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Covert Narcissist = Borderline+Psychopath+Passive-Aggressive

Uploaded 4/22/2020, approx. 55 minute read

Good afternoon, Sam. Hi, Charles. How are you?

Oh, I'm fine. Thanks, and yourself?

I'm okay.

Yeah.

These are strange days. A strange day is busy.

More busy than ever, actually. So I am in the organizing committee of one of the 19 international conferences. We have two of them online, and editor in chief of five academic journals. You can imagine the influx, and everyone wants to write about psychology of coffee. So I'm utterly snowed under. That's why when I coordinate something, I put aside everything. It's quite a shambles if it doesn't happen.

It makes me even more grateful for giving us some time.

Don't worry.

I do indeed want to talk to you. It's just that it created a chain reaction that's going to cost me a few hours of sleep. But don't worry about it. We don't know.

Thank you.

Firstly, before, and I've written so many questions down as a result of our talk last week.

Are we on now? Are we being recorded? Yes.

I'm using an application called CallNote, and the reason that I do that is because it gives a very nice quality recording. So I'm looking at now, and it's definitely recording.

All right.

But when you send me the file, kindly make sure that it's MP3 and not, for example, M4A.

Yes. Because they have all kinds of...

So I can process only MP3 and MP4. MP3.

Got it.

MP3 is by far the best. Fantastic. Fantastic.

So Sam, I've got a million questions for you here. So let's start.

I hope I don't die in the middle. I'm in the bottom of the room.

Absolutely.

Sam, okay. Can we start off by...

It's a question that I get asked a lot.

The difference between having narcissistic traits and full-blown clinical narcissistic personality disorder.

The first to have made such distinctions was one of the granddaddies of the field of personality disorders, Theodore Miller. And together with another chap called Davis, his student, they had authored a seminal work called Personality Disorders in Daily Life.

It is there that Miller made the distinction between personality disorders, personality style, personality, personality. And he suggested that we are all placed on a spectrum.

Today, his approach is widely accepted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Edition 5, published in 2013, the latest. Incorporates his thinking. It's dimensional. It describes spectra.

And so we are all on a spectrum. And what Miller had suggested is that everyone, to this or that extent, is a narcissist.

Some people are grandiose. Some people are obnoxious, like me, for example. Some people are...

But we all... Some people lack empathy. Some people are exploitative. Some people are envious. Some people have a combination of some of these traits, and so on and so forth.

And he suggested that some people have a personality, a narcissistic personality. And that would simply mean that they have the proclivities and predilections and inclinations to react in highly specific ways in certain circumstances. And they would tend to be a bit grandiose. They would tend to be insensitive to other people's needs, emotions, priorities, and wishes. They would tend to be a bit self-centered and so on. That's the personality.

And then there's a personality style.

Personality style, narcissistic personality style, is simply all this amplified.

So these people would actively actually engage in narcissistic behaviors and actively translate their narcissistic traits into behaviors that are supposed to secure favorable outcomes from the human environment.

And then there's the disorder. And the disorder is not only quantitatively different to the style. It's not the style amplified, but it's qualitatively different. It's a break. It's charismatic. It's like a break from the style.

Because the disorder is actually dysfunctional. It doesn't guarantee favorable outcomes. The person with the narcissistic style actually gets his way. He gets his way. He leverages institutions. He collaborates with other people to obtain goals. He has accomplishments. He's a pillar of society.

The personality style is actually a positive adaptation. It allows you to function better in society and with other people.

The disorder, as the name implies, is dysfunctional. It guarantees negative outcomes. It is self-destructive. It alienates people. It repels them. It makes you a hate figure.

The disorder is all these traits and behaviors taken to such an extreme and to the exclusion of all other traits and behaviors so that the outcomes are actually negative to the narcissist himself.


Now, the element, the last point I want to make is this issue of exclusion.

The person with narcissistic personality or the person with narcissistic style, which is one step above personality, these people have elements of narcissism which are pretty pronounced discernible and, you know, immediately detectable. But they also have other traits and behaviors which are non-narcissistic. And they don't exclude these traits and behaviors. They let them express.

So they are not all the time narcissistic. They are narcissistic in reaction to something or under certain circumstances or in certain contexts or when they want to achieve something. But they are not all the time narcissistic.

So for example, if they are in some situations, they don't show empathy. In other situations, they would be empathy. If in some situations, they are exploitative. In others, they would be actually collaborative. They would work well in teams.

I think an example of this would be President Trump. Donald Trump is a grandiose narcissist. But I kept saying, he doesn't have narcissistic personality disorder. He has a narcissistic style so that other qualities in him which are non-narcissistic actually manifest, for example, his ability to work in teams or to leverage social institutions to his benefit or to, in some rare cases, display empathy and so on.

So the narcissist, the person with the disorder cannot do this. This narcissism takes over. It's like a malignancy. That's why I call it malignancy. It colonizes.

The narcissism colonizes every dimension of the personality and the diagnostic and statistical manual says that the narcissism in this case is all pervasive. It's like a cancerous cell that takes over and so nothing is exempt and nothing remains alive under this overgrowth.

It's like the narcissist has been body snatched by his own disorder.

Yes. What would you say that the most important traits would be? Would there be a lack of emotional empathy and interpersonal exploitation?

Well, it really depends on the type of narcissist. We have quite a proliferation of topologies and by now, narcissism has been dissected into numerous subtypes. We come across usually bringing one or two varieties of narcissists. We rarely come across the others.

So we come across typically the grandiose narcissist and we come across the covert narcissist. It's rare to come across other types and within the covert and the grandiose narcissist is another subdivision, which I suggested at the time that is between somatic and cerebral.

Now, all these four are united in certain things, but the covert is fundamentally substantially different to the overt, to the classical. And if you want, we can dedicate some time to the covert narcissist in a separate question, if you want something you're in the driver's seat.

Absolutely.

There was a couple of other things that I wanted to ask you before we get this.

I didn't answer your question.

I just delineated the technology.

That's true.

So all of them are, I think, united by a lack of empathy. I think that's by far the most important feature and it's common also to psychopaths, but not to borderline. To some extent histrionics, but not really.

So lack of empathy is characteristic of psychopaths and narcissists.

Exploitativeness, not necessarily, but I would say grandiosity, not even grandiosity, but severe cognitive deficits, impaired reality testing.

Now, the reality testing can be impaired via grandiosity, wrong perception of the self and the limitations of the self or the abilities of the self. That's one type of cognitive deficit, but narcissists have many other types of cognitive deficits.

So in some narcissists, grandiosity would be emphasized in other types of deficits, but I would say misperception of reality one way or another. So narcissists in this sense, exactly as Kernberg suggested in 1975, narcissists and borderlines in this sense are on the verge of psychosis. They are actually almost psychotic in the sense that they lose touch with reality very often, very frequently.

Now imagine how dangerous it is when the narcissist becomes a leader of a nation or a CEO in a joint company. So I would say that actually these two, some narcissists are exploitative, other narcissists are envious, pathologically envious. Maybe a third element that I would add that is common to all narcissists is the need for narcissistic supply.

Narcissistic supply is attention in all its forms, both positive, adulation, admiration, and negative, being feared, for example. Attention in all its kinds is narcissistic.

Now, narcissist needs narcissistic supply to regulate his internal environment. The narcissistic supply restores a sense of reality because other people tell him what is real and what is not about him. And also caters to his grandiosity or other cognitive deficits. The reason I'm hesitating a bit is that because covert narcissists, process narcissists supply very differently to classical narcissists. Covert narcissists, psychodynamically so different to classical narcissists that it's debatable in which sense are they narcissists at all. And one of the main differences is in how they relate to grandiosity, how they obtain the supply and what they do with the supply, what they get. The narcissist uses narcissistic supply to regulate his internal environment. The covert narcissist uses narcissistic supply to fight off her sense of inferiority.

The narcissist, the classic narcissist feels superior at all times and just uses supply to buttress, to prove his superiority, to substantiate it. The covert narcissist feels inferior at all times and she uses supply to eliminate temporarily this sense of inferiority.

Sam, when we look at narcissistic abuse, there's always abuse guaranteed when one is involved with a narcissist and specifically intimately. Why are we guaranteed to get abuse?

I think one of the major problems we have is that we are hell bent on using human vocabulary to describe people, to describe carbon based entities which are arguably not entirely human or only partially human.

You see, most abusers are not narcissists and they're not psychopaths and don't even have mental health problems, most abusers. Abuse in these cases has to do with a power play, a power matrix. It's about power. It's the same like rape. Rape is not about sex, it's about power.

But these are essentially normal healthy people and they need to assert control over their environment. To assert control, they do it through abuse. It's a dysfunctional way of asserting control and establishing certainty among healthy people.

A tiny minority of abusers are actually narcissists and psychopaths. Let's be clear, all narcissists and psychopaths are abusive, but very few abusers are narcissists and psychopaths.

Narcissists and psychopaths abuse not for the same reason that the overwhelming vast majority of abusers abuse. Narcissists and psychopaths abuse is a form of internal regulation.

What I'm trying to say is that the abused victim is irrelevant. It's not an interaction, it's an intraaction. The narcissist especially needs to regulate his internal environment, for example, to support his grandiosity. To accomplish this, he needs to abuse someone because when he abuses someone, for example, he feels superior, he feels omnipotent, he feels omniscient if he abuses her by mocking her knowledge or lack of knowledge, ignorance. So he feels it restores his grandiosity.

In other words, the abuse is instrumental in regulating the inner landscape of narcissists. And the abused victim is incidental. That is why it's so easy for narcissists to replace, to substitute the abused victim. They discard one abused victim and half an hour later they are with another.

And the intimate partners of narcissists, they feel interchangeable. They feel commodified. They feel that they could be replaced by anyone. And they feel not special.

The narcissist takes away the partners' feeling of specialness, of being an individual.

Because narcissist uses other people as commodities. He consumes them and they are all the same to him. They are all identical to him because he is actually interacting not with the outside but with the inside.

Similarly, the psychopath. The psychopath abuses because he's goal-oriented. And he because he's goal-oriented. So psychopathic abuse has to do with accomplishing sex, money, power. But these are internal goals. The psychopath needs money, power, and sex and so on to regulate his internal advantage. It's his form of narcissistic supply, if you wish. And people just happen to be there.

So if you need to steal money from an old lady, you do. And if you're stupid enough to give her money, then so forth.

Yeah.

You said in one of your seminars that actually narcissists take a mental snapshot of their partners or the person they're interacting with and then sort of interject it and deal with that snapshot as opposed to the reality of the person.

Yes, that's very true. Snapshotting.

The thing is that at that moment, there is a divergence of treatment, a divergence of interrelatedness.

When the narcissist meets someone, a person, and he reaches the conclusion that that person could become a source of narcissistic supply, even, for example, by way of becoming an intimate partner or by way of becoming a business partner, but can be, or by way of becoming an adulator, a fan, you know, student, whatever.

When the narcissist reaches the conclusion that someone can become a source of supply, he takes a snapshot of that person. He stores the snapshot in his mind. It's like an avatar. It's an introject. He stores this photo in his mind.

And from that moment, all the positive emotions that the narcissist possesses are invested in the snapshot, not in the real person.

Yeah.

And the reason is very simple. The snapshot will never abandon the narcissist. Snapshot will never hurt the narcissist. The snapshot will never cheat on the narcissist, betray the narcissist. The snapshot will not cause the narcissist pain, challenge the narcissist, undermine the narcissist, etc.

Snapshot is safe.

Wow. So it is in the snapshot that the narcissist invests his positive emotions and what's left negative emotions and he reserves the negative emotions for the real person.

So there is a kind of dichotomy. There's a split, there's a break.

The minute the snapshot thing takes place, there are two streams of emotions. All negative emotions are externalized and in this sense, the narcissist becomes a bit psychopathic and all in all positive emotions are internalized, interjected and directed at the snapshot.

This is why narcissists are always in a state of shock because real life people, real, real people in their lives deviate and diverge from the snapshot.

The snapshot is permanent and stable, never changes, but real, real people in real life, they grow, they change, they change their minds. I mean, things happen and the narcissists cannot countenance the contrast between the static snapshot and the dynamic real life partner, for example.


Sam, at what stage does narcissistic personality disorder first show up or become evident in somebody?

When can one see it?

We have a serious problem with the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder because there are at least two phases in life, in early life where narcissism of the disordered kind, the delusional, fantastic, grandiose narcissism is actually very healthy and a very welcome phenomenon. That is in the formative years up until the age of four, more or less, even six, and during adolescence.

Adolescents, for example, are technically narcissists. It's a very good thing that they are because their narcissism allows them to objectify the parent, rebel against the parent, defy the parent, psychopathically.

In this way, separate from the parent, define boundaries and become an individual. The adolescent pathological narcissism, and it is, is actually very instrumental in rendering the adolescent separate individual and therefore is a healthy process.

Exactly the same thing happens with a baby, with a child, with a toddler in the formative years, zero to six. The child needs to become the center of the world. The child needs narcissistic supply. The child lacks empathy. The child is very self centered and so on.

And the reason for this is that the child needs to separate from the mother, needs to begin to put boundaries between itself and the mother usually. And these boundaries cannot emerge unless the child becomes a narcissist.

So this is why we never diagnose narcissistic personality disorder before age 18 or 21, depending on the country.

Yeah. Yeah. So it's kind of teenage and after teenage.

Yeah. Yeah.

Not before 18. It's meaningless to diagnose it before 18 because then it is actually healthy.

It should be encouraged.

Yes. We touched last week on the aspect of choice of the narcissist and you said to me, narcissists know exactly what they're doing.

So it's quite difficult for me to sort of imagine that where I'm doing something that's harmful to somebody else and I'm making that choice to do it and I know I'm doing it.

So can you explain that sort of dynamic from the narcissistic perspective that they're making the choice and they know that it's not a good one, but they continue to do it.

Well, your very brief question contains numerous, very arguable assumptions.

First of all, you are using the word someone else, you know, we're doing, the narcissist does something bad to someone else.

But this assumes that the narcissist perceives the separate existence of other people and he then perceives them as people.

Now neither of these two statements is correct.

My first mistake. Yes, I get it.

Not a mistake. It's simply that you are human and you, the language breaks down when we try to cope with narcissism and psychopathy language itself breaks down.

And that's the reason I had to invent so many new terms and even then language breaks down because how can you talk about someone who has no internal world where there's only a void, where there's no empathy, where everything is a reflection? I mean, it's so alien, such an alien experience.

And I've just made two YouTube videos about this, comparing narcissists to aliens, proper alien from other planets.

And so narcissists do not recognize the separateness of other people because their own separateness has been sabotaged as children, undermined. They were not able to separate from their parents as children and individually and therefore they are incapable of noticing or accepting the separateness of other people. Even more so because they were not allowed to individually, they were not allowed to become individuals and develop boundaries. They do not perceive other people as people. They perceive them as functions. They perceive them as extensions. They perceive them as snapshots, but never as people.

So when they do something which is harmful in your terms, they are not doing it to anyone. There's nobody there exactly as there's nobody home inside the narcissist. There's nobody out there as well.

The narcissist existence is an existence of negation. It's not being. Even the German philosophers like Heidegger didn't go that far. The narcissist is a non-being, not a being, not an entity. He's a non-entity. There's nothing inside him and nobody outside him. So he cannot harm anyone by definition.

Number two, you're assuming that narcissists divide their actions into harmful ones and potentially beneficial, satisfactory ones. That's not true. Narcissists weigh their options and their actions with a simple criteria. Does it bring, does it engender, enforce the narcissistic supply or not? If it fosters supply, do it. If it doesn't, don't do it.

In this sense, narcissists are binary robots, robots with an extremely simple programming, which essentially recognizes only two outcomes in the world. Yes, supply, no supply.

Now, if this has effect on other people, that's where the psychopathic element of narcissism comes in. If this has an effect on other people, well, two bets for them. They chose to be where they are. They chose to collaborate. They chose to acquiesce. They chose to accept. They chose to obey.

They chose, I mean, narcissists doesn't feel responsible for other people's choices. It's a little like asking a virus. Aren't you ashamed that you are killing 80 year olds in caring, in care homes?

Yeah, I get it. I get it. That leads me to the next question.

Narcissists that I have known when I look back and I look at photographs of the eyes, Sam, the eyes, there is a deadness in the eyes. There is an incongruence between the expression on the face and in the eyes. The eyes are empty. Does that make sense?

I believe that you believe that. There's no research to support this.

My eyes are very lively and people very often comment on how lively. So I don't think one can, I think people, I think people want to demonize in their desperate attempt to understand these non-entities, these non-human non-entities. People are clutching at straws and they try to translate their tropes, their ways of perceiving the world and try to somehow project them on narcissists.

So I don't hold such questions in high regard. Let's put it gently.

Sam, there was something else that you said recently again in one of your seminars about the stupidity of narcissistic behavior that it looks like on the outside that it makes no sense what narcissists do. And you said that narcissists are actually stupid. Could you maybe elaborate on that or the behavior rather, not intellectually, but the behavior?

Well, if you're divorced from reality, you're bound to make stupid choices. Narcissists are not only divorced from reality. They don't understand people. There's nothing in common with people. They don't have empathy, don't have emotions.

So they are like artists. They are like autistic people. They don't read social cues properly, sexual cues, other cues. They can't manage properly in society. They can't achieve favorable outcomes. They can't motivate other people to.

So there are failures in this sense, functional failures, because they don't have anything in common with the main agents of change in action, which are human beings.

But above all, I think that grandiosity and other cognitive deficits fails them. For example, consider grandiosity.

Grandiosity means that you know everything you only condition and that you're capable of everything omnipotent.

And so if you are like that, if you're God-like, no one, for example, can cheat you. No one can deceive you. No one can take anything that's yours.

And that's yours.

And that's of course, utter nonsense because psychopaths eat narcissists for breakfast. Narcissists, consequently, because of their grandiosity, are very gullible because they assume in advance that they can, that not called artists can do them.

They are the easiest prey. And so they are buffoonish very often.

They also, their pomposity, their you know, pomposity renders them buffoonish. So they are derided, they're mocked because they're obnoxious. They provoke all kinds of retaliatory measures by everyone around them.

So they're pitiable, actually, they're pathetic. And yet they believe themselves to be superior. They believe themselves to be, you know, the life of the party, the most amazing phenomenon and phenomenon around.

And it is this discrepancy between what they really are and what they really are, they are clowns. They are pathetic, pitiable, broken clowns. And everyone sees through them. They're highly transparent and they're highly manipulable.

All you have to do to manipulate narcissists is flatter them. And the more unrealistic the flattery, the further you will get.

And so they're childlike, they're absolutely childlike and they're gullible and they're naive and they're stupid and they are everything, you know, and they're so incapable of discerning how vulnerable they are.


Sam, something else you said that I found really, really interesting and I never thought of before and that is that identity involves memory. And what you were saying again in one of your seminars that narcissists have no emotional connection to their memories and therefore will forget things very quickly like studying, cramming for an exam and forgetting it a couple of weeks later.

I find that very, very interesting.

Sam, could you elaborate on that?

There are two problems with memory with narcissists.

First of all, there's no emotional correlate.

We know from memory studies that memories are actually shemas. They are, they are amalgams, they're amalgams of cognitions, thoughts, emotions and circumstances.

So information about the environment where the memory had happened, the context of the memory. In the absence of any of these three elements, if you're missing the thoughts, if you're missing the emotions or if you're missing the actual data where the memory happened, no memory falls.

And this is precisely why, for example, when we over drink and we're in an alcoholic blackout, no memories are formed. No memories are formed because the alcohol prevents the formation of, of contextual memory.

So you don't remember where you are, what you're doing and so on. Emotions are there, cognitions are there, but not the context.

And Alzheimer's, in Alzheimer's, emotions are frequently there, context is there, but no cognition, no thinking.

So also memories don't fall. Whenever any of the three, and in the case of the narcissists, usually all three are missing, all three, I want you to understand how bad this is.

Narcissist is totally discontinuous. It's like the narcissist is reinvented every minute of the day, totally out of whole cloth.

And so the narcissist doesn't have cognitions because he is dissociative. Narcissists suffer from dissociation, memory lapses, memory gaps most times, and they don't remember what they have thought.

Honestly, they're not lying. They simply don't remember.

So there's a lack of cognition, then there's no emotions, no access to emotions. It goes without saying.

And very often they forget the context because they are so focused on obtaining supply that they don't pay attention to their environment.

Narcissists could go through a whole vacation in the most gorgeous Greek island and all he would remember is how a beautiful girl smiled with him, but he would not remember the pictures or the sound of them.

So contextual data is missing.

And consequently, narcissists are utterly incapable of forming long-term memories, even worse, I would say, than dimension.


And so what narcissists do instead, they confabulate. They speculate as what would I have remembered had I been capable of remembering? What would have made sense? What would have been probable? What would have been plausible?

And so they confabulate. They breach these gaps. They cover up for the time lapses and they pretend to remember. And then they get emotionally invested or invested at least in what they're saying, the confabulation, and it becomes reality for them.

So they are unable to distinguish their confabulations from reality because anyhow, their reality testing is screwed up. And so they end up living in a twilight zone, not quite certain what they had invented and what really happened.

And you can't imagine how destabilizing this feeling is.


But Sam, that must be terrifying. I mean, you forget one's entire life. I've had blackouts and I couldn't remember anything and that scared me. But I mean, this is it. You forget and also forget his entire life.

If you had alcoholic blackouts and you know the experience, this is the permanent state of the narcissist. That's the permanent state of the narcissist.

Now, you know that in an alcoholic blackout, you maintain full executive functions. You can make decisions, you talk, you walk, you drive a car. I mean, that's why people from the outside can't tell that you're having a blackout. And it's the same with the narcissist. He walks, he talks, that he's in a state of blackout. But his state is permanent.

Now, what do you do after you wake up from a blackout?

You say to yourself, what on earth has happened? What has happened?

The last thing I remember is this. So probably this is what had happened.

You speculate.

You call a friend. You call a friend. You call others.

And this is narcissistic supply. Now you understand what is narcissistic supply. Narcissistic supply is a desperate attempt to cover for the blackout by asking people, please tell me about myself because I don't remember anything. Am I really a genius? I think I am. I have this vague recollection of the time, but I'm not quite sure. Maybe I invented it a minute ago. I don't know if it's a memory or if it's a piece of fiction that I've just conjured up.


So the confabulation, sorry, Sam, is a panic response. It's a panic response.

Yes, I think that narcissism could be conceived as an anxiety disorder or a depressive disorder involving a constant panic attack, like being in a constant state of panic attack. And of course, narcissists don't experience this. They don't feel it.

But they should behave this way. You should see a narcissist, for example, if his grandiosity is challenged. He's not reacting like you have insulted him. He's reacting like he's about to die.

Sam, are there particular qualities or traits that narcissists look for in their intimate partners? Are there definitions or grades of supply?

Yeah, supply like everything else, like drugs, exactly like drugs. There's high quality drugs, like looted drugs, mixed drugs, tainted drugs and so on. So there's high quality supply, low quality supply, fake supply.

Narcissists sometimes discern when people are faking the supply and so on and so forth.

Now, high quality supply reflects the high quality of the source. So if someone in the street would tell me I'm a genius, it's not the same. If Noam Chomsky calls me up and tells me I'm a genius. It's the same sentence. You're a genius.

But of course, Chomsky has priorities. He supplies high quality. I agree.

So internet partner is someone who is idealized. And that's precisely the reason, by the way, that the narcissist idealizes his partner. He idealizes his partner because he needs to convert her into a high quality source.

So the narcissist constructs an ideal image of his partner, which has very little to do with his real life partner, by the way. And this ideal image is perfect. It's a reflection of the narcissist's own false self. She's perfect. She's brilliant. She's amazing. She's unique. She's special. She's there. She's super sexy.

And then by idealizing her, he had converted her into a high source, high level source, high quality source, and everything that emanates from her, all the supply that comes from her is a high quality supply.

Now, how can the narcissist succeed? How does he succeed to idealize?

It's very easy. I gave you the key earlier.

The narcissist idealizes the snapshot, not the real person. All the narcissist's interactions are with the snapshot. He idealizes the snapshot. He interacts with the snapshot. He obtains object constancy by keeping the snapshot constant. He doesn't have abandonment anxiety because snapshots don't tend to abandon their own.

Last time I checked.

And so snapshotting is a super critical function in narcissism. And this is the mistake of the narcissist intimate partners and why they are heartbroken and devastated. At some point they discover that it's not been about them at all. They haven't been there. They've been an excuse, a kind of a trigger. It becomes clear to them that the narcissist has been interacting with some idealized image, idealized figure that has nothing or little to do with them. And then it makes it very easy for him to discard them and replace them within minutes because he has never been interacting with them.


Another question before we get onto the different types of narcissists is the formation or the lack of formation of empathy in the narcissist in the formative years. Could you explain how that happens or how that doesn't happen?

I'm talking about emotional empathy.

Well, I wish I had the answer. We know that there are three types of empathy and they build on each other. They build upon each other.

There's reflexive empathy. That's the kind when baby smiles at mother because my mother smiles at baby. That's reflexive like a reflection.

And then there is cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy is I see someone crying as a child. I see someone crying and I'm not the fact that she's crying, but nothing happens. I just know the fact.

And then there's emotional empathy. Gradually the child builds a theory of the world and a theory of mind and incorporates himself or herself into this theory, a process called introspection. In other words, the child constructs a sense by contradistinction to the world.

And then there is interaction with the self and the ability to manipulate the self. And for example, to take the self and put it in someone else's shoes.

And these are the foundations of empathy.

Narcissists have reflexive empathy that comes with biology. They develop cognitive empathy.

And so the combination of reflexive and cognitive is what I call, what I don't call empathy. They never graduate to the third phase. They never develop emotional empathy.

The reason I think they don't develop emotional empathy is because the narcissist is terrified of his emotions.

Within the narcissist, there is a reservoir of enormous pain and hurt, of not being seen, of being negated, of being manipulated, of being abused, of being vicious, being invaded. There isn't huge pains, especially if they're inflicted on the child by a godlike unconditionally loved figure, like a mother.

And so there's this huge pain inside.

Now, I think we discussed this last time. I'm not sure, but it's not possible to tap into only one sort of emotion. You can't tell yourself, I'm going to ignore my negative emotions. I'm going to tap only into my positive emotions. If you tap into your emotions, everything comes up. Everything comes up. Love is bittersweet. We all know this.

So if you allow yourself to love, then all the pain and the hurt will surface as well. And the narcissist will be overwhelmed and die, commit suicide or something.

So narcissists are so terrified of their emotions, they bottle them up. They relegate them like the Barometric Protection Agency. They relegate this toxic waste into underground reservoirs. They seal them with lead and they make sure they never ever have access to these emotions anymore.

Unfortunately, in this process of sealing off the toxic emotions, they are forced also to seal off all emotions. It's not that the narcissist don't have emotions. Narcissists actually are overwhelmed by their emotions. Their emotions are much stronger than other people's.

It's just they don't have access to their emotions as opposed to the borderline. The borderline failed to do this, failed to isolate her emotions. So they keep overwhelming her.

And the result, 10% of borderlines commit suicide. So the narcissist succeeds where the borderline failed. He had isolated and buried his emotions irrevocably.

But consequently, of course, he is unable to develop emotional empathy. So it comes with the territory. That's a price of narcissist base. Lack of empathy, lack of love, lack of positive emotions, lack of positivity in life generally. That's why narcissism can be easily considered as a depressive state, depressive disorder.

And the general feeling of hostility, aggression, defiance, and so on, which push the narcissist throughout life to the psychopathic pole.

I think that many narcissists end up being psychopaths. I mean, there are psychopaths who are born as psychopaths. Psychopathy is largely a brain disorder. And so there are psychopaths who are born as psychopaths.

But I think narcissists expose repeatedly to the slings and arrows of fate to borrow from someone else, ultimately end up being psychopaths, antisocial and so on, because it's simply too much.

And the lack of emotional empathy also helps the reality test. So they keep blundering, they keep slowing down like blind people in a dark space with no candle.

Like a wrecking ball in a way.

Well, yes.

And as conscious, as self-aware as a wrecking ball.


Another thing that I've wondered about often is the narcissist will often, especially as they get older, they will have a whole trail of wrecked marriages or, you know, love affairs and partners, etc. What effect does that have on the narcissist? The sort of accumulated damage and carnage, if you like, and to this.

It becomes a psychopath.

These are slings and arrows of fate. The wasteland that his life had become, the post-apocalyptic dystopian landscape, that his life inevitably becomes.

There's not a single narcissist who doesn't end up this way, even if he's president of the United States. When he looks around or when he looks inside himself, it's this utterly desert-like wasteland with not a hint of life left. And because he's incapable of experiencing emotions, or he has no access to his emotions, emotions are the main tools we use to process loss. That's the main tool.

I mean, if you lack emotions or access to emotions, you are unable to process loss. So the narcissist's life ends up being a huge container of losses, cumulative losses.

And the dominant feeling, the dominant emotional humor, you see, I'm lacking words even, because it's not an emotion, it's a presence. It's like a demonic presence, if you wish.

So at the end of the narcissist's life, there is this presence, which is as tangible as anything. Presence of loss. It's like everything coalesced and combined into what this giant loss reminds me of a neutron star or a black hole. Everything imploded and crumbled into this single point of loss.

But it is so potent, so powerful that it sucks the narcissist and every light, every shred of light, every shred of hope, it's hopeless in the most profound sense, hopeless existence.


Sam, okay. So

So now if we can have a look at the COVID versus either over to what you say grandiose, the cerebral versus the somatic, we could look at the characteristics.

Yeah, well, there's a lot of misinformation about covert narcissists propagated by numerous self-styled experts and so on and so forth, who clearly have never bothered to read the literature.

Contracted narcissism had been first defined in 1989 by two scholars, Akhtar and Cooper, and they have created a by now classic table, which describes the differences between what they called at the time arrogant or overt narcissist. Today we call it classic narcissism.

And what they call at the time the shy or covert narcissist. Another name for this today would be the fragile or vulnerable narcissist.

And so this table is still the authority and the only authority.

And if you want, I can simply read it to you. It's a bit long, but I think it's worth every minute because that would be among the few YouTube videos to provide accurate information about covert narcissism.

So they distinguish six domains, self-concept, interpersonal relationships, social adaptation, ethics, standards, and ideas, love and sexuality, and cognitive style.

And what they had done in 1989, mind you, they made a list of these six domains in the covert narcissist versus the overt narcissist. I'm simply going to read it to you.

Nothing can compete with the accuracy and clarity of this table. And I'm just repeating again that the vast majority of videos online contradict this table. And these videos are utterly wrong.

Generally, it is a phenomenon that everyone in his talk becomes an expert after having read three wrong articles.

Yes. And it's malignant, what I call malignant egalitarianism. Everyone is an expert today because everyone has a smartphone and can click the right or the wrong buttons.

Of course, there's a problem of telling apart what is reliable information, quality information from trash. There's a problem of discoverability.

But I have come across two videos which describe covert narcissism properly. All the others, and we're talking about hundreds and thousands, are not accurate. Wrong, actually. Disastrously wrong sometimes.

And I have had a personal experience with this. I, 25 years ago, I created the diagnostic category inverted narcissist. I invented it. I came up with it. It's mine.

And I was the first to describe inverted narcissism in a very, very lengthy paper, almost 100 pages long.

And so to this very day, I'm getting numerous messages from people who are telling me that I have no idea what inverted narcissism is, that I'm very wrong about inverted narcissism, that I should see that link or that link to learn about inverted narcissism, not to make such mistakes in the future, and so on and so forth.

And I invented the diagnosis. They are writing to the person who invented the diagnosis to tell him that he has no idea what the diagnosis is.

This situation there is really bad. And I'm warning against it.

The ratio of trash, the ratio of noise to signal is 99 to one. And I'm being exceedingly optimistic. I will read the table, and it's the only authoritative source. It's not mine, so I'm not doubting my own. It's Akhtar and Cooper, 1989.

Self-concept. The arrogant or overt narcissist has grandiosity, preoccupation with fantasies of outstanding success, undue sense of uniqueness, failings of entitlement, seeming self-sufficiency. In contrast, the covert narcissist has an inferiority complex.

Morose self-doubts mark propensity toward feeling ashamed, fragility, relentless search for glory and power, marked sensitivity to criticism and realistic setbacks.

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, the overt narcissist has numerous but shallow relationships, intense need for tribute from others, scorn for others, often masked by pseudo humility. I called it false modesty in my work.

Lack of empathy, inability to genuinely participate in group activities, valuing of children over spouse in family life.

The covert narcissist has an inability to genuinely depend on others and trust them, chronic envy of others, talent of other people's talents, possessions and capacity for deep object relations, deep love.

A lack of regard for generational boundaries, so that's the kind of person who would insult old people and disrespect them. Disregard for other people's time, refusal to respond silent treatment, discommunication.

Social adaptation. The overt narcissist is socially charming, often successful, presents consistent hard work done mainly to seek admiration, pseudo sublimation, intention, intense ambition, preoccupation with appearances. The covert narcissist has nagging aimlessness, shallow vocational commitment, dilettante attitude, multiple but superficial interests, chronic boredom, aesthetic taste, often ill-informed and imitative.

As far as ethics, standards and ideas, the overt narcissist has caricatured modesty, pretended contempt for money in real life, idiosyncratically and unevenly moral, apparent enthusiasm for socio-political affairs. That's the classic narcissist.

The covert narcissist is ready to shift her values to gain favor.

Pathological life, materialistic lifestyle, delinquent tendencies, inordinate ethnic and moral relativism, irreverence towards authority, and in this sense the covert narcissist is actually psychopathic but not the overt narcissist.

It's an example of such a mistake online because online people say that the classic narcissist is psychopathic but the covert narcissist is not. It's the covert narcissist that is psychopathic.

Love and sexuality, I'm continuing to read from the table, love and sexuality, the overt narcissist, marital instability, cold and greedy seductiveness, extra-marital affairs and promiscuity, uninhibited sexual life, the covert narcissist, 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, occasional sexual perversions, paraphelias, cognitive style, the classic narcissist, impressively knowledgeable, decisive and opinionated, often strikingly articulate, egocentric perception of reality, love of language, fondness of shortcuts to acquisition of knowledge.

The covert narcissist, is knowledge often limited to trivia, headline intelligence, forgetful of details, especially names, impaired in the capacity for learning new skills, tendency to change meanings of reality when faced with a threat to self-esteem, language and speaking used for regulating his or her self-esteem.

This and only this is the authoritative description of overt and covert narcissists.

Wow. Anything that contradicts, anything that stands in contradiction to this is wrong. End of story. Nevermind who says it, including people with PhDs, therapists, psychologists and so on. Degrees don't guarantee knowledge. Many degrees come with ignorance, academic degrees.

So be careful, go to the source. It's available online, not such a big deal.

Akhtar, AHK, TAR and Cooper, 1989 covert narcissist. Sam, would you, yeah, I mean, that's a sort of a five hour discussion on its own, but the one thing I wanted to ask you, it's very interesting.

Would you say that covert narcissists are more dangerous because they're hidden? I can't see it.

Covert narcissists are what are our confluence, a combination of passive aggressive and psychopathic. So yes, I would say that covert narcissists are far more dangerous because you don't see them coming.

And when they do come, they act as psychopaths. So we'll be, we today are reconceptualizing borderline personality disorder. We are reconceptualizing it as psychopathy.

Today, the bleeding edge literature discusses borderline personality disorder as secondary psychopathy in women, women's secondary psychopathy.

Similarly, covert narcissism, I think can be easily conceptualized or reconceptualized as the confluence of narcissism, frustrated narcissism, collapsed narcissism with psychopathy, secondary psychopathy, not primary, secondary psychopathy and passive aggressiveness, negativistic personality disorder.

And yes, it's a bad combination, far worse than the overt one.

The overt, the classical narcissist is easily detectable. He cannot hide, he cannot hide his grandioseities or posities. He's ridiculous. He's buffoonish. I mean, you can literally tell, I mean, look, for example, at Donald Trump.

It doesn't take a genius or a diagnostician to realize something's wrong with this guy. His need for praise, his hypervigilance against insults. He sees insults everywhere. Something's wrong with this guy. Something's wrong with his cognitive processing. And it's so clear.

However, look at Barack Obama. Barack Obama, who is as narcissistic, if not much more than Donald Trump, stealth under the radar, sublimates his narcissism, converts it into socially acceptable modes of behavior, but equally narcissistic, messianic also. So luckily, both individuals didn't leverage the narcissism and they took the narcissism and they channeled it in socially acceptable ways via social institutions.

But if you have someone like Adolf Hitler, you know, that's not always the case.

So covert narcissism is a very, very dangerous thing. Luckily, as opposed to what most online videos say and so on, covert narcissists rarely conspire and manipulate. And I mean, they are rarely busy promoting some agenda. They are too shy and broken and vulnerable and fragile. They feel inferior. They are too perfectionist.

So many, many things are holding them back. They are in the background. They're in the background and they rarely act.

However, when they do act, they act as psychopaths do. They are manipulative. They are impulsive. They are defiant. They are disempathic and so on.

And they are passive aggressive. Most of the time, what they do is they undermine you, they sabotage you, they block you, they obstruct you. Then they constantly feel that they are discriminated against, that they are subject to injustice, that they are being mistreated, that their talents are not recognized. And so they're constantly too similar and see in resentment and fury and suppress fury and rage and so on.

And I would say that in terms of collectives, we have reached a condition in the world which is similar to the 1930s where the vast majority of collectives in the world, nation states and so felt essentially like covert narcissists.

The Germans in the 1930s gave rise to Nazism and Adolf Hitler precisely because they were in a covert state of mind.

And today, Trumpism or the phenomenon of Trump is founded on the covert narcissism of large swaths of the American population. These are people who think they deserve better because they're at the short end of the stick.

But if you were to investigate, why do you think you deserve better? What are your merits? What are your talents? What are your skills? What's your education? Why do you think you deserve better?

Well, the fact is they don't deserve better.

So when you divorce from reality, the test is, are you divorced from reality? If you are really a genius and you're being mistreated, or if you are really educated and you don't get a job, that's a justified grievance. It's a justified grievance.

The grievance is embedded in the American Constitution, a justified. These were realistic grievances.

But if your grievances are founded on an impaired reality testing, on wrong self-perception because you don't perceive reality, you have a cognitive deficit, that's sickness. That's a pathology.

And yes, collectives can be pathologized this way. And then they give rise to inverted narcissism because the relationship between the base of Donald Trump, the voters of Donald Trump and Donald Trump is exactly like the relationship between an inverted narcissist and a classic narcissist.

Because what the inverted narcissist does, she uses the glory, she busts in the glory, the reflected glory of her classic narcissist.

These bikers and blue collar workers and uneducated mothers and so on, all over the United States, they bask in the glory of Donald Trump. It's like his life reflects on them.

And I'm not mentioning Donald Trump as an example, but you have the same in the Philippines and the same in Brazil and the same in Hungary, the same everywhere.

There's a rise of class, class of overt, overt grandiose narcissists, Erdogan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, Duterte, Bolsonaro, I mean, you name it, Netanyahu. I mean, you have a class of narcissists and psychopaths who took over the world literally.

Why? Because the underlying populace is a covert narcissist and their only way to obtain narcissistic supply is via the leader.

We have reverted to the fuel, Quincy, all over the world.

That's fascinating.

Absolutely.

Sam, would you say that the covert narcissist, that there is a splitting between self-hatred and grandiosity? Is there sort of a shift between those two all the time and inside?

The covert narcissist has a very negative surface. That's the difference, that's the main difference between the covert narcissist and the overt narcissist.

The covert narcissist has a very negative subject, a self-image that is essentially depressive. I'm no good. I'm a zero. I'm a failure. I can get nowhere. I can learn nothing. I cannot study. I cannot attain degrees. I cannot find a job. I cannot date a girl. I cannot solve.

So in a dialogue, constant in a ticker tape inside the covert narcissist is I cannot do. I cannot be. I cannot accomplish. The inner dialogue of the overt narcissist is exactly the opposite. I can do anything I want. I cannot accomplish anything if I set my mind to it.

Coaches like Tony Robbins and people like Jordan Peterson, they are catering to this internal narcissistic dialogue. There's a giant inside you, they tell you. You just need to wake it up. If you just put your mind to it, there's nothing you cannot do.

The law of attraction, the secret. These are all super narcissistic messages, but they cater only to overt or classic narcissists.

The covert narcissist would reject such messages. For example, covert narcissist feels very, very ill at ease, very bad when she receives narcissistic supply directly.

If you were to go to a covert narcissist and tell her, you know what, you're extremely talented. She would be very, very discomforted. She would try to avoid you from that moment on.

But if you go to a classic narcissist and you tell her you're very, very talented, you'll become her favorite. Her favorite. You may even end up having a one-night stand. It's all it takes.

So the differences are critical. The differences between covert and overt narcissists are so fundamental and foundational and profound that it's debatable whether the word narcissism fits here. I would use a word that Miller used, which I find much more appropriate.

He called these types compensatory types. These are types who try to compensate for what Abler called an innate inferiority complex. And the way they're doing this is by creating grandiose fantasies, which they are trying to realize via third parties.

I mentioned, I think last time we spoke, for our doctor in Germany in the 19th century, if you were a woman with zero education, but you were married to a doctor, everyone in the city called you foul doctor. That's a perfect example of covert or inverted narcissism because by herself, she would have never attempted to become a doctor. She would not have trusted herself to complete a degree and so on.

But by getting married to a real doctor, by reflection, she became a doctor and that satisfies her grandiose fantasy.

So the covert narcissist landscape is a landscape of doubt, a landscape of shame, a landscape of shyness, a landscape of avoidance. It's a landscape of recalcitrance and withdrawal from the world.

While the classic narcissist is impelled and compelling to approach the world in order to extract from the world by force if necessary, narcissistic supply.

And Sam, the cerebral versus somatic?

When the narcissist tries to obtain supply, the first question is, of course, what are the assets that are at my disposal, which I can leverage to obtain supply.

So if you're an idiot with muscles, you will use your muscles. If you are intellectually endowed, then you would use your intellect.

And so there are two types of narcissists, the brain and the brain.

There are those narcissists who use sex, bodybuilding, appearance, looks, attire. They cultivate, they nurture their external appearance and they use it to obtain supply.

And because the only thing you can obtain with external appearance is sex. There's no other thing you can really obtain with it in today's environment, at least. That's their supply, sex.

So they use their external appearance to obtain casual sex partners, the mother battery, then this is the supply.

And they are the somatic narcissists, soma in Greek, ancient Greek, means bodybuilding.

The cerebral narcissists are narcissists who are intellectually endowed to some extent, to a very large extent. And they use their intellects for precisely the same reason. They are intellectually pyrotechnic, fireworks, intellectual fireworks.

And that garners supply. For example, I'm giving you an interview, that's supply.

So their intellect, they display their intellect, their exhibitionistic.

Both types are exhibitionistic. They display their intellect. They bring into the table, their brain, their mind, amazing mind, kaleidoscopic, colorful, stunning, synoptic mind. And this gets them supply.


Now, one thing that people, I think, are very confused about, there is no type of constancy.

Cerebral can become somatic and does become somatic. Whenever the cerebral loses a source of supply, or when the cerebral is faced or controls a willing partner, he becomes somatic on a dime. On a dime. No problem whatsoever.

So if a guru or a top-level intellectual were to meet a very, very beautiful student who would offer him sex, trust me, he would become somatic, that's very same.

Somatic and cerebral are modes of obtaining supply. And narcissists are not picky, not choosing. Whatever works.

But for the intellectual narcissists, for the intelligent narcissists, what works is usually the intellect.

So while there's no type of constancy, there's type dominance, recessive and dominant.

So the intellectual, the cerebral narcissists would emphasize this.

Now, usually cerebral narcissists don't look so good. I mean, they're not, you know, so it's difficult for them to obtain willing partners, willing sexual partners and so on. So they end up in most cases being celibate and they focus on their intellect because their intellect guarantees a stream of a stream of narcissistic supply, an interactive stream.

So why waste the time on try to obtain sex when failure is almost guaranteed?

Similarly, the somatic narcissist doesn't bother to develop his intellectual faculties, if he has any, because his muscles do the job pretty well. It's a default state.

We all tend to gravitate towards what we do best. And what the intellectual does best is to talk, what this rebel does, what the somatic does best is to display his body and then use it in sex.

So they both end up doing almost exclusively this, but there is that fluidity, narcissists, all narcissists, both, if they can manage it.

Would the cerebral be less, view the body as a, as an irritation, because it's the brain that is focused on that it's an irritation.

Yeah, not only an irritation, but a source of negative narcissistic supply.

A hindrance.

I mean, it's not pleasant to be rejected by women all the time. You're a genius, you know, that you're unique and that you're this, but a woman takes one look at you and goes the other way. And she usually goes the other way with the somatic narcissist who is not 5% your intellect.

And so the body becomes a source of frustration.

Yeah.

And we have a hypothesis by Dollard in 1939, Dollard discovered that frustration is invariably converted to aggression.

So narcissists, cerebral narcissists are very aggressive towards their bodies because their bodies are sources of frustration.

They neglect their bodies. They punish their bodies. They tend to ignore their bodies. They're very neglected. Their health is failing and so on. And they don't exercise. They overeat because their bodies constantly frustrated.

Now with the somatic saying, if there is a lot less intelligence there, then that somatic narcissist can't be cerebral because there isn't the intelligence they to support it. So that would be a sort of difficult to do that.

Whereas the cerebral How lucky we are that we have 8 billion people because even the somatic can find women who are much more stupid than he is and can be impressed by his infinite intelligence.

Right. And Sam, the COVID female somatic narcissist, can you give us the characteristics of them and how they see their partners, how they work with their intimate partners?

The vast majority of covert narcissists are women. Right. So it's a bit redundant to ask about covert females.

Most covert narcissists are women and most border, exactly as most border lines are women. The male covert narcissist is extremely rare because male are testosterone laden laden and they are usually extroverted, extroverted. They go out there and they get things done and they're hunters, you know?

So vast majority of classic narcissists are a male, about 75%, we think, a male. And vast majority of covert narcissists, probably also 75%, no one made a study, but probably a female. And so the question is redundant. I mean, there's nothing to it because what I've just described regarding covert narcissists is about female narcissists.

And in terms of the, you said in another seminar that the covert somatic narcissist, you need to cause views the partner as almost a dead object. I think you said something like that.

The narcissist, not the covert narcissist. The covert narcissist would tend to be largely asexual actually, because the covert narcissist has a deep set inferiority complex. She also usually has body dysmorphic disorders. She misperceives her body as too fat, too ugly, too old, do something. So she would generally avoid sex. She would be either a teaser. And in this case, she would have come up with histrionic personality disorder.

But even if she's a histrionic, she would still avoid sex. She would be what used to be called free. She would engage in sex only when she's disinhibited.

So many of these women would drink on purpose in order to engage in sex. They would abuse substances. They would drink alcohol or smoke weed or something in order to engage in sex because otherwise they can't give them the freedom. They need to, to give them to disinhibit part of their inhibitions, part of the reason they don't have sex in a normal state is that their covert narcissism inhibits them, the feeling that they are imperfect, that they're inadequate, that they're repulsive, that they are inhibits them, of course.

And so they, to overcome this, they drink and so on. And then they are disinhibited. They have a grandiose view of themselves.

There's something called alcohol myopia. It's when you drink, you become grandiose and you think you can do anything. You perceive your own attractiveness and the attractiveness of people around you very wrongly. It's known as beer goggles.

And so it changes things and allows the covert narcissist to have sex.

But normally she would be sexless or asexual. It is the narcissist who regards sex as a form of competition.

So it's the narcissist, for example, who would ask, who would monitor how many times his partner climax orgasm and would monitor other performance parameters or even inquire openly. Was I good? Was I good? Was I as good as last time? Was that as good as your last boyfriend?

It's a scorecard. He keeps a scorecard. It's one big quiz show or something.

So narcissists are competitive and ambitious and grandiose in sex, in sex as well. And they use the partner's body to masturbate with on and in. There's no real interrelatedness or interconnectedness, but the partner is perceived as an animated dildo.

If the woman, if it's a woman or animated sextal with taste and smells or the periphery. And so they masturbate with the partner's body. It's very autoerotic.

In other words, eroticism.

And this was observed, first observed by Freud, the eroticism of the narcissist, the limit of the sex drive is directed at the self, not at others because object relations, the ability to perceive others is interrupted in early childhood.

The narcissist sex drive never is never externalized. It's internalized.

And so the narcissist needs the regards himself as the erotic object. It's very common for narcissists during the sexual act to actually look at themselves in the mirror or stop in the middle of the sex act, stop and have a look at their own bodies.

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