Narcissistic Personality Disorder Today
How to Divorce a Narcissist
By Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited
How do I get rid of him?
I 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:
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.
Mirror the narcissists 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.
It 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 the facts.
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:
Any 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.
The 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 entitlement.
Narcissists 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.
Any 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 the narcissist.
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
Narcissists are often vindictive and they often stalk and harass.
Basically, there are only two ways of coping with vindictive narcissists:
1. To Frighten Them
Narcissists 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.
To 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.
The 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 leave town, 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.
I 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.
You 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.
Needless 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
The other way to neutralize a vindictive narcissist is to offer him continued narcissistic supply until the war is over and won by you. Dazzled 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.).
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