The narcissist devalues you, humiliates you, denigrates you, criticizes you endlessly and unnecessarily, gratuitously puts you down. What for? This only creates a bad atmosphere, bad blood between the two of you. It undermines the relationship and destroys any semblance of intimacy you may have had. It renders you much less cooperative, much less supportive.
Why would he do that? Why would he subvert his own self-interest?
Today, I'm going to provide you with some novel aspects and dimensions of this extremely self-defeating behavior, the devaluation of the intimate partner.
My name, for those of you who don't know, is Sam Vaknin, and I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited. I'm also shockingly a professor of psychology in several universities on several floating continents.
And let's get straight to business, as I always do.
In previous lectures, I had explained that the narcissist devalues you because you refuse to freeze, you refuse to become an ancient Egyptian mummy, you refuse to play dead, and you refuse to conform to the snapshot of you that he has in his mind.
I encourage you to watch previous videos about the process of snapshotting.
The narcissist takes a snapshot of you, then he photoshops the snapshot and this is idealization, he introjects it, he transforms it into an internal object.
And then you're supposed to become one with a snapshot, you're supposed to merge or fuse with a snapshot. You're never supposed to deviate or diverge from the snapshot.
And if you do, this provokes in the narcissist a lot of aggression. The narcissist punishes you for deviating from the snapshot because the narcissist is capable of interacting only with internal objects. He is not capable of interacting with you, he's not capable of accepting your autonomous independent existence and acting that way.
So when you threaten the internal object, you're threatening the narcissist's mind.
Additionally, disagreeing with the snapshot, diverging from the snapshot, challenging, undermining the snapshot, becoming suddenly an autonomous, agentic person with your own agenda, your own life, your own growth pattern and personal development, etc.
These challenges the narcissist's grandiosity because the narcissist needs to be 100,000% in control. He is godlike, he needs to micromanage every aspect of your life, every word you say, every breath you take.
So, any time you demonstrate to the narcissist that he is not fully in control of you, it challenges his grandiosity and there's nothing more dear to the narcissist than he is grandiosity, nothing.
The narcissist would do anything, would sacrifice anyone, would destroy everything just to maintain his grandiosity, which in his mind is identified with freedom. He's a freedom fighter. He believes that his grandiosity, his godlike qualities, his divinity render him free.
This precisely is what makes him not subject to the shackles of society. This liberates him, his grandiosity and so when you challenge his grandiosity, you're challenging his freedom.
And finally, when you act independently and autonomously and agentically and surfacaciously, you amplify his separation insecurity. Separation insecurity is the clinical term for what is known as abandonment anxiety or separation anxiety.
And so when you do that, he becomes anxious and to mitigate and reduce and ameliorate his anxiety, he then devalues you.
By devaluing you, he can tell himself it's not a big loss. Even if she were to abandon me, that's not a big loss.
Similarly, when he devalues you, he can avoid narcissistic injury. I've gone through all this at length, at great length in at least 20 separate videos and I encourage you to do your homework and to find them and to watch them and you need to watch them because I made them.
Not for no other reason, mind you.
Okay, that was a joke.
Now, I want to delve into additional reasons for devaluation, hitherto unmentioned, at least online by anyone.
The narcissist wants you dead. He wants you dead because he is already dead. The narcissist is the quintessential, an original walking dead. The narcissist's life is a rendition of the zombie apocalypse and he's already dead. He has been dead a long time, for a long time and it is lonely out there in the void, in the oblivion. It's lonely there and he wants company but he is beyond, beyond human reach. He is beyond life. He is in the netherland or nether zones, the limbo, the twilight zone.
So the narcissist wants you to join him there and to do that, he needs to kill you. I'm sorry to break the news to you. He needs to kill your spirit. He needs to destroy what some of you call the soul. He needs you. He needs to zombify you. He needs to infect you, so to speak.
The narcissist prefers to be in a dead relationship because he is utterly dead inside.
Now, it sounds like a metaphor. You say, what do you mean dead inside? This is where language breaks down. This is where even someone like me who dedicated his life to words and to authorship and writing and speaking, even someone like me finds it incredibly difficult to convey and to communicate the inner experience of the narcissist, of which, may I remind you, I have a first-hand exposure to which I have a first-hand exposure.
So this void inside, this black hole, this what Köllberg called emptiness or what Seinfeld called the empty schismic core, this deadness, this thematic deep space, this swirling and whirling abyss chaos that precedes creation. This is the core of the narcissist, where a human being should have been. This replaces it, this substitutes for it. And it is absence.
And the narcissist does not experience his absence. He had lied to himself and confabulated to the point that he thinks that his absence is the only form of existence. He believes all people are like that. You would be hard pressed to convince a narcissist that other people have a different experience of being, a different process of becoming. He doesn't have this. He doesn't grow. He doesn't evolve. He doesn't develop. There's no becoming because there's nothing, no seed, nothing that can become. It's nothingness in the bad sense of the word. It's not even nothingness. If you were to try to reach into the narcissist, I think your hand would simply go through. There's nobody there. It's an apparition or a mirage, and I've described it in other videos. But the part that's missing is the realization that the narcissist, like everybody else, feels lonely, existentially lonely, and he wants company. He wants to bring you into his hiatus, into his inferno. He wants to drag you into this limbo, this zone between death and life. He wants to introduce you into his twilight zone, and he wants you to affirm and confirm to him that this is normality, that there's nothing wrong or unusual or extreme in the way he subsists and functions.
Being no more than a walking, talking corpse, the narcissist feels safe only in a joint cemetery, and this joint cemetery is the shared psychosis. If you were to look closely, you would see that in the shared psychosis, in the shared fantasy of the narcissist, there's only one person, you.
The narcissist creates a hole of mirrors. You are reflected in it in an idealized way. You fall in love with yourself, and you have a relationship with yourself, but it's with yourself. There's nobody else there. It's a hallucination. The narcissist is a delusion, a psychogenic illness. It's an illusion that you fall for, and so the narcissist being dead already feels safe, feels alive actually, only in this cemetery of the shared fantasy.
Having entered the shared fantasy, you have entered the dead zone. You start to die incrementally and gradually the minute you had extended your hand into you had extended your hand and took the narcissist.
The minute you had embraced him, the minute you had consented to his narrative, the minute you had included yourself in his psychosis, the minute you had catered to his grandiosity, the minute you had closed your eyes, fell back, hoping that he will catch you, the minute you've integrated yourself into the shared fantasy, you had become a figment of his imagination, and you had become nothing but an ephemeral apparition.
You had given up on your existence. You had surrendered your separateness, your autonomy, your agency, and your self-efficacy.
This is the Faustian deal. The narcissist offers you. I'm going to provide you with unconditional maternal love, which you will experience as self-love.
For the first time in your life, you will feel utterly, utterly unconditionally lovable, but there's a price to pay for this.
As you are, you are not lovable. As you are not lovable, you are not lovable.
The narcissist's inability to give life and the narcissist's incapacity to partake in life, this is a source of mortification. It's a major ongoing perpetual narcissistic injury.
And to avoid all this, to avoid this discrepancy between your life and his death, your vivaciousness, and his morbidity, your ascendance and development, and his decay and decadence, to reconcile these two within the shared fantasy, the narcissist attempts to deaden you, to render you dead, to assassinate your enthusiasm, your joie de vivre, the joy of life, to constrict your autonomy, to crush your exploratory spirit, to stunt your growth.
The narcissist is like so much rot or gangrene, spreading through your healthy parts until you are no more. Until, like him, you're rendered an automaton with faulty programming. This is an attack on your being. It is so unique that in 1995, I had coined the phrase narcissistic abuse because I could find no other equivalent in any other form of abuse.
There was a need to coin a neologism to describe this vitiation and negation of who you are. And one of the main vectors, one of the main vectors of this attack is devaluation.
And there are two types of devaluation, preemptive and reactive. And to understand the difference between the two, we need to go deeper into the narcissistic disturbance of the self.
Preemptive devaluation is not reactive devaluation, but they appear from the outside to be the same.
This creates god-awful confusion, especially a more self-styled expert, my typical job.
So to understand the difference, we need to understand narcissistic typology and the narcissistic dynamic.
You know that there are various types of narcissists, somatic, cerebral, overt, covert. There is no type constancy. In other words, the overt narcissist can become covert, the covert can become overt.
I myself used to be cerebral. Five years ago, I became somatic.
You don't have to believe me. Just go online, watch my videos on this channel dated 12 and 10 years ago, and watch my videos today or a year ago, or two years ago, or four years ago, and you will see the massive difference. It's like I'm another human, another person. I switched types from cerebral to somatic five years ago, and never switched back.
So there's no type constancy.
And one of the most common transitions is between overt and covert. The narcissist transitions from an overt state to a covert state via a process known as collapse.
You all heard the term collapse narcissist. Do not confuse collapse narcissist with faith narcissist. Faith narcissist is a borderline personality. Collapse narcissist is someone, a narcissist, who experiences or goes through a systemic and prolonged failure to secure a narcissistic supply.
So when a narcissistic supply is deficient for a very long period of time, the narcissist collapses. When he collapses, he usually switches type.
So from overt to covert, it's a very common transition and vice versa.
The transition takes time, as the effects of the deficiency of narcissistic supply gnaw at the foundations and roots of the narcissist, undermine his precarious balance, takes time.
And there's therefore always a period of transition between cerebral and somatic, between overt and covert, and so on. There's always a period of transition.
But some narcissists remain stuck in this interim period. They can't move on. They get stuck midway between overt and covert, let's say.
And so these narcissists create a binary system. They are both overt and covert. And then there's a division of labor and a division of effect. Everything is divided. It's like a divorce. Everything is divided. All the mental properties, the psychological wealth and resources, they're all divided.
The overt side and the covert side and the covert side.
Now the overt is a sadistic grandiose entity. The overt side dominates and humiliates the covert self state. The overt acts as a kind of harsh inner critic can arrive.
A narcissist who is stuck in the transition, and they are more numerous than you know, quite a few. If I had to venture a guess at any given time, about 20% of narcissists are stuck in this interim phase.
And so the overt becomes the equivalent of a sadistic superego, a very disciplinarian and unforgiving inner critic. And he directs this aggression and negative energy at the covert side. He humiliates and dominates and undermines and subverts and suppresses and mocks and ridicules and threatens and terrifies the covert side, generating a lot of anxiety in the process.
The overt subpersonality is in charge of sustaining the grandiosity cognitive distortion. So it's the overt who is in charge of the grandiosity of such a split narcissist in mid middle of the way narcissist, a narcissist who is both overt and covert. I call it the binary system.
So the overt part, the subpersonality or the pseudo identity, the overt part is in charge of the grandiosity. The locus of grandiosity is in the overt part because the overt is in charge of grandiosity. It is the overt that has the task of interacting with potential sources of narcissistic supply. The covert never gets in touch with people. Only the overt side gets in touch with people. Only the overt side scouts for talent, maintains contact, coerces, cajoles, seduces, love bombs, grooms, whatever it takes to produce a new source of narcissistic supply.
So the overt side being grandiose is the only part of the binary system that is in touch with other people.
But then remember the overt is essentially an inner critic. He hates the covert side. The overt side hates the covert side. The covert side reminds the overt side of vulnerabilities, weaknesses, failures, defeats, seething envy, passive aggression. The overt despises weakness. The overt holds the covert in contempt. Both of them reside in the same body, occupy the same mind.
It's a bizarre split, kind of bizarre split as close as analysis gets to dissociative identity disorder, multiple personality disorder. So the overt detests the covert, hates the covert's gas.
So when the overt is in touch with other people, the overt colludes with other people, weaponizes these people to further depress the covert. He makes an alliance with other people against the covert side. The overt torments the covert independently and autonomously. The overt does not need other people. The overt has many internal weapons, internal and arsenal and ammunition and weaponry. And so the overt uses this against the covert on a daily basis, minute by minute by minute. There's an ongoing internal dialogue between the overt side and the covert side where the covert tortures the covert and the covert covers and envies the overt and hates the overt and acts passive aggressively to undermine the overt's efforts. We'll come to it in a minute.
But the overt doesn't need other people. But the overt is promiscuous and an equal opportunity abuser. The overt will use anything at its disposal against the covert.
And so the overt uses its contacts with other people against the covert. He turns these people against the covert side.
And so there's a strange coalition of the overt side of such analysis. Together with sources of supply against the covert side of such analysis. It's a desperate attempt actually to restore the overt side as a dominant side and to complete the transition using other people as an incentive, motivation, source of energy, inducement.
But in the meantime, while the transition is ongoing and it can go on for years, while the transition period is ongoing, there's a warfare, there's a war between the overt and the covert. And the overt is a kind of Trojan horse. It's a kind of fifth column because the overt collaborates with outsiders to betray the covert. The overt collaborates with others to betray the covert, to stab him in the back, to kill him actually.
But the covert has access to all the resources that the overt does. Both of them, for example, share the same intelligence. So the covert is as intelligent as the overt, as insightful or at least as cunning, as aware of the machinations of the overt.
So the covert realizes that the overt is a traitor, a fifth column, a Trojan horse. The covert is terrified of what the overt might do, how the overt might sacrifice the binary system just to gratify its sadistic need to destroy the covert. So the covert knows that it has to defend itself against the overt.
And so the covert pseudo-identity, or the covert self-state, preemptively devalues everyone that the overt is in touch with.
Let's recap a bit.
This is a very complex structure and concepts, very new.
So for a change, I will not hold you in contempt if you cannot follow me. There's overt and covert. The narcissist can be either type, can be overt or covert. When the narcissist collapses, he cannot obtain supply. He transitions from overt to covert.
Now there's a transition period between overt and covert. Some narcissists get stuck in the transition period. They don't complete the transition. So they're both overt and covert.
Now the overt hates the covert because the covert is vulnerable and weak and fragile and shy and you name it. Everything the overt despises. The overt holds the covert in contempt. He wants to destroy the covert because the covert is an engine of frustration and internal narcissistic injury and even mortification. The covert is a constant reminder, a reminder that the overt is nothing but a fantasy. A megalomaniacal, grandiose fantasy, not real. And the overt wants to destroy this source of pain, internal, constant internal reminder.
And so what the overt does, it collaborates with sources of supply. It collaborates with people against the covert.
It is only the overt who is allowed to be in touch with people because the locus of grandioseity is only in the overt. So the overt is the minister of foreign affairs, the secretary of state. He goes out, he interfaces with other nations with sources of supply. This monopoly allows the overt to turn people against the covert, to injure the covert time and again, to wound the covert to the point that blood loss will kill the covert. The covert is aware of this. He is aware that the overt is out to get him. He is aware that the overt treasonously is collaborating with others against the covert.
So what the covert does, it preemptively devalues every person the overt is in touch with. The overt finds a source of supply. The covert poos it and says, this guy is an idiot. This woman is ugly. This person is stupid.
So he devalues the potential sources of supply that the overt is in touch with because the covert knows that the overt will use in future these sources of supply against the covert. The covert knows that the intentions of the overt are not pure, that he is not merely scouting for sources of supply, but he's scouting for weapons against the covert.
So to undermine the overt's efforts, to de-weaponize the overt, to take away his tools and weapons, the covert devalues anyone who may be used or might be used by the overt against it. So by devaluing preemptively, everyone the overt is in touch with, the covert is defanking them. He's denying these people the potential sources of supply. He's denying them the ability to cause narcissistic injury.
He leaves the overt without any weapons or allies.
So now the overt is in touch with other people, but having been devalued, these people cannot become sources of supply. They cannot, therefore, collaborate with the overt against the covert, by leveraging the overt's grandiosity.
In the war, in the pitched war, between overt and covert, the sources of supply are pawns on the chessboard. They are pawns, and both the overt and the covert are trying to grab hold to maintain control over the sources of supply. The covert does this by devaluing them and rendering them useless to the overt because they cannot be sources of supply and cannot support the overt's grandiosity.
The overt tries to speedily and expediently convert every source of supply into a vector of attack against the covert. And so they go on playing. A new person comes into the narcissist's life.
The narcissist is in this phase of transition. He's both overt and covert. The overt will interact with this new potential source of supply, try to co-opt her into a shared fantasy, love-bomb her, groom her, et cetera. The covert, on the other hand, will devalue her, attack her, passive aggressively, humiliate her, undermine her, subvert her so that she cannot be used. She cannot be used by the overt. So he will render this potential new source of supply useless and meaningless as far as the overt is concerned. And he will do this by devaluing the potential source.
So there will be, there will be two streams of mixed signals, mixed messaging, idealization and devaluation at the same time. And this is the process of preemptive devaluation.
So while in a normal, typical relationship with a narcissist, your first idealized, then devalued, because this particular narcissist is in a stable state, is either overt or covert. When you interact with a narcissist who is fully in a specific state, who is who is tight, constant, when you interact with a narcissist who is 100% overt or 100% covert, you will go through the classic cycle that I had described in the 1990s, idealization, devaluation, and discard. That's a classic cycle.
But if you're interacting with a narcissist who is in the twilight zone, in limbo, in the transition between overt and covert, you will have a very disorienting experience. At the same time, you will be idealized and devalued by the same person during the lock bombing of the grooming.
And so many victims describe this experience of being idealized and devalued and idealized and devalued in rapid succession, which is dizzying and very confusing. It's distinct from reactive devaluation, which I had described at the beginning of the video.
The preemptive variant, the preemptive evaluation, is solely interiorized. It's a part of a passive-aggressive arsenal of the covert.
The covert is not likely to devalue you openly, aggressively. It's not likely to devalue you aggressively to your face. It's likely to devalue you, for example, with body language or with procrastination or with sabotage or with undermining of intimacy and joint efforts or with withdrawal and avoidance, the passive-aggressive ways of the covert.
So the covert's way of devaluing is not same as the overt's way. The covert also easily gets bored and loses interest. It de-affects.
So when the overt comes into the binary system, comes back to the binary system with good news, the overt comes back to the binary system and says, hi covert brother, I found a new source of supply. I have a new project. We can support the grandiosity doing this or doing that.
The covert will undermine, subvert and sabotage these efforts of the overt. And the covert will do this by getting bored, by losing interest in various undertakings.
And the idea is to deny the overt the opportunities to be in touch with people and turn these people against the covert.
It's a civil war. It's a state of civil war. And the casualties are you, intimate partners, insignificant others and the sources of supply.