Narcissists know this approach because it is based on a fundamental psychological trait that we all carry within us.The phenomenon is called “splitting” (in English division, splitting).The term was coined primarily by the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein.
“Splitting” begins in the way babies relate to others.The dynamics take place along a spectrum. On one side of the spectrum is a perfect expression of love, the projection of something that is exclusively good.On the other side is a perfect expression of anger and contempt, the projection of the exclusively bad.A toddler is unable to strike a balance between the two extremes. It switches uncontrollably between these poles, depending on how it perceives and evaluates a particular situation.
Now, when a parent positively “reflects” the child, feeds him, gives him body contact, and shows care as soon as the child cries, the child reacts by projecting all his love onto the parent.One could say: the child “reveres” the parent without any restriction and reflection like a “god”. If the opposite is the case and the parent does not respond to the needs of the child, the child reacts with unrestricted anger. The parent instantly becomes something absolutely evil and hateful.The phenomenon can be observed, for example, in toddlers, who in one moment hurl everything within their reach through the room and are completely calm again in the next moment.
Of course, such behaviour is no longer acceptable in adults.Here it is considered “childish” if someone loses control without any real reason. As we grow up, we develop the ability to perceive other people in a more nuanced way than just in the “extreme” “good” or “evil” categories. We realize that most people exist somewhere in the middle of this spectrum and have both idiosyncrasies that we find pleasant and those that annoy us. We realize that such ambivalence is normaland not the end of the world.
As an adult, one easily loses consciousness that the described phenomenon of “absolute” polarity is still effective in us.When we meet someone who is attractive, calm, competent and attentive, we naturally feel good about them. This is sometimes referred to as the halo effect.In Melanie Klein’s terminology, this would once again be the projection of the “exclusively good” onto someone who impresses us with positive qualities. Over time, we will see qualities in every human being that we do not like. The projection of the exclusively good slowly loses its power in this way. An example of this is the honeymoon period, during which we can maintain the impression that our partner is “perfect” and has no negative characteristics over a period of about 6 months.This projection, too, loses its power as soon as reality “catches up” with our perception.
Back to the imprint of a narcissist.A narcissist “can only bear” to have a relationship with you as long as you project the “exclusively good” on him and look at it in a purely positive light. The reason is that you are easy to control in this state of “worship”. The narcissist “bombards” you with love and affection to make you feel coveted and cared for. The narcissist knows that as long as a person feels coveted and cared for, he will move on the “splitting spectrum” to the pole of the “exclusively good” and maintain this view of the narcissist.
The “disposable” or “disposal phase” can then occur in two ways.First, the narcissistic supply you provide to the narcissist through your “worship” is like a drug to him. Like any drug, the “intoxicating” effect eventually subsides. When the point has come when you simply don’t “bring it anymore” for the narcissist, he will start looking for someone else. Even if you do everything you can to please him and still consider him “exclusively good,” he will “serve” you.
The second trigger that can initiate “disposal” is that the narcissist projects the “exclusively good” onto YOU.The narcissist has chosen you for what you can “give” to him. If you, as a target, show “good” qualities by constantly accommodating him, proving himself “useful” and giving him your love, he may perceive you as “exclusively good” and constantly address this expectation to you.Of course, the target person is “even a human being”. As such, the narcissist’s unrealistically high expectations will inevitably disappoint you at some point by displays traits that displease the narcissist. In this way, the narcissist’s projection is destroyed and he reacts with panic as he sees his “perfect” supply interrupted. As a result, he will leave his target person and go in search of the “perfect” target person, who of course does not exist in this way.
In summary, the narcissist is aware of the phenomenon of “splitting” enough to use it for its purposes; at the same time, however, he does not refer it to himself in a way that would allow him to deal with other people in a more nuanced way in his own life.