Well, this is out of the box thinking…

Brain-out-of-the-box

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.”

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“Like poking a snake with a stick”

'Frankly, I didn't want to bite him, but he kept poking at me with a stick...'

That’s exactly what director Ian Walker said about Sam Vaknin when he was making the film “I, Psychopath.”
I do not think Sam is a psychopath but I have no doubt he is a narcissist somewhere on the top half of the spectrum, and may be malignant too.

After Sam’s over the top attack on me a couple of nights ago which had me reeling, I can see why Walker would say this. He must have experienced similar behavior from him during filming. You have to be very careful around people like Sam, or they will strike without warning, like a viper.

That being said, I received an apology from him just now. He has been reading everything posted here since this happened. I expected he would. I accept his apology but will be much more wary in the future around him. You cannot make jokes at his expense. I don’t want to get bitten again!

I will still allow him to comment here (if he wants to), because his writings are insightful and valuable to us ACONS, even if he himself is someone we should avoid. I can’t even imagine how tormented he must be and yet can still write about his disorder with so much eloquence. It’s like there’s two of him!

I’m actually shocked I received an apology from him. Does that mean he has some semblance of a conscience? I just don’t know.

Sam Vaknin read my post (and has a few corrections)!

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I feel silly and a little childish being so impressed by this, but Mr. Vaknin himself commented on yesterday’s article and also said there were a few corrections to be made. I made the changes to that post, but I also thought this warranted a brand new post. There is some information I neglected to include in the article, which includes a video (one of many on his Youtube channel), a rebuttal on his website, and a IMDB review of “I, Psychopath” that paints Vaknin as a psychopathic monster but at least an HONEST monster–while painting Ian Walker, the director, as a dishonest, unethical monster who misrepresented Vaknin’s credentials and character by using clever editing.

Comment from Sam Vaknin:
Thank you for this honest take on “I, Psychopath”. Just several minor corrections: (1) I have twice diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (in 1986 and in 1995); (2) My book was first published in 1997; (3) The PDF version available on my Website comprises only EXCERPTS; (4) I have commented on “I, Psychopath” here: http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/rebuttal.html I find Shmezl’s review of the film to most accurately reflect my opinion of it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1407219/reviews?ref_=tt_urv Thank you again. Sam http://www.youtube.com/samvaknin

Thanks for the update! 🙂 — Lucky Otter

***

ETA: I found Shmezl’s IMDB review of “I, Psychopath” and will repost what he says here. He doesn’t seem to have many positive things to say about Vaknin, but I guess Vaknin approves of being classified this way, because it makes him the big bad psychopathic narcissist he believes he is (and maybe he really is!) Schmezl doesn’t seem to hold the film’s director, Ian Walker, in very high regard either. Perhaps both of them are raging narcissists, and that probably isn’t too far from the truth, because Vaknin and Walker seemed to dislike each other intensely in the film. When two narcissists are put together, they almost always can’t stand each other. Neither will allow themselves to be used as “narcissistic supply,” unless one of the narcissists is stronger and overtakes the weaker one. But they will still hate each other.

Can’t trust the director
7/10
Author: Shemzl from Israel

24 March 2010
Sam Vaknin, the subject of this documentary, we are told, has a high IQ (185!!!), a sense of humor, an irresistible charm, a fake doctorate, and a submissive-codependent doll of a wife. I saw no sign of the first three. Sam is nothing short of loathsome, with a reptilian quality that would send shivers down any normal spine. He is a sadistic and robotically methodical verbal thug who exalts in his handiwork as he reduces everyone around him to stammering nervous wrecks. His wife, Lydia, is a tragic, heart-wrenching, truly lovable figure. What she sees in this physically and spiritually repulsive putrid shell of a human being is beyond me. The moments with her were the strongest in the movie and Walker made a bad call of not pivoting the film around her demure presence. >I hope she doesn’t get her wish and have kids with Vaknin. She and her children deserve far better.

But I harbor grave suspicions regarding the director of this “gem”, Ian Walker. Clearly, there is no love lost between him and his protagonist, Vaknin. Equally clearly, we cannot trust him to be truthful and to avoid the kind of editing that borders on misleading the viewer.

Consider Sam’s allegedly forged academic degree. Whatever his shortcomings and repugnant traits, Sam is brutally and unflinchingly and invariably and unfailingly honest about himself, his disorder, and what a monster he is. Why would he lie about an irrelevant and minor topic like his academic degree? Throughout the film and in its closing 2 minutes Sam protests that he had attended a full-fledged university with campus, faculty and students; that he had submitted a doctoral dissertation (indeed, it can be found in the Library of Congress!); and that he has had to defend it. Walker than plucks a sentence out of context and adds it artificially to Vaknin’s previous protestations to create the (patently false!) impression that Vaknin admits to having a fake doctorate!!!

Or, consider this: Walker meticulously documents Vaknin’s abusive raging outbursts. On many occasions, it is crystal-clear that Vaknin is reacting to off-camera taunting and ill-treatment by Walker. Walker even admits in his PR material to having “poked this snake with a stick”. The film’s logo is an image of Walker decapitating Vaknin! But Walker never shows us what he did to Vaknin – only what Vaknin did to him, ostensibly unprovoked. Walker uses clever, one-sided editing to achieve a highly unethical result: a misrepresentation of what happened, for sure!

This is what I mean when I say that I cannot trust the seethingly hateful, resentful, and envious Walker to be an impartial guide to Vaknin’s circumstances, conduct, and psyche.

Shouldn’t documentary filmmakers harbor at least a modicum of sympathy and compassion in order to avoid the voyeuristic pornography that most exposes become? Walker failed to skirt this particular trap. Hence 7 stars instead of 10.

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.

vakninandbook
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.

vakninandwife
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.

vakninsam

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/