The Stepford Devaluation
The devaluation of our appliances depends on a variety of factors. For instance, what type of narcissist is applying the devaluation, what is the nature of the appliance (IPPS, IPSS, NISS, TS etc) , what is the status of the narcissist’s fuel matrix, what is the position of the façade and other matters beyond that also.
With a Tertiary Source, there is no long lasting relationship to begin with and therefore any devaluation which takes place will be short and effective and is often done in the context of triangulation, for instance making the narcissist look good in front of say a new target (IPSS) or a group of friends (NISSs) by putting down the Tertiary Source as part of the devaluation.
Secondary Sources have two types of devaluation. Corrective and Dis-Engagement. The Corrective Devaluation is short in nature but can be rather savage and is designed to bring the malfunctioning secondary source appliance back into line. Thus, it might be ostracising a friend (NISS) by inviting everybody else to a BBQ but not the offending appliance. Recognising that he or she has offended the narcissist in some way, the NISS apologises, makes amends and ceases the troublesome activity which led to the Corrective Devaluation. Thus the Corrective Devaluation has proven effective and the NISS enjoys the golden period once again and is welcomed back into the fold. Should the NISS not respond to the Corrective Devaluation (or commits a particularly treacherous act at the outset) then a short Dis-Engagement Devaluation occurs and the secondary appliance is then dis-engaged from. The DED does not last for long because the narcissist and the secondary appliance will not see one another repeatedly (unlike the IPPS) and also because the narcissist can dis-engage from the secondary source readily and either turn to other pre-existing secondary sources (dependent on the size of the fuel matrix) or recruit a replacement with relative ease.
The phase of devaluation really earns its stripes when applied to intimate partners (IPSS or DLS) but especially the IPPS. The devaluation of the IPPS is the one which most commentators focus on and is usually the one which contains abusive treatment and the full horror of nasty manipulations from the narcissist. There is no denying that such an unpleasant devaluation occurs, but it is but just one of several forms of devaluation that is deployed against the IPPS. Other forms include The Stranger Zone, The Oblivious Mis-Treatment, The Full Horror and others besides. Within the devaluation of the IPPS there is also the Stepford Devaluation.
You may be familiar with the novel (and film) The Stepford Wives. Ira Levin’s novel follows the premise whereby a new arrival at the idyllic neighbourhood of Stepford begins to suspect that the wives who live there and are frighteningly submissive are actually robots created at the behest of their privileged and controlling husbands. This resulted in the term ‘Stepford Wife’ being used in the English language to describe a submissive wife (or partner) who appears to conform blindly to a stereo-typically old-fashioned subservient role in the relationship with her husband or partner. It may also refer to an accomplished woman who has sub-ordinated her life and/or career to her husband’s interests and who has affected submission to him even in the face of his own disgrace and poor behaviour.
A Stepford Devaluation is one form of the devaluation of the IPPS. Often, the relevant victim fails to recognise that she is being devalued because of the nature of this devaluation. The following traits are applicable to the Stepford Devaluation.
- It only ever applies to the person who is the Intimate Partner Primary Source of the narcissist.
- The IPPS is likely to have an almost idyllic lifestyle. The narcissist is usually Mid Range or Greater in nature (possibly Upper Lesser also). There is financial security and a superior lifestyle encompassing good house, clothing, dining out, gifts etc.
- The narcissist and IPPS are regarded as having an excellent marriage/relationship by external observers such as family, friends and neighbours.
- The narcissist and IPPS are regarded as having an enviable lifestyle by external observers.
- The IPPS may work, but this is not always the case. The IPPS does not need to work because the narcissist’s financial firepower is sufficient to avoid the financial necessity of the IPPS having to work (and in turn remove financial independence and create isolation). If the IPPS does work, their work will be regarded as unimportant and unnecessary by the narcissist who will take little interest in it and refer to it rather patronisingly. The narcissist will expect the IPPS to fulfil other duties (see below) on top of the IPPS’ professional commitments. The narcissist whilst varying between disparaging and dismissive about the IPPS’ job in private, will hold it out as an admirable element as he seizes it as a character trait to draw fuel from secondary and tertiary sources and to use as part of the façade. More usually, the IPPS will be ‘allowed’ a ‘window dressing’ role as occasionally helping out a charity shop, or sitting on a couple of infrequent ‘good works’ committees. The narcissist regards these as acceptable since they contribute to the façade and do not interfere with the IPPS’ other duties (see below) to the narcissist. The narcissist prefers that the IPPS does not work.
- The IPPS has or had an accomplished position of employment. If retained it is treated dismissively by the narcissist as explained above or more likely the narcissist will have engineered the giving up of this position. This will have been achieved through apparently benign reasons but is done in order to create submission, remove independence and remove distraction and support networks.
- The IPPS is expected to be a superb home-maker. Whilst domestic assistance may be permitted, the narcissist expects a pristine residence of show-home proportions. The home would not look out of place on the front cover of Interior Design or Elle Décor. The IPPS prides herself on such an achievement and strives to ensure that nothing is out of place in the home.
- The IPPS is expected to always be presentable. She will be beautifully dressed, hair done, make-up worn, nails manicured and will never be seen slumming it in track pants and sweat top. Any slight deviation from picture perfection will be picked up and commented on by the narcissist. Similar to the situation concerning the home, the IPPS will ensure that she presents as elegant and refined at all times.
- The IPPS is expected to play the role of convivial hostess at dinner parties, encouraging mother at school events and loyal housewife putting up with the narcissist’s demands for perfection.
- The IPPS is expected to be wholly submissive to the needs and demands of the narcissist in creating this idyll and portrayal of domestic privilege and bliss to the outside world. No dissention is accepted by the narcissist.
- The IPPS ‘enjoys’ a gilded existence. She wants for nothing in terms of money, prestige, acknowledgement by external observers, admiration and friendship by third parties. She gratefully accepts that she is a ‘lucky girl’ to have what she has and does not like to complain. She may have done so to begin with, but the irrepressible force of the narcissist’s demands brings about the desired submission.
- The narcissist’s demand for perfection means that part of the Stepford Devaluation manifests through the imposition of this desire for perfection and adverse response if it is not achieved. However, such is the nature of the relevant narcissist and also the extent of the compliance, that the narcissist does not have to devalue in any savage way. It will either be a remark (“I see the children have been active”) when referring to the house appearing untidy or the imposition of a silent treatment (Present or Absent) to express disapproval at a failing on the part of the IPPS. The usual range of manipulations applied during devaluation will be absent.
- The narcissist generally treats the IPPS ‘well’ in terms of engaging in conversation, doing activities together and maintaining the façade of the enviable home life.
- Whilst you may see this existence as demanding, you may also see that it has its rewards and the extent of the devaluation whilst unacceptable to you is nowhere near as bad as it could be. This is where the second strand of the Stepford Devaluation applies. The narcissist repeatedly engages in infidelity with IPSSs and has an extensive ‘stable’ of those he turns to. He will repeatedly have ‘golfing weekends away’, ‘business trips’ or a ‘late meeting which necessitates staying over in town’. The IPPS knows that the narcissist is engaging in repeated affairs and one-night stands. The IPSSs or IPTSs are never, ever brought to the marital home (that would damage the façade). The IPSSs and/or IPTSs may even contact the IPPS to try to expose the narcissist and the IPPS will listen to these tales of infidelity and poor treatment of the IPSSs and/or IPTSs.
- The narcissist will hold the IPPS up as a shining example of the good wife/partner and will often be disparaging about other women, picking fault with their behaviour, looks, occupations and so forth. Comments are made such as
“Thanks goodness I have you, yes darling?”
“I was right to pick you.”
“They disgust me, such whores and lowlifes.”
- The narcissist reveres the IPPS because she has created the stable and enviable home, she contributes to his impressive façade and he is allowed to do as he pleases through extensive engagements outside of his marriage. He may have long standing affairs, short affairs, intermittent Dirty Little Secrets, in fact all types and forms of extra-marital liaison but he will never leave the IPPS. None of them ever compare to the IPPS.
- The IPPS is expected to be totally compliant, never complain, always be supportive, always be presentable, always put the narcissist first and in return she is largely treated ‘well’ (in the eyes of the narcissist and third parties) but her devaluation occurs through two main strands
- A very high standard of compliance; and
- The total acceptance that her husband/partner is engaging sexually with various other appliances and will always do so.
- How does this Stepford Devaluation operate in terms of fuel for the narcissist? This is where there is something of a peculiarity. The IPPS will provide negative fuel (at first) when the devaluation first begins and she learns of the affairs and is also subjected to the controlling behaviour vis a vis appearances. She will initially fight back, rebel, be hurt etc and thus provide negative fuel. However, once the narcissist has effectively ‘broken’ her in, by achieving compliance, the IPPS provides positive fuel to the narcissist through her striving to maintain the idyllic appearance, her support in his endeavours and the maintenance of the façade and it is the IPSSs and IPTSs who will suffer horrendous treatment at the hands of the narcissist. The narcissist, being usually a Greater, or an Upper Mid Ranger most of the time in this arrangement (although it can occur with MMR and UL) has no problem in ensnaring mistress after mistress, booty call after booty call and so on and it is here that they are treated to the malice (with the Greater) and also the devaluation in order to gain negative fuel from them, in contrast to the (largely) positive fuel now provided by the IPPS. The Stepford Devaluation is part of the Madonna-Whore concept. The narcissist may engage in intimate relations with the IPPS still but it is not often and the IPPS may actually be cold sexually and be perfectly happy to be left alone in that respect, content for the IPSSs/IPTSs to bear the brunt of her husband’s devaluing perversions.
- Only a particular type of empathic individual is able to perform this role and endure it, which comes as a consequence of their own particular traits, their susceptibility to the overtures of the type of narcissist who engages in this behaviour and the fact that she is ultimately conditioned to see her position as one which ‘could be far worse if I was honest’. She is brain-washed, controlled and ultimately the automaton which was so desired in the Stepford Wives.
31 thoughts on “The Stepford Devaluation”
I kind of view stepfords a bit like golden children a lot is expected of them and real kove or acceptance is void. Its a farce. Both are codependant and acting in a scene with no real relationship.
Am I missing something here. It sounds like if you’re an IPPS in this situation, you have it made?
You’re missing plenty.
I don’t know. You might have to deal with an affair. But at the end of the day you’re still together in a nice house on the beach sipping champagne and eating cheese in some cute heels. He treats you like a Queen while he treats his mistress like doo doo.
Zoe. Would you like to be in a relationship where you’re largely nothing more than a robot? You exist simply to clean, cook, iron etc whilst your husband goes off and has lots of fun (fuel) from everyone else? Yes he receives positive fuel from you but simply from the tasks you perform,
I’d get the sack within five minutes of being with one of these types!
I wouldn’t last 5 minutes in the role without conflict either… but if the perspective of the empath is they’ve got it made… I don’t see an issue with that. If they are more concerned with being financially taken care of and feel as though that is top priority then I don’t think that’s a negative thing. As long as they feel generally content that’s what matters. It’s not as though long term relationships between two non narcs is always so perfect. There is still conflict, infedility, sexless phases, bitterness that can build up there as well. So to each their own !
Maybe I’m misunderstanding? I think HG is saying that the IPPS will always be treated well while his IPSS other women will get all the narcissist negative devaluation. That’s why I say it sounds ideal. Like living in a delusional fairy tale.
The concept of being treated “well” is relative. The IPPS will still be devalued – high expectation, control over their lives, silent treatments, triangulation, put-downs, infidelity – but the nature of the devaluation is not as objectively harsh as it is for the IPPS in other dynamics. Alongside this “less harsh” devaluation are the material benefits described in the article.
Certainly not! I was in that situation. It starts off like a fairytale until they get you trapped in their gilded cage. As Alexis said, I had to be a perfect robot at all times which isn’t easy to do after a few weeks. One little thing I said or did wrong (in his eyes) that a normal person wouldn’t even notice, wasn’t “let go” of. My entire existence, every hour I was awake had to be dedicated to doing everything perfect for him. My mind is still wired exactly that way. Just because you have everything provided for you financially doesn’t make the emotional impact of what you go through any easier. I can see why someone may think that at first glance, but it’s not at all the case because all of the mental torture is concealed. It may look ‘good’ on the outside, but that’s another layer of the illusion.
An accurate example.
Is Camille Cosby a Stepford Wife, or a Narc-on-Narc like Hillary Clinton? Is it possible to be both?
I think she is also a narcissist. She said, “I dont care”…. how the victims feel. Lack of empathy. Also, this article states that the Supreme Court has accepted to hear part of Bill Cosby’s appeal. I do not know what part of the conviction appeal they will hear, but that’s a huge honor for the Supreme Court to hear your case. They get to hand select the cases they hear, and turn most of them down. This obviously makes her feel validated. Disgusting on her behalf.
Could it also be a battle of wills?
How much can she take? You have no idea!
The more you throw, the more she’ll accept.
Perhaps in the midst of trying hard to break her, You tire yourself out. There is great power in submission.
I think there is a difference between submission and loss of self. And loss of self is the only outcome.
A person fully in touch with themselves might have the kind of will power you describe.
But the battle is pointless. It would amount to using your will power to engender loss of self.
I’d call that self defeating, not narc defeating.
I believe that there is another subsection of this Stepford Devaluation…because I completely identify with nearly all of this, except for being a willing participant in this charade. He had limited money when we met – this has evolved over the years, as the wealth increased.
Essentially you have written my life story, however at the first confirmed evidence of his second life, I bolted. And then boy oh boy did I realise what I had escaped….So he has essentially set up his own Stepford wife scenario but I thought (like everyone else) that he was a loving, kind, caring family man.
This one is the gift that keeps on giving.
Money plus narcissism plus ice addiction plus successful business man/good family man charade = total frigging nightmare and 4 years in family law case and counting!
The first person I could think of as a Stepford Wife was President Chirac’s wife Bernadette. She really fits the bill: cold as a prison gate, always on her Sunday best (and this has not been the case with all presidents’ wives), the queen of charities, and she knew and put up with her husband’s countless (and I mean countless) mistresses.
He seemed to dote on her.
But she did not come across as much of an empath.
How about Prince Albert 11 of Monaco’s wife Charlene ?
He looks a nasty pig of a man, another bald headed git
Never liked him
She’s never looked happy, forced smiles, tried to escape three times, cried on her “arranged” marriage wedding day
Finds solace in religion
Definitely something going on there !
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
Yes, I wonder how could she could have been so desperate to get out of the nuptials and yet somehow still forced to go ahead with it?
It’s not like we live in a time where as a woman she would not have had a choice.
That one is definitely a mystery.
You’re probably right, dear Bubbles! I was never interested in the Monaco clique, but I did have to put up with the Chirac clique for a few years! Mind you, Chirac did one or two good things – OK, maybe three – the best being to refuse to go along with the war in Iraq. This resulted in ‘French fries’ switching to ‘freedom fries’ on the other side of the pond – gosh, that scared us loads, haha!
PS: My ‘haha’ to ‘Freedom fries’ was directed at the person in the Bush Administration who decided on that renaming, not the people across the pond, most of whom found it silly anyway.
Heads up, I sent you a reply, however my internet was having a hissy fit hiccup, so it may or may not come thru
Just didn’t want you to think I didn’t respond
I’ll give it a moment, see what transpires
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
Alas, I feel my comment remains in limbo forever n a day
My only real connection with Monaco, was travelling thru on holidays one time
I looked up freedom fries, I see what you mean
Political correctness AGAIN !
I prefer chips myself 😂
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
Thank you for your reply. I hope you had a nice view of “The Rock”, as we call Monaco. The weather must be good, at least.
I must try to curb my sarcasm about that princely family, they probably don’t do much harm. (Except when it comes to singing, see below.)
Come to think of it, I read in my favourite satirical weekly newspaper that Prince Albert had passed the coronavirus on to Boris Johnson, who then passed it on to Trump, unless it was the other way round with the last two!
I think I was turned off by the Monaco family because when I was a child/young teen, in the 1980’s. Princess Stéphanie de Monaco tried to launch a singing career, and her silly song was on the radio 24/7. It was overkill. Thank Goodness she only had the one song (or one album)!
Mind you, that song was about a “whirlwind love”…
Haha, I listened to her song on YouTube😱
Moral of the story, royals should not try to become singers and actors should not try to become royals 🤣
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
“Only a particular type of empathic individual is able to perform this role and endure it…” and one would need to know this in order to successfully communicate reality to the IPPS, I imagine.
Another fascinating insight and I’m sure there are many of these ‘Stepford Wives’ in the upper echelons. Willing to turn a blind eye in order to maintain the lifestyle they have become accustomed to. The loss of self involved in this may be considered an acceptable trade off to have the good things in life. And the appearances also.
Does this somehow fit with the ‘dirty empath’ discussions you have been highlighting lately, HG?
Dear Mr Tudor,
Wow, this is most timely and greatfully appreciated indeed
That would explain Dr Phil n Stepford wife Robin
You absolutely cover everything, answering all the relevant questions and some
You’re simply amazing
Thank you Mr Tudor
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
Yes, the recent discussions on Robin would seem particularly relevant here. Glad you brought it up Bubbles 🙂
It appears so
I’ve never really had to equate anyone I know with the stepford scenario, until Dr Phil
It all fits as snug in a bug and makes it all crystal clear now
Always learning here 😉
Luv Bubbles xx 😘
Ah, bubbles, love your bright and cheery presence here and there’s a few pennies dropping right now it seems! I would never have thought to put Dr. Phil in that box, suggest Robin was a Stepford wife (loved that movie, btw), but here we are … snug as a bug indeed.
Definitely always learning here, and having fun occasionally, too 😉
Thank you for the luv, Bubbles <3 I think I'm gonna need it today.
Thank you for your comment gorgeous one ☺️
I have that movie as well, must rewatch it with a different eye 👁 perspective
Hope you’re ok lickemtomorrow
Please take care of yourself lovely
Luv Bubbles xx 😘