Pandemics: COVID-19 and Life's Meaninglessness (also in Abusive Relationships)

Uploaded 3/26/2020, approx. 11 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, and I will forever be the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited.

So there you have it. Take it or leave it.

Today we are going to discuss two pandemics.

One is again COVID-19, recent updates, and the other one is the meaninglessness of life in an abusive relationship.

So let's start with the less pernicious and less dangerous of the two, COVID-19.

The WHO, World Health Organization of the United Nations, announced that COVID-19 is growing exponentially.

Now I happen to be a mathematician, and an exponential series is a well-defined mathematical construct. You can't just play with words. Saying that this epidemic or pandemic is growing exponentially is nothing short of a lie, or much more likely, mind-blowing innumeracy, the equivalent of illiteracy.

Consider the following. If one person got infected, patient zero, and then this person passed his infection on to two other people, and he did it in four days, and these two other people, each one of them infected two other people, also in four days. After 120 days, how many cases do you think would be, would have been?

When I talk to people, they tell me 10,000 cases, half a million cases. The really audacious ones, the daring ones, tell me that there'll be a million cases.

Well here's the number. Taking these assumptions into account, one patient infects two patients in four days, two patients infect four patients in four days already, eight days have passed, and only seven patients are infected.

So after 120 days, there would have been 536,870,912 infected folks. Yes, you heard me right. After 120 days, there would have been half a billion people infected, more than 500 million people. If the pandemic was growing exponentially.

Okay, but you say you're not taking into account travel restrictions, you're not taking into account social distancing. That's why we don't have these numbers.

Wrong again. Social distancing started in earnest a mere six weeks ago. Travel restrictions have been imposed widely four weeks ago. If I take these two into account, the number drops from 536 million to 90 million.

In other words, let me repeat and make very clear, in an exponential series, where one person infects two others every four days, and these two infect four every two days, and these four infect eight every two days, and then there are travel restrictions and social distancing between four and six weeks ago, we should have had 90 million infected people.

What we have instead is 500,000 affected people, and this is proof that the pandemic is progressing in a mathematical linear progression, not an exponential or geometric one.

The situation is even worse than what I'm saying, because the WHO makes even more egregious assumptions. WHO claims that the growth factor is two to three. In other words, that every person infects three other people, not two, as in my calculation.

The WHO says that the doubling time is two to three days. In other words, the number of people who are infected doubles every two to three days, not every four days, like in my model.

Had I adopted the assumptions, the outlandish assumptions of the WHO, we would have had to import Martians and to infect them, because we would have run out of eligible humans.

There are many models in epidemiology. Epidemiology is a science that studies epidemics and pandemics, and there are many models. Most of these models are pretty simple, and they are what we call population simulation models.

But the really advanced models were ironically developed for Wall Street by people called quants. These are people like me, who are both physicists and mathematicians. These models make use of bleeding-edge mathematics, chaos theory, catastrophe theory. Yes, there is catastrophe theory. Fractals, special partial differential equations, line algebras, and neural networks.

I bet with you 500,000 to 1, that no medical doctor or no WHO staffer would even recognize these terms, let alone be able to deploy them and use them. They are not adept at making use of these astoundingly accurate tools which calculate propagation.

I studied medicine, and I can tell you the math in medical school is college-level at best. Calculus was Star Wars in medical school.

What these instruments tell us is that the pandemic is largely over. Yes, you heard right. The pandemic is largely over.

But wait a minute, you all yell in unison. Wait a minute, Vaknin. New infections are reported every day. What's wrong with you? Of course it's not over. It's just starting.

Well, what we are witnessing now is the tsunami crest of past infections. This virus has an inordinately long incubation period. There have been cases reported, these people fell ill 27 days after exposure to the virus. 14 days is common.

Actually, the WHO itself admits that the incubation period is about 10 days, perhaps longer 10, 11 days.

A typical virus like, for example, SARS. The incubation period is two days. Some strains of flu, six hours. In other words, with some strains of flu, if you're in fact exposed to an infected person, you develop symptoms within six hours.

With this virus, it takes anywhere between two days in rare cases to 27 days. It takes time.

So because of this long incubation period, of this particular strand of SARS, because this virus is a kind of SARS, because of this long incubation period, what we are witnessing today are not new infections. They are old infections. They are people who had been exposed to infected people weeks ago sometimes.

We are looking at the rearview mirror. We are looking at the distant light of stars.

You know that the light of stars takes years to cross the universe and get to us.

When we look at a star, we don't see the star as it is now. We see the star as it had been hundreds of years ago, sometimes thousands of years ago. When we look at the Sun, if we're foolish enough to do it, the light from the Sun takes eight and a half minutes to get to us. We always see the Sun as it had been eight and a half minutes ago. If it were to vanish right now, we would still have eight and a half minutes of grace, of warmth and light.

Currently we are watching the past of the pandemic and according to the most sophisticated mathematical models we have, this pandemic has no future.

So this is the first pandemic and the second one, as I promised, is the meaninglessness of life in abusive relationships.

Let's start with some high-falutin philosophical principles.

Life can never be meaningful without meaningful interpersonal relationships, especially with intimate partners or significant others, including friends.

If you don't have friends, you don't have intimate people in your life, your life cannot be meaningful.

Narcissists, psychopaths, histrionics and borderlines are incapable of having such profound connections, each disorder for its own psychodynamic reasons.

Consequently, even in the best of times and when they are gold-focused, the lives of these people are aimless, diffuse, derealized, depersonalized, confabulated, and dissociative.

These people meander and wander and stumble through their lives as if they were on some stage set, a theater stage, as some paternal, disinterested, they are mildly curious observers. They watch the comings and goings with sometimes mild amusement.

Often these people end up hurting and traumatizing others more by their absence than by their presence.

Lacking object constancy, their nearest and dearest are out of mind when they are out of sight.

Splitting a defense mechanism helps these people to justify egregiously immoral, antisocial, harmful and hurtful misconduct. If your partner or your friend is suddenly all bad, intentionally frustrating, persecutory and evil, surely whatever you do to him or her is in self-defense and morally justified, egosyntonic.

In his unsurpassed masterpiece, Mask of Sanity, which was shockingly published in the 1940s, long before we knew anything about this disorder as well, so deeply. So in his book, The Mask of Sanity, which by the way is available online, the fifth edition even, Cleckley suggests that meaningful relationships, I quote, influence to consistent purposive behavior.

In other words, he says that if you have a meaningful relationship, it drives you to behave in a way which is both consistent over time and goal-driven, even if the goal is just to keep the intimate partner in your life or to make a family or to have fun together.

Whatever the goal is, it's consistent and there is a pursuit of the goal, there's a clear trajectory.

Studies like Lisa Wade are demonstrating that the young nowadays, people under the age of 25, have elevated meaninglessness and they elevate their meaninglessness to an item of faith.

It's part of their ideology, a credo. It is best taste to attach to your sex partner. Dating is down by 50% and it is replaced by hookups.

So meaninglessness is a foundational pillar of the existence of the young today. They adhere to meaninglessness, religiously, they avoid meaningfulness and significance. They mock it sometimes, they deride it.

The problem is, meaninglessness is malignant. It metastasizes to all other areas of life.

So if you have meaninglessness in sex, this meaninglessness will spread like toxic fumes and will infect your future marriage or partnership, will infect your parenthood. Everything will become meaningless, even your profession, your job.

So this desultory form of existence cannot be confined to one aspect or one dimension. It pervades, it poisons the person.

Meaninglessness is a psychopathic fixture. It goes hand-in-hand with what used to be called pseudologia fantastica, a pathological lying.

Dan Ariely, a famous psychologist, has convincingly demonstrated that lying had become a way of life. In some experiments, nine out of ten people lied habitually.

But meaninglessness is most discernible, most dominant in abusive relationships.

Why is that?

Abuses control their victims by rendering the lives of the victims meaningless and inconsequential.

And the problem is that the abuser's prey, the abuser's victim, adopts the abuser's point of view.

What does the abuser say?

He's saying, you're nothing without me. You're unworthy trash. You're bad, you're sad, and you're mad.

And the victim adopts his point of view.

And this kind of perpetual rejection and hurt often renders the abuser's judgment a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In other words, the victim becomes what the abuser wants them to become. The victim conforms to the abuser's point of view. The victim fulfills the abuser's expectations.

We have famous experiments in classrooms where a teacher mistreated a group of students or ignored them, and they became bad boys and bad girls. They began to misbehave.

So it's the same with the abuser.

This brainwashing, constant brainwashing, works.

CPTSD survivors, survivors of complex post-traumatic stress disorders, these survivors are typically indistinguishable from patients with borderline personality disorder. They are impulsive, they're reckless, they're promiscuous, they abuse substances, they have mood lability and emotional dysregulation.

Exposed to the abuser's grinding and relentless devaluation, his so-called intimate partners and insignificant others, they resort to vengeful and demonstrative self-trashing.

And this self-trashing is intended to hurt the perpetrator by debasing his property, so to speak. This is done often in humiliating public displays of infidelity or drunkenness or by committing antisocial, even criminal acts.

But there are many ways to self-trash. To become truant is to self-trash, to overspend, to over-shop, to compulsively gamble, to overwork. These are all forms, self-destructive forms of self-trashing.

And with these self-destructive, self-defeating actions, the victim is protesting.

Victim is saying, you say that my life is meaningless? I'm gonna make myself meaningful to you via your pain. By harming you, by traumatizing you, by provoking you, my abuser, I'm gonna show you that I can be meaningful to you. My meaning would be inflicting pain on you, as my abuser.

It's a power play, of course. It's a power play, but the victim can never win, because the abuser doesn't really care. There's no emotional attachment or emotional involvement. Remember the beginning of this lecture?

It is the victim who disintegrates, finally. She acts out, she de-compensates, and she lives with the trauma for many, many years to come.

Stay healthy, stay well, stay safe, don't panic

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