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Victims' Malignant Optimism and Rescue Fantasies

Uploaded 1/4/2011, approx. 3 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

I often come across said examples of the powers of self-delusion that a narcissist provokes in his victims.

It is what I call the malignant optimism of the abused.

People refuse to believe that some questions are unsolvable, some diseases incurable, some disasters inevitable.

They see a sign of hope in every fluctuation and vicissitude.

They read meaning and patterns into every random occurrence, utterance or slip of tongue.

They are deceived by their own pressing need to believe in the ultimate victory of good or even, the triumph of health of a sickness, order over disorder.

Life appears otherwise, so meaningless, so unjust and so arbitrary that these victims can no longer tolerate it.

So what they do, they impose upon life a design, progress, aims and paths.

And this is of course another form of magical thinking.

Such victims, when confronted with the fact that their intimate partners, significant others are being abusive to them, that they are victims, that they are being mistreated, harassed, stalked, violated, physically, sexually and especially psychologically, verbally, confronted with these harsh realities, these victims are likely to react by saying, if only my partner had tried hard enough, or if he only really wanted to heal, or if only we found the right therapy, or if only his defenses were down, these victims are likely to say there must be something good and worthy under the hideous facade, or no one can be that even and destructive, or he must have meant it differently, or God or a higher being or the spirit of a soul is a solution and the answer to our prayers.

Many of them justify abusive behavior. They say, my intimate, my abusive intimate partner had a difficult childhood, hence his misconduct.

The Pollyanna defenses of the abused are aimed against the emerging and horrible understanding that humans are specks of dust in a totally indifferent universe, the playthings of evil and sadistic forces of which the narcissist is but one.

It is also a defense against the unbearable realization that their pain means nothing to anyone but themselves. Nothing whatsoever. It has all been in vain.

The relationship with the narcissist to the narcissist is merely a theater. The narcissist holds such thinking in barely concealed contempt.

To him, this malignant optimism, this hope springs eternal, is a sign of weakness. It gives off the scent of a prey, a gaping vulnerability, a chink in the victim's armor.

The narcissist abuses and leverages this human need for order, for good, for meaning. He uses and abuses all human needs, all human wishes, hopes, and the goodness in his victims.

Calibility, selective blindness, malignant optimism. These are the weapons of the beast and they have used a hard at work to provide the narcissist with the arsenal that he needs in order to maltreat them and to abuse them and to harass them, to stalk them, and to bring them in many cases to an early psychological or even physical end.

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