Victim: How to Avoid Becoming a Psychopathic Narcissist

Uploaded 6/2/2020, approx. 42 minute read

Today, I am bringing you two controversial topics.

At Twofer, you listen to me one hour and I will blow your mind with controversy.

The first part of the video will deal with the issue of when victims abuse narcissists.

Yes, you heard me correctly, when victims abuse narcissists, when victims become abusers.

And the second part of the video will deal with racism.

Is it necessarily such a bad thing?

This is not a hint. I'm not saying it's a good thing, but I will try to provide an unusual angle on this much discussed and much debated topic.

Black people all over the United States are overturning and burning cars, looting shops, and what's even worse, making Donald J. Trump very, very angry.

Now, you can get anyone angry without any repercussions, but don't you mess with the Donald, because if you do, you do it at your peril.

But this brings up a much more general question. And that is the question of what happens when victims decide to adopt and to emulate, to adopt their behaviors and to emulate their abusers.

Some victims imitate the misconduct of their own abusers. They guilt trip, they aggress, they confabulate, they manipulate, they act entitled, they act grandiose, and they show a marked decline in empathy.

All these phenomena and effects and impacts have been documented in numerous studies, especially in the last 15 years. We'll come to it a bit later in the video.

Consider the latest riots.

Black lives do matter. No one is disputing that. There is systemic discrimination. There is institutional animus towards black people. No one is disputing that either, or at least I'm not.

Racism is rampant. Slavery was a horrendous near genocidal process that lasted four centuries and decimated blacks on four continents. A genocide in many respects.

Whites feel justified collective guilt for all these atrocities. White people did this to black people.

But blacks guilt trip the whites. They manipulate them by leveraging their guilt to obtain desired economic and political outcomes.

No, there's no question that individual white people egregiously misbehave, as do, by the way, individual black people. And these individual whites should be punished for their heinous crimes.

But by rioting destructively and indiscriminately, blacks are punishing all whites as a collective.

And that is exactly what the whites head down to the blacks. Exactly what they did to them.

The blacks, in this sense, are imitating the whites, imitating the right white race as misconduct.

And so this is a private case of a more generalized phenomenon.

The general phenomenon is that some survivors of narcissistic abuse adopt the role and posture of a martyr, a professional victim. And in doing so, they become self-centered, devoid of empathy, abusive and exploitative.

In other words, these victims, these pro-victims, they become narcissists.

I'm quoting, in 2001, psychologist Agata Blancneo and Malgo Zata Verenco, I don't know where they're getting these names from. They work in the Catholic University of Lublin in Poland.

And they described an experiment in which students took a spelling test in a room secretly fitted with a one-way mirror. A dictionary and a thesaurus were in the room as well, but the students were asked to not use them.

Subjects were three times as likely to cheat when an assistant posing as a cheating student was also present. In fact, unchecked dishonesty can promote the perception that one must cheat in order to remain competitive.

Such observations have led Danarelli to refer to cheating as infectious. And this kind of social contagion may help explain the high prevalence of cheating in relatively small groups of people.

For example, 125 Harvard students were recently under investigation for cheating on the final examination in an introductory government course. More than half of these students were told to withdraw from school for up to a year as punishment.

It is statistically unlikely that nearly half of the 279 students in that class are sociopaths, or psychopaths, or narcissists. They're not.

There's a low prevalence of sociology, about three percent in males and one percent in females.

A more plausible explanation is contagion. The widespread bending of the rules probably led students to conclude that collaborating with other students was okay.

It's a viral pandemic. It's another type of pandemic.

And this quote was taken from the book, From the article, Why We Cheat, by Farik Fang and Arturo Casadeval, published in Scientific American Mind, Volume 24, Issue 2.

And this raises a question. Is narcissism contagious? Can one catch narcissism by living with a narcissist, like catching fleas from a dog?

And the answer is that the psychiatric profession uses the word epidemiology when it describes the prevalence of psychopathologies.

We do. We refer to psychopathologies as kind of pandemics.

There is some merit in examining the incidence of personality disorders in the general population.

Mental health is a visible outcome of an intricate interplay between nature and nurture, genetics and culture, the brain and one's upbringing and socialization, as well as acquired and learned behaviors and reactions, all kinds of peer pressure situations, peer emulation, etc.

Many, many factors, many things interfere.

But this is what creates personality disorders.

The question is, are personality disorder communicable diseases? Are they like COVID-19?

Well, first of all, we're seeing a pandemic. We are witnessing a pandemic of depression and anxiety in the United States.

Four days ago, a study was published that demonstrated that 34% of the population of the United States now has clinical depression and anxiety, 34% up from 15% before the pandemic.

How did this happen?

There is a vector of transmission. There is a form of contagion.

And the answer, whether personality disorders are communicable or not, the answer is more complex than yes or no.

Personality disorders are not contagious in the restricted, rigorous medical sense. There's no kind of virus that spreads them around and not communicated by pathogens from one individual to another.

Personality disorders lack many of the basic features of physical, biological epidemics or pandemics, but still, they are communicated.

How? How are personality disorders communicated?

Well, first of all, by watching some happening videos. Just kidding, just kidding, just kidding.

First, there is a direct interpersonal influence. A casual encounter with a narcissist is likely to leave a bad aftertaste, bewilderment, hurt, anger, confusion.

But these transient reactions have no lasting effect, luckily for everyone. They fade away with time.

Not so with a more prolonged exposure, with more, with longer interactions, marriage, for example, partnership, cohabitation, working or studying together, sharing a room, roommates and the like.

Narcissism brushes off. Our reactions to the narcissist, the initial ridicule, the occasional rage, the frustration, they tend to accumulate and they form the sediment of deformity.

Gradually, the narcissist distorts the personalities of people he is in constant touch with. He kind of molds them. He casts them in his own defective mold. He limits them. He redirects them, constricts them, inhibits them. He plays with them. He screws up with their minds.

I don't want to use the overused word and conspiracy theories brainwashing, but so far, when sufficiently cloned, the narcissist uses the people that he had affected as narcissistic proxies, as an army of robots, as narcissistic vehicles of vicarious narcissism.

The narcissist provokes in people emotions, which are predominantly negative, predominantly discomforting and unpleasant.

The initial reaction, as we said, is likely to be ridicule. The narcissist is pompous, incredibly self-centered, falsely grandiose, buffoonish, full of himself, spoiled, odd. Even the manner of speech of the narcissist is likely to be constrained, archaic, verbose, and often elicits smirks in lieu of admiration.

But the entertainment value is fast over.

The narcissist's behavior becomes tiresome, irksome, cumbersome, ridiculously supplanted by ire, and then by overt anger.

The narcissist inadequacies are so glaring and his denial and other defense mechanisms, so primitive, so infantile, that we constantly feel like screaming at the narcissist, reproaching him, slapping his ugly face, I don't know what, or even striking at him literally as well as figuratively.

But these reactions make them ashamed.

They are ashamed of themselves and they begin to feel guilty.

We find ourselves attached to a mental pendulum swinging between repulsion and guilt, rage and pity, lack of empathy and remorse.

The narcissist does this to people.

And slowly people around the narcissist acquire the very characteristics of the narcissist that they so deplore.

They become as tactless as the narcissist, as devoid of empathy and of consideration, as ignorant of the emotional makeup of other people, and as one track-minded as a narcissist is, exposed to the sick hello of the narcissist.

These people have been branded, they have been marked, they have been infected.

I can immediately tell if someone is living with a narcissist, if someone is working with a narcissist, if someone is exposed long term to a narcissist.

One look and I'll tell you, yeah, this guy, this girl, this woman, they're branded.

The narcissist invades our personality. He makes us react the way he would have liked to. He doesn't dare. He is a coward. He's not courageous.

So he makes us do things for him. Or sometimes he's ignorant. He doesn't know how to do something. So he forces, coerces people around him to do these things for him.

And that's a mechanism known as projective identification.

So people are exhausted by the narcissistic eccentricity, by his extravagance, by his gradiosity, by his constant entitlement.

And then narcissist incessantly, adamantly, even aggressively makes demands upon his human environment. He's addicted to his narcissistic supply.

So he wants admiration now, adoration now, approval, attention now, now, now, like a spoiled child. He forces others to lie to him and to overrate his achievements, his talents, his merits.

This is the shared fantasy, living, inhabiting, residing in the narcissistic fantasy land.

Also means that the narcissist compiles his closest nearest and dearest to join him there in a cult-like setting where he's, of course, needless to say, the leader of the cult.

It's heart, it's beating heart.

And the resulting exhaustion, desperation and weakening of the wheel are fully taken advantage of by the narcissist.

He penetrates these reduced defenses. It's like a Trojan horse. He spews forth his lethal charge exactly like a virus. The virus has RNA and he forces the cell to replicate the RNA.

Narcissist is the same. He penetrates you, invades you, and he forces you to replicate him.

Gradually, people in proximity to the narcissist find themselves imitating and emulating his personality traits or, I don't know, expounding his views.

The narcissist also does not refrain from intimidating people into compliance with his commands, worse comes to worse.

So the narcissist coerces people around him by making subtle uses of processes such as intermittent reinforcement, conditioning and seeking to avoid the unpleasant consequences of not succumbing to his wishes.

People would rather put up with his demands and be subjected to his wings than confront him.

There's also a process of trauma bonding, Stockholm syndrome. Not to confront his terrifying monsters. These people cut corners, pretend, participate in his charade, lie, become subsumed in his grandiose fantasies.

Rather be aggressively nabbed, people reduce themselves and minimize their personalities. They gradually vanish.

By doing all this, they delude themselves into thinking that they have escaped the worst consequences of the narcissist's proximity.

The worst is yet to come. The narcissist is confined, constrained, restrained and inhibited by the unique structures of his personality and of his disorder.

There are many behaviors which he cannot engage in, many reactions and actions which are prohibited to him.

Because for example, they negate his grandiosity. There are many desires that he stifles, sometimes sex, sex itself. There are many fears that he finds in surmountum.

Narcissist is a rigid adaptation, not a very effective one.

And what this adaptation does ironically, it makes the narcissist vastly inferior to other people.

Narcissistic men think they're the best things in sliced bread, but actually they're infinitely inferior to the most basic average guy.

The narcissist uses others as an outlet to all these repressed emotions and behavior patterns.

Having invaded other people's personalities, having altered them by methods of attrition and erosion, having made other people compatible with his own disorder, having secured the submission of his victims, the narcissist moves on to occupy the shells that are left.

Then he makes these people do what he has always dreamt of doing, what he has often desired, and he has constantly feared to do, realize his fantasies. He bought his snatches.

Using the same compelling procedures, the narcissist drives his mates, his spouse, his partners, colleagues, children, neighbors, coworkers, nevermind. He drives people around him into collaborating in the expression of the repressed side of his personality.

It's like people really become his extensions. He really develops a hive mind.

At the same time, the narcissist negates the vague suspicions of people around him that their personalities have been replaced by his personality when committing these acts.

So the narcissist can derive vicariously through the lives of others, the narcissistic supply that he so craves. He induces in his army of zombies, criminal, romantic, or heroic impulses. He makes them travel far and fast, bridge norms, gamble against all odds, ruin their own boundaries, fear nothing and no one.

In short, he transforms people into that which he could never be.

The narcissist thrives on the attention that narration, fascination, or horrified reactions lavished upon his proxies. He consumes a narcissistic supply flowing through these human conduits of his own making.

Such a narcissist is likely to use sentences like, I made him. She was nothing before she met me. He is my creation. She learned everything she knows from me and my expense, and so on.

Sufficiently detached, both emotionally and legally, the narcissist flees the scene when the going gets tough.

Often these behaviors, acts, and emotions induced by the proximity to the narcissist result in harsh consequences, an emotional or legal or financial crisis, physical material catastrophe. These are common outcomes of doing the narcissist's bidding.

And the narcissist's prey is not equipped to deal with a crisis that are the narcissist's daily bread, and which now he or she are forced to confront as the narcissist's proxy.

The behavior and emotions induced by the narcissist are alien, and the victim experiences a cognitive dissonance, and this only aggravates the situation.

But the narcissist is rarely there to watch his clones writhe and suffer. At the first sign of trouble, the narcissist goes missing. This vanishing act is not necessarily physical or geographical.

The narcissist is actually better at disappearing emotionally and at evading his moral and legal obligations. He constantly self-righteously moralizes, but, you know.

So it is then and there that his family and coterie discover his true colors.

He uses and discards people offhandedly. To the narcissist, people are either functional and useful in his pursuit of narcissistic supply, or they are not.

But in both cases, to him, they are not human, but they are objects, cartoons. Of all the hurts that the narcissist inflicts, this abrupt and contemptuous disregard, probably, is the strongest and most enduring one.

So this is the psychodynamic background, the conditioning of the victim.

And sometimes victims become narcissists.

The interaction between the narcissist or the psychopath and his victim is not clear-cut. Many victims deploy narcissistic defenses, are narcissistically injured. They rage exactly as a narcissist does. These victims are drawn to their abuses in the first place precisely because they would have liked to be the center of attention and to be assured of their own self-imputed uniqueness.

The idealization phase is irresistible, the love bombing. It's an addiction or a conditioning, operant condition.

The narcissist is good at making his prey feel this way, unique.

And then when the victims are devalued and discarded, they endure a scarring narcissistic injury and they react with unmitigated wrath, with enormous, all-consuming anger.

And some people, many narcissists included, they adopt the role of a professional victim. And in doing so, they become even more self-centered, more devoid of empathy, abusive, exploitative.

In other words, these victims, alleged victims, real victims, victims who have made victimhood their identity, they become narcissists.

The role of professional victims, people whose existence, whose very identity rests solely and entirely on their victimhood is well researched in a field called victimology. And it doesn't make for a nice reading, trust me.

These victim pros, they are often more cruel, more vengeful, more vitriolic, lacking in compassion and more violent than their own abusers. These victims make a career of being a victim. They identify with Israel to be exclusion of all else.

And this is a danger to be avoided.

And even collectives like minorities engage in this kind of behavior. They become professional victim. They leverage their victim to obtain benefits.

And this is precisely what I call narcissistic contagion or narcissism by proxy.

The affected, the ones who are gradually transrogrified from victim to narcissist, they entertain the false notion that they can compartmentalize their narcissistic behavior.

They say, I can direct my narcissistic abusive behavior only at the narcissist. With all other people, I'm nice. I'm empathic and kind and attentive and loving with other people. I abuse only my narcissist.

In other words, they trust their ability to segregate their conduct and to be verbally abusive towards the narcissist while civil and compassionate with others to act with malice where the narcissist is concerned and with Christian charity towards all other people.

And they cling to the faucet theory. They tap, turning on and off the tap.

They believe that they can turn on and off their negative feelings, their abusive outbursts, their vindictiveness, their vengefulness, their blind rage, their non-discriminating judgment.

And this, of course, is nonsense. It's untrue.

These behaviors become a habit. These people are habituated.

This abusive maltreatment, all this spills over into daily transactions with active, innocent neighbors, colleagues, family members, coworkers, customers, or people online.

Just visit the forums of self-styled empathy and self-styled victims to understand what I'm talking about. These are cesspools and cesspits of hostility, rage, envy, and the most negative, conceivable emotions

I know very few narcissists who stoop to this level.

One cannot be partly or temporarily vindictive and judgmental. Anymore than one can be partly or temporarily pregnant.

And to their horror, these victims discover that they have been transmuted and transformed into their worst nightmare, into a narcissist.

They find out the hard way that narcissism is contagious and that many victims tend to become narcissists themselves, malevolent, vicious, lacking in empathy, egotistical, exploitative, violent, and abusive.

And there is no typical victim of narcissistic abuse.


magnet is nonsense. Having found themselves in an abusive relationship, victims tend to react predictably, for example, by behaving as co-dependents do. It takes all kinds to fall for the narcissist.

And people fall for narcissists at different points in their lives, for instance, after a life crisis or on a rebound. The narcissist then molds all his victims, regardless of their provenance, psychodynamics, traits, accomplishments. All the victims become more or less uniform mass. The narcissist homogenizes his victims. He's a great homogenizer, a leveler of humanity, a human blender.

And victims on the internet, in support forums, social media and so on, they are a non-representative sub. They are assertive, self-aware, infuriated, vindictive, hurt, often dysfunctional. And at times they burst in their newfound role as a victim or a scapegoat. Their victimhood acquires the status of an organizing principle or an exegetic interpretative narrative. They are on the internet for all to read, for everyone to see them, actively soliciting and seeking an audience to interact with.

And it's true that they have opted to go online ostensibly merely to seek help and secure.

But invariably, there is an exhibitionistic streak involved, ostentatiousness, narcissism. This is narcissistic victimhood.

Only a tiny fraction of the total number of victims choose this venue. And those who do are by definition self-selecting in a very flawed sample.

And so there's something that I call psychopathic and narcissistic overlays, severely traumatized victims of abuse with PTSD or CPTSD, complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

These victims often become avoidant, but they also display psychopathic and narcissistic traits and behaviors. These victims are, these traits and behaviors are indeed reactive and they are transient, luckily for us. They vanish without a trace once the victims are nurtured back to health, once they heal in holding and loving environment, once they go full fledged, no contact with their abuser.

But the psychopathic and narcissistic overlays, these acquired responsive learned traits and behaviors that victims adopt, they do not amount to personality styles and disorders, but they're there. They serve to counter the abuse or contain it and to restore eroded self-efficacy, self-efficacy and a sense of agency in a traumatic space.

And in this sense, the psychopathic and narcissistic reactions, traits and behaviors of victims are in a way healthy and indicative of resilience.

The victim during this phase of the trauma becomes self-centered, disempathic, defiant, goal-oriented, reckless, lying or aggressive, just in order to survive in the pathological environment that she finds herself in and to resist the multifarious assaults on her identity and individuality.

One of her grandfathers of the field, Theodore Millon, wrote this in his seminal book, PersonalityDisorders and Modern Life. Many readers will be surprised that some of their best qualities express characteristics associated with antisocial personality, a capacity for self-sufficiency, ambition, competitiveness and a constructive pursuit of individuality and self-determination.

Scholars like Oldham, Morris, McCoby and Dutton uphold this view that a modicum of psychopathy is actually healthy, high-functioning and a prerequisite for survival and success in certain situations, environments and professions like for example, politics or medicine.

It is always the question of default or base behaviors. We learn what behavior or misbehavior works. Which behavioral choice is efficacious, gets us results, what guarantees the maximal efficient outcomes.

We then repeat the behavior or the misbehavior time and again almost automatically and uncontrollably in a way compulsively. We revisit these misbehaviors even if we had vowed and promised to and swore and pledged and took an oath and declared that we will never ever do such a thing again, we do it again.

Consider for example, triangulation. Triangulation is an example of a default base behavior involving third parties in whatever way in order to manage outcomes in a committed intimate relationship.

Default base behaviors are learned afterwards. They're compulsive, they're automatic, they're autonomous and they're common, very common among trauma victims in post-traumatic states and among individuals with diminished impulse control, for example in borderline personality disorders.

Default or base behaviors are adaptive. They work perfectly.

So you say, why not do it again? This is the executive unconscious. The conscious part cannot control these behaviors or interfere.

And once one is triggered, one acts this way, defaults. Nothing can or will prevent this. One just goes ahead and does it as though one were hypnotized or in a trance.

So the therapeutic goal should be prevention to make sure to avoid this triggering, to extricate the victim from the traumatic space.

One last comment about empathy.

Empathy is a word that is both meaningless and grandiose. It is meaningless because with the exception of psychopaths and narcissists, everyone possesses empathy. Even psychopaths and narcissists possess empathy. It's called empathy. Everyone has empathy.

Every single human being is an empath. You could say that narcissists are truncated empaths.

They have cold empathy, which is only the cognitive and reflexive parts without the emotional parts, but everyone has empathy.

So what's the meaning of calling someone an empath?

Self-imputed and self-touted, so-called empaths, they are grandiose and they have pronounced narcissistic traits and behaviors. Just visit any forum of empaths to witness the vicious sniping, gratuitous cruelty, nauseating self-righteousness and professional victimhood. They're no greater dense of inequity, narcissism and disempathic cesspools than these congregations of empaths.

And so becoming a narcissist or becoming a psychopath is one reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma. And it is an integral part of a much larger syndrome, complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

Indeed, today, the most recent bleeding edge literature says that it's very difficult to distinguish someone with complex PTSD and a borderline, someone with a borderline personality disorder.

Repeated abuse has long-lasting pernicious and traumatic effects, such as panic attacks, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks, intrusive memories, suicidal ideation, psychosomatic symptoms and so on. It's a very long list.

The victims experience shame, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, abandonment in an enhanced sense of vulnerability.

Originally, complex PTSD, complex post-traumatic stress disorder has been proposed as a new mental health diagnosis by Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University to account for the impact of extended period of trauma and abuse on victims.

And I was the first to propose to use CPTSD, complex PTSD in conjunction with domestic violence, domestic abuse and narcissistic abuse. I proposed it in 1995.

In an article titled Stocking an Overview of the Problem, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in 1998, authors Karen Abrams and Gail Ehrlich-Robinson wrote, initially there's often much denial by the victim.

Over time, however, the stress begins to erode the victim's life and psychological brutalization results.

Sometimes the victim develops an almost fatal resolve that inevitably one day she will be murdered.

Victims unable to live a normal life describe feeling stultified of self-worth and dignity.

Personal control and resources, psychosocial development, social support, pre-morbid personality traits and the severity of the stress may only influence how the victim experiences a response to it.

Victims stalked by ex-lovers may experience additional guilt and lower self-esteem for perceived poor judgment in their relationship choices.

Many victims become isolated and deprived of support when employers or friends withdraw after also being subjected to harassment or are cut off by the victim in order to protect them.

Other tangible consequences include financial losses from quitting jobs, moving and buying expensive security equipment in an attempt to gain privacy. Changing homes and jobs results in both material losses and a loss of self-respect.

Now of course, this is an extreme version of abuse, stalking or paranoid stalking or roto maniac stalking, but it's only the extreme version.

More moderate variants of all these effects exist even in the most banal, trivial and common abusive relationship.

Surprisingly, verbal, psychological and emotional abuse have exactly the same effects as physical abuse.

This has been documented in Psychology Today in the September-October 2000 issue.

Abuse of all kinds also interferes with the victim's ability to work.

Abrams and Robinson wrote this in Occupational Effects of Stalking in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in 2002.

Being stalked by a former partner may affect the victim's ability to work in three ways.

First, the stalking behaviors often interfere directly with the ability to get to work, for example, flattening tires or other methods of preventing leaving home.

Second, the workplace may become an unsafe location if the offender decides to appear.

Third, the mental health effects of such trauma may result in forgetfulness, fatigue, lowered concentration and disorganization.

These factors may lead to a loss of employment with accompanying loss of income, security and status.

Still, it is hard to generalize.

Victims are not a uniform lot.

In some cultures, abuse is commonplace and accepted as a legitimate mode of communication, even a sign of love and caring and a boost to the abuser's self-image.

In such circumstances, the victim is likely to adopt the norms of society and to avoid serious trauma.

Deliberate, cold-blooded and premeditated torture has worse and longer-lasting effects than abuse meted out by the abuser in rage and loss of self-control.

The existence of a loving and accepting social support network is another mitigating factor.

And finally, the ability to express negative emotions safely and to cope with them constructively is also crucial to healing.

And typically by the time the abuse reaches critical and all pervasive proportions, the abuser had already spider-like isolated his victims from family, friends, colleagues.

She is catapulted into a Netherlands cult-like setting where reality itself dissolves into a continuing nightmare and when she emerges on the other end of this wallhole, the abused woman, or more rarely, men, she feels helpless, self-doubting, worthless, stupid and a guilty failure for having botched her relationship and abandoned her family.

And so in an effort to regain perspective and avoid embarrassment, the victim denies the abuse or minimizes it or becomes an abuser.

It's kind of, if I can't beat them, I'll join them.

No wonder that survivors of abuse tend to be clinically depressed, neglect their health and personal appearance and succumb to boredom, rage and impatience.

And these are psychopathic qualities.

Many end up abusing prescription drugs or drinking or otherwise behaving recklessly.

And substance abuse is also very typical of psychopaths and narcissists.

Some victims in extreme situations develop classic PTSD, classic post-traumatic stress disorder.

And so here's, I think, it would be useful to clarify the difference between PTSD and CPTs.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder or reaction, these are not typical responses to prolonged abuse. They are the outcomes of sudden, sudden exposure to severe or extreme stressors, stressful events.

Frontline nurses and doctors in a community coping with COVID-19, they are likely to develop PTSD because COVID-19 was a sudden event and people were dying suddenly.

Yet some victims whose life or body have been directly and unequivocally threatened by an abuser, react by developing exactly these symptoms.

PTSD is therefore typically associated with the aftermath of physical and sexual abuse in both children and adults.

And this is why another mental health diagnosis, CPTs, complex PTSD has been proposed by Dr. Judith Herman of Harvard University to account for the impact of extended period.

More mild, but extended period of trauma and abuse.

Once or someone else's looming death, violation, personal injury or powerful pain, they're less efficient to provoke the behaviors, the cognitions and the emotions, the together unknown as PTSD.

Even learning about such things may be enough to trigger massive anxiety responses.

And the first phase of PTSD involves incapacitating and overwhelming fear. The victim feels like she has been thrust into a nightmare or a horror movie. She is rendered helpless by her own terror. She keeps relieving the experience, re-experiencing the experience through recurrent and intrusive visual and auditory hallucinations.

And this is what is known as flashbacks, even through dreams. And in some flashbacks, the victim completely lapses into a dissociative state. She physically reenacts the event while being thoroughly oblivious to her whereabouts.

In an attempt to suppress this constant playback and attend an exaggerated, startled response, jumpiness, the victim tries to avoid all stimuli associated however indirectly with the traumatic event.

Many victims develop full-scale phobias, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, fear of heights, aversion to specific animals, objects, modes of transportation, neighborhoods, buildings, occupations, weather and so on. And most PTSD victims are especially vulnerable on the anniversaries of their abuse.

They try to avoid, to feel, conversations, activities, situations or people who remind them of a traumatic occurrence. And these are known as triggers.

At this constant hypervigilance and arousal, sleep disorders, insomnia, irritability, short fuse, inability to concentrate and complete even relatively simple tasks, all these erode the victim's resilience.

These are the entry points, the intrusion, the intrusion chinks in the armor that the narcissist leverages and manipulates, psychopaths too.

The victim is utterly fatigued and most patients manifest protracted periods of numbness, automatism and in radical cases near catatonic posture.

Response times to verbal cues increase dramatically. You talk to these people, it will take like three minutes before they answer.

Awareness of the environment decreases, sometimes dangerously so.

The victims are described by their nearest and dearest as zombies, machines, automata. The victims appear to be sleepwalking, depressed, dysphoric and head on it, not interested in anything, refined pleasure in nothing.

The victims report feeling detached, emotionally absent, strange, alienated. Many victims say that their life is over and expect to have no career, no family or otherwise meaningful future.

And the victim's family and friends complain that she is no longer capable of showing intimacy, tenderness, compassion, empathy or even having sex due to her post-traumatic rigidity.

Many victims become paranoid, impulsive, reckless, so destructive.

Do you see where this is going?

This is a very good, comprehensive and exhaustive list of the traits and behaviors of narcissists and psychopaths.

So other victims somatize the mental problems and complain of numerous conversion of physical ailments. And all victims feel guilty, shameful, humiliated, desperate, hopeless, hostile.

That's the difference between victims and narcissists and psychopaths, because narcissists and psychopaths don't feel shame. They don't experience guilt. They are not neurotic in these sense, while victims are.

PTSD doesn't need to appear immediately after the harrowing experience. It can and often is, can be delayed by days or even months. And it lasts more than one month, usually much longer.

And sufferers of PTSD report subjective distress. Manifestations of PTSD are egodystonic. The victim is unhappy.

They're functioning in various settings, job performance, grades at school, sociability, all these deteriorate, marketing.

Diagnostic and statistical manual criteria for diagnosing PTSD are far too restrictive though. PTSD seems to also develop in the wake of verbal and emotional abuse, which is extreme.

And in the aftermath of drawn out traumatic situations such as a nasty divorce.

And hopefully one day the DSM committee will come to accept this.

One last word about trauma bonding.

Trauma bonding, the Stockholm syndrome is poorly understood. The intimate partner in a trauma bond constitutes a safe or secure base.

In child psychology, a safe or secure base is typically the infant's mother.

The child experiments with his new boundaries as a separate individual. He walks away and comes back, hugs mommy's legs, you know, he's experimenting, he's testing his limits, his capabilities. He's a bit grandiose in that he takes on the world.

And this whole process is known as separation individuation. He knows, child knows the infant, the toddler knows that he can always return to a safe base.

Safe base is mommy.

In a trauma bonded dyad, in a couple, the parties feel free to experiment with the most reckless misbehaviors and indulge in the most outlandish fantasies.

Knowing the safe or secure base partner will always be there for them. The safe base partner shapes the other's sense of identity and many of her beliefs and cognitions, thoughts.

The two members of the bond emerged, defused, the one organism with two heads.

It is not easy to let go of the partner's voice, representation, imago, in introject, avatar in one's head.

And consciously, the partner is perceived as part of one's identity, as who one is.

In a trauma bond, the introject is negative and sadistic, but it is still part, a part of one's self-perception of who one is.

One's demarcated identity crucially depends on the partner and the partner's voice. This partner keeps saying you are bad, you're worthless, you're malicious, you're crazy object. And that is the identity of the victim.

This is why any change to the status quo is treated as a threat, and the relationship is remarkably resilient and stable, despite the copious amounts of mind-altering abuse.

Women who are traumatized by past abusive relationships, CPTSD, or suffer from emotional dysregulation or into personality or mood disorders, they have a very low tolerance for situations and circumstances which are ambiguous, vague, uncertain, or unpredictable.

The abusers' intermittent reinforcement, hot and cold, approach avoidance, love and hate. The abusers' rejection, they create exactly such an ambient environment, uncertain, unsafe, vague, ambiguous and predictable.

And so broken and wounded women cannot cope with ambivalence, love-hate relationships. They cannot cope, they don't have to process cognitive dissonance simultaneously holding two conflicting thoughts or beliefs. They have a very low frustration threshold.

In other words, when they are frustrated, they become aggressive. They have a low boredom threshold, inner emptiness, inner void.

And this is also a very good description of a psychopath.

And so these victims react all the above with overwhelming anxiety and panic and ultimately with debilitating depression, to extricate themselves from this relationship morass, to put an end to their increasing misery.

Such women act out recklessly, impulsively.

In most cases, they end up, I don't know, cheating on their men or sentiously and flagrantly or doing something even more horrible, absconding with the family's finances, gambling, reckless shopping, reckless driving, substance abuse.

These are all behaviors which are very typical of narcissists and psychopaths.

The message to their abusive intimate partners implicit or explicit in their egregious misbehavior. This message is, I cannot leave you because I do not have the courage and the heart to hurt the needy and tortured child that I see inside you. But can't you see that I'm damaged goods? Can't you see that you should dump me? Here, look what I'm doing. Look how I'm misbehaving. I'm a narcissist, I'm a psychopath. Dump me, dump me.

She's trying, the partner is trying to force her, her narcissist to force her abuser to let her go by misbehaving. By behaving dissolutly and cruelly, the injured, the injured party, usually a woman, the victim, the prey, she convinces herself that breaking up with her father is for his own good. She is so corrupt, so hopelessly shattered, so dissolut, so promiscuous that she would be doing him a service by exiting his life or a disservice by staying in his life.

Her misbehavior legitimizes initiating the breakup and strengthens her resolve. I'm doing this for his sake because I love him and I want him to be happy with a good woman which he deserves. And it is easy to lose sight of the chain of events as we engage in a morally righteous judgment of the infidelity or the abuse.

It is the abusive partner who triggers such women, causes them to disintegrate, to compensate and to, I don't know, bed a stranger, gamble, drink to excess. It's a desperate attempt to flee what had become a tortured chamber, a prison cell, a madhouse.

And the abusive partner's rejection and denigration drive his weak and disordered partner to suspend her values, boundaries, rules of conduct, commitments to herself, indeed her very identity and to reduce herself to behaviors that shock even herself.

The victim is shocked by her own developing narcissism and psychopathy, by whom she's shocked and deterred and hates who she is becoming. She's fighting for her survival and self-preservation. She is rendered borderline and she wants to stop the process. She's attempting to square the circle, flee without guilt, abandon without hurt, cheat without shame, do the right thing. And she ends up deceiving and breaking hearts and breaking minds all around.

What can we learn by observing such victims?

They are in extreme or traumatic circumstances. So when we observe people in other extreme or radical situations such as drunk senseless or immediately after natural disasters or when they had just received horrible news, these are all extreme radical circumstances.

And we observe these people.

What can we learn about human nature? Very little it turns out.

My definition of personality is composed of traits, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, inhibitions, behaviors, and the normal circumstances. That's why we say he is normal, personality.

One's personality consists of the typical and the recurrent, not the one-off and the apparent.

There is very little useful to learn from observing people in extreme conditions. And so we rarely do.

And this is why we ignore experiments in psychology which simulate extremely stressful circumstances. We even castigate them as unethical, partly because of the paucity of useful information that they produce.

And this is why there is no official diagnosis of psychopath in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Psychopaths have been observed and tested almost exclusively in outlier settings such as prisons or corporate boards.

The diagnosis is promoted mainly by self-interested and media-savvy psychologists like Hare, Dutton, Babiak. They sell diagnostic tests, seminars, consulting time. It's a very lucrative business to promote the diagnosis of psychopathy.

And there are psychopaths, of course. But when we watch victims, while they develop and display and exhibit the narcissistic and psychopathic overlay, we are not learning anything about their essence, about their quiddity, about who they are, about their real identity. We are observing them in radical, extreme circumstances. There's very little to learn about when they revert, should they revert, to normal mode.

Broken and wounded, fresh out of a union with the narcissist or psychopath.

These women teach us nothing about who they are. And many of them try to return to normalcy and try to do this with urgency because they feel they are losing themselves. And so many of them self-medicate with a new rebound relationship. And that's a very bad idea because abuse, especially if it's all pervasive, ambient and involves gaslighting and so on, abuse requires a break of at least one or two years in order to regain one's balance and restore a modicum of self-knowledge free of the abusive partner's brainwashing and shared psychosis and shared fantasy.

But I'm not saying that one should choose distrust of others and self-isolation as one's new way of life. That's also the wrong strategy.

At a certain point, the transition from victim to survivor requires new intimate partners. I'm just saying not to hurry.

It's like when alcoholics go to rehab, the first advice they get, don't start a new romantic relationship, don't start a new intimate relationship for a year. Get to know yourself, get a hold of your habit, control your habit and then consider a new relationship.

And so in today's world, distance relationship provides an optimal mix of intimacy, reversibility and personal space. So maybe a kind of distance relationship is a midway solution.

Face-to-face in the flesh and living relationships can be demanding and sometimes degenerate into a replay of injurious conflicts and abusive traumatizing misconduct. They are also logistically harder and more heartbreaking to terminate.

Distance relationships are far more manageable, flexible, timing is controlled and negotiated, the depth of any single interaction can be fine-tuned.

Geography makes sure that the repertoire of reactions is restricted. The partners can hang up, break up, at will. They can escalate from distance relationship to a more committed and complex liaison only when they are ready to.

In some important respects, distance relationships are like simulations of relationships, like movies. They provide all the thrills, the few of the costs and this is why they are the best way to test the waters.

Anyhow, coming back to the issue of trauma, empathy, psychopathy, narcissism, contagion and so on.

Traumas with the same structure or emotional content resonate with and either amplify or ameliorate each other.

Trauma resonance. It's like two waves, you know, with the same frequency, the crests of the wave cancel each other. This is even more pronounced if the traumas involve the same person and are proximate in time.

Typically, the traumatized person reacts with trauma displacement. She reprocesses the more inactive or less recent experience via flesh makes, nightmares, obsessive or intrusive thoughts, various emotions, anger, sadness, rumination and so on.

In this way, she represses or reframes the new trauma, especially if there is no other effective way to cope with it.

Avoiding triggers is very counterproductive. On the contrary, healing is predicated on obtaining desensitization and closure via repeated exposure to the people or circumstances who had caused the trauma, even to the point of controlled re-traumatization.

It's a technique I use in cold therapy and is used in other therapies.

Damage broken women develop low self-esteem. They are afraid to be judged by potential mates as wanting, dysfunctional and defective. They are sure that they are bound to disappoint and frustrate otherwise eligible partners.

The nice guy is a constant, hurtful and infuriating reminder of their own inadequacies and broken dreams in the previous relationships.

And it's, of course, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The woman's anxiety, her emotional dysregulation, mood lability and catastrophizing, they all translate into despair, aggression and acting out. These women have become borderline in orbit.

And so this kind of woman may preemptively abandon her loving, kind and generous partner and elope with a bad guy that she both deserves and knows how to handle. This kind of woman may trash herself, engaging reckless behaviors. She may act passive, passive aggressively and undermine an incipient intimacy and budding relationship, precipitating very, very rejection that she so dreads. She may engage in approach avoidance, repetition compulsion. This is the legacy of the narcissist and the psychopath.

You can exit the narcissist and psychopath's life, but it is much more difficult to have the narcissist or psychopath exit your mind. It's a lifelong pursuit. It's a scar and it's a wound and it's disabling to a very large extent.

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