“In all toxic relationships there is a victim with very low self-esteem who turns the perpetrator into an ideal being that is actually a fake”

"In all toxic relationships there is a victim with very low self-esteem who turns the perpetrator into an ideal being that is actually a fake"

In his new book, this prolific author, professor and psychotherapist explains how to recognize psychopathic personalities that emotionally devastate their partners and who will never change, to take shelter as soon as possible.

There is a possibility of getting rid of hell if we know how to confront victimization mechanisms. It is the hopeful message that the Dr. Iñaki Piñuel (Madrid, July 31, 1965) launches his latest book.

The psychotherapist, writer of hits like Love Zero and university professor, explains that Get out of hell. How to end a toxic relationship and get your life back (Ed. The sphere of books) is not addressed to them specifically: “The gender bias It is incorrect. “There are narcissistic psychopathic abusers of both sexes.”

There is more and more talk about toxic relationships, but how to detect them? What common elements do you find as a psychologist in all of them?
They are asymmetrical. After a while, which is estimated to be between nine and 18 months, a couple becomes attached. If one of the people is an abuser we have a problem, because the abuse is the source of toxicity, and attachment is the way to maintain and stay in the couple, although there is an opposing force that also distances them and leads them to flee from that. What happens is a paralysis, that is, the victim is neutralized. What is common is the damage that inexorably sets in with the passage of time and, on the other hand, the difficulty or impossibility of breaking away from that relationship.

Why does he talk about getting out of hell?
It is not something that I have invented, but the term with which victims refer to a toxic relationship: “This is a hellish relationship, which has no way out.” They believe they cannot live without the person that is destroying them. The groundbreaking message of the book is that it is possible.
Why does the victim’s environment from the outside see it so clearly and the person who is involved in the relationship does not?
The victim is subjected to a abuser’s hypnotic trance, but those around them do not. They are the first to usually detect this relational hell, they warn the victim that this is not right, that they must get out of there, but it takes a long time, sometimes even years, to glimpse the exit territory. Therefore, the entire strategy of getting out of hell can be summarized in get out of the hypnotic trance from an abusive relationship or a toxic relationship.
Are there differences between the three figures of narcissist, manipulator and psychopath?
They are called dark triad. There are three types of personalities that respond to characteristics that some people have and others do not, and that explain why cases of victimization flourish around them. They carry a danger: the victim is linked to their perpetrator by an attachment. For me, this is the worst process of abuse and mistreatment that can be seen in all of clinical psychology.

And why is there this fatal attraction to the unattainable or to crumbs?
It is explained by the laws of mimicry. For human beings, what becomes difficult, inaccessible or directly impossible, provokes the exacerbation and intensification of desire, which is also exacerbated by a process of manipulation. From the psychopath per se it is impossible to obtain love, emotion or affection. The narcissist simulates a withdrawal strategy to become unreachable and has the same effect. Machiavellian personalities cause this through multiple manipulation mechanisms. In such a way that in all three cases we find that the victim feels hopelessly attracted to someone who is going to destroy her. This fatal attraction is not explained by the intrinsic characteristics of the perpetrator: by his beauty, his intelligence, his attractive character…, but by a process that is always at the base of manipulation.
And is the victim aware of this manipulation?
No, he interprets it as a special worth and infatuation. In all toxic relationships there is a reduced, crushed, subjugated victim with very low self-esteem that turns the perpetrator into an ideal, interesting, divine and mythologized being who is actually a fake. A mimetic artifact created by the same manipulation process perpetrated by these perpetrators who know what they are doing and a victim who never knows what they are doing to him until it is too late.

In the book he writes: “Performing cosmetic surgery on a crocodile is never a good idea.” Is it impossible to switch to such a profile?
Victims usually make the mistake of wanting to rehabilitate their psychopaths, their narcissists, their manipulators. And it is a mistake, because generally these conditions They do not have reversibility in psychology. Once acquired they have no therapy. They don’t change and that’s why I put this simile. Neither the crocodile wants to, nor does it allow itself, and whoever tries it runs the certain risk of getting a good bite. Rehabilitation treatment always results in extra time in a toxic relationship that compromises the victim’s health and worsens their ability to move forward. Let’s not forget that they can be put in an extreme situation and that they may even think about getting out of the way.
How do you see second chances in these contexts?
Believe in the promises of changethat things are going to be different from now on, as these perpetrators generally promise without making any trouble, It is a mistake to avoid. And this basic psychoeducation must be strongly recommended to victims so that they understand that there are no changes regarding psychopaths and narcissists. Your future is just a repetition of a painful and toxic past. And you run the risk of repeating it in a kind of eternal painful return.

Many psychologists insist, as you do in the book, on the importance of zero contact to recover, but what happens when there is a bond like a child?
The term zero contact refers to the need to allow absolutely necessary and essential time for the attachment system to calm down and the perpetrator’s addiction to disappear. If there is zero contact, there is no release from that toxic bond. Therefore, nothing is more obsessive in perpetrators than maintaining contact and letting themselves fall because they know that relapse is certain, like the drug addict who cannot see up close or smell the substance. It is an absolute requirement for healing, but it is true that sometimes there are difficulties to overcome, as common children. For that there are figures of intermediaries and mediators. Third parties, sometimes even with lawyers, who prevent contact with the former perpetrator and organize all the information and logistics.
And on social networks?
It is very important to block the perpetrator so that no message can arrive, and if it still arrives, not read it. Every violation of zero contact results in a relapse that takes the victim back to square one. in his recovery, losing everything he had advanced.

How to overcome the feeling of guilt that the person who leaves usually has?
The abuser, especially if he is a manipulator, a psychopath, a narcissist, knows very well that having a victim blamed is having him paralyzed or helpless. That is, an easy victim. There are no justifications for any abuse. If the victim had that ability to claim her innocence, she would stand up to him. The problem is that the Machiavellian profiles know this very well and they inoculate guilt, sometimes very subtly. The victim finds, in addition to the abuse, a campaign that seeks, precisely, to hold her responsible for the abuse she is suffering, as a cause of the infidelities or lies. We are witnessing a curious paradox: a manipulative character, who knows what he is doing, who directs manipulation strategies of mistreatment and abuse against the victim. And a victim who, in addition to being destroyed and devastated, feels deserving, feels guilty, feels inadequate. That is why she must become the protagonist of her own exit, knowing that there is no cause that can validate the destruction of the innocent being that she carries within her.
How do you build that safe place that keeps the victim away from the trauma?
First, victims often spontaneously resort to forms of mitigate and alleviate suffering and there secondary addictions to trauma can appear. Short-term strategies that become medium and long-term problems because they can compromise the health, work, relationships of the victims… That is why we must help them say no to shortcuts such as drugs and alcohol or other more socially tolerated substances such as drugs, which can calm you but sometimes prevent you from living an autonomous life. And help them in their strategy to move forward and seek a definitive cure for post-traumatic damage.

Is it good to rely on a close network?
The victim indeed needs accompaniment. I call it the advice of wise men: people who know what is happening and who are unconditional supporters of the victim. It also helps to resort to activities, not submit to added stress, avoid perfectionist demands and, of course, specialized psychological help. We are talking about post-traumatic psychological damagethat is, the most serious that can be found in clinical psychology.
Is there a way out?
It is the great message of the book. But be careful, victims believe that time just heals everything, and this is not true. The passage of time does not cure post-traumatic symptoms, but rather makes them chronic. And that is why this professional psychodiagnosis is essential. A therapy that goes directly to first containing, and then definitively overcoming, the damage that that relationship has generated. It is a myth that a toxic relationship does not leave psychological damage.
What type of sequelae do you detect in consultation?
Destruction of self-esteem, happiness and well-being, lack of energy or vital and existential dynamism. That’s why There is no possibility of staying in a toxic relationship without receiving harm. that is insured.
In his book he recommends not getting attached or settling for anyone who appears. Why is this pattern repeated then?
There is no curse, no karma, nor a destiny that dictates this, even if the victim believes it when he has already had three psychopaths and two narcissists in a row. What explains the repetition over time of toxic relationships is not that the victim goes looking for them or that he enjoys them and is a masochist. These are hoaxes or revictimizing theories, which unfortunately contribute to the spread of some pseudo-professionals who ignore everything about trauma. Each toxic relationship subjects the victim to a process of destruction and devastation, of her self-confidence, of her self-esteem, of her deserving of good things and, therefore, places her in a highly vulnerable situation.

In front of whom?
Faced with individuals who are there, of which there are more and more in society, and who detect them with radar because they are people more easily victimized than the others.
How do you explain this process?
What explains the repetition of toxic relationships is not that the victim desires them or seeks them or becomes embedded in them, but that the perpetrator chooses the victim based on characteristics that facilitate him, save time and effort when it comes to parasitizing. , exploit, abuse a victim who, due to the traumas previously suffered, is more quickly victimizable. The same as the wolf attacks the sheep that is further back in the group, confused. The more toxic relationship processes a person goes through, the more likely they will be to repeat in the future.
Does it mean that each new toxic relationship breaks the person who suffers from it even more?
Indeed, their resilience, their psychological resistance, their self-esteem. It places her more likely than other people to be targeted by the bad intentions of perpetrators who abound in the relationship market. They will not have any problem selecting the most vulnerable person.


Dr. Iñaki Piñuel

Editorial The sphere of books. 212 pages. You can buy it here

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