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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

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7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

9 - Narcissist, the Abuser

9 - Narcissist, the Abuser (9 of 10)

by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.


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  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 web site.

Dr. Irene

EDITED 2/09. Unfortunately, while the content itself stands on its own in helping people understand narcissism, the writer's credibility may be questionable. For example, see here:



The Narcissist induces hate. We hate the perpetrator of abuse also because he made us hate ourselves. Trying to avert the ultimate act of self-hatred, trying to avoid self-liquidation, we "kill" ourselves symbolically by denying ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings. It is an act of magic, a ritual of exorcism, a transubstantiation, a black Eucharist of hate. By denying our selves we deny our only possible saviour, our only feasible solution and absolution: our selves. We thus hope to avoid confronting the unthinkable, feeling the impossible, committing the irreversible. But, inevitably, it backfires. We feel rage, helplessness, self-contempt,

weakness and the temptation of requiting our misery once and for all. It is more difficult to hate someone because of what he IS - than because of what he DID.

Some non-abusers are (perhaps) deserving of a generalized sort of repulsion or reticence (call it hate, if you wish). The abuser, in contrast, DID things, he committed acts of abuse. He is deserving of a focused, directed, intensive hate. This is because the abuser is RESPONSIBLE and CULPABLE for what he did.

Philosophically, morally, ethically (and legally) we often confuse impulses with responsibility. That we have no control diminishes our responsibility.

But drives ARE controllable. So are impulses. The control can be primitive (fear) or of a higher level (a moral conviction). Had we really felt that the abuser had no control over what he did, we would not have hated him. That we hate him is PROOF that he had control over his actions. Hate is the direct reaction to culpability. Do we hate tornadoes? Do we hate sandstorms or avalanches or death? We do not. We hate disease because we intuitively feel that there MUST be something we can do about it. We feel GUILTY. We hate collapsing bridges and train accidents - because they can be PREVENTED.

Not perversely, we feel that they are EVITABLE.

We hate what could have been prevented by the exercise of judgment, including moral judgment, emotional judgment (love) or rational one.

We never hate what no amount of judgment and distinction between right and wrong could have prevented.

The abuser is GUILTY. He could have PREVENTED it. He KNOWINGLY did what he did. He is CULPABLE. We hate him JUSTLY.

Here is a thought experiment:

If someone were to threaten to report the abuser to the police - would he have still committed these acts?

The answer is no, he wouldn't have. This means that he could have controlled his actions, given the right incentives (or, rather, disincentives).

Self-hatred is a way of assuming the abuser's guilt. To a child, a parent can never be guilty. Parents are perfect, above reproach, above vile thoughts. It is prohibited to think badly about a parent. The child thinks: "It must be I who is wrong and guilty and corrupt in hating my parent. I should be ashamed of myself."

It is a conflict. It is the confusion that all victims experience. Especially victims who have always been an extension of their parents. In such a case, even self-hatred is no real solution.

Very often we feel that perhaps we have collaborated with the abusing parent, seduced or tempted or angered or provoked him or her. 

The crux of our problem as I see it is our inability to distinguish the child that the abuser once was (deserving of pity and empathy) - from the monstrous adult that the abuser became, which is deserving of condemnation, contempt, hate, punishment, repulsion and reticence. As long as we do not  cease to confuse these two - we will be immersed in conflict, perplexity and pain. We HAVE to sacrifice the image of our parents if we want to get better. We have to let go. We must hate in order to be able to love again. 

We must place guilt, blame, rage, contempt firmly where they belong. We cannot prevent PAST bad things from happening by feeling in the PRESENT. Understanding, loving, compassion, empathy - must be directed at the deserving. It is natural not to love an Hitler. One can HATE and detest Hitler passionately, vehemently, wholeheartedly - and still be loving, compassionate, full of emotions and beauty. Actually I think that hating Hitler-like people is a PRECONDITION to experiencing true positive feelings.

If one does not hate an Hitler something is very wrong with one's emotional equipment. If one does not despise a monster - one is INCAPABLE of adult feelings, one's emotional intelligence is infantile and immature. Hating an abuser - is a sign of emotional maturation, not of emotional retardation.

It is wrong to UNIVERSALIZE one's feelings. We need to SEGREGATE them, instead. For instance: we can love our spouse WHILE hating our abusive parent or partner. Must we love EVERYONE, all the time? Must we be so terrified of being rejected?

The hearts of the Narcissist's victims are captivated. They love monsters. They try to understand abusers. They make excuses for the inexcusable. They mitigate their private holocaust. They legitimize abhorrent crimes. They lie to themselves. They are immorally not in touch with their real emotions. And, this way, they perpetuate their own abuse, their own torture, they collaborate with the terrorists that are and were their only family.



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