Background

Covert Borderline: Narcissist or Psychopath (Primary, Secondary) ( Differential Diagnoses)

Uploaded 11/5/2020, approx. 48 minute read

Okay, so my name is Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, which is one book among many.

I am also a professor of psychology, and I am one professor of psychology among many professors of psychology.

But there are two important differences. I am much, much older than all of them combined, and I am incredibly much more handsome than any one of them, with the exception, of course, of Jacques Lacan.

Okay, Shovavin, nonsense phase finished. Now we get to business.


Today, I am going to expand upon and add to your knowledge of the covert borderline. I encourage you to watch the previous video about the covert borderline, there is only one on my channel, before you watch this one. I also encourage you to skip the first part of this video if you are not interested in secondary psychopathy and borderline. I am going to deal a bit with some of your questions regarding the connection between borderline personality disorder and secondary psychopathy, especially among women. And only then I am going to transition to the main topic of today's video, which is, as you might recall, it has been a long time ago, covert borderline.

Now, when a clinical psychologist suggests a new diagnosis, the most critical feature, the most critical requirement is what we call a differential diagnosis. In other words, it is not enough to say, listen, I think there is this new animal in the zoo of mental health disorders, and I think these are the features of this animal, these are the diagnostic criteria, this is how this animal behaves, those are her traits, and so on and so forth. It is not enough to describe the animal. You must also inform the community of the scholarly community, and via the scholarly community, the public at large, what is the difference between this newly discovered animal, this newly suggested diagnosis, and other diagnoses, which look very much the same.

And we call this process differential diagnosis. It is the diagnosis that differentiates, and so covert borderline looks a lot like narcissistic personality disorder. It borrows elements from antisocial personality disorder, also colloquially known as psychopathy. It has features of borderline, of course, that's why I call it covert borderline.

In my entire 26 years in psychology, this is the second diagnosis that I'm proposing. The first one has been inverted narcissist. I suggested that there's a type of covert narcissist who is attracted only exclusively to overt classic narcissist, and I suggested to name this inverted narcissist. It's also called a co-narcissist, or co-dependent narcissist.

So this was the first diagnosis that I proposed, and that was in 1999. It took me another 21 years to dare to suggest a new diagnosis.

Now when you suggest a new diagnosis, like covert borderline, it has to be evidence-based. You have to substantiate this new suggestion, this new category. You have to substantiate it with as many studies, longitudinal and population studies, a variety of types of studies.

It's not enough to bring to the table many studies. You need to bring to the table a variety of types of studies, so that we are sure that we've covered all the angles.

Now when you study the literature, the very vast literature on borderline personality disorder, especially the literature after Könberg, after 1975, Goldstein, others, when you study this literature, it immediately emerges that borderline is a spectrum. It's a family of disorders, very similar to narcissism.

And that within borderline, you have variations. For example, some borderlines tend to externalize. They externalize aggression, for example.

And so these are more what I would call psychopathic borderlines. Some borderlines tend to interiorize or internalize. They're internalizing borderlines.

They're erroneously, mistakenly called shy borderlines or quiet borderlines. They're not shy and they're not quiet. Trust you, me.

But they tend to take longer time to process aggressive, socially unacceptable, defiant, contumacious and impulsive drives and urges. They process them and only then they act.

But they do act out. All borderlines externalize. There's no such thing as shy or quiet borderline. It's a myth. It's the same myth, self-aggrandizing, self-justifyingvictimhood myth, exactly like empaths. And it has as much validity as the nonsensical word sociopath.

So there's a lot of nonsense out there. You need to be very careful.

But it's true that some borderlines act much faster, externalize much more aggressively, much more frequently. And they do this because they have close affinity to psychopathy.

And other borderlines probably co-morbid with other personality disorders or mood disorders or affect disorders. These borderlines are a lot slower. Yet they all end up in the same place, doing the same thing to the same people. They're indistinguishable in the last station. The train stops only in one location.

So today when I discuss covert borderline a bit later, I'm going to try to make very clear boundaries and distinctions between covert borderline and other very similar diagonals.


Before we go there, someone asked me about repetition compulsion.

They asked me, is there a single word that captures this behavior?

Now to remind you, repetition compulsion is when a person repeats compulsively, without control, without ability to regulate, without ability to delay or to deny or to repress, without ability to not repeat. So when a person repeats a certain behavior again and again and again, for example, when a person makes the same mate selection, chooses the same intimate partners, same type of intimate partners, that's repetition compulsion.

Repetition compulsion, according to Freud and others, has to do with unresolved early childhood conflicts.

And someone asked me, do we have to say approach, avoidance, repetition, compulsion or do we have to say repetition? I mean, it's wrong. Is there a single word?

Yes, there is a single word and it's perseverate. Perseverate means to repeat persistently, to go back to previously covered ground or to exhibit perseveration, to show, especially by speech or some other form of overt behavior, the continual involuntary repetition of a mental act.

So repetition compulsion is a form of perseveration

And such people perseverate.

Okay, glad I could be of help. And this time, I'm sure I pronounced it correctly.

Belfei ist ein, it's a German word.

Okay, now let's talk a bit about your repeated question, not actually it's not a question. It's like people get really, really became really, really pissed off women, especially as in borderline women, there are a few forums of borderlines with a million members, and I'm banned. I'm blacklisted, because I dare to suggest that borderline personality disorder is a form of psychopathy.

But what they don't understand and they don't know, because as almost like everyone else on YouTube, they are ignorant, ignorant by choice, not ignorant because the material is not available.

What they don't realize is that this is not my innovation. That's not my observation. This is this is the orthodoxy. This is what we teach in universities.

And so there's a video I've made. And I call it the borderline woman is a dissociative secondary psychopath.

You like my titles, don't you?

So in the description to this video, there are two links to Google Scholar. If you click on these two links, you will see hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of studies, academic papers, journal articles, experiments, psychological tests, I mean, you will see a whole giant body of academic knowledge about the affinity between borderline personality disorder and psychopathy.

Actually, 99% of these articles and studies suggest that borderline personality disorder is a misnomer. That actually is a form of complex trauma, which involves dissociation into a series of self states. And one of these self states is a secondary psychopath. That's not some acne.

Go to this video, click on the two links in Google Scholar, and you will be flooded with these articles and papers and tests and experiments and studies, which support what I've just said, you know what, randomly, totally randomly, I'm going to quote two in the frontiers of psychology, volume 13, September 2017, a totally randomly selected article, selective fair behavior is a function of psychopathic traits in a subclinical population.

So I'm going to explain now the difference between primary and secondary psychopathy.

If you want to read articles, which make clear that borderline personality disorder is secondary psychopathy, you go to that video, and you click on the two links at the very beginning of the description.

Again, the video is titled, the borderline woman is a dissociative secondary psychopath, and it got me blacklisted and banned on every known BPD forum, current and future, because borderline women are grandiose.

One of the main features of borderline personality disorder is grandiosity. In this sense, borderline women are indistinguishable from narcissists.

And so this was narcissistic injury, not to say mortification. And I got punished. I got punished for quoting scholarly literature, which dates back 15 years, and which is in every textbook, shows you the enormous gap between the nonsense and rank trash online.

And what we had already known 15 years ago in psychology, you are getting flooded and inundated with sheer nonsense online.

Okay, what's the difference between primary and secondary psychopaths?

So this is an article by Takahiro Uesumi and Hideki Higa. And I'm simply going to quote, recent work has indicated that there are at least two distinct subtypes of psychopathy.

Primary psychopathy is characterized by low anxiety and thought to result from a genetic predisposition. Whereas secondary psychopathy is characterized by high anxiety and thought to develop in response to environmental adversity.

Primary psychopathy is robustly associated with reduced neural activation to others emotions and in particular distress.

However, it has been proposed that the secondary presentation has different neural cognitive correlates.

Psychopathy is a group of personality traits that are associated with violations of social norms.

Previous studies have suggested that people with psychopathic traits in subclinical populations do not necessarily display antisocial self-defeating behaviors and instead may strategically show adaptive behaviors in response to cues during reciprocal social interactions.

In social life, a serious problem of psychopathy is the violation of social norms. For example, individuals with psychopathy tend to commit and repeat criminal behaviors more frequently than non-psychopathic individuals. This is based on Heyer's studies 20 years ago.

However, psychopathy is not limited to criminal or clinical contexts, as Cletley himself had written in 1988. And psychopathic traits are believed to be continuously distributed in the general population.

And I refer you to Edens in 2006. These clinical and empirical findings imply that individuals in the general population who exhibit high levels of psychopathic traits might exhibit immoral or antisocial acts without being noticed since they may disguise parts of their personalities such as egocentricity, callousness and irresponsibility.

And they superficially comply with social norms or behave in socially acceptable ways, particularly as can be seen in an item on a self-report scale for assessing psychopathic traits. And they are referring to Livingston. It's another kind of test created by Livingston in 1995. So there's an item there that says, I tell other people what they want to hear so that they will do what I want them to do.

So we see this substantiates what they are saying that some psychopaths act, play act within social normative environments.

So psychopathic traits, the authors continue, psychopathic traits can be associated with superficial displays of socially desirable actions, but only against the background of self-interest.

Therefore, studies and conditions that moderate the association between psychopathic traits and the violation of social norms should contribute to an understanding of their adaptive and maladaptive functions.

Here's a little more about the difference between primary and secondary psychopathy. It's an article published in the Journal of Social Issues, 2013, January. The article is titled secondary psychopathy, but not primary psychopathy, is associated with risky decision making in non-institutionalized young adults. It's authored by Dean Aulstein, Berman, Constance Hsu, and McCloskey.

And I'm again, I'll again quote, since Cletley's original description of psychopathic personality attempts have been made to distinguish true psychopathic personality traits from more general indices of antisocial behavior. And I refer you to Cletley's work, Cartman's work in 1948, and so on and so forth.

So these scholars argued that true or primary psychopaths commit antisocial acts due to an idiopathic lack of empathy and fear.

In contrast, secondary psychopaths share many of the antisocial behaviors of primary psychopaths, but unlike primary psychopaths, they are remorseful. They are fearful.

Cartman contended that secondary psychopaths should not be considered truly psychopathic because their behavior is not rooted in a primary lack of empathy.

Considerable support exists for the differentiation of the primary psychopathic personality traits from more general indices of antisocial behavior and factor analysis of both interview-based and self-report measures of psychopathy have yielded separable factors which differentiate personality-effective traits from aspects of antisocial deviance.

And I refer you to Licken in 1995, Harper, Hare, and Haxton in 1989, Newman, McCoon, Vaughan, and Sad in 2005, Benning, Patrick, Hicks, Blonigen, and Krueger in 2003, Levinson, Keel, Fitzpatrick in 1995, and many, many more.

Although contemporary authors disagree as to the importance they should be placed on the primary personality features as opposed to antisocial deviance in the designation of psychopathy, the need to differentiate the two components has been well supported. And I refer you to Lilianfeld in 1994.

So there's a lot of substance to the distinction between primary and secondary psychopathy. And even more substance to reconceiving of borderline personality disorder is complex trauma induced dissociative self-states, one of which is a secondary psychopathy.

I encourage you to watch my video on this topic and to follow the links in the description.


And now finally, let's get to the topic of this video, which is the covert borderline.

And how does the covert borderline, how is he different from the narcissist? Or how is it different to the psychopath, whether primary or secondary?

Now notice that I'm using the word he, the gender pronoun, he, and I'm using it because covert borderline is most prevalent and common among men. While classic borderline, the secondary psychopath or the classic borderline personality disorder that is regulatedlabile borderline, is much more common among women.

If we put the two together, we may end up having a 50-50 distribution. Only most of the men diagnosed with borderline personality disorder would be actually covert. And most of the women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder would be actually overt.

A very similar situation exists nowadays with narcissistic personality disorder, where we could safely say that most of the classic overt narcissist are actually men, while most of the covert narcissist and definitely inverted narcissist, co-dependent narcissist, are actually women.

Empath, you had been warned.

Okay, Shoshanim. Let's talk a bit about the covert borderline.

My analysis of the covert borderline relies on work by the late Arnold M. Cooper. He died this year. And Akhtar. They were the first to define the diagnosis. They were the first to identify a covert state in any personality disorder.

In 1989, in a pioneering, groundbreaking work, they suggested that in narcissism, there is a covert state.

And this was a paradigm shift because we suddenly realized that personality disorders can present themselves. Presentation means what the therapist or the clinician sees on first blush, on first meeting, on a first encounter, or you on a first date, what you see, that these are the presenting signs.

So we realized that there are two sets of presenting signs. They're presenting signs associated with an overt classic state, and usually egosyntonic state, where the narcissist, for example, is very happy and comfortable with who he is and how he acts.

And there is an egodystonic state with a totally different set of presenting signs. And this is the covert state.

Trolling through the literature, plowing through the literature, I discovered that the same thing can easily be applied to the borderline.

They are borderlines who present immediately with identity diffusion, with impulsivity, with mood lability, with emotional dysregulation. These are the classic overt borderlines, and they are egodystonic.

They are not happy with who they are.

And then there's another group. They don't present with any of this. And they're very happy with who they are. They are egosyntonic, but they have crucial elements of borderline.

So they can be considered only borderline, but they're a different type of borderline.

And therefore, I suggested this year, a new diagnosis, covert borderline.


Now let's begin to analyze the covert borderline and establish a differential diagnosis. In other words, let's try to delineate in which ways the covert borderline is different to the narcissist, to the psychopath, and so on.

Start with a basic fact. Both the overt, both the classic borderline and the covert borderline, they have a false self.

In this sense, they're very similar to the narcissist. Structurally, the structural aspects, as Milan used to call them, the structural aspects of the personality disorder, they're very similar.

We have a true self, which is dysfunctional, disabled, atrophy. And we have a false self, which is active and with which the patient identifies.

So the covert borderline has a false self, but as opposed to the classic borderline, his false self is grandiose. The classic borderline is also grandiose, but she is grandiose in a compensatory manner. Deep inside, she feels inferior. And she's trying to compensate for it, but pretending to be grandiose, exactly what compensatory narcissists do.

The covert borderline is similar to the overt or classic narcissist. He is truly grandiose. He really believes his own BS, his own claims to fame, his own cosmic mission, his own unprecedented importance and significance. He truly believes his own nonsense. His grandiosity is unmitigated and he's not compensatory. He's not compensated for anything.

Point number one, we cannot tell apart the covert borderline and the narcissist. That's bad news because maybe there's no need for the diagnosis. Maybe covert borderline is just another name for a narcissist.

Hold your horses, hold your horses. We are continuing. Exactly like the narcissist.

The covert borderline, because of his grandiosity and false self, is preoccupied with fantasies of outstanding love and due sense of uniqueness. He feels entitled and he has a low plastic defenses. He blames other people for his defeats, his failures, his mistakes, his mishaps.

So again, we don't see any presenting difference. We don't see any symptomatic difference between narcissists and covert borderlines. When we look at them superficially, artificially, or in a brief encounter, when we don't have time to delve into the intricacies and nuances, they look the same. They look indistinguishable. They behave indistinguishable. They have the same expectations, same demands, same obnoxiousness, same everything.

So you say, well, that's a narcissist.

Okay, we come to the first distinction, first difference.

The narcissist has an external locus of control. The narcissist attributes everything that's happening to him, to the outside.

Narcissist fully believes that people are envious of him, that they are maliciously colluding and conspiring against him, that everything bad that happened in his life, every failure, every defeat, every mistake, everything is someone else's fault.

Consequently, the narcissist does not feel that he's in control of his life, that he's steering his life, that he's in the driver's seat. He would claim otherwise, but he doesn't really feel this way.

He has an external locus of control. And this is coupled with alloplastic defenses. He tends to blame others for everything. His wife, his boss, the government, the CIA, if he's paranoid.

So this is the narcissist. The covert borderline has an internal locus of control. It's a very, very strange coupling.

On the one hand, he has an internal locus of control, but he still has alloplastic defenses.

In other words, the covert borderline believes that he is in full control of his life, that he is the navigator and the pilot, and there's no autopilot, that no one has any say or influence or impact on the way his biography is unfurling and unfolding, that he is the one to make all the choices and all the decisions.

So he has an internal locus of control.

But when things go wrong, he blames others. He has alloplastic defenses.

His internal locus of control, in other words, is not neurotic.

Narcissists tend to blame themselves for everything that goes wrong. The covert borderline is not neurotic. He doesn't have alloplastic defenses. He doesn't blame himself. He doesn't feel regret or remorse or shame or guilt when it comes to the management or mismanagement rather of his life and his life's choices. He is totally self-sufficient in the true sense of the word.

He also seems self-sufficient. He appears to be self-contained and self-sufficient. Actually, covert borderlines would radiate, would send a vibe or a wave which tends to capture other people because what the message they're sending is, I am in full control of who I am and what I do at any given moment and I can teach you how to become the same.

So many, many gurus, many public intellectuals who will remain unnamed, they're actually covert borderlines.

This self-sufficiency and internal locus of control coupled with alloplastic defenses fend off, prevent, eliminate, repress, deny, refrain, change, remove from consciousness any possible regret, remorse, guilt and shame.

But when the covert borderline hurts other people, causes damage unnecessarily in his eyes. I mean when something he does has collateral damage and people around him suffer, as distinct from the narcissist, he does feel guilt and shame.


Here's the second difference between covert borderline and narcissist.

Similar to the overt classic borderline, the covert borderline does experience guilt and shame, but only when he had unintentionally or impulsively or defiantly or angrily hurt someone, damaged someone, destroyed someone, caused pain to someone unjustly.

The hoodie decides what is just and what is not just. The covert borderline, of course, is a part of his grandiosity, but he has very rigid, very rigid morality. He has self-imputed ethical rules and norms.

It's true that the only law is his law. It's true that these standards are self-created. He is defined in this sense. He's a bit psychopathic. He does not accept the socially acceptable. He rejects social norms, regulations, rules, morals, but still he has a very, he has a framework. He has a moral ethical framework. It's debatable. It's disputable. We can disagree with his tenets, with his guidelines, but still they're there.

This is not the case with the narcissist. Narcissists are very indiscriminate. They are promiscuous and above all, they are super opportunistic.

Narcissist shapeshifts morally and ethically. He is for any cause. He is engaged in any activism. He applies any rule and any norm on the way to obtaining narcissistic supply.

Any shifts, it fluctuates. Today is a socialist. Tomorrow he's a Nazi. Joseph Gebbels. Today is a communist. Tomorrow is a fascist, Mussolini. Today he is pro-abortion and a philanderer. Tomorrow he is a Christian fundamentalist Donald Trump.

These are narcissists. It's not the same with the covert borderline. The covert borderline has a rigid rule book of his authorship. He wrote it, but he follows it.

And whenever he deviates from it, he feels he experiences shame and guilt. He becomes ego-dystonic.

It's a crucial difference between covert narcissists.

Now, all covert borderlines have mood-lability. It's one of the main reasons I call them covert borderlines.

They all have mood-lability, ups and downs, money-depressive in a way. It's not bipolar, but their moods are all over the place. They have a mood rollercoaster. They are on a rollercoaster of depression and exhilaration, euphoria, dysphoria, et cetera, et cetera.

This is not the case with the narcissists. Most overt or classic narcissists don't have mood-lability.

Compensatory narcissists and covert narcissists have mood-lability. Anti-social narcissists don't have mood-lability.

So the big groups, big subtypes, subspecies of narcissists, which do not experience mood-lability at all, there is not a single covert borderline without mood-lability. They all experience it.

Similarly, all covert borderlines are emotionally dysregulated, exactly like classic borderlines. Their emotions are all over the place. And because their emotions are unexpected, eruptive, explosive, dysregulated, chaotic, disorganized, it's very difficult for them to label these emotions. They have severe difficulty to verbalize what it is that they're feeling and sensing.

And so instead what they do, they rationalize. And very often they become reactive. They have reactance and defiance and hatred of authority, consummation. And these are actually reactions to their internal environment. So they experience some very strong emotion. They don't have the defenses and the protections of the narcissists.

The narcissist has no access to a huge swath of emotions. To a huge part of his emotions are excluded. He has no access to them.

Narcissist is very primitive emotionally. He experiences envy, anger, you know, these kinds of things. But he has no access to other emotions, while the covert borderline has access to the full panoply, to all his emotions. Only he can't keep them under control. He can't modulate them. He can't modulate them. He can't regulate them. They overpower him. They overwhelm him.

But because he has extreme grandiosity, he cannot admit it. He cannot admit I'm falling prey to my emotions. I'm too emotional. I'm like a child. I'm like a woman. He can't admit this.

So he rationalizes. And then he shows that he's a man. You know, he's a macho man. He's reacting. He's defiant. He defies authority.

So this is where gender roles come into play. And that's why covert borderlines are actually men. I mean, men are covert borderlines.

But covert borderlines rely crucially on socialized elements of stereotypical gender roles.

Similar to the psychopath, the covert borderline is a low boredom threshold. Low tolerance for boredom. He's often bored. He needs constant thrills.

Like Donald Duck. He's an adrenaline junkie. He's risk seeker. He's novelty seeker.

And so he's adventurous, exactly like the psychopath. And exactly like the psychopath, he would tend first to externalize. So he would, if he feels bad, if he's sad, if he's angry, he feels dysphoric, he feels anything, he externalizes it. And only then, having externalized it, he allows it to to regulate his emotions. So the covert borderline regulates his emotions by externalizing them, tries to regulate, he fails, but he tries to regulate by externalizing very similar to the narcissist and very similar to the psychopath. Not like the classic borderline. Classic borderline is exactly the opposite. She tries to regulate her emotions first internally. When she fails, she externalizes them.

The covert borderline is distinct from the classic borderline because he has no suicidal ideation. And in this sense, he's very similar to the narcissist and some types of psychopath, sometimes primary psychopath. He has no suicidal ideation. And all his aggression is never internalized. He's directed at other people. His aggression is other direct. Again, similar to the narcissist and the psychopath.

There's no self-mutilation, no self-harm. On the contrary, there's hypochondriasis. In other words, he's very worried about getting sick, about getting old. And he develops addictive behaviors, addictive behaviors which are intended to take his mind off of these anxieties. So he medicates with sex, he medicates with drugs, he medicates with alcohol, and so on and so forth.

Similar to the borderline for the same reason the classic borderline does, in order to kind of forget all about it, to numb himself and to reduce or control underlying anxiety disorders.


So you're beginning to see that the covert borderline is a mesh. It's a combo disorder, which borrows elements from the borderline, from the narcissist, from the psychopath, but is very, very different to all three, is very distinct, not the same at all.

Similar to the borderline, the covert borderline has dissociative self-states. We know this because covert borderlines, for example, have selective attention. They appear to be listening to you, but their eyes glaze over and can immediately tell that they're not actually listening. They're somewhere inside their head, thinking about God knows what, and so they have selective attention. And they cover up for it exactly like the narcissist does with confabulation. They have repression. They have denial.

One of the self-states of both the covert borderline and the overt borderline, the classic borderline, one of the self-states is always a psychopath, but in the classic borderline, the self-state is a secondary cycle. The self-state in the covert borderline is a primary cycle. It's a very crucial distinction.

When the classic borderline, the labile, dysregulated, discombobulated borderline, typically a woman, is under stress, is anxious, anticipates abandonment, rejection, and humiliation, or is going through such a process. She brings forward. She brings out. She brings forth one of her self-states, which is very mean, very nasty, very defiant, very powerful, invulnerable, a psychopath, but it's a secondary psychopath because this psychopath of the classic borderline, this psychopath of the borderline woman, it's a psychopath imbued with pain. It is immersed in hurt. It's a broken psychopath. It's very similar to Joker, the movie. It's a broken psychopath. It's a psychopath that emanates from pain in order, and the main aim of this secondary psychopath is to prevent an exacerbation of the pain to the point of suicide because 11% of borderlines end up committing suicide. It's a serious, real risk.

So the secondary psychopath is there to stop the cycle of pain, to stop the self-enhancing, self-feeding, vicious cycle of pain and hurt and fear and anxiety. It comes out as a self-state.

The switching, you can witness the switching in a borderline woman when she becomes a secondary psychopath. It's very similar to multiple personality disorder when one of the alters comes out and takes over.

So the psychopath comes out and then she becomes aggressive, defiant, violent sometimes, often actually. She has no care in the world. She's carefree. She's adventurous. She's promiscuous. She's impulsive. She's reckless. She is invulnerable, untouchable, unbreakable, not fragile.

Same with the covert borderline. Only his psychopath is a primary psychopath, so it has additional features.

The secondary psychopath is very anxious. He is anxious because he has access to empathy and access to emotions.

The covert borderline's primary psychopath has no empathy and has no access to emotions except negative emotions and is extremely goal-oriented, is much more controlled and much, much more dangerous.

It's a classic psychopath. It also can be very violent and aggressive, deadly even.

So when the covert borderline is pushed to the corner, becomes anxious, has been humiliated, he is not mortified like the narcissist. He's not mortified. He vanishes and he lets his primary psychopath take over. He becomes a primary psychopath and at that point does not tell him what he might do because he has no impulse control. He's reckless. He's violent. He hates people. He wants, he's vengeful. He wants revenge, etc.

See the enormous difference between classic and covert borderline.

Of course, consequently, it's essentially the covert borderline is a combo psychopath and narcissist with borderline elements. So he would tend to be paranoid. He would tend to be paranoid.

No. There's a distinction between paranoid and hypervigilant.

The overt, classic borderline, typically woman, is hypervigilant. She cannot genuinely depend on other people. She cannot really trust them because she anticipates pain, hurt, rejection, abandonment, humiliation. She sees the end. She knows every relationship ends in shambles, ends calamitously. So knowing this, she doesn't trust. She doesn't let go. She doesn't let anyone inside her. She shuns intimacy and when intimacy emerges, she destroys it.

She's very self-defeating, self-destructive, and self-trashing.

The covert borderline is simply paranoid.

Paranormal. He's a one-man conspiracy theory. He assumes the worst about people, the envious, the malicious, the malevolent, the conspiring against him. He has referential ideation. People are talking about him, gossiping about him, planning to do bad things to him, planning to abscond with his property, steal his wife. I don't know what. He's paranoid all the time.

It's not hypervigilance because he's not scanning for insults or narcissistic injuries. And it's not about trusting or not trusting people.

It's the assumption that people are engaged, as we speak, in conspiring and colluding to destroy him.

So, in this sense, he's totally paranoid.


So, of course, the covert borderline never has relationships. He has numerous relationships, but they're very shallow, very fleeting and short-lived.

But as distinct from the narcissist, the covert borderline has intense need for love. He wants really, really deeply to be loved on a cellular level. He craves intimacy, he craves love, and he tries to please people in vain, in a doomed attempt to make them love him.

And still, he keeps failing. When he is in the primary psychopath phase, when he's defensive, when he's reactive, he has no empathy.

But in all, in most of his, most of the time, the covert borderline has empathy, has emotions, and has access to both. Wants to interact with people. Wants to have love in his life, to have care, warmth, acceptance, but never succeeds.

The narcissist doesn't want any of this. The narcissist wants a simulation of these things within a shared fantasy. The narcissist rejects reality.

And the psychopath, as Cleckley said, rejects life. So there's a rejection.

Narcissists and psychopaths reject. Covert borderlines embrace.

All three narcissists, psychopath, covert borderline, you know what?

Also, classic borderline. They don't know how to maintain relations. The narcissist fails in maintaining the shared fantasy because he creates, he establishes the shared fantasy on false premises, on misleading the other party and himself.

So the narcissist fails. The psychopath fails because he doesn't have the most basic rudimentary tools of relating to other people.

The covert borderline has these tools.

He's empathic. He's emotional. He's a people pleaser even. But it's getting them nowhere.

For example, covert borderlines love children, adore children. Narcissists detest children. They regard children as competitors for scarce attention and narcissistic supply.

Psychopaths don't care either way. Children, like everyone else, is a tool, an object, an instrument on the way to obtaining goals or an obstacle in which case they have to be removed regardless of their size.

So psychopaths regard everyone, children included as objects. Narcissists regard children as competitors and potentially hostile enemies.

The covert borderline loves children. It's a test, an immediate test. If you see someone who looks very narcissistic, he's very grandiose, by faluting this, but he loves children. Probably he's a covert borderline, not a narcissist.

So the covert borderline is constantly frustrated. He wants to please people and he displeases them. They shun him. He wants to be loved, but all his relationships are fleeting, shallow, superficial, meaningless, no depth, no truth to them. He wants to participate in group activities, but fails.

And in this sense, sometimes the covert borderline is very reminiscent of the autistic person, someone with autistic spectrum disorder, or even I would say some types of schizoids. He wants to fit in. He wants to have an emotional life. He wants to have different meaningful relationships, but he simply can't. And he can't because of what I mentioned before.

His hypersensitivity, the primary psychopath in you, his paranoia, of course, is repulsive or repellent, grandiosity, his haughtiness, his entitlement, etc.

So gradually, as covert borderline's age become older, they become passive aggressive, sullen, surly, 79, and they isolate themselves. They become schizoid, loners. They withdraw. They become cynical, nihilistic, unlike me. I'm a lover of humanity. Right.

Some of them depend crucially on their life experience.

A covert borderline repeatedly exposed to betrayal, to cheating, to suffering, to pain, to hurt. This kind of covert borderline would use his primary psychopath very often. And finally, he would become the primary psychopath.

So there is a transition via mortification between the equivalent of mortification, between covert borderline and a psychopath. He becomes cunning and with premeditated malevolence.

The difference between the covert borderline and the psychopath is that the psychopath would engage in malicious or malevolent behaviors for two reasons. Either it makes, he finds it funny. He finds other people's pain hilarious or he's goal oriented. That's much more often. He's goal oriented and malevolence and malice send a signal in an attempt, for example, to intimidate people into submission.

The psychopath may become very, very evil. The borderline, the covert borderline, who had become, who had been rendered a psychopath via suffering is not the same. He would be malicious. He would be evil. He would be wicked. He would be cunning. He would be premeditated, but he would do it for no purpose. It wouldn't give him any pleasure. On the very contrary, he would feel very ashamed. He would regret it. He would have remorse. He would have guilt.

So there's no emotional gratification in this kind of behavior, unlike the psychopath who finds it pleasurable and funny to hurt people. And in the case of the covert borderline, there's no goal. This kind of behavior is actually a signal, a cry for help. The covert borderline is telling you, listen, I'm in pain. I'm hurting. So I'm going to hurt you so that you experience what I'm experiencing. I will want to share with you my pain.

And the only way to share with you my pain is to hurt you. And then when you hurt the way I'm hurt, maybe you will understand finally, you know, healthy people do this sometimes, revenge, cheating your spouse cheated on you. So you go and cheat on your spouse.

Some people go and cheat, not necessarily to exact revenge, but to make the cheating spouse realize how painful it is. So you cheated on me. I'm going to cheat on you so that you have a taste of your own medicine. So that you understand how hurt, how much you've hurt me.

It's the same with the covert borderline, covert borderline misbehaves anti-socially psychopathically and so on to send you to tell you how bad it is to be a covert borderline.

And so because this is not intended to achieve any goal, including the goal of self gratification, as with the psychopath, because it's not intended to achieve any goal. This kind of behavior is intermittent. It's not constant. Again, it's dysregulated behavior.

So we get the effect of trauma bonding, intermittent reinforcement. Sometimes the covert borderline is a people pleaser, empathic, emotional, loving, caring, amazing, the too good to be true intimate partner. And then suddenly, he's a primary psychopath, cunning, cynical, paranoid, hateful, aggressive, violent, malevolent, you know, hot and cold, intermittent reinforcement.

It's a typical, it's typical to bullying, and many, many covert borderlines are perceived as bullies. And their grandiosity doesn't help because they do hold the very people they want to socialize with the very people they want to be loved by the very people whose company they seek, the very people they want to collaborate with in a group setting, they hold these people in contempt, scorn, there is a dissonance within the covert borderline. Exactly like there's a dissonance in the narcissist. The narcissist needs people, is totally dependent on people for narcissistic supply, the narcissist will die, literally die, shrivel and die, like a flower without water.

In the absence of narcissism supply, there is no narcissist. So the narcissist is critically dependent for critical functions on other people. And he hates it. He resents his dependence.

It's the same with the covert borderline. He holds people in contempt and scorn. And yet he depends on them crucially for his egosyntrony. In other words, to be happy, he needs other people. He needs other people to make him happy, to make him joyful and cheerful and want to get up in the morning to avoid depression.

And so this creates a dissonance. And he has to act. He has to be pseudo modest. We call it pseudo humility, pseudo humility. So he has to fake modesty, self-effacing, you know, not bragging, this, that.

And there's a hard edge, a desperate edge to his attention seeking. It's not like the narcissist. The narcissist's attention seeking is overwhelming, compulsive and coercive. Narcissist penalizes you if you refuse to provide attention, at least by walking away, but sometimes penalizes you in other ways.

You can drive the narcissist to become a psychopath by denying him narcissistic supply and doing it ostentatiously or by injuring him narcissistically and of course by mortifying. It's not the same with the covert borderline. His plea for attention is actually a plea for love, a plea for caring, a plea for intimacy. And it's not compulsive. It's not coercive. It's not punitive. It's histrionic.

In this sense, this is where covert borderlines and histrionics merge. And this is why covert borderlines are sometimes mistaken for somatic narcissist or for histrionic men.

The covert borderline says, in order to garner and guarantee the unmitigated attention and love of others, I must give all of me.

So here I am, soul and body become seductive, flirtatious, offering promiscuous, and then reckless because it's like, I don't have any boundaries. I don't have any limits. I'm all in it. I'm, you know, I'm going the whole nine yards. So it's recklessness. The recklessness has two functions.

The first function is to go all the way with the precious few who agree to be with the covert borderline. It's very difficult for the covert borderline to find partners, intimate or not intimate. Anyway, it's difficult for the covert borderline to find anyone to be with him. And when he does find someone like that, there are no boundaries, there are no limits, there are no borders to what he would do. And it renders him reckless.

But recklessness is also a tool. He uses recklessness to modify other people's behaviors and expectations.

By informing other people, I'm promiscuous. I'm open to have unprotected sex. I'm open to drink all night. I'm open to do drugs. I'm open to burglarize and home invade. I'm open. I'm, you know, there's no limit to what I would do. Just be with me, please. It modulates, modifies other people's behaviors and also gives the covert borderline the option to punish and hurt people when they abandon you, when they invariably and ineluctably abandon you. Because here's the message of the covert borderline. Listen, guys, I want you, I want to be with you. I want you to love me. I want you to adopt me. I want to belong. I want to be accepted. I want warmth, you know, I want intimacy and I'm willing to do anything. You want sex, sex, drugs, drugs, whatever you want me to do, I will do.

But this is, this tells you something. I have no limits. I have no rules. I know no bounds and I can do anything. I can do anything with you, but I can do anything to you. I'm a dangerous person out of control. It's a form of opposite of virtue signaling. Let's call it vice signaling.

Yes, it's reversed virtue signaling. So when the covert borderline perceives that he's betrayed, abandoned, exactly like the overt or classic borderline, because the covert borderline is paranoid, he anticipates humiliation, abandonment, loss, separation. He anticipates.

And for him, because he has magical thinking, like all other cluster B personality disorders, he has magical thinking to anticipate is to live through. So if I anticipate abandonment, I had already, I've already been abandoned. It's as good as abandonment. If I predict separation and loss, I've already lost and I've already been separated.

Magical thinking, what happens in my head is the only reality. What happens in my mind affects reality. So this is paranoia. And this paranoia, coupled with vice signaling, with this recklessness, signaling recklessness, when you put them together, you get a sadistic punitive or goal-oriented strategies of coping.

So for example, the covert borderline, if he perceives impending abandonment or impending loss of separation, he may triangulate. But he would triangulate in a way that would be ostentatiously painful, sadistic, punitive, and goal-oriented.

So here's a strategy that is used by all cluster Bs. All cluster Bs use triangulation.

But the covert borderline's use, way of using triangulation is not, is not to get a rise out of his partner, not to motivate his partner to reclaim him, not to, not to induce behavior modification or behavioral change in the partner, in the intimate partner. No, it's to punish sadistically.

This is the goal of, so all strategies are like that with the covert borderline, they're punitive, and there's a sadistic tinge to them.

The thing is that covert borderlines, exactly like narcissists and borderlines, classic borderlines, they have object inconstancy. Because they have object inconstancy, they go through the typical cycle, idealize, devalue, discard, revert, or replace. This is the typical narcissistic cycle, idealize, devalue, discard, replace.

The borderline has another stage in the middle, idealize, devalue, devalue, dissociate, split, dissociate, split, discard, and replace.

So what the classic borderline does, it dissociates, it splits. So there's a stage where the devaluation is based on splitting. My partner is now all bad, all black, all evil, and it leads to dissociation. So I'm about to forget my partner.

The covert borderline doesn't have this luxury. The classic borderline woman, I want to explain again, idealizes her intimate partner, then anticipating abandonment, she devalues the intimate partner via splitting, then she dissociates the whole thing, forgets the whole thing, amnesia, and then she discards the partner and replaces it. The covert borderline doesn't have the dissociation phase.

So exactly like the narcissist, he idealizes devalues and discards and replaces. In this sense, he acts exactly like the narcissist and very much unlike the overt borderline.

Generally, because covert borderlines are very much into other people, they like to socialize, they like to have relationships, they like to have other people. They like other people, they hold them in contempt and in scorn, but they like the company of other people.

It's not like the narcissist, the narcissist suffers other people. I mean, that's the price he has to pay to obtain narcissistic supply.

The covert borderline is really attracted to other people. He's attracted to other people as his inferiors, but it's still a pleasure. So he's socially charming, he's charismatic, and he's often actually successful. The borderline, the classic borderline, is never successful. She is always a loser and a failure. The covert borderline knows how to work in a team, knows how to collaborate with people, pleases people, his boss, etc. So he's often successful and he has intense ambition. He's also a hard worker. He does consistently hard work.

And all this is, of course, motivated by his grandiosity. He seeks admiration and adulation, affirmation. He wants narcissistic supply. This is what we call pseudo sublimation, but as distinct from the narcissist, he is capable because he likes people.

Again, people are inferior to the covert borderline. He regards people as inferior, even as contempt or scorn for people, but he still loves them and likes them. It's a little like we see children. We consider children to be inferior, yet we love them.

The covert borderline considers people to be inferior, but he loves them. He loves the company, he loves their emotions, he loves socializing with them, he loves spending time with them, he has fun with them, and he pleases them.

So unlike the narcissist who is self-defeating and self-destructive, and unlike the borderline who is simply too disorganized, chaotic, labile and dysregulated, and therefore can never succeed, the covert borderline has the best of both worlds. He's highly ambitious and because he can work with people, he can maintain networks and so on and so forth. He's socially charming, he works very hard, he's often successful. He's preoccupied exactly like the narcissist with narcissistic supply, with his appearance. It's all on the surface exactly like the narcissist, but he has one giant advantage over the narcissist.

He loves people and he has one giant advantage over the borderline. He's much more organized, much, much less labile, much lessin this sense he has all the advantages of the narcissist.

The borderline has no skin, she has no narcissistic defenses, she is overwhelmed by her emotions and moods. The covert borderline has all this, he has mood lability, he has emotional dysregulation, but he has narcissistic defenses against emotions. Narcissistic defenses regulate emotions. Narcissistic defenses reduce mood lability.

He has the internal environment of the classic borderline. He's dysregulated, he's all over the place, he experiences emotions very intensely, he has empathy, sometimes hyper empathy, but he defends against all these with his narcissism. He has the best of both worlds.

We mentioned that his moral code is self-imputed and self-imposed. He is the author of his ethics. He writes 10 commandments or 12 rules the way he sees it.

So his ethics, his standards, his ideals, they're very idiosyncratic and they're in the eyes of outside observers, they are unevenly moral.

And we did mention that he has pseudo humility, his caricature of modesty, conspicuous modesty. Had I been modest, I would have been perfect.

And there is activism and apparent enthusiasm for social political affairs.

Recent studies and many universities, most recently in British Columbia, had demonstrated conclusively that social activism, political activism, virtue signaling are associated with cluster B personality disorders, most notably psychopathy and narcissism.

So the covert borderline, who is very, very close, one step removed from the narcissist and one step removed from the psychopath is inevitably virtue signaling all the time. Look at me, I'm moral and ethical and good hearted. I'm amazing. I'm kind and virtuous. And he does that via publicly, of course, because he needs supply.

So he becomes an activist.

But if you drill down, because he is the author of the moral code that he adheres to, his morality is relativistic and amenable to change, malleable. He is ethnically relativistic, morally relativistic. There are no firm foundations, no lodestones, no anchors. He pretends content, for example, for money in real life. That's the kind of person who goes around and say, I don't care about money. I care about what's right, or I care about my well-being, or I care about my family. I mean, money comes, comes lost. All I need is enough money to survive.

He feigns spirituality. So all these gurus and coaches and, you know, in all probability, either narcissist, overt narcissist or overt borderline. So he feigns, he fakes all these things.

But again, if you drill down, you see, it's fake.

Similarly, his irreverence towards authority is only towards authority to which he cannot belong. His defiance of authority, his irreverence, his lack of deference, I mean, all these are because he cannot become part of the establishment. He had been rejected by the establishment. He cannot, he cannot access, he cannot gain access. It's like cognitive, he cannot gain access. He cannot have cognitive dissonance. If I can't get the grapes, I don't want them, they're sour. I don't want to belong to a club who would accept me as a member, you know, famous Groucho Marx.

So this is all very, you know, not serious.

The covert borderline's ability to actually propensity to love people or to love what people can give him, intimacy, emotions and so they make him attempt, they cause him to attempt to establish all kinds of relationships, including to get married multiple times, to have multiple friendships and so on. But as we said, these relationships are unstable.

Again, gradually, as he keeps getting disappointed in his love life, as his sexuality gets frustrated because of long periods of abstinence and so on, marital instability, injurious and acrimonious divorces, he becomes cold, he becomes greedy and he becomes seductive, but seductive with a tough edge. Not flirtatious so much. As predatory, covert borderlines gradually become predatory. They begin to have extramarital affairs. They become promiscuous. They develop uninhibited or super kinky sexual life. They experiment with the fringes of sexuality between the permissible and the socially unacceptable or even sometimes the criminal.

We find covert borderlines in these peripheries of human psychosexuality and they're there because they had failed at the center. They had failed to maintain healthy, long-term, rewarding, intimate, loving, psychosexual liaisons. This is where they end up.


And how do they think? What is their cognitive style?

Well, covert borderlines have splitting defense mechanism, exactly like borderline personality disorder, narcissistic and psychopathic. They have dichotomous thinking, black and white, with me or against me, totally good, totally evil, etc. This is splitting more, dichotomous thinking. It's considered a fallacy because it impairs reality testing. The world is nuanced. The world is gray, never black or white. No one is totally good or totally bad. Only children at the age of six months consider mother totally good and themselves totally bad. This is splitting, the classic splitting between bad breast and good breast, melanin decline.

So they're very infantile covert borderlines in this sense. They have an infantile way of seeing the world and they realize this. They realize that they have an impaired reality testing and they're very worried about this.

First of all, they're worried about how people might perceive them as regressive, primitive, stupid, infantile, not serious, clownish, buffoonish. So they realize that the proclivity to think in terms of either this or that is not very helpful.

So they try to compensate for this by becoming encyclopedic, unusually knowledgeable. They have the most incredible trove of trivia and fun facts at their fingertips. And sometimes, some of them go deep and they have deep, deep knowledge, deep expertise and acquaintance with certain fields.

And again, in this sense, they resemble very much people with autistic spectrum disorder when they go deep. When they are spread all over with their ostentatious knowledge, ostentatious encyclopedic capacity, Wikipedia effect, then they are narcissistic.

But when they delve deep into a topic, they become very much like an autistic, they become obsessive, they become compulsive, they can't stop learning more and more and more about the topic. It's very, very autistic.

And they have an egocentric perception of reality. Everything revolves around them. Everything has to do with them. People don't have autonomous or independent motivations, but everything is a part of some premeditated plan or program, let alone conspiracy, involving at the center, the covert borderline.

So the covert borderline has a very terra centric view of life. It's like earth is the center of the world and the sun revolves around the earth. You know, until recently, this was the misconception.

So the covert borderline is the same. He's the center of the universe and everyone and everything revolves around him, including via magical thinking, things that have nothing to do with it. And he interprets them or reinterpret them or refrains them as having to do with it.

He has a fondness for shortcuts, because he needs to gobble up enormous amounts of knowledge and expertise and skills and in order to cover up for his underlying fundamental infantilism.

He's a Peter Pan. He's a poet, I tell us, pretending to be a skilled adult, even a guru or a sage. And to do this, he needs to accumulate overwhelming amount of munitions, an arsenal of weapons, the likes of which no one else has.

When he's challenged, he must have the answer at his fingertips. He will never be caught off guard, unawares. It's a war out there. It's a competition. Life is a quiz, and he has to win it. He has to win it because he has to cover up for who he really is.

We have echoes of this with the narcissist.

The covert borderline is decisive. He's opinionated. He loves language. He's strikingly articulate, extremely well read. As opposed to the narcissist, he is not a pond pretending to be an ocean. He is a sea pretending to be an ocean, but he is still a sea. There's a lot there.

He is a very rich, inner life, huge irreducian, real skills, actual education.

The covert borderline is very distinct from the narcissist. Narcissism is a fake. Narcissism is a total fake. Everything is a fake. Even his knowledge, pretended irreducian is a fake. The covert borderline is not a fake, usually. He is very real in this sense.

Okay, I hope I succeeded somehow to clarify the differences between these types. It's not easy because, you know my opinion, all claustrophobic personality disorders should be abolished, and instead we should have a single diagnostic category, personality disorders, with emphasis. I go even further. All personality disorders should be abolished. All of them. And there should be a single category, personality disorder, with narcissistic emphasis, with borderline emphasis, with schizoid emphasis. There's so much in common between personality disorders, even cluster A, even cluster C, not only cluster B, there's so much in common between them that having created these categorical distinctions, these lists of criteria, was counterproductive. It led to comorbidity. It led to polythetic problems. It created a mess, indescribable mess. It's time to acknowledge that personality disorders bleed into each other, intermesh, that every single person with a personality disorder has essentially all of them.

Nastis sometimes becomes schizoid. Schizoids sometimes become avoidant. Avoidance sometimes become borderline. I mean, borderline is very often become psychopathic, and narcissists definitely become psychopathic. I mean, there's no end to this. We need to unify. We need to clear the mess.

And so all these distinctions, covert borderline, overt borderline, I don't like them.

But this is the environment I'm inhabiting right now. That's my ecosystem. And I want to introduce the covert borderline because it's a true diagnosis based on vast, vast forest of literature. Ignoring this elephant in the room is counterproductive.

There is a type of borderline. I would even suggest that it's half of all borderline who are not classic borderlines. They are not classic borderlines. And this creates a enormous confusion also among therapists and clinicians. The minute we introduce covert borderline, everything falls into place. Someone comes to you. One, two, three, four. It's a classic borderline. Someone comes to you seven, eight, nine, ten, but also one and four. That's also a borderline, but a covert one. Sometimes naming. Naming clears up the fog and the spider cobwebs in your, in the head.

And at this interim stage, until we unify all personality disorders, perhaps paradoxically, we need actually to separate them. Similar process happened with particle physics. There was a proliferation of particles. I mean, hundreds of particles. And then suddenly someone came and made a table of particles. And now there is a table of particle and every particle fits in perfectly. And we do realize that many particles are actually facets of another particle. So there's a particle. You look at it some other way. It's another particle. I want to look at personality disorder the other way.

Personality disorders, when I look at them the other way, they are suddenly other disorders. So if we look at the same personality disorder from a different angle, we see a totally different personality disorder. It's a prime indication that they're all actually one and the same.

Welcome to the personalities of the zoo.

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