The Narcissist’s One Trick That Can Keep Us Hooked Forever
By The Minds Journal Editorial
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
Casinos know it. Animal trainers count on it. Narcissists have perfected it. It’s the powerful emotional tool known as intermittent reinforcement, and when used correctly, it guarantees to get—and keep—virtually anyone hooked on anything.
Intermittent reinforcement is when one person in a relationship metes out or reinforces rules, rewards or boundaries occasionally or inconsistently. Instead of discouraging the other person, intermittent reinforcement actually does the opposite. It fuels their attempts to extract the reward once again, keeping them hopelessly locked onto the relationship.
Take for example a parent who says “no” to their child 90% of the time. It’s the 10% of the time the parent backtracks, which incites the child to whine, throw tantrums, or harangue to get another yes. Animals will do tricks every time, even after the trainer withholds the reward, like B.F. Skinner’s rat that hits the bar repeatedly for the chance pellet, over and over, whether it gets one or not. Gamblers, too, know that the intermittent reinforcement of the random, small pay out, will keep them at the slot machines until they empty their purses or pockets.
Those of you obsessed with checking your Tinder account, Tumblr blog, or Twitter, for the ambivalent thrill that comes with those hit-or-miss shots of validation, know what I’m talking about.