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Narcissism - Quo Vadis? (with Anwesh Satpathy)

Uploaded 8/17/2021, approx. 1 hour 19 minute read

All right. Hello.

Welcome, everyone. It's an honor today to talk with one of the once leading experts on narcissism, in fact, one of the earliest experts in narcissism, on the internet, professor of psychology, Sam Vaknin.

Professor Vaknin, thank you very much for doing this.

Thank you for having me. Let's revert to Sam. Sam won't be much closer. Save a lot of time in the interview.

Right. So I think that I have a lot to talk about with you because I have read your book and I have watched your YouTube videos and many blogs. So there's a lot of things to talk about.

But just to start with basic definitions, I think that it's better if we give the audience an idea of what exactly it is that we're talking about.

So I think the best way to do that is to define what narcissism is and how it differs with narcissistic personality disorder.

Narcissism is a stage in human development, typically in very early childhood. When the child separates from the parents, from mother, and takes on the world, the child needs to be a bit grandiose. To take on the world, leave mommy behind, you need to be a bit grandiose.

So narcissism, that kind of narcissism is called primary narcissism and it's very healthy. It helps the baby, it helps the infant to develop a constellated self and integrated self. It helps the child to take on the world, recognize the existence of other people, etc.

So it's a very crucial part of human development.

However, if narcissism in its primitive, infantile form persists into adulthood, then we have secondary narcissism, also known as pathological narcissism.

At that stage, we could have a narcissistic style defined by Lynn Sperry, who is a scholar, or we could have a malignancy of the narcissistic style, which is also known as narcissistic personality disorder.

Both the narcissistic style and narcissistic personality disorder share basically the same characteristics. It's only a question of degree.

So there's a lack of empathy. There's a tendency to exploit other people. There is envy as a driving motivator. There's the need for narcissistic supply in order to regulate the sense of self-worth.

So a need for attention.

There are many primitive child-like defense mechanisms, such as splitting, in other words, regarding the world as all bad or all good, regarding other people in terms of black and white, projection where we attribute, where the narcissist attributes to other people, traits and behaviors that he dislikes in himself, projective identification where the narcissist forces other people to behave in ways which affirm his grandiosity and his expectations of the world basically as hostile and dangerous, and so on and so forth.

So narcissists, to cut a long story short, are two-year-old children, simply. Very good. They're two-year-old children.

So when we talk about narcissists and what the other personality disorder that comes up are the cluster B personality disorders. And it often happens that narcissistic personality disorders are misdiagnosed as the other cluster B personality disorders, anti-sosive personality disorders, the borderline personality disorder.

So what are the similarities between the cluster B personality disorders and the differences?

Well, we are moving toward a totally new reconception of the field.

And so, for example, the International Classification of Diseases, which is the book that governs mental health outside North America, no longer makes these distinctions between, the book doesn't make these distinctions between various personality disorders, but the book says there's one personality disorder with various dimensions.

And the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, in its fifth edition, published in 2013, is moving in this direction.

Ultimately, we're going to have a single personality disorder with various aspects, emphases, and so on.

But right now, as things stand in North America, especially in the United States, there are ostensibly differences between various personality disorders.

Now, all these personality disorders are united by certain features, the dramatic erratic cluster B personality disorder. All of them have certain features in common.

For example, all of them include grandiosity, a cognitive distortion, which filters information, data from the world in a way that aggrandizes oneself, inflates oneself. That is common to psychopaths, common to narcissists, common to borderlines, etc.

Another thing is entitlement.

In the psychopath, it appears in the form of defiance and impulsivity. In the narcissist, it appears in the form of exploitativeness. In the borderline, it appears in the form of emotional blackmail, and so on.

But all of them feel entitled. They feel entitled to special treatment, or they feel entitled to certain things like sex, power, money. They feel entitled to the presence of their intimate partner, etc.

So we have a few things in common. For example, negative affectivity.

All these disorders, the people in these disorders, patients or clients in these disorders, they feel bad. They feel constantly angry, constantly envious.

So the overriding emotional landscape is totally negative. They are incapable of positive emotions, with the exception of the borderline.

The borderline is capable of some emotions and of empathy. But even the borderline, when she's faced with humiliation, rejection, anticipated abandonment, stress, even the borderline becomes a secondary psychopath, a type of psychopath.

So it's very fluid. The types transition into one another. All of them go through a process called collapse, whereby their defenses, their worldview crumbles under pressure from the environment, under adverse input.

So when they collapse, they suddenly transform. It's very common for a covert narcissist to become an overt narcissist, overt narcissist to become psychopath, borderline to become psychopath, borderline to become narcissistic.

And so we are beginning to think that we were splitting hairs. There's no need for all this nitpicking. It's actually one thing. It's actually one thing. And we are beginning to put everything together in one basket.

These are people with problems in the organization and functioning of their personality in the way they misperceive the world and reality and others, especially.


Can you define what covert and overt narcissists are?

Because it's often seems like overt narcissists are more easier to recognize because they tend to be in your face. You can tell that they're being fabulous, but covert narcissists are often likely to be depressed. You know, they're likely to feel bad. And, you know, often it is the case that they're diagnosed with depressed.

So how, what is the difference between the two?

The bleeding edge thinking right now is that what we used to call grandiose overt narcissists are actually psychopaths. We made a mistake and we thought they were narcissists, but they are actually psychopaths. That's the most advanced current thinking.

And therefore the only types of pure narcissists, unadulterated narcissists, seem to be the covert narcissists. Covert narcissists are compensatory. Their narcissism compensates for a deep set lack of inner conviction, a deep set sense of inferiority.

So that's right. They pretend to be superior to cover up for an inferiority complex.

And that is known as compensatory mechanism.

Now, the covert narcissist first described in 1989 by two scholars, Akhtar and Cooper, the late Cooper, he died last year. And covert narcissists is actually a narcissist who is incapable of obtaining narcissistic supply, attention, directly. So he needs to obtain supply via third parties, or he needs to stew in his corner, to sulk, to feel bad about his inability to obtain supply. The inability to obtain supply is the key feature of covert narcissism, because this creates a panoply of behaviors, a cascade of behaviors.

For example, the covert narcissist is likely to be very envious, very passive aggressive, kind of tries to undermine and sabotage successful people, or so he's likely to be very dangerous.

So this failure in obtaining supply pushes the covert narcissist to become more and more subtle, more and more surreptitious, more and more cunning, more and more skinny, more and more, one could say with a slave mentality, like he can't act in the open, so he acts underground.

But otherwise, there is no major psycho, psychodynamic difference between overt, what we used to call overt and covert. They're both addicted to narcissistic supply, they both have a grandiose self-perception, they're both exploitative, they're both envious, they're both everything. They absolutely share the same diagnostic criteria, which is exactly why in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5, they refuse to create a separate diagnosis for covert narcissists.

But they just added a single sentence alluding to the fact that some narcissists are vulnerable, they're shy, they're fragile, they're brittle, they are unable to go out there and obtain adulation and admiration and so on. They're not in your face, they're not contumacious, they're not defiant like a psychopath, they are far less impulsive, they're more skimming and long-term planning, they're Machiavellian, so they're more Machiavellian.

And so now we have this new construct of dark tetrad, not dark triad. The dark triad was psychopathy, narcissism and Machiavellianism. Now we have the dark tetrad, which is only aforementioned plus covert phenomena. Covert phenomena is covert narcissist and borderline. Borderlines are actually very, very close to covert narcissists in many respects.

So a covert narcissist is a narcissist who is collapsed, a narcissist who fails at obtaining basic needs in self-regulation in a way a dysregulated narcissist, which comes perilously close to borderline because the essence of borderline personality disorder is emotional dysregulation and failed grandiosity.

Grotstein was a dominant scholar in the field. Grotstein had suggested that borderline is actually failed narcissism. The child tries to become a narcissist, fails to create a false sense, remains with empathy and emotions and becomes a borderline.

So this is where everything intersects. Covert narcissism is a form of borderline, which is a form of failed narcissism, which is a form of psychopathy. And you're beginning to see that everything meshes very well into this kaleidoscope of dysfunction.

So does inverted narcissism get narcissists fixed away from the effects and constellations of others? Or you're feeling bad and that kind of feeling, sort of attachment, more like a borderline, like a borderline.

Excuse me for a minute.

You have to increase your voice a bit and be a bit slower because of the connection. All right.


So I was asking, does the covert narcissist get narcissistic supply from the affection of others, like the borderline, people with borderline personality do they feel complete and they merge with the other person? Is that one of the symptoms of covert narcissism?

The vast majority of covert narcissists are simply collapsed narcissists. So they never obtain supply. They're unable even to leverage other people, other narcissists, for example, to obtain supply.

So there's collapsed narcissists. They're in the corner. They're seething. They're furious. They're rageful. They're envious. They are passive aggressive. They undermine. They're cunning. They're skimming.

So this is really, really bad type. I would be far more afraid of a covert narcissist than an overt narcissist. A small minority of covert narcissists, which at the time I coined the phrase inverted narcissists, so a small minority of covert narcissists, the inverted narcissists, are able to obtain supply by teaming up with a successful grandiose narcissist. So they're like the moon. The moon's reflected light. It's the light of the sun that is reflected off them. They bask in the glory of their intimate partners or business partners, etc.

So they can say, I'm a partner of Jeff Bezos, and that is their narcissistic supply.

So inverted narcissists derive narcissistic supply from the success and accomplishments of their partners, be intimate partners or business partners or whatever.

But that's a very small minority. The majority of covert narcissists are compensatory, I mean, collapsed, and therefore essentially incorrigible. It would be far more difficult, for example, to intervene therapeutically with a covert narcissist, an overt narcissist or grandiose narcissist, because they are totally depleted. They have no, what we call cathexis, they have no emotional reserves.

Imagine going through life constantly failing, constantly feeling mocked, ridiculed, and humiliated, constantly having referential ideation. In other words, believing that other people are talking about you behind your back and scheming against you. Imagine going through life where everything you ever wanted, you will never get, and you know you will never get because you don't have the personality to get it. Imagine looking around you and seeing people identical to you, narcissists, actually succeeding where you fail repeatedly. Imagine being besieged with social phobia, social anxiety, shyness. Imagine feeling that you are unique and special, but no one acknowledging it ever. On the contrary, you are considered to be nobody, a loser. Imagine going through life like this.

Someone like Adolf Hitler, for example, probably started off as a covert narcissist, because he spent all his life trying to convince people that he is special somehow, as an artist, as a politician, and until age 35 at least, he had been a total unmitigated failure in everything he had ever tried to do.

For someone like Adolf Hitler, this easily could push him over the edge to psychopathy, which of course ultimately did.

So what you seem to be suggesting that personality disorders are sort of valuable. It's often the case that narcissists become psychopaths and psychopaths. So are narcissists likely to also engage in anti-social activities? Are they often, has there ever been a case that a narcissist has been identified with a disorder and later found that he's not a narcissist?

I again ask you to increase your voice and to talk more slowly. It's very difficult to understand you over this connection.

My apologies. Please increase your voice seriously and talk more slowly. Thank you.


So I was just talking about the malleability of narcissists, of all of these personality disorders, because when you describe for instance that the covert narcissist feel that he's being persecuted, that ties in with the schizoid personality disorder of those with schizophrenia and then they often experience dealings and sort of persecutes.

So it's very difficult for a layperson to make sense of these things and to sort of find out whether a person has narcissism or depression or borderline personality disorder. And it's also difficult for therapists because it is often the case that they are mistyped most.

So I'm wondering how many of the cases that we have now are actually misdiagnosed and what hard it eventually does to the person and to the people around them.


First of all, laymen should not attempt to diagnose. They're not qualified, they're not trained and it would be a serious mistake to attempt to diagnose. These diagnoses are based on mountains, sometimes decades, decades long mountains of research and studies and so on.

And the laymen would be wrong to try to diagnose cancer and the laymen would be wrong to try to diagnose personality disorders. That's point number one. Point number two, these diagnoses increasingly seem like wrong, these differential diagnosis, these distinctions between at least cluster B personality disorders and not only cluster B, honestly, but I would say all personality disorders.

These categorical diagnosis, diagnosis which are based on lists of criteria, seem to be a totally wrong approach and a very antiquated one.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 4 was published in 1994. Edition 3 was published in 1980. That's 40 years ago. A lot has happened.

So we think these diagnoses are counterproductive, to say the least.

We are trying to unify everything into a signal diagnosis, which essentially means something is wrong with this guy.

Now let's see what mostly is wrong.

So I don't think it's very helpful or productive to insist to ascertain whether someone is a covert narcissist or psychopath or depression.

We realize, for example, that at the core of all these personality disorders, there's something called the schizoid, schizoid core.

So we now realize that schizoid or schizoidism has a lot to do with these disorders.

We, for example, are reconceiving of paranoid personality disorder as a form of narcissism because the paranoid believes that he is sufficiently important for the CIA to go after him. It's a form of grandiosity.

To be paranoid is a form of grandiosity because you believe yourself to be sufficiently important to be the focus in the center of a conspiracy. A conspiracy of your neighbors, a conspiracy of the state doesn't matter, but people are interested in you.

So even paranoia probably is a form of narcissism.

So gradually, I think what will happen, there will be a single category of personality disorder, and all these questions will be rendered moot and totally irrelevant.

We will, if you have an intimate partner who is problematic as far as you are concerned, there are two possibilities.

Either that intimate partner has some mental health issue, or as often, you have a mental health issue.

What matters is not which one of you is mentally ill, labeling, guilt tripping, blame shifting, blame assignment.

These are futile exercises.

What matters is if you're with an intimate partner and you feel bad, either try to fix it or move on.

It does not really matter if your intimate partner has depression, cyclotemia, dysthymia, schizophrenia. Who cares? Who cares about this nonsense?

You're feeling bad in your relationship, move on. You're feeling bad in the workplace, resign. I mean, who cares about all this? Anyhow, you can't take upon yourself to fix people or to save people. That in itself is pathological.

And people are very fixated on labels. Labels matter a lot in medicine because in medicine we have objective, immutable clinical entities.

Tuberculosis is tuberculosis in Ghana, China, in the steps of Siberia, and in Montreal. tuberculosis is the same everywhere. Because it's the same everywhere, we can administer a course of treatment which would work equally well on the moon.

But this is not the situation in psychology and psychopathology and clinical psychology and abnormal psychology. We can't even agree on the name of the discipline.

This is not a science. We are dealing with human beings. Human beings are very bad raw material because they change all the time. And you can't replicate experiments.

Now psychologists like to pretend that they are scientists. Some of them even wear white lab coats and they think it makes them scientists. And they use very sophisticated statistics which makes them feel very self-important.

But psychology is a pseudoscience. It will never be a science.

Because it studies objects or subjects which are constantly ever shifting and ever changing which renders experiments irreplicable and does not allow to generate a sufficient number of hypotheses to be falsified.

Now I'm talking about this with absolute certainty because my PhD is not in psychology. It's in physics. And I can tell you there's a hell of a difference between physics and psychology. One is a science. The other is literature.

Now you can of course write rigorous literature. The greatest psychologist ever to have lived was Dostoevsky.

The second greatest was Freud who was not a psychologist but a neurologist. So these people were authors of literature.

Literature captures the human soul. Literature captures the essence.

The attempt to introduce diagnosis was driven by the insurance industry, not by psychology or any psychologist that I'm aware of.

This is a totally new development in the 80s because insurance companies insisted on the ability to remunerate therapists in accordance with check boxes. These check boxes were imposed on the profession.

No serious professional psychologist or professor of psychology would tell you that there are distinct categorical diagnoses that have nothing to do with each other.

That's why most people are diagnosed with multiple disorders.

We never have a case of a patient who is diagnosed with one disorder, but usually four, five, six, even ten is common.

What does it tell you about the profession? That it sucks.

Simply sucks.

If you go to a doctor and you have tuberculosis, you're likely to be diagnosed with tuberculosis.

You may have additional phenomena like edema, this, that, but generally, tuberculosis.

If you go to a therapist or a diagnostician, you're likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, stemia or major depressive disorder.

I don't know what else. You're likely to come out ADHD. I mean, you're likely to come out of the session with five diagnosis if you're lucky, if you're lucky, and with nine different types of medication, which is very helpful to certain corporations.

I have a very dim view of my profession, very dim view. It's been corrupted by money in insurance, money in pharmaceutical industry.

So I'm very wary about all these delineations and distinctions which are pretensions to science.

That's a very strong statement that you're making.

The psychology is pseudoscience, which I think the majority of psychologists will disagree with you.

Of course they will disagree.

How else will they make a living?

Will you say that it's pseudoscience at the level of something like bureaucracy or astrology, things like that?

No, because it is based on rigorous observations of identifiable subjects. And because we're all human and share the same wetware, hardware and software, the brain, what some of us do, some of these observations and so on are likely to be universally applicable.

But that doesn't make a science.

For example, many observations in the Bible are universally applicable. No one would say that the Bible is a form of science.

Many observations in good literature, such as Dostoyevsky, are universally applicable.

I mean, the characters, the protagonists in Dostoyevsky's books, they're universal.

You could point at your friend and say you are like Brother Karamazu, you are like Raskolnikov, you know, and you would be 80% right.

So there is predictive value and descriptive value in psychology.

But one should never confuse descriptive powers or even predictive powers with science.

Science is not about predicting things and not about describing things, only primitive sciences.

For example, when Carlos Linius started his work in botany, he made taxonomies of plants. He just roamed the countryside and he was categorizing and classifying plants.

No one would say that this is today's botany.

Similarly, you mentioned astrology. Astrology and early astronomy were about creating catalogues. Up to the 18th century, we were creating catalogues. There is the famous Messier catalog of galaxies. So we were we were making catalogues. We were making lists.

There's a huge difference between making lists and science.

The main, the core proposition of science is the ability to produce hypotheses which yield falsifiable predictions.

This psychology can never do ever.

Why?

Because the sun is immutable in the next five years, five billion years. You, if I conduct a psychological experiment on you, the experiment itself changes.

I'm not talking about conducting the same experiment on you tomorrow. Tomorrow you're a new person. Your girlfriend broke up with you. You had sex. You witnessed a car accident. You had a fight with your mother. You're a different person tomorrow.

How on earth can I claim with a straight face that an experiment I conduct on you today is the same experiment that I conduct on you tomorrow when you're not the same person tomorrow?

And how can I claim anything in a straight face if the very experiment changes you?

It's the uncertainty principle applied to psychology.

Now how can I say with a straight face that an experiment that I'm conducting on you is equally valid when I'm conducting it on your friend?

What on earth do you have in common except a brain? Nothing.

I cannot commodize you.

When I conduct experiments on atoms, on planets, on stars, when I conduct experiments on giraffes and baboons, even there it's beginning to be a problem.

But when I conduct experiments on things that can be commodified, unitary, things that have units that are interchangeable, fungible units, that is science.

The rest is literature.

Literature is fine. Literature is wonderful. Literature is insightful. Literature allows you to understand and predict and even touch the essence which science does not allow you to do.

So literature is powers of its own.

And, you know, literature is important, as important as science, if not in many respects more important.

But it's not science.

And any potential otherwise is called artistry.

Simple.


Coming back to something you said earlier about not having responsibility that it doesn't matter whose font it is.

But don't you think that that conflicts with the idea of personal responsibility, which is to say that if you are, if it's your fault, then you must know that it's your fault. Otherwise, you're going to repeat the same mistake again and again and again.

And, you know, find if you break out with one narcissist and you're going to find another narcissist and you're never going to recognize the fact that it is you, this guy little enough to be attracted to a narcissist.

I didn't say that you should not recognize your responsibility, accountability and contribution to the situation. That's not what I said. I said that when you find yourself in a bad situation or a relationship where you feel bad, or in a context or environment where you feel bad, you should just leave. You should move on. You should not try to diagnose the other party. You should not try to fix the other party or save the other party.

These are pathological reactions. You should just move on.

You should ask yourself, of course, how did I select such a person made selection.

And when I had been in the relationship what did I contribute to the dysfunction or the how did I make myself feel bad via the agency of the other person.

These are of course important and crucial questions.

But after you had left.

So, the first thing to do is to extricate yourself from environments where which make you feel down or bad or dysfunctional or whatever, whether your partner was a psychopath, factor one, that type of borderline, or this subspecies of narcissist, is very really very interesting theoretically and is great fun in a pub over a pint of beer.

And so it's interesting subject matter.

But this is not what you should focus on.

This is not what you should focus on.

It's dubious, whether we learn lessons.

It's a common myth. There are many myths, for example, the myth that we are social animals, animals, this is a myth. There are many numerous myths, by the way in psychology psychology is a mythology, a form of mythology.

It's a form of literature, of course, and all literature is a form of.

Yes.

So, not only him I think Peterson, don't Peterson will agree with that. So, it's a form of mythology and all literature is an extension of mythology because we deal with archetypes as Young had observed correctly in his moments of lucidity, which were very far between, but it's important to simply accept that we are prone creatures that we are likely very much to repeat the same mistakes again and again and again until we die.

And that there is no learning or personal growth, development and evolution beyond a certain point. That's not some happening that sigmund Freud coined the phrase repetition compulsion to describe this kind of thing.

So, if you were in a relationship with a narcissist and you study everything there is to study about narcissism, hopefully not online where there's 99% nonsense, but you were to study everything there is to know about us, and now you're perfectly able to identify, analysis is on a first date. You're still very likely to end up with the last.

This ending up with the narcissist fulfills important psychological needs, caters to important needs, allows you to function.

There's an outsourcing of ego functions and psychological functions to the narcissist.

You had chosen the narcissist to start with, because it had worked for you. It was a positive adaptation. It's another myth in psychology, that there is such a thing as a negative adaptation.

There is no such thing. Everything we do, and everything we become is a positive adaptation.

When the child becomes a narcissist, it's because the child isn't embedded in an abusive environment.

And the narcissism allows the child to survive. It's a positive adaptation.

When you choose a narcissist as an intimate partner, it's a positive adaptation, you're choosing the narcissist for important reasons to help you to regulate, for example, your internal environment, your moods, your affects, your cognitions, borderlines do this, borderlines outsource their internal regulation to a narcissistic partner, co- dependence do this to some extent.

So, everything is a positive adaptation.

The thing is that positive adaptations like everything else in life, have an expiry date. They have a shelf life.

And when they expire, they taste sour.

And as you would not eat sour yogurt or spoiled food, or rotten meat.

Stop, discard, move on, but you're likely to choose the same positive adaptation.

Nevermind how educated you are, how hyper vigilant you are, how, I don't know what you are, you're very likely to end up the same.

That's said, said reality.

So the only thing you can do is establish guardrails, firewalls and protections that are likely to, in the face of the eventuality, the almost ineluctable eventuality that you will end up in the same situation.

So for example, learn lessons about how to manage your finances. Learn lessons how to maintain your social network, your friends and family interface of the narcissist.

Demand that you give up on them. Just learn to protect yourself, that you will end up with a narcissist a second time and a third time and a fourth time and a fifth time is almost for sure.

But learn how to defend yourself.

Once you find yourself again in the same situation with the same kind of person.

What sort of advice would you give for a culture that's different?

I'm sorry, can you repeat this? I'm terribly sorry. My hearing is impaired.

I apologize.

Yes. What sort of advice would you give in a culture that is conservative, that believes in a form of arranged marriage, you know, where divorce is kind of looked down upon and you end up, you know, marrying someone who you don't know and it turns out that he's a narcissist.

And he's abusing you, but not in a physical manner, verbal manner. And there are societal barriers for you, you know, seeking divorce and things like that.

What is a person supposed to do in that situation, that closed society?

First of all, the statistics are unequivocal. Arranged marriages survive much longer, even in permissive societies.

So when you have arranged marriages in Sweden, they survive much longer than typical Swedish romantic based marriages. And divorce is much easier there. And there are no social sanctions if you divorce.

So I'm not talking about arranged marriages in India or in Egypt. Talk about Sweden.

Arranged marriages survive longer. And the incidence of what we call love much higher in arranged marriages. It's a different type of love. It's not the fireworks. It's not romantic, but it's very substantial love.

Second fact, cohabitation increases the divorce rate, premarital cohabitation. If you live with someone before you get married, your chances to divorce are three times higher than if you don't live with that person before you get married.

These are examples of two myths, two lies of Western civilization out of hundreds, if not thousands of lives.

Western civilization is founded on lies, I would say.

If I had to isolate thousand sentences that are the predicates of Western civilization, foundations, the pillars of the paradigm of Western civilization, about 700 of them would be lies. When I say lies, counterfactual, contradicting the facts, any marital therapist or couple therapists will tell you that it's good to cohabit before you get married and that arranged marriages are very bad. These are lies. They define the facts.

If you get trapped in a marriage, in an arranged marriage with a narcissist or a psychopath, in an environment which is traditional, patriarchal, conservative, non-permissive, where divorce carries stigma and there are social sanctions and even legal sanctions and economic sanctions to getting divorced, then your only choice is, of course, if you can, to relocate, either to try to modify your presence in the marriage to become emotionally absent, perhaps, or to relocate.

But otherwise, you're right. It's a trap.

If these options don't exist, it's a trap.


Now, mind you, even in the West, when you divorce, you pay a very hefty economic cost. Divorce people earn much less than married people. The same people who used to be in marriage earn much less after they divorced. There's a huge economic cost to marriage.

And even though there's no stigma and allegedly no social cost, when we study, for example, the sexual behavior patterns of divorced women, we find a huge increase in promiscuity and short-term relationships.

Divorce women are much more promiscuous and are much less successful in finding long-term intimate partners.

Second marriages, the divorce rate in second marriages is 70 percent, seven zero.

The divorce ratings in third marriages is well over 80 percent, eight zero.

In other words, even though theoretically there's no stigma, actually divorced women in the West are treated as trash. Men treat them as trash. And even men who marry them hastily divorce them.

So it seems that the situation is the same everywhere.

If you were to divorce your abusive husband, for example, and you're a woman, you pay a huge cost, a huge price, economically, in terms of reputation, in terms of eligibility, in terms of finding the next intimate partnership, in terms of ultimate divorce in second and third marriages.

It's the same in India, same in Russia, same in the United States, same in Israel, same everywhere.

But it pertains to women. There is no such associated cost except economic.

In the case of men, men don't seem to suffer the same consequences.

So if you're a man and you have an abusive partner, you're much more likely to extricate yourself.

In other words, it's a gender issue, actually, not an issue of abuse. It's an issue of gender equality.

And the mores and standards of society which take ages to change, you can't change them overnight with a manifesto. They take centuries to change.

By the time the gender equality had been totally established, I believe the problem you have raised will disappear of its own.

And make no mistake, don't think that Western women are in much better shape. They're not.

I just demonstrated to you with numbers, that they're not. They actually pay the same price.

So what happens often in anti-social personality disorder in psychopaths is that they tend to become less aggressive, violent as their age, like serial killers often commit more murders when they're at 15 to 30 and then it slides down.

So the psychopathy doesn't go away, but the expression of it goes away. So does that happen with narcissism as well?

Does it decrease in any way or its manifestation decrease in any way with age?

It's a very good question.


Let's start with borderline, actually.

There is spontaneous healing in borderline. All the diagnostic criteria disappear and the person can no longer be diagnosed with borderline. After age 45, 81% of borderlines spontaneously heal.

We don't know why this leads us to believe that it's a brain disorder. We think there could be only biological foundation because nothing else happens. It's the same person, same environment, same marriage sometimes.

But we can no longer diagnose the person with borderline personality disorder.

The interesting thing is the personality disorder disappears.

But the dysfunctional behaviors that the borderline had developed over decades of sickness, these behaviors remain.

So if she had developed sexual promiscuity, she would continue to be sexually promiscuous. If she had developed substance abuse, she would continue to abuse substances.

Only when we try to diagnose her, we will not find borderline personality disorder anymore.

And that's in four-fifths of the cases.

This enormous spontaneous healing event.

With psychopaths, the picture is pretty similar, actually. Psychopaths after the age of 40, 45, depending on their study in the country, lose the vast majority of their behaviors. So they're no longer defined. They're no longer aggressive or violent. They're no longer contumacious. In other words, they no longer defy authority. They become much more conformist. They're no longer impulsive. They're no longer reckless. They settle down. Most of them have families, jobs, etc. They become normal, so to speak.

And this happens with the majority, overwhelming majority of psychopaths. For example, the rate of recidivism among psychopathic criminals collapses precipitously after age 45, 50.

And so we again don't know why, and therefore we also assume it's a brain disorder.

And this is one of the reasons we are conflating now borderline and psychopathy. The patterns are very, the patterns, the distribution of the disorder and its symptoms, behaviors, and traits, they're almost identical in borderline and psychopathy.

Not so in narcissism.

In narcissism, we do not see an amelioration.

Actually, in some respects, we see an exacerbation.

So the older the narcissist gets, for example, is likely to become more entitled and way more grandiose. This is especially true when he becomes sick, no longer can use his body to obtain supply if he's a somatic narcissist, or his brain is not what it used to be. So he will compensate with grandiosity. He will make counterfactual claims. Envy increases.

So, narcissists, as they grow older, become worse.

You would want to be with a psychopath, because there's at least hope, and you definitely want to be with a borderline. After age 35, 40, you want to be with a borderline. Subject to her dysfunctional behaviors which do not disappear.

But if her dysfunctional behaviors are throwing objects and breaking things, you can live with that, because the disorder itself disappears.

Not so with the narcissist. It's only going to get much, much worse. You're going to get double the narcissist that you had married.

So, that's one reason we tend to think that narcissism is not brain based, but is a construct, social construct or something we are not quite sure.

Perhaps it's a secondary disorder. In other words, it's an artifact.

And that's why the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Committee had seriously considered for two years to remove narcissistic personality disorder altogether from the fifth edition.

The irony is that ultimately they ended up with doubling the diagnosis. Narcissistic personality disorder now has two sets of diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5.

One of them copied entirely from the fourth edition, and one of them is what they call the alternate model of narcissistic personality disorder, page 767, for those of you who are interested.

So, I think this point was made in the 60s, the 70s by Erich Fromm, who said that manic narcissism actually becomes worse with age.

One of the things that I've noticed in the pop culture, from the cultural side of things, is that people are increasingly attaching themselves to singers, artists, actors. And it's not that they like the music or the art per se, they're attaching themselves to the person. The person becomes a friend, someone very close and they become obsessed with the person.

Do you think that this has narcissistic elements with it?

Personality cults are nothing new. Celebrities are nothing new, although we tend to think it's new because of the prevalence and reach of mass media and lately social media.

What is new is the technologies, but not the phenomena.

So in the past, personality cults were more prevalent in politics. So you had the personality cult of Adolf Hitler, your personality cult of Stalin, of Mao.

Celebrities were pretty common. Albert Einstein was a celebrity. And our veteran Russell was a celebrity, George Orwell, in the 40s and 50s.

So none of this is new. We tend to live vicariously. We outsource part of our lives to external figures who do it better than we do.

It's like if you want to fix the electricity in your home or to fix your plumbing, you're unlikely to try it for yourself, I assume, but you would call a plumber or an electrician. If you want to live the glamorous life, if you want to be creative and you're incapable of it, you can do it through someone vicariously by proxy.

So celebrities are channeling apparatus. You channel your energy through them.

But they are, you idealize them. You're not interacting with a celebrity, but you're interacting with a manufactured image, what Gidebaud called the spectacle. You're interacting with a manufactured image, and then you add to this manufactured image, your projections, your traits, your beliefs.

And then whenever the celebrity deviates from the manufactured image in your head, you get very furious and you begin to devalue the celebrity and hate the celebrity.

This is a narcissistic mechanism. Narcissist, I call it snapshotting.

The narcissist, when he comes across someone who is meaningful to the narcissist, who is potentially significant, like, for example, a potential intimate partner, the narcissist takes a snapshot of that person. Mental snapshot, then the narcissist internalizes the snapshot. He photoshops, photoshops the snapshot. This is a process called idealization and continues to interact only with the snapshot, not with the real person.

And when the real person deviates, diverges from the snapshot in any way, the narcissist becomes very furious and devaluing because it threatens the coherence and cohesion of his internal world.

This is the same process with celebrities. We snapshot the celebrity, we Photoshop the celebrity, we continue to interact with the snapshot in our heads.

And whenever the celebrity deviates, we get very furious and devaluing of the celebrity, which explains why celebrities don't last that long.

Because they always deviate, of course. Celebrities are human beings, they have independent lives, they change, they make decisions, they want to experiment with a new style of music.

And after the reaction, when an artist tries a new type of music, people get furious, absolutely furious because he refuses to remain static, he refuses to remain a snapshot.

And so we live vicariously through this.

But this is a classic human behavior. The ancient Greeks lived vicariously via the Olympian gods.

They have perfectly identified archetypes. Archetypes are actually these external visuals or images or organizing principles through which we live vicariously.

It seems that we outsource a big part of our internal world and project it onto the environment.

Now the narcissist does this. He uses other people to regulate his sense of self worth and other ego functions, reality testing.

But the difference between a narcissist and a normal person is that a normal person would take input from the environment and from other people and would subject it to internal structure, which is coherent and cohesive and congruent, and so on. And the narcissist would take input from the external environment and would make this input the internal world.

So it's like the narcissist has no container.

A normal person has a container. You give him wine, he puts the wine in the container.

The narcissist uses the bottle of wine as the container.

In other words, the narcissist is empty. There's an empty schizoid core.

And the narcissist's mind is a kaleidoscope. It's a hive mind. It's like shimmerings and glimmerings and shards and broken pieces from other people's minds.

The narcissist is like a reflection of his human environment at any given moment and his kaleidoscopic is shifting. We call this phenomena clinically identically disturbance.

Narcissists and borderlines have no fixed core identity, but it's ever shifting in accordance to environmental input, feedback, use, and so on.

A sense of emptiness inside.

In borderlines, yes.

In borderlines, borderlines have these psychopaths have this.

Narcissists don't have a sense of emptiness because narcissists mistake, confuse, external and internal.

Exactly like the psychotic. The psychotic thinks that his internal objects are actually external.

So if the psychotic has a voice in his head, he believes this voice is coming from the outside, not from his head, not from his mind.

The narcissist is exactly the opposite, the mirror image of a psychotic.

The narcissist sees external objects, like external people, and thinks that they're actually internal.

So the narcissist confuses internal and external.

The psychotic confuses internal and external, but in two different ways, totally different ways.

I remember, was one of the three fathers of the profession of personality disorders. Kemberg suggested that borderlines and narcissists are actually pseudo-psychotics. That's why he called it borderline. It's on the border between neurosis and psychosis. He said that they're sick, they're actually schizophrenic. It's just a mild form, mild form of schizophrenia.

When an narcissist sees you and thinks that you could become, for example, an intimate partner or something, then he would immediately be confused and think that you're in his mind, not that you're real. He would internalize you, interject you.

The clinical term is interjection. He would interject you.

The psychotic would see an image of a man in his mind and would think that it's outside.

So that's the only difference.

But this is a psychotic reaction. It's known as hyper reflection.

So it's a psychotic mechanism.

And so because of that, it's very, very difficult for narcissists to have reality testing.

They are totally divorced from reality. They live utterly inside their minds.

Even their grandiosity cuts them off reality. They need other people. They need other people to tell them what is real and what is not.

It's very bad for the narcissist. It's very frightening, lonely place.

Excuse me.

Do you think we are fostering a culture of narcissism? Because in the last few years, we have seen the rise of openly, grandiose, seemingly narcissistic individuals, like Trump being elected. They keep talking about how good they are and how great the things are when, in fact, the opposite is true.

So we seem to be rewarding narcissists and making more avenues for them, making more socially acceptable avenues for them, which eventually creates a feedback loop and it ensures that more and more narcissists join this sort of pool.

So do you think that's happening?

Quench and others have documented a massive rise in narcissism among young people.

There is no question that some elements of narcissism, like grandiosity, like entitlement, no question that these elements are on the rise and they are fostered and enhanced by technology.

I think these elements had created technology. I think technology was created to cater to these needs, not the other way. It didn't create the needs, but it was made to cater to the needs.

But there is no question about this. The only question is, if you take the elements and you add them together, do you get pathological narcissists?

And the answer to my mind is no. What you get, you do get a rise in what Lyn Sperry calls narcissistic style.

So we are relating to our environment, especially a human environment, other people. We are increasingly relating to them via narcissistic paradigms, narcissistic organizing principles, narcissistic assumptions, narcissistic interpretatory interpretative principles.

So when we filter the world, we will try to make sense and imbue things with meaning. When we're going to organize our lives, we will try to interact and collaborate with others. We are very likely to resort to and make use of narcissism as a kind of philosophy or ideology, or even I would say religion.

So narcissism becomes the zeitgeist, if you wish, the spirit of the times.

But it doesn't make it pathological. And so technically it's not that we are seeing a rise in narcissistic personality disorder, malignant narcissism and so on.

But what we are seeing is that people find elements of narcissism, very self efficacious, very useful and enhancement to their agency.

In other words, it pays to have a narcissistic style. You are likely to secure better outcomes. It's a positive adaptation.

So of course, people gravitate towards narcissism. For example, if you don't promote yourself, you're dead. Notice you.

If you are not a bit pushy and aggressive, you're finished. If you are not entitled, you are unlikely to get what you need. If you are not grandiose, you're nothing.

Today the only two options are loser or grandiose. I mean, that's it. Ask Donald Trump.

And if you are all these things, you're likely to become president of the United States.

So it pays simply that it pays.

In July 2016, the magazine New Scientist in the United Kingdom came up with a cover story. The cover story, title of the cover story was Parents Teach Your Children to Be Narcissists.

Fact.

But we should not confuse narcissism as a philosophy or ideology organizing principle or meaning imbuing strategy or paradigm with narcissistic style and with narcissistic pathology. These are totally three different issues completely.

The world is not more pathologized when it comes to narcissism, but the world is a lot more narcissistic and increasingly a lot more psychopathic, especially among women. Women are becoming increasingly more psychopathic and narcissistic, which is, of course, taboo. You're not supposed to say it's politically incorrect.

And had I worked in the West, I would have lost my job.

But the fact is, supported by studies, women are becoming much more narcissistic and so on.

There's a clinical term for it. It's called the stone wall revolution.

Women, for example, describe themselves increasingly more using masculine aggressive terms, psychopathic terms, narcissistic terms. It's probably a backlash against millennia of enslavement and mistreatment. No question about it.

But it's still a very, very disconcerting phenomenon. And it leads to an estrangement between the genders to a collapse in sexual scripts and romantic scripts to inability to date, dating is down 60% in since 1998.

Inability to have sex. There's a decline in sexual activity among young people, massive decline in some countries.

Not sexual activity at all.

A majority of interactions now via social media.

So there's no face to face interactions, and in the year 2016.


The studies, and with the first year in human history, where women and men, women especially did not have any contact of majority of women had no contact of any kind with the opposite sex.

I repeat this is my book.

Since 2016 to this very day, a majority of women do not have any contact, that includes sex or casual sex, anything with the opposite sex in the West, at least.

These are frightening facts, absolutely terrifying facts. We are breaking apart as a society, our institutions are dying in the core, core organizing units, family, gender.

Even I would say human interaction and not working anymore for us.

The problem is not that all the institutions die.

It is sometimes a welcome process.

The problem is that all the institutions had died, and we utterly failed to come up with substitutes.

So okay, no gender, no male, no female, accepted. We don't have to organize ourselves by gender.

But what's the alternative? None.

Okay, no family, no marriage. We don't have to organize ourselves in families and marriages.

What's the alternative to this? None.

The problem is not that we are dismantling the old, it's perfectly okay.

The problem came with nothing new.

So the alternative now is, avoid some social black hole, human, I mean, the species is facing deep space.

Nothing, just nothing. Nothing has never happened before in human history, ever.

It's a very frightening thing. And I don't know how we're going to survive this, and we forget the pandemic, it's a joke. I don't know how we're going to survive this.

How much effect do you think has to do with the rise of social media?

I'm sorry, again, slow and much harder.

How much of this do you think has to do with the rise of social media?

Because when research shows that since the rise of social media, there is a direct correlation between the rise of social media and the rise of the levels of depression, especially with girls.

So as Haight has written, Jonathan Haidt, one of the reasons is that girls express their aggression in a non-physical manner.

So if they want to make you feel bad, they would rather exclude you from the group. And they would say mean things about you.

And social media extrapolates that. It ensures that it's very easy to make someone feel bad about themselves, because you just post a picture of a party that you went to and they were not invited and done.

So do you think that social media has extrapolated the problem that you've talked about, especially in regards to depression and narcissism?

I don't know much about whether it has increased psychopathy in girls as you say.

Social media is a vehicle and a reification of social trends.

So yes, it's an amplifier.

Of course, all technology is an amplifier. The television had a profound impact on. The car had a profound impact on our, for example, physical distribution created the suburbs.

All technology has profound impacts, and social media is not an exception.

The only thing that is different to social media and to the best of my ability had never happened before, perhaps with the exception of the concentration camp.

Today, it's the only technology which had been invented with pernicious, insidious, and malevolent goals in mind.

I think there were only two such technologies, the concentration camp and social media.

I'm not aware of any other technology which had been invented with malice in mind.

I'm not aware. I may be wrong. There may be others, but I'm not aware of any others.

Social media had been invented by a group of engineers and essentially schizoid young men, men, not women, schizoid, socially inapt, many of them autistic and so on.

So people with highly specific mental health issues. And they had colluded with engineers to create platforms which masqueraded as communication venues or communication channels, but actually had to do with fostering addiction and operant conditioning.

Through a variety of means, relative positioning, comparing yourself to others, social exclusion, encouraging aggressive speech by limiting the number of characters and other methods, rewarding aggression, lies by promoting them until recently when they had no choice and they were forced by legislators and others to do something about it.

Now, everything I'm saying is not my conspiracy-minded mind, because I hate conspiracy theories.

I dedicated a long stretch of my career to fighting conspiracy theories. This is not a conspiracy theory. These are actually testimonies by the engineers of Google, Facebook and others, which are widely available online. And you can go and listen to these blood-curdling and spine-chilling testimonies.

Social media platforms were constructed with the express intent of making you feel bad so that you will resort to them and revert to them time and again in order to try to make yourself feel good.

They became a monopoly of regulation, of your moods. So they regulated your moods and emotions through a variety of inbuilt, hardwired software features, which are utterly visible. They're not a secret. And they involve well-known elements of psychology. And psychologists were involved in developing these platforms.

They involve operand conditioning. They involve addictive behaviors. They involve relative positioning. These are well-documented mechanisms to drive you to do what the platforms want you to do. And what they want you to do is to stay online on the platform for as long as you can so that they can monetize your eyeballs, so that they can convert your experience into advertising dollars.

Now, here's the problem.

To accomplish this goal, they need you not only to feel bad, but they need you to come to the conclusion that the only way to reverse this feeling is by staying on the platform.

One, number two, they need to eliminate the rest of your life. Any minute you spend with your girlfriend is a minute you're not spending on Facebook. Any hour you play with your children is an hour of revenue lost to Twitter.

They have a vested interest to destroy, eradicate, eliminate the rest of your life, your intimate relationships, your friendships, your family, your community, your other interests, your studies.

They want all this done because every minute that you dedicate to anything or anyone else is a net loss to social media platforms.

So, of course, they're not social. They're a social media platforms.

They disconnect you from people. They don't connect you to people. They give you the illusion of connecting you to people because your interactions with other people with social media platforms is mediated via aggression, via competition, via comparison, via depression, via anxiety.

Indeed, studies by Keith Campbell, Jean Twenge, many others had shown conclusively that the more you use social media, the higher your depression and anxiety are. Rates of depression and anxiety among social media users between 1998 and 2008 went up five times, 500% and 300% respectively.

So social media is an engine of mental illness. In this sense, it is a sick, malevolent, bordering on criminal and probably criminal enterprise, akin and comparable to the best of my knowledge, only to the concentration camps.

Only the concentration camps were industrial complexes intended to foster negative outcomes. I'm not aware of any other technology.

The steam engine, the telegraph, the telephone, they were all invented to help people. They were all invented with the best intentions in mind, not so social media.

But doesn't this depend on how an individual uses it? For instance, someone's back and people were dying due to lack of oxygen to social media to ask the qualities and some meters for help.

And because of this public Twitter, a lot of them got oxygen and instant help. People were banded together for social activism.

So isn't it like it depends on how you use it, if you use it for depression, if you use it for venting.

Well, it's like asking, doesn't it depend how I use morphine?

Yes, of course it depends how you use morphine.

But morphine is a drug, class one drug. You use it, you go to drink.

It really depends how you use it.

But the platform is structured to let it use it only in one way.

The minute you're exposed to morphine, you become addicted. The minute you're exposed to the platform, you become addicted in conditions.

You get less than 0.2% of users, that's the number, by the way, that less than 0.2% of users had at one point or other leveraged the platform for communication purposes for good causes.

It's very impressive.


What about the other 99.8?

When you're exposed to these platforms, they condition your brain through likes, through comparisons, through exposure to fake news, through exposure to manipulative tactics and techniques in built into the software.

The software is built like this.

So, of course, if you are a careful user of heroin, you know, you're unlikely to get addicted.

How many people are careful with heroin? Not many, if any.

You can't help it. The platform is structured to addict you and condition you.

You don't have any credible defenses, and no one has studied what happened to these activists after the activism was over.

Did they remain on the platform? What did they do?

Once the cause was gone or finished, didn't they become addicted as well, somehow, to the exposure, to the fame, to the celebrity? Didn't they begin to compare themselves to other activists, trying to outcompete them?

It creates an escalation in aggression, escalation in speech acts, escalation in behavior, because to get noticed, you need to escalate.

And when you look at these platforms, you see extreme behaviors on multiple accounts.

Why?

Because otherwise, they will not be noticed.

So they need to escalate.

These platforms are not good. They're evil. They're simply evil.

Now, of course, everything has dual use, knives, guns, and yet we regulate guns. No one regulates these platforms because everyone is terrified of them. Look what they did to someone like Donald Trump. He's a president of the United States.

Not my favorite, mind you, a raging narcissist, an a-hole in addition, but they have the power to shut up and censor the president of the United States.

What chance any politician has against them or any regulatory agency?

Everyone is terrified of them. They have become monopolies.

Well over 60 percent of all news is disseminated through Facebook, not CNN, not the New York Times. Facebook controls 60 percent. That's 60 percent of all the news in the world.

And no one dares to break them up.

When oil companies at the beginning of the 20th century reached a level of control of 10 to 20 percent of the market, they were broken up.

Antitrust, anti-cartel regulations. No one dares to do this to Facebook today. No one dares, simply.

Facebook, Google should be broken to many multiple pieces, no question about it.

But who's going to do that?

So what sort of solution would you propose?

Because I think it's not pragmatic to tell people to just stop using social media because that's not going to work.

Everyone has a smartphone in their hands. Everyone has access to instant Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

So at a time like this, what is the solution? Do you think that you do change?

The solution is regulation.

But I don't see the political will.

For example, I would limit social media usage to two hours a day. There's a clock. The clock stops you, even if you want to.

I would limit friends to people you know, you really know, and you would have to prove that you know them for them to become your friends.

I would limit, of course, certain types of speech, like fake news, lies, conspiracy theories of some kind, etc., which now is beginning, hesitantly beginning to be the case.

There are ways, of course, there are ways. I would limit, of course, age. I would never expose anyone under the age of, shall we say, 16 or 18.

I mean, people under certain age are not allowed to engage in sex or buy drinks or buy guns, vote.

These social media are much more potent than guns and drink.

So I would limit, limited by age.


Now, Instagram is talking about state regulations.

Yes, yes, yes. Federal regulations in the United States, state regulation. Absolutely.

The Internet had reached a stage where it has to be strictly regulated. It's a medium like the radio, like television, like everything else. All media are regulated. All media are regulated.

Not about not regarding content, of course, that is censorship. I'm absolutely against this. But about regarding distribution, dissemination, exposure, public profile.

Of course, everyone is regulated. Movies are regulated. You have the rating, yes, and G, R, X. Everything is regulated.

The biggest media are not.

The smallest media are. Television is radio. Who the hell is listening to radio? But it's regulated. Who is watching movies anymore? I mean, in cinemas, but they're regulated.

Social media and by extension, the Internet must be immediately, rigorously, forcefully regulated. And quite a few people should go to jail. Absolutely. Not with regards to content, of course. Only with regards to the platforms and the profiles of the public exposed to these platforms. End of story.

You want to see, you want to watch a triple X movie? No problem if you're above the age of 18. You want to watch social media? No problem if you're above the age of 16. Under 16, Zuckerberg goes to jail. Simple.


Well, that, you know, I tend to leave libertarians on generally against any sort of state regulation because that always doesn't work.

What we're seeing in Afghanistan. So I, you know, I would, I don't think I would agree with you there.

But I think that it is a problem. I don't have solution. I don't see regulation as a solution because Internet, because of its sort of open, unregulated nature.

You should never regulate content. You should never regulate content.

And a lot of what you just said was utter nonsense. Everything you wear, everything in your ear, everything behind you is regulated.

The earphones in your ear are regulated by six different layers of regulation.

The clothes you're wearing are regulated. The books behind you are regulated. The shelves, everything in your environment right now is heavily regulated.

You would not have survived a single day without regulation. You would be electrocuted by your earphones.

So regulation is critical. I agree with you, though, that content should never be regulated. If Snowden obtains documents, they should be absolutely free anywhere.

So I'm against regulation of content. But I am for regulation of technology.

Had no one regulated the earphones in your ear, you would have been electrocuted.

Simple. You're using a smartphone right now or laptop. I'm not sure. They include two thousand forms of regulation known as CE regulations.

Everything around you is a product of heavy, micro-grained regulation.

Regulation is good as long as it is not abused.

And of course, you're right that everything can be abused. But there is no form of abuse bigger than lack of regulation.

Look at Wall Street. Wall Street was not regulated.

And you see the outcomes. The biggest form of abuse is a lack of regulation.

The second biggest is regulation.

We are humans. We don't have perfect solutions.

You're right. Everything can be abused. Everything is abused.

But when I have to choose between lack of regulation and regulation, I would choose regulation any day.

I want the bench to be regulated. I want my food to be regulated. I want my medicines to be regulated. I want your earphones to be regulated because I don't want you to die before the end of the interview, at least.

I want your laptop to be regulated, your smartphone, everything about you, the shelf, everything has to be regulated.

I want the platforms. I want the internet. Everything must be regulated except one thing, free speech.

I think Donald Trump is an abomination, but it was not okay to shut him up. That is content censorship. I'm all for it. Absolutely all for it.

But otherwise, for example, to force the platforms, to, for example, not exposing to overstimulation or conditioning by limiting the number of hours totally has nothing to do with content or forcing the platforms to allow you to accept as friends, only real friends.

It's an ideology. It's a policy thing. It's nothing to do with content. These friends and you can exchange anything you want, pornography included. Who cares? Go ahead. No one will interfere with your choices of content and speech, of course. Speech is sacred.

But I want everything to be regulated. Absolutely. I moan and regret and lament the fact that there are some parts who are still not regulated.

Regulation is the only thing standing between us, an utter anarchy exploited by evil corporate minds and by criminals. It's as simple as that.


And if you are wondering, yes, social media is a combination of both evil corporate minds who are bordering on the criminal, in my view, at least.

How much of it do you think has to do with consumerism in general?

Because I watched a recent video of yours, I think it was uploaded yesterday on how agriculture led to the decline of Western civilization, you know, led to corrosive values being a part of the Western civilization.

And because I did a lot of evolutionary biology, what we witnessed in evolutionary history is that before agriculture, societies were hunter-gatherer societies generally had very low levels of violence.

You know, violence in undergraduate societies were around the rate of violence that they witnessed in Scandinavian countries, which is extremely low.

But after agriculture started in, the idea of private property developed and communal settings stopped.

And violence in those societies, first agriculture societies, did not differ, rose up by the rate of, you know, the level of violence that we have in something like Congo or Vietnam, and all of these communist job lessons as well.

So do you think that there is something in technology which is inherently anti-human, which is inherently corrosive and destructive?

It's a much more complex question than it sounds, because technology is any attempt to rearrange the environment so that it yields better outcome.

Essentially, when you move a branch, or when a chimpanzee takes a branch and uses it to pluck honey or something, I mean, that's technology.

So technology is common among animals. It's not a human thing.

I think the problem with human technology is that it's closely allied or aligned with values which cater to the needs of a small elite.

So for example, property, consumerism, I mean, everything you mentioned, entertainment, religion. All these things are actually inventions of the elite, elites throughout history. And they were intended to manipulate the masses, to work in tandem, to collaborate in order to generate wealth which is then asymmetrically distributed, most of it, vast majority of it, goes to the elites. And a tiny proportion remains to maintain the masses, or to give them the illusion of progress, or getting richer, getting better, or whatever, the American dream.

So technology had been co-opted by the elites, and then quoted in a series of ideologies that the masses had swallowed lock, stock, and barrel.

And that is, I think, the problem. That is the source of the problem, not technology by itself, but the ideology within which technology is embedded. That ideology has been single for 10,000 years, it's the same ideology for 10,000 years. A tiny percentage of the population must control and own the vast majority of resources.

Now how to accomplish this?

Well, religion. Religion is not working anymore. Science. Science is not working anymore. Social media. Social media is not working anymore. Oil. Oil is whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Nationalism, of course. Monarchy. Feudalism. Communism. I mean, all these were inventions of elites, and so technology has been co-opted.

Now elites are very clever, so very often they give the impression of democratization. So for example, in the 16th century, there was democratization of religion. It was known as Protestantism. But of course it was an illusion. Same with technology. Social media is the illusion that technology is democratized. But of course, it's nonsense because social media is controlled by three people.

So the illusion of democracy or democratizing the ideology, like religion is not democratized. Science is democratized. Education is democratized. Technology is democratized.

So you feel you're in control. You feel it's for you. You are in charge.

But of course it's utter nonsense because when you follow the money, it's always the elites. It's always the elites. We are stupid enough to buy into their ideologies. From time to time, we get fed up, and there's the French Revolution, and we cut off a few heads. Or the Russian Revolution, and we put a few people in gulags.

But that never lasts.

Ultimately, the elites just change things.

So there was the communist elite. And later on, there was Napoleon after the French Revolution.

So the core question, I think, is not consumerism or religion or technology, because these are the shifting faces of the chimera of elite control.

Now, the elite don't misunderstand me. It's not a conspiracy. It's not a group of identifiable people who sit together secretly in some place and blend.

The elites are groups of people who have common interests. And because they have common interests all over the world, they act in similar ways, but they're not coordinated.

And the core question is, is there in principle any recourse against the elites? Or, as Jordan Peterson suggests, elites are a normal part of nature. There will always be an elite, the top lobster.

Actually, Jordan Peterson's message is very reactionary, because what he's suggesting is hierarchy is normal. And the elites are there forever and just get used to it, live with it.

Let's move on. Nothing to see here.


And this is the core question. He touched upon the core question. And he and others, Piketty, for example, they touched upon a core question. Can the elite in principle have recourse against the elites? And if they can, is there an alternative to hierarchy?

Peterson says no. Piketty says yes.

There's a disagreement. Is there an alternative to hierarchy? Some people say we can reorganize everything as a network, a distributed network.

Yeah, but who will be the network administrator? So internet came close at some stage to being a distributed network with no center.

There is a religion like that. Islam. Islam is a distributed network with no center. It has no center.

Catholicism is a center. Islam has no center. Islam is a totally distributed religion, network religion.

Same with the internet. It's a network technology.

But you see what's happening. Even these network technologies, they're immediately co-opted and hijacked by the elites.

So it's a war. It's a war. And we just don't realize it because we are collaborating with elites by adopting their technologies, their ideologies, their beliefs, their norms, their conventions. We are collaborating with them.

And the question is, can we eradicate the elites and what are we going to replace them with? New elites?

Bad idea. If elite is built into human history, then no point to change the elites.

However, if we can manage without elites, for example, in a distributed network, totally everyone is equipped with nodes.

Maybe it's worth to have a global revolution and to get rid of the elites by force if necessary.

That's the obvious question.

Do you think that there is any political will for getting rid of the elites?

Because John Peterson is not the world's most experienced intellectual and his messages are saying status quo is their needs are fine and get on with your life.

So, and a movement when people are enamored by this spectrum as they call it of democracy and meritocracy and they deserve where they are.

And a situation like this, do you think that there is any political will with the people who are suffering to actually try to get rid of their needs?

Politics is compromised. Politics is an intentional release.

And of course, there's no meritocracy. It's a total myth.

Social mobility in the United States is the lowest among the 39 industrialized nations.

Fact, you're born poor, you will die poor. You will die poorer, actually, statistically speaking.

There's no social mobility. There's no meritocracy. It's all nonsense. It's all nonsense invented by the elites.

Politics is nonsense. Democracy is nonsense. It's all nonsense, poisonous, toxic nonsense invented by the elites.

And if there is any hope to get rid of the elites is by giving up on all these principles, organizational principles, institutions and so on, exiting and creating a grassroots movement.

But the president to say that this would be a recommended course of action, precisely because we hadn't settled on an answer whether an elite less society is possible, even biologically.

Jordan Peterson's message is pernicious and toxic.

Because not only does he say that an elite is indispensable and normal, natural.

But he says that you can join the elite.

He accentuates the myth of social mobility.

It's as if you follow my 12 rules, you'll be much more self efficacious, you will get the beautiful girl, you will have the American dream.

Essentially, that's his message.

He's an agent of the elites masquerading as a populist tribune.

The worst conceivable traitor.

It's as an intellectual, not so Slavoj Zizek, Slavoj Zizek for example is an authentic intellectual.

So, but still, I can't say that I disagree with Jordan Peterson, because I don't have sufficient data to support an elite less society we never had one.


We go back to hunter gatherer societies when we inspect primitive tribes, primitive so called primitive yes tribes in the Amazon and other places I've lived in Africa for three years.

So, I met many tribal leaders and so on. They are small scale societies with no elites, I can tell you this and they're very efficient and they survive and so, but they're small.

But what we don't have an answer whether large scale communities large scale groups of people can survive without elites.

We know that leaders emerge naturally. We know that.

But elite is not about leadership. Elite is about entrenched interests using force, using violence.

Leadership is another thing entirely. Actually, in Rome, in Republican Rome, leaders came. They led the Roman people, and they went back to being farmers. They did not become members of any elite because there was no elite. Only Imperial Rome had elite. In Republican Rome had no elite.

Ancient Greece had no elite until and see the audience, maybe. No elite.

Switzerland has no elite.

Today, in Switzerland there's no elite, no political class.

It's not true to say that there are no examples of societies without elites, but they're very small in numbers.

So we don't know we're not sure we can extrapolate it to big numbers.

We don't know whether when you have big numbers.

There are no emergent phenomena.

For example, the formation of elite.

But elite is when people hijack interest and property and entrench them via violence, using violence. Police is violence. Army is violence institutionalized violence.

The state's definition is the monotony of violence.

But I think I've been thinking about the relationship between religion and narcissism, because.

I think we should make this the last question, because.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

People will not survive this.

However interesting you are in me, you and me are, they will not survive this.

So I've been thinking about the connection between religion and narcissism, and you wrote, I think it was in your book, Jesus Christ, being an example of the religious.

And what we see in India often are these are, you know, around the world as these God men or these coups who are popping up and, you know, they always end up in jail, almost always because of sexual abuse cases that's sometimes corruption but likely sexual abuse cases must fit popularly.

And they tend to exploit their followers, they tend to be charismatic, they tend to make others believe that they're the most important person in the world, they're grandiose, they tend to be God incarnate.

And so I'm thinking if there is a connection between religion in general and narcissism, are religious groups likely to be just narcissists who have got a sociological way of expressing themselves.

Well, modern, so called mystics, so called gurus, public intellectuals, mind you, and so on, obviously are raging narcissists who are taking advantage of the gullibility and frankly stupidity of the vast majority of people.

The overwhelming vast majority of people are on the wrong side of IQ, and it's easy to take advantage of them, they also have psychological needs, uncated to by modern society.

So these raging narcissists, many of them psychopaths, are taking advantage of all of all these people would believe anything, people believe that reptilians came to earth and became Queen Elizabeth, people believe that the earth is flat.

A third of young people actually believe that the earth is flat.

I don't know if you realize the shocking statistic.

People believe that there's an alien here, she has her own YouTube channel, and you know she teaches them alien wisdom, and people would believe I came to believe that people would believe anything.

Everything is okay, and these narcissists and psychopaths are making a doing brisk business and they're very happy all the way to the bank or to prison whichever comes first.

Earlier, religious leaders were embedded in a different context. Where today we say personality disorders. At that time they called it demon possession. The language was different. The source of knowledge was different. God was the source of knowledge. It was absolutely possible to communicate with God, it was not considered psychosis, as we would consider it today.

So I think it's a question of language, and a question of social norms.

Earlier, profits and messengers and whatever you want to call them today would have qualified as mentally ill, but the very concept of mental illness has changed forms, is new. It's new. It's a 17th century construct.

I mean, there was no mental illness before.

But in the modern sense, melancholy was first described by Burdon in 17th century, so there was no mental illness.

It was absolutely possible to communicate with a whole range of supernatural entities such as angels and demons and God, what have you.

And so, they use the vernacular, these prophets use the vernacular, the language of their time. And they communicated what they believe to be deep truths about reality and about people and so on and so forth.

It is wrong to judge these people by modern standards and modern criteria. It would be wrong as Foucault, Michel Foucault, had observed the very concept of mental illness of pathology is a coercive state.

It can be used for coercive state tactics. Soviet Russia, it plays people in gulags and prisons and diagnose them as mentally ill. Dissidents, dissidents and activists were diagnosed as mentally ill.

Same in Germany, Nazi Germany, so we need to tread very carefully because mental illness includes a very thick dollop of judgment, opinion, context dependent and culture bound mores and conventions which have nothing to do with any alleged clinical entity.

What today would be called psychosis at the time was called communique with God, what today would be called schizoid personality disorder was going to the desert for 40 days.

I mean, we can we can pathologize anything and everything.

So I believe that the earlier religious leaders were more authentic to use Jean-Paul Sartre's words were more authentic, were closer to themselves, were not manipulative narcissists and psychopaths in the classic sense.

But the modern crop are criminals, criminals masquerading as holy men, mystics, yogis, public intellectuals, coaches. These are all criminals, the psychopaths, and that people fall for them is a sign of the sickness of the times.

We are living in very, very sick times, very pathologized times.

I hope we emerge increasingly with every day. I'm less sure maybe it has to do with my age. I'm less sure where every day that we stand a chance to emerge from this miasma.

The signs are ominous on almost every front and I don't, maybe it's my age, but I don't think I think I'm sufficiently capable of objective or attempt to use objective thinking.

The signs are bad, simply bad, objectively speaking.

Whether we emerge with a new model of organization, new ways of surviving, it's a distinct possibility. We've done it before many times. Whether we perish, it's also a distinct possibility.

We're on the cusp. We're on the cusp.

These are in this sense, you see, religion, these are the end days. Now don't forget that narcissism is a form of religion. It's the worship of oneself.

What the child does, the child creates a God, a divinity called the false self, and then the child sacrifices his true self to the false self. It's human sacrifice. It's a form of primitive one person religion.

And now we have a million, a billion gods, all of them false selves, all of them with human sacrifice.

And it might well be that the religion of the future would be narcissism actually might well be.

For the next interview maybe.


I will cover on that realistic, if not hopeful note.

I think I enjoyed talking with you I learned a lot. And it was fascinating to hear his speech, as it always is.

Love your books as well. And I cannot thank you enough for doing this.

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I apologize for my hearing. And with your permission I will upload it to my channel. Is that okay with you?

Obviously, of course.

Okay, thank you very much and have a nice day.

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