Hello everyone and today we have some back in here today with us and the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, hello Sam. Hello, thank you for having me again. Thank you so much because I know that you are busy and yeah so thank you so much.
Today I would love to speak with you about mortification and my first question will be what is mortification about because it's a difficult topic and not so many people understand what is it and you know.
Yes, unfortunately the leading videos on narcissistic mortification, which were made in the past few weeks are very misleading. So when you go on YouTube and you type narcissistic mortification you get videos from self-styled experts that are completely wrong. They confuse narcissistic mortification with narcissistic injury, narcissistic wound and narcissistic scar.
So I suggest to start by defining what is injury, wound and scar and then we can go on to discuss narcissistic mortification and then you will see the huge difference between injury, narcissistic injury and narcissistic mortification.
I'm again warning that the only credible sources for information about narcissistic mortification in this particular case happen to be on my channel because I have four videos based on the literature on the scholarly literature, the academic literature. All other videos regrettably are confused completely narcissistic injury and narcissistic mortification. So you should be very careful what you're watching and what you believe once you're watching.
Let's start with definitions.
Narcissistic injury and I'm reading is an occasional or circumstantial threat real or imagined to the narcissist grandiose and fantastic self-perception, the false self, as perfect, omnipotent, omniscient and entitled to special treatment and recognition regardless of actual accomplishments.
So any threat to this self-perception, this inflated grandiose self-view is narcissistic injury. Narcissistic wound is a repeated or recurrent identical or similar threat.
In other words, narcissistic wound is simply narcissistic injury that keeps repeating itself. So if you have the same injury time and again for example from the same person or in the same environment or owing to the same circumstances, if the injury repeat itself it becomes a wound.
And then there is narcissistic scar. Narcissistic scar is a psychological defense against a narcissistic wound. The defense is intended to sustain and preserve the narcissist's grandiose and fantastic self-perception, his false self.
So these are the three things.
Mortification has nothing to do with narcissistic injury or narcissistic wound. Absolutely nothing. It's a totally different dynamic with totally different outcomes for totally different reasons.
The etiopathology, the etiology, the causation of mortification is very different. The whole process is very different and it's a great misfortune that people online are confusing to do.
So now if you want we can discuss narcissistic mortification.
Yes please. Okay we start with phenomenology.
How does it look? How does mortification look?
Mortification happens only when there is someone, a human being, who aggresses against a narcissist, becomes aggressive with the narcissist, shouts at the narcissist, humiliates the narcissist, attacks the narcissist physically, verbally, psychologically in any way.
So there must be an aggressor.
Condition number one. Condition number two. It must be in public, not privately.
Mortification never happens privately. Only in public.
And not only any public but a public that matters to the narcissist.
For example, his colleagues or his peers or people he admires, role models and so on.
So that's the second condition. Public.
The third condition. It must be sudden, unexpected, unpredictable, abrupt. So that the narcissist is not preparing himself but it's like a thunder and he's shocked completely and is without defenses.
That is the third condition.
Now if these three conditions are met, an aggressive person, person who aggresses against a narcissist suddenly in public, the narcissist reacts with narcissistic mortification.
Narcissistic mortification involves shame, humiliation, trauma, real trauma, not mini trauma, severe trauma, depression, anxiety and all these attack happen to the narcissist at the same moment. So he is utterly overwhelmed and flooded.
And this is of course a borderline condition. This is emotional dysregulation.
What mortification does to the narcissist. It strips away the defenses, the narcissistic defenses like the false self.
And then what is left is actually a borderline. Someone with borderline personality organization for borderline defenses.
At that moment the narcissist realizes the limitations and defects of his true self. In other words, the false self is disabled, deactivated.
We call this process decompensation.
There is no false self separating the narcissist from the world.
So reality impinges on the narcissist, touches the narcissist directly, without a firewall, without protection, without mediation. It's very direct.
And then the narcissist feels how defective he is, how limited he is, how what a failure is, what a loser, how inadequate he is. In other words, the narcissist gets in touch or becomes aware of his internal bad object.
This is how it looks.
Now the minute this happens, when the defenses are done, some really really terrifying things begin to happen to the narcissist.
I want you to understand that all this takes place within five minutes. Mortification is not a process. It's not a process.
Okay. So how is this process unfolds when this, you know, when NPD sees himself or herself, right, without filter, without false self?
At that moment, when the false self is disabled, the narcissist is no longer able to confuse external objects with internal objects.
Remember that in Pathological Narcissism there is a confusion between external objects and internal objects. A narcissist internalizes external objects and then he feels that he is in control.
Because internal objects can be controlled. They never abandon the narcissist. They never humiliate the narcissist.
So the narcissist prefers to be in touch with internal objects, objects that represent external objects.
So if the narcissist is in touch with you, if he is in an intimate relationship with you, even if he is your friend or even if he is your colleague, he's going to create a snapshot of you, a photograph of you. And he is going to internalize it. He is going to introject it and he's going to continue to interact with the photograph. Not with you, never with you.
This is a defense because that way the narcissist feels superior and safe. The object is inside his mind so he is the boss.
But mortification destroys this mechanism. So the narcissist no longer is able to internalize you. You become a truly external object which is out of control.
And so the narcissist is in a state of terror, horror, disorientation. The false self is destroyed and all the external objects invade, invade the narcissist's mind like Russia invaded Ukraine. All the external objects that the narcissist kept out, suddenly they intrude, they penetrate the narcissist's mind and the narcissist is totally at a loss what to do. He feels hopeless. He feels like there's no alternatives. He feels helpless and above all he feels that he has lost control over his own world, over his internal world and the external world.
So he is no longer God. He is no longer perfect because God controls everything.
And so the mortification disables the false self. The external objects invaded the narcissist's mind. He became aware of the external objects. He lost control and that means that he is not perfect. He is not God like.
So huge shame and huge humiliation that he is not God.
Because the narcissist defenses, I'm God, I know everything, I'm powerful. These are defenses against shame, against inferiority.
And so he doesn't have these defenses anymore and he literally disintegrates. He falls apart. He becomes paralyzed, disabled, depressed, anxious and absolutely suicidal.
Mortification leads to two effects that are rare in narcissism.
Number one, self-awareness. Self-awareness of the bad object, limitations, defects, inabilities, inadequacies, deficiencies, deficits. This is new to the narcissist. This is shocking and it comes as a river. It cannot stop it.
Because the false self is disabled. And the second thing is intrusion of external objects terrifies the narcissist so much and that when it is coupled with his shame over not being God anymore, he wants to die. There's a very powerful suicidal ideation. Again, it's a borderline condition. Again, this is actually a borderline state. Mortification is regression of the narcissist back to borderline condition.
Grozstein, who was a famous psychoanalyst, Grozstein said that narcissism is a borderline. I'm sorry, borderline is failed narcissism. The borderline wants to be a narcissist as a child, but she fails and she remains a borderline.
The narcissistic child succeeds to become a narcissist, but mortification pushes the narcissist back in time to very early childhood when he was still borderline before he became narcissist.
Because all the defenses are gone and he becomes borderline. He's suicidal, he wants to mutilate himself, he's full of shame, humiliation, he's terrified of external objects, he has abandonment anxiety, he becomes exactly borderline.
But the borderline is used to be borderline. You know, she has experience. She developed defenses, she develops routines, procedures, she manages to survive with her disorder. The narcissist doesn't have experience how to be a borderline.
So when the narcissist is suddenly overwhelmed and flooded with a borderline condition, narcissist develops major depression and extreme suicidal ideation. Very dangerous condition for the narcissist. He also becomes self-aware.
So if there is therapeutic intervention, this is the time, mortification is the time for therapy actually.
Now Libby, which is one of the great scholars of narcissistic mortification, she described two types of narcissists, what she called the deflated narcissist. Today we call it covert narcissism. The deflated narcissist and the inflated narcissist. Today we call them covert and overt.
So she said that when the mortification happens, there is an initial phase of paralysis. The narcissist is paralyzed, he's so shocked. All the experiences in mortification are totally new to the narcissist.
For example, direct contact with external objects. He doesn't know how to do this. Finally being in touch with emotions. He doesn't know how to deal with emotions. The bad object takes over. His grandiosity is incapacitated. He doesn't know how to deal with all this.
There's no fantasy defense. There's no cognitive distortion. I mean he would rather die. It's so shame shaming, humiliating, depressing and above all terrorizing that he wants to die.
That phase lasts anywhere from days to weeks. That's a very dangerous period if there's no therapy.
Following this phase, the narcissist tries to rebuild his narcissistic defenses and Libby describes a process which she calls internal to external mortification. And this is a very interesting process.
The narcissist, remember, is not grandiose now. The narcissist's mortification disabled the grandiose. The narcissist has been humiliated publicly, shamed publicly, but an aggressive person. So he cannot be grandiose.
So the narcissist tries to rebuild his grandiose. How does he do that? By lying to himself, of course. That's what narcissists do. So he lies to himself. He says, "This person who wronged me, this person who humiliated me, this person who shamed me, he did all this because I made him do it. I made him do it. She cheated on me in public with someone because I pushed her to cheat on me. He humiliated me in public because I provoked him.
So the narcissist lies to himself that the aggression that he had experienced was because of his behavior, or actually because of his misbehavior.
He says to himself, "Yeah, people humiliated me, people shamed me, people attacked me, people aggressed against me, people were bad to me, evil even, but all of this because I made them behave this way. I controlled their behavior.
So because I controlled their behavior, it means that I am God, I'm again God. They were my puppets. They were just my puppets and I was the puppet master. I was playing with their strings." So he is lying to himself. This is called "Autoplastic defense." Autoplastic defense says, "I'm guilty. I'm responsible. I'm to blame. I made all this happen. I was in charge. I was in control and even I'm evil. I did it because I'm evil."
And then the narcissist restores his sense of control and sense of grandiosity because all these people who misbehaved, humiliated him, mocked him, laughed at him, attacked him, criticized him, disagreed with him. All these people, they did all these things because he told them to do it. He was in charge.
So this is called internal defense. Libby's term is internal modification.
But then at some point, the narcissist, if the narcissist keeps saying, "I'm the bad guy. I'm the bad guy. I'm evil. I push them to do it. I push this woman to cheat on me. I push this man to criticize me. I push the other man to beat me up. I push them to do it in public. I provoke them. I attack them. I humiliated them." So this was retaliation, reactive abuse.
But if the narcissist keeps telling himself this story, that means that he is a bad object. It means that he is evil, he is malevolent, and the narcissist cannot accept that he is a bad object because if the narcissist gets in touch with this bad object, he becomes suicidal, borderline. That's very dangerous.
So the internal solution for the modification, the solution that says, "I'm the bad guy and I made everyone behave badly," this solution cannot hold because it means your bad object is correct.
So then the narcissist transitions to an external solution.
So first stage paralysis, second stage internal solution, "I made them do it," third stage external solution. Standard solution is alloplastic. It's an alloplastic defense.
External solution simply says, "These people are evil. They are malevolent and malicious. They are bad. They conspired against me. They are ungrateful." Etc. So now they are bad, not the narcissist. The narcissist didn't do anything. They attacked him for no reason. So it's exactly the opposite of the internal solution. The narcissist's mind is very flexible. The narcissist can lie to himself that way and in the next minute can lie to himself exactly the opposite. It's a form of mental illness because the narcissist has no dissonance when he contradicts himself. Healthy people have dissonance when they contradict themselves, not the narcissist. So now the narcissist says, "Forget my previous story. I did not provoke them. I didn't do anything bad to them. I was not the puppet masters. They were not my puppets. They are bad people. They're evil people. They did it on purpose. It's a conspiracy against me." And this is alloplastic defense.
And then he develops paranoia. He becomes paranoid. He said, "These people, they are my enemies and they're going to persecute me and they're going to pursue me and so therefore I must destroy them." When the narcissist becomes psychopathic, vindictive and truly evil, truly evil and he tries to destroy these people who caused him the modification because he believes that.
So yes, so what can we expect when we are mortified narcissists? When we are this aggressive person?
He will come after him. He will transition. He will be paralyzed. He preys suicidal days. Then he will posture. He will say, "You are nothing. You're just a puppet. I made you do it. I was in control. You did what I wanted you to do. What you did, I wanted you to do. It was me."
And so on.
And then suddenly, but very suddenly, because he cannot tolerate the bad object. He cannot say, "I'm the bad person who made you misbehave. I'm the evil person. I caused you to cheat on me, to betray me."
You know, he cannot say that because he cannot admit that he's a bad object.
So suddenly he will move and you will become the bad object and he will try to destroy you. He will become very vindictive. He will conspire against you. He will lie. He will try to destroy you in every way possible. He will become very vindictive in the long term. It can take years. It can take absolutely years. Until he is satisfied that he had punished you somehow and that justice has been restored and balance has been restored and his grandiosity and control have been restored.
Because he's like God. God punishes the sinners. He needs to punish you because you committed a sin. You were sinful. He is God. You attacked God. This is blasphemy. You need to be, you need to be burned on the stake like the Inquisition, you know.
So he has this morality. In his mind he is a moral person for punishing you. This is a moral ethical act because you are evil. You are vicious. You're wicked. You are sinner and you must be punished. You must be taught a lesson or you must be removed from society, putting prison or something. You must be punished because if you are not the evil person, the narcissist is the evil person. One of you is evil. Either the narcissist deserves the mortification because he is evil, he is bad. Or the narcissist is innocent, he is a victim. He didn't do anything wrong and that makes you evil, makes you wicked and so you need to be punished to restore justice, cosmic justice, but also to teach you a lesson and to remove you from society. That's dangerous. Very dangerous.
Mortified narcissists are vengeance machines. They go on and on and on and they are unstoppable and never mind how many times they fail, they go on. They never stop because they lost their grandiosity. They need to restore it and only you can restore it.
The problem is you took away their grandiosity. Now you have it. They want it back. The only way for them to restore their grandiosity is to devalue you, to destroy you because you...
If you disappeared from his or her life, what's then after the mortification?
Not the same because you never existed in his life. You were never an external object. You're an internal object. So you're always in the narcissist's mind. Never mind where you go.
Yes, I understand this but when you disappear with... You moved somewhere or you change job, whatever. Nothing.
Because the narcissist has introject constancy. In other words, you are in the narcissist's mind that really dies and your introject is in the narcissist's mind.
The narcissist continues to interact with your introject even if you divorced him 20 years ago. He continues to have dialogues with you. He continues to punish you or to correct you.
And then suddenly he can appear after 20 years and continue like nothing happened because he did have a continuous relationship with you in his mind. You went away. You got married with children. I know what happened to you.
In the narcissist's mind, you're still here inside his head. And so he doesn't see anything strange to continue the relationship with you after 20 years.
Every day he had a relationship with you. Same with mortification. You became a persecutory object. It's called a persecutory object. You became an enemy within and he needs to eradicate this enemy. He needs to destroy this enemy.
And when you are physically, it's totally irrelevant because the battle, the war, is inside his head. He needs to kill you. He needs to destroy you to match the external object with the internal object.
Once he succeeds to destroy the internal object, he needs to destroy the external so that he can match them and have peace.
But the battle is ongoing in his head. And so he makes all kinds of conspiracies and plans. He stalks you. He attacks you. He goes to the police and lies. He goes to... I mean, he would never stop.
But of course when I say he, to be clear, it applies to women as well. That's just to be clear.
Today more or less is 50/50. Borderline and narcissism are 50/50. 50% male and 50% female.
It's a dramatic change in the last 20 years because 20 years ago about 75% of people diagnosed with narcissism were men. Today it's only 50%.
Women are becoming more and more and more narcissistic and psychopathic.
And so... And by the way, less and less borderline. So this is a very dangerous situation because women are much more sensitive to mortification than men. For example, it's much easier to mortify a woman. All you have to do is criticize the way she looks. If you tell a man you're fat, you're fat. Okay? You said to a man you're fat in public. It will be a narcissistic injury. If the man is a narcissist and you tell the man you're fat, it's injury. But it's never mortification. But if you tell a woman you're ugly and fat in public, that's mortification.
So women have many more options and venues for mortification. Women are much more easily mortified than men. Much, much more.
Because they are much more sensitive on multiple levels including the way they look, the way they eat, the way they dress. Men don't have all this. Men doesn't care if you tell them you are dressed badly. Okay, dress badly. What's next? What's on the menu?
But you tell that to a woman and you do it in a shaming, humiliating way in public in front of her own girlfriends, for example, or women she competes with. And you definitely might create mortification and then you're her enemy for life until she destroys it.
So this is the rise in narcissism and psychopathy among women is absolutely terrifying. Terrifying because the potential for mortification is I think three, four times higher among women than women.
Sam, if we still have a time, how MPD, if she or he can cope with mortification by himself or herself, is it possible?
Yes, if you don't commit suicide, if you survive the depression, the internal solution will kick in automatically. The internal and the external solution, the solution is described by Libby.
These two solutions, they're automatic. It's not a decision, it's not a choice of the losses. They're kicking automatically.
So you have just to survive the period, you have to survive the period where you are very depressed and anxious, humiliated and ashamed to the point that you want to die. So you have to survive that period. And if you survive it, then your grandiosity will be restored, your false self and so on. So during that period, the narcissist is a borderline, then the chances for suicide are in some settings up to 60%. It's a very, very traumatized borderline.
And I have another video where I analyze the situation there with studies and so on. So about 62% chance of suicide. It's not small. It's very, very dangerous.
Sam, last question. You're speaking a lot about, you know, different emotions, but mostly about shame. Whyshame is associated with mortification? Why this one? Shame
Well, first of all, mortification involves being humiliated or being ashamed in public.
Yeah, but you know, shame is the main emotion in narcissism.
And many, many scholars like Mohison and others, they think that narcissism is a defense against shame.
The child, the small child is made to feel ashamed, made to feel insufficient, inadequate. Love is conditioned on performance and very often the performance is not enough. And so on and so forth.
So the manipulation of a small child who later becomes a narcissist consists of shaming the child somehow.
And the child accumulates this shame a lot.
The child is also a shame that he cannot become an individual. The parental figures don't allow the child to separate and individuate, don't allow the child to become a person.
They breach the child's boundaries. They don't respect the child.
In other words, abuse is a form of disrespect. So abuse causes a lot of shame. That's why victims very often don't complain. They don't complain because they feel ashamed. They feel ashamed of their victimhood.
The child is a victim and feels ashamed of his victimhood and he carries this shame through life and he grieves. He grieves what he could have been and would never be. And he grieves the way his parents treated him.
So there's what we call long grief. Long grief and shame.
When mortification happens, the narcissist gets in touch with his shame because all his defenses disappear. He suddenly feels like he's a two-year-old with huge shame and nothing to do about it. He's helpless and he's hopeless and there is this overwhelming sense of grief mourning.
And then there's a question, what am I grieving? If I'm a narcissist, I've been mortified. I'm depressed. I'm anxious. I'm in touch with my shame and I'm grieving. What am I grieving? I'm grieving myself. I'm grieving myself. So if I'm grieving myself, I'm already dead.
That's the big lesson in realization of mortification.
Suddenly the narcissist realizes that he is dead inside. That he has never lived. There's never been a life there.
So he says, all my life has been fake. I've always been dead. Let me die. Let me just die.
And that's if his mortification is not, you know, for example, if the narcissist is lonely, there's no family, no friends, which is the typical case when the narcissist is much older.
And so and so forth, the chances of suicide are enormous, absolutely enormous. So even if you don't like a narcissist, even if you think many times before you humiliate or shame or attack a narcissist in public, because you may well be condemning him to death.
And yeah, there are many narcissists deserve many punishments, but I don't think death is one of them.
Sam, thank you so much for explaining this for us, because like I said before, it's really difficult topic and it's a lot of misunderstanding. So thank you so much for your time and it was nice to talk to you.
Yes, nice to see you again. Thank you for having me.
Thank you so much. Take care. Bye.