Background

Shameful Core of Covert Narcissist: Inferior Vulnerability Compensated

Uploaded 3/19/2023, approx. 45 minute read

Now everyone and his dog know that there are two types of narcissists.

One is grandiose, overt, has silver hair and eyeglasses, and wears black. That's the grandiose overt narcissist.

And the other type is the covert, vulnerable, shy, fragile narcissist. Everyone pretending to not be a narcissist, but a victim.

And so we're going to discuss shame and the role of shame in these twin pathologies.

Because covert narcissism is increasingly being singled out as the only form of true narcissism. It's highly compensatory.

It tries to somehow outweigh and balance an innate sense of inferiority and inability to regulate self-worth internally.

While overt or grandiose narcissism involves very crucial and very dominant antisocial behaviors and traits, to the point that some scholars are saying, well, overt grandiose narcissist, they're just a subspecies of psychopaths. They are a form of antisocial personality disorder.

Covert narcissists are the only real narcissists.

And I have a video dedicated to this ongoing cutting edge or bleeding edge debate in the study of narcissism.


But today, shamefully and disgracefully, we are going to discuss shame and its role in the psychogenesis of narcissism, part of the etiology, and how it affects the behaviors of narcissists in adult life.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm a former visiting professor of psychology and a current professor of finance. I'm also the author of Malignant Self-Love. Narcissism Revisited: The book that started it all, and the book, which was first to describe narcissistic abuse, a phrase I coined.

Okay, enough with self-bragging and self-congratulatory statements, Vaknin.

Just get to the point, will you? It's already two and a half minutes.

Vaknin don't have that much attention span, not in today's age.

I want to start with a much forgotten, much neglected, shamefully article. It's titled Shame and Its Relationship to Early Narcissistic Developments by F. Brucek. It was published in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1982.

Now there's a detailed bibliography in the description.

This video is essentially a lecture. It's a literature review in effect.


So we start with literature.

What else?

I would like to read to you the entire summary of this excellent article.

The author says primitive shame experiences may occur in the first one and a half years of life before objective self-consciousness is acquired. These experiences occur in the context of interest, joy or excitement when inefficacy experiences or unexpected events result in a sudden attenuation of such positive effects.

What he's trying to say, I think, is that the kid has a joyful experience, an amazing experience, an exciting experience, but then is unable to function in this experience and feels ashamed for its own inadequacy.

And so this reduces, dims, dims the glow of the experience.

Okay.

I'm continuing to quote.

"Shame," says the author, "seems always to involve an element of cognitive shock, a discrepancy between expectation and actuality.

The link between shame and the instinctual drives is not as simple as many people assume, and the view of shame as a reaction formation is rejected in this article.

Shame experiences disrupt the silent automatic functioning of the sense of self, and shame is therefore considered to be the basic form of unpleasure in disturbances of narcissism.

The grandiose self is viewed as an evolving compensatory formation instigated in large part by primitive shame experiences.

Objective self-awareness established around 18 to 24 months brings with it a shame crisis. This crisis is particularly significant for the child with a developing grandiose self, aka, falset.

The ego's recognition of the discrepancy between the grandiose self and objectively derived notions about the actual self produces shame-inducing cognitive shock.

The grandiose self is either incorporated in the central sector of the personality, which then refuses to recognize negatively toned information about the actual self, or else the central sector refuses recognition of the grandiose self, leading to a dissociation of the grandiose self.

Depending on which defensive path is taken, a different narcissistic personality subtype is established.

An excellent introduction to our topic, because shame is much more prevalent, much more dominant, and has much more important dynamic functions in vulnerable narcissism, covert narcissism, than in the grandiose type.


Another excellent reason to consider the possibility that we are mislabeling multiple unrelated phenomena as pathological narcissism.

But what is shame?

Let's discuss the essence and nature of shame.

By the way, I encourage you to watch four other videos I've made about shame, two of which deal with the work of Lydia Rangelovska in this film.

But today it's a literature review.

Okay, what is shame?

First of all, shame is an emotion. It's an emotion. It's very potent. It's very powerful or overpowering, overwhelming emotion.

In short, shame is a dysregulatory emotion.

We are beginning to see the interface between shame and borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is an emotion dysregulation disorder, and shame dysregulates emotions big time. It has a social component.

There are shamed in the face of people, in front of people. So there is a relational element in shame. And it arises after a negative event or a perceived negative event or even an anticipated negative event, a referral to articles by Lewis in the early 1970s, 1971 onwards.

Shame is associated with psychopathology, an interpersonal difficulty, see work by Tangny and Diering 2002.

Shame we now know, but Agler was the first to point it out. Shame is closely associated and often confused with inferiority and embarrassment, but they're not the same thing. Shame is not only about feeling inferior, because you can feel inferior and adjust yourself to it, adapt to it, accept it somehow.

Cognitive dissonance can be resolved. Shame is also not embarrassment. Embarrassment is fleeting. It's contextual. It's social. It's not deep. And it doesn't remain with you. Not for long, at least.

A cringy moment is a moment. Shame is deep. Shame is usually lifelong. Shame defines you.

And this is why shame is intimately linked to narcissism, because we all have healthy narcissism. When it is tainted by or contaminated with shame, we are beginning to see a different form of narcissism emerging, vulnerable narcissism.

I refer you to studies by Kane, 2008, Ritter and Allais, 2014, Schöne-Lebbe and Bernbaum, 2012 and others.

So we are now transitioning from shame to vulnerable narcissism. And from vulnerable narcissism, can we continue the transition to the grandiose overt type?

It used to be called at the time the phallic narcissism type. I like that.

Very erotic.

Well, not so fast. Not so fast, dearest.

Not so fast, you know. Narcissism can be classified by a number of distinct intra-psychic qualities and behaviors.

So we have narcissism that involves exaggerated, an exaggerated sense of self-importance, entitlement and need for admiration from others. A lack of empathy, even the latest text revision of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, recognizes this.

So we have this type of narcissism and I would call it stereotypical narcissism. It's the kind of narcissism that you see in movies. A-hors and jerks and people with narcissistic style are often miscast, mislabeled and misdescribed as narcissist when they are not. They are not because narcissism is a distinct clinical entity.

Now it is described as a personality disorder. Prior to that, it was described as a defense mechanism gone awry. And I hope that in the future, narcissism will be amply captured and described as a post-traumatic condition.

That's a work I've been doing for the last 15 years, trying to recast narcissism as a post-traumatic condition.

So there is a continuum of personality traits and attendant behaviors from narcissistic style all the way down to narcissistic personality disorder.

And the big revolution which started around 1989 with Akhtar and Cooper, the big revolution is to realize that there are two types of narcissism and an even bigger revolution is happening now when we start to speculate or realize that these two types actually don't have much in common.

And one of the main differential factors is shame.

So we do have this distinction between normal and pathological narcissism. We do have this distinction between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism, Koenig, Pincus, Ansel in 2008, Kauffman, Weiss, Miller and Campbell in 2018, Pincus, Lukowitzki in 2010, and I can go on and on. They all made these distinctions.

And it's clear that both the grandiose and the vulnerable types of narcissism do have some core features in common, such as entitlement, interpersonal antagonism, see work by Dickinson and Pincus in 2003, Wink in 1990, as early as 1991.

But these features also occur in borderline personality disorder, even in the manic phase of bipolar disorder in many forms of antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy included, etc.

So in other words, the fact that two presentations of mental illness share the same, the same features, the same core featuresdoesn't make them one and the same.

Vulnerable narcissism is distinguishable and should be distinguished from grandiose narcissism because vulnerable narcissism involves elements that no self-respecting overt grandiose narcissism would ever display in public.

Have a sensitivity, a sense of emptiness, socially avoidant coping and ladies and gentlemen, shame.

Kane and allies, 2008, Pincus et al, 2009.

So vulnerable narcissism is associated with negative affectivity.

Grandiose narcissism is not.

Vulnerable narcissism is egodystonic.

Grandiose narcissism is egosyntonic.

These are not minor differences.

The vulnerable narcissist experiences negative emotions all the time, including shame and guilt and anger and above all envy.

The grandiose narcissist does, but much less so. So much less so that he has almost nothing in common with the vulnerable narcissist who is seething and passive aggressively tries to destroy everything and everyone around him.

Now, the grandiose narcissist is egosyntonic.

He feels good with himself, is comfortable in his own skin. He regards himself as a success. He's a winner.

The covert narcissist, the vulnerable, fragile, shy narcissist, as the name implies, shy.

And vulnerable and fragile and self-negating and extremely self-critical, sadistically self-critical.

There's a lot of research that associated vulnerable narcissism with shame.

Shame is an emotion that results from a negative evaluation of the stable global self, whatever that means, or self-states in my work.

So this negative evaluation of oneself is elicited by perceived failure.

We have worked by Lewis, which dates back to 1971, Tangany and Deering in 2002 and others.

The vulnerable narcissist perceives himself as a loser and failure. He is unable to affect the self-perception. He's unable to emotionally invest in this self-perception.

In short, the vulnerable narcissism is unable to feel proud of his losses and failures. He's unable to imbue them with grandiosity.

And this causes negative self-evaluation. I would even say self-negation, self-hatred, self-loathing, and a lot of shame.


Now, we distinguish between explicit shame and implicit shame.

Explicit shame is the deliberative reflected emotional response towards negative evaluations of the self. It is assessed with direct self-report measures usually.

The first time it's been described was Lewis, 1971.

I have suggested additional distinctions, taxonomy, classification of shame, but I will not go into it right now.

This video for a change is not about me and my work, it's about other people's work.

If you're interested in my contributions to the study of shame, as I said, there are four other videos.

Lidier and Ghevoltsk are also contributing.

So just go to these four other videos.

Go to the search function on my channel, type "shame" and immediately four other videos with my ugly mug face will appear.

Back to others and their work.

This is explicit shame.

Implicit shame is an automatic, over-learned, I would even say conditioned, operant condition, presumably unconscious emotional response.

It is assessed with indirect measures.

I refer you to work by Greenwald and Banaji, 1995, Fazio and Tal Schwen in 1999, Pelham and Hetz 1999, Roesch, allies 2007, etc.

So let's summarize again.

Explicit shame, deliberative, emotional response, result of negative evaluation of the self.

Implicit shame, automatic, conditioned, emotional response towards negative evaluation that is unconscious.

Okay, shame is associated with body postures.

We all know this.

The body appears smaller.

We're trying to minimize our body.

It's like we don't want to be a big target.

We want to be a small target.

The head movements, very typical of shame, head tilting down to the side, covering the face with a hand, downcast, eye gaze.

These body movement, these body language elements have been cataloged by Kelton and Baswell in 1996.

And so by studying the body language of the grandiose overt narcissist, we can already tell that he's extremely rarely, if everashamed, not so the vulnerable or fragile or covert narcissist.

The vulnerable narcissist is almost always ashamed. His body language is a minimizing body language.

It's an avoidant body language.

It's a body language that says, I know that I'm a POS. I know that I'm a loser. I'm not at a failure. I know that I'm not worthy of your attention. And I hate it.

I hate it because deep inside, I think that I'm wonderful. I think that I'm amazing and present and unique. I think that I'm an unrecognized genius.

I even think that I'm attractive and I hate you all for not paying attention to me. And not noticing my uniqueness and superiority, but there's nothing I can do about it.

And the fact that there's nothing I can do about it, make me feel very ashamed of myself.

And this is a very important distinction.

The vulnerable narcissist shame doesn't emanate only from a negative selfevaluation.

The shame reflects the vulnerable narcissist inadequacy, lack of selfefficacy.

The vulnerable narcissist really sucks at extracting beneficial outcomes from the environment, especially in including the human environment.

I don't know. He lacks social graces. He doesn't know how to behave. He's passive aggressive and therefore much hated, derided and decried.

Whatever the reason may be, he doesn't manage well. He doesn't make friends. He's not supported. He's hated and is underappreciated in many casesactually.

And he hates this and he feels ashamed because of his own inability to bond, attach, communicate, function, etc.

Initially the narcissistic personality disorder first made its appearance in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It was 1980.

And at that time it was large, it was very heavily influenced by psychoanalytic theory.

The psychoanalytic theory described shame as a core emotion in narcissistic psychopathology.

I refer you to the seminal work by Morrison, 1983.

But Morrison was a phenomenologist. He just described what he saw.

He observed and described his observations.

The guy who provided a kind of depth to the study of shame and its connection to narcissism was Kohrud, Heinz Kohrud in 1971 and 1977.

Kohrud regarded shame as a prominent clinical feature in pathological narcissism.

And by the way, Kohrud coined the phrase narcissistic personality disorder.

According to Kohrud, children carry egocentric narcissistic needsand these are tempered through empathic realistic mirroring by the parents.

So the children are narcissists, but the parents love them and empathize with them and help them to kind of grow through the narcissistic phase and away from the narcissism into well-developed object relations.

So the empathic mirroring of the parent coupled with reality testing, the parent provides reality testing.

These are crucial in the transition from primary narcissism, childhood, infantile narcissism to adult, adult healthy narcissism.

Kohrud said that repeated negative parental evaluations in childhood lead to increased shame reactivity in narcissistic patients.

He said that if the parents' responses are not empathic, the narcissistic patient never moves beyond earlier narcissistic developmental states that are characterized by narcissistic needs, for example, the need for excessive attention entitlement.

According to Kohrud's theory, individuals with pathological narcissism avoid shame and they avoid shame because it's an experience that threatens the very fabric, equilibrium and cohesion of the narcissists precariously balanced, disorganized, chaotic personality.

So narcissists avoid shame at any cost and they do this by reacting with rage. And if rage doesn't work, they withdraw.

Könberg, who worked the same time, a contemporaneous contemporary of Kohrud.

In 1975, Könberg hypothesized that narcissistic patients suffer from negative interactions with primary nurturing figures.

So he agreed with Kohrud. Both of them attribute wrong parenting or not good enough parenting to the emergence of pathological narcissism in adulthood.

But Könberg disagreed with Kohrud.

Könberg did not consider pathological narcissism as a normal developmental stage.

Instead, Könberg proposed that negative parental interaction fosters narcissistic features that are characterized by unconscious negative self-representations.

And these are strongly connected to the experience of explicit shame.

But today, Könberg's version is the orthodoxy, actually.

So even according to Jung, narcissism is healthy.

Jung linked narcissism to a process called introversion. And according to Könberg as well, narcissism is healthy. It's the parental influence, malignant parenting, if you wish, wrong bad parenting, not empathic, not listening, not loving, or conditionally loving, not caring, parenting that isolates the child from the world, not allowing the child to interact with the world and therefore impairing reality testing.

All these kinds of dysfunctional parenting styles, they are the ones, said Könberg and long before Könberg, Jung, many others, Bauwelbe and Gantri, many others, Winnicott, of course.

One of them said that parents, bad parents, make narcissists.

They disputed, they disagreed with code that all children are pathological narcissists. They are narcissists, but they are healthy narcissists.

Only the parents can render them pathological.

So in later life, acquired grandiose self-representations, according to Könberg, may conflict with implicit feelings of inferiority that are strongly connected to affective experiences of shame.

Könberg describes a battlefield between the false grandiose self and an innate inferiority complex, an innate sensation of shame. There's a war between these two.

But today we know that this war is dynamically active and relevant only in vulnerable narcissism, in covert narcissism.

In the grandiose overt version of narcissism, the battle had been decided in favor of the false self, in favor of grandiosity, and shame is suppressed.

Strategic patients, said Könberg, use defense mechanisms that limit the feelings of explicit shame in response to failures.

And so when we look at psychoanalytic theories, we realize that these people attributed a huge weight to shame in the formation of narcissism and later on in adult narcissism.

Social psychology does basically the same.

Stories from social psychology that focus on self-regulatory processes, they regard narcissism as a failure in self-regulation.

The same way we regard borderline, personality disorder is a failure in self-regulation.

Emotional dysregulation is a failure in self-regulation.

So scholars like Morf, Wodevelt in 2001, others said that narcissism is literally indistinguishable from borderline.

In both cases, there's a self-regulatory failure.

That's precisely what Könberg had been saying since 1975.

Narcissism and borderline are flip sides of the same near psychotic coin.

They both involve extreme self-disregulation.

Shame is the central emotional component in self-disregulation.

Studies by Tracy Robbins, 2004, and others.

According to these theories, shame as well as guilt is elicited when an individual attributes the cause of the negative event to an internal factor.

This is known as autoplastic defense.

My failure, my defeat, my loser status is because I'm not good enough. I'm inadequate, I'm broken, I'm damaged, I'm lacking. Something's wrong with me.

And I refer you to studies, again, Lewis, 1971, Tracy and Robbins, 2004, etc. So shame and guilt are elicited by a common set of cognitive processes. Shame involves negative feelings about the dispositional, internal, stable, and global self, while guilt involves specific internal attribution patterns in response to failures. I refer you to Tanguini and Dery in 2002, again, Tracy and Robbins, Hassan, O'Hayon, and allies 2012, and so on. But those of you who are not, those of you who are still awake would ask, but hold it for a minute.

Narcissists, both grandiose and covert, they have autoplastic defenses.

They blame other people for their own mishaps, mistakes, failures, and defeats. They never blame themselves.

So according to these theories, shame is the outcome of blaming yourself one way or another.

Either you blame the totality of yourself, you say, "I am not good enough. I am lacking. I am inadequate." Or you blame specific traits or attributes of yourself.

So according to these theories, shame arises only when you have autoplastic defenses, when you take responsibility, too much responsibility, for bad things that are happening to you.

So this is not typical of narcissists. This is anti-narcism, the opposite of narcissism. This is essentially neurosis.

So how to reconcile these two?

According to these theories, to remind you, I'm talking about social psychology theories, yes?

Social psychology theories, individuals who tend to frequently engage in internal global attributions when they experience negative events are more shame-prone, yes, I said it before.

And those who make more specific internal attributions when they experience a negative event are more guilt-prone.

But how do you reconcile this with narcissism when all narcissists blame others?

They never blame themselves. They never self-criticize to the point of admitting responsibility, assuming responsibility and ownership of their misdeeds, misconduct, misbehavior.

So Tracy and Robbins, in 2004, proposed that the experience of shame, but not guilt, is the central feature of narcissistic individuals.

What they said is that increased shame-proneness, increased proneness to shame in narcissistic individuals, is related to discrepancies in self-esteem.

So the verbally expressed grandiose self contradicts the unconscious feelings of insecurity and inferiority.

What they're saying is narcissism is a facade. It's a facade. It's compensatory. It's fake. It's a theater play. It's a movie. It's not real. It's a piece of fiction. It's an attempt to create a false grandiose self, to compensate for the reality of insecurity and inferiority.

And so this tension between the two, this contrast between the public view of the narcissist and how he really feels inside, this gives rise to shame.

They say that narcissistic individuals are more self-focused and they use different regulation strategies to prevent unconscious feelings of low self-esteem from becoming explicit.

And so they experience, they experience explicit shame, but a lot less than they would have done normally had they not used, for example, grandiosity as a regulatory mechanism.

So they appraise negative events as irrelevant to their identity goals or they attribute failure externally. They become angry and aggressive.

These are all strategies and techniques to avoid the inner realization and the internal conviction that it's actually something's wrong with you.

But these scholars are saying deep inside narcissists know that something is wrong with them, but they deny this to the point that they begin to believe their own lies.

They become grandiose, aggressive, angry, resentful in order to not experience the shame of who they truly are.


There are many empirical studies. They demonstrate that shame is much more maladaptive than guilt.

So in order to function, the narcissist needs to suppress shame. It's very dangerous because his personality is disorganized and anything could shatter the narcissist's mirror. The narcissist's so-called personality is so dysfunctional, so badly put together that an emotion like shame can ruin it overnight and drive the narcissist possibly into psychosis.

Several studies provide evidence that shame and psychiatric impairment generally are strongly associated.

Andrews connected shame to depression in 1995. The same guy connected shame to post-traumatic stress disorder in 2000.

Browning connected shame to social phobia in 2005.

Wersch and others connected shame to borderline personality disorder in 2007.

Ujal and others connected shame to a reaction after negative life events in 2012.

And Weissman, the mamani connected shame to caregivers' distress in 2010, etc.

He was intimately connected, strongly connected with many, many forms of mental illness and mental disorders.

The current clinical conceptualization of pathological narcissism also propose a regulatory etiological model.

So if we look at work by Horowitz in 2009, Kernberg in 2009, Ronningstam in 2010, they all propose that pathological narcissism has something to do with dysregulation.

And you know the narcissist can deny that something is wrong with himonly that much. Upflow point.

When this point is reached, the narcissist faces a maelstrom, a tsunami of shame.

Anyhow, narcissistic, the formation of narcissism reflects the deep shame of the abused child. It's a shame on multiple levels.

Not having stood for himself, child feels ashamed. Not having separated from the maternal figure and individuated, child feels shame.

The child grieves over not having become, not having actualized his potentials.

There's a lot of, there are many reasons for the shame in narcissism, even in early childhood.

And this shame is life threatening. It's a maelating.

The narcissist needs to bury deep.

That's what the narcissist does in any form of dysregulation threatens this, threatens to break open the dam.

And all these waters of shame will float the narcissist in a psyche and drown him literally, driving him to become a borderline in effect.

Grandiose and vulnerable facets in pathological narcissism, there are consequences of attempts to regulate the self and the self-esteem.

That's Ronningstam's work in 2010.

According to Ronningstam, individuals with pathological narcissism fluctuate between grandiosity and vulnerability, depending on external and internal factors.

I fully concur. I've been saying the same long before Ronnigstrom, actually.

Intense feelings of explicit shame. They belong more to the vulnerable features of pathological narcissism.

They occur, for example, in response to negatively perceived events, even if they're not negative objectively.

Individuals with pathological narcissism try to avoid these intense feelings of shame, as I explained.

They engage in various interpersonal and intra-personal strategies.

They're trying to prevent explicit shame.

So they devalue other people.

They respond with anger or they selfenhance.

They brag, for example.

We used to have an example in the White House.

"Oh, okay, sure, Shaniem. All your horses, all your horses. Let me get a sip of this red, what, wine.

You believe the worst about me, don't you? Wine, it's wine, I swear.

Ronnigstrom in 2010 emphasized that perfectionism, for example, is a significant feature of self-enhancement. It's closely related to shame.

Because when the narcissist attempts to be perfect, he's setting himself up for failure. No one can be perfect, not even the narcissist.

One exception, maybe, who is talking to you right now.

But no one is perfect.

Perfectionism is self-mutilation. He's setting himself up for shame failure. It's ending disgracefully.

So perfectionism is not sufficient enough to bridge the gap between real abilities and ideal imaginations about the self, what Freud called at the time ego ideal.

Feelings of explicit shame are elicited all the time, precisely because of what I call the grandiose-ity gap, the difference between the grandiose, fantastic, inflated self-image, a cognitive distortion, and drab poor reality, which never measures up to the fantasy.

Shame is a central feature of non-clinical, empathological narcissism in many theoretical models and I think for good reason.

Strangely, there are many theories and many theoreticians, but very few studies, very few studies. And many of these studies relied on non-clinical or mixed clinical populations, not a good idea.

So explicit shame in narcissism was assessed with the narcissistic personality inventory, the NPI, and grandiose and tandini in 1992, Watson and others in 1996, Pincus and others in 2009, they all measured shame and correlated it with narcissism. And they found a negative correlation, strangely.

Nary to everyone, maybe except me. As I keep saying in this lecture, shame in my view is negatively correlated with overt grandiose narcissism.

Overt grandiose narcissism is about an adaptation to suppress shame.

But grandiose narcissists know how to handle shame, how to manage it, how to deny and eliminate. It's the vulnerable ones who can't cope with shame and don't do well with shame.

A recent study suggested that the NPI measures a grandiose variant of normal or subclinical narcissism that strongly overlaps with high explicit self-esteem.

So the NPI is likely is not the best test because it's NPI is a test for grandiose overt narcissism. It's not a test for covert vulnerable narcissism.

There's another study which used a more valid measure to assess pathological narcissism. It used the pathological narcissism inventoryPNI, not NPI, PNI.

Pathological narcissism inventory was developed by Pincus in 2009.

And so when the PNI was used, PNI has 52 questions, it's a much bigger instrument.

When the PNI was used, not the NPI, but the PNI, the authors found a moderately positive correlation between explicit shame and pathological narcissism in a mixed clinical sample.

So these data show that we need to be a lot more subtle, a lot more nuanced. We can't just say narcissism, what type of narcissism, and we can't just say shame, which kind of shame, compensatory reaction to real events, reaction to expected events, what?

We need to be a lot more definitive, especially when we discuss vulnerable facets of the disorder.

So I again refer you to the bibliography if you wish to read more about any of this.

Gramso and Tandini in 1992 wrote the following sentence, "Shame proneness was also positively correlated with splitting of a logical narcissistic defense." And that's a very, very fascinating and enlightening observation.

Because when you split, you don't only split the world, you split yourself as well.

Splitting is black and white thinking, also known as dichotomous thinking. Dividing the world to good and totally good and totally bad, totally black and totally white, totally with me and totally against me, totally something and totally other.

This is splitting.

When you do that, inevitably you split yourself as well.

And when you split yourself, there is a part of you or the totality of you that is all bad, which gives rise of course to shame.

No surprise there that shame is correlated with splitting.

There's been a study by Pincus and Ansel and Pimentel and Kane and all the giants in this field of shame, which I keep mentioning in 2009. It was published in the inventory of psychological assessment, 2009.

I want to read the abstract to you.

The article was titled, "Initial construction and validation of the pathological narcissism inventory."

I want to read the abstract.

The construct of narcissism is inconsistently defined across clinical theory, social personality theory and psychiatric diagnoses.

Two problems were identified that impede integration of research and clinical findings regarding narcissistic personality pathology.

Number one, ambiguity regarding the assessment of pathological narcissism versus normal narcissism.

Number two, insufficient scope of existing narcissism measures.

The PNI is a 52 item self-report measure assessing seven dimensions of pathological narcissism, spanning problems with narcissistic grandiosity, entitlement, rage, exploitativeness, grandiose fantasy, self-sacrificing and self-enhancement and narcissistic vulnerability, contingent self-esteem, hiding the self, devaluing and so on.

The PNI structures, the structures in this suggested measure, suggested test, the PNI structure was validated via confirmatory factor analysis, etc.

And it was correlated negatively with self-esteem and empathy. It was correlated positively with shame, interpersonal distress, aggression and borderline personality organization.

Because PNI scales, say Pincus and his collaborators were associated with the grandiose scales, the overt narcissist, were associated with vindictive, domineering, intrusive and overly nurturing interpersonal problems, vulnerable PNI scales were associated with cold, socially avoidant and exploitative interpersonal problems.

In a small clinical sample, the PNI scales exhibited significant associations with parasuicidal behavior, suicide attempts, homicidal ideation and several aspects of psychotherapy utilization.

I suggest those of you who want to go deeper, I suggest that you read up on the PNI.


Now, Kane, Pincus, Ansel and others published an article in 2007 titled "The Narcissism at the Crossroads".

Phenotypic description of pathological narcissism, cross clinical theory, social personality theory and psychiatric diagnosis.

It was published in Clinical Psychology Review, 2008.

And again, I want to read to you the abstract.

This review, say the authors, Kane et al.

This review documents two themes of emphasis found in phenotypic descriptions of pathological narcissism across clinical theory, social personality psychology and psychiatric diagnosis.

Clinical theories of narcissism, say the authors, spanning 35 years, consistently describe variations in the expression of pathological narcissism that emphasize either grandiosity or vulnerable effects and self-states.

Recent research in social personality psychology, examining the structure of narcissistic personality traits, consistently finds two broad factors representing grandiosity exhibitionism and vulnerability sensitivity depletion, respectively.

However, the majority of psychiatric criteria for narcissistic personality disorder, NPD, in the DSM, the majority of these criteria emphasize expressions of grandiosity.

This has been corrected, by the way, in the DSM-5. The DSM-5 implicitly, not by name, recognizes covert vulnerable narcissism.

The authors continue, by placing most of the diagnostic emphasis on overt grandiosity, DSM-NPD has been limited by poor discriminant validity, modest levels of temporal stability and the lowest prevalence rates on axis two.

Despite converging support for two phenotypic themes associated with pathological narcissism, psychiatric diagnosis and social personality psychology research often focus only on grandiosity in the assessment of narcissism.

In contrast, clinical theory struggles with a proliferation of labels describing these broad phenotypic variations.

We conclude that the construct of pathological narcissism is at a crossroads.

Talk about an understatement.

I mentioned the work of Aline Vater, Katherine Ritter, and so there are many women, by the way, many first grade, first rank women scholars in the study of narcissism. So Ritter, Vater and others published an article titled "Shaming Patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder" was published in Psychiatry Research in 2014.

And again, you go to the description, you find the whole bibliography and you're encouraged to take a stroll along these literature lanes, scholarly literature lanes, because you're likely to find many gents.

I can't condense everything into one or one and a half hours. I'm just giving you highlights and pointers.


So the authors wrote, "Participants with NPD reported higher levels of explicit shame than nonclinical controls, but lower levels than patients with borderline personality disorder.

Levels of guilt, proneness to guilt did not differ among the three study groups. They were all similarly prone to guilt.

It's a shocking revelation and many self-styled experts online should pay heed.

The implicit shame self-associations relative to anxiety self-associations were significantly stronger among patients with NPD compared to nonclinical controls and BPD patients.

Our findings indicate that shame is a prominent feature of NPD.

And I would add, shockingly, so is guilt, because we have this stereotypical perception, narcissists are incapable of shame, they're incapable of guilt, borderlines are.

That's not true. It's absolutely not true. It's another reason that I suggest to get rid of all these differential diagnosis and to focus on a single personality disorder with different emphases.

Every narcissist is sometimes a borderline and every borderline is sometimes a narcissist. Even both of them are frequently psychopaths.

He Bort in 1992 wrote an article, I think it appeared in a book as far as I remember, it was titled "Narcissism, Shame, Masochism and Object Relations, an Exploratory Correlational Study." No, it was published in Psychoanalytic Psychology.

So the abstract of the article is a correlational study with 701 students examined measures of narcissism, shame, masochism, object relations and social desirability.

Moderate correlations were found for narcissism, shame, object relations and masochism.

Narcissism says the author, it's a very, I'm sorry, it's a very, very early article.

It's an article dated 1992.

Narcissism divided into two different styles, a phallic, apologies, a phallic grandiose style, today known as overt and a narcissistically vulnerable style, today known as covert.

Shame primarily accounted for the differences in these styles, correlating negatively with the grandiose style, positively with the more vulnerable style.

The narcissistically vulnerable style, say the authors, correlated more with the core pathology measures, that is object relations and masochism.

Social desirability did not mediate the relationship between grandiose narcissism and shame.

Masochism was a better predictor of shame in women than was narcissism, whereas there was little difference between masochism and narcissism for predicting shame in men.

This might not be the case anymore, by the way, but we don't know.

Onward Christian or Jewish soldiers and we seamlessly transitioned to the next article.

Ilene Bilevitsius, Darren Neufeld and others published an article titled Vulnerable Narcissism and Addiction, the Mediating Role of Shame, it was published in Addictive Behaviors in 2019.

The abstract of this article says, "Problem drinking and gambling are addictive behaviors experienced by young adults which commonly occur with narcissism.

Researchers acknowledge two different forms of narcissism, grandiose and vulnerable.

There has been work that has examined the relationship between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism and addictive behaviors, but this work has been limited, particularly when it comes to vulnerable narcissism.

Evidence suggests that vulnerable narcissism, but not grandiose narcissism, is associated with greater negative affect.

Accordingly, shame, a potent social emotion, could be a mediator in the narcissism addiction pathway.

Shame has been implicated in both vulnerable narcissism and problem drinking and gambling.

We hypothesize, say the authors, that shame would mediate the relationship between vulnerable narcissism and addictive behaviors.

As predicted, those with elevated vulnerable narcissism had increased shame and this predicted drinking and gambling.

This relationship, problem drinking and gambling. This relationship was not observed for grandiose narcissism.

Overall, say the authors, our results suggest that feelings of shame are essential to the understanding of the vulnerable narcissism variety and the vulnerable narcissism addiction pathway.

And shame is an important consideration when designing clinical intervention for at-risk young adults.

Conventional narcissists are flooded with shame, drowning in shame. Shame is a major dynamic factor in vulnerable covert narcissism, not so in overt grandiose narcissism, not so at all.

Another reason to think that these two conditions, do they share the common epithet or label narcissism are not the same at all and should not belong to the same family.

One is probably a form of psychopathy, overt grandiose narcissism, at least an antisocial manifestation of narcissism.

The other is compensatory, is a way to cope with deep-set shame, inferiority, and negative self-directed negative affectivity, self-loathing, self-hatred, self-devaluation, self-deprecation, and a deep knowing sense of failure, defeat, and being a loser.

No wonder they drink.

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