What happened to me was that my ex was able to parrot responses, replies, etc., that he believed that I wanted to hear, see, feel, etc. Those qualities that he did not possess, desired, and despised were mirrored back from me (and, others). Whatever he seemed to be was only a reflection of the visual emotional information that he absorbed from other people. He seemed so caring and interested in me, but little by little, I allowed myself to be objectified and dehumanized.
The dehumanization began as a "one-upmanship" game. If I had menstrual cramps, he had a headache that was worse. If I was suffering the flu, he had it worse than I did. If I attempted to demonstrate emotional strength, he would either physically or verbally beat me down to, "...make (me) pay for my insolence." I don't know about anyone else, but my ex had a very warped view of sex - everything was based upon sex. He once told me, "If I had a vagina, I'd use it everyday." I thought that this was a bizarre thing for any man to disclose, but I was too deep into denial to acknowledge the red flags. The p 0 r n o g r a p h y, perversions, etc. were the focus of his relationship with me, and it was all used as another method of control - the withold/reward system of dehumanization. And, why I didn't run when this happened, I will never be able to fully explain: he brought our newborn son to me for a feeding - I was nursing, at the time - and he walked into the room with our infant son suckling his own breast. I asked him what he was doing, and his reply was this, VERBATIM, "It just happened! And, if you ever tell anyone about this, I'll deny it and you'll look crazy!" There is no excuse for why I didn't pack my sh*t up, take my son, and get the hell out.
I want to try to make this perfectly clear: this didn't happen overnight. The narcissist revealed himself over a number of years and, by the time I began questioning my own sanity, he was nearly in absolute control of every aspect of my life. What women (in particular) fail to accept is that these men aren't "holding onto" us, or "just acting like that because they're jealous," or even concerned that we're suffocating, emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually, financially, etc. They do not see anyone (significant others, included) as human beings with feelings, goals, etc. The narcissist objectifies their victim (and, "friends") which alleviates them from any responsibility for intentionally inflicting damage to those people. We...the victims...are no more important to them than a cap from a beer bottle! They do not love us, they are not sorry that they've damaged us, and they will never, ever sincerely apologize for making a mistake - to do so would mean that they would have to accept the fact that they are flawed human beings, just like everyone else, and they cannot abide such a notion. That's why there are tangible gifts instead of agreement to family therapy when they damage us - accountability, responsibility, honesty, integrity, courage, and/or empathy are not in their vocabulary.