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Why You Mourn Breakup with Narcissist? (Dual Mothership)

Uploaded 4/2/2023, approx. 4 minute read

What is the dual mothership concept in the Narcissist's shared fantasy?

It's a principle that I have suggested about three years ago.

Shared fantasy is a concept first developed by Sander in 1989. And I took it and ran with it and applied it to Narcissistically abusive relationships.

But it still couldn't explain the prolonged grief that was involved in these kind of relationships.

So I came up with a dual mothership concept.

And rather than devolve into a very long presentation, I'm going to make it very brief. And I'm going to quote someone I greatly admire, myself, Sam Vaknin, the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism, or Revisited. And here's what I said a few years ago.

The dual mothership concept, the Narcissist becomes your idealizing mother. The Narcissist offers you unconditional love the way a mother does or should have.

You become the Narcissist idealizing mother as well. And this process is known as co-idealization.

So you become the Narcissist idealizing mother and you offer him unconditional love.

So what you're doing is you're idealizing each other and you're swapping unconditional love, thereby giving each other the chance for a second childhood with a good enough or even perfect mother.

This is irresistible because it allows you to experience self-love. You're exposed to an idealized image of yourself. And this idealized image is perfect. It's flawless.

So it's easy to fall in love withand you fall in love with yourself. So both parties, the Narcissist and his intimate partner, experience self-love, which is not real because they don't love themselves. They love the idealized images.

Okay, so here you are offering each other motherhood, offering each other unconditional love, offering each other an idealized image via the other's gaze.

And this is the core of the dual mothership exchange or dual mothership principle, which is in operation in the Narcissist's shared fantasy.

So when you break up, there is triple mourning, triple grieving, a process of grieving involving three losses, not one, actually many more, but at least three.

A loss, loss number one, your idealized self, loss number two, you've lost the Narcissist as your mother. And loss number three, you've lost the Narcissist as your child.

You feel guilt and shame for having abandoned your child. You feel heartbroken, destitute and terrified for having been abandoned by your mother.

And you have an inability to love yourself. Your self-love is disabled or deactivated because the idealized image of you has been taken away from you when you break up with the Narcissist.

So it's a process of triple grieving.

And that's why when you break up with the Narcissist, there is usually prolonged grief syndrome. It takes a long time for you to overcome the mourning and the grief.

Of course, additionally, you are grieving for other losses. What could have been between you? Fantastic narrative. How things might have turned out, your hopes and dreams, etc.

These elements of grieving are typical to any breakup.

But with a Narcissist, there are three elements of grieving, which are the direct outcomes and unique consequences of the dual mothership principle at play.

Because the Narcissist is your mother, you grieve over having lost your mother.

Because you are the Narcissist's mother, you grieve over having lost your child.

Because you idealize each other, you grieve over having lost access to this idealized image of you that you grew to love or to self-love.

[BLANK_AUDIO].

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Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
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