Knowing the Narcissist : 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.
One thought on “Knowing the Narcissist : The Stepford Devaluation”
That explains the situation that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. A “friend” whose wife is exactly the Stepford wife – But how deeply his IPPS is tied to him and brainwashed was not clear to me. It explains even his sometimes strange behaviour that is shown to certainly maintaining the facade. Perfectly crafted in a town in California. Oh boy. Thank you for this precise definition.