Objectification is a key trait of the narcissist. This article examines how the narcissist sees you as an object.
You want to be someone to my kind and me.
That will not happen.
You are a something to us, not a someone.
I do not relate to you. Why should I? I regard myself as superior, elevated and special. The petty concerns which govern your life do not apply to me. I do not do accountability. Certainly I have some understanding of what it means to be you, after all I have listened to you tell me so many times about how you feel and I have watched you and others like you so often. I do not feel it however. I cannot put myself in your shoes. I do not want to and even if I did, I am unable to do so because I neither have that emotional empathy or the even stronger emotional contagion that you experience.
Yes, I can see the differences between you and her, him and them. I can see the contrasts in height, body shape, she has green eyes and you have blue eyes, he has no hair and he has dreadlocks. I recognise physical attractiveness, I see the different clothes that you wear, the variances in shoes worn, jewellery displayed and such like. I notice all of that but that does not make you more of a person to me. It is merely the distinction between a washing machine that is white and one which is silver.
Take my television which is placed at the far end of the main sitting room. It is a Samsung Curved SUHD HDR Dot Smart TV 78″ television that I primarily watch sport on. It provides me with a picture which is in pinsharp crikey vision with a scintillating array of colours. The sound is impressive and it looks sleek and attractive. It delivers an outstanding display and therefore delivers what I require of it.
Take you as my primary source. I can see that you stand 5ft 9″ in height, you are slender, with pale skin and long brown hair to the small of your back, which becomes slightly wavy towards the end. Your face is oval. Your eyes are green. You look sleek and attractive. You are an outstanding display of physical attractiveness. I know all this but your primary purpose is to provide me with positive fuel and you do so impressively. You therefore deliver that which I require of you.
You are no different to my television. You are there to provide a function. You are to deliver in accordance with the Prime Aims, which are the provision of fuel, character traits and residual benefits. If you do and you do so in a fulsome manner, you are a high functioning appliance. If you do not, you are a malfunctioning one.
You and the television are there to do things for me, because I am entitled to that.
I press your buttons by seducing you or later provoking you and you must churn out fuel for me. You at the time of the golden period are my favourite appliance. I have many appliances, other objects which spew out fuel in varying quantities and differing potencies. I have connected all of these appliances to me because again my objectification of you is also linked to the need to exert control. If I want to eat some toast, I place two slices of bread in my Alessi toaster and press the lever down, adjust the relevant control to govern the degree of toasting required and a minute or two later I have two perfectly toasted slices. It works each and every time. I control it. It does what i want. It does not refuse to toast my bread, it does not only toast one side, it does not fire the bread back at me or instead produce a different outcome altogether by presenting me with a leg of lamb. I expect you to be equally compliant and effective. I do not understand why you should not be. You are there to do what I want, I am entitled to receive the Prime Aims and since I installed you as my primary source, you should be delivering them repeatedly, consistently and without interruption. I am not interested in the vagaries of your life which impacts upon your ability to function because of my sense of entitlement, my notion of superiority and of course my incessant needs and demands.
Objects are far easier to control. They are installed, powered and they function. If they stop functioning then they are thrown away and they are replaced. Accordingly, when you stop delivering in accordance with the Prime Aims you suffer the same fate. I do not have time to repair you, you are put to one side and a better, shinier, more effective model takes your place. How did I ever manage without it? Why did I put up with you as a faltering appliance for so long?
You may look at your replacement and wonder why on earth that appliance has been chosen over you. It might be because you gave everything you could to us. It might be because you can see that you are more capable, more interesting, more intelligent and better looking than your replacement. Perhaps you are, perhaps those distinguishing features are there, but you were not delivering in accordance with the Prime Aims and your replacement is doing so which means that they are infinitely superior to you. You are dispensable. Ally the fact that we see you and others as objects with our necessity for performance, our lack of remorse and conscience and you can understand (or maybe begin to understand) why we find it so easy to dis-engage with you and place you on the scrap heap and choose another appliance with such ease.
If you end a relationship, you may be concerned to ensure that the other person is not too devastated, that they are doing okay because even though you may not want to be in a Formal Relationship longer you largely still care about the well-being of another human being. To the narcissist that is pointless. Why use your energy dealing with something that is ineffective? That is a waste of time.
Your objectification makes it far easier for the narcissist to function. By regarding you as just another object which is there to perform for the narcissist, that is to be controlled by us and can be readily replaced when the narcissist deems it necessary, we achieve our aims far more readily. Performance and control are key and this is what objects do. Whether it is an ornament which looks beautiful and we can place where we want, to a motor vehicle which delivers us from A to B or a dishwasher which provides us with clean and streak free shining glasses, we control them all and they perform.
This objectification extends into how we regard different objects. For example, when you are seduced and embedded as the intimate partner primary source, you are the narcissist´s most prized possession. You are the one which will give us the necessary positive fuel each and every day in large amounts and with considerable potency. This means you will be looked after, you will be treated well, you will be paraded and shown off, like some prize piece of art or an expensive necklace. You will be placed carefully on that pedestal, polished, cleaned and maintained.
The tertiary source which works in the garage where we fill up with petrol every week is like an old teddy bear. The narcissist always says hello and receives a pleasant dollop of positive fuel as we feign interest in this person’s humdrum life. We have known this person for years and like that teddy bear, we see no need to throw them away, not yet, but nor do we regard there as being any necessity for maintenance. Accordingly, the corresponding teddy bear has a eye missing, some stuffing is spilling from inside and the fur has faded.
In the same way that one is careful with a delicate and expensive mirror, the narcissist will treat our appliances in the same way. Some can be kicked to one side, scuffed and stained, like a pair of old trainers, others are handled with care until we decide otherwise. Our appliances in our fuel network are regarded and handled in differing ways.
The trophy appliances, the primary source in the golden period or the longstanding inner circle successful friends who are non-intimate secondary sources, are displayed and shown off regularly. The much maligned familial non-intimate secondary source, a scapegoated sibling or child, is the hideous jumper that is only ever worn when it really has to be done and is otherwise derided and ridiculed. Our Lieutenants are our tools, the devices which we depend on to do our bidding as they are deployed to achieve our aims.
Our objectification of you is necessary for the purposes of maintaining control and achieving the Prime Aims. This objectification is achieved because the narcissist lacks empathy. I no sooner can relate to how an iMac feels as to how you feel. I have no concern about whether my Mont Blanc pen feels. It is there to perform. I have a vested interest in you feeling for the purposes of providing fuel, but I am not concerned as to how you feel because I cannot empathise with you.
This objectification manifests not just in how the narcissist will parade you as a trophy, devalue you without any concern for the impact on you and then how we dis-engage and replace you, but also in the way we interact with you. The use of pet names Pet is a way of dehumanising you. We refer to you as her, she, he and him, rather than your actual name, stripping you of identity (see It for an extreme method of doing so). We reject the legitimacy of your needs and desires by placing ours first. A fridge freezer has no aspirations, no life plan or goals and we reject their applicability to you also. This objectification appears in how we interact with you, especially during devaluation
“Just do it.”
“Do what I want.”
“Get on with it.”
“Stop disobeying me.”
“You will do it or else.”
There is no asking, no politeness, no consideration given. We do not ask the washing machine if it wouldn’t mind washing our clothes so why would we ask you if you wouldn’t mind doing something for us?
You and everybody else, from our parents to our friends, to our colleagues to our children are all objects which are expected to do our bidding. Perform and we will keep you. Fail and you are replaced.
Now, why is there a flashing light on your forehead?