I just saw this comment under the Youtube comments for “I, Psychopath” (the documentary about Sam Vaknin). I don’t agree with most of it, but I think it does give us something to think about in terms of autism’s relationship to psychopathy. The writer of the comment may be onto something about autism being nature’s solution to psychopathy. There does seem to be some kind of correlation between psychopathic/narcissistic parents and children with Aspergers or autism. I don’t know if any study has ever been done on this.
I do not think Vaknin has Aspergers syndrome (which I was informed today is no longer called that–the updated DSM now identifies Aspergers as “autism spectrum disorder.” I prefer “Aspergers” so I will continue to use it) I think his schizoid traits make him seem like someone with Aspergers at times.
Vaknin is a very important figure in terms of how his introspection allows us to see what is really happening in our evolution. After a few years reading about narcissism and psychopathy, as well as Autism, and coming to the conclusion that Autism is nature’s solution for psychopathy (I am an autists born in a family that is experiencing this transition), to my eyes, Vaknin seems to embody the bridging that is occurring. One thing that seems to be a reality is that autists may be born into families where we also find psychopathy, most likely a generation or two back. The shift to the emotional awareness presenting in the burgeoning of the enteric brain, which incorporates genetic changes changing the heart itself into a motor for cognition is what informs Autism, but because many autists are so sick or dysfunctional, it is hard to get people to see that it could have any evolutionary logic behind it. Perhaps the dysfunction is nature’s way of keeping the tremendous emotional authenticity and power it brings under wraps.
. Vaknin has all the traits of Asperger’s. This is not to say that there are no vestiges of the narcissism or psychopathy that may run in his family, but his journey itself speaks of what is going on.
Can a narcissist also be on the autism spectrum?
The topic this commenter raised brings me to something I’ve been wanting to write about for awhile now: can a narcissist also be autistic or Aspie?
This is a tricky question, because the way I see it, autism (Aspergers) is like a mirror image of narcissism. Although people with Aspergers have been accused by many of lacking empathy (which I disputed in this blog post), they generally do not. The reason they may seem unempathic is because they don’t express their emotions very well, but most Aspies are very sensitive to the feelings of those around them and can be easily overwhelmed. Conversely, a narcissist can’t feel the emotions of others well, but is usually good at pretending they can. An Aspie is not capable of pretending to be something they are not. So a narcissist may seem more empathic than an Aspie, even though the opposite is the case.
So can someone be both?
I would say yes. However, an Aspie narcissist will not wear masks very well or know which ones would benefit them most since they will not be able to read social cues, which a “successful” narcissist must be able to do. So while an Aspie may be a narcissist, they will be very bad at hiding their true motives and therefore not very dangerous. A narcissistic Aspie is probably more likely to be a “needy” narcissist–the kind of narcissist who acts as pitiful as they can and feel entitled and demand to be taken care of and catered to due to their “helplessness.”