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How Narcissist, Borderline Overperceives YOU (and Reality)

Uploaded 5/3/2023, approx. 21 minute read

So, and the Lord Vaknin said, I have surely seen the affliction of my viewers, which are in Egypt and in other member countries of the United Nations, and I have heard their cry by reason of their addiction to my videos, for I know their sorrows and my need for narcissistic supply.

Exodus chapter 3 verse 7.

Hello guys and gaiets, welcome girls and girlettes to my Jew Tube channel, where stand up comedy is made sit down tragedy.

Nicola Machiavelli was born today, I mean, not today, but in 1469 when I was still in my infancy, May 3rd to be precise, and Machiavelli lent his name to Machiavellianism. Machiavellianism is one of the traits of the dark triad together with subclinical narcissism and subclinical psychopathy. Narcissism and psychopathy cannot be diagnosed, but the features are there.

So from Machiavelli to a feature of many mental health disorders, over perception. And over perception, my name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited and I'm a former visiting professor of psychology and a very current professor of finance.

Now this video, like everything Jewish, is divided in three parts. The first part is behind you. Phew, what a relief!

The introduction.

The second part, I'm going to describe over perception biases, over perception biases in a variety of mental illnesses.

And the third part, we're going to discuss the clinical and theoretical underpinnings of perception biases, cognitive biases and cognitive distortions.

So the third part of the video is highly academic, but still could be of interest to you.

The second part is more kind of self-helpish and the first part is best forgotten.

Okay, shoshanim, shpanim, pashoshim, palpanim, palpavot, etc, etc, etc. Let's delve right in.

And no, I'm not talking about six.

Over perception.

Over perception is when we misperceive another person's emotions, cognitions, behaviors, traits, propensities and more generally personality.

But we misperceive by exaggerating.

Misperceive by hyperbole.

So over perception is in layman's terms exaggerating someone else's motivations, intentions, wishes, fears, qualities and traits, personality, behaviors, etc.

Now, over perception is very strange. It's a strange animal because it misleads us.

And according to evolutionary psychology, anything that misleads us should have vanished a long time ago, otherwise we would not have survived.

And yet over perception is still there, very much there. Why is that? We're going to discuss it in the third part of the video.


But first, let's go on a grand tour of over perceptions.

Over perception is a cognitive bias.

And we start with the most famous over perception known as sexual over perception. It is unique to men.

Sexual over perception simply means that when a woman is kind to a man, when a woman smiles at a man, when a woman gives a man a compliment, when a woman agrees with a man, enthusiastically and overtly, the man is very likely to believe that she's coming on to him.

Men interpret feminine female behaviors as invitations to have sex, to copulate. This is known as sexual over perception. And it gives rise to many sexual assaults and many misunderstandings in the bedroom and outside the bedroom.

Over perception, sexual over perception is unique to men.

And women have the exact opposite. Women have sexual under perception. They tend to believe that men are not interested in them. They have problematic body self image. They have a somato form disorder. Women tend to devalue themselves, especially when it comes to looks and appearances in general attractiveness and sex appeal.

So women have sexual under perception. Even when men are interested in them, this information takes a lot of time to trickle down. Pardon the pun.

And men are exactly the opposite. It's enough for a woman to smile at a man from across the room and the man is convinced that she's inviting him to her bedroom, all naked and sweaty.

Get your minds out of the gutter right now. This is a lecture in P. Psychology, not P. Pornography.

Sexual over perception is very famous. Google it and you'll find many articles, many analyses, etc. So I won't dwell on it.

I suggest a host of other over perceptions.

Start with intimacy over perception. Intimacy over perception is when gestures of kindness, affection, affection, compassion, attention are perceived as falling in love.

People with histrionic personality disorder, they suffer from intimacy over perception. They misjudge the depth and the intensity of their usually casual relationships. They think that the counterparty is in love with them. They believe that a relationship they're having is very deep and long lasting and would lead to an eternal union. This is very common in histrionic personality disorder. It's actually so common that it is one of the diagnostic criteria.

Intimacy over perception leads to bitter disappointments, anger and vindictiveness in women who are histrionic.

Now histrionic personality disorder is highly comorbid with borderline personality disorder and with psychopathy, with antisocial personality disorder.

And that's a very toxic, dangerous cocktail. The histrionic woman misperceived the level of intimacy in a relationship. She attributes much more intimacy to the relationship than there actually is. Or she attributes intimacy to the relationship when there is none.

For example, after a night of casual sex, you remember the movie, Fatal Attraction? And so when she discovers that this is not the case, that the intimacy is either gone or has never been there, she becomes very bitter, furious, disappointed, vindictive and then her borderline traits and her psychopathy, secondary or primary kick into action, she becomes a very, very dangerous person.

So intimacy over perception.

Then we have paranoid ideation.

Unidentified ideation or persecutory delusions are effectively a form of over perception.

The paranoid over perceives the existence of threats in the environment, human and inanimate, but mostly human.

In order to feel, in order to gratify his grandiosity, the paranoid renders himself the center of the world, the focus of malign attention, the butt of conspiracies.

Then he exaggerates the threats around him, real or imagined, anticipated or existent past, present or future. All these so-called traits, some of them real, most of them are pseudo-threats or quasi-threats or non-threats. All of them are exaggerated, embellished, amplified, magnified and this is a form of over perception.

The narcissist has multiple, as usual, has multiple forms of over perception, but I'm going to focus on one.

The over perception of slights, humiliation, insults and shame. The narcissist is sensitized to shame. This is why the narcissist is hyper-vigilant. That's why narcissists have referential ideation.

Hyper-vigilance means that the narcissist scans his human environment using cold empathy, reflexive and cognitive empathy. The narcissist scans his human environment for potential humiliation and shame, especially in public. This could lead to mortification.

So the narcissist is very wary and so hyper-vigilance emanates from, is founded on over perception of slights, insults, humiliation, shame and disgrace.

Similarly, referential ideation or ideas of reference is the misperception that people are talking about you, mocking you, gossiping that you are the center of people's malevolent attention.

In this sense, referential ideation is often paranoid. It's often a form of persecatory delusion and it's common in narcissism, over perception of shame.

Similarly, the narcissist over perceives narcissistic supply. There's an over perception of the exact opposite of shame. There's an over perception of glory, of achievements, of accomplishments. The narcissist magnifies and amplifies out of proportion the slightest compliment, the most innocuous agreement to prove to himself that he is God-like, perfect, omniscient, all-knowing and omnipotent, all-powerful.

So grandiosity, which is a cognitive distortion, meets narcissistic supply, which is a cognitive bias. It's a pretty unique situation in mental health where bias teams up with distortion to yield over perception and the over perception is intended to reframe and falsify reality in a way that would buttress, uphold and support grandiosity, the grandiose inflated self-image.

In a way, this is a defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms do exactly the same. They falsify and reframe reality to render it bearable, palatable and tolerable to prevent egodystonic and dissonance, especially cognitive dissonance.

Larcissistic supply is a kind of defense intended to support or prevent challenges to grandiosity, which is a cognitive distortion and this is done via the bias of over perception.

And finally, in borderline personality disorder, there is over perception of abandonment and it leads to separation insecurity, aka colloquially, abandonment anxiety or separation anxiety. The borderline over perceives the potential for abandonment or the reality of abandonment.

Similarly, she over perceives the potential for enmeshment and engovernment and these twin over perceptions, abandonment and government, and government, abandonment and measurement, abandonment, rejection and measurement, these twin over perceptions generate the behavior pattern known as approach avoidance repetition compulsion, which is very common in borderline personality organization.

These are examples of over perception in mental illness.


But we have over perception in the social sphere as well.

I refer you to an article titled "Overperception of Moral Outrage in Online Social Networks Inflates Beliefs About Intergroup Hostility" authored, written by William Brady and his colleagues. It was published in Nature Human Behavior this year.

And I read the abstract to you. It deals with the way over perception plays in society and in social interactions, among healthy, otherwise healthy people.

So this is the abstract.

As individuals and political leaders increasingly interact in online social networks, it is important to understand the dynamics of emotion perception online.

Here, we propose that social media users over perceive levels of moral outrage felt by individuals and groups, inflating beliefs about intergroup hostility.

Using a Twitter field survey, we measured authors moral outrage in real time and compared authors reports to observers judgments of the author's moral outrage.

We find that observers, systemic and systematic, over perceive moral outrage in authors, inferring more intense moral outrage experiences from messages than the authors of those messages actually reported.

This effect was stronger in participants who spent more time on social media to learn about politics.

Pre-registered confirmatory behavioral experiments found that over perception of individuals' moral outrage causes over perception of collective moral outrage and inflates beliefs about hostile communication norms, group effective polarization and ideological extremity.

Together these results highlight how individual level over perceptions of online moral outrage produce collective over perceptions that have the potential to warp our social knowledge of moral and political attitudes.

This is very common in victimhood movements and I advise you to watch my interviews that I've given and videos that I've made about victimhood movements and their dynamics.


Now, the whole issue of perception cognitive biases, one of which is over perception bias, it's part of what is called error management theory, EMT. It's a very extensive theory.

The first writings in this field of error management theory were by David Bass and Marty Hazleton. These two scholars set out to study how humans think, how they make decisions using biases and heuristics, rules of thumb, rather than rational processes.

They discovered that thinking and decision making are actually founded on many biases.

Then in another Israeli, Daniel Kahneman, an economist, together with his colleague Tversky, another Israeli. These two Israelis, they demonstrated that psychological cognitive errors underlie economic decision making and this became a whole field known as behavioral economics.

Cognitive biases in error management theory refer to biases and heuristics that have survived over time. So they must have some adaptive value. There must be a reason for them to exist.

And the initial belief was that cognitive biases and heuristics help you to reproduce.

In other words, they guarantee reproductive success. The more biased you are, the more you rely on rules of thumb, the more somehow mysteriously children you're going to have.


Now, the connection is not exactly clear, unless of course you assume that intimate partners, most notably women, are very irrational creatures.

So there's a bit of gender bias in all this very early thinking in psychology.

I love wine. I don't know whether you have noticed.

A cognitive bias is systematic. It's a pattern. It's not a one off. It's not a reactive event. It's a way of thinking, an ossified way of thinking. It deviates from norms and it deviates from rationality, rational judgment.

Cognitive biases are forms of subjective reality, kind of a paracosm, virtual reality.

And that's why biases are very, very prone to cognitive biases because they live in fantasy land.

Massicism is fantasy defense, gone awry, and writ large.

Mass construction of reality is not based on objective input. It doesn't dictate, objective input doesn't dictate behavior in the world. That's a myth. We are not rational creatures.

This is why if you lack empathy, you are disadvantaged. You're seriously disadvantaged because you are likely to misjudge other people and reality at large.

A lack of empathy undermines reality testing, impairs it dramatically, prevents perspicacity, insight, the ability to predict behaviors and the construction of effective efficacious theories of mind.

In other words, a lack of empathy predicates, creates a dramatic decline in self-efficacy and the ability to secure positive outcomes in one's environment.

We need to be irrational and biased and highly emotional and empathetic in order to survive in a human environment. Those who lack these features, like narcissists, they end badly. And they end badly not necessarily because they are bad people, but they end badly because they can't read other people. They misjudge situations and they end up misbehaving badly.

So cognitive biases, even though they lead to perceptual distortions, inaccurate judgments, illogical interpretations, irrationality overall, cognitive biases when coupled with emotions, which they usually are, are actually very, very useful. And that's why they have survived the evolutionary hatchet.


So cognitive biases on the surface appear negative and the very word bias creates a negative bias in us.

When you hear cognitive bias, bias is bad, bias is wrong. But they're not. They're adaptive. They lead to more effective actions in giving context, especially context where emotions play a part.

And today we know that most people engage in emotional thinking and emotional decision making. It's seriously bad for you if you are unable to tap your own emotions and if you lack the ability to recognize emotions in others and then resonate with them, aka empathy.

Allowing cognitive biases actually was demonstrated in multiple studies that when cognitive biases are in control, your decision making is faster. And so faster decision making is crucial in specific situations, in many situations actually. It was proven conclusively that it's better to make decisions fast than to make the right decisions. And this is known as heuristics rules of thumb.

I'm going to repeat this very counterintuitive statement backed by a vast body of research.

If you make decisions fast, they are better off than someone who makes the right decisions but more slowly.

And cognitive biases and heuristics help you to make decisions fast. They accelerate decision makings.

Some biases are byproducts of the very limitations of our ability to process information. You know, we can't take in all the information. We can't have a perfect picture.

So we need to speculate. We need to fill in the gaps, also known as confabulation. We confabulate all the time. There are no appropriate mental mechanisms which allow us to process 100% of information and fit it into theories impeccably.

This whole situation is known as bounded rationality.

There are many, many variables at play. Your biological state, your body, your constitution, this is known as embodied cognition. There's limited capacity of information processing.

A typical human being processes between 1% and 5% of the information in the environment, 1% to 5%.

So you need to have models that help you to somehow interpolate and extrapolate this very limited information in ways which would make sense, which would be plausible.

In the case of the narcissist, the situation is even much worse because of memory gaps and dissociative aspects of his precariously balanced, disorganized personality.

You can imagine the mess. The narcissist is walking, talking, bias. The narcissist is nothing but cognitive distortions.

Not only does he absorb only 1% to 5% of the information, but then he goes on to forget most of it as opposed to healthy or normal people.

Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman introduced the concept of cognitive biases in 1972 when they studied people and found out that people are enumerate and illiterate on purpose. They avoid knowledge.

And there was an inability to reason intuitively.

And so they realized that too much knowledge and too much rationality can be a hindrance.

Tversky, Kahneman, others, they demonstrated ways, replicable ways in which human judgments and decisions are completely different to rational choice theory in economics. And they undermined all of economics until that existed until then.

They explained human differences in judgment and decision making in terms of rules of thumb, heuristics.

Now heuristics are forms of derivatives of intuition. And intuition in the best case is right half the time. It's a best case scenario, usually much less.

So heuristics are wrong at least half the time, if not most of the time.

And these shortcuts, they provide swift but wrong estimates of the possibility of uncertain occurrences.

The compensation is for acting fast. These shortcuts accelerate decision making to the point that the acceleration compensates for the inaccuracy.

Heuristics are very simple. The brain processes and computes them very fast. They do introduce severe errors, systematic errors.

So the heuristic of representativeness, for example, is defined as the tendency to judge the frequency or likelihood of an occurrence by the extent of which the event resembles a typical case. It's mostly wrong. Most of the times it's wrong. It yields wrong results.

Now there have been critics of Kahneman and Tversky and behavioral economics and bounded rationality and so on and so forth. And they said that heuristics should not lead us to conceive of human thinking as riddled with irrational cognitive biases.

They should rather conceive rationality as an adaptive tool, not identical to the rules of formal logic or probability calculus.

In other words, some critics said that we are misperceiving rationality. We are defining it wrongly.

Rationality is not logic. Rationality is not probability. Rationality is something else.

But this criticism is self-defeating because if rationality is not logic and not probability, then Kahneman and Tversky are right. Then rationality, defined this way, is irrational.

So these are cognitive biases.

A cognitive distortion is something else. It's the exaggerated or irrational thought pattern involved in the onset or perpetuation of psychopathological states, such as depression or anxiety.

Cognitive distortions are known in cognitive behavior therapy as automatic thoughts. Now they are negative automatic thoughts, ends, automatic negative thoughts, ends.

But they are also automatic positive thoughts, acts. And they are both exaggerated. They are both types are exaggerated. Both types are irrational. And both types are attendant on mental states, for example, moods or anxiety or happiness.

And so cognitive distortions are thoughts that cause individuals to perceive reality inaccurately in this way, regulate or affect their internal mental states.

Self-states, for example, in my work, self-states are closely associated with particular specific cognitive distortions.

According to Aaron Beck's cognitive model, a negative outlook on reality, negative schemas or negative schemata, these negative thoughts, they are factors in symptoms, in emotional dysfunction or dysregulation, in poor subjective well-being and so on.

Beck said that cognitive distortions actually underlie mental illness. Negative thinking patterns reinforce negative emotions and negative thoughts, which in turn create depression and anxiety, which in turn create dysfunction, which in turn create deteriorating self-efficacy, which in turn enhance depression and anxiety, which in turn creates other forms of mental illness or interacts with them.

That's the picture. These are the negative aspects of cognitive distortions.

Some cognitive distortions are actually positive, grandiosity.

Grandiosity is a cognitive distortion.

And when the narcissist obtains, over perceives narcissistic supply, obtains proof that his grandiosity is justified, he feels wonderful, he feels elated. So these are positive, automatic positive thoughts, automatic schemes or schemas, automatic cognitive distortions that help you feel good.

The internal regulation for better or for worse does rely on cognitive distortions.

So cognitive biases are about the world, refer to the world. Cognitive distortions refer to internal states.

And grandiosity or narcissistic supply is an example of a meeting, a confluence between a cognitive bias about other people and the supply or attention they are giving the narcissist.

In a cognitive distortion, what this input, also known as narcissistic supplying, does to the narcissist internally, how this input regulates the narcissist's sense of self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, mood, and so on and so forth.

Same with borderline, how it regulates mood lability. Borderline also has a false state and also has a shared fantasy.

Many respects, borderlines and narcissists are very much the same as Otto Könberg had observed long before me, unfortunately.

The meaning or interpretation that people give to their experience, influence, this influences how they react. And these reactions are what we call mental states.

So if we are hopeless, if we are helpless, and there is by the way a hopelessness theory in psychology or helplessness theory, learned helplessness is part of helplessness theory or hopelessness theory.

So if we are hopeless or if we are helpless, then of course our cognitive distortion will generate moods, mood disorders like depression or anxiety disorders.

If on the other hand we're divorced from reality, we think we are godlike, then we will be in a state of euphoria rather than dysphoria.

The narcissist's problem is that he fails to maintain the overperception bias all the time.

So there's always a grandiosity gap and the narcissist is prone to collapsing.

But you have many videos on my channel which deal with or collapse.

Cognitive behavior therapy, behavioral therapy challenges cognitive distortions. And that's why in my view it is not fit to treat narcissism.

But that's a subject for another day.


Okay my people of Israel, I hope you feel elated after this presentation.

Welcome to my YouTube channel and see you again in a day or maybe two.

Depends how you supplicate.

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