|February 25, 2002
Dr. Vaknin is author of of the informative book, Malignant
Self Love - Narcissism Revisited. He also edits various mental
health categories on Open Directory, Suite101, Go.Com and
SearchEurope.com. While his doctorate is not in mental health,
this well-informed author clearly did his homework and writes from
experience. Dr. Vaknin's CV is published
here. His book, and much more, is available in hard copy or
download on his main
EDITED 2/09. Unfortunately, while the content itself stands on its own
in helping people understand narcissism, the writer's credibility may
For example, see here:
finally mustered the courage and determination to divorce him. But he
refuses to let go, he threatens me and stalks and harasses me. I am
sometimes afraid for my life. He is also a convincing pathological liar.
I am afraid he will turn the judge against me...
I am not a divorce lawyer and, therefore, cannot relate to the
legal aspects of your predicament. But I can elaborate on three important elements:
I. How to cope with your narcissist throughout the prolonged
II. How to expose the manipulations of the narcissist in court?
III. What to expect of the narcissist as your divorce unfolds? Will
he become violent?
Divorce is a life crisis - and more so for the narcissist. The narcissist stands to lose not only his spouse but an important
source of narcissistic supply. This results in narcissistic injury, rage, and
an all-pervasive feelings of injustice, helplessness and paranoia.
I. How to Cope with the Narcissist
If he has a rage attack - rage back. This will provoke in him fears
of being abandoned and the resulting calm will be so total that it
might seem unbelievable. Narcissists are known for these sudden tectonic shifts in mood and in behaviour patterns.
the narcissist's actions and repeat his words. If he threatens -
threaten back and credibly try to use the same language and content. If
he leaves the house - leave it as well, disappear on him. If he is
suspicious - act suspicious. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating, go
down to his level - because that is where he permanently is. Faced with
his mirror image - the narcissist always recoils.
The other way is to abandon him and go about reconstructing your
own life. Very few people deserve the kind of investment that is an
absolute prerequisite to living with a narcissist. To cope with a narcissist
is a full time, energy and emotion-draining job, which reduces the
persons around the narcissist to insecure nervous wrecks.
II. The Narcissist in Court
How can you expose the lies of the Narcissist in a court of law? He
acts so convincing!
A clear distinction has to be made between the FACTUAL pillar and
the PSYCHOLOGICAL pillar of any cross-examination or deposition of a narcissist.
is essential to be equipped with absolutely unequivocal, first rate,
thoroughly authenticated and vouched for information. The reason is
that narcissists are superhuman in their capacity to distort reality by
offering highly "plausible" alternative scenarios, which fit most of
It is very easy to break a narcissist - even a well-trained and
prepared one. Here are a few of the things the narcissist finds devastating:
statement or fact, which seems to contradict his inflated perception of
his grandiose self. Any criticism, disagreement, exposure of fake
achievements, belittling of "talents and skills" which the narcissist
fantasizes that he possesses, any hint that he is subordinated,
subjugated, controlled, owned or dependent upon a third party. Any
description of the narcissist as average and common, indistinguishable
from many others. Any hint that the narcissist is weak, needy,
dependent, deficient, slow, not intelligent, naive, gullible,
susceptible, not in the know, manipulated, a victim.
narcissist is likely to react with rage to all these and, in an effort
to re-establish his fantastic grandiosity, he is likely to expose facts
and stratagems he had no conscious intention of exposing.
The narcissist reacts with narcissistic rage, hatred, aggression,
or violence to an infringement of what he perceives to be his
believe that they are so unique and that their lives are so cosmically
significant that others should defer to their needs and cater to their
every whim without ado. The narcissist feels entitled to special
treatment by unique individuals, over and above the regular person.
insinuation, hint, intimation, or direct declaration that the
narcissist is not special at all, that he is average, common, not even
sufficiently idiosyncratic to warrant a fleeting interest will inflame
Add to this a
negation of the narcissist's sense of entitlement - and the combustion
is inevitable. Tell the narcissist that he does not deserve the best
treatment, that his needs are not everyone's priority, that he is
boring, that his needs can be catered to by an average practitioner
(medical doctor, accountant, lawyer, psychiatrist), that he and his
motives are transparent and can be easily gauged, that he will do what
he is told, that his temper tantrums will not be tolerated, that no
special concessions will be made to accommodate his inflated sense of
self, that he is subject to court procedures, etc. - and the narcissist
will lose control.
The narcissist believes that he is the cleverest, far above the
madding crowd. If contradicted, exposed, humiliated, berated ("You are not
as intelligent as you think you are", "Who is really behind all this?
It takes sophistication which you don't seem to have", "So, you have
no formal education", "you are (mistake his age, make him much older)
... sorry, you are ... old", "What did you do in your life? Did you
study? Do you have a degree? Did you ever establish or run a business?
Would you define yourself as a success?", "Would your children share your
view that you are a good father?", "You were last seen with a Ms. ...
who is (suppressed grin) a DOMESTIC (in demeaning disbelief)". I know that
many of these questions cannot be asked outright in a court of law. But
you CAN hurl these sentences at him during the breaks, inadvertently
during the examination or deposition phase, etc.
III. What to Expect
are often vindictive and they often stalk and harass. Basically, there
are only two ways of coping with vindictive narcissists:
1. To Frighten Them
live in a state of constant rage, repressed aggression, envy and
hatred. They firmly believe that everyone is like them. As a result,
they are paranoid, suspicious, scared and erratic. Frightening the
narcissist is a powerful behaviour modification tool. If sufficiently
deterred - the narcissist promptly disengages, gives up everything he
was fighting for and sometimes make amends.
act effectively, one has to identify the vulnerabilities and
susceptibilities of the narcissist and strike repeated, escalating
blows at them - until the narcissist lets go and vanishes.
If a narcissist is hiding a personal fact - one should use this to threaten him. One should drop cryptic hints that there are
mysterious witnesses to the events and recently revealed evidence. The
narcissist has a very vivid imagination. Let his imagination do the rest.
narcissist may have been involved in tax evasion, in malpractice, in
child abuse, in infidelity - there are so many possibilities, which
offer a rich vein of attack. If done cleverly, non-committally,
gradually, in an escalating manner - the narcissist crumbles,
disengages and disappears. He lowers his profile thoroughly in the hope
of avoiding hurt and pain. Most narcissists have been known to disown
and abandon a whole PNS (pathological narcissistic space) in response
to a well-focused campaign by their victims. Thus, a narcissist may
leavetown, change a job, desert a field of professional interest, avoid
friends and acquaintances - only to secure a cessation of the
unrelenting pressure exerted on him by his victims.
repeat: most of the drama takes place in the paranoid mind of the
narcissist. His imagination runs amok. He finds himself snarled by
horrifying scenarios, pursued by the vilest "certainties". The
narcissist is his own worst persecutor and prosecutor.
don't have to do much except utter a vague reference, make an ominous
allusion, delineate a possible turn of events. The narcissist will do
the rest for you. He is like a little child in the dark, generating the
very monsters that paralyse him with fear.
to add that all these activities have to be pursued legally, preferably
through the good services of law offices and in broad daylight. If done
in the wrong way - they might constitute extortion or blackmail,
harassment and a host of other criminal offences.
2. To Lure Them
other way to neutralize a vindictive narcissist is to offer him
continued narcissistic supply until the war is over and won by you.
by the drug of narcissistic supply - the narcissist immediately becomes
tamed, forgets his vindictiveness and triumphantly takes over his
"property" and "territory". Under the influence of narcissistic supply,
the narcissist is unable to tell when he is being manipulated.
He is blind, dumb and deaf to all but the song of the NS sirens.
You can make a narcissist do ANYTHING by offering, withholding, or
threatening to withhold narcissistic supply (adulation, admiration, attention,
sex, awe, subservience, etc.).