Classifying Narcissists: Sanity and Masks

Uploaded 6/28/2020, approx. 46 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I am a professor of psychology and the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

How do you like them apples?

Today we are going to discuss typologies of narcissists.

Various scholars, myself included, if I may put myself in this august company, have come up with classification systems of narcissists, taxonomies of narcissists, trying to capture the nuances and subtleties and inescapable differences between individual narcissists and put them all into groups or drawers or compartmentalize them.

Narcissists are very evasive, they are very difficult to capture, they are little like goldfish, they are very attracting and alluring, but try to catch one.

So today we are going to discuss taxonomies, classification systems suggested by Theodore Millon, by Western, by Sam Vaknin, that's me, and by others.

But before we do that, I would like to make a general comment about narcissists and narcissism.

Harvey Blackley has no way of knowing this, but I am his biggest fan. He has written an amazing masterpiece, unsurpassed and still 99% relevant after 70 years. The Mask of Sanity was first published in 1942, 1941 actually, technically, and every single page is still as valid as ever.

An amazing piece of work. And he called it the Mask of Sanity, Harvey Blackley, because he said that psychopaths appear to be sane, they appear to be normal, they appear to be totally functional, and yet when you study their biography, when you study their personal history, you discover utter unmitigated, chaotic insanity.

He said that they're much worse than psychotics, maybe they're not delusional, maybe they have no hallucinations, but they mismanage their lives and the endowments that they were given and so on in a way that only an insane person would do.

And of course, correctly at the time, focused on a non-representative sample, psychopaths who ended up in mental asylum.

He used to work in a mental asylum and so his sample is not representative and I call this type of psychopath the Blackley psychopath or the mischievous psychopath.

There are other types of psychopaths and they wear their Mask of Sanity much more effectively, they are much more self efficacious.

So they reach the upper echelons of corporate, the corporate world of politics, of the church and so on and so forth. And these are high functioning psychopaths, but they all wear a mask of sanity according to most scholars of the field.

And it raises the question, did everyone get it wrong? Of course, I would love to think so because it enhances my grandiosity, I think I got it right.

And here's my insight.

Sanity is a mask. There is no issue of a mask of sanity, but sanity is nothing but a mask.

There are allusions to this insight in the concept of persona.

Jung, Goffman, others suggested that when we interact socially, we put forth a persona, a mask, and that people interact with this persona, not with the person himself. So that we are kind of present a facade, we put our best foot forward or our worst foot forward.

And we present a facade with which everyone is interacting.

But both Goffman, who was essentially a sociologist, and Jung, they limit the persona to social interactions. They said that the persona is something we trot out, kind of a prop that we use in the theater production of our lives when we interact with other people.

And when we are alone, we don't have the persona. When we are alone, we have the self, the constellated self, according to Jung, the self or the ego, the combination, the trilateral model, the ego, essentially, according to Freud, and so on and so forth.

I dispute this. I don't think so.

I think whether we are alone, or whether we are with other people, sanity is an act. We are acting sane.

From a very early age, we are socialized, we are acculturated, we are educated, we imitate role models, primary objects, parental figures, caregivers like grandmother, grandfather, peers. And gradually, we assemble a kaleidoscope of behaviors and traits, which are socially acceptable, not sanctioned by society, and which yield beneficial outcomes, which are self efficacious, which enhance agency.

In this set, this constellation of behaviors and traits is what we call sanity. It's a mask.

Now, that's a very important insight when it comes to narcissism, as you will see a bit later.

And then there's the issue of hypersanity.

Hypersanity was a concept suggested by the prolific Scottish psychiatrist, controversial Scottish psychiatrist, R. D. Lane. And he said that sanity was a constrictive state.

Sanity was giving up on big parts of the world. Sanity was the act of narrowing, of limiting, of ossifying, of fossilizing, of stagnating.

And he said to break through this straitjacket, in effect, pun intended, to break through the straitjacket, one needs to go crazy.

He said that madness was like a tunnel leading from sanity to what he called hypersanity.

Hypersanity is the equivalent of enlightened, enlightenment or enlightened states in eastern mysticism. It's accessing the essence of reality directly, like in Zen Buddhism.

And he said to go there, you need first to be crazy. You need first to go insane.

And this is supported by Jung, who technically, between 1913 and 1918, after he broke up with his father figure, Sigmund Freud, Jung went insane. He developed psychosis, full-fledged psychosis.

He was talking constantly with two imaginary figures, Salome, which was a woman, and Filimon, which was a kind of a hybrid of various animals and a human. And he was talking to these two characters, openly talking. I mean, like, you know, you converse with your friends.

And for five years, he was totally psychotic. Jung, that's Jung, C.G. Jung, the Jung.

And he said that he derived most of his insights from these five years of psychosis, of insanity.

So Laing, when he suggested the concept of hypersanity, maybe he was onto something.

And again, remember this. Remember the issue of the mask? When I say that all sanity is a mask, that being sane is acting. And remember the concept of hypersanity. I'm going to tie it up together when we come to narcissism.

And so you can ask the psychopaths, the psychopath wears the mask of sanity effectively. The psychopath appears, acts sane, acts normal, and lures his victims exactly with this normality, with this normalcy. His victims are disarmed. They don't feel hypervigilant. They don't feel suspicious or paranoid or frightened or wary, because the psychopath appears to be wrong with me, leverage your average guy, you know, just someone nice to spend an evening with, to go to bed with, and casual sex, you know, anything.

Why can't the narcissists do this? Why do narcissists fail to project sanity, normality and normalcy?

Now, immediately I can see, I can see the sea of comments and the raised hands, you're wrong.

Narcissists do that. They appear to be totally normal. That's how we were deceived by narcissists, because on the first encounter, they appear to be totally normal. And we discovered the true face only much later.

When I dispute this, I say from the first minute you meet the narcissist, you know, there's something wrong, but because you're lonely, because you're sad, because you're broken, because you're damaged, because you've been conditioned before by prior abuse, because you are borderline, because you're codependent, because you're dysregulated, because you're labored, your problem, because you have problems, you deny and repress these signals from the narcissist.

A normal healthy person in the first minute with a narcissist feels that something is very wrong, feels that something is off key, off tune. The narcissist creates this ambient, atmospheric cloud of unease, discomfort, imminent, ominous, menacious, ambient threat, or like someone put together a human being, but in the wrong order, or with the wrong parts, or under the wrong specs.

The narcissist is a human being, hat or hat. Something got screwed up in the production line, or in the production process.

And normal people, healthy people, people without defenses, not broken people, not damaged people, they feel it. They pick up on it.

And this is called the uncanny valley. It's been documented since 1970, numerous many studies and so on.

So why doesn't the psychopath provoke this?

Because the psychopath is the one who can pull it off by pretending to be sane and normal. The psychopath pulls it off, and he lures you, he reels you in.

How does he do that? Why is the narcissist fails?

The reason is very simple. The psychopath is himself. He's always himself. There's nothing separating the psychopath from the psychopath.

So it's easy for him to just be himself and not have to really act, but externalize or show or demonstrate the parts of himself which are relatively sane.

The narcissist has a problem. The narcissist has a problem to use the mask of sanity. All sanity is a mask, but we all wear it to varying degrees.

The narcissist can't wear the mask of sanity. Why? Why?

Because the narcissist is already wearing another mask. He cannot wear the mask of sanity because he is already wearing the mask of the false self, or what I called in other writings, the wunderkind mask, the child genius mask. He's wearing the mask of the false self.

The false self is a mask, and the false self substitutes for sanity.

When the narcissist had to make a choice between remaining sane and being exposed to damaging, hurtful, painful, excruciating abuse, that's to remain sane, or to give up on himself, to sacrifice himself, to vanish oneself, to eliminate himself, and instead to become a piece of fiction, a concoction, a projection, a mask.

So all narcissists become masks.

It's not that the narcissist wears a mask. The narcissist is a mask.

To wear the mask of sanity, you need to exist. You need to be there. You need introspection. You need a separate existence from the mask.

The mask is an act, but how can you have an act without an actor?

And so the narcissist is not there. There's no actor, and therefore there's no act.

Instead, the narcissist has been replaced by the false self.

And of course, a mask cannot wear a mask. If you want to learn deeply, if you want to gain real insight into the world of the narcissist and the psychopath and mental illness and sanity, forget psychiatrists. Forget psychologists.

Forget YouTube. Go to books. Read Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the greatest chronicler of mental illness.

In his inimitable, incomparable book, The Underground Man, the underground man, the guy who is writing the notes, he cries out, they won't let me, I can't be good.

This encapsulates the inner experience of the narcissist. He wants to be good, but they won't let you, alloplastic defense.

Read Dostoyevsky. Read even Goethe. He wrote a book called The Sorrows of Young Werther when he was 24 years old. And he wrote, Goethe wrote, that the book was a creation which I, like the Pelican, fed with the blood of my own heart.

These were the greats. These were the greats of psychology. Freud was the last of them. They were authors. Psychology is a literary enterprise, not a science.

Don't be impressed by the doctor title that precedes some of the self-styled online experts, experts. Psychology is not a science. It's a pretension to science by grandiose practitioners.

Psychology is literature. Psychology copes with raw material that cannot be captured in scientific experiments and by the scientific method.

I have a conversation with Richard Grannon about this, where I discuss why psychology can never, in principle, be a science.

Go read literature. Go back to your roots.

If you want to understand yourself and the world, and your alleged sanity, and what is insanity, and that it can lead to breakthrough rather than breakdown if you handle it properly. Literature could be of great help.

So apropos sanity and insanity.

Today's topic is typology of narcissism.

Narcissism is such a multifarious, multifaceted, varied phenomenon involving individuals, of course. Each individual with his own background, his own personal biography, his own predilections, his own biology, etc. It's inevitable that within narcissism as a global mental health category or diagnosis, there will be variants, variations, there will be nuances, and so on and so forth.

And many scholars, myself included, try to capture these differentials, these borderlines, these differences between types of narcissists.

And I would like to start with the greatest, Theodore Millon.

Teddy Millon wrote a book which anyone who deals with personality disorder must own. And this is the book, Personality Disorders in Modern Life. It was co-authored by Roger Davis when Millon wrote The Bulk Of It. And what Millon does in this book, he goes personality disorder by personality disorder, including personality disorders which were excluded from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, mainly for political reasons, may I add.

And he analyzes them. And then he creates typologies. He breaks down the various manifestations and expressions of each personality disorder. It's a riveting, riveting read.

And once you finish this book, you will never see the world with the same eyes.

And he, I can't, obviously I cannot read all of this to you.

He dedicates a chapter to narcissistic personality. And on page 278 of his book, he proposes that there are four types of narcissists.

So I will just read to you briefly the types.

The first type is what he called the elitist, the elitist narcissist. It's a pure variant according to him.

This kind of narcissist feels privileged and empowered by virtue of special childhood status and pseudo achievements, pseudo fake achievements. Entitled facade bears little relation to reality.

Six favored and good life is upwardly mobile cultivates special status and advantages by association, the elitist.

Then there is the amorous, the amorous narcissist, histrionic features, sexually seductive, enticing, beguiling, tantalizing, glib and clever, disinclines real intimacy, indulges hedonistic desires, bewitches and unveils the needy and naive, pathological lying and swindling.

The third type of narcissist is what he calls unprincipled narcissist. That's the antisocial narcissist, also known as malignant narcissist or psychopathic narcissist.

The unprincipled narcissist has deficient conscience, unscrupulous, amoral, disloyal, fraudulent, deceptive, arrogant, exploitive, a conman and charlatan dominating contemptuous vindictive. In short, optimal best possible husband material.

The last type of narcissist is the compensatory narcissist.

And I must say that in contemporary literature, this book was published like a decade or two ago, two decades ago. So in contemporary literature, there is a debate whether there is such a thing as compensatory narcissism.

For example, collecting himself in the 1980s went against this. He said there's no, and then there are others.

There's a book called In Sheep's Clothing, where the author disputes the very existence of a compensatory narcissist. And he says that narcissists are not trying to cover up for any inferiority complex. They really feel that they are superior, that they are elitist, that they are the top, that they are the cream that they are.

I mean, but I agree with Milan that therewhat Adler called inferiority complex. And so this is the compensatory narcissist.

And I have on my website, I have a whole frequently asked question about compensatory narcissism within the inverted narcissist page. So compensatory narcissist is negativistic, avoidant. He has avoidant features. He seeks to counteract or cancel out deep feelings of inferiority and lack of self-esteem. He offsets deficits by creating illusions of being superior, exceptional, admirable, noteworthy. Self-worth results from self-enhancement.

And these are the four types that Milan suggests.

And now I would like to introduce you to another typology. And that typology was suggested by Professor Drew, Drew Weston of Emory University. It's the only typology, by the way, to the best of my knowledge, which relies on research, actual research.

Professor Drew interviewed 1,201 therapists and psychologists in clinical practice, practicing. He made a survey and he asked them to describe their experiences with narcissists. And he asked them actually to classify narcissists.

As we came up with the conclusion that there are three subtypes of narcissists.

There's the high functioning or exhibitionist narcissist. He used to be called phallic narcissist, by the way. So the high functioning or exhibitionist narcissist has an exaggerated sense of self-importance, but he's also articulate, energetic, outgoing, and achievement oriented.

And in my work, it would be a bit like the cerebral narcissist.

So this is the first type of Weston.

Then proceeds to the other two types.

The fragile narcissist wants to feel important and privileged to ward off painful feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. And this is, of course, the equivalent of the compensatory and the shy and the inverted and the covert narcissist.

And the third type is grandiose or malignant as an exaggerated sense of self-importance, feels privileged, exploits others and lasts after power. And that would be the equivalent of the overt or the classic, the classic narcissist.

And now another typology, which I would like to introduce you to is one proposed by Cooper and Akhtar.

Cooper just passed away, by the way, last week. I think he was 88 years old and he had a very productive career in psychology and he focused on narcissism, many important contributions in narcissism.

In 1989, I'm sorry, he teamed up with another very prominent scholar, Akhtar, and they created the diagnosis of covert narcissist. Yes, covert narcissist, all these videos online which purport allegedly tell you about covert narcissist.

If you listen now to what Cooper and Akhtar had to say when they invented the diagnosis, you will discover that regrettably most of the material online is sheer trash. And I'm being generous and charitable.

So here's what Cooper and Akhtar have to say. And they are the only authority on this subject. Listen to no one else.

So Cooper and Akhtar have this to say.

They say that there are two types of narcissists, arrogant or overt narcissist and shy or covert narcissist. And they say that arrogant or overt narcissist has a self-concept, grandiosity, preoccupation with fantasies of outstanding success, undue sense of uniqueness, feelings of entitlement, and seeming self-sufficiency.

Compare this to the self-concept of the shy, fragile, vulnerable, or covert narcissist. The covert narcissist has inferiority, morose self-downs, marked propensity toward feeling ashamed, fragility, relentless search for glory and power, marked sensitivity to criticism and realistic setbacks.

What about interpersonal relationships?

According to Cooper and Akhtar, the overt, the classic, arrogant narcissist has numerous but shallow relationships, intense need for tribute from others, scorn for other people, often masked by pseudo humility, false modesty, a lack of empathy and inability to genuinely participate in group activities, valuing of children over spouse in family life.

What about the covert narcissist? He has inability to genuinely depend on others and trust them, chronic envy of other people, of their talents, of their possessions, of their capacity for deep object relations, capacity to love. The covert narcissist has a lack of regard for generational boundaries, disregard for others' time, refusal to communicate.

Social adaptation. The arrogant overt or classic narcissist is socially charming, like me, often successful, consistent hard work done mainly to seek admiration. And this is called pseudo sublimation in clinical terms.

So when he works hard, it's mainly for admiration, not for the work itself. He's not really interested in what he's doing. He's interested in the reaction to what he's doing.

Intense ambition and preoccupation with appearances.

What about the shy and covert narcissist? He has nagging aimlessness, shallow vocational commitment, dilatant-like attitude, multiple but superficial interests, chronic boredom, like the psychopath, a static taste, often ill-informed and imitative. What about ethics, standards and ideals?

In the context of narcissism, it would appear to be a bizarre question.

But still, according to Cooper and Akhtar, the arrogant or the classic narcissist has caricatured modesty, pretended contempt for money in real life, idiosyncratically and unevenly moral, apparent enthusiasm for socio-political affairs. That's a classic narcissist.

But what about the covert? The covert has a readiness to shift values to gain favor, pathological lying, materialistic lifestyle, delinquent tendencies in ordinate, ethnic and moral relativism and irreverence towards authority, what we call contumaciousness. What about love and sexuality?

According to Cooper and Akhtar, the overt or the classic narcissist has marital instability, cold and greedy seductiveness, extramarital affairs and promiscuity and uninhibited sexual life. That would be, by the way, the somatic.

What about the covert? The covert narcissist has inability to remain in love, impaired capacity for viewing the romantic partner as a separate individual with his or her own interests, rights and values, inability to genuinely comprehend the incest taboo and occasional sexual perversions.

What about the cognitive style?

The classic narcissist is impressively knowledgeable, decisive and opinionated, often strikingly articulate, I find myself in this, egocentric perception of reality, love of language, fondness for shortcuts to acquisition of knowledge.

And the shy or covert narcissist? His knowledge is often limited to trivia, headline intelligence. He is forgetful of details, especially names. Impaired in the capacity for learning new skills has a tendency to change meanings of reality when facing a threat to self-esteem. Language and speaking are used for regulating self-esteem. That's it. You've got it from the horse's mouth.

That's the only things you need to know about covert narcissist. All the rest is anecdotes, nonsense, disgruntled spouses and so on and so forth.

Do not be impressed by academic degrees. If the doctor or professor didn't dedicate his life to studying narcissism, he or she doesn't know what they're talking about. Do not be impressed.

So in 1996, I proposed a variant and yet another nuance of covert narcissist. And I called it the inverted narcissist.

The inverted narcissist is a codependent, but she depends exclusively on narcissist.

And today these people are called narcissist codependent or core narcissist. Narcissist codependent or core narcissist.

So the inverted narcissist is a codependent who depends exclusively on narcissist.

If you're living with a narcissist, if you have a relationship with a narcissist, if you're married to a narcissist, if you're working with a narcissist, this does not mean that you are an inverted narcissist. Even if you love the narcissist, you pity the narcissist.

Still, it doesn't make you an inverted narcissist.

To qualify as an inverted narcissist, you must crave to be in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of any abuse inflicted on you by him or her.

You know, any alcoholic will tell you what is craving for alcohol. This urge, uncontrollable urge, you know it's bad for you, but you can't help it and you want more and more and more.

An alcoholic starts with a single shot, but then can't stop it. And you know, he ends up with 20.

To qualify as an inverted narcissist, you must actively seek relationships with narcissists and only with narcissists, no matter what your bitter and traumatic past experience with narcissist has been. And you must feel empty and unhappy in relationships with any other kind of person.

Only the narcissist fulfills you. Only he gives light and color to your life. Only then, and if you satisfy the other diagnostic criteria of dependent personality disorder, only then you can safely be labeled an inverted narcissist.

And now there's a misunderstanding about inverted narcissist and I've been attacked and criticized numerous times. People said, you are wrong. Inverted narcissists are not covert narcissists.

Well, first of all, inverted narcissists are covert narcissists. All inverted narcissists are covert narcissists, but of course not all covert narcissists are inverted narcissists. All inverted narcissists are covert. They're shy of fragile narcissists. They are all of them, have all the attributes of covert narcissists. They are self-centered, sensitive, vulnerable, defensive, hostile, and paranoid. They harbor grandiose fantasies, and they have a strong sense of entitlement. They tend to exploit others, albeit stealthily and subtly. Covert narcissists are aware of their innate limitations and shortcomings, and therefore constantly fret and constantly stress about their inability to fulfill their unrealistic dreams and expectations.

In this sense, all covert narcissists are collapsed narcissists, collapsed narcissists, because they think they deserve much better. They think they deserve much more. They think they are of superior quality. They think they should be recognized, celebrated, and yet nothing happens in their lives. They are utter losers and failures.

And this grandiosity gap, what I call grandiosity gap, destroys them. They can't sleep at night.

And realizing this, really realizing that every time they try to garner narcissistic supply, they're frustrated, they're humiliated, they're hurt. They end up avoiding recognition, competition, and the limelight. Covert narcissists avoid attention. They don't want to be the center of attention, the life of a party. They are terrified of it.

They are therefore technically socially shy or socially anxious. They are afraid of being exposed as frauds or failures. They are ostentatiously modest, what Cooper calls pseudo humility and so on. Pseudo humility is typical of the classic narcissist, but with a covert narcissist, it's a pain aversion. It's a result of pain aversion, and therefore it's an avoidant behavior.

Covert narcissists often feel guilty over and ashamed of their socially impermissible, aggressive urges and aggressive desires. Consequently, they're shy and unassertive and intensely self-critical, perfectionist.

This inner conflict between an overwhelming sense of worthlessness, worthlessness, and a grandiose false sense results in mood and anxiety disorders.

If you at the same time think of yourself as worthless, as a failure, as a loser, and as an unrecognized genius and the talk of the culmination of human evolution, if you harbor these two cognitions simultaneously, what do we call this? Cognitive dissonance.

So, the covert narcissist is a constant state of cognitive dissonance, which he cannot resolve. And of course, when you cannot resolve a dissonance, what do you have? Coffee, sorry, mood disorders, anxiety disorders.

Inverted narcissists team up with classic narcissists, but in secret, they resent the classic narcissist. They envy the classic narcissist. They even hate the classic narcissist because the classic narcissist is everything the covert narcissist would have liked to have been, but it's not.

Classic narcissist is the covert narcissist we're dreaming, which will never come true. And contrary to misinformation spread by experts online, covert narcissists, self-styled experts online, covert narcissists are not cunning. They are not manipulative.

Classic narcissists are cunning and manipulative. They often disguise their true nature effectively, knowingly, intentionally. Psychopaths are cunning, of course, much more effective than classic narcissists, much more self-effecations.

All narcissists, classic and covert, are persistent actors with great, great thespian skills.

But the covert narcissist is the exception. The covert narcissist suppresses his true nature because he or she lacks the confidence to assert his true nature. He feels that he's some kind of damaged goods, defective, a fraud, an imposter. So there's an imposter syndrome here.

You know, if I just stay away, if I just don't reveal myself, everything will be okay. But if people get too close to me, if they find out who I am, it's a disaster.

And the covert narcissist's choice is not premeditated, is not cunning, is not like manipulative. The covert narcissist cannot help how he is. He shines away because he's not happy with himself. He's what we call egosyntonic.

The classic narcissist, except the compensatory type. All the others are egosyntonic. They're very happy with who they are. They're emotionally invested. They're protected in their disorder. They're proud of their narcissism. And yes, they are mostly self-aware.

Get rid of another stupid myth online.

Most narcissists are self-aware, but they are proud of who they are.

The compensatory narcissist is also proud of who he is, but he's compensating for an inferiority complex.

And the covert narcissist is someone who fails to do even this. He has an inferiority complex, but he cannot even be a narcissist to compensate for. He's such a failure, such an all pervasive ubiquitous failure without exception, that he cannot even be a narcissist. He even fails to be a narcissist.

The only thing the covert narcissist is really, really good at is failing, is an expert at failing. The covert narcissist is his own worst critic.

Lydia Rangelovska suggests that covert narcissism may develop late in life, during adolescence or even early adulthood, as a reaction to abuse by peers, to social rejection, and to the failure of primary narcissism. It's an interesting thought.

We don't have any studies or data. By the way, we have a dearth. We have almost nothing about covert narcissists. Even the diagnosis itself is not recognized. Very similar to, let's say, shy borderline. These are speculative diagnoses. And anyone who pretends to know anything about covert narcissism, to have the key and the answers, they're lying to you. And they're using the word lying judiciously. It's manipulation. They're playing with your mind.

Inverted narcissism may be the outcome of arrested narcissistic development. The formation of the false self is disrupted and incomplete. And the inverted narcissist is forced to resort to and depend upon the false self of another narcissist, her partner, in order to regulate her sense of self worth.

Okay. So these are the typologies suggested by others.

And now another typology is the cerebral and somatic typology, which I suggested in 1995. And today is widely used.

Patients with narcissistic personality disorder are either cerebral or they're somatic.

Cerebral narcissists derive their narcissistic supply from their intelligence, intellect, academic achievements. So what they do, they show off, they show off how intelligent they are, how amazing the pyrotechnics of their intellect or their academic achievements. And that way they get supply from the environment.

And then there's a somatic narcissist and they derive their narcissistic supply from their physique, from the body, exercise, physical, sexual prowess, romantic or physical contact, conquest, and so on.

So the somatic emphasizes the body.

These are all the incels, MGTOWs, and others in the monosphere, the intellectually challenged self-styled evolutionary psychologists in the monosphere who think that if they develop muscles, they're going to get the girl. So they're somatic, actually, they're somatic narcissists. And by the way, I suggested that actually the majority of self-styled empaths are covert narcissists.

So narcissists infiltrated this fear online. You have narcissists as moderators, narcissists as self-styled experts, victims who are actually narcissists.

Empaths are covert narcissists.

The monosphere is comprised mostly of somatic narcissists.

Somatic narcissists derive narcissistic supply from displaying or using their bodies because they don't have much here. Or even if they have much here, they dedicate it much more to here.

The cerebral narcissist has a lot here and very little else, regrettably from personal experience.

So he has to show off his mind, his brain, his amazing intellect, and hope for the best, you know, because in today's world, the intellect and the mind and the brain are depreciated. They are not very appreciative. It's not much of a draw and not much of a pickup line.

And of course, patients with personality, narcissistic personality disorder are either classic. They meet five of the nine diagnostic criteria included in the DSM, or they are compensatory. Their narcissism compensates for deep-set feelings of inferiority and lack of self-worth.

And so we mentioned the compensatory narcissist before as one of the one of the four types, four types proposed by Millon.

And I would like to expand a bit about with regards to the compensatory narcissist because there's very little online about it.

There was a guy, I'm not sure he's still online, his name was Dave Kelly. And he had an excellent website called And he suggested a distinction, Dave Kelly suggested a distinction between compensatory type NPD and classic NPD based on Millon. And he composed a series of compensatory NPD criteria. And I'm simply going to read what he had written, but his sources were, he based himself on the work of Max Foreman, Theodore Millon, Annie Reich, Don Richard Risen, and others.

So I'm going to read to you two sets of diagnostic criteria for compensatory narcissistic personality.

Set number one of proposed diagnostic criteria.

Seeks to create an illusion of superiority and to build up an image of high self-worth. That's Millon.

Strives for recognition and prestige to compensate for the lack of a feeling of self-worth.

May acquire a deprecatory or self-deprecatory attitude in which the achievements of others are ridiculed and degraded. That's again Millon.

Has persistent aspirations for glory and status. Millon.

Actually, most of these are Millon, but okay. Has a tendency to exaggerate and boast. Millon is sensitive to how others react to him, watches and listens carefully for critical judgment and feels slighted by disapproval, hypervigilant. Millon is prone to feel ashamed and humiliated and especially anxious and vulnerable to the judgment of others. Millon covers up a sense of inadequacy and deficiency with pseudo arrogance and pseudo grandiosity. Millon has a tendency to periodic hypochondriasis.

Forman alternates between feelings of emptiness and deadness and states of excitement and excess energy. Forman entertains fantasies of greatness, constantly striving for perfection, genius or stardom. Forman has a history of searching for an idealized partner and has an intense need for affirmation and confirmation in relationships. Forman frequently entertains a wishful, exaggerated and unrealistic concept of himself, which he can't possibly measure up to.

Raich produces too quickly, not up to the level of his abilities, because of an overwhelmingly strong need for the immediate gratification of success.

Raich is touchy, quick to take offense at the slightest provocation, continually anticipating attack and danger, reacting with anger and fantasies of revenge when he feels himself frustrated in his need for constant admiration.

Is touchy, quick to take offense at the slightest provocation, continually anticipating attack and danger, reacting with anger and fantasies of revenge when he feels himself frustrated in his need for constant admiration.


He is self-conscious due to a dependence on approval from others.

Raich suffers regularly from repetitive oscillations of self-esteem.

Raich seeks to undo feelings of inadequacy by forcing everyone's attention and admiration upon himself.

Raich may react with self-contempt and depression to the lack of fulfillment of his grandiose expectations.

You see the very close affinity between the compensatory narcissists and the covert narcissists. They are so close that they might as well be twins.

There is another variant of these diagnostic criteria and I'll read it to you.

A pervasive pattern of self-inflation, pseudo-confidence, exhibitionism, and strivings for prestige that compensates for feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, as indicated by the following, pseudo-confidence, compensating for an underlying condition of insecurity and feelings of helplessness, pretentiousness, self-inflation, exhibitionism in the pursuit of attention, recognition, and glory, strivings for prestige to enhance self-esteem, deceitfulness and manipulativeness in the service of maintaining feelings of superiority, idealization in relationships, fragmentation of the self, feelings of emptiness, deadness, a proud hubristic disposition, hypochondriasis, substance abuse, self-destructiveness.

And this is another possible set for compensatory loss.

Finally, I would like to discuss the narcissistic personality type as distinct from the disorder and as distinct from the style and as distinct from the type, the narcissistic personality type, reacts to criticism with feelings of rage, shame, or humiliation, is interpersonally exploitive, takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends, has a grandiose sense of self-importance, believes that his problems are unique and can be understood only by other special people, is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, and ideal love,

has a sense of entitlement, an unreasonable expectation of especially favorable treatment, requires much attention and admiration of others, lacks empathy, fails to recognize and experience how others feel, and is preoccupied with feelings of envy.

This was the text in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, third edition, text revision, and it carried over to the DSM-IV, four text revision, and DSM-V in 2013.

And now I would like to read to you the diagnostic criteria, attempted diagnostic criteria for the inverted narcissist, and then we will talk about the cerebral and somatic, and we will wrap it up.

So I suggest nine diagnostic criteria for the inverted narcissist.

Criterion one possesses a rigid, rigid sense of lack of self-worth.

Criterion two, preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, and beauty, or of an ideal love.

Three, believes that she is absolutely un-unique and un-special, not unique and not special. In other words, worthless and not worthy of merger with a fantasized ideal or ego ideal, and that no one at all could understand her because she's innately unworthy of being understood.

The inverted narcissist becomes very agitated, and the more one tries to understand her, the more you try to understand her, the more angry she gets, the more aggressive she gets, because that also fends against her righteous sense of being properly excluded from the human race.

Criterion four demands anonymity in the sense of seeking to remain excluded at all costs, and is intensely irritated and uncomfortable with any attention being paid to her, and in this sense she's very similar to the schizoid personality.

Number five, feels that she is undeserving and not entitled.

Number six, is extinguishingly selfless, sacrificial, even unctuous in her interpersonal relationships, a bit smarmy, a bit creepy, and avoids the assistance of others at all costs.

But she does all this ostentatiously, like watch me, watch my self-sacrifice, can only interact with others when she can be seen, can be seen to be giving, supportive, and expanding an unusual effort to assist.

These are the professional altruists.

Criterion seven lacks empathy, lacks empathy, no empathy, is intensely attuned to others' needs, but only insofar as it relates to her own need to perform the required self-sacrifice, which in turn is necessary in order for the inverted narcissist to obtain her narcissistic supply from the primary narcissist.

So she has called empathy exactly like the classic narcissist, and she scans her narcissist, you know, her source of supply.

The inverted narcissist teams up with the classic narcissist. The classic narcissist becomes her source of supply.

His achievements are her achievements, his accomplishments, her accomplishments, his glory, her glory, reflected glory, like the moon and the sun, or like in the 19th century, if a woman was married to a medical doctor, everyone would call her Froude Doctor, even if she had never attended school and couldn't write her name. She was still Froude Doctor. She was married to a doctor. That's the inverted narcissist.

And to bind the classic narcissist to herself, to condition him, to make him addicted to her, she self-sacrificially serves his needs. She gives everything of herself to him, unconditionally, self-sacrificially, denies her own needs, her own essence for him, disappears in him, fuses and merges with him, very, very similar, like the codependent that she is.

So she's a codependent narcissist, a combination, very bad combination.

And this gets him addicted to her and guarantees the uninterrupted flow of narcissistic supply.

Criterion eight, envies others, cannot conceive of being envied, and cannot conceive of being envied, cannot conceive that others could envy her. She becomes extremely agitated and uncomfortable, if even brought into a situation where comparison might occur.

Loath hates competition, avoids competition at all costs. If there is any chance of actually winning the competition or being singled out, she runs a mile.

Criterion nine, displays extreme shyness, lack of any real relational connections, is publicly self-effacing in the extreme, is internally highly moralistic and critical of others, sadisticism, is a perfectionist, engages in lengthy, ritualistic, obsessive compulsive behaviors, which can never be perfectly performed. So she has very powerful obsessive compulsive elements, though not necessarily to the full extent exhibited in obsessive compulsive personality disorders.

The notion of being an individual or individualistic is an anathema to her.

And there's a lot more on my website with regards to inverted narcissists.

So the last two types that I would like to discuss are the somatic versus the cerebral narcissist.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of narcissists, loosely corresponding to the two categories that I mentioned, cerebral and somatic.

The cerebral narcissist reduces people to functions, and the somatic narcissist regards people and treats people as objects, functions and objects.

The somatic narcissist derives narcissistic supply from other people's reactions to his body, sexual conquest, body building, muscle bond, youthfulness, athletic prowess, competence in outdoor activities, or mere pruning and titivating.

The cerebral narcissist flaunts his intellect, his intelligence, his brain, his mind, his knowledge to seek academic accomplishments in order to secure attention and adulation.

Whether one becomes a somatic narcissist or a cerebral narcissist depends on one's upbringing as a child and of course on one's endowments.

If you're an idiot, it's hard to become cerebral. If the infant is taught that it can secure the parent's love only by being intellectually brilliant, the child becomes a cerebral narcissist. If the child is conditioned to excel in sports or outdoor activities, baseball, I don't know, and to compete for sexual conquest as a prerequisite for being loved, the child becomes somatic.

Narcissists, misogynists, I don't need to, woman haters, they hold women in contempt, they loathe women, they fear women, they seek to torment women and taunt them and frustrate them either by despoiling or debasing them sexually or by withholding sex altogether.

Narcissists harbor ambiguous feelings towards the sexual act itself, they're ambivalent.

A somatic narcissist uses sex to conquer and secure new sources of narcissistic supply.

Consequently, the somatic rarely gets emotionally involved with his targets. His sex is a mechanical act devoid of intimacy, devoid of commitment.

The cerebral narcissist feels that sex is demeaning, degrading, bestial, animals have sex. Acting on one's sex drive is primitive, basic, common impulse, and there's no word on earth more dreaded by the narcissist, more nightmarish than common.

Narcissists can be anything but common or average, no way.

The cerebral narcissist convinces himself that he's above sex, endowed as he is with superior intelligent and superhuman self-control.

But sex for both types of narcissists is an instrument designed to increase the numbers, the number of sources of narcissistic supply.

If it happens to be the most efficient weapon in the narcissist's arsenal at any given period, he makes profligate use of it.

Even the cerebral narcissist goes after sex if he has no other options.

In other words, if the narcissist cannot obtain adoration, admiration, adulation, approval, applause, or any kind of attention by any other means intellectually, he results with sex.

So there's no type consistency.

Cerebals can become somatic. It's more difficult for somatic to become cerebral.

The cerebral can become a satire, an informan, indiscriminately engages promiscuously in sex with multiple partners. His sex partners are considered by the narcissist to be objects, sources of supply.

It is through the processes of successful seduction and sexual conquest that the narcissist derides his badly needed narcissistic fix. And the narcissist is likely to perfect his techniques of courting, regard his sexual exploits as a form of art, the art of charm, the art of, you know, pickup artists.

The narcissist usually exposes this side of himself to others, to an audience, expecting to win their approval and admiration because the narcissistic supply in his case is in the very act of conquest. And what he perceives to be subjugation or subordination, the narcissist is forced to hope from one partner to another because it's not the partner that interests him. It's the acquisition.

Some narcissists prefer complicated situations, others not, and so on and so forth.

So these are the sexual and the cerebral versus the somatic, there's also a string of sexual losses, by the way, the cerebral versus the somatic narcissist.

And, just to summarize this part for you, narcissists are either cerebral or somatic. They either generate the supply by applying their bodies or by applying their minds.

The somatic narcissist flaunts his sexual conquest, parades his possessions, exhibits his muscles, breaks about his physical aesthetics, youthfulness, sexual prowess, sexual exploits is a health freak and hypochondriac.

And like most men, somatic narcissists are plagued with sexual overperception bias.

But in a more pronounced way than normal, they tend to interpret every female behavior, every female utterance, every gesture is an unambiguous invitation to have sex with her.

The somatic narcissist regards his body as an object to be sculpted, to be honed via extreme diets, multiple cosmetic surgeries, bodybuilding, weightlifting, martial arts, whatever.

When coupled with psychopathic tendencies, the somatic appropriates other people's bodies and treats these bodies as raw materials to be, I don't know, dismembered, tempered with altered, invaded, abused, despoiled.

Somatic narcissists are often portrayed as sex addicts or as histrionic. They are thought to possess manic defenses, avoidance of feelings of discomfort, loneliness and inadequacy by seeking states of hyperactivity, arousal and excitement. They are also prone to cognitive biases, such as sexual overperception that I mentioned before, misinterpreting even innocuous female behaviors as indications of sexual interest and flirtation.

And it's a mild form of erotomania.

But really somatic narcissists derive the narcissistic supply not so much from the sex act as from the process of securing the sex.

The conspiracies and assignations, the chase and the conquest, the subjugation and the habituation of the targets, dumping the targets, discarding the prey, having extracted the attention and admiration, all these, this is what excites the somatic.

These extracurricular activities endowed the somatic narcissists with a sense of omnipotence or pervasive control.

And the somatic narcissists sway over their paramourism, would be lovers, proves to them their uniqueness, their desirability, their irresistibility.

Somatic narcissists also seek almost compulsively to induce their partners to climax. So orgasms, the frequency of the orgasm, the duration of the climax, the intensity of the orgasm, they all measured a measure of virility, masculinity, success, a form of narcissistic supply.

Somatic narcissists are likely to discuss with you, how was your orgasm? Was it strong enough? Did anyone give you a better orgasm in your entire life? Compared to the somatic narcissist, the cerebral narcissist is know-it-all, haughty, intelligent, computer-like. He uses his awesome intellect or knowledge, real knowledge, pretended knowledge to secure a duration, adulation, admiration.

To the cerebral narcissist, the body and the maintenance of the body are burdens, distractions, he hates his body.

Both types are auto-erotic, no misunderstanding. Both types, somatic and narcissist, are psychosexually in love with themselves, with their bodies and their brains. Both types prefer masturbation and pornography to adult, mature, interactive, multi-dimensional, multifaceted, emotion-laden sex. They feel threatened by real sex with a real partner.

The cerebral narcissist is often celibate. Even when he has a girlfriend, even when he has a spouse, it's a sexless relationship. He prefers pornography and sexual auto-stimulation to the real thing.

Cerebral narcissist is sometimes a latent, hidden, not outed, homosexual, but not always, bisexual maybe.

The somatic narcissist uses other people's bodies to masturbate with, on and in. Sex with a somatic narcissist is all about pyrotechnics and acrobatics. It's like having sex with the circus. It's likely to be impersonal and emotionally alienating and draining. The partner is often treated as an object, an extension of the somatic narcissist, a toy, a warm, pulsating vibrator.

But it is a mistake to assume type constancy.

As I said before, all narcissists are both cerebral and somatic.

In each narcissist, one of the types is dominant.

So the narcissist is either overwhelmingly cerebral or dominantly somatic.

But the other type, the recessive type, the type that is manifested less frequently, is always there. It's lurking. It's waiting to erupt and the narcissist swings between his dominant type and his recessive type.

The recessive type is expressed mainly as a result of a major narcissistic injury, narcissistic mortification or a life crisis.

Cerebral narcissism is also a form of passive aggressive behavior intended to punish and frustrate the narcissist's intimate partner for her transgressions or mere incompatibility with the narcissist.

Narcissist withholds sex, withholds intimacy as a relationship management tool.

Okay. This was the zoo of narcissism and narcissists.

And as you can see, narcissism is not a uniform homogenous monotone phenomenon. It's as multivariate and as multifaceted, as multifarious and as technicolor as its various, the various individuals which comprise the population of people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

Generalizing is very misleading, sometimes dangerously misleading.

We still have some common elements, common strands, common threads.

Bear in mind that the true modern study ofonly 20 years ago. When I appeared on the scene in 1995, there was some literature from the beginning of the 20th century, some literature from the 1970s. That was the end of it. That's it. There was nothing.

Between 1995 and 2004, I was alone, all alone.

And then from 2004, I would say that there was a resurgence of studies of narcissism.

And today, of course, I mean, there's a lot of literature, academic literature, I mean, scholarly literature about various manifestations and variants of narcissism.

So the field is vibrant, possibly, possibly the hottest niche or field in psychology today. I'm very happy for that.

That it became mainstream.

I see narcissism mentioned in films and political analysis.

So it's an organizing principle.

Narcissism is a principle that explains a modern life.

It has strong philosophical foundations.

And to reduce narcissism, to lists, to a list, or to reduce narcissism to grievances by victims, or to reduce narcissism to demonic possession, or to reduce narcissism to quench parties, to grievance parties online, or to reduce narcissism to profanity and profanities and foul language, or to reduce narcissism to confuse it and conflate it completely with other diagnoses.

And of course, to spread misinformation as the vast majority of self-styled experts are doing, is a crime.

I understand why all the major scholars of narcissism avoid YouTube as the plague, because they are very unlikely to be understood.

And when giants of the field, if they were to open their own YouTube channel, they would have been inevitably compared to self-styled experts who don't know, who heard of narcissism the first time when they have made their first YouTube video.

Many, many of the people online who claim to be experts, including people with academic degrees, never heard of narcissism ever before they've made their first YouTube video.

And yet they claim to be experts.

Why? There's money in it, a lot of money.

And believe me, I have proof of everything I'm saying.

So be careful there, be wary.

The real expertise is in academic literature. You can find all the relevant academic literature by going to, and typing narcissism. That's all you need to do.

Try, try to be discriminating when you're on YouTube.

YouTube, Wikipedia, these popular platforms, they're infested and infectedand contaminatedand 95% of the time utterly wrong.

Be well.

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