Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 44

Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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1. Retraumatizing the Victims

Regrettably, mental health professionals and practitioners - marital and couple therapists, counselors - are conditioned, by years of indoctrinating and dogmatic education, to respond favorably to specific verbal cues.

The paradigm is that abuse is rarely one sided - in other words, that it is invariably "triggered" either by the victim or by the mental health problems of the abuser. Another common lie is that all mental health problems can be successfully treated one way (talk therapy) or another (medication).

This shifts the responsibility from the offender to his prey. The abused must have done something to bring about their own maltreatment  - or simply were emotionally "unavailable" to help the abuser with his problems. Healing is guaranteed if only the victim were willing to participate in a treatment plan and communicate with the abuser. So goes the orthodoxy.

Refusal to do so - in other words, refusal to risk further abuse - is harshly judged by the therapist. The victim is labeled uncooperative, resistant, or even abusive!

The key is, therefore, feigned acquiescence and collaboration with the therapist's scheme, acceptance of his/her interpretation of the events, and the use of key phrases such as: "I wish to communicate/work with (the abuser)", "trauma", "relationship", "healing process", "inner child", "the good of the children", "the importance of fathering", "significant other" and other psycho-babble. Learn the jargon, use it intelligently and you are bound to win the therapist's sympathy.

Above all - do not be assertive, or aggressive and do not overtly criticize the therapist or disagree with him/her.

I make the therapist sound like yet another potential abuser - because in many cases, he/she becomes one as they inadvertently collude with the abuser, invalidate the abuse experiences, and pathologize the victim.

2. The Silent Treatment (Withholding)

The silent treatment (Patricia Evans calls in withholding) is intentional and intended to punish the partner for a transgression.

Resuming the conversation as though nothing happened is due to the internal needs of the narcissist and especially his need for renewed Narcissistic Supply. Being a control freak, the narcissist determines the timing of everything: when to have sex, when to talk, when to go on a vacation, etc. You have no right to retaliate for his behavior because you do not exist as a separate entity with your own views, boundaries, emotions and needs. At best the narcissist considers you a wayward child in need of disciplining. At worst, you are no more than an implement, or an extension of the narcissist.

3. Sexual Perversions and Deviance (Paraphilias)

Paraphilias (sexual deviance) are very common among narcissists and, more so, among psychopaths. (They) usually reflect an utter inability to recognize other people's boundaries by seeking to merge with them and thus control them. The narcissistic psychopath also expresses his auto-eroticism (self-infatuation) in group sex, homosexuality, or incest. Hence, the psychopath's need to idealize you - in effect, he is idealizing and idolizing himself.

4. Slip-ups

Have you tried acting not yourself for ten minutes? One hour? One month? How about all your life?

In the initial phases of acquaintance, the narcissist/psychopath is forced to act NOT himself.

(continued below)

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He is forced to appear to be charming, attentive, warm, emotional, caring, compassionate, empathic, helpful, accepting, understanding, encouraging, open, and reasonable.

It is a major acting job, performed exquisitely by a master thespian. It is intended to captivate the (often one-person) audience into submission and addiction and to convert her into a Source of Narcissistic Supply, or money, or into an accomplice. To sweep her off her feet, the narcissist/psychopath first has to transmutate - very much as aliens put on human forms in sci-fi movies.

But it is a very taxing and tedious transformation.

So, there are slip-ups. Occasional revealing sentence fragments, the odd gesture, a frightening glimpse of the real and lurking predator - so contrary to all appearances hitherto that the victims deny it and repress it out of consciousness.

5. Personality Disorders in the Professions

In a study titled "Mental Disorders Common Among Military Personnel" published by the American Journal Psychiatry 2002; 159: 1576–1583, the authors conclude:

"The researchers stress that the findings do not indicate that mental disorders are more common among members of the military than the general population, rather they provide an estimation of how common such conditions are in a generally young, healthy population."

In other words, the authors claim that prevalence of mental health disorders in the military is not higher than among the relevant age and socio-economic groups in the general population. But the military - and police officers - are under much tighter scrutiny and cannot avoid contact with the medical profession, as other narcissists and antisocials do.

My personal IMPRESSION - based on correspondence with thousands of affected people - is that there are clusters of certain personality disorders in certain professions: corporate management, politics, show business, teaching, the courts, law enforcement, the military, the media, the clergy and other professions that guarantee regular Narcissistic Supply.

6. Pregnancy and Control

The relationship of the narcissistic/psychopathic parent to his child(ren) is very complex and rife with conflicts.

On the one hand, children are the ideal Sources of Narcissistic Supply. On the other hand, they compete with the parent for attention and resources. Many somatic narcissists hop from one "romantic" relationship to another.

Impregnating the woman is a classic method of "controlling" and "binding" her down. The narcissistic psychopath aware of the shallowness and transience of his own simulated emotions - attributed the same fleetingness to his partner. Saddled with a baby, she is unlikely to vanish on him. The fetus is thus his mother's ballast and guardian o her chastity and fidelity.

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