Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Malignance of NPD

There are some who cling to Dr. Otto Kernberg's description of malignant narcissism as being between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (virtually the same as psychopathy) on a continuum.

It seems that very few still hold that view, except those who want the malignance out of NPD.

I don't see how benign narcissism, like acquired situational narcissism, can be viewed as a "milder" form of the same thing. Let alone a personality disorder.

Maybe someone can explain it to me, but it seems to me rather like putting bats (mammals) in the same class with birds. They aren't closely related at all. So what if they both fly?

Benign narcissism comes from elevated self esteem. Malignant narcissism comes from the opposite. It is a compensatory act in denial of low esteem. So, the similarity in the way these two kinds of people behave is purely superficial.

People with benign narcissism have usually had fame, fortune, or success go to their heads. They start to believe they're really special. Sooner or later - CRASH - they find out they're not. Which is usually the best thing that ever happened to them. But they never have been malignant.

They aren't envious, so they don't go around tearing people down off pedestals to be greater than them. They can and do love and empathize. Hurting others doesn't make them feel good. They just strike us as obnoxious because they think they're God's greatest gift to the world, that's all.

At worst, they're snobby. But not abusive.

Even if they are narcissistic because they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, I doubt people with a narcissistic personality have a disordered personality.

The DSM-IV-TR criteria don't just describe NPD as grandiosity. They specify purely negative behaviors, such as envy and exploiting others as objects, without empathy.

That is malignance.

Envy is malignance. Exploiting others is predation, which is malignant. Having no empathy is being brutally unfeeling, callous, and having utter disregard for the rights, feelings, and human dignity of others. That's malignant, too.

That's NPD. Where anyone gets the idea that it isn't malignant, I'd like to know.

It sounds to me like some folks are falling for narcissists' whining that they don't mean to be mean, that being mean just kinda happens to them.

Yeah sure. That's why they're such angels where there are witnesses and such demons in the dark.

What they are is a kind of drunk. Like the guy who hides a bottle in his desk drawer at the office. He wants it all the time. Like a narcissist wants to get the high from letting Mr. Hyde out all the time. But he doesn't dare when others might see. He can't wait for a chance to, because it's the only thing that makes him feel good. So, he just waits till no one is looking.

No, a drunk doesn't love alcohol for it's own sake, and narcissist doesn't love evil for its own sake. The drunk has a love-hate relationship with alcohol. And that's the relationship a narcissist has with evil. Vaunting himself on others makes him feel good, by reinforcing his delusions of grandeur, period.

He's just hooked on evil, because it's the only thing that enables him to maintain those delusions. For, if they fade away, he'll be left alone with the hell within.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Food for Thought on Mental Illness

I want to make sure you catch the interesting comments on The Prevalence of Predators Among Us.

They point up what a complex issue this is.

Here are a few things Pam said that I want to highlight:

If you really get into studying the history of mental illness and how those who have mental illnesses have been and are treated, you will probably come away with the right assessment of the 'normal' persons handing out the treatment are far more dangerous than those who are truly mentally ill.

So you can understand the attitude that combats viewing mental illness as a moral failing, for these people rightly want to do away with the stigma attached.

But then we get to cases where it is clearly, at least in action, a moral failing - in the case of predators like narcissists and sociopaths. These aren't mere mental disorders; they are personality/character disorders. These two PDs especially are people who typically evoke murderous rage in the most gentle and slow-to-anger normal folks. That means something.

God forbid that they should ever start locking people up based upon a psychiatrists diagnosis, as those diagnosis stand now. If that were to happen,then any of us could be locked up at any time because all of it is so highly subjective.

The more we talk about personality disorder the less I can think of it as illness but only learned behaviors that can be unlearned and choices that can be corrected by the will to make better choices. In the case of psychopaths and MNPD's the question remains as to how to make a person who desires and relishes in the practice of evil desire to be good? The answer is we can't. There is no help for them from without if they don't have the desire for help within. To me, having respect for the boundaries of another says that I can punish evil persons when they commit evil but I can't force them to become well. I think our responsibility toward them is only in punishing the evil.

Here's some stuff in support of that view. A mental illness is defined as something that impairs a person's functioning in society. Does narcissism do that? Here is a new article on the Main Site that can make you rethink that: Narcissism in High Places. I got these ideas from reading that some in the debate argue that narcissism and psychopathy are ADAPTATIONS, not diseases.

I know narcissists who think we're fools for playing by the rules in a game fixed for cheaters to win because it has UNENFORCED rules. (Heaven or Hell in an afterlife doesn't count, because it's like buying property in Florida, sight unseen.) In law, theory holds that an unenforced law is illegitimate for that very reason: suckers follow it, making them easy prey for the bad guys smart enough not to.

So, these personality/character disorders only hurt predators in their personal relationships with those close to them. But the disorder is actually an advantage to their life in society as a whole.

I have also read that some are advocating a whole new approach to therapy for predators, one based purely on good old positive and negative reinforcement. This is essentially what Pam is saying, though she didn't mention using positive reinforcement too.

I must say that this idea strikes me as a good one. I explained here how current treatment, aimed at getting the patient to explore his feelings and trying to talk them into seeing the error of their ways is backfiring.

Maybe every therapist should keep a picture of a little child on their desk and stare at it the whole time to keep reminded of the fact that they are dealing with a child.

It reminds me of treatment I did see once, in a patient for eating disorders. She was a 17-year-old acting like a child, so her psychiatrist put her in pediatrics. Oooh, she did not like that. It was kinda like the Marines: Everything she did right, she was rewarded for; everything she did wrong, she got punished for. Like you train a puppy.

Now, I'm not sure that was the right way to go about it in this case, but it could be a good idea with narcissists and psychopaths. I say that because that's the level they operate at. That's how they train us, by pure positive and negative reinforcement. So, it stands to reason that it will make an impression on them.

The only limit on their behavior is what they think they can get away with. Let them get away with nothing. And make sure you're punishing them with something they don't like. Don't assume that they don't enjoy some things that a normal person would regard as punishment.

They may discover some worthwhile advantages in behaving. That may give them the desire to change. But I agree with Pam: our only responsibility lies in punishing the wrong they do. The rest is up to them.

One mistake in this area I have seen is giving a narcissist the silent treatment for days on end. That isn't negative reinforcement - not any more than yelling at your puppy every time you see him for the next three days after he piddles inside.

Negative reinforcement must be immediate and brief - to associate it with the bad behavior you are punishing. Otherwise the narcissist just goes off and glories in his suffering at mean old you's hands. He doesn't see it as the result of something HE did.

Now, if the bad behavior was serious abuse, you can't, and shouldn't, act like it didn't happen tomorrow. But you can respond politely to anything he does that relates to you in an appropriate manner.

More on this later, but one thing I want to mention now. Chemical imbalances and brain differences can be the RESULT of a personality disorder, not the cause. This would be simply due to them using different parts of the brain to process information, and those parts then develop more and secrete more of their chemicals. The process could be reversible if the thinking patterns changed. Especially if these people were helped before their mid-twenties.

So, don't assume a biological cause or that their brains are malfunctioning in some way. It is actually more likely that they aren't. But no one can say either way for sure yet.
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Prevalence of Predators Among Us

In updating What makes Narcissists Tick, one of the things I have been doing is adding links to outside sources of information on key points.

One thing that has troubled me is the official DSM "estimate" of the prevalence of NPD in the general population.

Why? Because no first-year college math or science student would dare try to pass off such an "estimate" (based solely on statistics taken from clinical samples of patients undergoing treatment) as legitimate.

Moreover, this "estimate" (of 1%) is routinely stated in the literature as gospel, without the necessary caveats that should make it clear that it is but a guess and not to be considered reliable.

Both these facts beg the question Is this outfit that shoddy? Or is this obscurantism?

I can come up with no other plausible explanation for such bad science, can you?

I'm a believer in leaning toward the more likely explanation when you can't be sure. And it isn't very likely that this outfit is that shoddy and unable to handle statistics properly.

In fact, all psychopaths are narcissists and (according to their own estimates) psychopaths alone comprise far more than 1% of the population. Boom, that fact alone blows the 1% estimate right out of the water. So, where is it coming from?

They must be counting only those diagnosed as narcissists only, ignoring all cases of co-morbidity, which are the majority since they themselves instruct clinicians to diagnose more than one personality disorder if at all possible. (Which raises the question of why they do this. To muddy the picture?) Cute. That's how you fiddle with statistics to make the prevalence of NPD seem as low as fiddling with statistics can make it.

But why?

Well, perhaps, what if Sam Vaknin is correct and narcissism is the root of all personality disorders?

I, personally, believe (especially after my work in prison) that AsPD is simply a less inhibited form of NPD and that applying the two diagnoses to the same person is superfluous. ...I regard pathological narcissism as THE Source of all PDs. ...I think that the diagnostic distinctions between the Cluster B disorders are pretty artificial. It is true that some traits are much more pronounced (or even qualitatively different) in given disorders. For example: the grandiose fantasies typical to a narcissist (their pervasiveness, their influence on the minutest behaviour, their tendency to inflate and so on) – are rather unique in both severity and character to NPD. But I think that they all the Cluster B Personality Disorders occupy a continuum.

If he's right, there are an awful lot of malignant narcissists out there. Presumably, that's why his prevalence estimate is much higher than the DSM estimate. It seems arrived at by adding the DSM estimates of other personality disorders into the total.

Which still puts it way too low, because the DSM estimates are all based on invalid samples, clinical studies of people in treatment.

The first legitimate population survey was taken in 2004, and it doubled the DSM estimate of the rate of personality disorder in the general population (6-9%), estimating that 15% of American have at least one of seven personality disorders - not counting borderline, schizotypal, and narcissistic disorders.

This survey also showed how far off DSM estimates are. For example, it showed the prevalence of Avoidant PD to be 2.4-to-5 times higher than the DSM. It also showed that Dependent PD is the least common PD in the population, not the most common as the DSM estimates rate it.

Yet still the DSM estimates are cited as gospel. Why?

Scientists would never deceive us, right? Wrong. Not so long ago, they ganged up and ridiculed Louis Pasteur for saying that germs cause disease, refusing to quit committing surgery without even washing their hands. A few decades ago, their voices joined as one in a chorus of screaming at us that the planet would be dead by now due to a population explosion. For decades, they ignored the evidence in favor of a low carbohydrate diet to lend their voices, as one, in a chorus of praise of for the high carbohydrate diet. They ignored the known fact that most blood cholesterol is produced by the liver and has almost nothing to do with cholesterol in the food you eat. Now their voices gang up in a chorus that blames global warming on the burning of fossil fuels, ignoring the facts proving that human-made carbon-dioxide emissions cannot possibly be having more than a minuscule effect on the trend. They also ignore the fact that the United States is the only net absorber of carbon dioxide in the world = removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it adds, largely because we are decades ahead of the rest of the world in cleaning the air and reforestation, so that the only additional changes we could make would be very expensive and produce minimal change.

So, scientists are no more honest than any other group of people, being just as yielding to groupthink and political correctness among their peers.

Over time, I have been noting strange hints and bits of information that indicate the mental-healthcare establishment is a patronizing big brother that doesn't want us to know how prevalent NPD is. Are they afraid that "people would panic if they knew" and start pointing the finger all around, suspecting every other person of having NPD and stigmatizing those with the disease? Do they fear people would call for change in the law to allow forcing those suspected of having NPD to undergo evaluation and possibly be locked up?

I don't know. But I am really getting suspicious of that.

How self flattering to have such a low opinion of the "common people," as this guy describes us. How arrogant to Daddy us by keeping knowledge from us on the grounds that it would be dangerous for us to have.

My, what good people to have such bleeding-heart humanitarian concern for the predators among us ... and such callous disregard for the much greater pain and suffering of their unwarned and therefore unsuspecting victims, who vastly outnumber them.

Concealing the truth about how common predators are is no different than a bishop moving a predatory priest from parish to parish for a continuous supply of unsuspecting prey. In both cases, you're serving up unsuspecting prey to a wolf in sheep's clothing.

That's indefensible.

Of course there would be calls for Draconian measures. But, as a civil society of grownups, we are quite capable of dealing with them, thank you.

Of course it would be wrong to lump all the mentally ill into one category as "dangerous." That's ridiculous. But it's no more wrong and ridiculous than the mental healthcare establishment lumping all the mentally ill together as "okay, just disabled."

They have political and social agendas: 'People are inherently good,' they say. 'Just give them a hug, a puppy dog, and a musical instrument and they're all going to be okay.'


Predators are predators. You don't talk a tiger into being an antelope. The predators among us are sane, just twisted. They can and do control their conduct when the coast isn't clear. So, what they do when the coast is clear and a vulnerable target of opportunity is within striking distance IS THEIR FAULT.

But the wilful unknowing of this keeps obdurately on. See it in this paper by Pat Riser. He makes no distinction between mental disorder and personality disorder. He writes as though predators don't exist. Indeed, his idea of "mental illness" puts those scare quotes around it. It isn't mental illness, it's being "psychiatrically labeled/disabled" (this time the scare quotes are mine). Their "self determination" has been blocked. In other words, their parents and society determine their behavior.

He has a whole list of words to make taboo. When a psychopath or narcissist commits a crime, the news media must not mention that the perp is mentally ill. We mustn't call psychopaths "psychopaths" or narcissists "narcissists" or schizophrenics "schizophrenics" or alcoholics "alcoholics."

Or idiots "idiots," I suppose.
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Friday, January 26, 2007

The Danger of Narcissism

There's a new set of articles on the Main Site under The Danger of Narcissism. Subtopics are Predation, Manipulation, Protecting Ourselves, and Meting Out Trust.

It's a bad/good news kind of thing. Predators, like narcissists and psychopaths, do a tremendous amount of harm and are dangerous in many ways.

But did you ever notice (on nature programs) how animals in the wild seem to take them in stride?

Predators are only dangerous when they get too close. In the great majority of cases, we can keep them from getting too close. And they are usually easy to discourage if you do so immediately, in their first "testing" of you. For, they are wary of you on their first approach. If you aren't naive, they're gone, off in search of easy prey.

So, these people would do vastly less harm if everyone were well enough informed to know that there are predators among us and that we therefore must pay attention, notice and heed signs of bad faith, and mete out trust to others appropriately.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Holy Grail

Here's an excerpt from a new article on the Main Site:

If you can't get a narcissist to stop relating to you as your judge, you can try this: Every time he or she relates to you inappropriately (i.e., as your judge or by abusing you in any way), take away the mirror.

Read the rest here.
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Spotting Narcissists

We have to make judgements about other people every day of our lives.

Notice that I said "judgments about" other people, not "judgments of" other people.

Is this person honest? Is that person trustworthy? Can this person handle the task at hand? Is that person one who habitually steps over the line?

If you don't make sensible, reason-and-fact based judgments about other people, you are dead meat. For, the judgements you make determine how much trust you invest in others.

Trust everyone you meet and you are going to buy the Brooklyn Bridge or property in Florida, sight unseen. You are going to end up married to a psychopath or narcissist. You are going to confide in a character assassin. You are going to vote for an Adolf Hitler.

Anyone can be fooled, but it's best to make fooling us as difficult as possible. And we do that by making sensible judgements about the people in our lives.

Everyone needs to know how to recognize a psychopath or narcissist - or any personality disordered person for that matter.

I occasionally reject a comment from someone (probably a narcissist) who wants to tell us we're bad for "diagnosing" people. That we should leave it to the professionals. Never let anyone con you with that.

I love that "Let us take care of you (because we know better than you what's good for you)" philosophy. Hey, who loves ya, baby? You. Self reliance.

Besides, are the professionals and social workers protecting us from these predators? No. Then what? It's some kind of sin for us to be on our guard?

Of course we can't "diagnose" people. We can't decide to have them committed. We can't be like narcissists and slander others by labeling them by name publicly as a narcissist.

But we have every right - nay, we MUST learn to spot narcissists and other predators. Because we mustn't trust them.

Dr. Robert Hare's attitude is a good example. He works hard to make sure that his psychopathy checklist isn't misused or abused. He insists that it be used only by specially trained professionals in the proper setting. Yet he also writes articles explaining the profile of a psychopath for the average person, warning that all people must learn to recognize psychopaths, so that we don't fall easy prey to them.

In other words, there's a big difference between diagnosing or publicly labeling a person as a pathological narcissist and simply making your own private judgement about him or her.

If you are honest, you will probably be correct, because normal people just don't do some of the backwards things pathological narcissists do. These behaviors are too bizarre. I hear from many that while reading my Website they felt as though I had to be present in their home and was writing about their own husband/wife/brother/sister. When the description fits, it fits tight.

And so what if a psychiatrist would diagnose that person as a psychopath instead of a narcissist? They're both predators. So the difference is purely academic and the conclusion is the same: stay away. Besides, psychiatrists often differ in their dignoses and usually diagnose more than one personality disorder in a patient.

There's a big difference between a mental disorder and a personality/character disorder. People need to know that personality disorders are serious business, especially the two predatory ones, NPD and psychpathy. People need to recognize the warning signs.

Because predators are predators: we need to stay as far away from them as we can. It's our right to do so: the right to self preservation and the right to pursue happiness.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Pathological Narcissism: The Root of Other Cluster B Personality Disorders?

Sam Vaknin is probably the one who popularized the idea that NPD and APD (psychopathy) are virtually the same thing, in his book Malignanat Self Love: Narcissism Revisted. (I quote from the Project Gutenberg e-text.)

Psychopaths or sociopaths are the old names for Antisocial PD. They are no longer in use, generally. But, the line between NPD and AsPD is very thin. I, personally, believe (especially after my work in prison) that AsPD is simply a less inhibited form of NPD and that applying the two diagnoses to the same person is superfluous.

TIMEOUT: Note the glib narcissist in that quote: his "work" in prison was "time" in prison. Cunning, aren't they? ;-)

TIME-IN: Onto the topic at hand. He goes farther than the statement above. Hang in there while I backtrack a bit to show how he reasons to a general conclusion about personality disorders.

First, a rather stratling opinion about the narcissist's true self.

My personal opinion is that the False Self is a construct, not a self in the full sense.


It is the locus of the fantasies of grandiosity, the feelings of entitlements, omnipotence, magical thinking, omniscience and magical immunity of the narcissist.


It lacks so many other elements that it can hardly be called a "self".


The False Self is not a self, nor is it false. It is very real, more real to the narcissist than his True Self. ...I say that narcissists vanish and are replaced by a False Self [Kernberg]. There is NO True Self in there. It's gone.

Wow. I just tuck that one away for future reference.

Here is an example of a time when you must remember to consider the source. He is a narcissist. His true self is inaccessible to him, so he must think it's gone. I would like to hope that's it's still there, in an oubliette deep inside. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but I do think I've caught a brief glimpse of it in narcissists on special occassions. In any case, there's no sense quibbling about it, because for all practical purposes the true self IS gone.

Now, he distinguishes between the false self and the "alters" of Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities). I won't quote it all here, but you can search the book for snippets of text I have quoted to find that place and read it for yourself. I would like to note that I see no grounds of possible disagreement with him on this point. In fact, before I'd heard of NPD, when I finally faced facts that it wasn't me and that something was radically wrong with someone in my life, my first idea was that this person had multiple personalities. But that explanation just didn't quite fit, and for the very reasons Vaknin cites.

MPD (DID) is more common than believed. Those are the emotions that are segregated. The notion of "unique separate multiple whole personalities" is primitive and untrue. DID is a continuum. The inner language breaks down into polyglottal chaos. Emotions cannot communicate with each other for fear of pain (and its fatal results). So, they are being kept apart by various mechanisms (a host or birth personality, a facilitator, a moderator and so on). All PDs – except NPD – suffer from a modicum of dissociation. The narcissistic solution is to emotionally disappear. Hence, the tremendous, insatiable need of the narcissist for external approval. He exists ONLY as a reflection. Since he is forbidden to love his self – he chooses to have no self at all. It is not dissociation – it is a vanishing act.

This is why I regard pathological narcissism as THE Source of all PDs. The total, "pure" solution is NPD: self-extinguishing, self-abolishing, totally fake. Then come variations on the self-hate and perpetuated self-abuse themes: HPD (NPD with sex/body as the Source of the Narcissistic Supply), BPD (lability, movement between poles of life wish and death wish) and so on.

That makes sense to me. Pathological narcissism then is the root from which other personality disorders grow. They are just different ways of coping.

All PDs are interrelated, in my view, at least phenomenologically. True, there is no "grand unifying theory of psychopathology". No one knows whether there are – and what are – the mechanisms underlying mental disorders. At best, mental health professionals register symptoms (as reported by the patient) and signs (as observed). Then, they group them into syndromes and, more specifically, into disorders. This is descriptive, not explanatory science.

Exactly. Imagine where we'd be in medical science if we couldn't distinguish diseases by the disease-causing agent, a specific "bug." We'd be trying to deal with an illness known as "fever," trying to distinguish all the diseases that cause fever by the symptoms patients present with.

You're going to make errors that way. For, different people with the same disease will present with different symptoms, making you conclude that you are dealing with two distinct diseases. This is always a big problem when dealing with syndromes (a collection of symptoms) instead of an illness we can connect with a particular disease-causing agent.

I think that the diagnostic distinctions between the Cluster B disorders are pretty artificial. It is true that some traits are much more pronounced (or even qualitatively different) in given disorders. For example: the grandiose fantasies typical to a narcissist (their pervasiveness, their influence on the minutest behaviour, their tendency to inflate and so on) – are rather unique in both severity and character to NPD. But I think that they all the Cluster B Personality Disorders occupy a continuum.

Hence he views psychopathy as a less inhibited for of NPD. Borderlines are narcissists scared of being abandoned. And so forth.

In fact, he notes that BPDs are so like NPDs that Kerberg (a major authority on NPD) suggested doing away with the distinction between BPD and NPD altogether. The work of Hare may bring forth a similar suggestion with repsect to APD and NPD.

Not that there are no differences. It's just that what may be just an assortment of coping strategies do not seem to fit neatly into categories like the orders in Class Insecta.

Vaknin notes that distinctions between PDs are no more substantive than the distinction between, say, a doting narcissist and an ignoring narcissist. Superficially they seem opposites, but not when you dig and see that these are just two different narcissistic strategies, adapted to different circumstances, to achieve the same narcissistic end. Hence the apparent but false contradiction.

I don't know enough to be comfortable with having an opinion. But what I do know squares with what he says, and what he says makes sense to me.
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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is an Individualistic Society Narcissistic? Think Again.

You often hear that a society that values individualism is narcissistic. This is ideology of European socialists, statists, whose philosophy subsumes the individual into the collective.

It's one of their indictments of the Evil Capitalist Entity Across the Sea, the United States, the home of individual liberty and rugged individualism.

I'm most amazed when I hear Americans swallow that one without examining it first. It's sloppy thinking to confuse individualism with selfishness. They are not the same thing at all.

It is true that in America, individual rights and liberties reign. The state never trumps them. Our most socialist politicians wouldn't dream of nationalizing industry and labor, wouldn't dream of specifying labor contracts by law or subsidizing industry. We have an intelligentsia, but this is still a pretty classless society, where who your Daddy was doesn't matter and the elites don't constitute a ruling class that the rest of us just follow.

Our individualism makes us renowned for our self-reliance and can-do attitude.

But socialists say that we are thus made a narcissistic society, a dog-eat-dog society, with no solidarity, where it's every man for himself and nobody cares for their neighbor or the poor.

One wonders if those who say this have ever been to the United States! To see how wrong this idea is, all you need do is look at American society and see how it actually behaves.

Okay, the streets of New York City could make you wonder a bit, but the United States isn't New York City. Few Europeans have ventured more than 17 miles inland here.

Actually, the results of our individualism are the exact opposite of what they claim. It makes us MORE caring about our neighbor. And not with just lip service.

Hurricane Katrina serves as a good example.

Inside the city of New Orleans, a huge percentage of the people were unemployed and living on the Welfare State. In other words, New Orleans was an island of socialism here in the US.

They reacted to the disaster like dependent people everywhere react to one. They reacted like people in socialist countries do. We even saw this reaction in the First Gulf War among the wealthy Kuwaitis, who lived unemployed on a huge monthly government handout from national oil revenues.

What was their reaction? Nothing. They reacted like children.

What do children do in a disaster? They sit there, sucking their thumbs and looking for some grown-up to come and take care of things. They're just children, you know. It never enters their heads that they should do anything. What could they do? It never occurs to them to ask themselves what they might do, because it never occurs to them that they CAN do anything.

So, maybe the kid next door is stuck under a fallen tree. Will a child think to go over and try to find some way to help him? No. That's for Mommy or Daddy to do. Why aren't Mommy and Daddy here already? Why aren't they taking care of me?

See what I mean? That's the danger of a Nanny State. It makes people helpless.

That's what people in New Orleans did. It was pathetic to watch. They just sat there and whined that the Nanny State wasn't right there to help them. They didn't lift a finger to help themselves or their neighbor. That isn't because they're bad people. It's because they have been nannied like children and have taken on that character.

In contrast, outside of New Orleans, throughout the rest of Louisiana and Mississippi, you saw typical Americans being typical Americans. They were doing what they could for themselves, and they were helping their neighbors. I love the guy whole stole a boat and saved about 100 people from their rooftops.

Our individualism makes us see a job that needs to be done and view it as up to us to do it.

Before the storm even hit, countless numbers of people in Texas were already loading trucks at their churches and schools to take to the people of Louisiana. Nobody told them to: they just shut down their businesses, went home, and started doing it. They didn't sit back and wait for Uncle Sam or anybody else to do it.

If that isn't social solidarity, I don't know what is.

During the East Coast Blackout a few years back - no looting anywhere in the United States. But there was looting in Canada. Apparently even our crooks pitch in and lend a hand at a time like that.

Quite a few years ago, I was in a bus accident in Italy, and immediately after I got my breath back, the other American I was with and I got up and went around to each of the other passengers to see if anyone was hurt and to spread an air of calm. We did that because it needed to be done, and since we were lifeguards, we thought we may well be the only ones who knew first aid and how to keep people calm.

It was no big deal. One lady had scratched herself on the nose with her ring, and that was it. But the Europeans on that bus gaped at us. We found this mysterious, having no idea why. Finally, a Brit made a little speech in which he said he was truly in awe of the way we Americans just took charge of the situation at a moment like that.

We still didn't get it, so we just looked at him like, "What are you talking about?" We didn't boss anybody around or anything. We just made sure everyone was all right and talked calmly to a group of people who had just been through a terrifying experience we were all lucky to survive.

In fact, the first thing I said was a just a joke: "Boy, someone here sure has a charmed existence" (because it was a miracle we hand't gone off a cliff). You know - just calming people out of a catatonic state.

As yet, we had no idea that no European would have done that, that they would have sat there and waited for some authority figure, the police perhaps, to come and take care of them.

Which would have been dangerous, because that bus was crosswise on the wrong side of a divided highway with traffic coming around a curve at it. We had to judge when it safe to exit the bus and then get away from it ASAP. We couldn't wait for someone to come and tell us what to do.

So, not that we Americans have no bad qualities, but our rugged individualism isn't one of them. It bears fruit in what's best about us.

What's more, Americans are by far the most generous people in the world, giving far more privately than Europeans do. Even through our government we give more if you count it all, like the direct food shipments, emergency aid delivered by military assets, development aid, debt forgiveness, the AIDS initiative, and so on. And all but the poor pay taxes here. In Europe, most of the people voting for those 40-70% tax rates don't pay taxes, or if they do, they get more back annually through social services. That isn't "generosity" when it's someone else's money you're being so "generous" with.

So, our individualism doesn't make us selfish or cold-hearted at all. And that actually stands to reason if you think twice.

In a society where the individual actually ceases to exist as an individual and becomes but cog in machine known as the collective, there are no clear personal boundaries, as their are no clear personal boundaries between a narcissist and those he treats as objects.

You can walk down the streets of Paris and see the homeless everywhere, begging for food. Nobody looks at them. Everyone ignores them and keeps on walking by. That's socialist "solidarity." Taking care of them is somebody else's job.

And a few years ago 15,000 French perished in a mere heat wave, so that everyone in the hospitals and other public facilities could take their August vacations on time.

Because, you see, when loving thy neighbor is somebody else's job, it's nobody's job.

I'd be the last to deny that our media don't try to incite narcissism through ad campaigns and entertainment. But our social structure and form of government don't do that.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wonders Never Cease

By the way, I no sooner posted that there is no way to win the game a narcissist plays than than I won a round!

Wonders never cease. Perhaps there is a way.

Strategy is my thing, in case you couldn't tell.

So, I shall keep you posted if I discover one.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

The Mask of Sanity

Dandelion reminded me of a book that I'd like to call to your attention. It's called "The Mask of Sanity" by Dr. Hervey Cleckley, M.D., the seminal work on psychopathy.

You can download a copy in PDF format here. Right-click the link and choose "Save Target As...." in the popup menu.

I haven't read the whole thing, but I have read more than enough to know that it's packed with factual information about psychopaths.

The impression that I got is that his work and ideas fell into disfavor with the onset of the Great Society and that he is now being rediscovered in the light of the work by Dr. Robert Hare Ph.D.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

How do you win the game a narcissist plays?

You don't. At least, I know of no way to win it, and I don't think there is one. Irrationality and perversity are invincible.

So, it's a catch-22. You can fight all the time, which is no way to live. Or, you can just take it, which is no way to live.

What would "winning" be, anyway?

The rest.
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Prevalence of Personality Disorders

I don't understand how people could think that you estimate the prevalence of personality disorders by statistical studies of patients receiving treatment in mental health clinics.

Passing that off as a legitimate estimate is ridiculous. You can't estimate prevalence that way. You have to take a random sample of the population.

ESPECIALLY for disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder, in which the mentally ill person firmly believes there is nothing wrong with him or her.

One might as well think to estimate the rate of mental illness by hanging out a shingle that says, "Wanted: Everyone Who Thinks They're Sick in the Head."

Did anyone seriously think narcissists and psychopaths are going to answer the call? Mainly only the psychopaths who end up in jail for violent crimes get diagnosed and treated.

The first legitimate survey was taken in 2004, and it doubled DSM estimate of 6-9%, estimating that 15% of American have at least one of seven personality disorders - not counting borderline, schizotypal, and narcissistic disorders. Yikes, imagine the percentage if you add them in.

Since Grant conducted the study among a randomly selected population-based sample, the prevalence rates from her study diverged from those presented in the DSM-IV-TR in some cases.

For instance, according to the DSM-IV-TR, dependent personality disorder is "among the most frequently reported personality disorders encountered in mental health clinics," the study report pointed out. However, Grant's study found it to be the least common in the population.

In addition, the DSM-IV-TR estimates that the prevalence of avoidant personality disorder in the general population is between 0.5 percent and 1 percent, yet Grant found it to be 2.36 percent.

Grant explained that prevalence estimates of various personality disorders in the DSM are based on relatively small, clinical studies of patients who are receiving mental health services on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

"You can run into problems if you rely solely on clinical samples," she said. "If you want to know the true prevalence of a certain disorder, you have to get out of the clinic."

Duh, like how embarrassing to have to state the obvious like that.

Chances are the instrument (questionnaire) needs improvement, but at least this is a start in the direction of real science. The DSM estimates are worthless.
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Friday, January 12, 2007

Projective Identification

Most of a narcissist's weird behavior - what makes him or her so impossible - is due to the fact that they are committing projective identification against you all the time.

Very weird. Here's a new, short article explaining it on the Main Site.

Projective identification is the result of an interplay between two psychological devices narcissists use.

One is identifying with their reflected image as their self. The fancy name for this mental trick is "introjection." Introjection literally means "throwing inward," which is the opposite of projection, "throwing outward." Introjection is defined as relating to something that comes from the outside as though coming from the inside.

That's precisely what Narcissus is doing in relating to his reflected image as though it's his inner self.

Read the rest here.
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Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Carnival of Folly

Just finished today's update of the Main Site. There are many changes. The Bully has had a major rewrite with illustrations to better explain how a narcissist can go through a small private company or non-profit like a Kansas tornado through a mobile home park.

For those who find it hard to believe, this article will show how easy it is pull off.

During a lifetime career in such a workplace the risk is significant that one of these guys (or gals) will come through, leaving a heap of human destruction in their wake.

The kicker is that the employer often does himself in just as eagerly as the employees do. For, he deliberately hired the narcissist - and as a hatchet man - for his bad qualities, which the employer thinks are good ones that make him a "tough manager." Yeah, right: the narcissist leaves the dead wood and axes the green, leaving the company holding the bag with huge legal liability and an empty cookie jar to boot.

It's a carnival of folly. But it wouldn't happen if people weren't so unsuspecting. People need to know that there are narcissists/psychopaths out there doing this. People need to know and heed the warning signs.

See more here at

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Are NPD and Psychopathy the Same?

Lately I've become more interested in the debate about whether Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (psychopathy) are the same thing.

There's a new article on the main website about it.

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Do Narcissists Have Emotions?

It is often said that narcissists and psychopaths don't experience the full depth and range of human emotions. I have known some narcissists very well for a very long time, and I am sure there is something different about their emotions.

Sam Vaknin discusses the matter here, starting off clearly by saying that narcissists repress their emotions. Which makes sense. After that he gets into fuzzy abstractions that don't seem to add a lot.

But I wonder if there isn't more to it.

Maybe a large part of the difference is simply due to their idenitification with their image instead of themselves. I've read that they view their bodies as a machine or tool, not really an integral part of themselves. And I believe it, because the narcissists I have known were amazingly out of touch with their bodily sensations. One had a heart so enlarged it was thumping against her sternum 24/7 for about a year, and when the doctor asked her how long she had been feeling it do that, it was news to her! The other never seemed to know when he was sick. His wife had to tell him. When he got old, life was such an out-of-the-body experience for him that he couldn't even tell where, or if, anything hurt! Welcome to The Twilight Zone.

If you're that out-of-touch with even your physical sensations, you certainly aren't in touch with your emotional ones either.

And it stands to reason, because they identify with something external and immaterial, their image. They relate to it as themselves. So, they aren't connected properly to their real selves.

What's more, their emotions are pretended. They don't get mad because something really made them mad. They pretend to get mad when they throw a fit to bully you. But that isn't genuine anger. It's an act. Otherwise they couldn't turn it on and off like a light switch.

Sure, they work themselves up into a lather as they summon anger to put on a temper tantrum, but that isn't the natural emotion of anger.

Narcissists have about two emotional acts: their happy act and their mad act. These are just acting jobs in their game of Pretend. The emotions are shallow because the narcissist conjures them up and then pumps them up. So, they're artificial, not the real thing.

As for feelings, they regard feeling as weakness, vulnerability. So they repress them.


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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A House of Mirrors

A narcissist is someone who goes through life fixated on getting the right kinds of looks on other people's faces. See some examples in A House of Mirrors.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

How Treatment Can Make a Psychopath/Narcissist More Dangerous

It is often pointed out that treatment increases the recidivism rate and even makes the patient more dangerous. Here is one example of how that can happen.

Let's say that you're a narcissist in treatment. You flew into a rage at another patient yesterday. The therapist asks you about the incident. You say that you felt slighted by something that patient did and lost your temper.

The therapist knows, however, that you regained your temper in one nanosecond upon the arrival of a nurse.

"Yeah, so what?" you think.

But then as the therapist discusses this with you, she reveals that normal people don't just switch off their anger like that. You see that she is suspicious that you just lay in the weeds and go off at people whenever the coast is clear and they least expect it.

So, you have learned something valuable. Now you know how to fake real human behavior better. Now you can fool people better. You eventually learn enough to fool the therapists themselves, because they tell you everything you need to know in order to fool them.

She thought she was helping you explore your feelings and understand yourself. But she wasn't. She was just teaching an old dog new tricks.

This is why people entering therapy should be screened for psychopathy and narcissism. For, they need a radically different method of treatment than other patients. Simply because their behavior isn't based on normal human premises.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Why Narcissists Lie Like Crazy

Why is a narcissist's pathological lying so bizarre? Because it is just "pretending."

We can imagine it. Well, unless you've never pretended anything.

Let's say that someone wants you to go somewhere. You don't want to but feel a need to spare the other person's feelings by saying that you are busy with some big project that day. You're on the phone, talking with him or her, pretending to be taking time out from this project. As you describe the work you're doing, do you notice something?

In your mind, you actually BELIEVE what you're saying.

Hopefully, only till you hang up the phone. That's what pretending is. Now imagine being stuck in that mode. Unable to step back out of the Looking Glass Room. Rather like a child who has an imaginary friend and expects Mother to set a place for that friend at the dinner table.

That's why narcissists tell you lies they know you couldn't possibly believe. They are just children playing Pretend. Like any little child playing Pretend, they get mad at any other child who doesn't play along. They cry, "No! You're not supposed to say/do THAT! You're supposed to say/do THIS!"

That's all narcissists want: they just want you to play along. Otherwise you make it hard for them to pretend.

But they couldn't care less what you think. Indeed, you DON'T think in their game of Pretend, because you are just a character in a work of fiction they author by revising reality serendipitously on the fly. You know - improvisation.

More here. See also The Faces of Narcissism.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Narcissists are Amazingly Manipulative

The Main Website is taking shape. There are many minor revisions and one new section entitled The Manipulator:

To say that narcissists and psychopaths are manipulative is an understatement. They are frightfully manipulative.

How manipulative are they?

They are so manipulative that they even routinely con and manipulate mental healthcare clinicians — people trained to be on the lookout for attempts to manipulate them. For example, therapists evaluating violent offenders get it exactly backwards: though the psychopathic offenders misbehave much worse during the treatment program and after release than the non-psychopathic offenders, clinicians report just as high a rate of improvement among them, promote as many within the program, and recommend as many for release. In other words, these mental healthcare professionals are getting conned and in a way that even blinds them to the facts.

But, narcissists and psychopaths aren't necessarily all that smart. And manipulating others isn't just a hobby of theirs. It's part of the disease. It's inherent in the disease. It's an aspect of the way they interact with you.

Read the rest here.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Blows My Mind

I'm beginning to see why there's resistence to the idea that narcissists and psychopaths aren't just good people from bad homes who can be talked into being nice if you give them a puppy, a musical instrument, and a little group therapy. There are a lot of sociologists, psychologists, mental healthcare workers and social workers heavilly invested in the staus quo. People who don't want to admit they're wrong. People who don't want to admit they've been conned. People who don't want to admit that they're doing more harm than good.

Dr. Grant Harris, Director of Research at Ontario's psychiatric hospital writes:

As you probably know, there was a special therapeutic community for mentally disordered offenders from the mid-1960's until 1978. The program was unique and many worldwide experts were impressed with its methods for psychopaths.

On the other hand, when we measured the results with a follow-up study, we found something different. The program seemed to make the psychopaths more dangerous rather than less. Psychopaths behaved much worse in the program but were just as likely to be made program leaders and get recommended for release. Experts’ impressions and the measurement of results gave exactly opposite conclusions.

New research by Michael Seto and Howard Barbaree adds to these data. They did a follow-up study of an up-to-date therapy for sex offenders in a Canadian prison. They compared psychopaths to other offenders and studied therapists’ ratings of how well the offenders had progressed in treatment. Clinicians’ ratings of progress were inversely related to recidivism -- offenders the clinicians rated as having done well were more likely to commit serious new offenses. And this was especially true among the psychopaths. Clincians’ impressions and measurement of outcome gave exactly opposite conclusions.

As he points out here in a more recent article, there is actually evidence that treatment makes psychopaths more likely to re-offend upon release!

Our follow-up research showed, however, that the program reduced recidivism among patients who were not psychopaths, but increased the violent recidivism of psychopaths (compared to prison). We think this research teaches some valuable lessons: Clinicians cannot assume that their efforts are beneficial; it is possible to do harm. This fact has been demonstrated elsewhere — some well-intentioned services actually increase the likelihood of crime.

The only way to know whether services are effective is to evaluate outcomes. Our research showed that psychopaths actually behaved more poorly in the program (compared to the other patients), but were as likely, or even more likely, to be trusted by the clinical staff.

He also points out that almost all data is gathered from the subjective impressions of staff evaluators instead of scientifically through objective measurements. Here again, we have psychology forgetting to be a science, folks!

Right, to find out how good a job these folks are doing, ask THEM to evaluate it, duh.

Nooooo, THEY won't get conned by somebody who says he suddenly found Jesus.

THAT is indefensible. I can hardly believe it. How is this establishment getting away with this? I smell goody-two-shoes social engineering by people who won't admit they're wrong no matter how many psychos get let free to prove them wrong by laughing out the door to kill and rape again. Is this establishment that held in lockstep by what's politically correct that nobody dares blow the whistle?

See more information here.
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Monday, January 01, 2007

The Dissimulation Factor

Here is the start of a new article on the Main Website:

Any description of malignant narcissism must cope with an apparent contradiction: ordinarily, most people acquainted with a malignant narcissist don't see the narcissistic character traits in him or her. Sometimes this blindness can be well-nigh amazing. How does it happen?

The answer is that narcissists are magicians. Magic is the art of creating illusions. In this case, the illusion is their false image.

In other words, in this case the magical art is the art of con artistry. Every narcissist is a con artist. He has been learning and practicing the art since he was six or seven years old. So, by the time he's grown, even if he isn't particularly intelligent, sheer trail-and-error will have made him very good at fooling people.

In other words, a narcissist is a performer who manipulates perceptions, an actor who wears a mask.

Why? To know why, just put yourself in his shoes for a moment. You have to tear others down to feel good about yourself. So, you are their enemy. You will hurt them if you can. It's best if they don't know that....

Read the rest here.

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