Resist Narcissism, Grassroots Up! (Interview with Dr. Lisa Alastuey)

Uploaded 4/15/2021, approx. 51 minute read

So let's begin. Welcome to my channel. My name is Lisa Alastway, and I create informational, fun and inspirational videos.

Today's topic is on narcissism and what we can do about it.

Before we begin, please hit the subscribe button. Okay, let's get started.

It is my honor and pleasure to introduce to you Dr. Sam Vaknin. If you know who he is, he doesn't require an introduction, but for those of you that are not familiar with his work, he is the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited. And it is known as the Bible on narcissism.

Dr. Vaknin's work has been quoted in over a thousand scholarly publications and in over 3000 books. Much of the language that we use today regarding narcissism can be credited to Sam.

For example, in 1995, he came up with narcissistic abuse, as well as other terms you might have heard or used such as no contact, inverted narcissists, somatic narcissists, narcissistic supply and so on.

Of personal interest and note, Sam is a child prodigy and went to the university at the age of nine to study medicine. He holds a PhD in philosophy and is a professor of psychology and finance.

I will be linking Sam's very comprehensive website below. As you will find, it is vast and substantial.

When I set up this meeting with Sam, I asked him, what is something that we could talk about that is perhaps a neglected area in the study of narcissism? And that is what we can do about it at the individual level and at the societal level.

So if you are familiar with Sam, you are in for a treat. For those of you that are new to Sam, all I can say is buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Okay, Sam, do you have anything you would like to add to that introduction with regards to your background and experience?

Well, you provoked in me an anxiety, an anxiety reaction because I'm not sure I can measure up to your extremely generous introduction, but I will, I will do my best despite everything. Thank you really.

It's been comprehensive and very kind of you.

Just one correction because one has to give credit where credit is due. I did not coin the phrase narcissistic supply. I had adopted it and redefined it in the way that it is used today, but it had been coined by Otto Fennacle in 1938.

Just a minor correction. Okay. Thank you. Thank you. Okay.

Shall we get started? I'm at your mercy. I'm at your mercy. Yay.

So I would just like to kind of start with some just working definitions for the audience.

Possibly, you know, to design, define narcissism. I know from your website, there's primary narcissism and secondary narcissism. I think it's also important to address narcissistic personality disorder and distinguish that from narcissistic traits.

So I did write down the working definition, so I'll go ahead and share those primary narcissism is a, in psychology, is a defense mechanism common in your formative years from six months to six years. It is intended to shield the infant and toddler from the inevitable hurt and fears involved in the individuation separation phase of personal development.

Now, secondary narcissism is seen in adolescence and adulthood, and it involves infatuation and obsession with oneself at the exclusion of others. It manifests in the chronic pursuit of narcissistic supply, which is basically garnering attention, almost demanding attention from others, bragging, lack of empathy, social dominance, and an excessive dependence on others to meet their needs.

Uh, narcissistic personality disorder is a serious, often undiagnosed condition frequently related to abuse in childhood. In many cases, this disorder compels the suffer to become the abuser. NPD is approximately found in 1% of the population and the majority of it is men. However, we are seeing a rising case of female females with narcissistic personality disorder.

Would you like to add anything to those working definitions?

Well, I think this is a very, very comprehensive overview and very accurate. Some of it I authored the rest of it, no, but it's still perfectly right.

I would just add that there is a distinction between narcissistic personality disorder, which is the malignancy of narcissism, and what Len Sperry is one of the foremost authorities on personality disorders.

What Len Sperry calls narcissistic style. Theodore Millon, who is one of the four ancestors, one of the fathers of personality disorder study together with Otto Kernberg.

So Theodore Millon had adopted Len Sperry'sattitude approach, and he also uses the phrase narcissistic style.

Now narcissistic style is distinct from narcissistic personality disorder.

Regrettably, when you go online, people often discuss the narcissistic style and conflate and confuse it with a disorder.

Narcissistic style is typical of about 10% of a population.

Narcissistic personality disorder is the cancer of narcissistic style.

And that is much more limited clinical entity, which characterizes anywhere between 0.7 to 1% of the general population.

That's point number one.

Point number two, narcissistic personality disorder is very rarely diagnosed in its pure form. It's usually co-morbid.

It comes with other personality disorders. For example, narcissistic personality disorder is very, very commonly co-diagnosed or diagnosed together with borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, etc.

It is therefore extremely difficult to define the ideal type, the pure narcissist.

There's no such thing.

Simply, many of the behaviors, the traits of the choices that we see in people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, actually do not emanate from the disorder. They emanate from other mental health issues like depression or obsession compulsion or abandonment, anxiety, panic, objecting, constancy, as we call it, being afraid to lose one's intimate partner.

So these are unrelated. These things are unrelated to narcissism.

And yet there's a God awful confusion, especially online with regards to these issues.

So I wanted to set the record straight.

Yes. And I think it's important to note narcissistic traits.

We all have narcissistic traits. And I think a lot of times what you do see online, everybody calling everybody a narcissist, speaks to what you just said that they may not have narcissistic personality disorder, but they might have, in extensive view of a narcissistic traits.

Let's refine this a bit. Actually, I wouldn't use the term narcissistic traits because it is clinically identified with a narcissistic style, which is already a pathology.

But I would use a healthy narcissism.

Everyone, and you're right about this, everyone has a modicum, some amount of narcissism.

There is narcissism that has survived from childhood and infancy.

And this is the foundation, the cornerstone of self-esteem, of self-confidence, of the regulation of one's sense of self-worth. It's impossible to regulate one's sense of self-worth without narcissism.

So narcissism survives into adulthood in a benign form, a form that allows the adult, for example, to set boundaries and to enforce them, allows the adult to realize his or her qualities and limitations.

In other words, healthy narcissism is the foundation of what we call reality testing. It's the ability to gauge reality properly, to distinguish between oneself and others, thereby facilitating object relations, facilitating the ability to have interpersonal relationships, and also to be self efficacious.

In other words, to be able to act in the world and on the world in a way that guarantees favorable outcomes to oneself.

All these critical functions rely crucially on the existence and the functioning of healthy narcissism.

Jung, who was among the pioneers of the study of narcissism, suggested that the self, which is, of course, a theoretical entity, no one had ever captured a self, no one had ever spoken to a self, but it's a theoretical construct, similar to, let's say, the quark in physics.

So Jung said that the formation of the self, a process that he called constellation, the constellation of the self, is an outcome of properly functioning introverted narcissism, self-directed narcissism.

So we think today that we're a bit more advanced than Jung, I should hope. We think today that narcissism is actually critical in separation, individuation.

What is separation individuation?

Separation individuation is when the baby says goodbye to mommy. Goodbye, mommy. I'm going to explore the world. I'm going to separate from you and I'm going to become my own individual.

So that's separation individuation.

But think about it for a minute.

To do this, you need to have balls. You need to be daring. You need to be grandiose. The baby needs grandiosity to say goodbye to mommy and take on the white world.

It's a frightening traumatic experience. You need to have narcissistic traits to do this.

For someone 90 centimeters tall to say, or 60 centimeters tall, 90 usually, to say I'm going to take on the world requires a modicum of grandiosity, narcissistic grandiosity.

So we today believe that healthy narcissism, primary narcissism in childhood, is the very thing that allows us to separate from parental figures to become our own individuals, create our own individuality and explore the world and discover the rules that govern the world and allow us to survive in it.

This is called the theory of mind or a working framework.

Now you could ask, so what's the difference? What's the difference between a disorder and a style or disorder in healthy narcissism?

The difference is, of course, empathy.

Healthy narcissism and narcissistic style evolve side by side with empathy.

Empathy has three layers, not two. It has a reflexive layer, which is animalistic basically. It's when the baby smiles, when mommy smiles. That's empathy.

A reflexive empathy. Then we have cognitive empathy when the baby, when the child already can form cognitions related to empathy. Mommy's crying, so mommy said that is cognitive empathy.

And then on top of that, we have a third layer, which is emotional empathy.

In the malignant forms of narcissism, empathy stops at the cognitive level. The narcissist and the psychopath, they have reflexive empathy. Actually, they have evolved, hyper evolved, reflexive and cognitive empathy, but they don't have any emotional resonance. They have no emotional empathy. I call it cold empathy.

Their empathy is cold. It's not cognitive empathy because it includes a reflexive element, but it's cold.

And so this is what distinguishes the malignant form from the healthy form.

The healthy form integrates seamlessly with a theory of mind. In other words, in the healthy form, we conceive of other people as separate entities, and we then cater to their needs via empathy. If they're sad, we comfort them. If they're happy, we rejoice with them. If they need something, we help them altruistically sometimes, charitably sometimes.

This is the foundation of society. And today we know that the concept of individual, the concept of personality, the concept of self are wrong. They are wrong because this is an atomized view of humans, of people. People are not atoms. The self, the personality, they are relational. They are outcomes of interacting with other people.

If you don't have empathy, you are disabled. You are not able to interact with other people because you are not able to meaningfully interact with other people sexually, emotionally, in every way. You are unable to form a fully integrated, constellated and functional self.

Ironically, narcissists are selfless. They don't have a self. They don't have an ego. They have instead a concoction, a compensatory piece of fiction, which is the false self, but they don't have a real self because they are unable to relate to other people simply.

And that's a malignant form.

Is there a strong genetic component when it comes to MPD?

We don't know. We know that there is a strong genetic component in psychopathy and a similarly strong genetic component in borderline personality disorder. And we know that in both these disorders, there is a pronounced dimension of grandiosity. Actually, psychopathy is diagnosed usually with a PCL or other tests diagnosed using grandiosity as one of the main elements.

Same with borderline. So we are beginning to reconceive of narcissism and we are beginning to think that there are two types of narcissists.

The grandiose narcissist, which is essentially a psychopath, and compensatory narcissist, which includes grandiose narcissist, but this grandiosity compensates for an inferiority complex and covert narcissism.

So there's a whole group of narcissists whose narcissism is a cover up. It's a cover up for insecurities, for distortions of self-perception, negative self-perception, for negative emotionality.

So there's a very negative landscape, inner landscape, and the narcissism is a compensation for that.

This is the real narcissism.

Today, we are beginning to believe that this is narcissism.

The grandiose, overt, defiant narcissist is actually probably a psychopath.

And consequently, we are beginning to conceive, reconceive of psychopathy as a twofold phenomenon.

We have primary psychopaths and secondary psychopaths. Primary psychopaths are probably what we used to call narcissists. They are probably the grandiose narcissists.

Secondary psychopaths are psychopaths that possess empathy and emotions, especially access to positive emotions.

So we see, for example, that when borderlines decompensate, when borderlines react to humiliation, abandonment, rejection, real or imagined, anticipated, when borderlines go through this stress event, they become secondary psychopaths. They begin to react and behave psychopathically, but they still retain empathy and emotions.

So everything is beginning to converge. There is a massive convergence between all personality disorders, by the way, including cluster A and cluster C.


Yes. Because for example, we are reconceiving of paranoid personality disorder as narcissistic.

Because what is the paranoid? What's the main message of the paranoid? The main message of a paranoid is, I'm sufficiently important to be the victim of a conspiracy. The CIA is after me. The FBI is after me. My neighbor is after me. My boss hates me. Why? Because I'm important. I'm the center of attention. I'm the mover and the shaker. That's why everyone envies me. That's why everyone hates me.

This is paranoia.

So we're beginning to reconceive a paranoid personality disorder as a form of grandiosity. And so it has an interface with narcissism.

Consequently, and with this, I will finish this very long answer.

Consequently, in Europe, as distinct from North America, in the rest of the world, Russia, Europe, China, Middle East, you name it, except North America, they had abolished personality disorders in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, the ICD-11, which is the DSM of the rest of the world.

In the ICD-11, there's only one diagnosis of personality disorder. Not many, not multiple. You are diagnosed with a personality disorder with emphasis, with an overlay.

So your diagnosis would be you have personality disorder with narcissistic emphasis or with emotionally dysregulated emphasis, borderline, or with antisocial emphasis or overlay.

So today in the rest of the world, with the exception of America, the rest of the world no longer makes distinctions between personality disorders. They're all one.

United States, ironically, is left behind in the dust. The DSM is utterly antiquated. Even the fifth edition relies on knowledge which can be dated back to 1980. It's really bad.

And it is the outcome of lobbying by special interest groups like the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry. They had sacrificed their professional conscience and they had created a document that does not reflect current knowledge and is way behind the times and does a huge disservice to patients and their families.

Yeah, they took out NPD out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Edition 5, 2013, has NPD. Actually, it has NPD in two locations. It had copy pasted the diagnostic criteria from the text revision edition of DSM 4.

So this exists in the DSM 5. And the DSM 5 proposes a new model. They call it the alternate model, a new model of narcissistic personality disorder.

For your readers who have copied a copy of the DSM, it's on page 767. So when you go to page 767, you will see an alternate model of narcissistic personality disorder.

Actually, narcissistic personality disorder became much more prominent in the DSM 5 because the DSM 5 suggests to eliminate quite a few personality disorders in the DSM 6 with four exceptions, one of which is narcissistic personality disorder.

Okay. Thank you for clarifying that. Yes. So I guess I would like to touch on the growth of narcissism.

I can remember a time when our cameras faced outward, we didn't turn them around on ourselves and how uncomfortable and awkward that was. And it really playing into our narcissistic traits, manipulating those.

And so could you maybe talk about kind of a brief timeline of how narcissism has just exploded and has become a social norm now?

Whereas before, if someone was exhibiting narcissistic personality disorder, they would be mocked or not taken seriously, but now because it's exploded, it's totally redefined.

Well, first of all, it's debatable whether there is a rise in the prevalence or even incidents of narcissism. There's a big debate about this. Scholars like Twenge and Campbell who had studied the rise of narcissism among college students. And then in the fullness of time, they had reversed their position and now they claim that they had made a mistake in essence and there's no rise.

So there's a big debate. It seems that narcissism has been with us with the same prevalence and the same incidence, the same distribution for generations, perhaps for the entirety of humanity, human history. But we were, first of all, less aware of it. And second, we did not legitimize it. So because it was not legitimized, it was sublimated.

Now for us to understand, for your viewers to understand what is sublimation.

Sublimation is a word coined by Sigmund Freud. And Sigmund Freud said that when there is an unacceptable, socially unacceptable drive, when there is a socially unacceptable urge or wish, we tend to convert it into socially acceptable forms.

So if we have a sex drive and we want to sleep with every beautiful woman we see, we might as well go home and write a book, divert this energy, convert this energy. And this is called sublimation.

And so I think narcissism was sublimated. For example, narcissism in the 19th century, 20th century, and in certain societies such as Japan, collective societies, narcissism was sublimated via collective channels. You didn't say I'm a genius. You said I'm a Japanese, therefore I'm a genius. So you partook in collective narcissism. That's an example of sublimation of narcissism.

Similarly, Protestants, Puritans in the 17th and 18th century openly bragged about being blessed by God. They were chosen by God. They were blessed by God because they were hard workers and they made money. And the fact that they made money was proof positive that God had chosen them and elevated them. That's of course, narcissism, but it's institutionalized narcissism, sublimated narcissism.

So the Puritans who came to the United States, they were narcissists. They fully believed that they were chosen by God. They were exceptionalists. They believed they had a special mission and their prospering and their thriving and their business acumen was proof positive that they were God's chosen flock, which is a form of narcissism, but not individual, collective, institutionalized.

So narcissism has been with us all the time. I think there was a confluence of social and cultural and historical trends that had rendered the manifestations of narcissism different today.

First of all, our numbers, we skyrocketed from 1 billion people only 200 years ago to 8 billion today. It's much more difficult to be noticed and to be seen. People are no longer living in villages where everyone knew everyone. The family unit had crumbled. We live in anonymized spaces known as cities. There's alienation, there's atomization. There is a strangement. There are very bad psychological processes going on. People need to be seen, need to be noticed in order to feel alive. That is something that goes back to infancy. You need to be noticed and seen by mommy if you want to survive. And since they cannot be noticed and seen in a city with 20 million people, these people escalated their attention seeking behaviors, exactly like a child who misbehaves because he wants to be noticed by mommy.

So we are increasingly, increasingly narcissistic because we need the attention and we need the attention simply because we need to feel alive. And it's becoming more and more difficult to feel alive. Our civilization is a death cult. It's a cult that celebrates materialistic goods in the inanimate. We value the inanimate over the animate. We value the inanimate over human lives everywhere in the world. It's a death cult. We are living in a death cult. So it's very difficult to feel alive. And so I believe technology catered to this need, not the other way. I don't think technology created this need. I think it catered to it.

That's one thing.

And the second thing is it pays. It works. We had created a civilization where narcissism and psychopathy pay off. In other words, they are positive adaptations. Rewarded. Rewarded. You become president of the United States or you become very rich or you become, you get the most beautiful girl.

So narcissism and psychopathy are baked into the incentive system of society, of modern society. And they're baked into the incentive system because we have just undergone the greatest trauma in human history after the Black Death. And I'm not talking about COVID. I'm talking about two world wars, the Great Depression, generations which are still alive had been traumatized beyond words, the Spanish flu, now COVID, the Great Recession. We've been going from one trauma to another.

Now we know from psychology, we know from the work of Judith Berman, for example, that people who are traumatized, especially complex trauma, people who experience complex trauma, repeated trauma, these people become psychopathic and narcissistic. We know this. We know that it's very difficult to tell apart a victim of CPTSD, a victim of complex trauma from someone with borderline personality disorder. The conditions are literally indistinguishable.

So trauma apologists and massive repeated traumas, the likes of which humanity had never experienced before, massive repeated traumas had rendered all of us more narcissistic and more psychopathic. So totally natural, well-documented reaction.

Actually, there is a lobby group within the committee of the DSM-6, and they're lobbying to eliminate borderline personality disorder and replace it with complex trauma.

Now, to be a psychopath in today's society, to be a narcissist in today's society, is a healthy reaction. It's an adaptation. It's the way to go, absolutely, if you want to survive and thrive, regrettably. It works, simply.

That's a lot to take in.

So I noticed in some of your previous videos, you addressing the younger generation, and not just the younger generation. I think we've all become walking zombies, to a sense, because what you just described is a lot to take in and to handle.

And so you see people with the flat affect, which you've talked about, where the emotions are not there. Maybe they were there at one time, but because of things that society has put down upon us, it has garnered this kind of effect.

Could you talk a little bit about that?

When reality is unbearable, throughout human history, when reality had become unbearable, people created alternative realities. Escapism is the natural number one reaction to a reality which is no longer tolerable and a reality that cannot be processed anymore, which creates processing overload. You can't anymore. Too much information, too much bad information.

At that moment, the brain has totally automated mechanisms of shutting off and essentially creating psychosis. So we have reached this point long ago, way before COVID, long ago.

I just enumerated what we went through. World War I, Great Depression, World War II, Spanish flu. All this in 100 years. It's too much. Way too much.

Some people alive, like me, I walked with the dinosaurs. So people like me, I had experienced six of these eight massive traumas. It's too much.

If you are not resilient, if you are not supernaturally strong, inhumanly strong, you just shut off and you escape reality.

No. This is the secret of smartphones. Smartphones provide these two functions. Smartphones are a twofer, a double yummy. They give you these two functions in one packaging.

They, first of all, allow you to shut off because when you are embedded in the screen, when your eyes are on the screen, the rest of the world does not exist. You shut it off, you delete it, erase it. And at the same time, it allows you to escape into an alternative reality. It even misuses and abuses language. For example, Facebook has friends, which are not friends, of course, by any definition, by any extension of the word. Exactly like in previous psychopathic periods, for example, Nazi Germany.

When Nazi Germany referred to the Holocaust, when they were describing the process of the Holocaust, they invented a whole new language. They subverted language in order to describe the unthinkable.

When you see a situation where language is subverted, its original meanings are denuded and removed. The words are distorted and misapplied. It's a primary indicator of a narcissistic and psychopathic society. And this is happening on the internet big time with social media, you name it.

So the smartphone is a portal, a gateway to another world because this one had become intolerable, unbearable and unprocessable. That is the source of the lure, the irresistible lure, inexorable pull of these devices.

Some of this was done maliciously, I regret to say. This is not a conspiracy theory. These are testimonies by Google engineers and Facebook engineers and people who had designed this software. Some of them was absolutely done maliciously with the help of psychologists. They had baked in, they baked in operant conditioning, addiction and so on and so forth. There's a lot of malice in these apps and so on.

Yeah. Okay. Thank you for that. Can we touch a little bit on narcissistic abuse? I believe there are quite a few individuals know exactly what I'm talking about, but I want to give a definition just in case.

It is any type of psychological, financial, sexual or physical abuse of others by someone who has narcissistic personality disorder. And this could be found in the workplace in an employee boss relationship, a parent-child relationship, an intimate relationship, husband-wife, friends, etc.

And I would like to maybe provide some like hope or advice to individuals who are going through narcissistic abuse, whether they are still in it or they have been able to be free of it and escape the individual.

What would you tell them in dealing with narcissistic abuse?

Don't deal with narcissistic abuse.

The reason I coined the phrase narcissistic abuse in 1995 is because narcissistic abuse is not actually abused.

narcissistic abuse is the total negation and vitiation of your existence on every considerable level.

While typical abuse, of course, abuse has been, had been defined long before I came on the scene.

Why did I feel the need to invent a new phrase?

Because it's total, it's very distinct from typical abuse.

Typical abuse targets a dimension of you. So it would target your finances. It would target the way you look. It would target your psychology.

The typical abuser isolates an element of you, your sexuality, for example, and he would target this element.

In narcissistic abuse, every conceivable dimension of your being and existence is targeted simultaneously with the express aim of eliminating you.

The reason for that is the special way that narcissists deal with external and internal objects.

I don't want to become too abstruse, but let's put it this way.

When the narcissist comes across a potential source of narcissistic supply or a potential intimate partner for a shared fantasy, the first thing the narcissist does, he takes a snapshot. He takes a photo of that person and he internalizes it. Technically, it's known as an interject.

He creates an interject.

Now this snapshot, he then photoshops, he proceeds to photoshop the snapshot so as to idealize it, to render it ideal.

Now from that moment you're in trouble.


Number one, you can never measure up to the snapshot. The snapshot is idealized. You are not ideal. You can never measure up to it.

Second thing, you are an autonomous, independent, self efficacious entity. You evolve, you change, you grow, you travel, you work.

Each one of these independent actions, each display of your autonomy conflicts dramatically with the stasis, with the next snapshot because the snapshot is inert, is stable, never changes. It's in perfect harmony. You are not.

Gradually, you are beginning to become a threat to the snapshot. You begin to threaten the snapshot and consequently you are beginning to threaten the internal precarious stability of the narcissist.

His inner stability depends crucially on a harmony between all the internal objects and you are threatening this harmony because you keep conflicting with one of the most important internal objects, your representation in his mind.

So you become the enemy.

At that point he needs to eliminate you, not just hurt you, eliminate you, completely mummify you, zombify you, render you as inert, as stable, as static as the snapshot, render you not alive.

And that is the essence of narcissistic abuse. It's not sadistic. It's not even goal oriented, like typical abuse. It's intended to merge you, to fuse you with your idealized snapshot.

And if you resist, if you refuse, you need to go away. And if you refuse to go away, you need to be eliminated. It's a war. It's a combat zone.

So narcissistic abuse is so bad that the only viable technique or set of techniques, because no contact is a set of 23 techniques, by the way.

People tell me no contact. My grandmother invented no contact. She went no contact with my grandfather. That's not no contact. No contact is 23 very elaborate techniques. This set of techniques is the only viable option.

Any attempt to negotiate, to haggle, to bargain, to coexist, to survive any such attempt is going to end in your elimination. You are gambling with your life when you're staying with a narcissist.

Definitely emotional and psychological life.

Now, of course, there are many techniques. I encourage your viewers to go to my website. There's a lecture I gave in Hungary, very popular lecture I gave in Hungary, about the eight manipulative techniques, eight ways to manipulate a narcissist.

But with the exception of no contact, all the other techniques, gray rock, background noise, mirroring, these are some of the techniques, they all come with a price tag. And the price tag is your being, your existence, your happiness, your ability to function, ultimately your life.

If you're willing to gamble with your life, just to stay in the relationship, by all means, there are ways to manipulate and manage, micromanage and control somehow the situation, mitigate and ameliorate.

Why on earth would you spend your life doing this? It's beyond me.

But some people insist. Well, I think some people are, they talk about brainwashing, but they're heartwashed as well, heartwashing. Like they're so far in the wings that they can't see out and they stay in the marriage for 30, 40 years. And they think that this is as good as it gets.

So trauma bonding, trauma bonding, which is what you're describing, trauma bonding relies on the multiplicity of factors.

First of all, intermittent reinforcement, hot and cold, good and bad. So the person who bullies you one day, he's a saint and loves you. And one day he hates your guts and wants to kill you. He holds the key to your happiness.

When you get his confirmation and affirmation and love, you feel validated, you feel alive, feel empowered. And when you don't, you feel that you don't exist.

So he's holding the keys to regulating your emotions and your moods.

That's intermittent reinforcement.

The second pillar is insecurity.

When you say as good as it gets, it's because there is a very low self-esteem involved. And you simply don't believe in your capacity to attract a more functional, more loving partner in a happy marriage or a happy union.

You don't believe in your capacity. You have trouble with trouble, serious trouble with self-esteem.

And thirdly, the snapshot is idealized. It's flattering. It's irresistible to see yourself through the narcissist's eyes. I call this the Hall of Mirrors.

The narcissist invites you into his Hall of Mirrors. And you are reflected in these mirrors, but you're reflected in an idealized way. You fall in love with yourself. When you fall in love with the narcissist, you're actually falling in love with your idealized self.

For many people, this is the first time they experience self-love. They're able to experience self-love for the first time through the agency of the narcissist, because the narcissist projects onto them a version of themselves, which finally they are capable of loving.

And this is the Hall of Mirrors.

The narcissist does not exist. The narcissist is not about existence. It's about absence. The narcissist is an entity of absence.

So he's not there. There's nobody there. There's nobody home but you. You're talking to yourself. You're looking at yourself. You're falling in love with yourself.

And it is possible to say goodbye to someone you love with all the heartbreak.

How do you say goodbye to yourself? And that's why people stay.

They stay because the narcissist made them infatuated with themselves through his eyes. And he's a master at this.

Interesting. Well, what about those that are dealing with the aftermath of narcissistic abuse, where they have cut that person out of their life? That relationship is no more, but there's still that pain that they may feel from the sting or the shock of going through narcissistic abuse. It's way beyond pain. It's a major trauma. It qualifies definitely.

I was the first to suggest in 1997 that actually victims of narcissistic abuse experienced PTSD. And then I modified it and I said complex PTSD. I borrowed from Judith Herman.

Judith Herman's work was about veterans, war veterans. I was among the first, maybe the first, to apply to domestic violence and narcissistic abuse and so on. So it is a trauma.

And like every trauma, it gives rise to phenomena which are egodystonic. In other words, phenomena that the person who had been traumatized cannot live with peacefully.

So for example, complex trauma induces narcissistic and psychopathic behaviors. That's a fact by now. It's well documented. And many of these victims can't accept that they had become narcissists and psychopaths. It kills them.

They say, I've changed so much. I lost my trust in people. I lost my empathy. I misbehave. I'm now cruel. I'm now selfish. I'm now sadistic. I'm now, they can't accept that they had been shapeshifted by the narcissists, that they had been molded into a monster in effect.

So this is one egodistony. This is one problem that victims face.

Second problem they face is to let go of the idealized self-image.

Many victims will tell you that they fell in love with the narcissist because of the way they saw themselves through the narcissist's eyes.

This is very difficult to let go of because you have to let go of your self-love. Often, you know, first discovered self-love.

The third reason is of course that the narcissist, the narcissist takes over many of your ego functions.

When you team up with the narcissist, never mind how strong you are, never mind how healthy you are, never mind how resilient you are. There is this myth that narcissists target weak co-dependent women. It's total nonsense.

Narcissists target everyone. If you're a potential source of supply, you're in. It's okay.

And then what the narcissist does, he gradually, incrementally, imperceptibly takes over your mind. He begins to fulfill ego functions for you.

So for example, he begins to constitute your reality testing. His reality becomes your reality. Never mind how paranoid it is, never mind how insane it is. It's what we call shared psychotic disorder.

So he replaces this ego function, reality testing, sense of self-worth and self-esteem. He appropriates your ability to regulate your self-confidence, self-esteem and sense of self-worth. He becomes the key.

He becomes the key. When he smiles at you, you're in the clouds. You're in cloud nine. You're floating and flying. You're levitating.

When he denigrates you, demeans you, debases and humiliates you. You lose all your self-esteem, never mind how much you had to start with.

It's another example of externalized ego functions.

Gradually, the narcissist takes over your cognitions, the way you think, your emotions, your reality, your emotional regulation, your reality testing, finally even your moods. It can induce in your depression, elation.

At some point, you lose your mind. Literally, you lose your mind. You lose it because you took it away from you. You become an extension. You become a robot. You become a programmable remote control device.

Now to regain personal autonomy and self-efficacy is a very long process.

The problem is this. When the narcissist takes away your mind, he injects himself into the vacuum that's left behind. It takes away your mind as a void where your mind used to be. The narcissist inhabits it.

It's mind-snatching. He becomes a parasitic entity inside your head. We call it interjection, interjection, projective interjection, the clinical term.

He projectively interjects himself into your head. This voice, this interject, this representation of the narcissist is in your head long after the actual narcissist had departed.

You can remove the narcissist from your life, but it takes a lot of work to remove him from your mind and to regain your mind. He's there. He's inside you, serving as a sadistic inner critic, denigrating you, humiliating you, causing you to doubt yourself, regulate your emotions and your moods, distorting your memories, hijacking your core identity. He's gone years ago, but he's inside your head, rendering you unable to trust people to start new relationships.

There are crazy things happening after you break up with the narcissist because you never do. You actually never do. Wow. That's terrible that they can leave a lasting impression, but I think there is hope that people can recover from the complex PTSD that they can gain back their sovereignty and that they don't have to feel like that pain all the time.

Of course, yes, of course. Complex post-traumatic stress disorder has very positive prognosis. The prognosis is very good. There are numerous techniques of coping with trauma which are exceedingly effective, including body related techniques like EMDR and others.

Lose no hope. Of course, you will get rid of the trauma and you will recover and you will regain your personal autonomy and self-efficacy. The pain will disappear or mutate at least, and you will start to be more healthy.

But what I'm trying to say, it's a process, and it involves working on your mind as well because the narcissist is there as a parasitic entity and you need to get rid of this parasite.

The worst thing you can do, and that's why I'm exceedingly angry at YouTube self-styled experts and coaches and what have you, the absolutely worst thing you can dois perpetuate your victimhood status, thereby you abrogate your personal autonomy, your self-efficacy, your ability to control your life and direct it by remaining perpetually in victimhood status or victimhood stance, by developing victim mentality.

There are new studies about this, by the way, new construct of victimhood. So by doing this, you're perpetuating the abuse. You're continuing to self-abuse and self-gaslight.

And unfortunately, most of the online communities and literally all the coaches and the self-styled experts, because many of them don't know what the heck they're talking about, most of them are geared toward perpetuating the victimhood mentality and status because they make a lot of money out of it. It's money-oriented.

That is, that is, that is a, that's horrible. That's unthinkable.

Allow me just to get my...

I hope you guys are enjoying the video so far. I'm sorry for bailing out on you. This is the age of COVID, you know, you can't control the circumstances.

Crazy Zoom. Luckily, I don't have children or there would be all of them, you know. I think that was very helpful advice as far as people taking responsibility and claiming responsibility after the fact, because you could go down the rabbit bowl and victimhood and it doesn't serve you.

And if you want to heal, you need to own your part in it, learn from the mistakes that you might have made, and move forward.

Trust again. Love again. Don't let them take that from you.

So I think those are all really great lessons. So let's get into kind of the meat of what this discussion is about. And that is, what can we do about narcissism at the individual level and at the society level?

Narcissism, luckily, is very easy to recognize. It's very easy to recognize because it has a few very clear manifestations.

Number one, grandiosity. Number two, entitlement. Number three, lack of empathy. Number four, exploitativeness.

Let's review each of these.

All this advice by dating coaches and business coaches is malignant and pernicious and toxic. The environment generally online is toxic. I am hard pressed to think of a single major channel which doesn't kind of propagate toxicity.

So be genuine. Be authentic. Be you.

Being you means recognizing your limitations, your shortcomings, your failures, your deficiencies, your deficits, your defeats, and your failures. It's part of being you. That would negate grandiosity. Entitlement.

Definitely be assertive. Definitely enforce boundaries. But make it commensurate with your contribution or with your ability to contribute. Actual contribution or ability to contribute. Have a close correspondence between what you ask others to do and what you're willing or able to do for them. Always bear this in mind.

And then entitlement will be gone.

Exploitativeness. Never think without giving. It's very simple.

So, the hallmarks of narcissism are really not that difficult to recognize. Selfishness. Charitableness. Altruism. Putting yourself in other people's shoes.

And then maybe moderating aggressive reactions. Or that happens a lot online.

Owning up to everything you do and everything you say. Possibly, for example, by not having an anonymous pseudonym online but using your full name. That's a great step towards owning what you're doing.

So, fight back against the culture of narcissism, for example, in social media. You can decide to not be a narcissist as an individual. You can make this decision. It's easy to identify narcissism in yourself and in others. Don't try to modify others. Don't become a preacher. Don't hector. Don't be a guru.

Work on yourself. Just work on yourself. And by example, probably you'll influence others. That's on the individual level.

Each one of us should do this. I call it nothingness.

The principle of nothingness. Except that essentially you should measure yourself compared to your own yardstick. You should be the fountain of assuredness and certainty. Never form yourself. Never mold yourself to accord with or to conform with or to correspond to social expectations, roles, and common behavior. Just have a center. Have a center of gravity. Have a spine. Have an identity and adhere to them.

In all your daily, and don't be grandiose in the sense that don't pursue these lofty goals and huge projects. I'm talking about being a narcissist when you make coffee. Being a narcissist when you go to the toilet. Being a narcissist when you watch television. I mean, in the tiniest details of daily life, you can begin to eradicate your narcissism, your pathological narcissism.

And you need to begin to work with the tiniest details. You need to break down every action to numerous sub-actions. And then break these as well. And cater to the molecules and atoms of your life. Not to the big picture. Big picture is a narcissistic phrase. You need to reduce yourself to nothing. But in a good sense, it is from this nothing, this kernel, that you can grow to become you.

Don't try to be someone. Don't try to be something. Try to be you.

It's your only chance because no one knows you better than you. This is on the individual level.

On the societal level, it's much more complex and then much more pessimistic.

On the individual level, I'm optimistic actually. And of course, if nothingness, as I call it, you don't need to call it nothingness.

If this anti-narcissistic movement spreads, like for example, environmentalism had spread. If this anti-narcissism movement spread from one individual to another by way of anti-narcissistic contagion. And then we have three billion people who are committed to anti-narcissism. Of course, it will have an impact on society and its institutions. So it's a grassroots thing.

You don't think big. You don't think it's institutional. It's too late for this. Our civilization is utterly, utterly permeated by narcissism and psychopathy. There is no way to reform it from the top. There's no incentive to reform it from the top because psychopaths and narcissists rise to the top. They wouldn't reform the system.

Are you kidding me? Why would they?

You need to put pressure on them the same way that various movements are putting pressure.

Regrettably, there's been a spate of recent studies in Canada, in France, in Israel, in other places, a spate of recent studies that show that this kind of social justice movement and transformative movements and intersectional movements and rights movements lately, they're hijacked by narcissists and psychopaths.

Narcissists and psychopaths are taking over these movements and they are leveraging these movements as a form of virtual signaling. It's about signaling. It's not about the content. It shows the equivalent of likes in Facebook.

And that's bad news. But it should be if we want to free the world of narcissism. The true pandemic, by the way, will come and go. Narcissism is with us.

And by the way, a lot of what's happening with narcissism is actually narcissism. So if we want to get rid of narcissism, we need to start at home when we make coffee.

That's where we need to start. We need to start at home when we talk to our spouse, interact with our child, and get our neighbor something that she needs. That's where we start with anti-narcissism.

And as narcissism has been contagious, anti-narcissism is bound to be contagious because it creates a much more pleasant environment to live in. And maybe it will eliminate the need to escape reality altogether.

So there's hope in this in individuals becoming anti-narcissistic, to expect society and institutions, what's left of the institution, because no institutions are left really. There's nobody there. There's no family. There's no community. There's no neighborhood. There's nothing left. Nothing, by the way, not only in the United States, China, you name it, it's all gone. We're alone. We're alone in this.

So to rebuild institutions, it must be from scratch. It is the first time in human history, first time in human history, that we are alone in the Black Death in the 14th century. The Black Death has had decimated between one third and one half of the population of Europe and probably killed 100 million Chinese as well. We don't know. It was the greatest conflagration and calamity in human history.

But people had institutions to revert to. They had the church. They had the family. They had the local gentry. They had the aristocracy. They had the monarchy. It was much easier because they had somewhere to turn to. They had support networks. They could revert and refer to other human beings.

Today, we are so atomized. We are alone, completely alone. We are left with no support networks, no safety nets. This is horrible. And it's the first time in human history this has happened.

And so we need not only to embark on a movement of anti-narcissism on the individual level, but we need to recreate society literally from scratch.

We may not end up with the same institutions. For example, maybe marriage and family will disappear as an institution. We may end up not with the same institutions, but we damn well need institutions of one type or another. We need them and we don't have them.

Creating functioning institutions is number one priority for any anti-narcissistic movement. Narcissism is the individual malignant assertion of oneself in the face of an institutional void.

We empower ourselves because we can't derive power from others anymore. Institutions are ways to channel collective empowerment, to accomplish collective goals.

So when you are embedded in an institution, for example, in a functioning family, you don't need to be a narcissist because you get what you need. Your needs are met.

But if you're in an institutional void, it's everyone for himself. You become selfish, you become dissipatic. It's a jungle out there. It's fake until you make it because you have to survive somehow.

Rebuilding institutions is a key to transforming ourselves from narcissistic to anti-narcissistic society. It's a key.

And that is another element of what I call nothingness.

Because to rebuild an institution, you need to give up on this fake self-empowerment. You need to let go. You need to transfer some of your power to the institution. You need to pull your power with others.

Relationships are about compromise. Relationships are about loss. Loss of some autonomy, loss of some power. Living together is an experience of enlarging yourself through diminishing yourself.

When you're in a relationship, you first diminish yourself. But with a sure knowledge that your self-diminishment will lead to a larger whole, it is this crucial step of self-diminishment that must be done on the individual level. And it's not easy because people feel fake empowerment through, for example, social media.

If you have a million followers, why would you diminish yourself? But it's fake, of course. These followers are fake. They're avatars. It's make-believe. It's not real. It's not real in any way, shape, or form. It's not real. Dating online. Tinder. It's not real. It looks real. It's not real. Anyone who has ever been on Tinder would tell you it's not real.

Even if it ends in a meeting, even if it ends with a one-light stand or even a marriage or a relationship, the beginning was not real. It's not real.

So we need to rebuild reality.

But there is no way to rebuild reality before we diminish ourselves, before we give up these fake powers, our fantasy.

We need to transition from fantasy where we are omnipotent and omniscient, and we need to transition from fantasy to reality.

Well, we are humbled. Reality humbles us, limits us, constrains us, forces us to compromise.

And this is the transition people find very difficult.

Because you see, fake empowerment is misinterpreted by the brain as real empowerment.

Dopamine reacts the same to pornography as to real sex.

Consequently, statistics show that the majority of young people prefer pornography to real sex.

Dating among people aged 25 and younger, dating, actual dating, face-to-face, smell-to-smell, taste-to-taste, body-to-body, sex, dating had declined 56% among people under age 25, Twenge and Campbell studies. And sex had declined dramatically. The number of sexual partners among the young is down, we think, around 30% according to studies.

And if you define sex more rigorously, close to two-thirds of young people never had sex. That's bad. A lot of that can be attributed to technology. To pornography. Pornography is a form of fake reality.

But our minds, our minds, our brain, is not built to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Not built to do this.

That's why people kill in the name of religion. It's a fantasy, but they're killing it. I mean, there are real life consequences to fantasy because our brain misinterprets fantasy as real life.

So pornography is a full substitute to sex. Let it be clear. It's not second best. It's not fake sex. It is sex. Full substitute. People don't feel the need to date and so on.

Among the young, I told you, about two-thirds are sexless. This is shocking, absolutely shocking. It's not that I'm advocating for one-night stands, but this level of disconnect is terrifying. There's no other word to describe it.

Yeah. It is horrific to think about that they may never have that connection if they are so disconnected from one another.

But being connected, we have two other findings, if we mentioned sex. We have two other findings.

For example, we find that when youngsters do get together, finally, rarely, in some countries, never, like Japan. But when they do get together, they're trying to implement techniques that they have seen in pornography. So the sex becomes very impersonal, very objectified, violent, violent, literally violent, aggressive. There are many, many, many cases of injuries and so on. So even the sex is horrible and that leads to withdrawal, sex aversion among the young.

There's a huge phenomenon of sexual aversion among women, young women. The dynamics are bad because we are conflating and confusing fantasy with reality. Our brains are not built to tell the difference.

We need to exit. We need to have an exit movement. We need to exit.

We need laws that will limit the use of social media to a few hours a day, to, I don't know, absolutely forbid it under a certain age when the brain is still forming and so on. We need laws to regulate pornography. We need to take action, absolutely. The internet is sick and sickening people and had a very deleterious effect on society. And I'm not an old cotcher. I'm old, but I'm not an old cotcher.

It's not that I'm one of these typical old men who, you know, everything is bad in the young generations. No, these are regrettably facts.

They're based on studies. Many of these studies are conducted by 20 years old and 30 years old. It's not age really. It's not age-appropriate science, you know? This is science. This is absolutely science.

We know, for example, it's a fact, documented fact that people who use social media, the rates of depression are three times higher and the rates of anxiety are five times higher. That's a fact. People who use social media commit suicide 54% more often. That's a fact.

It's not vacuum independent. It's not 60-year-old, okay, boomer. It's a fact. It's a fact.

Social media is killing us, literally. And among young women, the rate of suicide is skyrocketing. If they use social media, not among the group that does not use social media.

We have control groups. Do you think, I mean, I can't imagine logging on to Facebook 10 years from now. Hopefully not. Do you think social media will eventually trend away? No. It caters to very, no, it caters to very cleverly caters to the twin psychological needs that I've mentioned.

The escape from reality and the illusion of power or self-empowerment. It's very cleverly and cunningly and I could safely say malevolently constructed. It was with this in mind that they had constructed the softness, conditioning and so on. It's really up to the individual, the burdens on the individual to set the boundaries and limitations with social media.

It's an addiction. It's difficult. It's like you would say to an alcoholic, you know, please stop drinking. It's an addiction. It rewires the brain. It's an addiction. It caters to the dopamine pathway and so on.

I lecture on neuroscience in various places. A medical doctor, it's up with the brain. It's a huge problem.

And so we need to intervene via regulation. We need to impose restrictions not only on social media, but on social media, for example, video gaming online, MMOGs, the big video games, multiplayer video games. That's an entire environment on its own.

People, this has effects in real life. People kill each other in real life, steal from each other in real life in order to participate in the multiplayer video games. So there are various kingdoms, various environments, and they're all escapist because people can't take reality anymore. It's way too much. It's way too much.

Yes. I think you gave a nice summary with regards to what we can do as an individual and not stress so much about the society, what we can't change, but just start more in our home and with ourself, I think is the best way to go.

Make your own coffee, make your coffee authentically. Just do the smallest thing as you.

Because amazingly, when we do anything in today's world, we reverberate and resonate with media images.

When we dress, unconsciously, we retrieve media images of women dressing. When we make coffee, it resonates immediately with advertising. On the advertisement, people make coffee. We don't leave our lives anymore. We act. It's all acting.

So when we make coffee, we conform to the images of making coffee in advertising, in popular movies, online maybe. We mold ourselves to act.

And this is not my observation. This is observation by two French geniuses. One was Paul Sartre, Jean Paul Sartre, who said that when a waiter works in a restaurant, he is not himself. He is acting the role of a waiter. And he is acting the role of a waiter because he had observed other people observed other waiters in movies. He read about them in books. And so he's imitating a waiter as he appears in mass media.

And there was another guy, Guillemot, he wrote a very difficult to read book, but amazing book called The Society of the Spectacle. He wrote it in 1968. He says, society is going to become a spectacle. And all of us are going to become actors. And of course, Shakespeare preceded him. We are all actors. But it's gone too far.

Because when Anthony Hopkins acts, there is Anthony Hopkins and the character. But we disappeared. Only the characters are left behind.

We need to recoup and regain ourselves. Take ourselves back from the characters and discard the characters.

If you make coffee, make it authentically. Make sure it's you who is making the coffee and not the gorgeous blonde in yesterday's advertising. Very good. Thank you, Sam. This has been just a delight to talk to you. Always learn something new. If you guys again are new to Sam, he's all over the internet. He has Facebook, he has Twitter, he has Instagram. I'm wondering if you're going to get TikTok. No. That's my red line. That's my limit. I don't dance well. Very good. So thank you guys for watching. And if you enjoyed this video, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your feedback and hit the like button as well as the subscribe button. Thank you for having me. Thank you. And I apologize if I monopolized the conversation. No, it was great. Thank you so much. Thank you. I'm going to log out now and wish you all the best. You too. Bye-bye.

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