Self-styled Narcissism "Experts", Psychology Credentials

Uploaded 3/31/2024, approx. 21 minute read

I keep using the phrase "self-styled experts" and you keep asking me, "What do you mean by that?" Self-styled experts is a nice politically correct way of saying charlatans, or in extreme cases, "colartists" – people who pretend to be experts, but actually they're not.

"Hold on, hold your horses!" you say.

Many of these people have academic degrees, many of them have PhDs, or they're doctors or what have you.

Yes, but they are still self-styled experts.

Even if you possess a PhD in psychology, it means nothing. Psychology is a giant field.

There are 510 specialties in psychology, exactly like medicine.

You could have an MD, you could be a medical doctor, but not be an expert on the heart.

You're not a cardiologist.

You could have a medical doctor, you could be a medical doctor, and not be an expert on the nerves and neurologies.

Exactly like in medicine, psychology have specialties, sub-fields, areas of study.

And the fact that you possess a PhD in psychology means zilch, means absolutely nothing, doesn't render you an expert on any specific topic.

Okay, you say so.

How would I know if someone is an expert?

For example, she or he teaches at a university.

Is that not proof enough that they are an expert?

Of course not.

Of course not.

The question is, what is it that they are teaching?

Are they teaching personality disorders?

Are they teaching cluster B personality disorders?

Are they teaching more specifically pathological narcissism?

Or are they just general lecturers on psychology?

The fact that you possess a PhD in psychology and the fact that you teach at a university mean nothing.

They don't render you an expert on any specific topic in psychology.

So how do we define an expert?

Number one, dedication to the field, having invested 10, 20, 30, 40 years in a highly specific sub-sub-subtopic, a highly unique specialty.

Condition number one, condition number two, that you have published articles, papers in peer-reviewed journals, peer-reviewed academic magazines and publications in the field.

In other words, that you have published, if you claim to be an expert on narcissism, you claim to be an expert on narcissism, show me the papers and articles you have written about narcissism and that have been published in academic journals and that have been reviewed by your peers.

Show me peer-reviewed articles about narcissism.

If you have published peer-reviewed articles about other topics, that means you are not an expert on narcissism.

This is condition number two and probably the most important one.

Condition number three, that you have offered books or that you have contributed chapters in books about the topic of your alleged or self-proclaimed expertise.

If you claim to be an expert on narcissism, did you write books about narcissism?

Books when I say books, I mean academic books, serious books, not self-help manuals and other such trash, but real deep books, scholarly publications.

Have you contributed chapters to textbooks about the topic of your alleged expertise?

Have you written academic publications and academic dissertations that have been later published in the form of a book about the topic, not in general?

Even if you are the author of a textbook about psychology, that doesn't render you an expert on narcissism.

If your field of expertise is, I don't know, defense mechanisms that doesn't render you an expert on narcissism, your expertise needs to be specific.

It needs to be connected to your career.

Your expertise needs to be displayed through articles about the topic, through books about the topic, through chapters in books about the topic.

Everything needs to revolve around the topic.

Next test, have you ever participated in international conferences about the topic of your alleged expertise?

If you have, which?

What papers have you contributed to these international conferences?

What presentations have you made?

If you have never participated in international conferences about narcissism, then you are not an expert on narcissism.

If you have never published peer-reviewed articles about narcissism, then you are not an expert on narcissism.

If you have never written academic books about narcissism, then you are not an expert on narcissism.

If you have had most scholarly publications about narcissism, then you are not an expert on narcissism.

If you haven't dedicated all your career from the very beginning to the topic of narcissism, then you are not an expert on narcissism.

Are you an editor in any academic journal dedicated to the topic?

Peer-reviewed, open access, you name it.

If you are not an editor in any academic journal or magazine, then you are not an expert on the topic.

You need to ask yourself these questions before you buy into the claims of expertise by all kinds of unscrupulous, callous, ruthless people.

People who don't hesitate to lie to you about their expertise, to pretend that they are experts when they are not.

And this is the overwhelming vast majority of people on YouTube, self-styled experts, coaches, PhDs in psychology, and so on and so forth.

None of them, as far as I know, or the vast majority of them, as far as I know, are not experts on narcissism.

Not at all.

They have never published articles on narcissism.

They have never written scholarly publications about narcissism.

They have never participated in conferences about narcissism.

They have never been peer-reviewed when they have submitted articles and papers and presentations on narcissism.

They are not editors in magazines which deal with cluster B or personality disorders or narcissism.

And they are late entries into the field.

They discovered that there's money in the field.

They are self-enriching.

They are laughing all the way to the bank at your gullibility, at your inability to exercise critical thinking and say, "What the heck makes this woman suddenly an expert in a field to which she had never contributed before?

How did this man become an expert on narcissism when prior to that he has had careers which had nothing to do even with psychology?" Etc.


Kavya Temptor.

Be very careful because these people are after your money.

They sell you training courses, books, self-help books, resorts, retorts, seminars, lectures, you name it.

Whenever you watch their videos, the first thing is to sell you something.

That's an exceedingly bad sign.

A true scholar, a true academic, a true expert would never do that.

He would just share his knowledge with you.

You have been warned.

Now it's entirely up to you.

Enjoy the rest of the presentation.

People use academic credentials.

I mean, academic degrees like BA, MA, PhD, PSID, and so on.

People use these credentials.

They weaponize them.

These credentials are not relevant when they agree with you.

Then your credentials are not relevant.

Then you're right. Then you're 100% right.

Even if you have zero education in the field, you're right.

But when they disagree with you, your credentials are crucial.

Suddenly they delve deep into your academic history.

They ask questions.

Suddenly they're very diligent and they demand full disclosure and so on and so forth, simply because you've disagreed with them.

I don't buy into this.

I think it's a form of trolling and externalized aggression.

I want to tell you that in psychology, especially, but not only, even in the other thing where I have a PhD in physics, for example, in physics is more or less the same.

You do need academic degrees for some things.

Academic degrees are utterly irrelevant as far as other types of activities.

For example, if you wish to diagnose someone with a mental health disorder, you need to have an academic background.

You need to have studied.

You need to have trained.

You need to go through all this structured process.

You need institutions.

You need to be institutionalized in the good sense of the word in order to diagnose someone.

This is even doubly true if you want to treat someone.

Treatment modality, therapy, to give therapy.

Even in my view, coaching and counseling, but definitely therapy.

You need to be trained.

You need to have studied.

You need to have delved deep into the literature.

You need to have been exposed to teachers and clinicians and practitioners with experience.

You need this environment in order to diagnose people and to treat them.

Similarly, you do need an academic background, and you do need academic degrees in order to conduct studies, meaningful studies, research.

You know, in all these areas of activity, academic degrees are very important, and people should ask themselves and others, "What kind of degree do you have?

What qualifies you to diagnose me?

Where you trained?

You are attempting to treat me.

Where you trained?

By whom?


When you are conducting studies and research, you know how to conduct studies and research, and you studied, and so on and so forth.

So, there, academic degrees are relevant.

But if you want to create a new theory in psychology, theorizing, you don't need an academic degree.

You need knowledge.

You need to be exposed to literature, past, present.

You need to delve deep into scholarly papers and articles and books.

You need to keep updated with the most recent advances, cutting-edge, bleeding-edge.

All this is true, but you could definitely be an auto-didact.

You could be self-educated, definitely.

Some of the greatest theoreticians in the history of psychology were not psychologists and did not possess any academic degree in psychology.

And that includes the likes of Sigmund Freud, Donald Winnicott, who was a pediatrician.

He acquired his psychology degree much later.

Melanie Klein.

I mean, these are big names.

They are like among the 10 most important psychologists in history.

And yet, they have not acquired any degree in psychology, in any institution, academic or otherwise.

So to create a theory, to theorize about psychology, you don't need an academic degree.

This applies in other fields as well.

There is no problem in principle for you to create a theory in physics.

If you know mathematics and you know previous theories in physics, you're acquainted with them and you familiarize yourself with the literature, obviously you can come up with a new theory in physics.

Similarly, you can come up with a new theory in psychology if you have the requisite background which does not include an academic degree.

So theorizing.

Another example, developing treatment modalities, developing new psychotherapies, new forms of psychotherapy.

You don't need an academic degree for this.

Actually some of the most accomplished and most important and most successful treatment modalities, therapies were invented by non-psychologists.

And that includes psychoanalysis.

It includes Gestalt therapy which was partly invented by Goodman who was not a psychologist.

It includes DBT, the number one therapy for borderline personality disorder and by far the most successful treatment modality that we have.

It was invented by a woman who was hospitalized, misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized.

She was in mental asylum and started her work there.

She was 18 years old, long before she has acquired any academic degree in psychology which came later.

So DBT was developed chronologically, factually, it was developed by a non-psychologist.

I'll summarize.

If you want to diagnose people, if you want to treat people, if you want to conduct studies in research, you need an academic degree.

In the absence of an academic degree, your work is suspect in shodding and borders on charlatanism and cold artistry.

If you wish to create a new theory in psychology or if you wish to develop a new treatment modality, a new form of therapy, you do not need an academic degree.

You need to be acquainted with psychology, with the literature of psychology, with case studies, with experiences.

You need to have assimilated the literature.

Obviously, you need to have invested in yourself a lot by way of education, self-education, but an academic degree is not relevant here.

Now people who have never been to a university, uneducated people, they confuse expertise with teaching position.

They also confuse credentials, one type of credentials, academic degrees, with another type of credentials, teaching position or authorship of papers and articles.

Now just to make clear, you could have an academic degree and not be an expert.

You could have an academic degree and not have a teaching position, not be a professor.

You could be a professor without having an academic degree.

I'll come to it in a minute.

You can be a professor without having an academic degree.

And you can be an expert without having an academic degree and without being a professor.

These issues are not interrelated and not interdependent.

A teaching position sometimes is granted on the basis of a life achievement, some kind of track record, the authorship of many books and articles, or a scientific breakthrough.

So you don't need to possess an academic degree.

You could become a professor based on these accomplishments throughout your life.

A teaching position is an administrative thing.

To be a professor doesn't say anything about you as an expert in your field, as a scholar, as a researcher, nothing.

It simply means that you've gained a certain stature, certain tenure within an academic institution, and you're allowed to teach.

Similarly, expertise, the issue of expertise.

You could have an advanced academic degree in the field of psychology and not be an expert on everything in psychology.

So many, many, many people who claim to be experts on narcissism and possess advanced academic degrees in psychology are actually not experts on narcissism.

They claim to be, but they're not.

And I won't label this kind of behavior.

You could do your own labelling.

To be an expert on narcissism or expert on personality disorders or expert on eating disorders or expert on psychotic disorders or expert on mood disorder, to be an expert on anything within the vast field of psychology.

You need to have dedicated your professional life to the study of this or that phenomenon.

You need to have published peer-reviewed papers on the topic.

You need to have participated in international conferences and submitted papers, articles, and presentations.

You need to have contributed chapters to books on the topic and so on and so forth.

To be an expert means that your life is dedicated to scholarship in that area.

You could be a PhD in psychology.

You could even publish peer-reviewed papers in psychology, but then you cannot claim expertise on other fields or in other fields.

You need to publish.

You need to be recognized.

You need to work hard.

You can't just burst on the scene and declare yourself an expert because you possess a PhD in psychology.

Again, I will not label this kind of misbehavior.

I leave it to you and possibly to the authorities.

Expertise is one thing.

Academic degrees is another thing.

Confusing positions is yet a third thing.

Conditioning or connecting all of them creates a lot of confusion in the minds of people who have never been exposed to academia, to university, to higher education.

I hope I succeeded to disambiguate some of it.

And finally, laymen.

This is the raw material of psychology.

This is the foundation of psychology.

Case studies, introspection, experiences in therapy, in clinical settings, however anecdotal, this is the grist to psychology's meal.

And the snobbery and the arrogance and the haughtiness of professionals in the field of psychology who want to be scientists.

Psychology is a pseudoscience. It can never be a science.

But these people who want to be scientists and turn their noses up at the experiences of laymen shared online in huge abundance. This is unforgivable.

Also happens to be stupid.

The experiences, the aggregated experiences of laymen online, people who are not psychologists, not psychiatrists, not therapists, not licensed social workers, just people, just people without any qualifications or credentials, academic degrees or teaching positions.

Their experiences constitute a rich mind of information. Anyone who would pay attention to these forums, discussion groups, and so on and so forth, would benefit mightily as a scholar.

Academics need to exit the ivory tower. They need to dirty their hands. They need to be exposed to laymen.

Often laymen say stupid things. Often they overgeneralize. They have a single experience, an anecdote, and they make a rollout of it. No one is asking academics to lower their standards, to not engage in the scientific method of pursuing the truth. That's not what I'm saying.

But what I am saying is life is primordial. Life is atavistic. Life does not succumb easily to laws and rules and regulations and equations. You need to go out there. You need to venture into the field the way anthropologists do, the way zoologists do, the way ethologists do, the way archaeologists do.

Psychologists need to venture into the online field and harvest the rich yields and crops available to them.

And then apply to this raw material the standards and procedures and techniques of science and derive beautiful new theories, whether they have academic degrees or not.

Scholarship is a commitment to the pursuit of knowledge and truth in highly structured and ritualized ways and to ignore or to dismiss or to belittle people just because they're not credentialed with academic degrees is self-sabotage.

I have no other word to describe.

OK, I hope I gave you a picture regarding credentials, academic degrees, teaching positions, so on.

It's a bit messy.

And there are a lot of myths and misinformation as usual online.

And I hope this serves to clarify some of it.

Yeah, we can discuss this.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Narcissist Trust Your Gut Feeling 4 Rules To Avoid Bad Relationships ( Intuition Explained)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the importance of intuition in relationships and decision-making. He explores different types of intuition, including idetic, emergent, and ideal intuition, and how they are used in various philosophical and psychological theories. He emphasizes the significance of intuition in understanding and navigating complex human interactions, particularly in dealing with narcissists and psychopaths.

Abuse Victims, Beware Common Sense Is Harmful Nonsense ( 12 Myths Debunked)

Professor Sam Vaknin debunks several myths in this transcript, including the idea that venting is good for you, empathic people read others well, and positive psychology works. He also discusses the link between gender identity, autism, ADHD, and other mental health disorders. Additionally, he argues that group brainstorming can lead to anchoring, groupthink, and pressure, and that personality and IQ are not stable in adulthood. Finally, he disputes the myth that people use only 10% of their brain capacity.

Psychologists Wrong to Discard Earlier Wisdom (Part 1 of Interview with Sandy Ghazal Ansari)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the state of psychology education and the shift towards quantitative and statistical approaches in the field. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining a textual and qualitative approach to psychology, and laments the loss of wisdom from earlier psychological schools. Vaknin also delves into his personal journey with psychology, his admiration for Freud, and his eclectic approach to integrating various psychological theories. He critiques the concept of the individual and the ego, and advocates for a more grounded and flexible understanding of psychological constructs.

Change Your Inner Dialog, Narrative Plot

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the inner dialogue and its impact on our psyche. He explains that the voices in our heads are influenced by societal expectations and can lead to emotional dysregulation. Vaknin outlines the characteristics of a healthy inner dialogue and emphasizes the importance of understanding one's own happiness preconditions. He also warns against the dangers of becoming a narcissist or a psychopath in the process of rejecting societal influences.

Psychology Of ( Israeli Palestinian) Conflict

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, delving into the psychological dynamics of the parties involved. He highlights the trauma, grandiosity, impaired reality testing, and the need for enemies to define one's identity. Vaknin emphasizes the importance of empathy and the recognition of shared humanity as a means to resolve the conflict.

Before Therapy: Hack Your Mind to Heal, Succeed

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses 20 psychological hacks for healing and success, based on cutting-edge research. He explains that memory is not about recalling events, but rather about recalling emotions and reactions. He also discusses the impact of social rejection on the brain, the benefits of thinking in a foreign language, the Kruger effect, the influence of music on mood and decision-making, the benefits of singing, the genetic basis of negativity, the intelligence of sarcastic people, the importance of sunlight, the role of dopamine in addiction, the significance of sleep, the impact of line length on reading speed, and the connection between mental and physical health. Vaknin emphasizes the importance of self-help and self-therapy before seeking professional help.

Road to Riches: Behavioral Sales, Irrationality, and Choice

Sam Vaknin discusses the intersection of psychology and economics in sales, marketing, and advertising, emphasizing that human behavior is not always rational and is influenced by various psychological factors. He highlights the importance of understanding behavioral economics to improve sales strategies, mentioning experiments that demonstrate how context, presentation, and emotional responses significantly impact decision-making. Vaknin also touches on gender and age demographics in sales and the cognitive biases that affect how we perceive ourselves versus others.

NEVER SAY THIS to Depressed, Anxious (Pollyannaish Invalidation)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the importance of choosing the right words when trying to help someone dealing with depression and anxiety. He emphasizes the need to avoid minimizing or invalidating the person's experiences and to respect their individuality. Vaknin advises against using cliches and instead encourages active listening and empathy. He warns against being overly optimistic or trying to "fix" the person, and stresses the importance of providing companionship and support without imposing one's own views or judgments.

Neglected Dimensions of Personality (Lecture for Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the second year of personality theory and its relation to identity. He emphasizes the importance of considering culture and society in understanding mental health disorders, which are highly culture-bound. He also discusses the concept of psychosis and how it challenges the distinction between internal and external reality. Additionally, he argues that the delusion of identity and personality is a confabulation created by the brain to survive, and that psychology has made the mistake of assuming the existence of the individual. He raises questions about the medicalization of psychology and the relationship between the brain and the mind.

How Psychology Stats Lie To You

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the problems with using statistics in psychology, including the fact that many psychologists do not know how to use statistics properly, the vast majority of psychological studies are comprised of a tiny sample, and the issue of normative validation. He also identifies biases that limit a specific set of statistics and the issue of graphical presentation, which can be misleading. Vaknin emphasizes the importance of scrutinizing the validity of the source and questioning the figures presented.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy