Power And Seduction: How The 'Narcissistic Pervert' Always Gets His Way

You probably know him...or her. Charming, manipulative, a smooth talker and guilt-tripper who ends up making you do what he (or she) wants. So-called "narcissistic perverts" are all around us, explains a growing body of psychological res

Not all narcissism is as harmless as this... (Regan Walsh)
Not all narcissism is as harmless as this... (Regan Walsh)
Martine Laronche

PARIS - He moves with stealth, finds his prey, and never lets go. He is smooth talking, understanding and thoughtful, always paying attention to his beloved, the person he claims means everything to him. He seduces her, makes himself indispensable, and then proposes.

The victim is thrilled. She is trapped, and will realize it quite quickly. Sooner or later, he shows his true colors. The man she married turns out to be a love predator, a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He humiliates his prey, brings her down, harasses and picks fights with her, but never in public. He is a master of manipulation, and she learns to fear his mood swings and his wrath. She does all that is in her power to mend things, to no avail.

This is a scenario typical of "narcissistic perverts." The psychoanalyst Paul-Claude Racamier (1924-1996) first described this much-debated pathology in "Between psychic agony, psychotic denial and narcissistic perversion," an article published in the French psychoanalysis revue in 1986.

Seduction – Power - Manipulation

The general public discovered the concept in a best selling book by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Marie-France Hirigoyen called Moral harassment (La Découverte & Syros, 1998). "There are an equal number of men and women victims," she explains. "Narcissistic perverts' violence is based on a triptych: seduction, power, manipulation. They possess traits common to all moral perverts as opposed to sexual perverts, but they are much more calculating and have a stronger capacity for destruction."

Author of a recent book on manipulation (Abusing weakness and other manipulations, JC Lattès), the psychiatrist doesn't pull her punches when describing them: "Vampires who need to boost their self-esteem by emptying that of their victims."

The narcissistic pervert hates generosity, noble sentiments, or any moral qualities. "They take great pleasure in transgression. They like to hurt the other person's morality or to pervert them, and to break the law," explains Marie-France Hirigoyen. "There are more and more of them," she adds. "Harsher working conditions encourage people to be resourceful or to cheat. Moral perversions, that is to say using other humans as objects, have become our society's new pathologies."

Mathilde Cartel met her ex-husband on vacation when she was very young. "At first, he was everything I dreamed of. He had created a character that was exactly who I was looking for," she remembers. He was different, spoke little but well, and impressed her by talking about philosophy. She lacked self-esteem, and he put her on a pedestal. After the vacation, he sent her a letter every day. "I was his Mother Theresa. I felt useful, and he made me feel smart," she says. It took two years for Frederic to seduce Mathilde. He cut her from her family, married her, and took a job abroad.

Once his victim was trapped, he revealed his true self. He convinced her that she was nothing without him, he became terribly mean and put her down with hurtful comments such as: "You have a brain, why don't you use it." He insulted her, calling her a "bitch", a "slut," telling her to "shut her trap." When she couldn't take it anymore and talked about leaving him, he threatened to commit suicide with his children and begged her, saying he needed her.

"He brainwashed me. I was just a puppet, and he pulled the strings. I didn't have a mind of my own. I endured without consenting," she says. Everything was her fault, and he never took the blame for anything. He hit her. To outsiders, he made a great impression. People envied this model couple. One day, he crossed a line and took it out on the children.

After 15 years of humiliation and criticism, Mathilde finally had the courage to leave. "I picked up the children at school and fled," she says. It took her years to recover. She wrote a book about it with two other women who went through the same ordeal (I loved a pervert, with Carole Richard and Amélie Rousset, Eyrolles).

Feeding on their victims' emotions

Cognitive behavioral therapist Isabelle Nazare-Aga (author of Manipulators and love, Les Éditions de l'homme) doesn't subscribe to the concept of narcissistic perverts as theorized by Hirigoyen. She just calls them "manipulators." "The manipulator quickly scans a person, and is extremely smart. He looks for victims who have self-esteem problems, who easily feel guilty, who have the savior syndrome, that is to say they always want to help others, or who are emotionally dependent."

Manipulators have an unconscious visceral need to wreck havoc in the family. "They feed on their victims' emotions: fear, anxiety, sadness, anger. They can't stand other people's happiness," explains the therapist. They have incredible confidence, they persuade their victim of their superiority, and can't stand criticism. They are skilled with words and wield subtly contradictory communication.

"A manipulative wife, for instance, will accuse her husband of never being here and not helping her with the gardening, but, at the same time, she'll tell him that the money he brings home isn't enough to take the family on a beach holiday," explains Nazare-Aga. "So if he works more to make more, he can't help his wife. And if he's at home more often to help her, he won't make enough to take his family on vacation." Whatever he does is wrong.

Why does the narcissistic pervert act this way? Psychoanalyst Jean-Charles Bouchoux, author of a remarkable book on the topic (Narcissistic perverts, Eyrolles, 2011) posits that his behavior keeps him from going mad. "He projects his bad self-image on another another person that he must then destroy," explains Bouchoux.

In a normal maturation process, children become aware of others when they grow up. It is the inability to fulfill this stage that leads to psychosis, where the self and the rest of the world aren't distinguished. This also leads to anxieties about fragmentation and dissociation, since the other person is thought to possess a part of your self. "The narcissistic pervert was kept from being born in his image. He uses others like mirrors, keeping what's good about them and projecting his own flaws on them. He hopes to fill his void and escape the psychosis that is hanging over his head in the case of further regression," says the psychoanalyst. At the risk of pushing the victim into extreme confusion and depression, sometimes to the point of suicide.

Read the original article in French

Photo - Regan Walsh

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Chinese Students Now Required To Learn To Think Like Xi Jinping

'Xi Jinping Thought' ideas on socialism have been spreading across the country since 2017. But now, Beijing is going one step further by making them part of the curriculum, from the elementary level all the way up to university.

Children from Congtai Elementary School, Handan City, Hebei Province

Maximilian Kalkhof

BEIJING — It's important to strengthen the "determination to listen to and follow the party." Also, teaching materials should "cultivate patriotic feelings." So say the new guidelines issued by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

The goal is to help Chinese students develop more "Marxist beliefs," and for that, the government wants its national curriculum to include "Xi Jinping Thought," the ideas, namely, of China's current leader.

Xi Jinping has been the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for almost 10 years. In 2017, at a party convention, he presented a doctrine in the most riveting of party prose: "Xi Jinping's ideas of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new age."

Behind this word jam is a plan to consolidate the power of the nation, the party and Xi himself. In other words, to make China great again!

Communist curriculum replaces global subjects

This doctrine has sent shockwaves through China since 2017. It's been echoed in newspapers, on TV, and screamed from posters and banners hung in many cities. But now, the People's Republic is going one step further: It's bringing "Xi Jinping Thought" into the schools.

Starting in September, the country's 300 million students have had to study the doctrine, from elementary school into university. And in some cities, even that doesn't seem to be enough. Shanghai announced that its students from third to fifth grade would only take final exams in mathematics and Chinese, de facto deleting English as an examination subject. Beijing, in the meantime, announced that it would ban the use of unauthorized foreign textbooks in elementary and middle schools.

But how does a country that enchants its youth with socialist ideology and personality cults rise to become a world power? Isn't giving up English as a global language the quickest way into isolation?

The educational reform comes at a time when Beijing is brutally disciplining many areas of public life, from tech giants to the entertainment industry. It has made it difficult for Chinese technology companies to go public abroad, and some media have reported that a blanket ban on IPOs in the United States is on the cards in the next few years.

photo of books on a book shelf

Books about Xi-Jinping at the 2021 Hong Kong Book Fair

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images/ZUMA

— Photo:

Targeting pop culture

The regime is also taking massive action against the entertainment industry. Popstar Kris Wu was arrested on charges of rape. Movies and TV series starring actor Zhao Wei have started to disappear from Chinese streaming platforms. The reason is unclear.

What the developments do show is that China is attempting to decouple from the West with increasing insistence. Beijing wants to protect its youth from Western excesses, from celebrity worship, super wealth and moral decline.

A nationalist blogger recently called for a "profound change in the economy, finance, culture and politics," a "revolution" and a "return from the capitalists to the masses." Party media shared the text on their websites. It appears the analysis caused more than a few nods in the party headquarters.

Dictatorships are always afraid of pluralism.

Caspar Welbergen, managing director of the Education Network China, an initiative that aims to intensify school exchanges between Germany and China, says that against this background, the curriculum reform is not surprising.

"The emphasis on 'Xi Jinping Thought' is being used in all areas of society," he says. "It is almost logical that China is now also using it in the education system."

Needless to say, the doctrine doesn't make student exchanges with China any easier.

Dictatorships are always afraid of color, pluralism and independent thinking citizens. And yet, Kristin Kupfer, a Sinology professor at the University of Trier, suggests that ideologically charged school lessons should not be interpreted necessarily as a sign of weakness of the CCP.

From the point of view of a totalitarian regime, she explains, this can also be interpreted as a signal of strength. "It remains to be seen whether the Chinese leadership can implement this so thoroughly," Kupfer adds. "Initial reactions from teachers and parents on social media show that such a widespread attempt to control opinion has raised fears and discontent in the population."

Die Welt
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