Psychopathic (Malignant) Narcissist: Best of Both Worlds (with Jim Mora, New Zealand)

Uploaded 8/3/2022, approx. 30 minute read

Right, let's set sail, shall we? Absolutely.

I'm at your disposal.

Apologies for the hassle.

No, not at all. It was easy. It was easy for Jordan.

Dr. Sam Vaknin, hello to you.

Yes, hello. Thank you for having me.

So late, so late in the day.

Thank you for coming on. When were you first diagnosed a narcissist? Can you tell us?

I was diagnosed twice in the span of 10 years by two different psychologists or diagnosticians. So it's a pretty safe diagnosis, I would say.

But I hope this conversation is going to revolve around the disorder rather than me.

Yes, but we'll do it bit by bit. So the diagnosis for all of us, Sam, how to spot them, people like you if you like. What are the signs, please, if you wouldn't mind?

Well, it's not so much self-centeredness as you would tend to believe. I mean, narcissism is associated erroneously with egoticism, being egodystonic. It's more to do with a desperate attempt to obtain attention, positive attention or negative attention, in order to regulate the internal landscape of the narcissist.

The narcissist needs you to pay attention to him. He needs to be seen in order to stabilize himself, stabilize his sense of self-worth, stabilize his self-esteem and so on and so forth. That's the immediate, immediately discernible feature.

The second thing is the asymmetry. The narcissist is interested in himself much more than he's interested in you. He's a bad listener. He would tend to veer the conversation back to himself.

The third sign is that he lacks empathy.

You tell him something about yourself and it's harrowing and it's sad and he doesn't flinch. He doesn't react. We call it reduced affect display. It has no display of emotions or affect when he should have.

The fourth sign is that he tries to exploit you somehow. He tries to take something from you.

The narcissist's world is very transactional and he would discard you on a dime if he reaches a conclusion that you have nothing to give him.

In the currency, the narcissist seeks, as opposed to the psychopath, for example, is narcissistic supply, attention, adulation, admiration, absent this infamy being feared.

The psychopath, and it's very important to distinguish a narcissist from the psychopath.

The psychopath doesn't care about other people. He doesn't need other people. He does not depend on other people to regulate his sense of self-worth and his self-perception and self-image.

The narcissist has an inflated grandiose self-image which he needs to maintain with input from other people. The psychopath doesn't.

The psychopath is goal-oriented. He wants money. He wants sex. He wants contacts and connections. He wants power, etc.

I could say that the psychopath is a caricature of a normal human being. It's a normal human being, rigged large, gun or eye, while the narcissist is a void, an emptiness, an absence, not in many respects not human at all. And that's not me saying this. That's the father of the field, Otto Kernberg.

I was reading the list of characteristics, some of which you've described, common to narcissists, Sam, and I thought, I know people like this who are nevertheless good deep down. They may act narcissistically, crave attention, hate to be questioned, want to be right, but they might also protect their children. They wouldn't steal. They're loyal to their friends.

So what are they? Are they also narcissistic-like people?

They are not narcissists. It's an excellent question.

The word narcissist has been devalued, has been depreciated, is banded around erroneously, applied to people, used to label and castigate people and insult people, and so on.

Narcissism, narcissistic personality disorder, is a clinical entity. It's a disease exactly like COVID-19 or tuberculosis. It's a disease, and it has to be diagnosed very carefully. It's usually a series of tests that take a few hours and then take a few days to interpret.

Structured interviews, talking to friends and family of the narcissist, and so on and so forth.

But there is something called narcissistic style or narcissistic personality without a disorder. That's been first described by a famous psychologist by the name of Lenore Grannon.

Lenore Grannon and later Theodore Millon describe people who have narcissistic traits, they have narcissistic behaviors, they tend to react with narcissistic defenses, and yet they are not full-fledged narcissists.

You're right, they have a good core. They are pro-social, they are communal, they have families, their lives are stable more or less, they have a career, they pursue goals in the socially acceptable way, they sublimate, etc., etc.

These are not narcissists. These are, I don't know, a-holes, or they could be very hypersensitive to rejection and criticism, or what have you, but they are not narcissists.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a pernicious, dangerous alteration in the personality of the patient in early childhood.

The inability to complete certain critical psychological processes, and consequently, the narcissist is a half-baked human being. It's not complete, it's an incomplete human being, and the narcissist is dangerous because of this, because he's unable to perceive other people as human being.

He doesn't have the tools, he doesn't read cues properly, and he regards other people as avatars, as extensions of himself, as instruments, he functionalizes them, instrumentalizes them, he objectifies them, and people with narcissistic style don't do this.

They may be unpleasant, they may be reactive, they may be defiant, but they don't objectify you, or they don't ignore you, your needs, the very fact that you are separate from them, your wishes, preferences, your emotions, they don't do this.

People with narcissistic style.

I know you don't want to talk about yourself, but aspects of you must be germane. I've seen your YouTube channel, and you have a very charming persona.

So narcissists, in order to succeed with other people, must like sociopaths and psychopaths, sometimes have charm, great charm attached, surely.

Narcissists are far less charming than psychopaths.

Sociopath, by the way, is not a clinical word, it's a media type word, it has no clinical meaning.

Psychopath, even psychopath is a disputed label, very disputed. For example, you won't find the word psychopath in the Diagnostic and Statistical menu. There's a lot of debate as to what is what and who is who.

Charm is more typical of the psychopath. The psychopath uses charm offensive, because he's goal oriented, and I'm saying he because majority of psychopaths are men, mainly.

So, the narcissist is much more akin to an autistic person. He is so into himself, he's so buried in his mind, that he tends to confuse external reality with internal reality.

He appears to be very clueless. He appears to stumble about. He becomes coercive, and then he becomes malleable and mellifluous. He shifts between behaviors which are socially acceptable and behaviors that are utterly unacceptable, antisocial.

So, the narcissist reminds me very much of Frankenstein's creation, kind of a golem, who kind of stumbles through life, attempting to extract by any means a narcissistic supply from people.

People tend to confuse narcissists with psychopaths, very much so. And the reason they tend to do this is because there is a subset, a subgroup, subtype of narcissists known as psychopathic narcissists, or malignant narcissists.

These are the narcissists that reach the headlines. These are the narcissists that incur or inflict the most damage. These are the visible narcissists that's the tip of the iceberg.

And because they are both narcissists and psychopaths, we call it comorbidity, when the two disorders exist in the same person, that creates a lot of confusion.

Because people tend to look to celebrities and famous people as examples, for examples, or they tend to look at their own environment, and they tend to impute certain traits and qualities to narcissists, because they came across a psychopathic narcissist.

Narcissism is a stealth subterranean phenomenon.

The typical narcissist is a junkie, is an addict, preoccupied 100% with his next fix of narcissistic supply. He doesn't have time to be charming or anything else for that matter. He doesn't have time to fulfill social roles, to be a husband, to be a lover, to be an intimate partner, to be a good worker, and so on. He's just, he's a junkie, simply. He's just into obtaining supply by any means possible.

Charm may come into it, if it works, but it's absolutely not necessary. And even I would say not common, narcissists are not charming, they're obnoxious, they're repulsive, but psychopaths are charming, you're right.

And because it seems to concern you, you're very concerned with placing me somehow. I'm a psychopathic narcissist, not a narcissist. I've been diagnosed with both disorders.

Right, I'm glad we've nailed that down.

And so when most of us talk about narcissism, we actually mean psychopathic narcissism, whether we were aware of that or not.

Exactly, yes. True.

The narcissist that you see, the celebrity narcissist, the politician narcissist, the serial killer narcissist, the narcissist at your workplace who make your life ill. These are all psychopathic narcissists, and they're usually goal oriented. They're usually very good at obtaining their goals, attaining the accomplishments they seek.

They are very charming, they can put on a facade, they're very misleading. They are not prone to fantasy, the narcissist, narcissism is a fantasy defense. The narcissist inhabits a la la land of fantasy, and he cannot tell the difference between his fantasy and reality.

For example, his grandiose, he perceives himself as godlike, and he's delusional about this, he cannot be convinced otherwise.

And so the narcissist you come across are typically psychopathic narcissists.

How big a subset of narcissism is psychopathic narcissism, then, because that's what we're mostly aware of.

Not only I cannot give you an answer to this, I cannot even tell you how many narcissists there are.

There's a huge debate as to the prevalence and incidence of narcissistic personality disorder in society.

So the numbers go anywhere from 1.6% in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual edition five text revision which was published a few weeks ago.

So these two studies that show that narcissistic personality disorder is is diagnosable or diagnosed in 3 to 6% of the population.

There's a complete disagreement about this. There's a complete disagreement as to the percentage of these narcissists who are comorbid. In other words, who have other mental health disorders, such as for example, borderline personality disorder.

There's antisocial personality disorders, psychopathy, and even mood disorders like depression or substance abuse disorder.

But I can tell you this, over the last 26 years, I've constructed a database of 1,910 now, this morning, 1,910 people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder by a qualified diagnostician. They respond to a questionnaire of 638 questions. It's a version of the MMPI, it's a test, a common test. They respond to this questionnaire and then annually, those of them who collaborate, not all of them do, annually they respond to a follow up test.

So I have a pretty unique database. I'm negotiating now to hand it over to the university.

I have a unique database of narcissists, the largest in the world by far. And Ion my database, which mind you, even so, is very small.

I would say based on my database, three to 5% of psychopathic narcissists.

The prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder in society at large would be between 2% and 3%. I think these are the correct figures.

So you're describing a class of people who are essentially miserable and vulnerable in all sorts of ways.

I think in your case, this aspect of your personality, although you are a psychopathic narcissist, this affected your relationships.

Can narcissists have successful relationships?

That's a very long question and a very short answer.

How can you have a relationship if you don't perceive the existence of other people, if you're solipsistic, if you're buried in your mind, if you have no ability to conceptualize the existence of other minds, in other words, no ability to construct what we call a theory of mind.

How can you have relationships with other people if you can't do intimacy because you don't have empathy?

If you have no interest in other people, because you're too preoccupied with the maintenance of the precarious house of cards that passes for your personality.

How can you have a relationship, a functional relationship with other people? If your sense of self-worth fluctuates wildly and you are subjected to problems in self-perception, self-image, you have an impaired reality testing, you perceive reality totally wrongly, you're delusional.

How can you be in contact with other people or maintain a relationship with other people if you are in the throes of mood swings and mostly depression throughout your life when you are unable to obtain supply?

How your narcissists are exploitative, they are transactional, it's a give and take operation. They discard other people because people to them are commodities, they're interchangeable, they are sources of supply.

A narcissist looks for what I call the four S's, that is sex, safety, supply, sadistic or narcissistic, and services. And if you provide a narcissist with two out of these four, two out of the four S's, you're in regardless of who you are. Who you are doesn't matter to the narcissist.

What matters is, can you provide the goods?

It's a little like having a relationship with an internet service provider, more or less.

And so it's all the narcissist as distinct from the psychopath.

The narcissist is far less embedded in reality. And you're right that the narcissist is constantly miserable in a state of dysphoria.

This used to be disputed until about 10 years ago or even five years ago. Many, many people, including many, many scholars were saying, no, the narcissist is happy go lucky. The narcissist is self-assured and has enormous self-confidence and what have you.

But today we know this is not true.

The recent iteration of the diagnostic and statistical manual describes someone who falls prey constantly to depression, who is critically and addictively dependent on input from other people.

The narcissist is pro-social, not like the psychopath. The psychopath is anti-social. The psychopath is defiant, in your face, couldn't care less. He devalues you because he holds you in contempt. He is reckless. He is reactant. He is contumacious of each authority. That's the psychopath.

The narcissist depends on you. He needs you.

The narcissist needs you to tell him how great he is, what a genius he is, how amazingly handsome and drop-dead gorgeous he is, etc., etc. You are the narcissist's pusher and he's a junkie. He needs your drug.

So narcissists are actually pro-social.

Now, you mentioned a very critical word. You mentioned the word vulnerable.

Again, until the end of the 1980s, there was this misconception or misconception of narcissists as egosyntonic, in other words, as comfortable in their own skins, as daring do, as entrepreneurial, as risk takers, as novelty seekers, as there was this misperception of the narcissist as a psychopath, in effect.

And then in the late 1980s, two scholars by the name of Akhtar and Cooper came up with a description of the covert narcissist or the vulnerable, fragile, shy narcissist.

And today we begin to believe that the narcissist who is overt, daring do, courageous, takes on the world, in your face, Donald Trump type, that's not a narcissist actually. That's probably a psychopath.

And that the only real narcissist is what used to be called a covert or vulnerable narcissist. It's a narcissist who is very insecure, very passive aggressive, very fragile and weak, very vulnerable. And a narcissist who is hiding, a narcissist who is in concealment, a narcissist who leverages and uses other people, other, for example, uses psychopaths to obtain supply, etc.

In other words, we believe that the only real type of narcissist is a compensatory narcissist. A narcissist who deep inside has an inferiority complex, believes himself to be inadequate and deficient, is ashamed, driven by shame, and compensates for these situations by presenting a facade, a facade of grandiosity, imperturbability, sang-fua, a facade of see if I care, I'm untouchable, I'm superior, you're all inferior to me, etc.

It's a sad and easily crackable, easily broken with any hint of disagreement, of criticism, of failure, of defeat.

Narcissism is reconceived now as a post traumatic condition and trauma always induces a lot of shame and guilt.

And these don't go away. Narcissism can be easily described as a prolonged grief syndrome. A child who's been abused, who's been traumatized in numerous ways, and then this child grieves, grieves what could have been, grieves the lost potential, grieves the absent self actualization. It's a child in grief, a traumatized child in grief.

The closest you can get to understanding the narcissists.

And this has nothing to do with the psychopath.

Psychopath is not like this. It's a totally different thing.

We're talking with Dr. Sam Vaknin. It would seem hard to arrive or assemble the facade of grandiosity.

It seems that the narcissists you're describing wouldn't get the reassurances and compliments they so desperately need, because you're talking about people who sound like they're the leeches on society, maybe the mentally unwell, addicts, criminals, unemployables, a kind of subclass, really, Sam.

No, that would be psychopaths, actually. There is a subtype of psychopath known as factor one psychopath, who end up the way you just described.

The typical narcissist is internally insecure, feels inadequate and inferior. A lot of shame, some guilt, vulnerability is very vulnerable to any hint of criticism or disagreement, but there's a lot of bombast and braggadaccio and he is boastful, he presents a facade of invulnerability and grandiosity. He tends to impute to himself accomplishments which are incommensurate with real life, with his efforts and work. He tends to regard himself as much more important than other people. So if he works in a team, he would attribute to himself the accomplishments of the entire team, etc.

So he goes about presenting what we call the false self. It's a concoction. It's a narrative.

So that person would not achieve, though, like a psychopath in business or politics or other arenas. That person is too vulnerable to use that word again to achieve properly.

Indeed, we are beginning to realize that the vast majority of narcissists are prone to disappointment and consequently to depression and so on and so forth.

The new description there is in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the text revision published a few weeks ago, there's something called the alternative model, the alternative model of narcissistic personality disorder.

And when you read this alternative model, you get the picture that I am describing and you are encapsulating well.

A failure, a failure. Someone who attempts to be a psychopath, but fails.

Narcissism can easily be described as failed psychopathy. It's someone who wants to garner recognition, attention, adulation, admiration, keeps trying by presenting a false self, a fake facade, but keeps failing.

Because it keeps failing is in a state of depression, dysphoria, disappointment, and so on and so forth. This is the narcissist's life, actually.

Is narcissism treatable?

No. Narcissism is not treatable because it is not an add-on to the personality. It's not a plug-in. It is the personality. The entire personality is deformed beyond reconstruction in early childhood.

And so what can be done is some behaviors, abrasive behaviors and social behaviors, autistic behaviors, if you wish, and lack of responsiveness to social and sexual cues and so on. These can be modified and taught so the narcissist can acquire better tools to cope with his environment and the narcissist can learn to behave in ways which are more socially commendable and acceptable.

But the core of narcissism is untouchable.

I've developed a new treatment modality. It's called cold therapy, which seems to have a positive effect on the narcissist's need for narcissistic supply, on the narcissist's false self and grandiosity.

But it does nothing else. Even this therapy, which is seriously nuclear weapon, I re-traumatized the narcissist. Even this therapy has very, very limited and honestly pretty disappointing outcomes.

The rest is untouchable. The lack of empathy, the inability to conceive of the existence of other people, the confusion between the external world reality and the internal world, which is essentially psychotic.

It sounds a lot like psychosis. The exploitativeness, the rapaciousness, the predatory nature of the narcissist.

Luckily, the narcissist seeks only supply, but he's still as predatory as the psychopath when it comes to obtaining supply.

The inability to maintain long term interpersonal relationships, which this makes the narcissist very similar to the borderline.

So all these cannot be touched, let alone modified.

Are social media creating more narcissists, making society more narcissistic, or is it just amplifying narcissistic seeming traits, Sam?

What social media to start with bring out narcissists. It's a way for narcissists to obtain supply, and a way which is devoid of most of the risks of face to face interactions.

Narcissists are ill equipped for intimate face to face interactions, or non intimate face to face interactions. They're ill equipped to deal with real life humans.

And so social media allows the narcissist to leverage his best aspects, for example, his intellect, if he has one, or his body. If he uses his body to obtain supply, we make a distinction between cerebral narcissist, narcissist who leverages his intellect and intelligence to obtain supply and somatic narcissist who uses his body to obtain supply.

But both do well on social media without the attendant risks. So social media brings out, out of the woodwork, the narcissist that's one thing.

Second thing, social media is narcissistic by definition.

So it brings out the narcissistic aspects.

Clinically speaking, it's called narcissistic defenses. It brings out the narcissistic aspects of otherwise totally healthy people. And yes, it would tend to reward and enhance these aspects.

In other words, if I had to summarize in one sentence, might be too late for this, but I'll try, social media enhance and encourage the formation of narcissistic styles or narcissistic style in users.

So users would tend to adopt in narcissistic style, but it doesn't make them narcissists.

Social media has no impact, clinical impact, cannot have because narcissism forms in very early childhood.

Narcissists would presumably haunt the dating sites because they can get their needs seemingly met without necessarily giving themselves away initially in face to face encounters.

You'd meet a lot of narcissists on dating apps.

Yes, we don't have statistics, but it stands to reason that narcissists would gravitate to dating apps, social media, and certain professions, by the way.

For example, we do know that among surgeons, doctors, medical doctors who are surgeons, there's a higher preponderance of psychopaths than in the general population. Similarly, there's a higher preponderance of psychopaths than narcissists among chief executive officers in the corporate world.

These are studies by Robert Thayer and Babiak.

And so it stands to reason that narcissists would gravitate as water does when it's given a channel. They gravitate to dating apps.

That renders dating apps seriously dangerous.

Which I think dating apps are infested with narcissists and psychopaths.

And whereas narcissists have a problem putting on a facade for long because their grandiosity takes over, they feel challenged. Whenever they're criticized or you disagree with them, the mask falls and they show their true face.

And narcissists can hold the facade for a few minutes, but a psychopath can hold the facade in the long term.

So psychopaths, for example, gaslight you, which means challenge your perception of reality in a very convincing manner.

Psychopaths' future fakes, they make false promises about the future to vulnerable women, for example.

And so they are dangerous types.

What the narcissist does, which is also extremely dangerous, the narcissist developed something called the shared fantasy.

He would offer you, if he deems you a source of supply or a potential intimate partner, he would offer you a fantasy of togetherness.

A fantasy where both of you are idealized and both of you inhabit a land which is the land of perfection, where everything is easy and everything is wonderful and it lasts forever.

It's irresistible and irresistible proposition.

So both narcissists and psychopaths offer you a future and then renege, they just go away and you're left heartbroken and sometimes moneyless, penniless.

The psychopaths would tend to take your money as well.

And dating apps are major vectors of the transmission of these two viruses, psychopathy and narcissism.

And there are a lot of the people doing the ghosting on the dating apps.

One minute you know them, the next minute they're gone.

Ghosting, breadcrumbing, all these techniques, they are very typical, for example, of psychopaths.

Psychopaths sold you, you're a vulnerable woman, the psychopath sold you a common future. It's called future faking.

You gave him your money and of course he would ghost you.

People generally on dating apps and people generally on the Internet, not only dating apps, because of the anonymity that the Internet affords.

And anonymity is not divulging your name. Anonymity simply means that you have not been in an intimate interaction with another person.

So this anonymity, even if I know your name, here we are talking right now, but you're still anonymous to me and I'm anonymous to you.

So this cover of anonymity allows people to behave in ways that which they would never, never contemplate in real life situation.

The Internet radicalizes behavior, causes people to escalate. The Internet makes people a lot more aggressive and competitive.

The Internet pushes people to behave in narcissistic and psychopathic manner ways, even if they are totally not in real life.

Even if they are totally healthy and balanced and stable in real life, because the Internet is constructed in a way which rewards aggression, brevity, lack of discourse or lack of proper argumentation and debate, suppression of critical thinking, immediate gratification.

These are all narcissistic and psychopathic traits.

And so the Internet and all within the Internet is a narcissistic psychopathic environment.

You have to adapt. You have to adapt by becoming more of these two narcissists and psychopaths.

OK, you mentioned your cold therapy before and you say you're a psychopathic narcissist.

In Israel, back in 1995, you were found guilty with some other men of securities fraud and you ended up in jail. But it was also a blessing in disguise for you, wasn't it?

There was no disguise. It was a blessing, unmitigated one.

It allowed me to get diagnosed.

I was diagnosed before, but for the first time I came across the fact that whatever it is that I have is destroying my life.

And so typically for me, because prior to that, I've been a physicist and so I'm into intellectual endeavor from age nine. I started to attend university at age nine.

So typically I took on the challenge and I started to study personality, pathology and then cluster B and then narcissism. There was nothing at that time. It was 1995. There was nothing online.

My website about narcissistic personality disorder was the first website on this topic and the only one for nine years.

All six support groups for victims of narcissistic abuse were managed by me and owned by me.

I coined most of the language in use today, including narcissistic abuse, hoovering, flying monkeys. I mean, you name it. I coined nine out of 10 of these phrases.

And I did all this not because I'm so altruistic. I was trying to help people. I was not and I still am not.

But I did all this because I was desperately to understand myself, to get to grips with what had happened to me and to try to make sure that it never happens to me again.

And indeed, ever since then, it was a long time ago, mind you, 30 years ago, ever since then, I've switched fields. I became an economist for a while, but then I moved to psychology. And ever since then, I'm studying these disorders and trying to find cures, if possible, or at least amelioration and mitigation of these disorders.

But why did you change?

Are you honest now? Has there been a big shift?

Well, the previous strategy didn't work, did it?

So out of self-interest, complete self-interest, I have shifted.

And now I'm the antithesis of what I used to be.

Yes, but deep down, are you?

Or are you just clever enough to have seen the error, tactical error of your ways and you are acting against type now?

Yeah, that's closer to reality.

I am much more in self-control than I used to be because I was not self-aware before. I am self-aware. So much more in self-control, but it's all self-interested. It's all a set of strategies which yield the best outcomes. I'm optimizing myself as I go along.

Now, criminals don't realize that being honest is a far more self-efficacious strategy. It's as simple as that.

And helping people brings many more rewards than not helping people.

So I've chosen to help people and I've chosen to be honest and I've chosen to be an academic, a professor of psychology in several universities and so on. I've chosen all these strategies and so on because they work. They work. Not because of any shifting values or beliefs or any sudden evolution of morality or none of this. It's simply self-efficacious.

But inside, are you as doomed as you always were? I mean, are you happily enough married now? Are you happier with your life?

You seem to project confidence and contentment, but does that exist?

Confidence, yes. Contentment comes as a surprise.

I've always been confident. I have 190 IQ and three separate tests over 30 years, so probably it's true. 190 IQ does endow you with a certain advantage and that's not grandiosity that happens to be real.

So I've always been extremely self-confident. I trust my intellect to provide solutions to the problems that my personality poses.

So there's a battle between my intellect and my personality.

But my personality isn't. My personality is immutable or my personality pathology is immutable, cannot be touched or changed or modified in any way, shape or form.

The only thing you can do or I could do is superimpose a veneer of social acceptability and socially commendable activities, which is what I'm doing.

But the conflict between the absence that I am and the presence that I wish I were, this conflict is still ongoing.

I was denied as a child. I was not allowed to become.

So I never became. I remained a promise or a dream and I'm an unfulfilled one.

I understand that.

But if your personality, I understand what you're saying, but if your personality is immutable, then why I can see that you're clever enough to have seen the error of your ways and use a new modus operandi.

But why should you now care about the more hopeless and hapless narcissists among us?

I can see that you can describe them very well and you've built up the big database, but do you really care about them?

I care about no one.

Narcissists are not. I'm incapable of caring. I'm incapable of positive emotions. Narcissists, even not psychopathic, regular narcissists, are incapable of accessing positive emotions. They're capable of accessing negative affectivity.

In other words, envy, anger, but they are not capable of accessing any positive emotion, caring, love.

I mean, none of this is accessible to the narcissists.

So where is the hope in your life then?

Is there none?

Hope, I regard hope as a junk, a junkie's drug, no less pernicious than narcissistic supply. Hope is used to manipulate and socially control the masses.

It's false, it's counterfactual, and I try to avoid it to the best of my ability.

But you want to stay alive and succeed, though?

I am alive and I am increasingly more and more successful. We're having this conversation, aren't we?


So, doesn't that give you a degree of satisfaction?

I can see that the need would be enormous, but doesn't that actually propel you as well?

You're satisfied to a great extent with who you are now?

Narcissistic supply is a drug, and when one consumes the drug as a narcissist. One is elated, a euphoria. It's a drug, but it's the drug.

The locus of the euphoria, the locus of the elation, the locus of the fake happiness or results happiness is not in the narcissist.

It's in the drug, in the process of consumption, exactly like with a typical junkie. The locus is in the coke, the locus is in the herring or the amphetamine.

It's not in the person. That's why you need more of the drug, time and again.

So, if narcissists cannot find happiness, and in that sense they are like, as you say, the addict always needing the next fix and a bigger and bigger one, perhaps, there is no hope for them.

So, your mission is really to alert the rest of us to these people in society and tell us to beware of them.

I've been doing this since the mid-90s.

I realized that, and I've been doing it alone for 10 years, as I mentioned.

So, until 2004, I've been the only, the lonely voice, warning people against narcissists and so on and so forth.

And then there were, you know, second generation, third, fourth, many of them never heard of me, but they're still carrying my work forward.

I can identify the genes that I had created. They are my intellectual children.

And so, yes, I've spent my life warning people, but again, not out of care, not out of empathy. Not because I want to save people or help them, but because it garnered the narcissistic supply that I needed.

I just said to myself, security's fraud really sucks. There's a given supply in the short term, but I end up in prison. I end up losing $40 million in my wife.

It seems to be a bad strategy. So, let me adopt another one. And that is a strategy of helping people, not for their sake, for my sake.

It's a fascinating, I know you didn't, I know you started not wanting to talk about yourself, but you're a fascinating study, even though, as you say, you're a kind of, you know, a psychopathic successful narcissist rather than the other kind.

Very good of you to give us your time and to chat and explain narcissism and your view to all of us.

Thank you very much.

I want to say one last sentence with your permission.

We tend to place a lot of emphasis on motivation.

Why is he doing what he's doing? Why is she doing what she's doing? And I think it's the wrong emphasis.

I think we should be very concerned with actions and a lot less concerned with motivation for two reasons.

First of all, we are very unlikely to get it right, to get the answer right. And second, we don't know a lot about motivation.

People themselves don't know the first thing about their own motivations.

And psychology is a pseudoscience, knows very little about motivation.

Motivation is an obscure film, open to a lot of misinterpretation.

And so why don't we all lay off this, why are you doing this or why, why, you know, lay off the motivation side and focus instead on actions.

We have tens of millions of people throughout the world.

That's a fact.

I started in 1995, it's easily verifiable. I had the only website on this topic. And today, there are support groups for victims of narcissistic abuse with 250,000 people and 500,000 people all over the place. Tens of millions of people all over the world have a language they can use to describe their experiences, a language that I had created.

And my work has helped them to cope.

Now, why did I do this?

Frankly, who cares?

In my opinion, who cares?

Thank you for giving me the time.

Well, as you say, it's wise to judge people by their deeds, not by their words or what lies beneath the deeds sometimes.

All right, lovely. Thank you for that clarification. And thank you for your time again, Sam.

Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

Thank you.

It's been a pleasure. Thank you.

All the best.

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