Good afternoon wherever you are. This is your true blue former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of SIAS-CIAPS.
Today we are going to discuss the narcissist's love.
Narcissists interpret certain situations, certain emotions, mainly negative emotions and certain psychological internal processes. They misinterpret them, they mislabel them as love. Actually this is the unfolding of the narcissist's sadistic and masochistic impulses.
The narcissist is a sadomasochist, a combination of sadist and masochist.
Now not all narcissists are sadists and not all narcissists are masochists but all narcissists are sadistic masochistic when it comes to relationships with intimate partners, with insignificant others, with other participants in the shared fantasy to whom a role is allocated by the narcissist.
The narcissist's love revolves around pain, its infliction, its management, the gratification that it brings and the ability to regulate and modulate it as a proxy for regulating and modulating the narcissist's emotions and the narcissist's moods.
The narcissist in short is a borderline who has learned to self-regulate via pain, whereas the classic borderline avoids pain at all costs, is terrified of pain and tries to forestall pain, to prevent pain and to shun pain via the agency of an intimate partner - the classic borderline relegates and outsources several very important ego functions and internal processes to the outside partner, something I call external regulation.
The narcissist uses pain, pain received and pain given in order to accomplish the same outcome - stability, equilibrium, homeostasis or in short survival.
So this is me, Sam Vaknin, together with my Shalom Shoshanim mug and this unfortunate mug as well and let us delve right in.
But before we do actually, sorry, before we delve right in.
Yesterday's video created a bit of a confusion. People keep asking me, so what do you deny the existence of mood disorders? Because yesterday I saidin yesterday's video I said that depression is not or should not be conceived of as a mood disorder. It's actually a cognitive distortion and people wrote to me, so you deny the existence of mood disorders? Are you aware of bipolar? Are you aware?
Yes, I'm aware of everything. I used to teach psychology and I still do. So yes, I am aware of everything. Thank you very much for the instant education on the impeccable resource YouTube.
But I didn't say that there are no such things as mood disorders. I said that depression, highly specifically depression, is a cognitive distortion.
Now what is the difference between a mood disorder and a cognitive distortion?
Mood disorders exist when the changes in one's mood are not secondary. They are not derivative. They are not mediated via a cognitive distortion such as grandiosity or catastrophizing. When the changes in mood are autonomous, when the changes follow each other according to a rhythm which is biologically dictated, for example in bipolar disorder, or when there's no change in mood, the mood is totally stable and is not accompanied by any meaningful cognition, for example dysthymia.
These are mood disorders.
But when the change in mood follows a change in cognition, cognition that filters out, falsifies and refrains reality, counterfactually, an example of such cognitive distortion is grandiosity.
Another example is catastrophizing.
So when we have such cognitive distortions and then they are followed by changes in mood, then the changes in mood are reactive and secondary and they are not endogenous. They are in many respects exogenous in the sense that they are reacting to a factor external to themselves.
So this is the difference between mood disorders and cognitive distortions which yield mood disorders.
Cognitive distortions can yield many things. They can yield mood disorders, they can yield aggression, they can yield substance abuse disorders.
I mean cognitive distortions detach the individual from the world, divorce you from reality.
And when this happens, anything can happen, including changes in mood.
Okay, I hope I made it clear. And if I haven't, please let me know in the comments and maybe I will dedicate a video to this boring topic.
Before we proceed, I would recommend that you watch three previous videos that I've made.
The Narcissist Betrayal Fantasy, Painful Mummy Separation, The Narcissist pays a heavy price for the Betrayal Fantasy. It's another video.
And the third video is the Masochistic Covert Anti-Narcissist. Yes, there is such a video and there is such a suggested clinical subtype of narcissism, the anti-narcissist. Fascinating, very interesting video. I recommend that you watch it.
The narcissist, like every other living organism, experiences his internal landscape.
Now we don't know that about animals, but we do see reactivity in animals, which signifies that they do have an internal world.
The same with the narcissist, the same with any other human being. We have no access to anyone's mind. We can just observe behaviors and make deductions about what's happening inside what has caused these behaviors.
Same with the narcissist.
Narcissist is an inner landscape. Inside that internal landscape, many things are happening. Internal objects are dialoguing, talking to each other, ups and downs, vicissitudes or lability of moods, a bit of a dysregulated environment when grandiosity is challenged or narcissistic supply is deficient, mood changes, which are attendant upon narcissistic injuries and mortification, suicidal ideation from time to time. Many, many things are happening.
And very frequently, the narcissist mislabels these things. He attributes to them emotional labels and emotional content, which are wrong.
So the narcissist would label something as love when it's actually not love. It's a combination of dependency and coercion.
Similar process happens with the borderline. And I have a video here dedicated to how the borderline mislabels her emotions or his emotions, of course, 50% of all mood lability are men.
And for the continuation of this video, when I say he, you can add an S and it becomes a she, valid for both genders.
So the narcissist mislabels many things as love, especially within the shared fantasy, many, many processes, internal experiences, and even cognitions are mislabeled as love by the narcissist.
But actually the narcissist, so-called love, is sadho masochistic. It includes very distinct, very powerful, very fundamental, very profound, sadistic and masochistic elements.
Why is that?
Because in early childhood, as a child, as an infant, the narcissist has been conditioned to associate love, maternal love, with betrayal, absence, withdrawal, avoidance, hurt, and frustration.
So the narcissist's mother is likely to have been a not good enough mother or even a dead mother in the emotional sense, of course.
So, and I have again videos dedicated to the dead mother, the concept of the dead mother and Ray Green's concept.
So when the narcissist as a child is confronted with this ineluctable, constant oft repeated, linkage between love, because his mother professes to love him, his mother says, I love you.
So when the narcissist is faced as a child with this linkage between love and all these negative emotions, shame, fear, guilt, anger, the narcissist learns to associate love with negative affectivity.
Love is a negative thing. Love is about being hurt, getting hurt.
Now, of course, when you get hurt, even if you are 18 months old, when you get hurt, you become angry.
Betrayal, avoidance, withdrawal, absence, hurt, pain, all these yield lead to aggression.
The infant becomes aggressive, but it is illegitimate to be angry at mommy. It is even unsafe. If you rage at mother, she may abandon you. She may mistreat you. She may neglect you. And you may end up being a dead angry child because you will not have been fed. You will not have been sheltered. You will not have been attended to.
So being angry at mother at an early age is a risky, unwise and forbidden proposition.
So what happens to this aggression?
When the child, when the mother constantly hurts the child, ignores the child, abuses the child, uses the child, instrumentalizes, parentifies the child, what happens when child reacts with anger and rage at not being allowed to become himself or herself? And so what happens to this rage?
It's internalized because it cannot be directed at mommy.
The child redirects the anger at itself.
Anger and aggression, which are internalized, interiorized.
Anger and rejection, which are directed at the self rather than at others, deaths a great definition of depression. Depression is a form of self-directed aggression.
Self-directed aggression also leads to masochism, self-hatred, self-loathing.
The child feels helpless, hopeless. The child feels impotent. Even his anger adds to the child's predicament. The anger and the rage and the aggression, rather than modify mother's behavior, they add to the internal distress of the child because they become depressive.
It's a depressive, schizoid phase.
And so this kind of child becomes masochistic.
The child learns, the child who is abused and traumatized in early childhood, especially by the maternal figure, by mother or mother substitute, like a grandmother, whoever raises the child.
This kind of child grows up with two lessons in mind, and these lessons are ineradicable, immutable, they're lifelong, they characterize the narcissist until the day he dies.
They lead to an insecure attachment style, but more importantly, the two lessons are anyone who loves me would hurt me. The proof of love is pain inflicted. Someone who loves me is going to damage me, is going to break me, is going to attack me, is going to hurt me. Someone who loves me is going to hate me, be the lens.
Lesson number one. Lesson number two, I deserve all this. I deserve to be punished. I deserve to be damaged. I deserve to be broken. I deserve to be eradicated and demolished and annulled and vitiated and negated and hurt and abused. I deserve all this. I deserve all this because I'm a bad object. I'm unworthy of love.
How do I know that? My own mother did not love me.
So here is a narcissist. In his relationship, much later relationship in adulthood with an intimate partner, rather than engage in healthy object relations, the narcissist attempts to do two things.
One, he pushes his partner to abuse him because if the narcissist is not abused, when the narcissist is not mistreated, he doesn't feel loved.
In his mind, love equals pain. So he pushes his partner to hurt him.
At that moment, there is gratification because the narcissist's internal dialogue has been validated. I deserve all this. I deserve the pain.
So pain is gratified.
The narcissist, using projective identification, coerces his partner to lash out, to abuse, to hurt, to betray him, to punish him.
And that's a narcissist's betrayal fantasy. The narcissist needs to coerce the partner to hurt him within the fantasy framework role of her maternal reenactment. She is a mother.
To the narcissist, the intimate partner is another mother, not only another mother, but the mother. And so he needs to force her. He needs to coerce her. He needs to convince her to brainwash her, to entrain her, to persuade her, to cajole, anything it takes. He needs to make sure that she acts the maternal role, that she is the mother that he is used to.
The traitorous mother, the absent mother, the selfish mother, the depressive mother, the dead mother, he wants his partner to hurt him within the shared fantasy framework because of her role. And her role is to reenact his mother, his original mother.
Only by reenacting his early childhood does the narcissist stand a chance of resolving the ancient conflict and separating and individuating from mother.
The narcissist needs his intimate partner to emulate his original mother because he needs to time travel to the period where he has failed to separate from mommy and to become an individual.
If he finds a clone of mommy, a copy of mother, indistinguishable from the original, he stands a chance this time to get it right, to separate from mother, to become his own person, to acquire personhood.
And so the narcissist abuses his intimate partner as part and parcel of the project of projective identification and reaction formation. These are two primitive infantile defense mechanisms. I'm not going to them right now.
He uses abuse to force his partner to abuse him. He engenders in his partner reactive abuse. Only when his partner abuses him, is she a real mother? Is she recognizable as a mother? Only when she hurts him, does she fulfill her role faithfully? Only then does she create the preconditions and the conditions for ultimate separation and individuation.
So the narcissist's abusive misconduct, the narcissist sadism is ironically self punitive. It's anticipatory.
The narcissist abuses his intimate partner because he wants her to abuse him back. So his sadism is sadistic abuse and the narcissist's abuse is massively sadistic, thoroughly sadistic.
Narcissistic abuse is the most horrifying form of abuse I'm aware of. That's why I coined the phrase in the early 90s to describe a different kind of abuse, an abuse that annihilates and annulses the partner and abuse that kills the partner in effect.
So the narcissist's sadistic, narcissistic abuse is self punitive in the sense that the narcissist seeks to punish himself via the agency of his intimate partner. It's like committing suicide by a cop. You know, it's going to a cop and slapping the cop and trying to take his gun. Of course, the cop will shoot you and kill you. That is suicide by cop.
Same with the narcissist's self abuse by intimate partner, self destruction by intimate partner. So the narcissist's sadism is motivational. Wants to motivate his partner to behave in a highly channeled and specified way. He wants to mold and control his partner so as to make sure that her behavioral repertory is limited to his needs. And so his sadism, narcissist's sadism, is anticipatory. He anticipates the reactive abuse. He anticipates being abused by his intimate partner. When the narcissist abuses his partner narcissistically, when he inflicts narcissistic abuse on his partner, when he hurts her, when he pains her, when he puts her through agony and worse, he knows that he's pushing her to the limit. He knows he's going to be punished for this behavior one way or another. She's going to abandon him. She's going to lash out. She's going to go to the police. I don't know. She's going to punish him somehow. He knows that. And this is what he anticipates. He anticipates this with joy and gratification and glee. Narcissist's sadism is anticipatory. It engenders the very masochistic pleasure of being punished and agonized. And this is actually sadistic supply. That's why narcissists are not classical sadists, as I have said repeatedly in many videos. The narcissist is not a classical sadist. The classical sadist enjoys other people's pain, humiliation, and discomfort. So he triggers in them pain, humiliation, and discomfort. That's the classic sadist. The narcissist uses sadism to self-punish, to self-destruct, to self-defeat, to self-handicar, ultimately to self-annihilate. The narcissist's sadistic supply, the fact that the narcissist enjoys being a sadist is because he knows that punishment is on its way. He sadism is self-punitive. He enjoys and delights in being destroyed, in being punished.
So the narcissist's sadistic supply is camouflaged masochistic supply.
When he witnesses other people, his intimate partner especially, writhing in pain, falling apart, crying, destroyed, he is elated. He is elated not because she's in pain, not because she's falling apart, not because she's destroyed. Actually that makes him feel bad.
In many narcissists feel bad about this. They say to myself, "Oh my god, what have I done?" You know, or "I shouldn't have done it." Or, you know, they feel bad. They feel out of control.
No, the joy, the gratification, the happiness, the elation, because they know what's coming. What's coming is act two of this theater play. Act two where the narcissist is no more, is destroyed.
So the narcissist's sadistic supply is predicated upon and conditioned on the responsiveness of the intimate partner.
Narcissist forces the intimate partner to become an abuser and even sadistic. Evil, without conscience, without compunction, without compassion.
Narcissist pushes an intimate partner, his intimate partner, to become psychopathic, an animal, devoid of any empathy. When the partner refuses to fulfill this role, assigned to her by the narcissist, when she insists on her empathy, on her humanity, on her compassion, on her morality, when she insists in short to remain a good person, that frustrates the narcissist.
The intimate, the narcissist, the narcissist intimate partner, when she is compliant, when she is submissive, when she refuses to engage in her assigned role as the narcissist's scourge, as the narcissist's divinely metered punishment, when she won't be pushed by the narcissist to behave as a narcissist, when the narcissist can't make her lose her empathy and compassion for him, when the narcissist fails to somehow quench her love for him, when she doesn't become his hater, his enemy, the persecutory object in his mind, when she remains a good person, despite all the narcissist's efforts to convert her into a sadistic abuser, narcissist perceives this as the passive aggressive denial of his gratification.
I want you to understand this twisted logic.
The narcissist pushes you to become a sadistic abuser or an abusive sadist.
The narcissist wants you to punish him without empathy, without compunction, without remorse, without anything, compassion, nothing. The narcissist wants you to hate him.
The narcissist loves to be hated. They understand the language of hate. They understand only the language of rejection and avoidance and withdrawal and pain. They associate it with love. If you love me, hurt me. If you love me, punish me, says the narcissist.
And if you refuse to cause me pain, and if you refuse to penalize me, and if you want to participate in this game of mine, and you're denying me my happiness and my gratification, you are being passive aggressive. You are being unfriendly.
The narcissist, in order to separate from you and individuate, in order to reenact the early conflict with his mother of origin, the narcissist needs you to become his enemy. He needs to convert you in his mind to a persecutory object. And for you to become a persecutory object in the narcissist's mind, you need to persecute him.
And if you do not persecute him, if you do not hunt him down, if you do not attempt to take him down, if you don't hate him, if you don't punish him, if you have empathy and compassion for him, if your conscience is still in operation, if you avoid doing certain things because they are too much beyond the pale, if you don't become cruel and aggressive and sadistic, you are withholding. You're withholding what the narcissist needs from you. You're denying him his most essential psychological need and dynamic separating from you.
To devalue you, you must become evil in bed and an enemy in the narcissist's mind. Only then can he devalue you.
And then once he has devalued you, he is free to go. You're denying by remaining a good friend, a faithful spouse, a loving girlfriend, you're denying the narcissist his freedom. You're denying him his freedom. You're keeping him shackled, captured. You're enslaving him.
The narcissist's freedom consists in his ability to separate from you.
But how can he separate from you if you don't give him reasons to separate from you, if you don't play out the part in the script of the shared fantasy?
And so if you stay, if you remain a good person and you won't hurt the narcissist, if you don't seek the narcissist's destruction, ruination, something is wrong with you as far as the narcissist is concerned.
And this leads the narcissist to escalate his abusive sadism, to push the envelope, to cross every boundary, to exaggerate to the extreme, add extremes.
His abusive sadism knows no bounds and stops at nothing, it can become and very often does become very dangerous.
If you frustrate the narcissist's quest to shatter his life against your rock, you know, to crash his life against your rock. If you deny him this, if you frustrate him, if you're being passive aggressive in his eyes, if you're being punitive by not punishing him, you're not allowing him to separate, then you are a kidnapper. He's a hostage and so his hatred knows no bounds and he feels legitimized in seeking your destruction by any means possible, in killing you, not maybe figuratively, but not maybe literally, but figuratively, metaphorically.
Submissiveness, the intimate partner submissiveness and compliance and meekness and loving, caring attitude and compassion and empathy and understanding and acceptance, the bad.
The narcissist hates all this because it prevents you from regarding you as the enemy and then you cannot separate from. Submissiveness also leads to escalation in the narcissist's abuse and sadism because there's growing tolerance and desensitization. The abnormal becomes the new normal.
So both of you develop a habit.
As the narcissist abuses you sadistically, it becomes routine, it becomes accepted, it becomes nothing to write home about. You wake up in the morning, you're being shouted at after 10 years, you know, you're expecting to happen. It doesn't shout at you, something's wrong. You learn to adopt the narcissist's point of view that abuse is love.
At least he notices you, he pays attention to you.
So this desensitization, this tolerance, increasing tolerance, the bar is lifted higher or shall I say lower and lower, abysmally lower.
So at some point verbal aggression becomes physical aggression and physical aggression becomes life-threatening. This escalation knows no bounds as long as you don't put a stop to it and enforce firm communicable boundaries.
A reactively abusive partner or even an abusive partner, not reactively, just being just abusive, the predatory partner is perceived by the narcissist as a good enough mother. Topsy turvy, the world turned on its head.
The narcissist's ideal intimate partner is an abuser, a predator, a sadist, a hater.
The narcissist perceives these kind of partners as maternally loving and caring because that's the only model of a mother he has ever had. This is the modeling theory of Bandura at the University of Virginia.
The narcissist modeled himself on his mother and created an internal working model in a view of the world and a theory of mind, a theory of how what makes other people tick and how their minds operate.
So the narcissist generates these theories based initially on the only sample he has and the only sample he has is his mother and his mother has been anything but loving and caring but she communicated to him that this is love, this is care, abuses love.
Newspeak, George Orwell's 1984, abuses love. Punishment is caring, tough love. You know the concept?
So the narcissist seeks to recreate his mother in every new intimate partner and this is known as repetition compulsion.
He identifies a good, loving, caring, attentive mother in a partner who inflicts pain on him, hurts him, frustrates him, avoids him, withdraws, penalizes him, threatens him and acts on the threats of course.
This when the narcissist is in a couple with a partner, a partner, which is reminiscent of his original mother and therefore allows him to recreate the early childhood environment and to proceed to separation and individuation. This ameliorates the narcissist's abuse.
The narcissist is far less abusive towards partners who are abusive to him. He is far more abusive towards partners who are submissive, compliant or just loving and caring in the true sense of the word.
The narcissist's abuse is reduced, diminished when the narcissist's partner emulates his original mother, allows him to convert her in his mind into an enemy, a demon, a persecutory object and therefore conveniently to devalue her and separate from her. This is the kind of partner the narcissist wants. This is the kind of partner the narcissist needs. This is the kind of partner the shared fantasy is all about.
The narcissist is far less abusive with these kind of partners but at the same time he has a much heightened abandonment anxiety and infantile regressive dependency on masochistic supply. This kind of partner usually also cheats on the narcissist. She is unfaithful. She triangulates. She hurts him in many ways.
So the narcissist is terrified of losing her prematurely, prematurely before the separation in the idealization phase, the love bombing phase. The narcissist is terrified of losing her experiences, abandonment anxiety, becomes dependent as an infant is. So it's a kind of infantile regressive dependency.
Anne derives from her masochistic supply. He feels justly punished. He revels and celebrates his own self-destruction.
Narcissists enjoy the process of self-destruction because it validates everything they've learned about relationships, about maternal figures, about themselves and about the world. It makes them feel safe.
Self-destruction, self-punishment, self-punitive environments and situations make them feel safe. They know the ropes. This is their comfort zone.
Narcissist is in one of two states in the shared fantasy. Sadomasochistically gratified by a punitive mother figure, an intimate partner that is a punitive mother figure.
So then he is sadomasochistically gratified, satisfied, that situation number one, or sadomasochistically frustrated by a truly loving or mature partner.
So within the shared fantasy, shared fantasy is an instrument, is a tool. It is intended to secure separation and division. That's the only role of the shared fantasy.
So when the partner colludes and collaborates in this, when the partner becomes the enemy, when the partner becomes demonic, when the partner becomes punitive, hateful, when the partner becomes threatening, great. The shared fantasy is working, devaluation sits in, and separation becomes possible. When the partner on the other hand is submissive and compliant and meek and loving and caring and so on so forth, there's no way to convert the intimate partner effectively into a persecatory object. It's a very contorted process in any case, and then separation and division becomes impossible. The whole shared fantasy collapses.
So these are the two situations, two outcomes of the shared fantasy.
The first outcome, ironically, when the intimate partner is hateful and punitive and threatening and colludes with the narcissist in separation, individuation, in that outcome, this leads, this outcome leads to attachment. The narcissist becomes attached to this partner in the idealization phase and even in the devaluation phase. She is, she guarantees his ability to separate and become an individual. Of course, she's the most important person in his life.
And then he emotionally invests in her. He is affected. There is a cathexis. He gets attached to her because she's like mommy and he is emotionally invested to her, is basically committed, and he develops dependency. And then he attempts separation, individuation from the maternal figure via devaluation and discard. And very frequently, if there's no modification involved, he tries to hoover this kind of partner in the future.
The second outcome, when the intimate partner refuses to collaborate with the narcissist, refuses to become the enemy, refuses to persecute the narcissist and threaten the narcissist and, you know, refuses to be the democles sword above the narcissist's head. This kind of partner leads to sadistic and coercive narcissistic abuse and a power play.
The narcissist must have his way with the intimate partner or annihilate her as a frustrating object. Either she collaborates or she's dead. These are the two options.
So when the intimate partner is punitive and abusive and collaborates with the narcissist in order to yield separation, when she makes it easy for the narcissist to devalue her and consider her as an enemy and a hate object, the narcissist gets attached to this partner, emotionally invests in her, affects her, becomes dependent on.
When the partner is truly loving and good and empathic, the narcissist hates her guts because she frustrates him. So he enhances and increases and amplifies and magnifies his coercion, his abuse, his sadism. It becomes a power play. He's going to break her. He's going to domesticate her. He's going to tame her. He's going to make her what he wants her to be, his enemy. He's going to have his way.
And if she wants to come and if she wants to transform and if she won't collaborate and collude, narcissist is going to destroy her. He's going to ruin her. He's going to annihilate her. He's going to kill her metaphorically or in rare cases, figuratively.
She is a frustrating object. She must be doing this on purpose. She's passive, aggressive.
This she hates him. She doesn't love him. Her love is masqueraded hate because that she loved him truly. She would have abused him and she loved him truly. She would have caused him pain. She would have punished him the way his original mother did. Had she loved him truly, she would have given him his freedom to separate from her, to individuate from her.
No, she doesn't do any of these things through her fake love and caring, through her feigned empathy and compassion. She keeps him hostage. She keeps him. She makes him. She takes away his independence and autonomy and agency. She's a kidnapper and so he hates her.
The narcissist loves those who hate him and hates those who love him because the narcissist strives and prospers and flourishes in an environment that is replete with and suffused with hatred, rejection, threat and avoidance.
The narcissist is an absence. There's nobody there and of course he resonates best with another absence. When you try to be there for him, you're threatening his essence. And he hates your guts forever.