, is going to be more brief in the form of bullet points.
Then in the second part of the video, I'm going to read to you excerpts from an excellent article by Philip Bromberg about the connection between dissociation and personality disorders.
This second part is more for my students, honestly speaking.
Okay, so let's start.
First of all, many of you have asked me where can they get copies or downloads of my videos. And the answer is on archive.org. You just go there, you type Sam Vaknin in the search box, and you get another lunch of my endless interminable videos.
Each of these videos you can actually download as opposed to YouTube. On YouTube, you need to use special software to download special apps and so on.
Archive.org, you simply click download and you download the video. You're invited to go there and download as many as you want. I don't sell them. They're free. They are also common license.
That means that you can upload these videos to your channel. You can mix them. You can use excerpts from the videos and embed them in your videos. You can embed the video on your website, on social media. You can do with the videos, whatever you want, as long as you attribute the source, as long as you give credit where it's due.
Okay, to the point.
All narcissists, all narcissists overt, covert, high functioning, low functioning, no functioning, all narcissists end life in a schizoid state.
In interpersonal relationships, narcissists progress from narcissism, for example, in the love bombing and grooming phase, to abuse, the sadism embedded in any relationship with the narcissist, whether it's intentional sadism and whether it's incidental sadism, but in any case, maltreatment, mistreatment, abuse.
So progression from narcissism to the equivalent of sadism and then to the schizoid phase, which is the discard.
Once the narcissist had discarded you, he remains alone. Of course, not for long, but he does remain alone.
So narcissist gravitate naturally from narcissism to sadism to the schizoid phase, all shared fantasies end in a schizoid phase where the narcissist is existentially lonely, existentially alone.
And this drives him to possibly seek another shared fantasy.
But this progression is true also in the narcissist careers, in their general social engagement, in their attitude to the world.
Narcissists become schizoid because of multiple cumulative narcissistic injuries, because of mortification that mounts over time.
At some point, the narcissistic injuries, the mortification, they become unbearable. They reach an intolerable crescendo. They cause extreme withdrawal, extreme avoidant behaviors.
The narcissist is so desensitized, so hurt, so full of scar tissue that is simply terrified to engage again. And he disengages.
Remember what is schizoid? Schizoid is a person who has no social contact. He doesn't have sex. He doesn't date. He doesn't socialize. He doesn't talk to people. He engages in solitary activities. He barely confides in a single family member, which is why narcissists create shared fantasies with a single individual.
So this is the schizoid phase.
I've dedicated three videos, three long videos to the schizoid narcissist. Go and have a look to edify yourself or to refresh your memory.
But all narcissists end this way. All of them end profoundly alone, profoundly irretrievably isolated. All of them are shunned, ostracized, excommunicated and avoided by their erstwhile nearest and dearest. All of them have no one to turn to. All of them die alone. That's what you call karma in your comments.
And it's simply the narcissist depletes, runs through the reservoir of people around him. He runs out of an inventory of pathological narcissistic spaces. He runs out of gimmicks. He becomes known. His reputation precedes him.
Our society is reputation based. Even retail platforms like Amazon are based on reputation, Wikipedia. Everything is based on reputation at some point, especially in today's interconnected internet age. It's impossible to avoid your past, impossible to pretend that you don't have one, impossible to falsify for long, to fake, to lie.
And so the narcissist runs out of options and narcissists are forced to become schizophrenic, but they also, it's also a choice because when they're alone, when they're isolated, when they're in control of any type of social interaction, then they feel safe. They feel secure because they know they can avoid or prevent or at least minimize narcissistic injuries and mortifications.
So gradually they create a citadel. They create a castle. They create a firewall around themselves. They withdraw into a fortress and draw the bridges up. They disconnect and disengage and detach and vanish.
And this is an emotional correlate. Whereas prior to the schizoid state, most narcissists are actually very aggressive, excitable and energetic in pursuing narcissistic supply in the schizoid phase.
Narcissists are much more tippy, much more, much more mitigated, so to speak, much less energetic, much more insipid.
And as distinct from the overt or classic narcissist, the schizoid narcissist, the cerebral narcissist, the sadistic narcissist and the covert narcissist, these types of narcissists, they prefer always anonymized, faceless, impersonal narcissistic supply.
Narcissistic supply via statistics, mass narcissistic supply. I dwelt on this, touched upon it in previous videos. These always prefer to avoid face-to-face interactions. They are often mistaken for socially shy people when they go even, when they even go to therapist and some of them misdiagnosed as avoidant personality disorder or social anxiety or social shyness. That's not the case at all. They simply feel much more in control when the flow of narcissistic supply is commoditized and commodified and homogenous because they can turn the tap off. I don't know. On YouTube, they can ban people. On Facebook, they can block people. They can shut out. They can create an echo chamber. They can create a silo of admirers and fans who would never criticize them, never cause a narcissistic injury.
The first sign, they would simply shut off this kind of people.
So they create environments which they micromanage and control to the maximum to obtain supply. But such an environment, of course, is not conducive to personal or interpersonal relationships where there are emotions, there are moods, there are circumstances beyond one's control, there are reactive patterns of behavior. These things are uncontrollable. It's not something you can manage or handle.
So schizoids, schizoid narcissists, cerebral narcissists, sadistic and covert types, they tend to avoid one-on-one interactions except the sadist.
The sadist derives sadistic supply also from one-on-one encounters. In other words, the other types, the schizoid, the cerebral, the covert, they would tend to be behind the scenes. They would tend to operate manipulatively or they would tend to emphasize methods and assets to obtain narcissistic supply which do not require face to face one-on-one flesh to flesh interactions.
That's why many of them avoid sex altogether.
The sadistic narcissist does the same, but in a dish has the same preference for anonymized impersonal symbolic statistical narcissistic supply.
But because it has yet another need, for sadistic supply, they need to humiliate people, they need to hurt people, they need to inflict pain upon people.
The pleasure and gratification that he derives from demolishing people, destroying people, ruining people, hurting people irrevocably, altering people in traumatic ways, it's very pleasurable. It's the equivalent of orgasm in normal or healthy people.
So the sadist is forced to have one-on-one encounters where he can watch, see eye-to-eye the outcomes of his sadism. The sadism can't be done impersonally. You need to see the pain in the other person's eyes, you need to see the twitching muscles, you need to see the sweat, the quickening heartbeat, the flow of blood in enlarged veins, the change in the hues of one of your victim's skins.
Sadism is the most intimate possible experience, you can ask any serial killer.
So the sadist narcissist is the only exception while he still prefers anonymized statistical number-based quantitative narcissistic supply.
To gratify or cater to the need for sadistic supply, he engages in one-on-one encounters and within the shared fantasy.
When you have a shared fantasy with an overt, classic narcissist, the abuse is intended to test you. Are you going to be a good mother? Are you going to love me unconditionally despite everything? I'm going to torture you, I'm going to torment you, I'm going to taunt you, I'm going to titillate you, I'm going to disappoint you, I'm going to rage at you, I'm going to attack you, I'm going to undermine you, I'm going to destroy your self-esteem, I'm going to diminish you and debase you and spoil you. You name it. I'm going to do everything imaginable. And many unimaginable things to do.
It's a test, because a real mother would continue to love me, never mind what I do. Her love is unconditional, not dependent upon performance or upon some expectations.
So it's a test.
The overt, the classic classicism within the shared fantasy is abusing you in order to test you and in order to reenact early childhood conflicts with a primary caregiver, primary object such as a mother.
But in the case of the schizoid narcissist, there are added functions.
The schizoid narcissist also is testing you for your parental acceptance and skills. The schizoid narcissist also is trying to reenact early childhood conflicts, but there's added their added functions.
And the added function is in the case of the schizoid narcissist, he's pushing you away. He's pushing you away because he needs his solitary, uninterrupted, imperturbed, utterly isolated space.
Schizoid personality disorder or the schizoid personality construct, which very often is considered to be a narcissistic personality type.
So the schizoid needs to be alone the same way you need to be with people. To the schizoid, people are a burden, a threat, an imposition, a nuisance. They take away his energy. They bore him to death, they're dull. He can't stand them. He wants away from people, everyone, you included. He needs to be alone 99.99%.
Over time, he loves his own company, is gratified by his own absence.
In this sense, of course, he is auto-erotic, not only in the sexual sense, but in the libidinal sense. He's auto-erotic. All his emotional energy, including psychosexual energy, is directed at himself. He is his own best friend. He is his only friend. He is his own best intimate partner. He creates self-intimacy. He creates a space, an intimate space, where there's only one person, him, and that's very reminiscent of the narcissist.
If the narcissist has an imaginary friend, that's the false self, and the narcissist creates with the false self a religion where he is the God and he is the worshiper. It's a one-man cult.
Same with the schizoid.
So the schizoid abuses you also to drive you away, leave me alone, let me be, I need to concentrate, I'm happy, I'm happy by myself, go find someone else, you need to have sex, find another man. I mean, just let me be.
The sadist equally abuses you in order to test you as a parental figure. He parentifies you, he wants to see, will you, will you still love him even when you get to know him better via his abuse?
Also the sadist, the sadistic narcissist also recreates early childhood conflicts. These two are inevitable in all types of narcissists, but the sadistic narcissist abuses you also to pleasurably inflict pain on you. He really enjoys it when you're suffering. His suffering is his elixir, his nectar, his champagne. He guzzles the bubbling of your pain.
So the sadistic narcissist abuses you and he has one ulterior motive, simply to have the orgasmic feeling of having impacted another person via agony, having agonized another person.
And the covert narcissist similarly has one more goal when he abuses you.
And the goal is to establish dominance in a power play.
Covert narcissists are obsessed with who is on top, who is dominant, who is the number one lobster. So covert narcissists abuse you because they want to make clear to you who is the wizard of Oz behind the scenes, who controls the machinery.
Let us summarize, after the love bombing and grooming phase, there's abuse within the sht fantasy always after the love bombing and grooming phase, the narcissist or psychopath always abuse you, but the etiology, the motivation to abuse you is different in each subtype of narcissist.
The overt, the classic, the grandiose narcissist is abusing you, one, to test whether you were a good mother, two, to recreate the early conflict with his own mother.
The sadistic narcissist abuses you for the same two reasons, plus a third reason, to enjoy your pain.
The covert narcissist abuses you to test you as a mother, to recreate early conflicts with his own mother, and to establish a hierarchy where he is the most powerful, he is the most dominant, he is the omnipotent, and you are his submissive, his slave, his assistant is something. So it's a power play.
And finally, the schizoid narcissist abuses you to test you as a mother, to ascertain that you can love him unconditionally as a mother, to recreate early conflicts with a primary caregiver like his mother, and the third reason, to push you away because he needs his loneliness, he needs his solitude, he's a solitary lone wolf figure, a recluse, a hermit.
And all types of narcissists mourn when the shared fantasy is over. They grieve, they're broken. Many of them are mortified. Many of them disintegrate completely, it's a very dangerous phase.
But they mourn the shared fantasy. They mourn the passing of the shared fantasy. They never mourn the loss of the counterparties in the fantasy. They don't mourn you as an intimate partner, they mourn what they had with you, they mourn what you had given them within the shared fantasy, what they could extract from you, what they could take from you. They don't mourn you as a friend, they don't mourn as a business associate. They don't mourn people. They don't grieve over the loss of people in their lives.
They grieve over the shared fantasy, the fantastic space within which they could feel omnipotent and omniscient and admired and safe. And they mourn what they used to take within the shared fantasy. And this is how they can transition so smoothly to a new mate, a new friend, or a new business associate because you're all interchangeable, commodified and commoditized, dispensable, replaceable.
But the shared fantasy is eternal.
Narcissists can subsist only within a shared fantasy, a little like a vampire, exposed to the harsh light of reality. He shrivels and crumbles to dust.
Okay. Now we transition to the part for my students.
And this is the literature which I recommend to learn more about schizoid.
And then I'm going to read to you a segment, an amazing segment from Philip Bromberg's article about the connection between dissociation and personality disorders and whether actually all personality disorders are dissociative states.
Literature. I recommend the book Split Self, Split Object, Understanding and Treating Borderline Narcissistic and Schizoid Disorders. It was written by Philip Manfield, published by Jason Aronson in 1992.
Next one is Primitive Experiences of Loss, Working with a Paranoid Schizoid Patient, Robert Wasker. Karnak is the publisher, 2002. Schizoid Phenomena, Self, Object Relations and the Self by the one and only Harry Guntrip, An Amazing Mind in Late Object Relations Theory. It was published by International Universities Press in 1969.
Next book, The Empty Core, An Object Relations Approach to Psychotherapy of the Schizoid Personality by, I swear to you, Jeffrey Seinfeld, Jeffrey Seinfeld, published by Jason Aronson in 1991.
I also recommend the following books. They are a bit limited in the theoretical sense because they adhere to highly specific object relations schools, so they don't give you a wide panoramic synoptic overview, but still they are very worth reading.
Number Theory, Intersubjectivity and Schizoid Phenomena by Paulton James, POET, James, published by Rutledge. A Heart Shattered, The Private Self and a Life Unlived by Martha Stark, International Psychotherapy Institute. Emotional Change and Expansion of Human Experience by Silvano Avigatti. And these are the books that this is the reading list. This is the recommended reading list.
Avigatti, by the way, has edited the Magisterial Handbook of Psychiatry, seven volumes, which is, in my view, the best reference ever written about psychodynamic theories. It's encyclopedic in every sense of the word. It's organized as an encyclopedia and so on, and everything you ever wanted to know about psychoanalysis, psychodynamic theories, object relations, and so on and so forth.
This approach to psychology, you can find there. Handbook of Psychiatry to the Best of Monology is actually available free, online. It was made available by the International Psychotherapy Institute. They have a romp around the website and you will find a link to free books. Click on it.
Hundreds, thousands, I think, of free books, free psychology books, the treasures you find online. Amazing.
And now I would like to read to you a very extended excerpt.
It's from the book. I hope I'm getting it right with the camera.
Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders, DSM-5 and Beyond, edited by, who else? Paul Dell. And there's an article there by Philip Bromberg. The article is titled Multiple Self-States: The Relational Mind and Dissociation: A Psychoanalytic Perspective.
This is the heaviest book ever and I hope I survived to the end of the excerpt.
So here goes.
Personality disorders and dissociative disorders. I mean, Bromberg says about himself, I have suggested in 1993 and 1995 that the psychoanalytic understanding of character pathology needs to be revamped to take into account the inherent dissociative structure of the mind. I also urge analysts to rethink the traditional understanding of what we mean by unconscious and their traditional ways of looking at the character structure and character pathology, especially what we call personality disorders.
I like this guy already. I propose that personality disorder might usefully be defined as the characterological outcome of the inordinate use of dissociation in the schematization of self, other mental representation and that independent of type or narcissistic, schizoid, borderline, paranoid, etc., independent of type, it reflects a mental structure organized in part as a proactive protection against the potential repetition of early trauma.
Thus, the distinctive personality traits of each type of personality disorder are embodied within a mental structure that allows each trait to be always on call, so to speak, for the trauma that is seen as inevitable or impending.
He continues, Bromberg, Philip Bromberg, all personality disorders therefore entail egosyntonic dissociation. Each type of personality disorder is a dynamically unalert configuration of dissociated states of consciousness that regulates psychological survival in terms of its own concretized blend of characteristics.
Within each type of personality disorder, certain self-states hold the traumatic experience and the traumatic effect. Other self-states hold the particular ego resources that, one, proved effective in dealing with the original trauma and, two, ensured that the pain will never happen again, will never recur.
Example, hypervigilance, acquiescence, paranoid, suspiciousness, manipulativeness, deceptiveness, seductiveness, psychopathy, intimidation, guilt induction, self-sufficiency, insularity, withdrawal into fantasy, pseudo-maturity, conformity, amnesia, deeper formalization, outer body experiences, trance states, compulsivity, substance abuse, etc.
These are all, of course, ego resources used at the time to cope with the trauma and deemed to have been efficient.
It continues. Dissociative symptomatology and dissociative character traits.
When faced with a reminder of past trauma that threatens effective hyperarousal, the mental structure of a person with a dissociative disorder is usually not stable enough to successfully prevent symptoms from being triggered.
This vulnerability to symptoms causes a person with a dissociative disorder to appear sicker than a person with a personality disorder.
An individual whose dissociative mental organization is evidenced in the rigidity of egosyntonic character pathology.
But in both cases, dissociative disorders and personality disorders, mental functioning is mediated by the adaptive effort of a dissociative mental structure that is designed to prevent the intrusion of unbearable trauma.
The dissociative structure is a bulwark against re-traumatization.
And that's the insight, by the way, that underlies cold therapy, that narcissistic dissociation, the narcissistic defenses can go away only if we re-traumatize the patient because they are defending against re-traumatization.
Back from Vaknin to Brumbel.
So he continues to say, the dissociative structure is a bulwark against re-traumatization, but it also creates an existential illness.
It plunders both the present and the future on behalf of the past.
In a personality disorder, each personality configuration has its own characteristic pathologies of cognition, impulse control, affectivity, and interpersonal functioning. Each specific personality configuration represents a dissociative solution to trauma that has been preserved and perfected because it balanced safety and need satisfaction, characterologically in a fashion that worked for that person.
The subsequent cost of this solution, however, is always identical, regardless of personality type. To one degree or another, it is an unlived life.
Cold Therapy says the same. He says these people are rejecting life.
The dissociative disorders, in other words, dissociative identity disorder, dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue or depersonalization disorder.
These are, from this vantage point, touchstones for understanding the personality disorders, even though paradoxically, dissociative disorders are defined by symptomatology rather than by personality style.
The symptoms of the dissociative disorders are direct manifestations of discontinuities between states of consciousness that the personality disorders are designed to mask.
Remember what I've been telling you about self-states in borderline personality disorder?
In the personality disorders, discontinuities between states of consciousness are expressed only indirectly and characterologically, as a relationally impaired but relatively enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of social situations.
That is, of course, a direct quote from the DSM published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Each type of personality disorder has its own characterological configuration of dissociated self-states that are on call to preempt the traumatic input of otherness.
For example, the Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder neutralizes otherness by engaging in covert power operations that are designed to undo the impact of the therapist's words. The purpose of these power operations is to prevent the therapist's subjectivity from allying with dissociated not-me aspects of the patient's self and thus risking the creation of mental confusion if not chaos.
Just as the Obsessive Compulsive Patient uses words to magically make the potentially impinging other believe that the patient is agreeing while dissociating the here and now present from the ongoing interchange, the Hysterionic Personality Disorder uses affect and pain to keep the other at bay.
What he's saying, Bromberg, is that one of the major functions of personality disorder is to keep other people outside to push away other people because other people constitute a threat. They can communicate with self-states and elements in the personality that are going to undermine the whole structure.
Personality disorder are firewalls. They are defenses against this kind of communication.
You remember in one of my previous videos I made the distinction between triggering and trauma and so on when the external communicates with the internal or internal object communicates with external.
So these external-internal bridges, external-internal communication, they're very destabilizing and potentially very traumatizing.
And personality disorders, the main role according to Bromberg and gradually according to me, the main role is to keep out you because you're a threat.
I made a video earlier how your empathy is a threat, not a promise, not something good. That's why the online nonsense that narcissists look for empaths, so-called empaths for empathic people is nonsense. It's against everything we know, against any study we have.
And I'm reading to you now an authority, Bromberg.
So he says the obsessive compulsive pretends to agree and that's his way of keeping the therapist or the outsider, his intimate partner out. The histrionic tends to be in pain, tends to pretend that she's in pain or exaggerate her emotions. It's another way of keeping out, keeping away the outsider. He says it's the equivalent of saying, you won't let me be myself. You don't understand what I'm feeling.
No, that's not what I'm feeling. The histrionic, by the way, is the only type of personality disorder that has already been acknowledged as most likely to be dissociative. Why? Probably because the histrionic has organized into the personality structure, the use of rapid switching of self-states as a proactive response to potential affective overload.
I would say that the borderline is much more than the histrionic in this sense. Histrionic is much closer to primary psychopath. The borderline is much closer to secondary psychopath. It's a psychopath with empathy and with emotions. This character trait, which we know as affective lability, has more of the aroma of a dissociative disorder than do many of the character traits we find in other types of personality disorders.
Again, lability is much more typical of borderline than of histrionic. I also have hypothesized, says Bromberg, that paranoid personalities are labeled delusional because the extreme dissociative isolation of the self-state that holds paranoid truth creates an immovably fixed self-narrative that is virtually immune to modification through relational negotiation. That is, paranoid personality disorders rely almost exclusively on a self-state that is designed to be seamlessly vigilant and not only to mistrust, but to actively look for reasons to mistrust.
There are different likelihoods that a dissociative personality structure will fail. To some degree, the likelihood is determined by the type of personality style in which it is embedded. Sometimes the failure is seen in the development of symptoms, sometimes in a flooding of affect, as in hysteria, sometimes in a bizarreness of obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior, sometimes in a loosening of a schizoid person's hold on reality and sometimes in a paranoid person's delusional thinking.
Some people with schizoid personality disorders have become so weakened by profound isolation that they risk loss of selfhood while trying to stay untouched by the annihilating presence of other people. Others whose dissociative structure is more successful simply die before they had ever lived.
Yes sirree, Bromberg got it right.
Dissociation, somality disorders, post-traumatic conditions, all of them by the way, cluster A, B, C, post-traumatic conditions and the main tool they use is dissociation.
And the main affect, the main emotion is envy because envy leads to dissociation according to Melanie Klein.
The transition between the phases, for example the schizoid paranoid phase to the depressive phase, they are mediated via envy.
Envy seeks to annihilate the object of envy or to become one with the object of envy. In either case, it seeks to eliminate the other.
Eliminating the other is the core of personality disorders.
The narcissist seeks to eliminate the other in various ways, most notably abuse.
The schizoid seeks to eliminate the other by pushing her away. The sadist seeks to eliminate the other by killing her mentally or physically.
Keeping out the other is a crucial task of self-maintenance homeostatic equilibrium in the personality disordered person.
Personality disorders are such precariously balanced houses of cards that any breeze, any butterfly, any flap of a butterfly's wings can unsettle the whole edifice.
And decades of adaptation and effort go down the drain just because you said something or you did something.
The narcissist, the schizoid, they can't afford these risks. They need to control you and micromanage you. To the microsecond, they need you to lose 100% of your personal autonomy, your identity.
Because as long as you're separate and distinct from them, you can surprise them, you can unsettle them, you can undermine them, you can challenge them and they can't afford this. They can't afford you.