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Victim's Cruel Choice: Fantasy, No Reality (with Therapist Michele Paradise) (Starts 17:42)

Uploaded 9/27/2023, approx. 1 hour 1 minute read

Okay, I've started recording too.

So good morning, good afternoon, good evening wherever you are. I'm delighted to be here with Professor Sam Vaknin and I'm not going to attempt to introduce him because I think he'll do a much better job of introducing himself.

So Professor Vaknin, please tell us about yourself.

Well, I'm the author of a book titled Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, which was the first book to describe narcissistic abuse. It was published in 1999 following four years of work online and offline with what came to be known later as victims of narcissistic abuse.

And so I kind of fathered the whole movement of narcissistic abuse and so on. So for the first nine years I've been the only one actually. I've had the only website on narcissistic abuse and I ran all six support groups with 250,000 members at the inception of Italy. I then proceeded to become a professor of psychology, a visiting professor of psychology in some institutions and professor of psychology in others.

And to this very day I am on the faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Toronto, Canada, and with an outreach campus in Lagos, Nigeria. I used to teach in Russia, believe it or not. I was a visiting professor for five years in one of the most prestigious universities there, Southern Federal University. And then they had the audacity of invading Ukraine and terminating my contract. So I'm not sure which of these two events is more cataclysmic, but here I am confined to the West.

Thank you very much. Thank you. I'll introduce myself for those of you watching that don't know who I am. My name is Michelle Paradise. It really is my name. I did get lucky in that sense. And I'm a therapist of 20 years experience. Probably the most relevant thing I can say in this setting is that I am the daughter of a narcissistic father. And I grew up with an older narcissistic brother and I then married a narcissistic ex-husband, I'm happy to say.

So I do now really understand narcissistic abuse. And I'll talk more about that if it's appropriate later.

But the thing is, I'm really curious to ask you how you came on to this topic as an interest because I have read about you and you were doing other things. What brought you to this particular topic? What is the interest for you?

Well, we did agree to not discuss my...

Oh, yes, nothing personal. Nothing personal. I'm just...

Well, unfortunately, that is personal. But I will oblige this particular question.

I was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder twice. And my life fell apart, crumbled, every single element of it. I lost my freedom. I lost all my wealth. I was a wealthy chap.

And in a descending order of importance, I lost my wife. So having hit rock bottom, I decided to study what it is that made me lose everything I've ever worked for and aspire to.

And I discovered narcissistic personality disorder. That was 1995. Narcissistic personality disorder was an unknown topic. There was a book by Alexander Loewenstein dated 1974.

Heinz Kohrud coined the phrase narcissistic personality disorder also in 1974. There were a few essays and I think a book by Otto Kernberg dated 1975. And there was an essay by Freud, Sigmund Freud, dated 1914 and 1915.

And that was the extent of the literature on narcissistic personality disorders. Absolutely no interest in any of this. People were much more into, I remember, into borderline personality disorder. They were much more... They were just discovering attention deficit disorders.

And, you know, so there was a lot of hype around other disorders, but no one has heard of narcissism.

So I had to invent a whole new language. There was simply no language to describe the experiences, the inner experiences of narcissists, and the harm and damage that narcissists inflict on other people in a variety of settings, intimate relationships, workplace, friendships, alleged ostensible friendships, and so on and so forth. There was no language.

So I borrowed many, many terms from early psychoanalytic literature. For example, I borrowed the term narcissistic supply, or sales, which was coined by Donald Winnicott and object relations schools. I borrowed many of these and I revived them and I imbued them with new content and I coined many new phrases.

So for example, no contact. I coined this. Flying monkeys, somatic narcissists, rebel narcissists, all these were new coinages. I had to do this because there was no way to communicate these experiences.

Now language creates consciousness and now that language had become available in the mid-90s, courtesy myself, people came out of the woodwork. Thousands and then hundreds of thousands of people came forth and testified to their experiences with narcissists and this became the global victims of narcissistic abuse movement.

And now of course narcissism is the number one topic on the agenda, both in academia and outside academia, because narcissism is no longer a mere clinical entity. Narcissism is a principle that organizes our lives and imbues our lives with content and meaning.

When we try to understand something, when we're trying to understand something in politics or in show business or someone like, I don't know, Russell Brand or, you know, we resort to narcissism as an organizing and explanatory principle.

Narcissism makes sense of postmodern society and cultures, the current contemporary culture.

So it has become far more than a buzzword, far more than a clinical entity. And it's fast acquiring the status of, I would say, a religion in many ways, but we can discuss it a bit later.


Yeah. First of all, thank you so much for being vulnerable. And I didn't mean to take you into a personal space and you manage that beautifully. So thank you very much for that.

I have this, I coined a phrase called TikTok therapists, the triple T's and they're everywhere and they seem to know everything about narcissism, except they know nothing or very, very little except their own experiences.

So my question is, and thank you for those terms, because I had no idea about the background. Do you think it's overused in our society, misuse the term narcissism?

Narcissism is not the only case of the debasement and devaluation and appropriation or misappropriation.

Or clinical terms. We have, for example, gaslighting, which is egregiously abused and misused. I agree. But many other things, for example, depression, for example, anxiety, for example, narcissism, for example, borderline, for example, what has happened is the democratization of clinical terminology. It's like everyone in his dog is now an expert, self-styled, self-proclaimed, self-discovered, but still an expert.

And we live in an age where true expertise is resented and rejected. There is paranoid ideation when it comes to authority figures, to academics, to scientists. So people as a mass, people resent and reject academia. They resent and reject medical doctors. They resent and reject psychiatrists and psychologists. They resent and reject experts. There's an anti-intellectualism which characterizes our discourse nowadays.

Consequently, anyone on TikTok would be considered an authority far superior to Otto Könberg, let alone San Wagner. I've read comments saying Otto Könberg got it wrong. He has a lot to learn from filling the Instagram or TikTok expert. I know. This is a situation. It is shocking.

And there's so much misinformation out there. So I have a particular interest in this because of my own experiences and I've begun doing workshops because I want to spread the word as well.

And as I quote you a lot, so hopefully you'll get more followers if that's what you want from it.

But it's very interesting to use some of your knowledge and experience and deliver that to others who know absolutely nothing.

So I sort of do Narcissism 101. I don't call it that, but it's very basic stuff. And it's fascinating how much misinformation people have on what they think is Narcissism.

If I may interject, please, if I'm not breaking some train of thought or something. Not at all. Let's be spontaneous, please.

I think the problem is that victimhood has become a way of obtaining Narcissistic Supply.

Victimhood is an organizing principle, the same as Narcissism.

Today, if you want to make sense of your life, of your failures, of your mishaps, and this is an alloplastic defense, you blame others. And the minute you blame others, they become automatically abusers or exploiters or bullies or something or predators and you become a victim.

So but victimhood is not only a way of feeling good about yourself. It's a way of attracting attention. You can monetize victimhood. You can compete with other people. This is known clinically as competitive victimhood. You can send signals, victimhood signals, which are deceptive, a form of deceptive signaling.

And what the victimhood signal says is, I'm a victim. So by virtue of being a victim, I'm entitled to special treatment. I'm entitled to concessions. I should be treated with kid gloves. I should never be contradicted or you should never disagree with me. And if you do, you're victim shaming, you're victim blaming, you are a predator, you are an abuser, and so on and so forth.

So we have reached a situation where victimhood creates narcissism. So there is a coalescence of victimhood communities and narcissists.

Narcissists have taken over victimhood movements.

Now this is not some blackness. This is a series of studies in Israel, in British Columbia, in Canada, and in other places.

Victimhood movements are compromised by narcissists and psychopaths and covert narcissists. We have, for example, the famous empath movement, which combines magical thinking.

Empaths can destroy narcissists and combines magical thinking with grandiosity because empaths are very special. They're unique. They're amazing. They're angelic. They're endowed with supernatural powers of empathy.

So we're beginning to see the contamination by an infiltration by narcissism. And there is this unholy alliance between victim and narcissist, where the victim actually discovers narcissism. And the victim says, "Oh my God, I used to be a housewife in Indiana, but right now I have 20,000 followers and I'm the center of attention and I'm getting so much sympathy and I can motivate people," which is another word for manipulate people.

"And it's great and I'm also making money on the side. I'm making like a few thousand dollars, a few thousand bucks a month and therefore I am never going to give up on my victim. Never.

It has become identity politics.

Absolutely. I was looking at areas of life like entertainment and finance and things like that, where narcissism is more prevalent and social media is off the charts. Absolutely off the charts.

And you're right. So people that have a thought and they come on and they suddenly get lots of followers and they get addicted, intoxicated by it and begin to think they're very special.

I just want to clarify something, which I should have done at the beginning. I don't know if you agree with these statistics, but I was doing some research on statistics around NPD and it says 1% of the population are NPD.

Now my thoughts on that are, I think that's quite low and I think that's probably quite low because they don't get assessed, right? They don't get diagnosed. There's nothing wrong with them.

So why would they, unless they're forced to or whatever.

So when I do workshops, I talk about NPD as a spectrum and I say, but there's narcissistic personality style. That's what I call it.

Would you agree with that terminology? How would you describe non NPDs?

Because NPDs aren't all of the narcissists.

I'm smiling because narcissistic personality style is a phrase coined by Lynn Sperry. So you've rediscovered Sperry's work. Thank you.

And Sperry actually promulgated the same argument.

Sperry said narcissistic personality disorder is the very end of a spectrum.

In malignant narcissism, which is a phrase coined by Otto Kernberg, is the tip of an iceberg and the tip of the iceberg of narcissistic personality disorder. So it's like a vanishingly small number and Sperry suggested and Theodore Millon agreed with him. And these are the giants of the field.

They suggested that the real prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder, or even the incidence is something like five to 6% of the general population. And that narcissistic personality disorder comprises 10 to 15% of clinical populations, for example, in patients and so on. So we're talking about much higher numbers than 1%, much higher numbers.

And today, actually the accepted number is five to 6%, not 1% as we used to think. However, you're absolutely right that there is something called narcissistic personality style. It is also known as subclinical narcissism.

Okay.


Okay.

Now there's a very famous dark triad and dark tetrad. The dark triad personality is a combination of subclinical narcissism, subclinical psychopathy and Machiavellianism. So all the self-styled experts who go on online and say dark triad is narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, they're wrong. Dark triad is actually people who are a bit narcissistic or a lot narcissistic. They have narcissistic traits, they have narcissistic behaviors. They're full of themselves. They lack empathy or they have diminished empathy. They're exploitative, etc. But they cannot be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. So they're called subclinical narcissism.

Okay. Thank you for the clarification.

And so you're very right. There is something called narcissistic personality style.

However, it's not considered pathological. Right. It does not disrupt or interfere with functioning, with interpersonal relationships. These are a-holes and jerks to put it very colloquially. And they're all around us. We can't go pathologizing everyone who we dislike, which is exactly what the online community is doing. You can't just...

Yeah. Well, let me drill down on that a little bit because even some of my colleagues will say, you can call somebody a narcissist until they're diagnosed.

And this is where I don't agree. I don't go around labeling people because I don't think labels are helpful at all and people live to labels and we know all of that stuff.

But if it doesn't feel right, if you're in a relationship with someone and it is toxic and just because someone hasn't diagnosed them, that's where I really am. I'm passionate about that, really bringing people's awareness to the fore so that they don't stay in it.

Well, is he a narcissist? Is she a narcissist?

They say to me, does it matter? Really, does it matter if they are clinically diagnosed as that or whatever? If there are so many red flags and it's such a toxic relationship and you are being coercively controlled, whatever, then get out.

And that's my goal, is to make people more aware of that.

That's all I fully agree.

So if I fully agree, there's no need to be labile or elaborate to point.

I fully agree with you.

However, you've touched upon two major issues in psychology.

Owing to the influence of the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry, we have been hyper focused on labeling people because we need to be remunerated as therapists and so on and so forth. And these industries are forcing us to shoehorn people and to classify them.

I think labeling is exceedingly counterproductive. It's also not working. And that's why we have comorbidities. We have to diagnose the same person with 96 different mental health issues.

So rather than label people, how about we focus on issues, on problems?

Absolutely. How about we become solution oriented rather than taxonomically oriented, oriented on classification?

I think we should forego all labels. I think there are very few exceptions where biology is involved.

So for example, schizophrenia is a useful label because you know which medications to prescribe. Same goes with the bipolar disorder. So where there's a biological fundament, yeah, I think labeling is needed exactly as we label in medicine.

But where there's no, where the issue is interpersonal, relational, social, cultural, there's no point that labeling is counterproductive.

We need to focus on the problem. Two people come to you to your office. Would you rather start labeling them or do you rather ask them what's bothering you and how can I be of help?

Yes. So this is point number one.

Point number two, the reason people insist on is he a narcissist or is he not a narcissist is because of the fact, and it is a fact, an unfortunate fact that narcissists are incorrigible and hopeless.

In other words, there is no known treatment modality that is efficacious with narcissism. And anyone, anyone who says otherwise, and I don't care how many academic degrees they have, is a self-interested charlatan.

There is no efficacious treatment modality for narcissism, period. You can modify the narcissist behaviors in the short term at least.

Yeah, that's true. You can change some cognitions and so on, but the core problem of narcissism is untouchable.

So when someone comes to you and says, is my husband a narcissist? What, what she's actually asking, is there any reason to hope? Is there any reason to invest in the process? Should I wait? Should I be there for him? Will my support mean anything? And so on and so forth.

So it's about, it's not a question about, I think about labeling so much as about the outcomes of any therapeutic alliance or therapy or so in this highly restricted sense, I actually understand why people are asking this.

Because if the husband is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, the prognosis is much better. We have dialectical behavioral therapy. We have medications. The prognosis of borderline personality disorder is considerably better than the narcissism.

So it's like, the question is, is he, does he have stage four terminal cancer of the soul? Do I need to prepare for the funeral? That's actually the question. You're so right. Because it comes back to self, doesn't it?

Of the person who's in relationship with the narcissist or the perceived narcissist.

Because I get this a lot, you know, they love the person, they're addicted to the person, perhaps whatever word you want to put in there. They don't want to believe that it's not navigatable, that it's not going to improve.

And I, my belief, and this is just one woman's opinion, is they're in love with the person they first met who never existed in the first place. And they want that person back, you know, that love bombing person, that that's who they fell in love with. But he or she never existed, as I believe you say, they never existed. They're not real. It's a fantasy.

But we stay in relationship. And I'm talking about myself in this, having been married to a narcissist, and I stayed in the belief that I would meet that person again, he was still there, he would re evolve and, you know, come out a better person, if I could love him enough, or if I could do whatever enough for him, I would get him back.

But of course, he was never there in the first place. That was also my fantasy.


And this brings me to another point about those of us who get involved in narcissistic relationships.

Now being born into it as I was, I had no control over that. And as soon as I could, I left. And I didn't even understand why it's just every cell in my body was like, I have to get out of here.

But being married to one, and I understand why I married one, because that to me was familiar. It wasn't there was safety in the dysfunction of being raised in that way.

But being in relationship with them, I just, you know, I continue to want that person back. And I, it's what I notice in myself, I've improved, but I've noticed a lot of other people, it's sort of them and us, like, we're the good ones, and they're the bad ones. But I don't see it like that, which may be controversial. I don't know, I see it and the term I will use is wounded. I see that we are both wounded. We've just chosen different paths.

Maybe I calling myself a people pleaser, and then a narcissist, and then we meet, and we form this trauma bond. And we're not aware of it, they may be aware of it. But I don't think that makes them bad. And us good.

May I ask what your thoughts on that would be? Anyone who uses terms like evil and good, bad and good, engages in a morality play, and employs a defense mechanism, a primitive infantile defense mechanism known as splitting.

Yes. When you say someone is all bad and I'm all good, that is splitting. And ironically, that's the prominent defense mechanism in narcissism.

Yeah, it's a narcissistic defense mechanism and borderline as well. So it's a cluster B defense mechanism.

And when victims engage in this, they say I'm an empath, therefore I'm an angel, therefore I'm blemishless, therefore I'm blameless, therefore I have no responsibility or contribution to my predicament. And he is evil, he's demonic, they are actually acting the same way a narcissist does. They split the world.

Now you touched upon two issues, and I would like to add a fourth.


So the first issue is splitting.

The second issue is uncanny valley. The uncanny valley reaction was first described in 1970 by Masahiro Mori, who was a Japanese roboticist.

Masahiro Mori said that if we were at some stage in history, design, if we were to design robots, which would resemble humans very, very much, to the point that we will not be able to tell the difference, we would still have this feeling of unease, discomfort, something off key, something wrong. We wouldn't be able to put a finger on it, but we would still experience it. And he called it the uncanny valley reaction.

This is the reaction we have when we come across a narcissist or a psychopath. We have an uncanny valley reaction.

And this is because narcissists and psychopaths are to a very large degree approximations of human beings, very sophisticated simulations.

Now this is a bit controversial and definitely politically incorrect to say, but I insist on this because if you lack the machinery of empathy and you have no access to your positive emotions, and that is a good encapsulation of a narcissist, in which sense are you human?

If you are unable to recognize the externality and separateness of other people and you regard them as internal objects, as extensions, as intragets, as manipulative figments in your imagination, and then you deny them their separate existence, and you are unable to empathize with them, and you are unable to conjure up emotions such as love, and compassion, and affection. So in which sense are you human? Biologically, you are human, of course, but are you human psychologically?

I tend to doubt this very much.

Now what happens is, the narcissist offers you a deal. He says, "I'm going to love you unconditionally, as your mother did or should have done. I'm going to love you unconditionally. I'm going to idealize you, and then I'm going to let you fall in love with your own idealized image. I'm going to let you fall in love with yourself through my gaze the way a mother does with her newborn baby.

So I'm going to give you a second chance at childhood. I'm going to regress you to childhood. I'm going to render you an infant. I'm going to infantilize you, but I'm also going to be a good mother to you.

You can look into my eyes and you will see how amazing you are, how super intelligent, how drop-dead gorgeous, how blemishless and flawless, and you're going to fall in love with this image of yourself. And I'm going to maintain the monopoly of this image.

If you want to experience this oceanic feeling of merging and fusing with your idealized self, you can do it only through me.

And now there's a price to pay. I'm going to provide you with a comfort zone.

You grew up in a dysfunctional family. You're wounded. I'm wounded. We're two of a kind. We're twins, twin flames. We're twins. We're two of a kind.

I'm among the few people on earth who can really empathize with you, who can really grasp, who can really grok you, you know, because I am you.

I am a narcissist, but I'm also wounded. I've also been victimized. I've also grown up in a dysfunctional family.

We come from the same planet, from the same world. So I'm going to provide you with this comfort zone of your childhood in two ways.

I'm going to recreate the dysfunctional environment that you're used to, that you're familiar with, that you're comfortable with, and I'm going to love you as a mother does. And I'm going to provide you with the ability to self-love, because now you are idealized. You're perfect.

What is there not to love? So this is irresistible. It's addictive.

That's what you call trauma bonding.

By the way, a very good friend of mine, the late Joanne LaCher, was the first to write, she offered the first book on borderline narcissistic couples, published it, I think, in 1982. And she suggested she used Freud's term, archaic wound. And she said that the wound of the borderline and the wound of the narcissist resonate, and this creates bonding. So she was the first actually to suggest that wounds the path to such bonding.

And then she rephrased it and she called it the v-spot, the vulnerability spot.

So yeah, I think the narcissist does the following. He exposes you to his inner child.

Yes. It's a broken child. It's a crying child. It's a damaged child.

You feel pity. You feel you want to hold this child. You feel you want to love this child.

And this engenders in you the misconception that your love can heal. It's a grandiose misconception, of course. He caters to your grandiosity.

That's the first thing he does. And the second thing he does, he offers you this Faustian deal. I'm going to be your mother. You're going to be a child again. And you're going to be loved unconditionally. And you're going to feel familiar. You're to feel comfortable. You're going to reenact your early years.

But this time with someone who does consider you ideal, who will love you unconditionally. And that's me, the narcissist.

And of course, then he breaks his word. Yes. He breaks his promise.

This is the heartbreak.

You have just described my life. I couldn't have put it better.

In fact, I'm going to share something with you. Very small wedding when I got married, my father was there, my brother, few other people were leaving the reception. And my brother who's taller than me leans down and goes, you know, your marriage, your father with this look on his face, which I to this day, I'm not really sure. But I think it was with glee that he was recognizing that. And I'm writing a book called I Married My Father because I did. I absolutely I dated my father for years. They had different names, different faces, different jobs, but they were all my father.

So thank you for making that so clear.

But I have a couple of questions. For those I do understand your reference to mother, you know, that he that my husband was my mother. But for those of us, who are on this call and don't understand, they may be saying, well, how can a male be the mother figure? Would you expand on that?

For clarity? It's very easy to explain that to me. Imagine that you're born into a family where the mother is perpetually ill, or the mother has died in childbirth.

Right. The father then becomes the maternal figure. When I say mother, it has nothing to do with genitalia. It's a role.

And there is a whole theory in psychology, and it's called role theory. And in role theory, we know that anyone could be a mother, a father could be a mother, a grandmother could be a mother, a grandfather could be a mother, anyone could be a mother. A mother is a set of functions enshrined and embedded in social scripts and other types of scripts.

But also in some form of bonding and attachment, a mother fulfills very crucial functions in early childhood. For example, a mother encourages the child to separate from her and to become an individual. And that is called separation, individuation.

But a father can do this if the mother is absent. Actually, there's a whole field created by Andrei Green. Andrei Green was a psychoanalyst. In 1978, Andrei Green coined the phrase dead mother. And what he meant by dead mother is a mother who is absent, emotionally absent because she's depressed, or because she's a narcissist, and is selfish, or because she instrumentalizes the child and uses the child to realize her unfulfilled dreams and wishes, or because she parentifies the child, she becomes the child and the child becomes the parent, and so on and so forth.

So this kind of mother is unable to provide emotional sustenance and nurturance. And Andrei Green called this kind of mother a dead mother.

When you are in a family with a dead mother, very often the father becomes the mother.

So when I say the narcissist offers you to become a mother, I don't mean it biologically, I mean the narcissist offers to fulfill the maternal role.

In my case, see, I always thought he was fulfilling the paternal role for me.

So this is really interesting. I do understand what you're saying, but because he was like my father.

But when you say that, my mother was clinically depressed and all kinds of things won't go into that. So in that sense, she was a dead mother.

It sounds hard to say that. Sorry, it's just very difficult to say that.

But I can see your point.

I get asked a lot of questions after workshops, and I'm just going to throw a couple at you if you don't mind.

Can two narcissists marry each other, be in relationship with each other successfully? How does that impact on the children?

That was a question I was just asked recently. And my answer was yes, but I'd love you to, with your authority, expand on that.

Your answer is accurate. Yes, the answer is yes. But they have to be of different types.

Yes. So a covert narcissist would be very happy with an overt narcissist, because the covert would derive supply from the overt. The overt would get all the attention, all the fame and the limelight and everything. And the covert would bask in the reflected glory of the overt.

That's an example.

Another example, a somatic narcissist would sit very well with a cerebral narcissist, because the cerebral narcissist is usually asexual and doesn't care if his partner has sex with others.

So then the somatic narcissist can flourish with sexual conquests and so on and so forth. It's a very comfy, comfy arrangement and so on and so forth.

So two opposing types of narcissists can coexist and have very long term and fruitful and happy relationships.

How does it affect the children? Not well. Any exposure to a narcissist is detrimental to the mental health of a child, period. Definitely an exposure to two narcissists is doubly as detrimental.

And can imagine. I don't even have to go into it because that's so obvious. Any exposure to a mentally ill person, I'm sorry to say, in early childhood is problematic and causes lasting damage, which we try to undo in therapy, but not very often, not successfully.

If your parents have bipolar disorder, if they're depressed, I mean clinical depression, major depression, if they are narcissists, if they're psychopaths, some older ones, whatever, it affects the child badly. And it's a long lasting.

I actually used your four needs. I think that's what you call them, the four needs. The four S's. Which is what you're doing as well, the four S's.

And I'm so fascinated by this. It's such, it underpins and explains so much.

Would you, for the sake of people watching and listening, expand on that as well, the four S's?

Yeah. The four S's are sex, supply.

There are two types of supply, by the way, not one. There's narcissistic supply and sadistic supply.

So sex, supply, services, and safety. It's very simple. If you provide two out of these four, you qualify as a narcissist intimate partner. If you provide one, he's going to dump you. If you provide three or four, he's going to cling to you.

That's the key.

So contrary to what people think, you could, for example, deny the narcissist sex.

But if you provide him with services and safety, he would still stay in the relationship.

So any two of these four.

Now, sex is sex. Narcissistic supply, we all know, adulating, affirming attention. Sadistic supply simply means the ability to inflict pain on you and derive pleasure from the process.

Services is services. You are the chauffeur, the personal assistant, the cleaning lady, the cook, the chef, services.

And finally, safety. Safety is very crucial. Narcissists experience what is known clinically as separation insecurity. Colloquially, Tiktokily, it's known as abandonment anxiety. Exactly like borderlines, narcissists are terrified of abandonment because they have been effectively abandoned as children. They're terrified of abandonment. They compensate for this type of anxiety with grandiosity. I don't need anyone. I don't need anyone. You can f off. I don't need you.

While the borderline clings, the borderline clings and she's needy and she's terrified of abandonment. She has abandonment anxiety that paralyzes her.

The narcissist is exactly the opposite. His abandonment anxiety pushes him to become psychopathic, defiant, reckless, in your face, go away, you're not needed. That's his compensatory behavior.

But the abandonment anxiety is still there.

So if you provide the narcissist with ironclad guarantees that never mind how he misbehaves, you're still going to be there. That qualifies as safety and the narcissist tests you. He keeps testing you. He keeps pushing the envelope. He keeps misbehaving egregiously. He elevates his misconduct into an art form. He abuses you. He molests you. He molests you. He shames you. He humiliates you.

And all this is intended to test you. Are you a good enough mother? Are you going to love you unconditionally? Never mind what he does to you.

And then if you don't fail this constant repetitive test, you are providing him with a sense of safety that he needs.

And this is the fourth.

The fourth is.

Wow. I was thinking while you were talking, what did I provide for my ex-husband? And it's actually very clear. And I'm going to be very vulnerable here because when I watch things like this, I want people to go there. I want to understand what it looks like in real life.

So he's a somatic narcissist and sex was definitely one of the S's that was on offer. Safety was definitely one of the S's because I was very loyal. And I'm not saying I'm wonderful because I am wounded. I'm definitely wounded. And I'm working on that. It's a continual journey.

There was supply so much. I would say it was sex services and safety.

However, when I became pregnant, he was horrified.

Because in his mind, there was the sex was going because, you know, possibly the services.

Yes, exactly. Exactly. And so how he acted out was having affairs with other people. And having children with other people. Unbeknownst to me, I did. And as I said, I'm going to be very vulnerable here. And the interesting one, they were all awful. I'm not making light of any of this.

But the third, the third child was with my best friend. So everything was right under my nose. And this is not to gain sympathy or anything. I'm, you know, I'm pretty okay with that. I've done a lot of work.

But what was interesting is he would say things to me like, when I would ask him why, he always denied he lied and lied and lied. So I get that one very clearly the lying.

But what I would ask him why he said, you didn't love me enough. And there it was what you're saying. It's exactly what you're saying. You were not there for me. You did not provide the forensics.

Yes.

And, and I, that's why I have a lot of may surprise people listening to this. I have a lot of compassion for him. That doesn't mean you stay with them.

Ladies and gentlemen, you get as far away from them as possible. And that's difficult when you have children. That's something I want to talk to you about.

But I could see it. It was crystal clear. I mean, he had a dead mother. And he lived for her approval. He never got it. She didn't love him enough in the way that he felt I didn't. And I was that substitute. And he was that substitute for me. He was showing up as I'm good at.

I don't think any of this was conscious, by the way, but it was sort of the redemption of the failed relationship with my father and my mother. I was going to provide those things that you need in a very loving way. But of course it was all fake. It was all just love bombing and fantastical and delusional and all of those things.

So I just wanted to illustrate how I see the four S's in my life.

Cause I think that's helpful to myself and to others to see how you can be hoodwinked or whatever, whatever phrase you want to use, fall into this vortex.

And this, what you've just done is very difficult for victims to do.

Because you have to acknowledge actually your own dispensability.

The, you see, you're like an internet service provider. Imagine that you have an internet service provider and then, you know, the line keeps dropping and you don't get enough broadband.

And then there's outages and you change the internet service provider. You get a new contract with someone else.

The narcissist partner, intimate partner, but not only intimate partner. We keep talking about intimate relationships, but this applies to friendships. It applies to workplace relationships.

This is how the narcissist sees the world.

What can I take? What can you give me?

You know, so you are a service provider because you are a service provider. You were not actually chosen for any of your qualities. You were chosen for what you could provide, not for who you are, but for what you can give.

Number one, number two, you are always interchangeable, fungible, commoditized. You are a form of commodity, like so many grains of rice. You were dispensable.

This is something victims can't wrap their heads around, can't wrap their minds around.

So what they do, what victims do, they self-aggrandize as a defense. They're saying it's not true. He chose me because I'm hyper empathic.

Narcissists don't do empathy. They wouldn't recognize empathy if it fell on their heads, you know, or victims say, it shows me because I'm a really nice person and I know how to induce intimacy. I know how to create intimacy.

Narcissists don't do intimacy and they hold nice people in total contempt.

Narcissists did not choose you because you are special in any way, shape or form. Narcissists chose you because you happen to be there and you are willing to provide two of the four S's.

You are faceless to the narcissists. You have no identity.

Narcissists do not recognize external objects. They don't. They internalize them and then they manipulate them within their minds.

Narcissists are psychotic in this sense.

And this is not Sanbakni. This is Otto Könberg. Otto Könberg said that borderlines and borderline and narcissistic disorders of the self are actually on the border of psychosis. That's why he called it borderline. It's on the border of psychosis.

These are seriously ill people.


And so you, it's, I understand the defense, you know, he discarded me, he devalued me like so much trash and then he moved on within days to someone else and it's heartbreaking. It nullifies your self esteem, ruins your self confidence and self image. It's not mind boggling. It's mind ruining.

Yes.

So I understand the narcissistic defense. I'm special and chosen. I'm amazing. I'm an empath.

But these are also lies. These are also forms of fantasy.

Narcissism, clinically speaking, is a fantasy defense gone awry. And the narcissist relates to everything and everyone around him via fantasy. It's called the shared fantasy.

So narcissists use a shared fantasy to interact with other people. This is the only mode of communication and so on and so forth.

Now within the fantasy, of course, you cannot have a real existence. You don't have a real existence because you're just an element in the fantasy, very much like an actress in a theater play or in a movie screen in a movie. And then the movie is over, lights are on, and the audience disperses and you're gone until the next movie in which you maybe you may feature, maybe someone else.

That's simple as that.

Narcissist life is a series of movie screenings. So interesting.


You say that on so many levels. I want to respond to that.

I mean, he was a media teacher. His specialty was film, cinema. He lived in fantasy all the time. That's just an aside, but I remember so clearly the first time I met him, I walked into a room at a friend's house and he was sitting there. The other people were just hanging out after work or whatever. And I went to speak to my friend and didn't even notice him. And later I found out that he wanted to know who I was and he wanted to meet me.

The point that I'm making here is he was already living with somebody at the time. So she obviously had reached her. Expiry.

Exactly. Exactly. And he was setting up another one. And I was probably one of many.

And I think what you just said, how interchangeable we are is the hardest thing for victims to hear.

We do think we're special. I didn't think I was special. I just thought I gave it everything I had.

Why wasn't it enough? I didn't see that having children was going to impede that and change it and reduce what he needed from me just in a natural way.

So I didn't understand any of that.

I see it very clearly now and I really hope people listening to this are really paying attention. And I hope that you do consider yourself special. To be special is not necessarily a self-aggrandizing statement. You're special because there's only one of you. There's only one of you.

And in this sense, you're absolutely special. You're unique. So it's a good thing to believe oneself to be special. Superior is something else. Superior is a narcissistic perception.

But special you are.

And this is exactly what the narcissist does to you. He negates your identity. This is why I had to coin the phrase "nostism abuse" to differentiate it from other forms of abuse. Other forms of abuse attack a dimension of you.

Financial abuse, I take your money. Verbal abuse, I humiliate you. I mean, other forms of abuse are like laser beams. They're focused on something.

Narcissistic abuse is about denying you your identity, breaching your boundaries, and then dissolving you in an acid bath so that you no longer exist, externally, because your external existence constitutes a major threat on the internal object that represents you in the narcissist's mind.

If you are autonomous, if you're independent, if you're agentic, if you make your own decisions, if you have your own friends, if you go on trips, you're challenging the internal object, which is static, immutable, fixed. You're challenging this internal object. You're deviating from it. You're diverging from it. You're threatening the equilibrium of the narcissist's mind, and you become an enemy, a persecutory object.

The more independent you are, the more you threaten the narcissist, homeostasis. He needs to mummify you. I always say, if you want to understand the narcissist's shared fantasy, you go back to 1960 and you watch the film Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock.

Psycho is Norman Bates. Norman Bates owns a small motel, and his mother has died. What he did, he mummified his mother. Every morning, he walks up the stairs to his mother's bedroom. He takes out the mummy, and he sits her in a chair overlooking the yard through the window. Then at night, he picks her up from the chair. She's a mummy, mind you. He picks her up from the chair. He puts her to bed, and he kisses her. Good night. That is the narcissist's ideal partner.

You want to be the narcissist's ideal partner, you need to become an ancient Egyptian mummy.

A human form is still discernible, but there's no life there, because life threatens the narcissist.

Narcissism is a death-based personality structure. Everything inside the narcissist is dead.

The narcissist wants everyone around him to be dead, because any other option is threatening.

Don't forget that early in the narcissist's childhood, the narcissist had to commit suicide. The narcissist as a child had been abused, been traumatized, and there are many forms of abuse.

Abuse could be idolizing the child, pedestalizing the child, smothering the child, isolating the child from reality, and from peers, instrumentalizing the child, parentifying the numerous types of abuse.

Here's this child. It's abused, it's traumatized.

One of the solutions, luckily not the most common solution, but one of the solutions is to commit suicide, mental suicide. If I'm dead, if I'm dead, mummy can't hurt me anymore, can't hurt me.

Narcissism is about the choice to commit suicide and sacrifice oneself to a fictitious God, a private God known as the false self.

Narcissism is a private religion with human sacrifice.

There is this primitive pagan divinity or deity, which is the false self. It is all powerful, it's all knowing, it's perfect, it's everything the child is not.

And so it's immune to abuse and trauma, cannot experience pain and hurt.

And then the child sacrifices itself to this deity, to this divinity. The child commits human sacrifice.

And then the child disappears and becomes the false self.

Narcissism is an absence, it's what used to be called in the 70s, an empty schizoid core.

Narcissism is a void masquerading as a presence. It's about death, it's a cemetery, it's a walking, talking cemetery.

And exactly like in Stephen King's novels, it wants you there in this cemetery, underground, not above ground.

I had to use these graphic terms, because there's no other way to communicate the inner experience of the narcissists. We are very deceiving.

Now I'm using the we, the pronoun, because I'm one, I'm a narcissist. We are very deceiving. We smile, we're charming, we are knowledgeable. We're even knowledgeable about narcissism.

We are some, we can project an image of every woman's wet dream or dry dream or whatever. We can be the perfect partner if you want us to be, we can be the perfect, the perfect evil genius or whatever you want us to be, we can be because we don't exist. We are shapeshifters. And there's nobody there.

I mean, look at me. I want you to understand that there is nobody there, that I am not here. There's no I.

Narcissism is a disrupted process of ego integration and constellation.

Narcissists don't have an ego. That's the irony. They are selfless. They don't have a self.

The process of formation of a self by separating from the mother, individuating, setting boundaries, a process known as introversion in Jung's work.

This process has been disrupted.

And the narcissistic investment in the self, which is very important initially, stalled, got, became malignant.

And so when you look at me, I don't have the inner constructs that characterize human beings, definitely healthy or normal human beings. I don't have a self. I don't have an ego. And believe it or not, self styleexperts tell you that the narcissist has a super ego and a super ego is a part of the ego.

Hello, go back and do your homework.


Narcissist consequently, of course, don't have a super ego. They don't have anything. That's the issue. They are black hole. There's nothing there. And it defies belief. There's a lot of denial. The victims are in denial. It can't be. It can't be that this sometimes handsome and charming and smiling and amazing and knowledgeable and person, human being, man, is not there. That it's a hologram, a projection, a simulation. I don't know which one to use. It defies belief. You have to suspend, suspend disbelief. It's an article of faith to believe that narcissist don't exist requires faith. It's actually, I'm asking you to become religious. It requires faith because all the evidence defies it, denies it.

Here, the evidence of your eyes, the evidence of your ears, all the evidence denies the fact that I don't exist.

So I'm asking you to take it on faith. I don't exist.

I watched another video of yours. It was sort of a lecture hall and you said something quite similar and I was blown away by it. I was just, in fact, I use it. I refer to it in my workshops because it is so hard to come to terms with that for me.

And I'm sure for many other people, because we are seeing this representation of a human being and charming and handsome and smart and all those things.

And it's like, but how? How?

And I'm not asking you to answer that more of a rhetorical question, but that I think that is the hardest.

But it's terrifying, isn't it? If there are such people, if there's such people among us and you are incapable of telling them apart.

Absolutely. It's terrifying, isn't it?

Which leads to my next question, if I may, because I think you're about to answer it, is how do we know? How do we know whether it's a colleague, a parent, a friend, a lover, how do we know if we're in relationship with a narcissist?

Unfortunately, the best answer is gut gut instinct, intuition, this uncanny valley, discomfort, ill at ease, something's wrong.

Yeah, of course, most victims and auto plastic defenses, they tend to blame themselves. So if something's wrong, you say something's wrong with me.

Yes. You don't say something's wrong with him. Something's wrong with me. I don't know. Maybe I, you know, maybe I didn't sleep long enough. Maybe I didn't do this. Maybe I didn't do that.

Butif you feel that something's wrong, something's wrong.

Number one, number two, please pay a lot of attention to how the other party you're dating, your date, for example, is treating other people. He's likely to put up a side with you. He's likely to love you or to get to be on his best, best behavior with you.

But he will treat other people as he really is the waiter, the cab driver, pay close attention, how he talks to other people. Does he humiliate other people? Does he shame them? Does he?

That's a major indicator of narcissism.

Number three, is he all over you too fast, too soon? Does he breach boundaries, personal boundaries, or make atrocious offers or whatever on a first date or a second date? It's very common, for example, to discuss marriage on a second date and children on third date. I'm kidding you're not. I know you're right. It's a major alarm.

Yeah. Major alarm.

Number four, does he take over, monopolize decision making? He decides which restaurant to go to. He takes the keys from your hand and he locks your door and so on and so forth. Does he take over decision making? Does he begin to minimize the space of choices that you have? Does he decide for you?

That happens on a first date, actually. So we do have a lot of warning signs on a first date.

The problem is not that I found out in my practice, and I've been in this racket for 28 years, I found in my practice that the overwhelming vast majority of victims had sufficient information to determine that the person they're faced with is a narcissist. They've had this information, but they were so lonely, so heartbroken, so devastated, so I don't know what, so horny sometimes that they denied.

There's a lot of denial going on, reframing, all the defense mechanisms erupt in the presence of the narcissist.

The narcissist is so unbelievable that he triggers in you all the defense mechanisms and the result is a total falsification of reality, the inception of a fantasy.

It's like the famous movie Inception. It's an inception of a fantasy.

What the narcissist does to you, he coerces you to transition from relatively rational analysis of reality, transition from reality to fantasy, and that happens in the first few minutes.

Minutes, not months, first few minutes, and you know it. You know it.

If you go back and you're honest with yourself, there were many, many warning signs.

Oh, it was a field of red flags.

However, in my defense, but to sort of explain, as I see it, because being raised by a narcissistic father and the dysfunction of that, I didn't know what was healthy. You know what I mean? I didn't have a reference point and I'm not defending saying, oh, that's the reason why.

But I really see my woundedness in it because I was in the dance. That's what I'm saying.

We can't just blame them and say, oh, you're evil. You're nasty. You led me to the stance. My woundedness allowed me to deny, look away from those red flags, cut them down and say, I can deal with this. This is going to be okay until they become like right in your face.

And then there are children at your doorstep. You know, that's a different thing.

But yes, I put it down to for a lot of women and men, they didn't have great modeling of what a healthy romantic relationship looks like. That's very true.

In today's day and age, divorce rates and the functional families and so on.

Exactly.

However, I must add another unpopular thing. The narcissist leverages your woundedness and your brokenness, but you leverage his woundedness and brokenness.

Absolutely. There is a collusion here at leveraging the vulnerabilities of the other party. Totally right. The chinks in the armor. You penetrate the narcissist defenses the same way he penetrates yours.

Yes. You're offering to him mothership the same way he offers you mothership.

This is a mutual self-destruction, a mutually assured destruction deal, you know, and you do sign the dotted line. It's not like you can say, you know, this was a hidden contract or hidden text. You did sign the dotted line.

And this is usually a prolonged process. These relationships sometimes last decades and very often last years for years. And after the first year or the second year, you're fully aware of what's going on. While in your defense, maybe in the first few months, a lack of modeling rendered you vulnerable, there is no excuse after two years. Mine was 16 years.

After a prescribed period of time, there's no excuse. Absolutely.

And then you transition from victimhood to collusion. Yep. And this is where victims engage in denial. I have never colluded. I have never contributed. I've never done anything wrong. I have never participated. These allies.

Yes, I did that. I can see it very clearly. My collusion was I could see the red flags. I match.

Eventually I met the woman he was living with who wanted to harm me, which I think is ridiculous. I always think that's ridiculous that the woman wants to harm the other woman when it's the man who's made the decision.

But anyway, that's another conversation.

But I could see that I was going to be the one. I think a lot of us think that I'm going to be the one. And it's going to be different this time. I am going to be enough.

However, when you come from a place where you're not enough, that you're woundedness, you're not enough. That's almost impossible to reconcile those two to be enough, but you're not enough.

23 years ago, I coined the phrase another one malignant optimism. It's perfect. Perfect.

And there's another guy now. His name is his nickname on Instagram is shadow de Angelis. Shadow de Angelis is a brilliant guy.

Brilliant. He creates two minute capsules on narcissism, which are amazingly accurate. And I mean, wow, it's a wow channel.

Anyhow, he coined the phrase or he uses the phrase pathological hope, which I even prefer to malignant.

And anyhow, it is the belief, the misguided belief that there is something you can do about it, whether by affording love, a holding environment, a containing environment, behaving in specific ways, prescribed ways, offering something, negotiating, compromising. All these are self delusional, self deception, forms of self deception, self delusion.

And actually, you end up negotiating with yourself, compromising with yourself. The love that you believe you are giving to the narcissist in an attempt to reform the narcissist to heal the narcissist or cure the other level of delusion. It's actually you're not loving the narcissist because of himself, you're loving the narcissist because you want to create the ideal partner that you miss.

It's all about you. It's all about you. It's never about the narcissist. You never loved the narcissist, because there's nobody there. It's all fiction and fantasy and smoke and mirrors. You loved yourself through the narcissist.

Yes. And you want to recapture this oceanic feeling, which is very common in early childhood between a mother and a child. You want to recapture this.

And so you're saying, if I were to love him, I would change him in a way that would allow him to love me the way I want to be loved. It's self referential. Absolutely. Self referential.

And dare I say narcissistic to some extent. Yes.

Oh, and so that brings me beautifully to the next question that I get asked all the time. How can I tell if I'm a narcissist?

There's a lot of answers online. Like there's someone who says that if you ask yourself whether you're a narcissist, you're not a narcissist. TikTok therapy. And other nonsense like this. There's a lot of nonsense online.

I think the only test of whether you're a narcissist or not is to observe the reactions of those around you.

Narcissism is recognized in its impacts. Even very experienced clinicians find it very difficult to diagnose narcissistic personality.

First of all, we don't have real rigorous tests. The tests that we have, such as the NPI and the PNI, these are the classical tests. They rely on honest self reporting. Which I find, I think it's a prime comedy to rely on the narcissist's honest self reporting to diagnose the narcissist. And that's the extent of testing that we have.

So psychological tests are out. Then we have structured interviews. But narcissists are con artists and they're very good at manipulating, including manipulating experienced clinicians.

To cut a long story short, it's exceedingly difficult to diagnose narcissistic personality disorder with a modicum of rigor and certainty.

But if you were to observe what's happening to people around the narcissist, you are likely to come up with the correct answer.

So if you see people losing their identity and self, people saying, for example, I don't recognize myself. I've changed so much. That's not me. You know, when I'm around him, that's not me. I don't recognize myself.

If people report extreme, extreme discomfort, if they report emotional dysregulation, and this is a new phenomenon, they did not used to have emotional dysregulation. Now they do. Emotional dysregulation simply means you are overwhelmed by your own emotions. You can't control them. They control you. If they suddenly externalize aggression, they become aggressive or even violent. If they act out, if they become defiant, etc.

If we observe this in people around a specific individual, it is extremely likely this individual is a narcissist.


Now Robert Hare, who came up with the major with the main test for psychopathy, the PCLR, Robert Hare recognized this. The PCLR is self-reporting and as such is laughable. But Robert Hare added a module to the PCLR where the clinician is obliged to interview the narcissist's nearest and dearest. So the PCLR is composed of two modules, self-reporting and reporting by people around the psychopath.

We don't have something like this for narcissism and we direly need it. We need to create a test or a structured interview that involves people around the narcissist. You know it's a lot like a black hole. No one can see a black hole because light cannot escape from a black hole. But we can see what happens to objects around the black hole.

They behave in very strange ways. They have strange hobbies. They suddenly disappear when they are absorbed by the black hole. So then we know there's a black hole. We know by observing objects around the black hole.

Right. Wow. A lot of food for thought there. Thank you for that.

It's so clear to me because it's hard to get sort of straight answers from people because it just seems to be this sort of movable feast of symptoms and diagnosis and things like that.

As you know there's all this on the internet. If they gaslight you, if they do this, if they do that.

But it's very reductive. And it's also not a differential diagnosis. It's a blunt instrument because many people gaslight not all the monostasis. Exactly. Many people either abuse other people.

For example, only a tiny minority of abusers actually suffer from personality disorders. So we have many abusers who are mentally healthy.

It's not, these are not what we call differential. Differentials. Observing these behaviors doesn't tell you that someone is an oscist. Can tell you that someone is an abuser, an a-hole, or a jerk. But not that he's an oscist. Right. My final question, which is a really big question.

Well, it's probably not a big question for you. It's a big question for me.

If we discover or if it just doesn't feel right, what do we do? And I'll qualify that sometimes we're in a marriage and/or we have children with that person. And I get a lot of this.

It's like, well, I have children. What do I do?

Because, to be a gold standard, as you say, is no contact. You can't do that. A lot of people can't do that.

Or gray rocking and various other things. So what do we do when we realize we are, if you would answer if possible, if we're parenting, if we're co-parenting children, and if we're not?

Yeah.

First, I need to rectify something I've just said.

Narcissists don't gaslight actually. Psychopaths do. Narcissists believe their own fantasies and confabulation. They're convinced of it. That's why they're very defensive when you challenge them with evidence.

It's not because they've lied or anything, but because they truly convince themselves that it's the truth.

Psychopaths gaslight.

Now, gaslighting involves premeditation, a power that's a clinical definition, not a TikTok definition. Gaslighting involves premeditation and planning, cunning, skimming.

Number two, a power asymmetry. So if you don't have these two elements, you don't have gaslighting. Narcissists don't see the way psychopaths do and say, "I have to rob her of her reality testing. I have to convince her that her judgment of reality is wrong because I want her money. So now I'm going to gaslight her and then I'm going to take her money." That's a psychopath.

A narcissist says, "I truly love her. I'm going to have a wonderful future with her and three kids." And why doesn't she see this? And then he believes his own stories.

So narcissists also don't future fake the way psychopaths do. When the narcissist tells you, "I'm going to have three kids with you," he really believes it. He really believes he's going to have three kids with you.

Now, the belief may last two days and then he will change his mind.

But for these two days, he truly believes that you're the love of his life and he's going to have three kids with you.

While the psychopath would tell you, "I'm going to have three kids with you because he wants to have sex with you or he wants your money or he wants access to contacts that you have," or whatever.

So on the face of it, it appears identical.

Both the narcissist and the psychopath lie to you that they want to have three kids with you. But one of them believes it for a while and one of them doesn't.

Okay. Thank you. Just ask her a question.

I am of the belief that you have to do anything in your power and make any imaginable sacrifice, including sacrifice of your peace of mind, if necessary, to go no contact.

So I'm being asked, "Is my son or she's my mother no contact?" It's going to take a toll. You're going to grieve, going to mourn, but it's far better. No contact. You're married to a narcissist, divorcing a narcissist, or you're working with a narcissist. He's your coworker and so on and so forth.

If he's your coworker, resign. If you have to communicate with a narcissist, use a lawyer or an accountant, third parties, common friends, to the best of your ability and never mind the extent of the sacrifice. Go no contact because what's at stake is your sanity and your identity.

And I don't know of anything more important than this.


Now, there are 3% of cases where it's really impossible to disengage from the narcissist. Really impossible for objective reasons.

Don't tell me that you're financially dependent. Flip burgers in McDonald's. Don't tell me she's your mother.

No contact. Don't tell me he's your son. No contact. Don't tell me he's your coworker.

Resign. I don't buy any of this.

But there are sometimes objective. I don't know, you're in a cell in prison. There are sometimes objective situations where you are stuck with a narcissist or a castaway on an island or something.

Well, in these extremely rare and unlikely cases, hide yourself, camouflage yourself, disguise yourself. Do not provide the narcissist with any information that is of a personal character. Do not share, do not care, do not reveal your emotions, do not talk about your state of mind, express your hopes, discuss your dreams, nothing.

It is an element in grey rock, in the grey rock technique.

But I'm going much further than that.

Grey rock is simply don't be interesting to a narcissist. Be bland. Be bland and boring and stagnant and a narcissist will let you go. I'm going much further than that. Don't exist.

Do not communicate with the narcissist anything personal whatsoever. Don't say I'm tired, I have to sleep. Nothing. Don't ever say I'm hungry. They want to eat something.

Do not communicate any information to which the narcissist does not have access anyhow. Do not provide privileged access.

That is crucial because anything you say can and will be used against you by the narcissist in due time.

Narcissists accumulate. Narcissists are highly dissociative. They don't remember their own lives. That's why they confabulate. They try to bridge memory gaps by inventing plausible stories.

But they remember everything you ever said. This they remember because this is a weapon. They weaponize your intimacy.

Narcissists weaponize intimacy. Do not give it to them.

Not even in the slightest.

Do you know when you go to a bar and you talk to the barista, you share something. I've had a tough day. Can you don't?

Even this is way too much disclosure when it comes to the narcissist. It's the only advice I can give. It's fantastic advice because I talk about Grey Rock and I use your term called empathy.

But people are like, well, I can't do that. I recommend mediators and things like that as well. You're saying lawyers and things. Yeah, you have to. I have gone no contact with my brother. And what you said is absolutely true. The grief. The grief. It is still, I still experience it because he's my only living relative and I would like to have that relationship. But I can't. It's just not

safe. I'll just leave it at that. I have, sorry, please. No, you go. Let me conclude this with a statement. Great. Sanity requires grief. The cost of sanity is grief. Not only with the narcissist, not only with the narcissist, being exposed to the world as it is, maintaining reality testing, remaining embedded in reality, not denying things, not falsifying things, not reframing, not ignoring things, facing the world as it is. It's a process of grief. Life is comprised of losses. Life is about losses. When you get to my age, you understand how much I've lost about 90% of my friends are dead. Life is comprised of losses. So if you remain with one leg in reality, you grieve all the time. That's true. And to avoid the narcissist is to choose reality. The narcissist offers your choice between fantasy and reality. The minute you choose reality, you choose grief. This is the cost of reality and the cost of sanity. Look at the world today. Is this not a world to grieve for, to mourn? The world is more dystopian than ever. So what is the solution? Fantasy? Yes. Most of us, unfortunately, are choosing fantasy now. But fantasy, the reality principle is the foundation of sanity. So most of us are mentally unhealthy, mentally ill. The rates of depression and anxiety, I don't need to tell you, are at an all time high. Suicide rates among teens are up 48%. This is the cost we are paying for avoiding reality. Never mind how harrowing and horrible it is. It's always preferable to fantasy. The mental health is founded on the reality principle. And the narcissist tries to take it away from you. So you should be, remain embedded in reality and realize that you will be in a perpetual state of grieving. It's called life. Yeah. Thank you so much. That is really, really landed very heavily with me in a good way.

I really needed to hear that. There's a lot of forgiveness for self in that.

I don't have the words to thank you. Such an amazing chat. And I always like to end, if I can, on a positive note, I've talked about myself and there's, I've mentioned a lot of negatives. However, I'm happy to say I'm in a beautiful relationship with a non narcissistic person. And I just want to, you know, share that with people so they realize that you can heal, you can, we don't completely heal. I think we have scars, but you can heal and you can make different choices.

And that's the message I'd like to leave people with. It is possible.

There is life after the narcissist. And there is, and the prognosis for victims of complex trauma, which is what the narcissist does to you. The prognosis is very good. In other words, the outcomes of therapy with victims of complex trauma, see, but easily a very, very good.

This is not narcissism. Nothing is hopeless, but being the victim of a narcissist is hopeful.

Because there's life after the narcissist, there's happiness, there's everything after the narcissist.

Yeah. Ultimately, who is the victim here? He has to live with himself.

Absolutely.

People, people said to me, I'll leave this one thought. People said to me, what are you going to do to revenge your husband? And I said, nothing. Nothing. All I want is a ticket for a seat in the front row when it goes down. Because it does. Because they will hang themselves from their own petard. They will hang themselves.

And I don't feel that I need to do anything because that's a waste of my energy.

So it's been 20 years now, 15, 20 years since. And yes, everything that one can imagine happening has happened. And he's a very lonely and sad man.

Nothing to do with me. They all end up this way.

My hands are clean. And I will end up this way.

I know that too.

Well, that is heartbreaking to hear. It truly is because you're so generous.

And it's still, I'm going to say it's still very difficult for me to believe there's nothing there.

But I'll have to accept that coming from you. Thank you for all that you do for us. Thank you for having me. Online and offline and books. You're amazing. And I'm very grateful you've taught me so much. And thank you for your time today. It's very special. It was a pleasure. Thank you very much.

Thank you. Bye bye. Bye.

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