The Spouse / Mate / Partner of the Narcissist

Frequently Asked Question # 6

The narcissist’s mate or spouse may be a warm, independent woman – but she may also be a codependent or an inverted narcissist.

The narcissist abuses his intimate partner in numerous ways: overtly, covertly, by being unpredictable, reacting disproportionately, dehumanizing, objectifying, and leveraging personal information.

He may also use ambient abuse (gaslighting) or abuse her by proxy, via third parties.

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Question:

What kind of a spouse/mate/partner is likely to be attracted to a narcissist, or to attract a narcissist?

Answer:

The Victims

On the face of it, there is no (emotional) partner or mate, who typically "binds" with a narcissist. They come in all shapes and sizes. The initial phases of attraction, infatuation and falling in love are pretty normal. The narcissist puts on his best face – the other party is blinded by budding love. A natural selection process occurs only much later, as the relationship develops and is put to the test.

Living with a narcissist can be exhilarating, is always onerous, often harrowing. Surviving a relationship with a narcissist indicates, therefore, the parameters of the personality of the survivor. She (or, more rarely, he) is moulded by the relationship into The Typical Narcissistic Mate/Partner/Spouse.

First and foremost, the narcissist's partner must have a deficient or a distorted grasp of her self and of reality. Otherwise, she (or he) is bound to abandon the narcissist's ship early on. The cognitive distortion is likely to consist of belittling and demeaning herself – while aggrandising and adoring the narcissist.

The partner is, thus, placing herself in the position of the eternal victim: undeserving, punishable, a scapegoat. Sometimes, it is very important to the partner to appear moral, sacrificial and victimised. At other times, she is not even aware of this predicament. The narcissist is perceived by the partner to be a person in the position to demand these sacrifices from her because he is superior in many ways (intellectually, emotionally, morally, professionally, or financially).

The status of professional victim sits well with the partner's tendency to punish herself, namely: with her masochistic streak. The tormented life with the narcissist is just what she deserves.

In this respect, the partner is the mirror image of the narcissist. By maintaining a symbiotic relationship with him, by being totally dependent upon her source of masochistic supply (which the narcissist most reliably constitutes and most amply provides) the partner enhances certain traits and encourages certain behaviours, which are at the very core of narcissism.

The narcissist is never whole without an adoring, submissive, available, self-denigrating partner. His very sense of superiority, indeed his False Self, depends on it. His sadistic Superego switches its attentions from the narcissist (in whom it often provokes suicidal ideation) to the partner, thus finally obtaining an alternative source of sadistic satisfaction.

It is through self-denial that the partner survives. She denies her wishes, hopes, dreams, aspirations, sexual, psychological and material needs, choices, preferences, values, and much else besides. She perceives her needs as threatening because they might engender the wrath of the narcissist's God-like supreme figure.

The narcissist is rendered in her eyes even more superior through and because of this self-denial. Self-denial undertaken to facilitate and ease the life of a "great man" is more palatable. The "greater" the man (=the narcissist), the easier it is for the partner to ignore her own self, to dwindle, to degenerate, to turn into an appendix of the narcissist and, finally, to become nothing but an extension, to merge with the narcissist to the point of oblivion and of merely dim memories of herself.

The two collaborate in this macabre dance. The narcissist is formed by his partner inasmuch as he forms her. Submission breeds superiority and masochism breeds sadism. The relationships are characterised by emergentism: roles are allocated almost from the start and any deviation meets with an aggressive, even violent reaction.

The predominant state of the partner's mind is utter confusion. Even the most basic relationships – with husband, children, or parents – remain bafflingly obscured by the giant shadow cast by the intensive interaction with the narcissist. A suspension of judgement is part and parcel of a suspension of individuality, which is both a prerequisite to and the result of living with a narcissist. The partner no longer knows what is true and right and what is wrong and forbidden.

The pathologies, dysfunctions, attachment styles and wounds of the narcissist and his partner converse, interact, and feed on each other. The narcissist recreates for the partner the sort of emotional ambience that led to his own formation in the first place: capriciousness, fickleness, arbitrariness, emotional (and physical or sexual) abandonment (trauma bonding). The world becomes hostile and ominous and the partner has only one thing left to cling to: the narcissist.

And cling she does. If there is anything which can safely be said about those who emotionally team up with narcissists, it is that they are overtly and overly dependent.

The partner doesn't know what to do – and this is only too natural in the mayhem that is the relationship with the narcissist. But the typical partner also does not know what she wants and, to a large extent, who she is and what she wishes to become.

These unanswered questions hamper the partner's ability to gauge reality. Her primordial sin is that she fell in love with an image, not with a real person. It is the voiding of the image that is mourned when the relationship ends.

The break-up of a relationship with a narcissist is, therefore, very emotionally charged. It is the culmination of a long chain of humiliations and of subjugation. It is the rebellion of the functioning and healthy parts of the partner's personality against the tyranny of the narcissist.

The partner is likely to have totally misread and misinterpreted the whole interaction (I hesitate to call it a relationship). This lack of proper interface with reality might be (erroneously) labelled "pathological".

Why is it that the partner seeks to prolong her pain? What is the source and purpose of this masochistic streak? Upon the break-up of the relationship, the partner (but not the narcissist, who usually refuses to provide closure) engages in a tortuous and drawn out post mortem.

Sometimes, the breakup is initiated by the long-suffering spouse or intimate partner. As she develops and matures, gaining in self-confidence and a modicum of self-esteem (ironically, at the narcissist’s behest in his capacity as her “guru” and “father figure”), she acquires more personal autonomy and refuses to cater to the energy-draining neediness of her narcissist: she no longer provides him with all-important secondary narcissistic supply (ostentatious respect, owe, adulation, undivided attention admiration, and the rehashed memories of past successes and triumphs) and she ceases to provide the narcissist with the social cues and directions that he so sorely lacks.

Typically, the roles are then reversed and the narcissist displays codependent behaviors, such as clinging, in a desperate attempt to hang-on to his “creation”, his hitherto veteran and reliable source of quality supply. These are further exacerbated by the ageing narcissist’s increasing social isolation, psychological disintegration (decompensation), and recurrent failures and defeats.

Paradoxically, as Lidija Rangelovska notes, the narcissist craves and may be initially attracted to an intimate partner with clear boundaries, who insists on her rights even at the price of a confrontation. This is because such a partner is perceived by him as a strong, stable, and predictable presence – the very opposite of his parents and of the abusive, capricious, and objectifying environment which fostered his pathology in the first place. But, then he tries to denude her of these “assets” by rendering her submissive and codependent.

But the question who did what to whom (and even why) is irrelevant. What is relevant is to stop mourning oneself, start smiling again and love in a less subservient, hopeless, and pain-inflicting manner.

The cerebral narcissist strikes a deal with his intimate partner: I will be your Father - You will be my Mother.

1. "I will be your Father"

I will provide for you, educate and guide you, help you, protect you, and discipline you. I will always be there for you, forgiving with unconditional parental love, no matter what and even if and when you misbehave.

As your Father, we cannot have sex, but you can have it with others. Like every possessive father, I will react with rage and pain to this betrayal, but will do nothing to prevent you from cheating on me, or even encourage you to do so in order to keep you in my life and under my control.

2. "You will be my Mother"

You will love and accept me unconditionally, regardless of my egregious abuse.

You will take care of all my needs. You will not expect me to behave as an adult or shoehorn me into adult roles, chores, and obligations.

You will never abandon me, but will not demand sex and intimacy (both of which I find threatening).

A cerebral narcissist wrote this to me (in parentheses, my comments, signed SV):

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“I guess I am a throwback to the men of the 18th or 19th century: patriarchal and transactional (compare this statement to findings by Keller et al. - SV) I have had several serious relationships, including one engagement to be married and three marriages.

The pattern had always been the same: having selected a woman far inferior to my position in life (and, thus, less likely to abandon ship) and following a brief period of rampant sex (to demonstrate to her that I am ‘normal’ and to make her look forward to years of great physical and emotional intimacy – false advertising, I admit), I subside into this recluse, interested only in my studies, reading, writing, and the universe of the mind. Zero sex, no love, no intimacy, physical or emotional, no children, no home (always lived in rented flats), and no family. Take it or leave it and minimal nuisance value.

Her roles are: (1) to admire me; (2) to remind me of my past accomplishments and ‘glory’; (3) to act as a glorified housemaid and do the chores; (4) to serve as my companion, available on the spur of the moment to do my bidding and adhere to my plans and decisions; (5) to reflect well on me by not shaming me in public with her ignorance, promiscuity, or idleness.

As long as she fulfilled the aforementioned functions, I didn’t really care what else she did with her time and with whom. Nothing stirred in me, not even a hint of jealousy, when all my women told me that they had cheated on me with other men, some of them multiply. But, when they showed clear signs of bolting, when they became disenchanted, bitterly disappointed, disaffected, disillusioned, cold, aloof, weary, demonstratively absent, lost all interest in me and my work, verbally and psychologically abused me, and refused to do things together anymore, I panicked because I was afraid to lose their valued services.

I dreaded the time, effort, and resources required to ‘break in’, train, ‘domesticate’, and habituate another woman to my needs and particular requirements (convert them to sources of secondary narcissistic supply - SV.) I was also tired of having my women abscond with half my assets time and again. After all: I only married them only to secure their presence in my life and I did provide them with a lifestyle which they could never have attained by themselves, inferior as they were to start with!

Faced with such a daunting prospect, I embarked on a charm offensive and I again offered them sex, intimacy, love, attention, and, if needed, adulation. Only, usually, at this stage, it was too late and definitely too little. She was already far-gone. She bolted all the same.

All my women felt that something was wrong with me, that something was missing in the relationship such as it was, but they couldn’t quite place their collective finger on it. I simply absented myself because I regarded full-fledged intimate relationships as both a colossal waste of my precious time and the manifestation of socially-sanctioned mediocrity. There had always been a discrepancy in expectations which led to inevitable breakups and acrimony.”

What happens when a male narcissist targets a female psychopath as his source of secondary supply ("intimate" partner)? He ends up being traumatized by her. Why & how?

The psychopath challenges & obliterates the narcissist's grandiose self-perceptions & assumptions, especially his fantasy of being unique.

The psychopath's promiscuity, risk-seeking reckless behaviors, & addictions to novelty & thrills ("adrenaline junkie") render the narcissist just one of her many sexual conquests. She never gets emotionally attached to him or misses him. To her, he is just another notch in her belt, a mere casualty of her cockteasing power plays with men, road kill. He is soon forgotten as she moves on - often by cheating on him as she had done to all her previous men.

The narcissist believes in his unique ability to detect lying & takes pride in his intelligence & resistance to being duped. But narcissists are very gullible. The psychopathic female uses their thirst for narcissistic supply to manipulate them with half-truths & outright lies. She tells them what they want to hear, flatters them, rewrites her own history to render them unique, & deceives them repeatedly, faking everything from emotions through tears to orgasms. The narcissist gets taken in. When he discovers the truth, his grandiosity is devastated.

Finally: the narcissist holds himself to be irresistible. But the psychopath is not interested in him! She is goal-oriented: she wants his money, contacts, protection, or prestige. She is a golddigger, or a social climber, or sleeps her way to the top. When the narcissist finds out that he had merely been used as an instrument, he is wounded to the quick.

These narcissistic injuries often evolve into a form of ruminative obsession or stalking as the narcissist tries in vain to integrate the painful experiences into his view of himself as godlike, omniscient, and desirable. The psychopath gives the narcissist a taste of his own medicine and it is bitter and sometimes threatens what is left of his sanity and even life.

A narcissist wrote this:

“My mother was a frustrating, withholding, & sadistic borderline & I am trying to regain her love (resolve early conflicts) via my women.

Relationships with labile borderlines are very intense & I equate intensity & lability with authenticity & depth. I also associate being loved with withholding, pain, betrayal, & frustration. Only a borderline can deliver this package of emotions & behaviors on a constant basis. The whole relationship is a protracted trauma bond. "Normal" women do not interest me as WOMEN at least. Still: I am very threatened & I hate certain behaviors and traits associated with Borderline: they make me feel insecure, abandoned, & tortured.

In other words: loved?

No. Some behaviors make me feel abandoned, not loved. Promiscuity & cheating, for example. Or lack of empathy & a lack of interest in me & in my life. Or pathological lying & constant deception. These behaviors make me want to walk away because they provoke my abandonment anxiety to the maximum.

I feel LOVED when my Borderline partner is totally faithful to me, jealous, obsessed with me - when I am her only focus and reason for life. The INTENSITY of her dependence on me & clinging turns me on. At the same time, she tortures me & betrays me by withholding her love (but not her interest in me & addiction to me), by playing mind games, & by causing me excruciating pain as she watches me suffer (example: in threesomes). But for me to be even interested in her, let alone love her, the Borderline MUST show no interest in other men, be thoroughly preoccupied with me, addicted to my presence in her life & truthful to a fault. I must be her only reason to live, she will literally die if I leave her. She must cling to me ferociously & scrutinize every aspect of my being relentlessly & ceaselessly. This power that I have over her is the key.

Feeling LOVED attracts me inexorably and irresistibly. Feeling abandoned drives me away. Borderlines evoke both emotions in me. This is the source of my approach-avoidance repetition compulsion.

With women, I maintain four types of relationships, depending exclusively on what I get from them.

When a woman grants me access to her body and consents to have regular and kinky sex with me and when she also adulates and admires me unconditionally and unthinkingly - I am intoxicated by her. I become her codependent slave, at her beck and call, ready to sacrifice everything, from my values to my time.

When a woman offers me only sex, I have a good time with her and trust her with the most intimate pathways of my inner world. But I am a lot more reserved and calculated when it comes to the allocation of my resources. I am businesslike and focused on the transaction: sex against a fun, adventurous time together.

When sex is excluded from the relationship, for whatever reason, the woman can still offer me unbounded attention and adulation, but I expect her to supplement these offerings with other services rendered to me as a personal assistant or a homemaker. I am likely to be less inclined to spend intimate alone time with her.

Finally, some women offer me only auxiliary services at home and at work. I treat them as I would relate to an employee: perfunctorily, as an object, provider, or prop. I am a lot more demanding, critical, and aggressive with such women.”

Narcissists find it nearly impossible to locate willing sources of secondary supply (admiring and subservient "intimate" partners). For two reasons:

1. The rising awareness of narcissistic abuse which, ironically, started with my pioneering work in 1995.

Women have been given a toolkit to spot narcissists and avoid them. They were also advised to go no contact with narcissists already in their lives.

2. Women themselves have become much more grandiose and narcissistic. They compete with male narcissists for narcissistic supply and mistreat narcissistic men in the same ways these men had abused them previously.

The result is a sea of solitary narcissists in desperate search online and in developing countries for willing and submissive counterparts. In vain: the Internet has rendered the entire world a global village. This is one time the narcissist regrets that his reputation precedes him.

But there is another type of narcissist: the guru, fixer, savior, or messiah.

In one narcissist’s words:

“My mother was broken, I now realize from the hindsight vantage point of my 58 years. She tortured me physically and psychologically as both toddler and teen, for 12 harrowing horror years in unspeakable ways.

I remember vividly that, even as a 4 year old, I wanted to save her, to fix her, to put her back together, to make her whole and happy. She had such a beautiful smile and a way with storytelling and fun games. In between her monster phases. Gradually, the darkness took over and there was nothing left of her and I failed to rescue the first significant woman in my life. I haven't seen her since 1995.

Since then, I have been trying to mend broken women in all my Humpty-Dumpty relationships. Trying to undo the damage and salvage the goods. Trying to salve their gaping wounds with affection, attention, love, patience, and hope. Save them from their jagged selves.

But, of course, it was and is all hopeless. These women keep shattering my heart, sometimes to the point of suicidal ideation. They cannot help it. They are not evil. They are just not all there, no self to control, bundles of raw impulses and tidal emotions in which they drown silently, like a frozen scream.

I pick up the shards - mine and theirs - and move on in my Quixotic quest, a knight errant in an arrant night, my weapons rusted and crumbling, my step heavy with years, my vision clouded with tears. But I keep trying because what else can I do? My mother needs me, trapped in her abysmal soul, distressed. I cannot ignore her siren call. Even when it ineluctably spells doom.”

Some narcissists focus on, cultivate, and groom much younger women with daddy issues that define both their personality and their emotional needs. These narcissists act avuncular, strict, and disciplinarian, but also caring and supportive, a fount of sagacity and perspicacity, always available with wide-ranging knowledge and life-altering advice. At once guru, intimate partner, and parent, they insinuate themselves into the minds and lives of their quarries, rendering their presence addictive and themselves indispensable.

But, as time passes, this very mentoring transforms the young woman: she becomes more self-aware, mature, experienced, and driven by a long-term healthy impulse for self-actualization. She is likely to abandon the narcissist and seek a healthier relationship. In extreme cases, she resorts to blatantly cheating on the narcissist and ostentatiously betraying him in order to break the surrealistic spell of the shared psychosis, burn all the bridges, and set herself free.

Having lost yet another mate, the narcissist then embarks on a frantic effort to find his next Galatea: a malleable female he could mould into a sex slave, source of secondary narcissistic supply, and service provider. He knows full well that it will not last and will result in a catastrophic heartbreak all around. Shattering loss is guaranteed. But what choice does he have?

 

The narcissist has 3 essential demands from his partner and companion, 3 Ss: Sex, Supply, Services. If she provides any 2 of these 3, he is pacified and ignores her: she is a captive and he is indifferent to her emotions, needs, and wishes. He takes her silent, acquiescing presence in his life for granted: an inert, lifeless, and objectified or even mummified fixture. The narcissist acts similarly towards a frustrating partner who provides only 1 or none of the 3 Ss: by withdrawing and disinvesting, absenting himself and cutting off all meaningful communication.

In both cases, the narcissist reacts with extreme abuse and rejection to any attempt to invade or control his personal space or time. To attract his attention and gain access to him, the partner needs to escalate, dramatize, render unpredictable, and exaggerate her behaviors.

Many partners react to this apathetic negation of their being by self-trashing (for example: by drinking to oblivion and having unprotected sex with a lowlife stranger, falling into bad company, self-harming with drugs or otherwise, or by engaging in other reckless and self-destructive behaviors)

The aim of these maneuvers is to
communicate distress: "By ignoring and rejecting me, you are hurting me so much that I want to destroy myself. I hope the pain I am causing you now will be sufficiently potent to pierce the veil, to make you care about me, to penetrate your formidable firewall and stupor. I am also furious at myself for having trusted you, for having been so naive and gullible to fall for your manipulation. I deserve to be punished for this lapse in judgment."

Usually, only the threat of abandonment or actual loss can convey this harrowing and heartbreaking message. Overt, ostentatious, purposeful and weaponized cheating is the sole way open to the partner to get through to the neglectful and oblivious other.

Ironically, this escalated cry for help is rarely restorative and often irrevocably terminal and destructive: it dooms the relationship. Half measures like triangulation are useless: all out egregious in your face infidelity is the only efficacious wake up call. But it is a last hurrah.

Why do victims and survivors keep partnering with narcissists and psychopaths, despite all the horrors they have endured?

Freud called it Repetition Compulsion: people keep reenacting unresolved conflicts in the hope of resolving them next time around and with a different party.

Joan Lachkar suggested, for example, that Borderlines and Narcissists team up in order to salve "archaic wounds", which she later dubbed "V spots"

Both experiential and cognitive data coalesce into rigid schemas, mental representations of relationships, starting with early childhood and primary objects (mother, typically). It seems that we are doomed to revisiting our mistakes. We even behave in ways which guarantee the same deleterious or detrimental outcomes.

 

Why do victims of narcissistic abuse insist that the narcissist is possessed of such thespian talents that he succeeded to deceive them into thinking that he is nothing of the sort? Because it absolves them from personal responsibility: "Not my fault! He misled me! He made me fall in love with him before I had realized what I was getting myself into!" and other such self-deceiving, alloplastic, and, dare I say, narcissistic excuses.

The truth is that it takes a massive amount of denial to ignore the red flags and warning signs that the narcissist gives out in plenitude within the first ten minutes of meeting him for the first time. There is even a name for the primordial frisson reaction that these predators provoke in their tremulous prey: "uncanny valley"

Actually, victims are attracted precisely to these signals irresistibly and inexorably. But they want plausible deniability and someone else to blame when it ineluctably ends with horrific, life shattering abuse. It seems that narcissism is contagious from the first moment of exposure: "It is not my fault, he made me do it" is a classic narcissistic refrain, after all.

 

Psychopaths abuse empathic mirroring to insinuate themselves into their victims's lives as a long lost soulmate and veritable Doppelgänger.

When he targets you, the psychopath laughs at your jokes, imitates your speech patterns, replicates your body language, resonates with your values and believes, compliments your behaviors, upholds your choices and decisions, tells you only and exactly what you want to hear, caters to your self-image, buttresses your self-perception, takes cares of your needs, flatters and idealizes you.

In short: the psychopath usurps your identity and becomes you. Psychopathic grooming is a form of identity theft and is, therefore, highly addictive: it feels like self-infatuation, irresistibly and inexorably falling in love with that most perfect being: with you.

 

Brainwashing in relationships with narcissists is real and starts with grooming and lovebombing.

 

The narcissist engenders in his victim a dissociative state, like akin to a hypnotic trance.

 

This is especially easy to accomplish with Borderlines and Codependents who relegate the regulation of their emotions and moods to their intimate partner.

 

The narcissist is able to entrain (brainwash into a hypnotic trance via resonance) the codependent because they share common roots.

 

Women are irresistibly attracted to mysterious, enigmatic men. But not all mysteries are created equal.

Actually, women are repelled, frightened, and get irritated by a man who withholds biographical and pecuniary information or sports a murky, occult, and confabulated life story. They regard such deliberate obfuscation as manipulative or sinister.

But women are also inexorably drawn to a man whose essence is inaccessible and obscure, his identity uncertain, and what makes him tick unclear. Ostentatious self-sufficiency and dignified reticence render a man this rare combination: a challenge to be overcome and the promise of adventure as the woman explores and uncovers the terra incognito of his inner landscape.

Men who are too transparent and forthcoming regarding their psychology, men who bare their souls and carry their emotions on their sleeve - are boring and dull and assiduously avoided an immature weirdoes.

“Who is he really” attracts hordes of obsessed women. “Why won’t he say what he does for a living” pushes them away equally forcefully.

 

Intimate partners of narcissists often remain in the relationship because they pity the narcissist or mother him or can't find the strength to hurt him by abandoning the ghost ship.

But even the most loving and dedicated spouses and mates give up at some point, confronted by ceaseless rejection and abuse that undermine their sanity and threaten their survival. They develop what I call "
escape velocity" and break free from the gravitational pull of their absent and painful companion.

No amount of sobbing or charm can reverse the partner's decision to eject once the escape velocity had been attained. Sometimes the partners act out - cheat on the narcissist promiscuously, or otherwise betray his trust publicly, ostentatiously, and egregiously - just to make sure that there is no way back.

 

My way or the highway! Take it or leave it! That’s the way I am and I am not going to change. The narcissist’s favorite stock phrases.

One reason for such rigid and defensive intransigence is the narcissist’s inability to access positive emotions or otherwise process them. Everything is filtered via the
narcissist’s cognitive deficits.

When the narcissist comes across a beautiful woman, he gauges her endowments using comparative statistics and aesthetic judgment (very much the way neurotypicals do with an inanimate work of art). He immediately reduces her to the set of potential benefits and outcomes that she reifies: sex, money, power, access as forms of narcissistic supply.

 

If she - a goddess even - cannot provide him with 2 of 3 Ss (autoerotic sex, sadistic or narcissistic supply, services/income/power), he instantly loses all interest in her and finds her about as alluring as a used spittoon - gorgeous, intelligent and enigmatic as she may be to all other men. Even more astounding: he sees nothing abnormal or infantile in his (lack of) reaction.

Similarly, when a narcissist comes across a broken, sad, grieving man, she notes his vulnerability using her cold empathy scanning radar. Her first thought would be: What’s in it for me? How can I leverage his state of mind to obtain sex or money as forms of narcissistic supply?

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The Abuse

Abuse is an integral, inseparable part of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The narcissist idealises and then DEVALUES and discards the object of his initial idealisation. This abrupt, heartless devaluation IS abuse. ALL narcissists idealise and then devalue. This is THE core narcissistic behaviour. The narcissist exploits, lies, insults, demeans, ignores (the "silent treatment"), manipulates, controls. All these are forms of abuse.

There are a million ways to abuse. To love too much is to abuse. It is tantamount to treating someone as one's extension, an object, or an instrument of gratification. To be over-protective, not to respect privacy, to be brutally honest, with a morbid sense of humour, or consistently tactless – is to abuse. To expect too much, to denigrate, to ignore – are all modes of abuse. There is physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse. The list is long.

Narcissists are masters of abusing surreptitiously ("ambient abuse"). They are "stealth abusers". You have to actually live with one in order to witness the abuse.

There are three important categories of abuse:

  1. Overt Abuse – The open and explicit abuse of another person. Threatening, coercing, battering, lying, berating, demeaning, chastising, insulting, humiliating, exploiting, ignoring ("silent treatment"), devaluing, unceremoniously discarding, verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are all forms of overt abuse.
  1. Covert or Controlling Abuse – Narcissism is almost entirely about control. It is a primitive and immature reaction to the circumstances of a life in which the narcissist (usually in his childhood) was rendered helpless. It is about re-asserting one's identity, re-establishing predictability, mastering the environment – human and physical.
  1. The bulk of narcissistic behaviours can be traced to this panicky reaction to the potential for loss of control. Narcissists are hypochondriacs (and difficult patients) because they are afraid to lose control over their body, its looks and its proper functioning. They are obsessive-compulsive in their efforts to subdue their physical habitat and render it foreseeable. They stalk people and harass them as a means of "being in touch" – another form of narcissistic control.

But why the panic?

The narcissist is a solipsist. To him, nothing exists except himself. Meaningful others are his extensions, assimilated by him, they are internal objects – not external ones. Thus, losing control of a significant other is equivalent to losing the use of a limb, or of one's brain. It is terrifying.

Independent or disobedient people evoke in the narcissist the realisation that something is wrong with his worldview, that he is not the centre of the world or its cause and that he cannot control what, to him, are internal representations.

To the narcissist, losing control means going insane. Because other people are mere elements in the narcissist's mind – being unable to manipulate them literally means losing it (his mind). Imagine, if you suddenly were to find out that you cannot manipulate your memories or control your thoughts… Nightmarish!

Moreover, it is often only through manipulation and extortion that the narcissist can secure his Narcissistic Supply (NS). Controlling his Sources of Narcissistic Supply is a (mental) life or death question for the narcissist. The narcissist is a drug addict (his drug being the NS) and he would go to any length to obtain the next dose.

In his frantic efforts to maintain control or re-assert it, the narcissist resorts to a myriad of fiendishly inventive stratagems and mechanisms. Here is a partial list:

Unpredictability

The narcissist acts unpredictably, capriciously, inconsistently and irrationally. This serves to demolish in others their carefully crafted worldview. They become dependent upon the next twist and turn of the narcissist, his inexplicable whims, his outbursts, denial, or smiles.

In other words: the narcissist makes sure that HE is the only stable entity in the lives of others – by shattering the rest of their world through his seemingly insane behaviour. He guarantees his presence in their lives – by destabilising them.

In the absence of a self, there are no likes or dislikes, preferences, predictable behaviour or characteristics. It is not possible to know the narcissist. There is no one there.

The narcissist was conditioned – from an early age of abuse and trauma – to expect the unexpected. His was a world in which (sometimes sadistic) capricious caretakers and peers often behaved arbitrarily. He was trained to deny his True Self and nurture a False one.

Having invented himself, the narcissist sees no problem in re-inventing that which he designed in the first place. The narcissist is his own creator.

Hence his grandiosity.

Moreover, the narcissist is a man for all seasons, forever adaptable, constantly imitating and emulating, a human sponge, a perfect mirror, a chameleon, a non-entity that is, at the same time, all entities combined. The narcissist is best described by Heidegger's phrase: "Being and Nothingness". Into this reflective vacuum, this sucking black hole, the narcissist attracts the Sources of his Narcissistic Supply.

To an observer, the narcissist appears to be fractured or discontinuous.

Pathological narcissism has been compared to the Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly the Multiple Personality Disorder). By definition, the narcissist has at least two selves, the True and False ones. His personality is very primitive and disorganised. Living with a narcissist is a nauseating experience not only because of what he is – but because of what he is NOT. He is not a fully formed human – but a dizzyingly kaleidoscopic gallery of ephemeral images, which melt into each other seamlessly. It is incredibly disorienting.

It is also exceedingly problematic. Promises made by the narcissist are easily disowned by him. His plans are transient. His emotional ties – a simulacrum. Most narcissists have one island of stability in their life (spouse, family, their career, a hobby, their religion, country, or idol) – pounded by the turbulent currents of a dishevelled existence.

The narcissist does not keep agreements, does not adhere to laws or social norms, and regards consistency and predictability as demeaning traits.

Thus, to invest in a narcissist is a purposeless, futile and meaningless activity. To the narcissist, every day is a new beginning, a hunt, a new cycle of idealisation or devaluation, a newly invented self. There is no accumulation of credits or goodwill because the narcissist has no past and no future. He occupies an eternal and timeless present. He is a fossil caught in the frozen ashes of a volcanic childhood.

TIP

Refuse to accept such behaviour. Demand reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. Insist on respect for your boundaries, predilections, preferences, and priorities.

(continued below)


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Disproportional Reactions

One of the favourite tools of manipulation in the narcissist's arsenal is the disproportionality of his reactions. He reacts with supreme rage to the slightest slight. He punishes severely for what he perceives to be an offence against him, no matter how minor. He throws a temper tantrum over any discord or disagreement, however gently and considerately expressed. Or he may act attentive, charming and seductive (even over-sexed, if need be). This ever-shifting emotional landscape ("affective dunes") coupled with an inordinately harsh and arbitrarily applied “penal code” are both promulgated by the narcissist. Neediness and dependence on the source of all justice meted – on the narcissist – are thus guaranteed.

TIP

Demand a just and proportional treatment. Reject or ignore unjust and capricious behaviour.

If you are up to the inevitable confrontation, react in kind. Let him taste some of his own medicine.

Dehumanization and Objectification

People have a need to believe in the empathic skills and basic good-heartedness of others. By dehumanising and objectifying people – the narcissist attacks the very foundations of the social treaty. This is the "alien" aspect of narcissists – they may be excellent imitations of fully formed adults but they are emotionally non-existent, or, at best, immature.

This is so horrid, so repulsive, so phantasmagoric – that people recoil in terror. It is then, with their defences absolutely down, that they are the most susceptible and vulnerable to the narcissist's control. Physical, psychological, verbal and sexual abuse are all forms of dehumanisation and objectification.

TIP

Never show your abuser that you are afraid of him. Do not negotiate with bullies. They are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail.

If things get rough- disengage, involve law enforcement officers, friends and colleagues, or threaten him (legally).

Do not keep your abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon.

Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression.

Abuse of Information

From the first moments of an encounter with another person, the narcissist is on the prowl. He collects information with the intention of applying it later to extract Narcissistic Supply. The more he knows about his potential Source of Supply – the better able he is to coerce, manipulate, charm, extort or convert it "to the cause". The narcissist does not hesitate to abuse the information he gleaned, regardless of its intimate nature or the circumstances in which he obtained it. This is a powerful tool in his armoury.

TIP

Be guarded. Don't be too forthcoming in a first or casual meeting. Gather intelligence.

Be yourself. Don't misrepresent your wishes, boundaries, preferences, priorities, and red lines.

Do not behave inconsistently. Do not go back on your word. Be firm and resolute.

Impossible Situations

The narcissist engineers impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely and indispensably needed. The narcissist, his knowledge, his skills or his traits become the only ones applicable, or the most useful to coping with these artificial predicaments. It is a form of control by proxy.

TIP

Stay away from such quagmires. Scrutinize every offer and suggestion, no matter how innocuous.

Prepare backup plans. Keep others informed of your whereabouts and appraised of your situation.

Be vigilant and doubting. Do not be gullible and suggestible. Better safe than sorry.

Control by Proxy

If all else fails, the narcissist recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, or the media – in short, third parties – to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

Another form of control by proxy is to engineer situations in which abuse is inflicted upon another person. Such carefully crafted scenarios involve embarrassment and humiliation as well as social sanctions (condemnation, opprobrium, or even physical punishment). Society, or a social group become the instruments of the narcissist.

TIP

Often the abuser's proxies are unaware of their role. Expose him. Inform them. Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by the abuser.

Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve others. Bring it into the open. Nothing like sunshine to disinfest abuse.

Ambient Abuse

The fostering, propagation and enhancement of an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability and irritation. There are no acts of traceable or provable explicit abuse, nor any manipulative settings of control. Yet, the irksome feeling remains, a disagreeable foreboding, a premonition, a bad omen. This is sometimes called "gaslighting".

In the long-term, such an environment erodes one's sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Self-confidence is shaken badly. Often, the victims go a paranoid or schizoid and thus are exposed even more to criticism and judgement. The roles are thus reversed: the victim is considered mentally disordered and the narcissist – the suffering soul or the victim.

TIP

Run! Get away! Ambient abuse often develops into overt and violent abuse.

You don't owe anyone an explanation – but you owe yourself a life. Bail out of the relationship.

The Malignant Optimism of the Abused

I often come across sad examples of the powers of self-delusion that the narcissist provokes in his victims. It is what I call "malignant optimism". People refuse to believe that some questions are unsolvable, some diseases incurable, some disasters inevitable. They see a sign of hope in every fluctuation. They read meaning and patterns into every random occurrence, utterance, or slip. They are deceived by their own pressing need to believe in the ultimate victory of good over evil, health over sickness, order over disorder. Life appears otherwise so meaningless, so unjust and so arbitrary…

So, they impose upon it a design, progress, aims, and paths. This is magical thinking.

"If only he tried hard enough", "If he only really wanted to heal", "If only we found the right therapy", "If only his defences were down", "There MUST be something good and worthy under the hideous facade", "NO ONE can be that evil and destructive", "He must have meant it differently", "God, or a higher being, or the spirit, or the soul is the solution and the answer to our prayers", "He is not responsible for what he is - his narcissism is the product of a difficult childhood, of abuse, and of his monstrous parents."

The Pollyanna defences of the abused are aimed against the emerging and horrible understanding that humans are mere specks of dust in a totally indifferent universe, the playthings of evil and sadistic forces, of which the narcissist is one - and that finally their pain means nothing to anyone but themselves. Nothing whatsoever. It has all been in vain.

The narcissist holds such thinking in barely undisguised contempt. To him, it is a sign of weakness, the scent of prey, a gaping vulnerability. He uses and abuses this human need for order, good, and meaning – as he uses and abuses all other human needs. Gullibility, selective blindness, malignant optimism – these are the weapons of the beast. And the abused are hard at work to provide it with its arsenal.

The mentally ill form dyads or couples. Pathologies attract each and other and resonate in alliances of pain, fused relationships.

Such partnerships are suffused with torment: the mentally ill spouses or intimate partners engage in mutually hurtful conduct. It is also heartbreaking to watch your loved one's inexorable decline.

Gradually, the parties settle on coping strategies that are either "approach" or "avoidance" oriented.

The "approach" strategies include active denial of the problem often via a shared psychosis which renders the mental illness something to espouse, encourage, or be proud of.

Another strategy involves enabling. The enabler collaborates with the mentally sick partner so as to accommodate his or her disability.

Sometimes one of the partners assumes the role and mantle of guru, teacher, coach, guide, or father or mother. He or she suppresses dissent and re-molds the mentally ill partner to conform to some ideal. This could involve harsh or even sadistic criticism and humiliation on a daily basis as well as intermittent reinforcement.

But more often the mentally ill members of the dyad end up avoiding each other and the pain that they cause one another. This hurt aversion leads to extreme estrangement and cruel disengagement. Being ignored and neglected results in decompensation and acting out. The mentally ill partner tries to provoke attention and punish his or her avoidant counterpart by engaging in promiscuous and reckless behaviors.

In extreme cases the wayward partner internalizes and accepts the harsh judgment of her significant other. This can lead to major depressive episodes, psychotic disorders, and suicide.

The tendency to remain in bad relationships - abusive, hopeless, sexless, loveless, doomed - is known as the Sunk Cost (Concorde) Fallacy (or bias). Co-owning a business or property, shared memories, and especially co-parenting tend to cement this bias and pile it on top of traumatic bonding and a fused relationship.

We throw good money after bad just because “we are already invested” in a project. We watch an atrocious movie to the end because we have already spent an hour doing so. We eat food we have ordered even if it sucks. We keep clothes we never wear because we have paid for them. It is a particularly pernicious brand of loss aversion (proclivity to avoid waste). This utterly irrational behavior is motivated by malignant optimism: overestimation of the probabilities of positive outcomes if we just keep going or do something differently.

We are also afraid to look foolish if we admit to having made the wrong decisions consistently (“narcissistic injury”). We sometimes feel responsible and guilty for having made these decisions in the first place.

Of course the rational thing to do is to cut your losses and abandon the dysfunctional relationship. But - divorce statistics aside - surprisingly few do so in time. The results? Wrecked marriages, hateful exes, bruised children, and crumbling enterprises.

Observations on the Dyadic Dynamics of the Narcissist

The narcissist has either of three types of (non-)intimate (not) relationship with his (in)significant other:

1. As playmates, sex buddies, or casual collaborators: no shared fantasy, no drama, very businesslike (transactional), loads of fun til it’s abruptly over or peters out;

2. Companionship shared fantasy: grooming as an admirer/fan and occasional sex partner or sexless service provider (but without lovebombing or honeymoon). A very stable and resilient bond that can last a lifetime;

3. Romantic shared fantasy (usually with labile, dysregulated, promiscuous, approach-avoidant women and imminent abandonment). Involves both grooming and lovebombing (honeymoon phase), lots of sex (often kinky or sadistic), drama, near-psychotic levels of fantasy, and a rollercoaster of idealization and devaluation. Ends with narcissistic mortification.

 

The lovebombing and grooming phase involves co-idealization: both the narcissist and his targeted prospective partner idealize each other.

The narcissist needs to delusionally misperceive his partner as perfection reified because her impeccability reflects on him: ”she is such a treasure - and she chose ME!”

The narcissist’s mate idealizes him because it is through him that she experiences self-love (probably for the first time in her life). She gets emotionally invested (cathected) in his fantastic rendition of her. This is the “hall of mirrors” effect.

The victim aggressively rejects any attempt by family and friends to restore her reality testing and to open her eyes as to the true nature of the predator she had become infatuated with.

In extremis, she may even sever all communication with anyone who dares to criticize her man or disagree with him. Hurt and befuddled, loved ones reciprocate by shunning her.

Gradually, she forms a cultish shared psychosis (shared fantasy) with the narcissist and excludes all others from her life, leaving her as isolated and vulnerable as any hostage.

 

"In Norse mythology the goats slain in Valhalla by the warriors for their feasts were always alive again the next morning.

In a similar way, the
narcissist emerges from every honeymoon a bachelor."

Paraphrased from "Villa and Zapata: A History of the Mexican Revolution" by Frank Mclynn, Basic Books, 2000, pages: 127-128

**

The narcissist does not allow anyone to love him: he reacts with abuse to any attempt at intimacy because he equates attachment with looming and binding commitment, the loss of freedoms, and, thereby, personal stagnation.

Deep inside, the narcissist also realizes that he has to bribe his partner into staying with him and tolerating his mental illness and sadistic abuse. This exigency causes him constant shame and narcissistic injury. Mortification awaits when he is abandoned or ostentatiously cheated on - or both.

The narcissist also feels that “love” is merely self-interested faking, liable to end in betrayal and hurt and, therefore, best avoided. He fends it off preemptively.

Tellingly, the narcissist has no problem to bond with pets or with partners to repeated casual sex precisely because they let him be in full control and expect little in return for their devotion and loyalty.

 

Narcissism is compensatory. In the deepest recesses of his tortured mind, the narcissist realizes his inadequacies. In intimate relationships, he is a petulant child, not an adult man. He knows that, sooner or later, deprived of her most basic needs, his partner will either cheat on him or abandon him.

 

This anticipatory loss gives rise to extreme abandonment anxiety and fear of separation, experienced as “romantic” jealousy. The more labile, dysregulated, promiscuous, exploitative (“gold-digger”), and approach-avoidant (intermittent reinforcer) his mate is, the more constant, all-consuming, and manifest the narcissist’s angst and possessiveness are. But, when breakup is not imminent, the narcissist is neither anxious, nor jealous, even if his partner spends most of her time with other men. As long as object constancy is preserved, I welcome my partner's absence and even the gratification and succor afforded her by her lovers which render her a kinder, more patient "mommy" (ludic time "home alone syndrome").

 

The narcissist’s every behavior in his intimate relationships is aimed at forestalling abandonment. Consider his sexual practices: his sadistic autoerotic sex reduces his partner to an objectified – and, therefore, utterly controllable and inert – plaything, a toy.

 

Conventional sex is out of the question because, at the emotional and psychosexual age of a child, the narcissist is incapable of perceiving his counterparty as a desirable, gendered, full-fledged person. Moreover, having parentified his spouse, the narcissist renders reciprocal, mature sex all but incestuous. His partner’s conventional sex with other men is, therefore, not perceived as threatening as long as it is decoupled from object inconstancy (bears no risk of abandonment). 

Contrary to online myths, the narcissist is not possessive of his partner, protective of her, or jealous. Nor does the narcissist compete with other males who lay claim to “his” female – as long as her dalliances, affairs, hookups, and liaisons do not threaten the integrity and the longevity of the shared fantasy. “Mommy” can do as she pleases with real men as long as she loves unconditionally and in perpetuity her “child” back at home.

 

When the narcissist decides to devalue and discard his partner, his separation anxiety dissipates and he wants her gone. During this terminal phase of bargaining and discard, the narcissist actually actively pushes his partner towards other men in the hope of ridding himself of her nagging presence.

**

The narcissist goes through vacillating mortifications (both counterfactual): from internal to external and back.

 

Narcissistic abuse type 1 (in the shared fantasy) revolves around externalized negativity: pessimism, ostentatious disappointment and disapproval, criticism, intermittent reinforcement, and rejections. Type 2 (during the bargaining phase) includes verbal, psychological, sexual, financial, and legal abuse, often in the forms of withdrawal and avoidance.

 

External mortification

 

“Women reject me first and only then do I react with abuse and negativity”

 

Internal mortification

 

“I abuse women first and exude negativity and only then do they react with abusive misbehavior, cheating, and abandonment.”

 

Reality

 

Women reject and abuse the narcissist concurrent with his type 1 low-grade ambient abuse. He then escalates it, becomes proactive, and varies his maltreatment, coupling it with both externalized and internalized negativity. This then leads to cheating and abandonment: mutual hostilities culminate in MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction).

 

Type 2 abuse sets in as an integral part of the devaluation-discard-replace phases of the relationship cycle.

The narcissist escalates his type 1 abuse when he detects imminent abandonment or anticipates it as he tests the boundaries, loyalty, and parental qualifications of the straying errant partner.

**

1. The narcissist invites you into his hall of distorting carnival mirrors where you see yourself idealized and amplified a thousand times. Infatuation with oneself is one of the two pillars of trauma bonding, the other being intermittent reinforcement: the threat of expelling you from this newfound reflective Eden.

 

2. If you know the potential consequences of your misconduct and still you opt to misbehave, it means that you want to make these outcomes happen.

 

3. If you have a choice between an outright abuser and someone who feigns empathy, concern for you, and kindness because he wants something from you - choose the latter: at least you matter to him enough to invest in faking it.

 

4. Observe actions, ignore words. If someone keeps commiserating with your victimhood, he wants you to remain a victim. Try being happy for a change and watch his "friendship" and "succor" evaporate.

 

The narcissist grooms potential sources of sadistic or narcissistic supply and proceeds to extract it from them in a well-demarcated and boundaried ecosystem called “pathological narcissistic space (PNS)”.

The PNS could be a physical location (neighborhood pub, church, or workplace, for example), a system (e.g. the narcissist’s family, or a group of fans), or a virtual environment online (a support group, a YouTube channel, a social media account, a MMORPG multiplayer game, a MOOC class).

Sooner or later, the PNS collapses as the narcissist alienates, disappoints, and enrages everyone. He is then forced to devalue, discard, and replace the hitherto idealized niche (his current PNS) and scout for alternatives.

When circumstances - such as a pandemic or a war or a recession - conspire to restrict the narcissist’s mobility, access, or ability to conjure up a substitute PNS, it can lead to personal collapse, mood lability, emotional dysregulation, and even to mortification.

 

We all strive to default to an ego-syntonic comfort zone outside of which we experience dissonances and anxieties. Our comfort zones are narratives that fulfill several requirements and cater to crucial psychological needs:

1. The comfort zone comprises a coherent and cohesive library of theories of mind (mentalism) and of the world (Umwelt). It allows us to predict the future choices and behaviors of people and thus sustain a sense of personal safety;

2. The comfort zone is a set of principles that provide our lives and the world around us with organization and structure (both endoskeleton);

3. The comfort zone imbues everything we experience or do with meaning and helps to make sense of an otherwise chaotic reality;

4. The comfort zone generates directions and goals to pursue (exoskeleton).

5. Finally, the comfort zone seamlessly incorporates our values and beliefs, our Weltanschauung (is axiological and normative), typically acquired via the twin processes of socialization and acculturation. Our conscience (superego, inner critic) is an integral part of our comfort zone.

Personal boundaries firewall the comfort zone: a form of signalling as to which behaviors and communication (messages) are permitted and which are actionable, out of bound, and will trigger reprisals and sanctions.

The comfort zone is such a critically utilitarian piece of psychological equipment that people ferociously resist any attempt to alter, modify, or challenge it even when they come to accept that it is manifestly and patently counterproductive, self-destructive, and self-defeating.

 

Often, victims set boundaries long after the abuser had moved on and out, having plundered and pillaged everything they had, having lost all interest in them anyhow, and having traumatized his hapless prey for life.

Examples of shutting firmly the doors of an empty stable: "I will never again date this guy who had raped me while I was drunk" or "After 20 years of his abuse, I moved out".

For boundaries to be effective, they must meet four conditions:

1. They should be firm and rigid, never fuzzy or negotiable;

2. They must be clear and unequivocal and communicated unambiguously;

3. They must come replete with carrots and sticks applied to everyone automatically and equally - including to oneself: rewards for behaviors that conform to the boundaries and punishments for any violation. The deterrent inherent in them must be credible and just - not knee-jerk and arbitrary.

4. Zero tolerance: first strike and you are out, first breach and you are gone, first offense or incident of maltreatment and the offending perpetrator is history.

**

Narcissist regards your love as a weakness, a vulnerability he can exploit and leverage to obtain supply, sex, and services and, if he is a sadist, to hurt you.

 

Women escalate and fail to get a rise out of him: he doesn't mind or care.

 

The narcissist grieves the shared fantasy not you: his sunk cost (investment) and the inconvenience of having to start all over again. His mourning is aggressive and closer to fury that to pain and sadness.

 

Women are the only ones who can mortify the narcissist because he reframes their cheating and betrayal as total rejection of his entire being in every possible role (man, lover, companion, guru, husband, father, even provider). Men reject only specific functions and roles that the narcissist fails in (business partner, collaborator, friend).

 

RELATIONSHIP CYCLE

 

Grooming and love bombing (including false promises)

 

Shared fantasy leads to narcissistic abuse type 1, intended to test the parental capacity of the partner and reenact early childhood conflicts with the narcissist's parents.

 

Women cheat or betray discreetly, withdraw leads to the narcissist stalking them OR Women bargain and demand leads to narcissistic abuse type 2 (aimed at jettisoning the partner).

 

Women cheat ostentatiously, abandon The narcissist reframes from internal to external mortification and back (vacillating mortification).

 

Reason for vacillation: shared fantasy is ego syntonic and he feels wronged while the bargaining phase is ego dystonic and he feel that he is in the wrong.

 

The narcissist vacillates between an internal cognitive mortification (I am bad, evil, and rejecting) and an external emotional one (I experience my partner or others as bad, evil, and rejecting).

 

There is a kernel of truth in both mortifications.

 

In reality, women do reject, humiliate, and abandon the narcissist as a way to exit the shared fantasy or end the bargaining. It renders the external mortification plausible. But the truth is that women misbehave this way reactively, after he had rejected and abused them egregiously.

 

Following his abuse and rejection during the shared fantasy, the narcissist stalks women.

 

During the bargaining phase he continues to abuse them in order to push them to cheat on him or betray him ostentatiously and thus dump him. This allows him to: (shared fantasy) 1. Re-enact the early conflict with my mother; 2. Help him revert to external mortification by rendering it somewhat more grounded in reality; (bargaining) 3. Get rid of his partner.

 

**

 

The cerebral narcissist is a one trick insufferably haughty, delusional, and entitled pony.

 

The cerebral offers a front row seat to the pyrotechnics of his Fortean intellect, but nothing else besides: no sex, commitment, investment, warmth, family, home, children, empathy, attentiveness, attention, succor, support, friendship, intimacy, no socializing, good time, leisure activities, or positive emotions, most notably love. He is invariably abusive and contemptuous of everyone, sometimes sadistically so.

 

He honestly and firmly believes that it is an extreme privilege just to witness and admire his intelligence in action.

 

He is mortified when his intimate partners cheat on him with other men who are considerably less endowed than him intellectually, or when people shun him and label him a failure and a loser (despite his self-imputed genius), or when he fails to get the job he was angling for.

 

He cannot grasp that for intelligence to be meaningful to others, it must be embedded in emotions, empathy, and come replete with social skills and the capacity for teamwork.

 

Moreover, as far as his spouse or partner are concerned, to make any lasting sense and impression, cognitive-analytical prowess must be passed on to off-spring or else it ends up being a one-off, ephemeral, and increasingly more tedious to behold blip or glitch.

 

Yet, sometimes, the childless cerebral narcissist hoards his gift so jealously that he refuses to share it even by having progeny!

 

The somatic narcissist's shared fantasy: admirer (of body functionality, especially sexual prowess and irresistibility), playmate (mainly sexual and in kink), mother (the somatic turned ON by incest - not like cerebral who is turned OFF).

 

**

 

The process of idealizing a potential or an actual source of narcissistic supply ("intimate partner") is coupled with the Hall of Mirrors Effect.

When the narcissist's mate perceives her reflection in his carnival attraction, it does not amount to the creation of another self.

The narcissist idealizes his source of secondary supply ("intimate partner") and then grants her access to his Hall of Mirrors, where she beholds this idealized image of herself.

This allows her to experience unconditional self-love (possibly for the first time in her life). It is akin to re-parenting. In the first two years of life, parents idealize and reflect the child via unconditional love.

 

In the first encounters, the narcissist assumes the role of the strict, ostensibly benevolent, but sadistic parent ("tough love") - or the hurt, petulant, entitled, self-centred, and sadistic child. As a parent, he is having sadistic incest. As a child, he is having masochistic incest. The inevitable cheating by the partner punishes the parent and mortifies the child, fostering personal development and growth as well as a creative spurt.

In the narcissist’s relationships OF ALL KINDS (romantic, business, "friendships"), there are five phases: grooming, shared fantasy, interstitial I (two options: exit or persist), mortification or anti-fantasy, and interstitial II.

 

The Cathexis Kill Switch is a component of the Cathexis Lens (see an earlier post): to be able to efficaciously redirect his emotional investment (cathexis) from one object ("partner") to the next (reposition the lens), the narcissist first has to turn off all emotions related to the now discarded target.

The Kill Switch feels startlingly real, almost like a physiological event. With breathtaking abruptness, all "love" and interest are gone, all "emotions" evaporate: from 100% to 0 in a millisecond. Literally.

His cathexis energy thus released and at his disposal, the narcissist is free to apply it to grooming and idealizing his next prey (love-bombing).

 

**

 

The narcissist faces an unresolvable conundrum: he abuses and rejects his (in)significant other and expects her to accept and embrace him as he is. His rejection and abuse reify his essence, these twin misbehaviors are who he is, his quiddity. If she truly loves him then she must love his rejection and abuse as well: without them, the narcissist is inconceivable, not himself.

In other words: if the narcissist's partner complies with his rejection of her by walking out on him - he perceives her as rejecting and frustrating. Only if she accepts his rejection and coexists with his abuse, does she prove her love for him.

It is a kind of perverted test of allegiance, a trial by fire. Rejecting his abuse and acting on his rejection amount to failure. Sticking around for more is proof positive of worthy devotion.

Regrettably, the test has to be administered frequently in order to rule out any pernicious outside influences or internal dynamics which may lead to an unfortunate change of heart: “One can never be too safe with victims or trust them nowadays! Their eyes are opened!”

 

**

 

People with dramatic or erratic (cluster B) personality disorders are manipulative and often tell you what you want and need to hear most. They shapeshift, chameleon-like, and, for a while, BECOME you. They profess to share the same values and outlook on life. They even imitate and reflect your most typical gestures.

Self-love in this hall of mirrors is the most intoxicating and addictive form of infatuation. The relief of having found your carbon copy soulmate and long lost twin is irresistible and overwhelming.

It is during this window of vulnerability that the narcissist, psychopath, borderline, or histrionic strike: abuse you, torture you, steal from you, humiliate, deceive, betray, cheat, badmouth and smear, or dump you. Usually, all the above.

 

The histrionic narcissist disastrously misjudges the nature, depth, extent, and longevity of his intimate relationships, as well as the motivations and expectations involved: he overperceives the former, underperceives the latter.

He idealizes his partner, but it comes with a steep price tag: the narcissist is unforgiving. He monitors errors, weakness, and failures like a hawk, eager to capture his mate in flagrante. He is not supportive, not there when most needed because he regards self-insufficiency as deplorable meekness and actionable inadequacy. The narcissist capitalizes gleefully and sadistically on any misstep to erode his companion's self-esteem and undermine her self-confidence. Using unrelenting intermittent reinforcement, he becomes the sole regulator and arbiter of her self-worth.

The narcissist pushes his (in)significant other to the limit, but never beyond it - unless and until he wants to discard her owing to her unacceptable demands on his time, money, or liberty. He is finely tuned in his abuse and subtly calibrated as long as his partner is of any use and provides at least 2 of the 3 essential Ss: Sex, Supply, Services.

The personality pathologies of the narcissist's partner resonate with his. A mentally compromised individual lacks boundaries and opens her core to an idealized white knight in shining armor: a rescuer, savior, and healer. Only to find out to her utter devastation that the gift has been a Trojan Horse all along.

 

SUMMARY

 

User, Taker, Exploiter = Predator


Narcissists and psychopaths do not form committed relationships that are (1) long-term or (2) based on any emotions.


Rather, they collaborate ad hoc, extract benefits, secure favorable outcomes, and instantly discard the sources when they are (1) no longer of use or (2) have turned maliciously hostile.


When narcissists and psychopaths are forced to return to the scene of a systemic failure (in business and in a relationship), they numb myself emotionally as they experience depression.


The only complete solution is to relocate, initiate new business, and start a new relationship with a new woman (establish a new Pathological Narcissistic Space).


A partial and inefficacious solution is to buttress their grandiosity by keeping very busy or by getting involved in a new venture with a new position.


Women: Are they mothers - or whores?


Narcissists and psychopaths abuse women - including sexually - as an ongoing test: Will they continue to be useful? Will they act with malice? What is their breaking point? (In other words: are they mothers - or whores?)


Narcissists and psychopaths are interested only in two types of interactions: (1) Adulation and (2) Stress testing limits and boundaries via abuse and sadistic sex acts (despoiling).


Narcissists and psychopaths are not interested in intimacy, friendship, companionship, or reciprocated adult sex.


Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap


The narcissists and psychopaths’s show is going on throughout their lives. The ensembles of actors change, but the play remains the same: the shared fantasy. The actors are interchangeable, commoditized.


Narcissists and psychopaths crave the state of shared fantasy because it is an exit strategy from their lives and allows me to not be themselves.


The shared fantasy is an organizing principle and imbues the narcissists and psychopaths’s existence with cinematic color, meaning, direction, thrills, and goals.


But, being a fantasy, this dream state is vicarious and, comfortingly has no real-life consequences.


When in a shared fantasy, the narcissists and psychopaths are "normal" and hopeful: they possess (faux, grandiose and erotomanic) "emotions", make (unrealistic and delusional) "plans", and are (manically) upbeat and energized. It is a self-induced, largely controlled, manic state, akin to Bipolar Disorder.


Shared fantasies come in three forms:


With a man


With a woman


Creative work

 

Shared fantasies are the only way out of the sometimes life-threatening clinical depression which invariably follows failures, injuries, and mortifications.


Narcissists and psychopaths are actually not into sex (but into sadistic despoiling) and are not interested in money (but in economic security or power). Thus, their measure of self-actualization is the extent of time spent within the shared fantasies.


The narcissists and psychopaths’s lives are comprised of cycles of long shared fantasies, followed by short major depressive episodes.


During these long depressions, they hoard, collect, author texts, overeat, watch films, withdraw socially and romantically, avoid sex, shower frequently.


Only one type of shared fantasy is sufficient to sustain the narcissists and psychopaths’s wellbeing. When another person provides all three shared fantasy types combined it fosters unbroken attachment.


With MEN


"Useful": able and willing to provide supply, services, and (far less important and dispensable) money, whether actually, or potentially (subject to circumstances, like the pandemic or business constraints).


Narcissists and psychopaths maintain FULL CONTACT (within a shared fantasy) with a man only when and only for as long as he actually provides all 3 (supply, money, services).


Narcissists and psychopaths maintain LIMITED CONTACT (during interstitial I) with a man only when he remains useful (actually or potentially, based on her track record) and even if he is hostile (providing he is not malicious).


Narcissists and psychopaths go NO CONTACT if the man is no longer of use, regardless of how he feels about them and about the relationship.


Narcissists and psychopaths go NO CONTACT if the man is malicious (even when he is useful, actually or potentially, based on her track record).


When in the limited and no contact strategies, Narcissists and psychopaths lose all interest in the man, they are not protective or possessive, not attentive or supportive, couldn't care less about him, his fate, family, crises he may face.


In limited contact, Narcissists and psychopaths limit the interaction to extracting supply or to receiving services or money.


Men exit the shared fantasy disillusioned, sad, and enraged, having realized that the narcissists or psychopaths is a phantast, commitmentphobe, liar, loser, failure, misanthrope, misogynist, and sadistic abuser.


They give up on the narcissist and psychopath and resort to other men to do business with or befriend.


With WOMEN

 

"Useful": able and willing to provide supply, services, and (far less important and dispensable) submissive sex, whether actually, or potentially (subject to circumstances, like the pandemic or family constraints).


Narcissists and psychopaths maintain FULL CONTACT (within a shared fantasy) with a woman only when and only for as long as she actually provides all 3 Ss (supply, sex, services).


Narcissists and psychopaths maintain LIMITED CONTACT (during interstitial I) with a woman only when she remains useful (actually or potentially, based on her track record) and even if she is hostile (providing she is not malicious).


Narcissists and psychopaths go NO CONTACT if the woman is no longer of use, regardless of how she feels about them and about the relationship.


Narcissists and psychopaths go NO CONTACT if the woman is malicious (even when she is useful, actually or potentially, based on her track record).


When in the limited and no contact strategies, narcissists and psychopaths lose all interest in the woman, are not protective or possessive, am not attentive or supportive, couldn't care less about.


In limited contact, Narcissists and psychopaths limit the interaction to extracting supply.


Women exit the shared fantasy disillusioned, sad, and enraged, having realized that the narcissists or psychopaths is a phantast, commitmentphobe, liar, loser, failure, misanthrope, misogynist, and sadistic abuser.


They give up on narcissists and psychopaths and resort to other men, for a night (S, B, L, N) or for life (N, K), to satisfy their unmet needs, but also as a way to triangulate, hurt, and punish narcissists and psychopaths.

 


Also Read

Codependence, Counterdependence and Dependent Personality Disorder

The Dependent

 The Narcissist and His Family

Narcissists, Sex and Fidelity

The Victims of the Narcissist

Narcissism By Proxy

The Narcissistic Couple

The Extramarital Narcissist

The Inverted Narcissist

Mourning the Narcissist

Narcissists and Women

Surviving the Narcissist

My Woman and I

What is Abuse?

Abuse in the Family

Back to La-la Land

The Cult of the Narcissist

The Narcissist in Love

Narcissists - Stable or Unstable?

The Two Loves of the Narcissist

That Thing Between a Man and a Woman

The Malignant Optimism of the Abused

Grandiosity and Intimacy - The Roots of Paranoia

Narcissists, Narcissistic Supply and Sources of Supply


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