The “Sex Symbol of Narcissism”


Sam Vaknin is the rock star of narcissism.

Vaknin–self-professed malignant narcissist, possible psychopath, and author of a dark and pondering tome about his own NPD (a book he himself had admitted was never meant to do anything other than serve his need for adulation and the attainment of a guru-like status) has, over the past fifteen years or so (since he first began having an online presence), achieved his goal of attaining an endless torrent of narcissistic supply–both negative and positive–from strangers he has never met, especially from white middle aged women all over the world.

It’s exactly the same demographic that obsesses over TV singing show contestants (I’m not entirely sure what the correlation would be here), but with one major difference: Vaknin’s “fans” are almost all victims of abuse by narcissistic families or spouses. Most of these women are in a lot of emotional pain and having failed to find adequate help elsewhere, have turned to the Internet to find solace, community, and support.

If you Google “narcissistic abuse,” “escaping from a narcissistic husband,” “I want to string up my abusive narcissistic drug addicted asshole of a lover by his testicles,” or anything containing the N word, you are going to find that Sam Vaknin and his writings dominate this particular psychological field on the web. You are going to see the many links to his website, his Youtube channel with its hundreds of videos about narcissism, his many forums and discussion groups on Google and Yahoo, and to pages and pages of articles written by or about him (just do a Google search if you don’t believe me). If you are a survivor of narcissistic abuse who uses a computer, you cannot avoid him. He is everywhere.

So Sam Vaknin–precisely the kind of person these victims are trying to escape from–is the first stop for many of these hurting, vulnerable women in their long journey from abuse to freedom. Personally I have never been involved in any of Vaknin’s discussion groups or forums but a lot of women say they have really been helped by them. It’s a huge irony that Vaknin’s intention was never to help them at all (although I don’t think his intentions were ever bad, just selfish). His book “Malignant Self-Love” is also among the best known (and definitely the most visible) books about narcissistic abuse on the Internet, and these same women say his book has changed their lives and given them the courage to go No Contact with their abusers–a concept Vaknin encourages and approves of.

Vaknin with his popular “Bible of narcissism.”

Because of the emotionally fragile and vulnerable state many of these women are in when emerging from or trying to cope with an abusive relationship, Vaknin himself–whether he deserves it or not–has become a kind of guru to them. But attaining a guru-like status also means attaining a status as a sex symbol, not really any different than the adoration a middle aged fangirl has for, say, Jon Bon Jovi.
It doesn’t matter that he may be a psychopath or have psychopathic tendencies. Most cult leaders have or had the same sort of charisma and women fawned all over them too. Even serial killers have their ardent supporters and fans–and a few have even received marriage proposals!

While I would not classify Vaknin in the same category as someone like Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, or L. Ron Hubbard, he does possess a lot of cult-leader-like charisma. Many narcissists do, especially famous ones. Although not classically handsome, Sam has the “tall and dark” thing going and he certainly isn’t ugly. He also has an intense and magnetic dark gaze that can be felt even from watching his videos. He has a pronounced (Israeli?) accent which makes him seem exotic but he speaks English more fluently than a college professor.

His writings, especially his poetry and journal entries, are available for public consumption (through his website, linked above) and are as deeply personal as his videos are pedantic and robotic. This vulnerable side to Vaknin–or what appears to be vulnerability–makes women want to reach out to him. He brings out their maternal, nurturing instincts at the same time he’s a kind of father figure. He is also extremely intelligent, purportedly having an IQ of 180. High intelligence is sexy as hell.


This is why he’s so attractive–and so dangerous. Women leaving or still trapped in relationships with narcissists tend to be codependent, nurturing “givers”–women who cater to their abuser’s many emotional needs, especially their need to be adulated–and they find in Vaknin an intriguing mix of the charismatic, authoritative, intelligent politician/celebrity and a sensitive, “deep” poet and wordsmith who writes about his dark and tragic life and resulting disorder in an emotional and passionate way. This vulnerability is what disarms so many susceptible people.

He’s a study in contrasts and contradictions: a man who is unfeeling, cold and prone to unpredictable rages, yet releases through his creative writings what appear to be emotions that are almost too intense to bear; a malignant narcissist who hates other narcissists and warns his “fans” to stay away from people like himself; a man who says he can’t feel empathy but has helped victimized people in spite of that; and a man who is as much hated and dismissed as a fraud as he is adored and looked up to as a guru. His high intelligence, craggy good looks and encyclopedic knowledge of a devastating mental disorder they are trying desperately to understand all combine to give this man an irresistible attractiveness. He’s a perfect storm of characteristics targeted at precisely the right audience and demographic. If a manufacturer was told to design a man with devastating charisma and intelligence who could appear to be anything you wanted him to be, the result would be someone a lot like Vaknin.

Add to this the fact that codependent, victimized women are often attracted to narcissists. If they look up to Sam Vaknin as their savior and mentor, they are likely to find themselves a little–or a lot– obsessed. There’s also the issue of transference. Victimized, emotionally damaged women see Vaknin as a kind of online therapist (especially those who frequent his discussion groups and forums), and the “transference” of strong feelings of a patient to their therapist is an important development in the psychotherapeutic relationship. If they’re using the Internet as their therapist, Vaknin can easily become the object of these feelings of transference. He becomes a kind of mirror reflecting back to them all the admirable qualities they have imbued him with–which may or may not be accurate at all–but it’s what they want or need to see in him. The problem is, unlike with a therapist in a controlled psychotherapeutic setting, women experiencing transference toward a online cult hero like Vaknin have no idea what to do with these feelings or how to use them to learn more about their own disorders.


Sam Vaknin may not sell out arenas, dress in glittery stage clothing, play an instrument, sell merchandize or T-shirts with his likeness on them, or appear on the cover of People Magazine (…and I have no idea whether he can sing or not), but I bet there are hundreds if not thousands of desperate women attending all his lectures, following him around to all his events like groupies, and reading all his writings and books any chance they can get. Who knows, someone may even be writing Sam Vaknin fan fiction (no, not me!). 😮

For Vaknin’s part, he has admitted he looks down on those who look up to him, but he also loves the adulation and admiration his admirers give him. He also loves to be hated. He obviously enjoys being the rock star of narcissism and all that goes with it, and probably hates the idea of anyone else ever stealing his one-man show. I doubt that will happen any time soon though.


About luckyotter

Recovering from BPD and C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse from childhood. Married to a sociopath for 20 years. Proud INFJ, Enneagram type 4w5. Animal lover, music lover, cat mom, unapologetic geek, fan of the absurd, progressive Catholic, mom to 2, mental illness stigma activist, anti-Trumper. #RESISTANCE
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12 Responses to The “Sex Symbol of Narcissism”

  1. Alaina says:

    It’s funny, given my long checkered history with N men… but I have never had even a twinge of feeling about Sam Vaknin. No attraction, no repulsion, nothing. I have been reading blogs online about narcissism off and on for several years, and I’ve purchased and read a small library’s worth of books on the topic. But I’ve never read anything written by Vaknin, other than some of his comments here to you, which then got my curiosity up enough to read the sample portion of one of his books. His style of writing seemed OK, but I wasn’t interested enough to want to buy it. When it comes to narcissism, I prefer reading books written by credentialed therapists or by persons who have been through the hell of narcissistic abuse.

    I did see one YouTube video about Vaknin a couple of years ago. It was done in a documentary style. At the end of the video, the photographer stated that spending so much time with Sam had beaten him down emotionally. (I don’t recall the exact words he used, so I’m paraphrasing here.) But it seemed to me that the photographer was disproportionally distraught. I suspect that he was being overly dramatic, exaggerating his feelings in a failed attempt to make his video more interesting.

    After reading this post, now I’m wondering WHY I have never had any interest in Sam Vaknin. Because, if you could meet some of the men in my past… YiKes!

    Maybe I just finally reached a point where I’ve had my fill of narcissists. My husband is so not an N… at first I thought he was boring, silly me. But today, after almost a dozen years with him, I can tell you that life with a kind, compassionate, loving, giving man is anything but boring.

    Liked by 2 people

    • luckyotter says:

      You’re very normal, Alaina. Not every woman who “fits the demographic” is going to be drawn in. Just some. I would certainly not worry about it, lol! I think the fact you are in a stable, loving relationship probably makes you more immune than for some other people. Anyway, I doubt any therapist would think of your lack of interest as a problem–or the fact you would rather read books by credentialed mental health professionals.

      I’ve read his book and those of psychologists/psychiatrists and both have value — in different ways. Vaknin’s stuff is valuable mainly because it gives you insight into the mind of a narcissist and what makes them tick, but his writings are also dark and hopeless and not for everyone. He’s very controversial.

      The video you saw was “I, Psychopath.” I saw that too–I’d certainly heard of Vaknin before, but that video was what got me interested in him. I thought he acted very childish and explosive in that movie, but I wanted to find out more about what made him tick. I also thought the filmmaker acted just as childish and explosive, who I think was a narcissist himself.
      Until I did more research, that film didn’t convince me he even had NPD, never mind psychopathic tendencies. I thought he had some form of Borderline PD with schizoid and paranoid tendencies, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe this should be retitled: “The sex symbol of sociopathy.” Because, this dude is much closer to that than to what most psychologists would consider narcissism.

    And I thought you were done writing about him? 🙂


  3. Joan S says:

    I’m trying to figure out what is so exciting about narcissistic men. They are rather scary. Sure I had one once, and even then it was very gross. Or getting in trouble with them, they never fight fair, there is no working it out with them, you just have to cower. I might be missing something though.


    • luckyotter says:

      Maybe it’s the “danger” factor…but mostly because we were raised to be Supply for these kinds of men. As a Borderline though, I don’t make the ideal codependent type and balk against the role, even though I’m usually or always in a codependent role.

      No you are not missing anything. They have charisma (well, some of them do) and are great at putting on a huge show in the beginning of you being their one and only. Like i said, no one can act more romantic than a narc who has targeted you as prey.
      And then they become, as you have said, scary and sometimes both gross and scary. It’s very sick.

      You are very lucky if you are not attracted to this type of man. Believe me. It’s not worth it.


      • Joan S says:

        If I were you I would try to connect to the part of you that finds them attractive. It is my humble opinion that we were raised to be supply for a reason, and that reason is death. I would find and unlock that secret that the scapegoaters set into you. It is a trap.

        I think all men are overwhelmingly romantic in the beginning of a relationship. He needs to win your favor. It is biological. Then it settles down into regular life. By then we should have found any red flags. One guy I dated once called me “annoying” on the third date, ugh. Luckily, I took away his right to be with me. If I believe that I’m annoying then I would have stayed with him. I didn’t believe I was annoying, but I think he was testing me for the codependency role.

        I think its just in the way we feel about ourselves. But I do believe we need to unlock this. For all scapegoats or previous scapegoats. It is a dangerous trap.

        Liked by 1 person

        • luckyotter says:

          Joan, I think I’m a lot more likely now to see the red flags early on and run–no more denial or making excuses that “he will change.” I’m going to be very wary, and not necessarily think i have to be “in love” with a man for it to be a rewarding relationship. At my age, I think just being great friends can be enough.


  4. Who is this dude? Hehe. I used to know him.

    Thank you for being my friend right now . I truly appreciate you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • luckyotter says:

      I can’t believe he found this old dinosaur and reposted it. LOL!
      I sent you an email. I’m worried about you.


    • luckyotter says:

      I didn’t know you had a blog! I am following you now.
      I had to take out the reference to my real name in your comment. I don’t use my real name on this blog. No worries though.


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