Can a narcissist be obsessed with someone
Marie-France Hirigoyen has just finished a psychotherapeutic session. She is experienced in handling Skype calls. Most patients consult them virtually in lockdown. In France, the psychiatrist is considered a specialist in narcissistic personality disorders. In her book, published this spring The Toxic Power of Narcissists and How We Can Resist It (C.H. Beck) she analyzes a widespread pathology of our time. A conversation about the destructive power of perverted narcissists, their perfidious strategies and the question of what role feminism could play in the fight against it.
Friday: Narcissists as far as the eye can see. How do you explain this phenomenon, Ms. Hirigoyen?
Marie-France Hirigoyen: There is clearly a connection between our capitalist system and the massive incidence of narcissists. Our performance-centered, consumer and profit-oriented society promotes greed. Narcissistic traits are also reinforced by the ubiquitous self-centeredness.
In your book, almost without exception, you describe narcissistic politicians. Are there also narcissistic politicians?
(laughs) Yes, but you see them less, they are usually in the second row. The wives of tyrants are also often narcissistic. They team up with their own kind to better live out their need for power. If narcissists are at the forefront, it is mostly because they copy male behavior patterns. Margaret Thatcher, for example, had a very masculine demeanor. Angela Merkel, on the other hand, is not narcissistic at all. She does not put her appearance in the foreground. She stayed in power because she remained true to herself.
Perverted narcissists are particularly dangerous for their partners. How is this threat expressed?
A perverted narcissist is someone who is looking for a partner to compensate for their shortcomings. You have to think of these people as an empty shell, as someone who is constantly acting. He embeds himself in the psyche of his victim in order to exalt himself by destroying the other. The more he can humiliate his victim, the more important and bigger he feels. Perverted narcissists are particularly dangerous because they are perfect seducers and appear very adjusted. This masquerade comes to an end as soon as they have completely absorbed their victims. Then they act very unscrupulously because they have no moral restrictions whatsoever. They have no empathy at all, but are quite able to pretend empathy to those around them.
How do they manage to subjugate their victims?
In the beginning, they attack self-esteem. The other is made responsible for everything bad, for everything that doesn't work, until he believes in it himself. On top of that, perverted narcissists have excellent intuition that enables them to quickly spot the weaknesses of their target objects. In a skilful way, they unsettle the other, so that he begins to doubt himself and his perception and blames himself for everything.
Marie-France Hirigoyen, Born in 1949, practiced as a psychoanalyst in Paris. The doctor of medicine deals as an author with mental violence in general and psychological terror in particular. Her book The masks of wickedness from 1999 is an international bestseller
Does narcissism have gender-specific characteristics? Women are said to be particularly vain ...
Vanity is only a minor part of narcissism; men and women are roughly on par. But take the example of Harvey Weinstein, God knows no paragon of beauty. His powers of seduction consisted of power and money. In America there are many studies on the subject of narcissism, especially since it is even more rampant there than in Germany or France. It was unanimously found that men are significantly more narcissistic than women when it comes to striving for power or arrogance. Women have more doubts about themselves, about their appearance, but also about their abilities. But a real narcissist does not doubt himself.
What prey does a narcissist look for?
Victims are mostly people who appreciate the sense of security narcissists give them at the beginning of a relationship. But that is a deceptive protection that the narcissist offers. It is all about his own superiority.
Is a narcissist more likely to choose strong or weak women?
Narcissists like to choose women who will raise their standing. These are strong women with personality traits that the narcissist does not have. A narcissist is obsessed with envy and resentment, which relates not only to material things, but also to inner values. His strategy of destruction begins as soon as the woman becomes aware of his true intentions.
How can one distinguish between benevolent and malicious seduction? There is a magic inherent in every beginning.
Narcissistic seduction is not an ordinary seduction; she often plays with the role of victim. For example, a man will claim that his ex treated him badly. Therefore, his current wife must take special care of him; in return, however, he will hardly consider the needs of the new woman. Or he attributes any professional failures to intrigue. In no way does he see himself responsible for his defeats.
Does the perpetrator-victim reversal actually still work, despite all educational campaigns?
This reversal is characteristic of cases of violence. Violent offenders always blame their victims for violence. The man poses as a victim of the woman he beats. He only did violence to the woman because she triggered this behavior in him. Many women still have too little self-confidence. This makes the perverse narcissist feel motivated to manipulate them. These women then do not resist, but let the manipulative violence happen to them.
Is there also a case where victims themselves become vulnerable narcissists?
As a narcissist, you are not born, you will be. Children who experience no limits and are idolized by their parents tend to be narcissistic. Narcissists can also become victims of psychological, physical or sexual violence. "Vulnerable narcissists" are perhaps the only narcissists that we psychotherapists can really help. When we recognize their trauma, it is possible to move them to discernment. This type of narcissist usually still has affective ties. However, we cannot cure “grandiose narcissists” like Trump or perverse narcissists like Putin, only the law can set limits. In Weinstein's case, prison was the only way to avoid the danger he posed.
Are certain illnesses triggered by the experience of psychological violence?
Absolutely. Victims of psychological terrorism can develop extreme symptoms of illness. For example, I have experienced severe weight fluctuations in victims, allergies and eczema also occur. Once the perpetrator is not around, these symptoms can go away completely. The body speaks when words are missing.
What happens to the children of perverted narcissists, do they develop similar symptoms?
There are children who identify with a perverted narcissistic father, but there are also children who become victims. In divorce, children are often instrumentalized by perverted narcissists, as they are also seen as an extension of their own self and as a vector of their own destructive power. The perverse narcissist feels like a winner if he manages to manipulate the children and turn them against the other parent.
How can mothers avoid bringing up perverted narcissists?
By setting boundaries for their children. Raising a child also means instilling respect for others and sanctioning inappropriate behavior.
What role can feminism play in the fight against narcissism?
Basically, men are more narcissistic than women. Women are more attentive to their fellow men, also more respectful. However, times are changing. More and more men are adopting female values. It is up to women to show that the world works without arrogance and omnipotence.
The interview was conducted Ute Cohen. She is a writer and writer. Her novel was last published in early 2020 Poor dogswhose main character is laid out as a perverted narcissist
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