A world renowned doctor of psychology has revealed how a narcissist really views you in a relationship, and since being twice diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder he’s in a good position to know.
Dr Sam Vaknin, 61, from Israel has worked in journalism, medicine and is now a doctor and professor of psychology.
He is the author of one of the first in depth books about narcissism – Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, published in 1999, and collected the world’s largest database on narcissists which is now used worldwide in studies today.
In an exclusive interview with FEMAIL Dr Vaknin has revealed what really fuels narcissistic behaviour, but warns that the term is now ‘overused’ online and ‘self-styled experts’ are cashing in on victims of abuse.
Here he tells FEMAIL why the narcissist, who can be either male or female, is a ‘child trapped in an adult’s body’ who has issues with their mother.
One of the world’s leading experts on the condition Israeli Professor Dr Sam Vaknin speaks candidly about NPD
Dr Vankin is the author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism revisited, published in 1999
HE SEES YOU AS ANOTHER VERSION OF HIS MOTHER
Dr Vaknin says that narcissism usually has its root in mother issues stemming back to childhood.
This could men anything from a mother who can’t let go of the child, idolises them or neglects them.
‘This could be in the form of making the child act like a parent, or not allowing them to detach naturally from them as children should,’ he explained.
‘They can idolize or use the child to fulfill their own needs, when the child becomes an extension of the parent and they aren’t allowed to become an individual.
‘This creates rage, depression and grief in the child. The child grieves that they are not seen by a selfish or depressed parent and they feel consumed and smothered.
Dr Vaknin appeared in a BBC documentary in the 90s and revealed he had been diagnosed with the disorder. He also claims he is ‘one of six or seven people in the world with an IQ of 190’
Dr Vaknin wants to dispel the ‘dangerous lies’ of self-help gurus online, which only ‘serve to keep victims in a perpetual state of victimhood’
‘So then when someone with NPD ventures out into the world, they are grandiose, like a toddler, but with none of the coping mechanisms to go with it. It’s like a two- year-old with a gun.
‘When seeking an intimate partner they seek to detach from the mother figure, hence the idealize, devalue, discard phases often seen.
‘The mother is ideal, so he idealizes you in the same way.
‘You are an empty shape, to be turned into the mother. He needs to grow up to be with a partner, be an adult.
‘They need to complete this uncompleted process but he can’t do it with the real mother – so he converts his partner into a mother, so he can replay the unfinished business.
‘He or she needs to degrade the partner in order to detach from the mother, so the narcissist then goes on to destroy you.
‘I keep saying mother and not father. Father issues also exist and they exist with men and women – but becoming an individual, this is to do with the mother.
‘They have to break you down and detach from the mother, by discarding you.’
The content creator and psychology expert says that ‘even if you are a slug the narcissist will go for you, if you supply certain things’
YOU MEAN NOTHING TO THEM
‘Despite what self-styled experts claim, the narcissist isn’t choosy in who their partner is – they just happen to be there, much like an internet provider,’ said Dr Vankin.
Recognising the warning signs of NPD: The character traits commonly associate with narcissism
Learning How To Leave: A Practical Guide To Stepping Away From Toxic & Narcissistic Relationships by Michael Padraig Acton reveals common narcissistc traits. Not every below trait has to match for a person to be considered a narcissist.
- A lack of humility. True narcissists are ‘never wrong’ and never feel remorseful. Although they may apologise for a situation, this will almost always be accompanied by a thinly-disguised excuse with the victim blamed in some way.
- Since they believe they are never wrong, narcissists often react angrily when criticised.
- Narcissists are skilled at commanding the attention and admiration of others, often boasting about their achievements.
- Narcissists are so disconnected from themselves that they can’t even begin to relate to others on an emotional level. Empathy and, by extension, love are alien concepts to them, although they are often able to put on an act to cover up this deficiency
- Narcissists will often call and/or text their partners excessively. This controlling behaviour is often misconstrued as a sign of love and commitment.
- Narcissists without attention will become either sulky, depressed or angry.
- Narcissists despise normality and see themselves as above everyday concerns (which rarely provide them with the special attention they crave).
- This can mean they fail to hold down a job or handle finances responsibly, often deliberately engineering crises to direct attention onto them.
‘They need the four S’s: Sex, Supply, Safety and Services. If you provide two of those, you will do.
‘One of the most dangerous concepts out there is that you are “somehow special” or “talented” for being chosen by the narcissist.
‘Your hopes, dreams and figure mean nothing – you could be a raging psychopath, a serial killer, even a slug – the narcissist will go for you as long as you are willing and able to provide two out of the four S’s.
‘You are simply nothing to them – they don’t care. You are an interchangeable source of supply.
‘As long as they feel special the person will entertain you.’
THEY SEE YOU AS WEAK
Dr Vankin said that a long relationship with a narcissist does not equal loyalty on their part.
‘They know exactly what they are doing and can stay with you for years, idealizing and devaluing you again and again,’ he said.
‘As long as you are giving them at least two of the four S’s, it doesn’t matter who you are – as long as you provide these things.
‘It starts with love bombing, which many are familiar with and then moves onto a phase of shared fantasy where the victim and the narcissist congratulate each other on being so special.
‘It’s intoxicating for the victim – you see yourself as you’ve never seen yourself before, and that can be addictive.
‘Some people even want to stay with the narcissist for that reason – and others want to help them, seeing the lost child within. But under that there is nothing, no empathy.
‘Then the devalue happens – and this, the narcissist is also aware of, they need to do it as part of their mental process.’
While the devalue stage is devastating for the victim, your emotions do not trigger empathy in the narcissist, as they would an atypical person.
In fact Dr Vankin claims that when you are emotional, you are seen as ‘weak’ and this is a bad reflection on the person with NPD.
He said: ‘The narcissist feels that if you are weak and emotional, then so are they, even if they made you that way intentionally.’
THEY WILL EASILY REPLACE YOU WITH SOMEONE ELSE
On his YouTube videos, where he has a following of thousands, Dr Vankin explains how ‘no contact’ is the only way to go when dealing with someone diagnosed with NPD.
This is because they can ‘hoover you’ once you have been discarded and ‘re-idealize’ you all over again if they are in need of a supply.
Hoovering is a term commonly used by psychologists when describing how a narcissist will try to suck you back in once they have discarded you. This could be via text, phone or other forms of love bombing.
‘As soon as they are done with you, they will find someone else – it is of little importance who that person is, they are just a supply to use up, nothing more.
‘It doesn’t mean they are better than you – they are just a shape, a nothing, a void to fill with trauma.’
However Dr Vaknin makes it clear there is a difference between a sociopath and a narcissist, which are commonly confused on internet forums for victims.
He said ‘A narcissist needs people, they need supply. A sociopath doesn’t, they need anything but themselves. Their intimate partners are merely playthings.’
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