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Narcissist Not Thinking Straight: Cognitive Disorders (Distortion, Bias, Deficit)

Uploaded 1/30/2024, approx. 36 minute read

You truly believe that you are thinking straight, then you are not thinking straight.

Listen to the rest of this video to understand what hinders, obstructs, impedes and deforms your process of thinking, even if you are completely healthy and normal, let alone if you have a personality disorder or some mental illness or mental health issue.

This is the topic of today's video.


Cognitive Deficits, Cognitive Biases, Cognitive Distortions, the Multiferous Ways in which cognition can go awry, can go wrong and how we are affected by it.

To get a proper cognitive deficit, my name is Sam Baknin and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of the esteemed CEOPS, Commonwealth Institute for Advanced Professional Studies, Canada, United Kingdom, Cambridge and an outreach campus in Lagos, Nigeria.

Let us delve right in.

Methinks, Okei Shoshanim and a few Shoshanot left.

Cognition is a mental action.

It's a mental process.

It's about knowledge.

In other words, cognition is epistemic.

It's about how we understand the world.

We use many tools to understand the world because understanding the world is a prerequisite, a precondition for survival.

If you don't understand the world well, if your reality testing is impaired, sooner or later you're going to find yourself in trouble or you're going to lose yourself altogether.

So we use many tools to somehow grasp the world as accurately as we can.

We use thought or thinking, experience and of course, sensor, input via the sensors, sensor inputs.

But cognition is not only thinking, although the end result of cognition is always new knowledge or the affirmation of existing knowledge or the negation of existing knowledge.

Anything to do with knowledge, anything to do with epistemology.

Still, cognition is not only thinking.

That's a common mistake.

I hear many self-styled experts describe cognition as the thinking process.

It's not.

All intellectual functions and processes are cognitive.

Attention, for example, memory, decision making, planning, reasoning, judgment, perception or the comprehension of perception, use of language, visual and spatial functions, spatial space, they are all cognitive.

Cognitive processes use existing knowledge, generate new knowledge, as I said, and sometimes vitiate or negate existing knowledge, but they use multiple tools.

Still, one thing that many scholars miss, let alone self-styled experts, is the fact that cognition is language.

You cannot generate knowledge without the use of language.

Never mind which tools you use, use attention, use memory, use perception.

Never mind which cognitive tool or instrument you are using.

Ultimately, you will have to convert everything into language.

So we could easily say that cognition is the awareness of language, the conscious part, the overt text as opposed to the hidden or occult text.

Cognition evokes awareness, awareness of thinking itself and the thinking self.

In other words, cognition is another name for introspection, actually, because cognition makes you aware of who you are, aware of the fact that you are thinking, and this awareness coalesces in due time into an identity.

Cognition is at the very core of identity, and arguably, perhaps, your cognition is your identity.

When the thinking self is absent, for example, in narcissism, narcissists don't have a constellated, integrated self or ego, whatever you want to call it.

When the thinking self is not there, or in the case of identity disturbance, when the identity changes diametrically and radically, sometimes from one hour to the next, this creates a problem with cognition, because as I said, cognition is the awareness of the language, the thinking self, and consequently of one's identity, and identity is being embedded in reality and the environment.

The narcissist lacks a thinking self, and he lacks reality testing.

He is not aware of his environment or of himself, because there's no self.

So when this happens, awareness of the language becomes an orphan, is orphaned. It's not linked to anything.

In healthy cognition, the process of thinking is intimately and automatically linked to the thinking self, which then interacts with the environment.

But in narcissism, there's the language, there's the thinking, but it's not linked to any thinking self, any self that does the thinking.

And so consequently, the bridge to the environment is broken, disrupted, and destroyed, and this leads to attribution errors.

When the language is orphaned and there's no thinking self, the language desperately or the consciousness desperately tries to find a self-substitute, something to attribute the thinking to, something to cohere with the language, to trace the origin of the thinking process and the language it uses to something.

In healthy people, this is traced back to a thinking self, in narcissists.

Since there is no thinking self there, it is traced back to fantasies, to idealizations, to brandiosity, to substitute realities, and they serve in the function of the thinking self.

But of course, they're not. The narcissist fantasy provides a narcissist with the illusion of a self, with the feeling, the erroneous feeling of an existing identity where there's none.

The narcissist grandiosity is ostensibly about the narcissist, when actually it is not. It is about a false self, which has very little to do with the actual narcissist.

Similarly, idealization has nothing to do with the object of idealization. So when the narcissist idealizes himself or others, there's nobody there. The narcissist is interacting with a totally concocted imaginary figmental construct, the idealized avatar or the idealized internal object.

And the language, also known as cognition, also known as consciousness, latches onto these reality substitutes because it was unable to spot a thinking self. There's a vacuum there. And yet attribution is needed for language, consciousness, and cognition to yield any outcomes internal or external.

Attribution is a precondition. Without attribution, language remains moot and mute. Consciousness is disrupted. The subconscious has no attribution. And so there is attribution error in narcissism, misattribution, the cognitive processes translated via language give rise to consciousness of many things which are not the narcissist because a narcissist is not there. There's no thinking self.

So the narcissist language, cognition, consciousness give rise to a recognition of an interaction with a fantasy, not the narcissist.

Cognition, as I said, is about language. And so cognition precedes consciousness, precedes experience, and is a condition for consciousness and a condition for experience. It shapes them.

When cognition is more self efficacious than action, the result is fantasy. When the cognition is weaker than action, the result is reality orientation or reality testing. Let me explain this.

There is a fine balance between cognition and cognition is just another name for language, another name for consciousness. There is a fine balance between cognition and action. Cognition conceptualizes the world. Cognition allows you to use language in order to generate consciousness of your thinking self, of your cognitive self, and of reality. And then once you have recognized both yourself and reality, you're able to act because action is always one directional. It's always from the self to the environment, from the self onto the world. If you don't recognize the self, you cannot act. And if you don't recognize the world, you cannot act.

There's an action deficit.

So in such people, for example, narcissists who do not possess a self and whose reality testing is impaired so they don't recognize reality in such people. Cognition is much more powerful than action. Essentially, the narcissist is incapacitated, unable to act.

So all that is left is the fantasy, the target of the cognition, the attribution error.

So the narcissist cognition is much more powerful than his action. And that's a hallmark of pathology because this creates a propensity for proclivity for and a preference for fantasy over reality.

Self-efficacy is critical here. When cognition is more self efficacious than action, the result is being embedded in fantasy and denying or ignoring reality.

But what does it mean to be self efficacious in this context?

In this context, self-efficacy is both internal and external. Internal self-efficacy, for example, is reducing anxiety. External self-efficacy is extracting favorable outcomes from the environment acting in and on the world.

So in a healthy person, in a normal person, cognition and action have to be balanced and self efficacious. They have to generate internal and external outcomes which are efficacious and favorable.

But with a narcissist, action is missing. He is missing in action, missing in action.

So action is missing. In cognition towers over everything. It's a cognition metastasizes. It's like cancer. It's malignant. Narcissist has malignant cognition. Cognition takes over.

And that's why the narcissist lives in fantasy, not in reality.

This renders the narcissist not self efficacious. The narcissist is unable on his own to guarantee internal and external outcomes.

The narcissist is totally reliant on other people to regulate his internal environment and to accomplish outcomes in the external environment. His dependency is maximal.

Although, of course, all narcissists would deny this. Even when reality testing is intact, which is not the case with narcissists, even then cognition is shaped and framed in order to maintain equilibrium and from your status.

In other words, we lie to ourselves, even healthy people, even normal people, they have psychological defense mechanisms, essentially a way to self deceive ways to self deceive.

These mechanisms are cognitive. So our cognition constantly shape shifts, is reframed, recast, rewritten in order to allow us to maintain egosyntony, to feel comfortable with ourselves.

And this is in healthy people.


Now, when the cognition is metastatic, when it is cancerous, as is the case with the narcissist, then of course, the cognition is fallacious. It relies mostly on misinformation, inaccuracies, distortions, biases, deficits, and so on and so forth.

And this is the topic of today's video.

Gradually, cognition expands in healthy people, normal people. Cognition expands to incorporate other minds within the internal working model to create a theory of other people's minds, a theory of mind via introjection.

But in the case of the narcissist, this never happens.

As a problem with others, the narcissist is unable to incorporate other minds in his internal world. He rejects external objects, he regards them as a threat. If the other is perceived in early childhood as unsafe, the phase of othering fails and solipsism ensues.

In other words, narcissism is a failure to recognize the separateness and externality of other people.

Because early on in the narcissist's life, the only other people in his life, for example, mother, they have been abusive, traumatizing, instrumentalizing, parentifying, in short, if the narcissist could not internalize these people, he could not other them, could not recognize them as external.

Both solutions represented a threat.

So narcissism evolves by rejecting the existence of other people. And so cognition in the case of the narcissist, albeit metastatic, albeit all pervasive, is also very primitive, infantile, regressive.

Because it does not incorporate other minds. It's not integrated with object relations.

Now incorporating other minds by recognizing them as external.

In the narcissist's case, there is interjection and incorporation and identification and internalization of other people, but as internal objects, which have nothing to do with the external objects, idealized or devalued internal objects, it's totally, it's a totally delusional way of interacting with other people.

So narcissism and cognitive impairment go together.


And today I'm going to discuss all the ways that cognition can go bad, can go wrong, and can go awry.

Start with cognitive deficit. It's a term bandied about and used, much used, abused and misused.

Cognitive deficit is simply the impairment of different domains of cognition. It's not limited to any particular disease or condition. It is one of the manifestations of other underlying conditions. It's a kind of symptom, if you wish, but it's not limited to any one mental illness or mental health diagnosis.

Now, cognitive deficit and cognitive impairment are the same. These are synonyms. And typically cognitive deficits are actually short-term, not permanent.

In other cases, cognitive deficits evolve progressively and become permanent.

Cognitive deficits are part and parcel of what is known as cognitive disorders.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Edition 5, there's a whole chapter titled Neurocognitive Disorders, and Cognitive Disorders is a part of these. They're defined as any disorder that significantly impairs the cognitive functions of an individual to the point where normal functioning in society is impossible without treatment.

Of course, examples are the whole family of dementia, Alzheimer's and so on.

That's an example, and I have a video dedicated to this.

But we are not going to use the term cognitive impairment or cognitive deficit in this video because these are neurological bodily conditions, and they are not typical of narcissists, except narcissists with dementia.

So any self-styled expert online who uses the term cognitive deficit is wrong. There I say, instead we should use the terms cognitive bias and cognitive distortion.

The distortion is, of course, an inaccuracy of perception, cognition, memory, and so on and so forth. It could be either the unconscious process of altering emotions and thoughts that are unacceptable to the individual psyche or the continuous misrepresentation of facts.

And this serves the same underlying purpose of disguising unacceptable rejected parts in the individual.

So distortion precedes projection. Cognitive distortion is a condition for projection. When we project something, when we attribute to someone else our own traits that we reject, if we hate some things about ourselves, if we reject some aspects of ourselves, if we don't like some of our traits, if we find some things shameful or unacceptable, and then we attribute them to other people, not to us, we deny that these things exist in us. We say, I'm not weak, she's weak, I'm not evil, she's abusive, etc, etc.

There's projection, and it's always preceded by cognitive distortion.


Now you understand why narcissists project all the time, because grandiosity is a cognitive distortion, the major cognitive distortion.

It's an inaccuracy of perception or the interpretation of perception via cognition and memory.

Now in psychoanalytic theory, distortion is the outcome of dream work that modifies forbidden thoughts and wishes to make them more acceptable to the ego.

So I will not go into it right now, because that is not the sense that I'm using distortion in this lecture.

What's the difference between distortion and bias?

Bias is an inclination or predisposition for or against something, tendency, preference. So bias is not cognitive distortion.

Bias may require cognitive distortion to work, but it's not the same.

A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or from rationality. In other words, bias is non-normative or anomic. It rejects norms, conventions, mores, sometimes the law, regulations, and so on and so forth. And it's usually irrational.

That's why it's called bias. Individuals create their own subjective reality from perceptions of inputs, a variety of inputs. This is true for healthy people as well.

And when an individual constructs reality, it usually is based only partly on objective input, even though it dictates behavior in the work, it dictates reactions to the environment.

And so cognitive biases is when the objective input is minimal, the subjective input is maximal. And this leads to perceptual distortions, inaccurate judgments, illogical interpretations, irrationality, conspiracy theories are examples of the outcomes of cognitive bias.

Still, cognitive bias is not the same as cognitive distortion.

Cognitive distortion is much more severe.

Cognitive bias is mostly about opinions and judgments. That perception is distorted in order to support some kind of value judgment or some kind of opinion. Cognitive distortion is automatic, usually unconscious, and it's total. It's all pervasive. So it distorts all of reality in order to conform to some narrative.

For example, the narrative, I'm godlike, I'm a genius. That's an narcissistic narrative. And all of reality will be distorted to support this narrative. And whenever reality pushes back and intrudes, and whenever my cognitive distortion is challenged or undermined, the narcissist then reacts with narcissistic injury and rage.

And if this is done in public, in front of significant peers or significant others, this generates modification. Bias, if a bias is challenged or undermined, it can result in fisticuffs or an argument. If a distortion is a challenge or undermined, it results in extreme mental health or mental illness reactions, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidality.

And so cognitive biases are shortcuts. They allow you, they are like rules of thumb. They're heuristics. They allow you to reach decisions faster.

And studies have shown that cognitive biases are actually very useful because sometimes you need to make decisions fast, even if they have the wrong decisions. Not making a decision has worse outcomes than making the wrong decision.

So biases help us with this one form of bias is the stereotype, racial stereotype, whatever. So it seems that cognitive biases is distinct from cognitive distortions are a byproduct of the limitations of human processing. It's like we say to ourselves, I can't know everything. So I'm going to confine myself to very few facts. And I'm going to form my own hypothesis or theory, even if it doesn't tally 100% with reality, it's still better. I would still be better off than not having a theory or not having a hypothesis.

And this is known as bounded rationality.

And another thing which often leads to biases is known as embodied cognition. It's your biological state and your capacity for information processing in the brain. They both interact all the time to signal to you that you need to stop exposing yourself to new information. And you need to apply whatever limited tools you have to the small set of data that you had acquired.

And this creates, of course, bias.


Now there are dozens of cognitive biases. So I will not go into this. Biases create prejudice. It's a negative attitude towards another person or group formed ahead of any experience without any experience with that person or group. Prejudices usually include an affective component. For example, discomfort, nervousness, anger, contempt, pity, hatred, coupled with a cognitive component, assumptions and beliefs about people and groups, including stereotypes. Prejudice is manifested typically behaviorally and it generates discriminatory behavior. Prejudices are cognitive biases and they're resistant to change because they distort perception of information.

And so it's very difficult to change. You need to change the thinking process and end the underlying information to negate or alter the prejudice.

Prejudice, therefore, is somewhere between a cognitive distortion and a bias.

Biases give rise to prejudices in the absence of experience.


Now this is very important. Do you remember how I opened this video when we were all much, much younger and a lot less tired, a lot less exhausted? I told you that the narcissist has no access to reality because the narcissist has no access to reality. His cognition goes haywire, metastasizes in a desperate attempt to link itself to some anchor, to something that's not self. Narcissist has no self. So his cognition goes looking for something that would resemble a self. It could be the false self, grandiosity, cognitive distortion, it could be a fantasy.

Similarly, a cognitive bias which is not coupled with experience leads to a cognitive distortion. We could therefore summarize and say that narcissism is a prejudice about oneself and a prejudice about others.

The prejudice, in the case of the narcissist, amounts to full-fledged cognitive distortion and it emanates from a series of biases.

These biases flourish and blossom and take over like so much wild weeds, the body snitch and mind snitch, because they are not exposed to reality. They are not confronted by experience.

This lack of friction allows the cognition to go completely berserk and the narcissist with it.

Now, one thing that is common to both biases and distortions and prejudices is what is known as confirmation bias.

Technically, it's a cognitive bias.

Confirmation bias is a tendency to gather evidence that confirms pre-existing expectations, typically by emphasizing or pursuing supporting evidence while dismissing or failing to seek contradictory evidence.

In narcissism, confirmation bias has been replaced with falsification, confabulation, reframing. Confirmation bias in healthy people, in normal people, typically is indicative of a cognitive bias or in extreme cases prejudice like racism or sexism or ageism or ableism or whatever andism.

In the case of the narcissist, confirmation bias is supplanted by overactive, infantile, primitive defense mechanisms such as splitting, such as projection, such as projective identification, such as rationalization and so on.

So what happens with the narcissist is not that he collects information that supports his biases and prejudices or even his distortions.

That's not the case. The narcissist does not collect information at all. He simply invents information. He falsifies reality to the extent that it no longer exists and this is what we know as a fantasy defense.

The narcissist comes up with a paracosm, with a virtual reality, a world that has no bearing on reality itself.


Cognitive distortions are internal mental filters, extended biases.

In the case of the narcissist, they're protective. They fire on the narcissist from reality because the narcissist has learned as a child that reality is unsafe, is dangerous and so it ossifies and fossilizes, becomes the narcissist's main feature, narcissism's main feature.

Now of course the main, the principal reason for all these cognitive problems, cognitive disorders, cognitive malfunctions, is what is known as dissonance reduction.

The process by which we reduce the uncomfortable psychological state that results from inconsistency among elements of the cognitive system.

Inconsistency known as cognitive dissonance.

When you have two beliefs, two thoughts, two pieces of information, two emotions even that conflict with each other, you're in a state of dissonance and usually the dissonance is cognitive and this generates anxiety, discomforted at the very least and you want to get rid of it. It's intolerable, it's unbearable, you want to restore the previous equilibrium or balance and you do this via dissonance reduction.

A dissonance can be reduced by making one or more inconsistent elements consistent with other elements in the system, by decreasing the perceived importance of an inconsistent element or by adding new consistent elements to the system.

I've dealt with this in other videos about dissonances.

Finally, we will go into it a bit later, but self-affirmation theory postulates that merely affirming some valued aspect of the self, even if it is not directly relevant to the inconsistency, can reduce dissonance.

That's precisely what the narcissist does. He emphasizes some valued aspect of himself.

Regrettably in the case of narcissism, there is no self.

So the valued aspect that is emphasized is totally imaginary. It's a fantasy and we will deal with it when we discuss bolstering of an attitude and the false forced compliance effect.

The false compliance effect is the tendency of a person who has behaved in a way that contradicts their attitude to subsequently alter the attitude to be consistent with their behavior. It is a way to reduce cognitive dissonance by changing yourself and it is at the core of identity disturbance.

This is known also as the induced compliance effect.

So sometimes the narcissist or the borderline will behave in ways which contradict their self-image or self-perception or their attitude or their motivation and rather than admit to a mistake, rather than feel guilty or ashamed, rather than experience remorse or regret, especially if the psycho, if the narcissist is highly antisocial, rather than do any of this, they simply switch an identity. They suddenly become someone else completely and they concoct elaborate stories as to why they have changed. They have changed because the environment changed or they have changed because this would make them a better person or they have changed because of you, you're guilty or whatever. It's always an external locus of control with alloplastic defense, but the change is actually intended to preserve egosyntony, intended to prevent the narcissist from falling apart.

And this is linked to something called bolstering of an attitude. It's a method of reducing cognitive dissonance by generating new cognitive elements that are consistent with an existing attitude. And this is presumed to offset the dissonance resulting from an inconsistent element.

And this is the core of fantasy. The fantasy defense generates new cognitive elements, most of which are not embedded in reality, just in order to justify the cognitive distortion of grandiosity, for example, or some attitude or some commitment made in public or some belief, however insane or inane or irrational and so on and so forth.

So the narcissist's hyperactive cognition, which is cancerous, is malignant, keeps generating new elements out of thin air just to justify the narcissist, just in order to justify the narcissist.

Narcissist is always right, could never be wrong. Narcissist doesn't have what we call the cognitive clique. The cognitive clique is the aha moment, the light bulb moment, in which it becomes suddenly clear that your thinking is incorrect and you must change your attitudes or beliefs or thinking.

This never happens to the narcissist. And so the narcissist never experiences cognitive closure. Cognitive closure is a state when you recognize that you have achieved an understanding of something, also known as insight.

The final stage of figuratively seeing the total picture and how all the pieces in this total picture fit together.

Narcissist never has this experience. Now there are various theories about cognitive dissonance and how we resolve it.

The first one is the cognitive dissonance theory, appropriately named. It's a theory that proposes that people have a fundamental motivation to maintain consistency among elements in their cognitive systems.

So memory and identity and perception and thinking, they all should intermesh, fit together without friction, without contradiction, should be cohesive and coherent.

When inconsistency occurs, people experience an unpleasant psychological state and this motivates them to reduce the dissonance in a variety of ways that I've mentioned before.

So there are quite a few variants of this theory and I'm going to deal with a few of them.

First, there is the cognitive consistency theory.

It's a broad class of theories, it's misnamed, it's not a single theory, it's a few theories. And they postulate that attitude change is a result of the desire to maintain consistency among elements of a cognitive system.

It's closely aligned with what is known as balance theory or congruity theory.

Balance theory is a particular cognitive consistency theory that says that people prefer elements within a cognitive system to be internally consistent with one another, in other words balanced. Balanced systems are assumed to be more stable and psychologically pleasant than imbalanced systems.

The theory has been specified and tested within the context of systems which involve three elements and these systems are referred to as the P.O.X. diatriads or POCS triads.

P is person, O is other person and X substimulus or event.

The cognitive dissonance theory, the father of a cognitive dissonance theory is of course Leon Festinger and the father of a balanced theory is Fritz Heider and they came up with this theory more or less at the same time Heider came up with his theory in 1946.

And Heider's theory includes the principle of othering, the other.

Congruity theory is another cognitive consistency theory. It was proposed by psychologist Charles Osgood and Percy Tanenbaum.

And congruity theory focuses on the role of persuasive communication in attitude change, how communication changes attitude.

Congruity theory is similar to balanced theory. It postulates that people tend to prefer elements within a cognitive system to be internally consistent with one another.

All these theories agree about this. Accordingly, if a person receives a persuasive communication and he has a negative attitude towards the content of the message, but a positive attitude to the source of the message or vice versa, then the recipient would be motivated to revise both of these attitudes in some degree in order to restore congruity.

So if you think ill of someone, if you dislike someone or really hate someone or criticize or disagree with someone, but he has a message that you agree with, or if you totally agree with the message, but the person, the messenger, the person who gave up, gave out the message is you admire that person or you believe that person, this creates a dissonance and you would try to somehow reconcile the two. You would modify your attitudes in order not to feel bad about the persuasive communication or the persuasive communicator.

Congruity theory differs from balanced theory in that it takes into account gradations of evaluations of elements and therefore it makes more precise predictions regarding the magnitude of change required to restore congruity among elements.

But I will not go too deeply into any of them. I just want to give you a taste or a feel of the theories in the field.

Self-affirmation theory is a major theory. It was proposed by psychologist Claude Steele S-T-E-E-L-E and it's a concept that people are motivated to maintain views of themselves as good objects. People want to see themselves as moral, competent, stable, safe, beloved, able to control important outcomes and so forth. People really want to attribute to themselves good qualities. This is doubly true with the narcissist because the narcissist needs to lie to himself about his good qualities. He needs to negate a bad object.

When I say he, it's a she, yes, half of all narcissists are women. They need to negate a bad object. The bad object is a set of voices, a set of introjects inside the narcissist that keeps informing the narcissist that he is inadequate and delinquent and stupid and ugly and a loser and a failure and unworthy and unlovable and so on. The bad object is intolerable, is horrible and the narcissist needs to negate this bad object by lying to himself that he's the opposite of all these things, that he's all-knowing, that he's godlike, that he's brilliant, that he's perfect, etc. So in the narcissist case, the need for self-affirmation is compulsive and counterfactual, not grounded in reality.

In healthy people, when some aspect of this positive self-view of this good object is challenged, people experience psychological discomfort. They may attempt to reduce this discomfort by directly resolving the inconsistency between the new information and the self or by affirming some other aspect of the self or by doing both. These are healthy coping mechanisms.

The narcissist reacts with rage. He's trying to intimidate the source into changing their mind. He devalues the source of information and denies and ignores the information. He reframes and falsifies and confabulates and so his reactions are highly dysfunctional and also harmful to himself and to the environment.

Self-affirmation theory is largely used as an alternative to cognitive dissonance theory.

To explain this phenomenon, I think self-affirmation theory is much better at describing narcissism than cognitive dissonance theory.

There is a self-consistency perspective. It's a variation of cognitive dissonance theory.

In the self-consistency perspective theory, if you wish, cognitive dissonance is considered particularly likely to occur when an inconsistency involves some aspect of the self.

So the self-consistency perspective is a bridge between cognitive dissonance theory and self-affirmation theory.

It says that, yeah, cognitive dissonance happens, but usually when the self-image is threatened or self-perception is good, moral, upright, successful is threatened.

When there's a threat to one's positive self-image, then there's dissonance.

And that, of course, sits well with both cognitive dissonance theory and self-affirmation theory.


This perspective, though, differs from self-affirmation theory in that dissonance can be reduced only by resolving the specific inconsistency that gave rise to the discomfort.

It does not allow for the possibility that dissonance can be reduced by affirming some other aspect of the self.

And this perspective or theory was suggested by psychologist Eliot Aronson.

Aronson, A-R-O-N-S-O-N. Aronson and all the other psychologists I mentioned are American.

A Pro-American, the New Look theory, it's a version of cognitive dissonance theory.

And it postulates that cognitive dissonance is a result of behavior that causes aversive consequences. The dissonance occurs when a person assumes responsibility for these bad consequences.

And then he experiences physiological arousal, for example, anxiety, that they perceive to be negative.

People who experience this perceive the feeling to be negative and as a result of the consequences.

So the New Look theory is about actions and consequences, causes and effects.

When you behave in a way that yields harmful outcomes to you and to others, this creates a dissonance. If you assume responsibility for your actions, you have to assume responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

This creates a new and normal anxiety, bad feeling, self-loathing sometimes, regret, remorse. All these are perceived as negative effects. They're not pleasant.

And so this leads to attempts to reduce the dissolves.

Self-perception theory is the hypothesis that people often have only limited access to their attitudes, beliefs, traits, or psychological states, limited insight.

In such cases, people must attempt to infer the nature of these internal cues in a manner similar to the inference processes they use when making judgments about other people.

In other words, the self-perception theory says you're always an observer. The same way you observe other people and try to somehow gauge or infer their state of mind. You see the way other people behave and you derive from these conclusions about their state of mind. You're doing the same with yourself. You observe yourself in action. You analyze your choices, decisions, behaviors, and so on.

And based on that, you derive a theory, a hypothesis about your state of mind. You see yourself crying and you tell yourself, "Well, I must be sad because I'm crying." That's the self-perception theory.

So for example, a person may infer what their attitude is by considering past behaviors related to the attitude object.

So if you love someone or have loved someone in the past, and then you behave in a certain way, you would say, "Well, I'm behaving this way because I love them." Approach behaviors imply a positive attitude. Avoidance behaviors imply a negative attitude.

Self-perception theory has been offered as an alternative explanation for some phenomena traditionally interpreted in terms of cognitive dissonance theory.

And it was used to explain the success of certain sales behaviors and marketing behaviors, by the way.

Anyhow, it was proposed by the psychologist Darryl Bemand you can read about it online.

Now, all these sit within a much bigger theory known as cognitive behavior theory.

Cognitive behavior theory is actually, again, a family of theories. They derive from general behavioral theory, and they consider cognitive or thinking processes, thought processes, as significant mediators of behavioral change.

Cognitive behavior theories say if you change your cognitions, it would automatically change your behaviors. And this is, of course, the foundation of cognitive behavior therapy.

A central feature in the theoretical formulations of a process is that people respond primarily to cognitive representations of their environments, rather than to the environments themselves. This is very crucial, as this explains a lot when it comes to pathological narcissism.

Pathological narcissism is emphasizing the representation of the environment, including people in the environment, external objects, at the expense of the environment itself. So whereas healthy people compare the representation of the environment to the environment in order to make sure that they match, the narcissist ignores the environment altogether and focuses only on the representation of the environment.

Now, of course, this theory led to the emergence of therapeutic procedures that incorporate cognitive behavior techniques to affect self-image and through self-image behaviors. And I will not go into it right now.

An interesting theory is the Schachter-Singer theory.

Schachter-Singer theory was proposed by Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer. It's a theory that says that experiencing and identifying emotional states are functions of both physiological arousal and cognitive interpretations of the physiological arousal.

This is known as attribution of emotion, cognitive arousal theory of emotion, the Schachter theory, two-factor theory of emotion, etc., etc.

This is very important. It means that emotions are triggered by cognitions or even that emotions are cognitions. But emotions are compounded cognitions, whereas cognitions usually are epistemological. They relate to thinking. They comprise thinking and knowledge.

This is classical cognition. Emotions are comprised of classical cognition plus a physiologically aroused state.

So emotion is like cognition plus body or signals from the body, whereas classical cognition, in the sense that we are discussing in this video, is only the thinking, knowledge, identity, memory, interpretation of perception part.

The James Lange theory is a theory proposed by William James and Carl Georg Lange, a Danish physiologist. Lange and James collaborated, and they came up with a theory that different feelings, different feeling states stem from the feedback that the body gives, especially the gods, by the way, in their work for some reason, voluntary musculature.

So the body gives a lot of signals to the brain, and the brain interprets these signals in terms of feelings or emotions.

The theory hypothesizes that there are as many physiological responses as there are different intrapsychic feelings or emotions, and that each of these responses proceeds rather than follows the feeling.

So here we introduce the element of the body. The body intrudes, interacts with cognition to generate emotions.

Never mind if you adopt the James Lange approach or Schachter approach or whatever. Both the predominant schools today believe that emotional, that physiological arousal leads to emotions or emotional arousal via cognition. Cognition is a kind of mediator, or at the very least combines with physiological arousal as an interpreter, interprets physiological arousal and gives rise to emotions.

And there is some theory, there's a theory called cognitive appraisal theory. It's a theory that says that cognitive evaluation is involved in the generation of each and every emotion. Evaluation includes a primary appraisal and a secondary appraisal.

I'm not going to it right now. And so this concept is elaborated in the cognitive motivational relational theory, which recognizes that cognition is one of the three simultaneously operating processes that contribute to the generation of emotion.

I will deal with this in a separate video. It has to do with core relational things. The whole thing was proposed originally by Richard Lazarus and merits a separate video. But again, we come to the point that cognition is perceived as a mediator.


Now here is exactly the explanation. Why narcissists have no access to their positive emotions because of their cognitive distortions.

You cannot access your emotions if your cognition is deformed, disrupted, dysfunctional, in somehow distorted, even biased.

So the narcissist cognition, when it comes to specific issues, is distorted, cannot be relied upon, and definitely is not in touch with reality, but is in touch with an internal fantastic space which incorporates the false self.

So it's all false. It's all make-believe. It's a movie. It's a theater production. It's not real. And because the cognition in this sense is so defunct and deficient, it does not allow the narcissist direct contact between his body and his emotions.

And so it distorts, the cognition distorts physiological arousal signals in a way that doesn't give rise to positive emotions, but give rise only to negative emotions.

The narcissist metastatic cancerous cognition will interpret all signs of sexual arousal as negative emotions. We'll never interpret signs of physiological arousal as positive emotions.

Now what the narcissist calls love is not love. It's not an emotion and it's definitely not positive. It is arousal owing to the fantasy. It's arousal induced by the fantasy. It is a thrill. It's an adventure.

So it's nothing to do with a positive emotion.

The narcissist's cognition filters out positive emotions, prevents the narcissist from experiencing positive emotions.

So the source problem, why the narcissist doesn't have empathy, why he doesn't have positive emotions is actually his cognition. His cognition, which gives rise to cognitive distortions like grandiosity, which colludes and collaborates with substitute realities such as the fantasy and the false self and which metastasizes cancerously and prevents the narcissist from acting self efficaciously, efficiently in the world and from experiencing positive emotions.

The narcissist, pathological narcissism, therefore, is a cognitive sickness, problem, cognitive disorder, problem with cognition.

And this is true also for trauma victims of a variety of stripes and colors, including borderline personality disorder and victims or survivors of complex trauma and PTSD.

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