This is a battle of will powers. Are you going to stare me down or am I going to stare you down? That's unfair. I need my next fix of narcissistic supply. I give in. I give up. I give it all. Please, please give me narcissistic supply. I told you narcissistic junkies. You didn't believe me, but I'm an authority on this topic because my name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author. I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, and also for the past 11 years, I'm a professor of psychology in a variety of academic institutions whose students are long suffering. The topic of today's video is the difference between object constancy and a new concept that I've introduced, introject constancy.
People are very confused, as is normally the case when there's a new concept. Novelty is disorienting. It forces you to rethink and reframe things.
So introject constancy could be puzzling.
So what I will try to do in this video, I will try to give you the tools to tell apart people who engage in object constancy, for example, people with borderline personality disorder and people who engage in introject constancy, for example, people with narcissistic personality disorder.
But of course, it all starts with Freud. What else? Sigmund Freud was the first to suggest that people internalize external objects. They come across other people. People in psychology, they're called objects, which owes you what psychology is.
OK, Shoshani. So Freud said when you come across other people, when you come across objects, you tend to internalize them. He called this process identification. Introjection is a much later word. And what I would like to do today, I'd like to start by discussing the historical concept of identification. Now to remove doubt before we proceed, I am not an adherent of any specific school in psychology. I believe that all schools in psychology offer fascinating insights. Those of you who have had the temerity and the perseverance, look it up, to go through my 1000 plus videos, know that I survey and analyze and refer to all the schools of psychology. I have videos about the internal family system. I have videos about transactional analysis. I have videos about behaviorism. I'm an equal opportunity abuser. So all schools of psychology are welcome. But I found it useful when I deal with specific topics in narcissism. I found it useful to constantly refer to psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic schools and object relations schools. And the reason is that these schools, including ego psychology and so on, these schools were the ones which have dealt mostly with narcissism. Narcissism is a topic first described by Ellis and then expounded upon by Freud and others. And narcissism was a core feature of many of these theories, including many object relations theories. Melanie Klein's theories, I mean, they all revolved around narcissism. So it is impossible to discuss narcissism intelligently without a thorough acquaintance with these theories. Regrettably, many current scholars, so to speak, of narcissism, people who conduct experiments, experimental psychologists, and so on, so forth, they don't have a clue about the origin of the concept, about the history of the concept, about various schools of thought, and so on and so forth. It's a set testimony to the state of psychology, which has been reduced into irreplicable studies. Psychology attempts desperately to become a science. It's a form of grandiosity, of course. It's sort of science. It's a pseudoscience, but it attempts to become a science. So psychologists use statistics and they survey populations and they design samples and so on and so forth, all in the desperate attempt to appear to be physicists, which they are not and never will be. I know, because I am one, a physicist. Okay, Shoshan Nim, back to Freud.
Sigmund Freud came up with the idea, the process of identification, and what I would like to do rather than describe this process in my own words, I would like simply to read to you sections or segments from the entry on identification in this Encyclopedia. A wonderful masterpiece, Tom, which sums up psychoanalysis in its totality, highly recommended.
Rutledge, Rutledge is the publisher.
So I'm going to read to you parts, segments, sections, excerpts from the entry in this encyclopedia on identification.
In Morning and Melancholia, published in 1917, but written in 1915, Freud considers identification from three perspectives.
One, as a defense against narcissistic injury.
Two, as a developmental process, the way the ego grows.
Number three, is a type of regression from object love to secondary narcissism.
And that's exactly what I'm saying, by the way. What I'm saying is the narcissist regresses from the external object to an internal object. And this is the process of identification, which Freud described.
Freud viewed Melancholia as a response to the loss of an ambivalently loved object.
Such losses occur not only because of death, but because of all sorts of interactions that result in narcissistic injury.
For example, feeling slighted, neglected, or disappointed by the loved object.
These are common ways in which ambivalence is reinforced or inflamed.
So Freud connects identification with loved objects.
And more specifically, he connects the process of identification with some kind of narcissistic injury inflicted by the loved object.
And what he implies is that it creates a regression, creates a withdrawal from the loved object, from the outside, from an external object inwardly, which is precisely what I'm saying, as well in his footsteps.
But Freud also continued to develop his perception, his concept of identification, and suggest that it is the main process, the main mechanism by which people form an ego.
I fully agree. That's why I keep saying in many of my videos, these have no ego. They are selfless, ironically. They don't have a constellated, integrated self. And more importantly, they don't have what Freud called an ego, because ego is superego.
These are metaphors. They don't really exist. These are not real entities. But they are good parables. They are good allegories or analogies, which allow us to understand how the human mind functions.
So the ego, I dedicated a few videos to the issue of what is an ego? How does it function? What does it do? What are ego functions? What happens to the narcissist?
Because he doesn't, he fails to develop an ego.
I have various videos, several videos about all these topics. I encourage you to use the search function on my YouTube channel to find them and to watch them if the topic is of interest to you.
It was Freud who suggested that internalizing external objects is how the ego forms, is how it develops.
Because the narcissist is incapable of recognizing the existence of an internal object, sorry, because the narcissist is incapable of recognizing the existence of external objects and limits himself only to internal objects, he fails to develop an ego.
That's my contribution, not Freud's.
Let's go back to Freud.
Freud said, when an object tie, when a connection to an object is ruptured because of hurt, disappointment, or actual loss, the libido, the emotional energy of life energy, sexual energy, the libido that had been invested in the lost object is withdrawn into the ego rather than simply being displaced onto a new object.
So what Freud is saying is an effect when you lose a love object, when you lose, when you lose her because she died, or you lose her because she stopped loving you or you lose her because she rejected you, whatever the reason may be, you experience a narcissistic injury, and then you take back.
Remember my previous videos where I describe the process with a snapshot? So Freud says, you take back the energy that you had invested in this love object and you put it back in the ego. You don't take this energy and redirect it at another love object, but first you take it back from the love object that had rejected you or had died. You take it back, you put it in the ego.
This, I continue from the encyclopedia, this establishes an identification of the ego with the abundant object.
Freud wrote in 1917, thus the shadow of the object fell upon the ego. It's a haunting, beautiful phrase.
Freud was an author. He should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was actually an author.
I will read to you this spine tingling and blood curling sentence.
He says, when you lose a love object, you withdraw the emotional energy because initially you put a lot of energy into the love object, obviously.
So when you lose the love object, you take this energy back and you put it in the ego, but the energy that you take back from the lost object brings with it a memory trace of the object, a shadow of the object.
And he says, thus the shadow of the object fell upon the ego.
And the ego, the encyclopedia continues to say, the ego is now critically judged as if it were the forsaken object.
So when you take the energy from the lost love object and you put it back inside your ego, your ego becomes the lost love object.
You are angry at the love object for having failed you, betrayed you and disappointed that you, so you become angry at the ego because now the ego has become the lost love object.
It's an amazing, amazing aerobics of the mind, so to speak.
So the encyclopedia continues to say, in this manner, the object is given up, but the conflictual object relation is maintained internally through narcissistic identification.
When you take the energy away from the love, lost love object, you put it in the ego, the object is gone, but your relationship with the object, a relationship of pain, of conflict, of hurt, of narcissistic injury, of resentment, of anger, all these are internalized.
They are now in the ego through this process called narcissistic identification.
This continues the encyclopedia to say this allows sadism and hatred for the lost object to be turned round upon the self, hence the melancholic's lowered self regard and feelings of worthlessness.
But Freud went way beyond narcissistic identification. In fact, in projection, he went way beyond that.
And in a minute, I will tie all this in with my work, but first I want to give you the background.
Freud continued to say that the ego is built of accumulated identifications with abandoned and lost objects.
Again, a pretty revolutionary and stunning sentence.
The ego is built of accumulated identifications with abandoned and lost objects.
The encyclopedia says Freud extends this idea in the ego and the id, where he broadens his notion of the process of ego development to encompass character formation.
And there he says, I'm quoting, the character of the ego is a precipitate of abandoned object cathexes.
Actually, he doesn't use the word cathexes. He uses the word bisetsu, bisetsu.
But bisetsu is, I would say, occupation with, to be occupied with.
Okay, so I repeat this sentence. The character of the ego, says Freud, is a precipitate of abandoned object cathexes.
Abandoned investments, emotional investments in objects. Exactly what I'm saying. What I'm saying in my work is that the snapshots with the emotional investment attendant on the snapshot with the cathexes remains. Even when the narcissist loses his intimate partner, the snapshot of the intimate partner with the emotional investment in the snapshot with the cathexes remain in the narcissist's mind and compel him to over you.
This is what I've been saying in a minute. We'll talk about the differences between my work and other people's work, including Freud's, when it comes to interjection and objects and so on and so forth.
But you are beginning to see the roots of my thinking. It's grounded in a long historical tradition of work and scholarship regarding narcissism.
So what Freud is saying is that the ego contains the history of those object choices. He wrote this in 1923.
In this respect, says the Encyclopedia, the ego can be viewed as a palimpsest or an embodiment of personal history. A palimpsest is a piece of parchment where scribes were writing something and then they were erasing the writing and they were writing something new and they were erasing and writing something new. So you have layers and layers and layers of previous deleted or erased writings on top of each other. That's a palimpsest.
What Freud is trying to say is that the ego is an exercise in archaeology. There are layers and layers and layers of previous object relations, previous relationships with lost, abandoned, broken, damaged, dead objects and the emotional investment in all these forlorn and doomed projects.
He says that the ego is 100%, 100% the consequence of object relations. If the person is incapable of having object relations, which the narcissist is not capable of, then he has no ego.
Now, these preceding object relations theories by decades. That's why Freud is Freud. He was a genius. He was an erratic genius. He changes mind very often. He never pursued any line of thinking or any line of questioning to its logical conclusion. He was all over the place, so to speak, but an amazing genius. He was a bit like Leonardo da Vinci, never accomplished anything specific, but mapped the entire territory.
And so he was Freud long before Hitler even, who first suggested that the ego is an agglomeration and accumulation of the history, memory and emotions attendant upon previous relationships, now long defunct and long gone.
And so I would like to continue to read to you from the Encyclopedia.
Freud maintained that identification is developed mentally prior to object love. And that is my view as well. I'm saying actually that narcissists are stuck in the phase of identification or more precisely interjection.
Interjection is a form of identification. Narcissists are stuck at the stage of identification. They were never never able to progress to object love because they were not allowed to separate and individually.
That's precisely my claim as well.
So Freud maintained that identification is developmentally prior to object love, minibrain.
Along the lines sketched by Carl Abraham before him and Melanie Klein after him, Freud saw the early ego as cannibalistic. Its first objects are incorporated, devoured in primal operations of attachment and appropriation that aim to move aspects of the external object across the self, not self, memory.
Now this is a very convoluted way of saying that initially when we are babies, we appropriate objects. We consume them. We digest them. We assimilate them and we merge and fuse with them. We move them across the self, not self, boundary. They become self. We are cannibals. We cannibalize everyone around us, starting with mother.
The narcissist remains stuck in this phase. He never progresses beyond this. He remains cannibalistic. He devishes and appropriates and expropriates everyone around him. He renders them internal objects, but he's unable to integrate these internal objects. So they remain scattered all over the place. It's your organization personality. You remember it's chaotic, very similar to the borderline.
And so early identifications continue in the Encyclopedia, the Freud Encyclopedia.
Early identifications therefore have the distinctive coloring of oral sadism.
By the way, Fairburn said the same in 1952. Fairburn used the primary identification to denote the early ego's devouring.
All object relations people, Winnicott included, for example, in 1958, they all agreed with Freud about this.
So as I said, Fairburn suggested that primary identification is a process of devouring. Winnicott called the early ego ruthless. Winnicott said that the ego is ruthless because it has a style of attachment before there is a self and before there is an object.
In other words, the primary primordial ego cannot tell the difference between self and object. So it devours, it's ruthless, it's cruel and sadistic. It is only later, says the Encyclopedia, once some ego growth had occurred, that it becomes possible for objects to be loved in a way that recognizes their separateness.
And this is when the narcissist fails. He has no ego, unable to recognize the separateness of other people.
The Encyclopedia continues.
In Freud's view, the psychopathology of melancholia involves a regression from object love to narcissistic identification to this devouring ego.
The lost, ambivalently affected object and the ego have become one. The lost object, for example, the lost love, the lost mother, the lost friend, they become one with ego.
In the language of libido theory, object libido has been transformed into narcissistic libido.
This represents the reverse of what Freud saw as the normal developmental progression from primal identification to object love.
Freud did not clearly distinguish among identification, introjection and internalization.
Subsequent theories such as Sandler and Rosenblatt in 1962, Schaeffer in 1968 and LeVay in 1973 have clarified these interrelated terms.
These authors have amplified Freud's notion of identification as a basic internalizing process leading to ego change and growth.
Now, where do I come in and what am I kind of innovating?
I suggest that cathexis is possible, not only in an external object as Freud and all the others are saying.
Freud and everyone else are saying that cathexis, emotional investment, emotional energy is possible only in an external object.
It could be a love object, it could be a frustrating object, but whatever the case may be, it has to be external. It has to be clearly demarcated and differentiated and distinguished from the self and I'm saying that's not true.
I'm suggesting that cathexis can be inwardly directed not only at an external object but at internal objects.
Now, Freud and many others came close to this. They said that it's possible to invest emotional energy in the self and they call this narcissism. Narcissism is cathexis of the self but I'm saying something completely different.
I'm saying that the self is only one internal object of many and that there is actually more than one's self. I call them self states.
Moreover, I'm suggesting that it's possible to be emotionally invested in internal objects which are not the self.
For example, it's possible to be emotionally invested in internal objects that represent external love objects.
Freud came again very close to this. He said that when you lose a love object, this emotional energy invested in the love object comes back to the ego.
So the ego is a kind of internal object but it's not far enough. It's not correct enough. It's hesitant and it's partly wrong.
There is a constant flow of emotional energy across the barrier between self and not self and this constant flow imbues with emotional energy.
Objects out there and objects in here. Some of the objects in here, the internal objects, represent several states of the self. Some of them represent other people. Some external objects are meaningful. They are love object or significant others. Some are not but in all cases there is a constant to and fro, constant back and forth, constant flow of emotional energy between introjects, representations of people and people and the real people out there.
In the case of the narcissist, this flow is disrupted. The narcissist confuses external objects with internal objects, so all his emotional energy goes inwards, because he can't tell the difference, and because external objects are frustrating and painful and perceived as dangerous, they provoke anxiety.
So there is a natural preference for the narcissist to invest in internal objects because they're stable and safe and will never abandon him. And because there is no difference in the narcissist's mind between external and internal, he ends up investing all his emotional energy in internal objects.
That's where my work represents a major departure from all known schools of object relations and psychoanalytic psychology and ego psychology and so on and so forth. I call this introject libido and I call the desperate attempt to affect the internal objects introject constancy.
There's a need for introject constancy. There's a pursuit of introject constancy by suffusing the introjects with emotional energy, with cathexis.
This way the introjects are stabilized with this energy. They are stabilized.
The introject libido, which is this energy, is a way of securing or reassuring the narcissist that the introjects will not transmute. They will not vanish. They will not betray him from the inside. It's a kind of insurance policy.
So the introject libido, because in the case of the narcissist, there's only introject libido. There's no classic libido, object libido. There's only introject libido. We can safely say that the introject libido is what Freud called the narcissistic libido, and that introject cathexis, cathecting the introject, is what Freud called identification, and I call interjection.
In other words, there is a merger, a merger with Freud's work and many, many later scholars, where I actually propose a unified principle which explains multiple phenomena, mental health phenomena, on a single principle. It's called parsimony in science.
And so the second principle is libido can go out to external objects, libido can go in to numerous types of internal objects.
When the person is capable only of introject libido, only of internalized libido, that person has only narcissistic libido.
In other words, that person is a narcissist.
Introjects, in the case of narcissism, are never integrated. They require separate maintenance, separate emotional investment, which is why the narcissist is constantly depleted.
And it's also the reason that the narcissist reacts disproportionately to any deviation or divergence from the introject.
When you, as the intimate partner, behave in ways which contradict the introject, challenge the introject, undermine the introject, the narcissist goes haywire. He loses it. In a way, he acts out. The threat to the introject is a threat to the only kind of libido the narcissist has.
Introject or narcissistic libido.
Now libido, may I remind you, it's not about sex. Libido is the force of life. Eros is the sex drive, not libido.
It's a common mistake. Libido is the force of life. Deprived of the force of life, the narcissist becomes addicted to the force of death, Thanatos.
He develops this too though.
So when you, as the intimate part, become agentic, become autonomous, become independent, at that point you begin to divergent, deviate from the internal object, from the introject, and you threaten the narcissist's life because you're taking away his ability to invest libido.
Because he has only one type of libido, introject libido, narcissistic libido, and he needs to invest it in a stable, safe, self-immutable object. You're challenging the object. You're challenging the narcissist's libido, his force of life. You're pushing him to die in effect.
He has no ability to stabilize and integrate the introject with introjects if they are constantly challenged from the outside by you. You become the enemy. You become an internal object known as the secretary object.
The narcissist identifies with the with the introjects. Narcissist is the introjects. There's nothing else there. The narcissist has nothing else. He has no access toreality, no interaction, meaningful interaction with others, no ability to love, no access to positive emotions, no empathy, nothing, nothing. All he has is his para-cosm, his internal world of fantasy, his inner landscape populated by numerous internal objects.
So he identifies with the introjects. He does not, contrary to what Freud has said, he does not identify with the lost object. When the object is lost, all that happens to the narcissist is a big zero because the narcissist continues to interact with the introject which represents the lost object and that introject doesn't change. That introject does not abandon him.
The narcissist identifies with your representation in his mind. You could do whatever you want. It doesn't matter because he is never into you. He never interacts with you. He interacts with your image in his mind and it's usually idealized or devalued, never realistic.
So the narcissist doesn't care about the lost object. He affects the introject, not the love object. His emotional energy never went out to the love object. It went in to the introject.
So narcissists have no ego. They have no object relations. They have no lost objects. They have interjected libido, also known as narcissistic libido, and they are the constellation of their introjects which are never integrated.
Again, it's a low level of organization. The narcissist is more like a galaxy or a cloud.
Most healthy people are like stars. They're like stars or like planets. The narcissist is all over the place.
There's a black hole in the middle like in every galaxy. There's a supermassive black hole in the middle and there are spirals and spirals of introjects circling this black hole, never integrated, most of them not interacting with each other. All of them cathected with energy. All of them invested with introject libido or narcissistic libido.
Whenever someone tries to challenge the superstructure, the narcissist becomes very defensive. He devalues, he discards, and so on. Of course, the first time this has happened to the narcissist was with his mother who would not allow him to separate an individual.
His mother, in effect, forced him to develop introject constancy. He couldn't develop object constancy with her because she did not act as an external object. She subsumed the narcissist. She ignored the narcissist. She wasn't there as an external object. He was forced to withdraw into his own mind as a child to develop introject constancy.
The first conflict of this kind happened with his mother, and he's trying to recreate this conflict with future potential partners.
But I've dealt with this in multiple videos, and so I won't go into all this again. I hope I've finally succeeded to clarify the difference between object constancy and introject constancy and why the narcissist is a special case and where Freud and most of all othersactuallydidn't go far enough because they insisted, counterfactually, on a cathexis, emotional investment only in external objects. That's wrong.
Thank you very much for listening.