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 FriedGreenTomatoes.org, 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.”