Narcissists Who Forgive, Communal Psychopaths

Uploaded 8/25/2021, approx. 12 minute read

Get this, that you hold a degree in psychology, doesn't make you an expert on narcissism and psychopathy. Psychology is a vast field, with dozens of sub-specialties. It's not enough to have a PhD or something in psychology. You need to work in the field for decades, you need to study, you need to be involved in all kinds of research, you need to publish peer-reviewed papers, you need to participate in international conferences, and if you don't do any of these, you're not an expert.

Unfortunately online, there are many people with academic degrees, real ones in psychology, but who don't have the first clue about narcissism or end psychopathy and pretend that they do. Or you know what, even honestly believe that they do, delude themselves into thinking that they're experts, they're not.

So today I would like to discuss three bits of nonsense propagated by these self-styled, self-proclaimed experts.

And I would like to start by the famous sentence, all psychopaths are narcissists. That is not true.

As I said, many self-styled narcissism experts would tell you with the fake authoritativeness of the hack that all psychopaths are narcissists and it is rank nonsense.

The comorbidity of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder and the comorbidity of narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy, which is by the way not an accepted clinical entity, it's not an accepted diagnosis.

Anyhow, the comorbidity of narcissism and psychopathy, in other words, the number of times we diagnose pathological narcissism and psychopathy in the same patient or client, this comorbidity is there, but it's still a small minority of the cases.

Yes, you heard me well. Only very few psychopaths are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and only very few peer people with narcissistic personality disorder are diagnosed with psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder.

So the sentence, all psychopaths and narcissists is counterfactual. It represents profound ignorance of both narcissism and psychopathy.

Where is the source of the confusion?

Most psychopaths are grandiose. They have grandiosity, but anyone who confuses grandiosity with narcissism has no business deceiving the gullible into believing that he or she is an expert on narcissism because grandiosity is not narcissism.

Grandiosity is a fantasy defense. It is founded on a cognitive distortion, a misperception of reality, an impaired reality testing.

Grandiosity makes an appearance in many mental health disorders, many personality disorders, including borderline, paranoid and schizoid personality disorder.

Grandiosity appears in certain mood disorders, for example, the manic phase of bipolar disorders and grandiosity also appears in psychotic disorders.

And this is a very partial list.

Grandiosity is an extensive parameter of several mental health disorders, one of which is, of course, narcissistic personality disorder. It's a fantasy defense and fantasy is very common in the vast majority, actually, of mental illnesses.

One should not confuse grandiosity with narcissism if one is really an expert. If one were really into this subfield of psychology, one would never make this mistake.

Grandiosity is common to both narcissists and psychopaths. No one is denying this.

Actually, the PCL-R, the test designed by Robert Hare, which is commonly used to diagnose psychopathy, the PCL-R has a grandiosity dimension.

But grandiosity that is common to both narcissists and psychopaths does not make narcissists and psychopaths one in the same. It does not even predict comorbidity.

The fact that narcissists and psychopaths both share the trait or the cognitive distortion of grandiosity doesn't make them one in the same or comorbid.

In other words, very few psychopaths are actually narcissists because narcissism is a lot more than grandiosity. Narcissism involves a monopoly of traits, behaviors, cognitions, effects, moods, etc. Narcissism is a hyper complex phenomenon. It cannot be phenomenon, it cannot be reduced only to grandiosity.

And so these self-proclaimed experts, they fail at Narcissism 101. It's a class that they fail spectacularly when they say that all psychopaths are narcissists. But this is only one of the more egregious examples of self-propagated ignorance online, ignorance masquerading as expertise. The gullible fall for it, what they want to hear. They gravitate towards these so-called experts and scholars. But these people have no idea what they're talking about. I'm terribly sorry. They spew nonsense.

Let's consider another case. Twenty years ago, I coined the phrase communal pro-social narcissist. I described the kind of narcissist whose grandiosity is invested in being actually morally upright, being charitable, being altruistic, believing and forgiving. This communal pro-social narcissist is what you would call a good person. He holds no grudges. He is not vindictive. He is helpful. He is supportive. He imitates empathy to a great extent.

Similarly, there is a communal pro-social psychopath. It's a psychopath who leverages his psychopathy to find love, acceptance and social legitimacy. He sublimates his antisocial tendencies.

Secondary psychopaths, facto two psychopaths, are all communal pro-social psychopaths. It's another name. Secondary psychopathy is another name for borderline personality disorder because it involves mostly dysregulated emotions. The covert borderline, which is a new diagnosis that I'm proposing and promoting right now, the covert borderline is a communal variant of the psychopath. He's a good family man. He loves his children. He's faithful to his spouse. He is a pillar of the community and society.

The communal pro-social psychopath seeks love the way a psychopath would, for example, by becoming sexually dysregulated, unboundaried, self-trashy and promiscuous. These are all psychopathic behaviors because they involve recklessness. They involve a lack of impulse control and, to some extent, contumaciousness and defiance.

The communal psychopath would leverage his psychopathic traits and behaviors to obtain socially acceptable goals such as belonging, acceptance, love, endearment, family. This subtype of psychopath craves to belong and to be loved, to be liked, to be admired and desired. And so he would do anything, including antisocial acts, to feel that way and to accomplish these goals because psychopaths are always goal-oriented. But the goals could be socially positive, pro-social.

Both primary and secondary psychopaths can be communal, but their personality disorder, psychopathy, is likely to be comorbid with other mental health issues. And it is this comorbidity that causes them to behave in ways which are reminiscent of borderlines and pro-social or communal narcissists.

Actually, only recently there's been a study published and this study refutes a lot of the nonsense propagated online. Narcissists are merciless. Narcissists are heartless. Narcissists are callous and relentless and ruthless. Narcissists are out to get you, they're vindictive and so on and so forth.

First of all, this is a description not of narcissists, but of psychopathic narcissists, malignant narcissists or psychopaths.

Typical narcissists are not like that at all, actually. So there's a lot of confusion, not awful confusion, between narcissists and psychopaths.

The study is titled, I'm merciful, am I not? Facets of narcissism and forgiveness revisited. It was co-authored by Virgil, Zeidler Hill, Michela, Schroeder, Abe, or something, and Ramsay, Futha. I am seriously not responsible for these names and I fully understand why people with such names would end up being psychologists trying to understand the punishment inflicted upon them.

Okay, there was a joke. Don't take it so seriously. Anyhow, these guys and girls had published a study in 2017, which one would have thought would have informed the self-proclaimed and self-styled experts online, but they don't bother to read anything. They don't bother to educate themselves. They just keep spewing and rehashing and recycling the same old, worn, trite cliches, which are counterfactual in the majority of cases.

Let's look at what this study says.

The study examined links between narcissism and forgiveness, believe it or not.

Forgiveness was assessed via self-reporting and via a test called the Implicit Association Test.

Antagonistic narcissism was negatively correlated with forgiveness.

That's no surprise there. Antagonistic narcissism is what we would call overt or grandiose narcissism, or as we are currently beginning to believe, a form of psychopathy, primary psychopathy.

But a genetic and communal pro-social narcissism were positively correlated with forgiveness.

You heard it correctly. Big numbers of narcissists, agentic narcissists, communal narcissists, pro-social narcissists, it's not a small number.

Big number of narcissists actually tend to forgive more than usual.

Narcissism facets were not significantly correlated with implicit forgiveness.

Let me read to you the abstract of the study.

Narcissists are said to be particularly unforgiving, yet previous research remained inconclusive. This is likely because most previous studies focused on narcissism as a unitary construct, thereby neglecting its multiple facets.

The present study aimed to clarify the nuanced associations between different facets of narcissism and forgiveness, the latter being assessed via self-report and non-self-report measures.

The result of a structural equation model SEM showed that antagonistic aspects of narcissism were negatively correlated with explicit forgiveness.

No surprise there. Importantly, agentic as well as communal aspects of narcissism were positively correlated with explicit forgiveness. Aspects of narcissistic personality were not correlated with implicit forgiveness, but were correlated with explicit forgiveness.

The results suggest that not all facets of narcissism are associated with an unforgiving stance.

Let me break it down to you using human speak.

Narcissistic people, every self-styled and self-proclaimed expert online will tell you that narcissistic people, they hold grudges, they are unforgiving, they go after you, they are vindictive, etc. That is not true, at least not true for all narcissists.

As I said, this study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality in 2017 and what these authors did, they broke narcissism into three subtypes, antagonistic, agentic and communal.

Antagonistic narcissism is a tendency to strive for supremacy and derogate other people. Agentic narcissism refers to a tendency to serve, promote oneself and seek admiration. Common narcissism describes the tendency to have a grandiose view of one's own helpfulness to other people.

I'm quoting from an interview that Ramzi Fattuta, the lead author, had given. He said in the interview, the construct of narcissism has fascinated me since I was working on my PhD thesis on the correlates of forgiveness.

Already there, I discovered that not all types of narcissism come across as unforgiving as previously assumed, as only the antagonistic but not the agentic narcissists tend to show revenge-related reactions following conflict or transgression.

My co-authors and I wanted to follow up on the relationship between different narcissism facets and forgiveness, further examining a third facet, communal narcissism, as well as narcissist forgiveness at an implicit, in other words, automatic level.

This is a huge study, by the way. One of the biggest studies ever conducted on narcissism. There were well over 1,100 individuals and they found evidence that certain forms of narcissism are actually associated with a more forgiving stance.

You heard it here. You heard it here the first time.

Many narcissists are more forgiving than normal people.

Individuals who scored high on measures of agentic and communal narcissism tended to agree with statements like, I tend to get over it quickly when someone hurts my feelings.

The opposite was true for those who scored high on a measure of antagonistic narcissism.

So, Fattuta says in an interview to Cyprus, not all types of narcissists seem to be unforgiving, merciless or reasonful.

In fact, those narcissists who elevate themselves above others based on their self-perceived moral superiority, those narcissists known as communal narcissists, or those narcissists who elevate themselves for the sake of being admired by other people, agentic narcissists, those narcissists describe themselves as being particularly lenient.

That's me.

In contrast, those narcissists marked by a hostile interpersonal style known as antagonistic narcissism reported greater levels of unforgiveness.

Interestingly, however, continues Fatauti, all three narcissism types were not correlated with implicit self-views of forgiveness.

This observation may indicate, for example, that the concept of forgiveness is not central to narcissists' inner self-views, self-perception.

However, this hypothesis remains to be tested in future research.

The study is very well constructed. It's cross-sectional and it prevented the authors from making inferences about cause and effect.

Fatauti adds in the interview, the causality of the narcissism-forgiveness relationship is yet to be established.

Do experiences of conflict and associated unforgiveness or forgiveness cultivate narcissistic traits? Or alternatively, does narcissism ultimately lead to the development of a more or less forgiving stance?

Which is the chicken? Which is the egg?

Also, continues Fatauti, we focused on grandiose narcissism as a continuous trait of normal, in other words, subclinical personality.

An open question pertains to whether the observed relationships hold for pathological narcissism as well.

These and other questions need to be addressed in future investigations.

Foreign-informed and updated view of narcissism stick to channels by real experts on the topic.

When you come across a channel, look at the biography of the self-proclaimed or self-styled expert. Did he or she publish anything on the topic in a peer-reviewed magazine, academic journal? Did she participate in any international conference and presented a paper or a video presentation? Is she recognized in her field? Is she cited by other authors? And if not, stay away, she or he, the self-proclaimed expert, are fake.

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