Shattered Dreams Poetry and Book.

A reader of this blog wanted to share some of her poetry with me and I asked her if it was alright to share the poems with my readers because they really resonated for me and I think other readers of this blog who have been married to or divorced narcissistic men could definitely relate to her writings.

Rina Lynn has her own blog of poetry (Shattered Dreams Poetry) about coping with the emotional fallout of narcissistic abuse and divorcing a narcissist. Please take the time to visit her site.

She also has a book, Shattered Dreams: Poetry for Women Divorcing a Narcissist, by Rina Lynn and Kay Gardner, which is $4 on Amazon.

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Here are some of her poems.

The Great Escape

There was a chick
Who pecked and chipped
A window in the wall
Scrunched she sat
Tightly packed
Smooshed into a ball

The shell seemed swell
She knew it well
But her heart knew it was time
She peered outside
While hard she tried
To pretend her life was fine

Then cracks began
To rip and span
The whole of the world she knew
She closed her eyes
And tried to hide
Spinning her lies anew

It’d be ok
If she stayed
She’d lived here all her life
Her life was hell
Inside her shell
But she was just a wife

One piece fell
From off her shell
She began to be quite frantic
She tried so hard
To fix the shards
You should have seen her antics

Then with a glance
She saw her chance
And knew it had to be
With one great heave
The halves did cleave
And all at once she’s free

puppet_master

The Puppet Master

He picks his victims carefully
Then reels them in
With hateful glee
Gives them all their heart desires
Inflames their senses…..
…..ignites a fire…..
Tells them all they wish to hear
Then he owns them…..
…..this puppeteer……
He speaks a word
And they try their best
His every whim
To manifest
It becomes a daily thing
Dangling his prey
Upon his strings
Their individuality begins to dim
Disappears into the world of ‘him’
Soon they are just instruments
Who live to make his life content….
……where did their will go?
……why do they stay?
…..why don’t they escape…..
……and leave the fray?

A war of attrition is being fought
They respond…..
…..the way they ‘ought’…..
Doing their best to please another
While their identity is smothered
You can’t see the forest
For the trees
You can’t escape
Till you ‘see’ the strings
And understand it’s just a game
…..to enslave you …..
…..and drive you insane…..
The thrill of the sport…..
…..a manipulative zest….
To prove to him
He is the ‘best’
All you are…..
…..is another conquest…..
Swelling his appetite
…..and selfish greed…..
On hurt and control
…..his evil heart feeds…..
If only his dupes
Could really see
They hold the scissors…..
……to cut the strings…..
Then……they could truly be free…..
Living a life…..free of his deeds

The Feces Inspector

I had a job i did
For fully half my life
I examined feces
In my role as a wife
My husband produced
It freely
It seemed to roll right out
I followed him discretely
Trying not to shout
I knew this wasn’t normal
it couldn’t be ok
I wondered just what caused it
Each and every day
So I began a quest
The origin to explain
I set up a lab
The truth to explicate

I wore rubber gloves
To scrutinize his manure
I checked out what I fed him
His routine & DNA
Puzzling perceptions
Grew more enormous
By the day
When digging thru the dung
Looking back it seems
The stench that it created
Stifled all my dreams
I smeared it on the slides
Peered into my microscope
The closer that I looked
The more I lost my hope
The manufactured crap
Continued all the while
When picking thru the pile
It was really hard to smile

So I resigned the job
Gave up my inspector hat
Someone else can have it
I’m not doing more of that
I cleaned up the counter
Swept & mopped the floor
Threw away my samples
Walked out and locked the door
…….then beamed with satisfaction

shattered_dreams_quote

Anger Has Been Banished. It’s Time to Go Away

There’s another person
Who lives inside of me
She’s so very bound
That she can’t get free
Her given name is anger
And she’s very strong
She stands up to deal
With the things that’s wrong
When my voice is silent
Her voice rings out loud
She can speak to bad guys
She truly makes me proud
Others do not like it
When she’s in control
But I gave her permission
To protect my soul
Until she was allowed
My life was filled with pain
I needed her assistance
My self-esteem to gain
Now my life is better
The perpetrator’s gone
But anger just won’t leave me
She feels this is her home
She’s overstayed her welcome
Now she needs to leave
Unfortunately we’re at odds
We’ve really disagreed
I think I can manage
She thinks I’ll be deceived
Serenity won’t visit
If she stays around
She says she’s rude and ugly
And wears a constant frown
I really need the comfort
Of tranquility
Poise, content, composure
And equanimity
They say that she can visit
When there is a need
But for them to live here
Anger must concede
Backbone, strength, and power
Will take her place today
Anger has been banished
Peacefulness can stay
Honor says it’s time
And I will be ok
Anger you must listen
It’s time to go away

The Scapegoat

It’s your fault!
…..from the very first…..
No matter who is punished…..
……yours will be the worst…..
Everyone else is perfect
But.….you are very bad…..
You try your best
To please the rest
But…..somehow you just can’t
You talk too loud
Or not enough
Or leave dishes in the sink
Someone else messed them up
But, it’s your job to see they’re cleaned
You’re too big
Or too small
The opposite of what is best
You work the hardest
Try the most
But never please the rest
Their evil deeds
…..are swept under the rug
…..or simply attributed to you…..
Then you’re screamed at
…..and penalized…..
For what you didn’t do
Chastised, reproved
Castigated, reprimanded
Disciplined each day
The weight of someone else’s deeds
Is placed upon your plate
The lies that are their alibis
Sound grand to all who hear
No sympathy
Will come your way
Only boos, and sneers…..
After all……who would tell…..
….such outrageous things?
No one in their right mind
Could really be so mean
So…..to others….it has a
Truthful ring
Embarrassment…..humiliation
Becomes your garment donned
There’s no way
To convince the audience
That by a NARC they have been conned……
You hang your head
Accept the shame
….while more blame is piled on……
The scapegoat……
…..who bears the sins of the home…..
…..so no one else needs to atone…..

shame

Shame

Shame is that feeling
That you aren’t enough
You feel as if
You should be
Made of stronger stuff
It’s hard to hold
Your head up
It’s like you don’t belong
No matter what you do
It seems to be all wrong
People laugh and whisper
Or.….that’s what you believe…..
To be on equal footing
Is something
You just can’t perceive
But you must remember
We are all alike
Made in God’s image
So stand right up and fight
Most of the time
When shame has held you down
Worn you to a frazzle
Esteem’s been tightly bound
It’s because of something
You’ve taken on yourself
You didn’t even do it
It was done by someone else
Maybe it’s your family
That has done the deed
Maybe it’s somebody
Else’s lifetime creed
You believe that you
Must measure
Yourself by their thoughts
But you can’t accomplish
All the things you ‘ought’
You deem yourself ‘guilty’
Picking up the weight
Shame brings upon you
It seems it is your fate
But look at this whole thing
From a different view
Why must you pay?
For things you didn’t do?
Throw off that fault
Break that felon’s thong
The offense wasn’t yours
You did nothing wrong
Let others stand in their corruption
And shame will slide right off
You didn’t do the crime
You mustn’t pay the cost!

A Little Girl

A little girl
Whose life was hell
Tried to be so good
She washed her face
And combed her hair
And did everything she “should”

And as she grew
Her “oughts” did too
The load grew hard to bear
As others refrained…
She accomplished great things…
So they handed her their cares

She took on blame…
She took on shame…
The people round her knew she would
They used
Abused
And taunted her
Because she was so good

Talented
Proficient
An expert at so much
Alone each day she waited
For a single loving touch

As life passed by
She began to cry
But none had time to listen
The family left
She felt bereft
With tears her eyes did glisten

With deep despair
She combed her hair
And did the daily chores
The song was gone
She carried on
Alone
As each day before

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A list of useful blogs and books about NPD, narcissistic abuse, and BPD.

These are all listed under my “Resources and Support” tab in the header, but I wanted to call attention to them. I have added some new ones. My apologies if you don’t see your blog listed here. Unfortunately, I can’t list them all but if you want me to add yours, please comment and I’ll be happy to add it.

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Here are some websites, books and blogs focusing primarily on Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), narcissistic abuse, and Borderline personality disorder (BPD), though some touch on other personality disorders as well. This is only a small sampling of what’s available. The Internet is loaded with websites about NPD and narcissistic abuse; a quick Google search will bring up many that I have neglected to list here. BPD is not so widely covered, but is becoming more so.

Blogs, Websites and Forums

Dealing with Manipulative People — Dr. George K. Simon’s excellent blog about Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic, Borderline, Antisocial, and Histrionic Personality Disorders) with a focus on NPD. Dr. Simon is also the author of several books, which are listed below.

Out of the Fog — excellent support forum for people dealing with those with personality disorders and other mental health problems (or who have a disorder themselves). Every personality disorder recognized by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is covered. I never posted here myself, but I’ve lurked there a lot and found the site very interesting and helpful.

Narcissists Suck — Anna Valerious is a survivor of psychopathic parents, and her blog is excellent. It can also be irreverent and hilarious. Her take no prisoners style may take some getting used to, but she has a lot of heart and a LOT to say about narcissists. Valerious is a Christian, and she sometimes quotes from the Bible, but for the most part, you don’t have to be a Christian or any sort of believer to appreciate her blog. She hasn’t posted in it for awhile, but the articles are still relevant, entertaining, and useful.

An Upturned Soul — longer articles than average, but well written, intelligent, and always fascinating to read. There was no way I could leave this one off this list, since I have reblogged several of her articles already.

PsychopathyAwareness Blog — good blog about psychopathy right here at WordPress. The blogger really knows their stuff.

What Makes Narcissists Tick?— This blog was created by Kathy Krajco, an author about narcissistic abuse who was well respected in the community of narcissistic abuse victims, until her untimely death several years ago. Due to that, the blog hasn’t been updated in a long time, and many of the links don’t work, but it still contains both practical and fascinating information about narcissists and why they are the way they are and why they do what they do.

NarcissisticMother.com is a website focusing on self help for the adult children of narcissistic parents (ACONs), particularly mothers, since in our culture, mothers still have the strongest influence on their children.

SociopathWorld is an intriguing website from the point of view of sociopaths (not exactly the same as psychopaths but very similar). It’s interesting to “get inside their heads” to help understand why they act the way they do. It’s creepy and fascinating how dissociated from emotions, themselves and others they often feel and some explain it surprisingly well.
Similar to SociopathWorld is Psychopathic Writings, a blog written by a psychopath whose articles are interesting and well informed. If you like sites like these, please also check out Kiasherosjourney.

Country of Liars: a website by and for the victims of sociopaths and psychopaths. The blog’s owner, like so many other similar blog owners was the scapegoat of a family of such people. Well written blog.

Lady With A Truck’s Blog: Like so many survivors of narcissistic abuse, LWAT struggles with poverty. Our abusers ruin us on every level, even our ability to earn a living. This is a wonderful blog by a lady with an attitude and a heart. Her writing draws you in like a novel, she’s inspirational, and she’s often quite funny too.

Constant Supply: The Narcissist’s Wife. A blog by a woman married to a malignant narcissist.

Faces of Narcissism: a fairly new blog written by Joanna Moore, a narcissistic abuse survivor. She was married to an abusive, sociopathic man who she is No Contact with today. A good mix of practical, no nonsense advice and personal stories.

Grace for My Heart: Although this blog written by a Christian pastor isn’t specifically about narcissism, it’s a popular topic on his blog (he writes about narcissism every Friday in his “Narcissist Friday” posts) because of all mental disorders, NPD (along with Antisocial Personality Disorder) is the most likely to have a spiritual component. Interesting and uplifting blog for Christians and those interested in God’s grace and spirituality. One of my favorite blogs.

Worldly Annoyances — ACON blog with a biblical Christian perspective. Sue can also be extremely funny at times.  I don’t always agree with her literal Biblical views, but I agree with much of what she has to say just the same.   Her posts are short and sometimes make me smile.

Galesmind:  Blogger who writes about narcissism and a lot of other topics too.  Often funny and entertaining.  Gale also writes a lot about Internet abuse (bullies, trolls and other sociopaths roaming the web).

Narcwriters: a listing of personal blogs about narcissism and blogs by psychologists with a focus on NPD. A good resource that lists many blogs that I have overlooked here.

The Narcissistic Continuum: This blog is great. It differs a bit in format from most other narcissism blogs because of the way its articles are ordered according to severity across the narcissistic spectrum, from “healthy narcissism” (narcissism is good in very small doses–just like heavy metals in the blood are necessary but become poison if excessive) all the way to psychopathy/sociopathy. CZBZ’s blog is also very easy on the eyes, in my opinion.

TNC’s owner also has a forum, Web of Narcissism (WoN), which is inactive but there’s still a lot of great information there.

Lenora Thompson — Psychcentral/narcissism: Lenora Thompson is a survivor of narcissistic abuse who writes a blog about narcissism on Psychcentral.  Check her out!

No! It is Not Your Fault!   A blog about narcissism and narcissistic abuse from an unlikely writer who himself has an NPD diagnosis but is unusual because of his self-awareness and desire to heal from his disorder (he is in treatment).   Ruud’s blog is definitely worth a follow.  Reading his story brought me to tears and I don’t cry easily.  He also gives good, practical advice to narcissistic abuse survivors.

Psychforums: Online support for anyone with a mental disorder and those trying to understand and help loved ones who have them. Active section on NPD and other personality disorders, and includes posts from people suffering from NPD as well as their victims.  I posted here for awhile, and the narcs and “nons” (as they are called) seem to co-exist here quite nicely.

Discussing Dissociation: Thoughts from a Trauma Therapist — Although this site focuses on those suffering from DID (dissociative identity disorder), there is much information and help here for anyone suffering from other mental disorders caused by abuse and trauma, such as C-PTSD. The symptoms of C-PTSD can closely mimic those of Borderline Personality Disorder and include dissociative features.

BPD Transformation — Blog written by a former sufferer of BPD who was cured. Ed’s posts are sometimes a bit scholarly but incredibly educational for those who like a bit of meat in their blog posts and dislike things being dumbed down the way they so often are on the web. This blogger probably knows more about the Cluster B disorders and their treatment methods than most mental health experts. But it’s not all graduate-level reading. Some of his articles are quite hilarious too.

Make BPD Stigma Free! — a blog devoted to getting BPD recognized as a form of complex PTSD and taking away the harmful “crazy” and “evil” stigmas a BPD diagnosis carries.

Healing From BPD is a good website for people suffering from BPD with information about DBT and other treatments.

Borderline Bella is a university student from England who has struggled with both having BPD and the stigma it often carries.   She is a new blogger here on WordPress and her writing is always honest and heartfelt.  Her blog is definitely worth a follow!

Ramen Noodle Nation: Humans Need Not Apply: This blog is not specifically for ACONs and survivors of narcissistic abuse, but because so many of us struggle with poverty (either after being taken for everything we own or just because we were trained to be “failures” by our parents and never given the tools to do well in life), I think this website can be helpful and validating to those of us struggling with poverty or even just living on a very tight budget. Definitely on the fiscally liberal side of the political fence, this blog calls out the malignant narcissism inherent in our culture of greed and low empathy for the poor.

There are also many other personal blogs of survivors of psychopathic abuse on WordPress. There’s way too many to list  here!   If you have a blog that focuses on narcissism or BPD that you don’t see listed here, let me know and I will add it to the list. Also, if you know of any other websites you would like to see listed, let me know and I will add them.

Books
Malignant Self-Love — You can purchase or download the free eBook by Sam Vaknin. Vaknin is a narcissist who wrote this extremely detailed book about NPD. You can read part of it free online (PDF format). It is also available for purchase. There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding Vaknin’s credentials but it can’t be denied he definitely knows a lot about this subject and gives advice on how to deal with people like himself. Vaknin is unusual–a narcissist who has enough insight to know his own motives and warn people accordingly. However, given that insight is a characteristic narcissists generally don’t have, is Vaknin really a narcissist at all?  Well…yes, he is.

Vaknin is also the subject of the documentary, I, Psychopath. He may or may not actually be a psychopath, but he does act pretty narcissistic in the film most of the time and bullies the filmmaker. Definitely worth watching even if you don’t bother with his book.

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, by M. Scott Peck, MD: First published in 1983, this is probably the first book that accurately described the malignant narcissist. I wrote a review of this book in this post. While not perfect, this book holds a special place in my heart because it was the book that allowed me to first identify my mother as an “evil” narcissist. Ironically, my narc-enabler father sent it to me (even though he always defended my mother’s behavior).

Dr. George K. Simon (mentioned above) is the author of several self help books about “character disorders,” especially NPD. I have read his In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, and Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of our Age (longer and goes into much more detail about psychopathy and malignant forms of narcissism than In Sheep’s Clothing but both books are excellent.

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us, by William Hare, MD. Extremely readable and informative book about psychopathic behavior, from everyday psychopaths who try to make our lives miserable through the worst serial killers and other criminals who show no remorse for their deeds. Hare describes the different types of psychopaths, and the possible origins of their psychopathy, whether it’s genetic or acquired later through their environment and learning. Many quotes from psychopaths are included, and some of these are chilling. Hare sums up by discussing what may be done to help the psychopath (not much!) and for those who must deal with them, advice for handling them better. I definitely recommend this book.

Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha M. Linehan. This is a workbook of practical exercises to help people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder better cope with their unstable emotions and learn how to regulate them better. It was a great help to me while I was hospitalized in 1996 for Major Depression and was at that time also diagnosed with BPD. I still have my copy and recently dusted it off and started using it again.

Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door,”  is more about antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) than narcissism, but as ASPD is also marked by an inability to feel empathy or have a conscience (and may be on the same spectrum as NPD), so it fits here.

I also recommend Dr. James F. Masterson’s “The Emerging Self,” a scholarly manual on treating narcissistic disorders of the self, complete with case histories from therapy sessions.  He has successfully treated people with both the Borderline and Narcissistic personality disorders. If you like something a little less scholarly, his excellent book Search for the Real Self: Unmasking the Personality Disorders of Our Age, about BPD and NPD, also contains case histories from his practice and tools for understanding these disorders and what causes them.

Book review: Confessions of a Sociopath (M. E. Thomas)

sociopath_confessions

A couple of weeks ago I went to a yard sale and a book caught my eye, because of its subject matter–a copy of M. E. Thomas’ autobiography, Confessions of a Sociopath: a Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight.

Ever-fascinated with all things Cluster B, including first-person accounts by narcissists, psychopaths and other antisocial types, I got busy reading that same evening. It took me two weeks to finish the book, when normally I’d devour a book of this length and subject matter in just a few days.

I’m sorry to say, this book was a disappointment. It was a long, painful, boring read. First of all, Ms. Thomas isn’t a very good writer. Full of run-on sentences and endless, dull descriptions of how great she thinks she is because she lacks empathy and a conscience (she seems to think of these as traits only weak or stupid people have, reminding me of Ayn Rand without an iota of the latter’s intelligence), Thomas comes off more as an obnoxious, self-centered, common narcissist than a true sociopath.

Thomas (who owns the website Sociopath World) is not a criminal. She may well be sociopathic in that she seems to take pleasure in cheating, manipulating, hurting, and discarding others, once gleefully watched a possum drown, and admits she enjoys ruining the reputations of people she has worked with. She clearly has no empathy and seems to have no emotions. She crows on endlessly about how her lack of a conscience or any empathy has freed her from having to worry about what others think and therefore indicates what she thinks of as her superior intellect. But like the narcissist she really is, she overvalues her achievements and intelligence. She works as an attorney but doesn’t seem to be able to stay employed for long, and really doesn’t have any other impressive achievements under her belt. Her “theories” about sociopathy are nothing more than rehashes of what other people have already described in psychology texts, and less readable than theirs. Overall, Thomas comes off as self-congratulating, obnoxious, unlikeable, and very shallow. She also comes off as rather dumb.

M. E. Thomas is clearly a malignant narcissist, but by calling herself a “sociopath” you feel like you’ve been the victim of a bait-and-switch (which is in itself sociopathic, I suppose). The cover of the book is a picture of a sinister female mask on a white background, and you open the book expecting something more than you actually get, at least some sort of depth or insight into her own behavior. But Thomas has no real insight and the book reads more like a resume of her fake “achievements” than a dark psychological memoir. She talks about her family, who she describes as neglectful, but she doesn’t seem to think they were particularly abusive. She takes arrogant pride in her “sociopathy,” repeating the word again and again throughout the text, as if to drive home the fact that she really is one, when it seems that she “protesteth too much” and underneath all that bluster, suspects she may not be. That kind of insecurity over the possibility of not really being what one says they are is a lot more typical of NPD than psychopathy or sociopathy, who don’t care what others think of them. Thomas also talks about wanting to have a family and her religion (Mormonism) a lot. Maybe her religion keeps her from acting out against others in more heinous ways and gives her a sort of “cold” conscience that keeps her out of prison, but I sure hope God doesn’t let her have children. She doesn’t seem capable of maintaining a relationship, so that doesn’t exactly work in her favor.

Although narcissists are thought of as having no emotions, it isn’t really true that they don’t, and there are narcissists and sociopaths who have been able to write about themselves in an emotionally engaging, albeit dark and depressing, way. There is rage and hurt and despair seething behind the surface of their words. But Thomas writes in a cold, emotionless way, probably because she’s such a bad writer. As a result, you feel about as excited reading her “memoir” as you’d feel reading the most boring high school textbook–and learn a whole lot less.

The only reason I didn’t feel completely ripped off was because the yard sale copy of this book set me back only $1; if I’d purchased it at full price, I’d be pretty annoyed right now. It was all I could do to even finish this book. It was that boring. Don’t waste your time. If you want to read a good book about sociopathy, read Marsha Stout’s The Sociopath Next Door instead. If you really need to read something that comes “out of the horse’s mouth,” you’d do better with Sam Vaknin.

Not every narcissist has NPD.

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As has been done with autism spectrum disorders, it’s becoming increasingly common to think of NPD as falling on a spectrum of narcissism, ranging from normal or healthy narcissism (which most of us have to some degree) all the way to psychopathy/sociopathy (variations of Antisocial Personality Disorder or ASPD) at the top. What we call malignant narcissism is actually NPD shading into ASPD.

Narcissism is a normal trait that helps us survive, but it becomes pathological when there is too much of it. On the narcissism spectrum, just below NPD and above healthy narcissism is a disorder called The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern, or DNP. It’s not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), but Dr. Nina Brown has written books about the disorder, which I haven’t read yet (I never even heard of DNP until a few days ago), but here is a description of DNP:

The destructive narcissistic pattern (DNP) is a term used to describe a constellation of characteristics generally associated with pathological narcissism, but which are fewer and less severe. Nonetheless, these characteristics negatively impact relationships. The destructive narcisist’s typical interaction produces negative reactions in others. For example, the individual devalues others, lacks empathy, has a sense of entitlement, and is emotionally shallow. He may function very well and be successful economically, but is unable to form and maintain stable relationships, as evidenced by numerous partners or marriages. The DNP, Brown asserts, is often unrecognized. Although others may find him frustrating and difficult, the individual with DNP can be charming when charm is perceived to be to his benefit.

Dr. Brown’s book “The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern” can be purchased on Amazon.

The blogger CZBZ has also written about DNP on her blog, “The Narcissistic Continuum” and has devised a detailed graph that shows the placement of disorders on the narcissistic spectrum: http://n-continuum.blogspot.com/2013/11/narcissism-key-from-healthy-to.html

DNP is probably much more common than full-blown NPD. These people can be very difficult to deal with but because their symptoms are less severe they would be more likely to respond to (and seek) therapy and may not be completely without empathy and have a stunted or limited conscience instead of an absent one.

The only problem I have with this continuum is that almost everyone would be on the narcissism spectrum, since most people (except for those whose self esteem has been all but obliterated) have some degree of healthy narcissism.

Oh hell yeah, Sam Vaknin is a narc!

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I got the three books I ordered from Amazon in the mail yesterday and started to read Sam’s book first because I really need to know about narcissism from the perspective of a narcissist. I said it before and I’ll say it again–it’s huge (but I like huge books).

So far (I finished the first chapter) I can tell he’s a very good writer (in a verbose, almost old fashioned way) and I think it’s going to be a fascinating read. He also gives credit where credit is due, and cites experts in the field and the DSM-IV-TR as sources.

But something stood out to me right away that screamed narcissist. At the back of the book, there are SIX PAGES of Vaknin’s accomplishments and qualifications (“Curriculum Vitae” he calls it–he is very pedantic too). SIX PAGES. I kid you not.

Not only that, there are four pages of testimonials. That’s right, FOUR PAGES. Who includes four pages of testimonials and six pages listing their qualifications? A narcissist, that’s who!

I have no problem reading a book about narcissism by a narcissist. The way I see it, it’s coming directly from the source, not from some detached expert with 8-10 years of higher education who doesn’t know what the disorder feels like. Sam KNOWS what it feels like, and it sounds like hell. Narcs are not happy people, I can assure you of that. They may SEEM happy, but they are not. They live their lives in sheer terror of their masks being stripped off.

That doesn’t mean we should feel sorry for them though. Miserable or not, they aren’t nice people, and don’t deserve our pity.

Here is an excerpt of what Paul Shirley, MSW, has to say about Sam’s book in the Prologue:

Sam’s writing on the subject pulsated with heat, it ran red with blood, it crackled with flames of passion, it cried out in agony. Sam KNEW narcissism like the fish knows the water and the eagle knows the air, because he had lived it. He described its small insignificant currents, he knew what it does when the weather changes, he knew exactly what happened to little frogs, snakes and crickets whenever they fall into the stream. Most psychologists only KNOW about narcissism. Sam UNDERSTANDS it.

After I finish his book, I’ll write up an in depth review. So far, a good read though.
You can also order his book here.

Sam Vaknin: Narcissist or narcissist wannabe?

samvaknin

Who in their right mind would want to be a narcissist?

Sam Vaknin evidently does. Vaknin, a self-identified narcissist, is a bit different from the average narcissist. He seems to fit the profile in many ways, but he is surprisingly introspective and in 1997, wrote a self-help book called “Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. It can be purchased through Amazon or through his own site, but you can also read free excerpts from the PDF version which is also available through his website.

I have read the PDF full version and while it’s extremely long, verbose, and often repetitive (the published version may have better editing but I am not sure), Vaknin tells you everything you want to know about narcissism (and a few things you may not have known) and offers advice to “normals” on how to deal with narcissistic people like himself. He does not glorify narcissists and in fact is quite critical of them. While it appears he wants to help people handle or even cut themselves off from narcissists, one can’t help but wonder if he wrote the book as a way to promote himself and if he might not actually take pride in having the disorder. After all, narcissism has become Vaknin’s claim to fame and he purports himself as an expert on the disorder (which I can’t argue with, despite his lack of professional credentials). It was Vaknin who coined the term “narcissistic supply,” which is now used by bonafide professionals in the field who specialize in NPD.

Most books about narcissistic personality disorder or malignant narcissism are written by doctors, psychologists, or other professionals who deal with them in their practice, so reading such a book by a self-proclaimed narcissist is an odd experience but gives the reader an entirely different perspective about what really makes narcissists tick–and in a way, perhaps a more accurate one.

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Vaknin with a copy of his book.

Vaknin also differs from the garden variety narcissist because of his brutal honesty. Pathological lying is one of the narcissist’s calling cards, but in 2009 Australian filmmaker Ian Walker made a fascinating and somewhat disturbing but at times extremely funny documentary about Vaknin called I, Psychopath. (I highly recommend watching this film, the extended version of which can be viewed on Youtube (I have linked the first section). In the film Vaknin lies about nothing, and in fact he’s as brutally and cruelly honest as Simon Cowell used to be when judging American Idol contestants (I definitely suspect Mr. Cowell is himself a narcissist, but I digress). That being said, there has been some controversy about Mr. Vaknin’s educational credentials. During one of his interviews with a psychologist, she questions him about his degree–he had written on the questionnaire that he has a Ph.D, but it turned out that doctorate is actually from a diploma mill and its validity is questionable at best. So dishonesty is not unknown to Sam Vaknin (as it isn’t unknown to the rest of us).

In the film, we are treated to interesting and slightly creepy, oddly lit stills of Vaknin superimposed over things like clanking machinery (hinting at how the narcissist is more machine than human), strange landscapes, and time-lapsed highways at night.

Vaknin was born in 1961 to a Turkish mother and an Israeli father. We find out that Vaknin has an extremely high IQ and he is in fact a genius. In his native Israel, he became extremely wealthy at a shockingly early age through clever (and probably dishonest) financial wheelings and dealings, and was a successful dot-com entrepreneur until he was busted for securities fraud in 1999, and lost all his money. He also postulated a scientific theory on chronons and time asymmetry.

At the tender age of 21, Vaknin was living the high life, flying around the world in a private jet, eating in the most expensive restaurants, visiting exotic locales all over the world, and raking in enormous amounts of money. The film describes how the most successful entrepreneurs and corporate bigwigs tend to possess three important traits that make them so successful: good looks, high intelligence, and most importantly, a high level of psychopathy (determined by giving the tycoons Dr. Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist, which is most commonly used to make sentencing decisions for criminals.). Sam Vaknin possesses all three of these traits.

One of the psychologists who tests Vaknin during the film finds that while he does score high in traits that signify NPD, he scores even higher in traits that indicate Schizotypal Personality Disorder, Paranoid Personality Disorder, and bizarrely, scores highest of all in AvPD (Avoidant Personality disorder–a common disorder in narcissists’ victims). This psychologist does not think Mr. Vaknin is actually a psychopath, but that he may be narcissistic. Vaknin, for his part, seems petulant, insulted and almost angry that he is not more of the big, bad psychopath that he believed he was.

Later, his wife, Lidija, is also tested to find out if she is a typical “victim” (highly empathic, sensitive, putting other’s needs ahead of her own) and it is found that she is. And yet, although Sam and Lidija argue frequently, their relationship (at least on film) seems to work for them and Vaknin doesn’t seem excessively abusive, although he insists he has no capacity to feel love the way his wife does. It’s possible he may be more abusive toward Lidija off screen, but this is another thing we are left wondering. One issue that is raised is she wants a baby, but is unsure if her husband would make a good father, due to his narcissism.

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Vaknin with his wife, Lidija.

Vaknin gives his filmmaker, Ian Walker, a difficult time, and while we don’t see an excess of bullying on screen, in Walker’s commentary, he frequently discusses the way Vaknin abuses and calls him terrible names when the camera is off. So to try to capture Vaknin’s alleged abusive behavior on screen, he has Vaknin take over the filming and film Walker. Indeed now we hear Vaknin hurling insults and abuse at him. Walker, for his part, seems hurt, but could this just be the two of them acting out a part for the sake of giving the film more credibility of making it more interesting? There’s no way to tell, but the experiment is entertaining enough.

During the film, well known professionals who specialize in psychopathy and narcissism are interviewed and give their opinions about these character disorders, and their opinions about Vaknin himself. Vaknin, for his part, seems irascible and easily angered (and sometimes acts like a petulant child), but he also is oddly likeable (which could just be his narcissistic charm doing its work) and occasionally is extremely funny. Vaknin’s high intelligence is obvious and he speaks English extremely well too, although it’s not his native tongue.

Vaknin gifts each of the doctors and psychologists who interview him a complimentary copy of his “Malignant Self-Love,” which could be a gesture of courtesy or it could be narcissistic.

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Vaknin is an enigma. During the documentary I sometimes wondered whether he is actually a narcissist at all. He certainly doesn’t seem psychopathic (although I’m not going to say it’s impossible), but if he’s a narcissist, I don’t think he’s a particularly malignant one. My own opinion of Sam Vaknin is that he has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which shares a number of traits with NPD because they are both Cluster B character disorders but differ in important ways. I think Vaknin has strong narcissistic, paranoid, and schizoid traits, but he is no psychopath. Clearly, Vaknin isn’t the easiest person to spend a lot of time with, but that doesn’t make him evil or a psychopath. However, he does say he was diagnosed with NPD twice–in 1986 and 1995.

I do wonder if he wants to be a narcissist more than he actually is one, and if so, why? Whatever the case, Mr. Vaknin has written an excellent and highly readable (if a bit verbose) book about malignant narcissism. I don’t personally care if he doesn’t have the right “credentials,” either as a professional or as a person with the actual disorder, because his book has helped so many people deal with the narcissists in their own lives better.

Update 11/20/14
I added a new post honoring Mr. Vaknin’s requests in the comments section, and also made the requested changes in this article. After viewing the links he posted, I’m much more convinced he’s really the narcissist he says he is.
https://otterlover58.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/sam-vaknin-read-my-post-and-has-a-few-corrections/

Something I’ve noticed about narcissists

allaboutme

I’ve read many blogs and web sites about narcissists, and one question that keeps coming up is, “do they know they’re narcissists?” Another, related one is, “do they know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it?”

The answer to both is yes. Narcissists know exactly what they are, and I think they also love it when you figure them out. They’re flattered that you know of suspect them of this nasty character disorder, even if it means it will be harder for them to continue using you as a source of narcissistic supply. They also like to read about themselves.

Several years ago, I realized my mother was a narcissist. At the time, I was pretty enraged at her (more about my relationship with her another time) and emailed her a copy of the checklist for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) from DSM IV. She backed off with the manipulations after that for awhile. Nothing else had been able to shut her up until I sent that email. I don’t know if she was flattered or not, but she definitely knew I had her number.

About a year ago I worked for a guy with fullblown malignant narcissism. I left a copy of “People of the Lie” on my desk (not on purpose), and when I came back after lunch, I caught him standing there at my desk seemingly lost in the book. He was so engrossed he didn’t even see me approach my desk and didn’t look up until I said hello. He jumped a little, then commented about my having some interesting reading taste. For the rest of the day he seemed more cheerful than usual. The next day, he asked if he could borrow the book when I was done with it.

I recently purchased a copy of Dr. Simon’s book about malignant narcissism “Character Disturbance.” I live with my daughter, who allowed my ex (her father) to come inside my home even though I have a restraining order against him (she does not). Of course that’s another matter and a serious one which I won’t address here. I did find it humorous that he had found my copy of the book, which was lying on the coffee table in the living room (not where I had left it) with a page corner turned down where he had left off reading. My daughter told me he was asking her why I was reading it, and she told him because it was about him. She said he kind of smiled after that and said he might order a copy of the book for himself. Evidently he knows exactly what he is and likes it.