Interview with Sam Vaknin explains why he wrote “Malignant Self-Love”

I have not yet finished Sam’s tome about NPD (it is VERY long but so far readable enough), so I cannot write a review of it myself (but I definitely will when I finish the book).

In the meanwhile, I came across this fascinating interview that sheds some light on Sam’s motivations for writing “Malignant Self-Love,” something I’ve wondered about almost obsessively ever since I saw “I, Psychopath” on Youtube over two months ago. Hey, we Aspies tend to obsess about things!

It’s an excerpt from a longer article by Tony C. Brown I found on, another website for survivors of narcissistic abuse. The article itself is biased from the the side of Sam’s detractors (which goes into lengthy diatribe about Sam’s ever-discussed “fake degree”), but trashing his true motives or his credentials (which I don’t care about) isn’t my desire or my point in excerpting this interview. I think Sam is being as brutally honest about himself here as he appears to always be.

The best insight I have found for understanding Sam’s intentions in writing “Malignant Self Love” came in an interview Bob Goodman conducted with Mr. Vaknin and was published on the Natterbox website in 2000. The following exchange helped me develop a better understanding of Mr. Vaknin’s motives and agenda.

Bob Goodman asks , “I’ve seen Malignant Self Love described in some contexts as a self-help book. Often in this genre, we see authors who have triumphed over some personal adversity and wish to help others do the same. But your approach is quite different. You write that your discovery of your own NPD “was a painful process which led nowhere. I am no different — and no healthier — today than I was when I wrote this book. My disorder is here to stay, the prognosis poor and alarming.” Do you see the book, then, as more a work of self-literacy than self-healing?”

Mr Vaknin replies, “I never described Malignant Self Love as a helpful work. It is not. It is a dark, hopeless tome. Narcissists have no horizons, they are doomed by their own history, by their successful adaptation to abnormal circumstances and by the uncompromising nature of their defense mechanisms. My book is a scientific observation of the beast, coupled with an effort to salvage its victims. Narcissists are absent-minded sadists and they victimize everyone around them. Those in contact with them need guidance and help. Malignant Self Love is a phenomenology of the predator on the one hand, and a vindication and validation of its prey on the other.”

Mr. Goodman: “You are a self-professed narcissist, and you warn your readers that narcissists are punishing, pathological, and not to be trusted. Yet hundreds of readers or customers seem to be looking to you for help and advice on how to cope with their own narcissism or their relationship with a narcissist. I’m struck by a kind of hall-of-mirrors effect here. How do you reconcile these seeming contradictions?”

Mr. Vaknin: “Indeed, only seeming. I may have misphrased myself. By “helpful” I meant “intended to help.” The book was never intended to help anyone. Above all, it was meant to attract attention and adulation (narcissistic supply) to its author, myself. Being in a guru-like status is the ultimate narcissistic experience. Had I not also been a misanthrope and a schizoid, I might have actually enjoyed it. The book is imbued with an acerbic and vitriolic self-hatred, replete with diatribes and jeremiads and glaring warnings regarding narcissists and their despicable behavior. I refused to be “politically correct” and call the narcissist “other-challenged.” Yet, I am a narcissist and the book is, therefore, a self-directed “J’accuse.” This satisfies the enfant terrible in me, the part of me that seeks to be despised, abhorred, derided and, ultimately, punished by society at large.”

One last bit of the interview with Goodman appears toward the end of the article.

Sam lives a nomad lifestyle which he describes in the interview with Bob Goodman.

Mr. Goodman asks, “I understand you’re something of a nomad now, hopping from country to country and job to job. Do you ever long for a more settled existence?”

Sam replies, “Never. You are describing a morgue, a cemetery. My life is colorful, adventurous, impossible, cinematic. Sure, I pay a price — who doesn’t? Is there no price to be for a sedentary, predictable, numbing existence? When one is 90 years old, all that is left is memories. You are the director of the movie of your life, a 70 years-long movie. Now, sit back and begin to watch: is it a boring film? would you have watched it had it not been yours? If the answers are negative and positive, respectively, you succeeded to live well, regardless of the price you paid.”

9 thoughts on “Interview with Sam Vaknin explains why he wrote “Malignant Self-Love”

  1. Reblogged this on galesmind and commented:
    That Sam is one strange bird but interesting and really introspective which I find kind of odd for a narcissist. He does have a point in that a lot of times people do tend to make their own movie boring.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ” I’m struck by a kind of hall-of-mirrors effect here”

    LOL, hey that’s my line! That is how I identify narcissists, they are like being trapped in a hall of mirrors. The moment you see that mirror pop up, you know what you’re dealing with. Of course he wrote the book in an act of self worship,. effectively manipulating thousands of people into adoring him.

    Something I’m sure people already know, but male narcs can be very attractive to women. I’m not sure why, but it’s a dangerous combination because they’re usually quite sadistic. I’ve been studying women and attraction for a while now and I still don’t fully understand it. These men can actually draw women towards them and often do. They exploit our biology and create attraction, which then tends to bypass our defenses.

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    • I definitely agree with you that many women (myself included) are attracted to narcissistic men. Oh, we don’t always know they’re narcissists at first because they can be so charming, but I think a part of us always knows and is attracted to the danger. It would explain why “bad boys” in movies, books and TV are so adulated and become sort of anti-heroes–and enormously appealing to women.
      I think women like that dark mystery that narcissistic men have too. It feels dangerous but we like the attention they shower on us too–even if that attention is just a mask for the abuse to come later.
      It would be interesting for someone to do an indepth study on this because it seems so common.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Here’s something interesting. I read somewhere Sam has “groupies” who hang on his every word and stalk him on the web and elsewhere. (Don’t worry, I’m not one of them, LOL! You might think I am, the number of times I’ve written about him. Yes, he’s fascinating but I’m not about to become a groupie of his).

        These are not narcissistic women–they are women (and probably some men too) who are victims of narcissistic abuse and know Sam is a narcissist but have read his works, found them helpful, and have been drawn under his powerful spell. Sam has truckloads of charisma and he’s an enigma–a contradiction of what a narcissist is supposed to be.

        These “groupies” follow him around and attend all his lectures. Probably quite a few of them have mad crushes on him. I could understand why. He’s certainly not unattractive, he’s highly intelligent, appears to understand victims (and hate narcissists as much as they do, even though he is one), and has that mysterious guru-like aura about him, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he has groupies falling all over him, falling in love with him, and bowing down at his “altar.” He’s certainly not evil like Charles Manson but has that same kind of charm Manson (and most cult leaders) do, I think. Sam is the rock star of narcissistic abuse.

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  3. Pingback: Women, Narcissism, and Attraction | See, there's this thing called biology...

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