Background

Study: Weak Self of Covert Narcissists, Secondary Psychopaths

Uploaded 7/9/2021, approx. 36 minute read

Today, for a change, I feel smug. Vaknin, you say. You're always smug. Yeah, that's very true.

But today, I have a good reason to be.

A study is about to be published in October, which supports everything I've been saying for well over a decade on controversial issues in Cluster B personality disorders.

I'm going to review this astounding breakthrough article, and then expound a bit on things and conclusions in it.

So let us start by referring you to the bibliography. The article is about to be published in Personality and Individual Differences, volume 180, October 2021. And the article is titled, The Self-concepts of People with Dark Triad Traits Tend to be Weaker, Less Clearly Defined, and More State-Related.

The article is authored by Stephen Doerfler, Maryam Tajmirriyahi, William Ikes, and Peter Jonason. Forgive them their family names. They know not what they are doing.

But when it comes to cluster B personality disorders, they definitely know what they're doing. Let me read to you the highlights of the article and then the abstract.

The highlights are, dark triad traits predicted a weaker and more unstable sense of self.

I've been saying it for a decade. I've been insisting that narcissists, for example, have no ego. They have no self.

The second highlight from the article, dark triad traits were related to more state and less trait-related self-concepts.

I will explain this a bit later. And just to remind you, dark triad is the combination of psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism, or manipulativeness.

There is now a new concept, new construct, called the dark tetrad, which is essentially a vulnerable dark triad, which incorporates covert narcissism and borderline. And again, I'll come to it in a few minutes.

The next highlight from the article is secondary psychopathy was the strongest predictor of a weaker and unstable self. I've been saying for eons that borderline personality disorder is actually a form of secondary psychopathy and that the reason for this is that borderlines have identity disturbance. They have an unstable sense of self. And this article fully supports this.

And the final highlight is leadership authority was the only predictor of a stronger sense of self. Leadership authority is a determinant, a dimension in a narcissistic personality inventory test. We'll come to that also a bit later.

But before we do, I'd like to give the authors their own voice. I'd like to read to you the abstract.

The researchers have examined overt social behavioral manifestations of dark triad traits, while mostly ignoring the similarities in the covert self-concept of these individuals.

Across two independent samples, we investigated aspects of an unstable self-concept in relation to dark triad traits.

In study number one with 298 people, we found that higher levels of the dark triad traits were related to a weaker sense of self, decreased trait term usage and greater state term usage in a spontaneous self-concept task.

In the second study with 262 participants, we sought to obtain a more fine-grained understanding of these associations.

In regression models, secondary psychopathy, followed by vulnerable covert narcissism, emerged as the only predictors of both a weaker sense of self and lower self-concept clarity.

Whereas the leadership authority aspect of grandiose narcissism emerged as a significant predictor of a stronger sense of self, an increased self-concept.

These findings are discussed within the context of existing theory, for example, the life strategy approach and the vulnerable dark triad model, also known as dark tetrad.

This is the abstract authored by the academics, and like all academics, it's very difficult to decipher and understand. It's very dense and replete with jargon and lingo and you name it.

Let me help you to decode what these people are saying, because what they're saying is nothing short of revolutionary and tallies 100% with what I had been saying in numerous papers and studies and throughout the academic world, most recently in a presentation in McGill University and an interview granted to Cambridge University.

So let us try to decipher what they're saying.

The authors focused on a sense of self. Now everyone has a sense of self. Even the earliest thinkers in psychology, modern psychology, like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and others, focused their attention, focused their work on a concept of self.

Now they either deconstructed the self. So for example, Freud came with a trilateral model ego, id ego and superego.

So they either deconstructed the self or on the very contrary, they proposed the self as a unitary kind of entity.

Jung did this in his famous conception of constellation. He says that the self is constellated via processes of introversion and healthy narcissism. I've dedicated two videos to these issues and I encourage you to watch them.

This is not the place right now, but everyone supposedly has a sense of self. Now I've been arguing for close on to 25 years that the only exceptions in the human zoo are narcissists.

I claimed, I insisted that narcissists and to some extent borderlines do not have a self, that this is the core of the pathology, that instead of having a self, they actually have an emptiness, an empty schizoid core.

Now, of course, I've not been the first or the only one to claim this. Otto Kernberg, Jeffrey Seinfeld, many other psychoanalysts and psychologists have said essentially the same, but it never made it into the mainstream.

Perhaps because it's too horrifying to contemplate someone without a self is like a zombie or a robot. It's to some extent when we say you don't have a self, we're taking away your humanity to dehumanize narcissists and borderlines.

And this runs against the grain and the predilection and the tendencies of psychologists and psychotherapists. They want to help people. They don't want to dehumanize and objectify them.

But scientists, and I'm a physicist by training, scientists follow where the evidence takes them. And the evidence is pretty clear.

Narcissists, borderlines and secondary psychopaths, which are essentially borderlines, they don't have a self. And in borderlines, it's known as identity disturbance. And I've dedicated several videos to the issues of identity disturbance, pseudo identities, sub personalities, and self states. And I again encourage you to watch these videos.

Anyhow, why are we so interested in the question of self?

Because it is through the self that we relate to the world.

In other words, the self, one of the functions of the ego, one of the functions of the self is reality testing. We function in the world, self efficaciously or otherwise, via the construct of the self, the self, we intermediate the world via the self.

The self is, of course, a metaphor. It's an allegory. There's no physical entity or material device that is a self. It's just an organizing principle. It's a kind of a working model, an overriding working model.

And so we assume that the brain organizes itself along some lines with which when put together, when coalesced, they become the self.

So the self helps us to cope in reality, but also, the self is the way we interact with other people. Self, the modern conception of self, the modern conception of personality is that it is inter-relational. It reflects inter-personal interactions.

We are the confluence of everyone around us, especially meaningful, influential, significant role models, interjects, parents, and so on. We become through interacting with other people.

And this is the core of object relations theory in the 1960s.

So the modern approach is not to consider the self or the ego or whatever name you want to call it, not to consider it as a discrete atomized unit, divorced from the rest of the world, and diverged and deviated and separated from others. But we consider the self and the ego like a Venn diagram, overlapping circles where they overlap, that's the self.

And so self is a crucial concept in understanding, interpreting and predicting the outcomes of inter-personal relationships and perhaps especially intimate relationships, but not only in the workplace as well.

What does the study say?

It says that dark triad personalities, personalities with psychopathy, with narcissism, and with extreme manipulativeness known as Machiavellianism, dark triad personalities tend to have a weak, diffuse, unclear, disturbed sense of self.

It's a very polite way of saying that they have no self.

The second thing the study says is that specific dark triad traits, dark triad traits or sub traits, highly specific ones in for example, the type of narcissism, the type of psychopathy, they are the ones which obstruct the formation of a coherent, cohesive, functional sense of self.

So the concept of self is heavily influenced by the question of what kind of narcissist are you or what kind of psychopath you are.

The third conclusion from this amazing study which is bound to become seminal, the third conclusion is that learning to recognize these traits is very important because we can then classify or categorize people, predict their behaviors and avoid destructive, defiant, consummation, impulsive, reckless and callous behaviors. We can minimize the damage that these people cause to themselves, to society and to others including in intimate relationships.

So the sense of self is therefore a key. Understanding one's personality, understanding relationships and understanding one's functioning in the world.

In other words, the self is what we would call a positive adaptation.

But to act positively throughout the lifespan, the self needs to be stable.

It needs to be persistent, continuous. There needs to be a core of identity which is essentially immutable, like a lighthouse, like a beacon.

Whenever we lose the way, we zero in, we calibrate on the self.

The self is like a navigation device, like an astrolabe. It's like the northern star in our galaxy of interjects, internalized objects and external objects.

So when someone has a weak, unstable, unclear, diffuse or disturbed sense of self, that's a huge problem.

And it's also an excellent definition of certain personality disorders or other psychiatric conditions.

It leads to insecure attachment styles. It leads to extreme difficulties in functioning in personal and in work relationships. And it leads of course to stunted growth and development.

And so research in the past had demonstrated that identity disturbance, a weak or unstable sense of self, is closely associated or correlated with anxious attachment style and with dysfunctional relationships.

And in turn, dysfunctional relationships hinder, obstruct, destroy, erode the little identity the person has.

So if you have a personality disorder, if you have narcissistic or borderline personality disorder, you start off with an unstable, weak sense of self.

And then you go on to having really destructive, horrible, painful, hurtful relationships. And these relationships further destroy and erode what little self and identity you started off with.

So it's a vicious circle.

And so the personality in healthy people is not reactive to outside traumas and problems in relationships.

For example, we discovered in studies that divorce, which is a major trauma, has little effect on personality in healthy people.

But it does have a massive effect on trait constancy in narcissists and especially in borderlines.

So the external environment further undermines, sabotages, erodes and corrodes the little identity, the little self that the borderline and narcissist manage somehow to conjure up, manage somehow to cobble together.

And so difficulties in maintaining healthy relationships, getting stuck in dysfunctions, this leads to an increased level of maladaptation. And the maladaptation leads to unhealthy relationships and getting stuck in dysfunction, etc.

It's a perpetual mobile.

So this study, this recent research that I'm referring to, in personality and individual differences by Doerfler, October 2021, this recent study, it tried to somehow correlate or somehow ascertain what's the connection between dark triad traits and a sense of self.

Is the self somehow dependent on dark triad traits? Do dark triad traits derive from a stable sense of self or from the instability in the self?

The authors didn't know the answer. They didn't come into the study biased.

Actually, they came biased in a way for the wrong conclusions and they were pretty shocked and surprised by what they had discovered. And so the anticipated outcomes mostly did not come true.

Whenever you embark on a study in psychology, you kind of have an intuition what the results will be. And the great studies are the ones that defy your intuition.

So the authors, for example, assumed that narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy are correlated with each other as well as with a weaker sense of self.

And this was upheld by the study. People with higher Machiavellianism and psychopathy were more likely to use state-based descriptions rather than trait-based descriptions.

And this suggested a great instability in the sense of self with a tendency towards short-term thinking and impulsive risky decisions uninformed by self-awareness.

Let me explain the difference between trait-based descriptions and state-based descriptions.

When we ask someone, why did you do that? Usually, they will describe their own traits. They will refer to their internal mental state.

They will say, I did it because I'm stubborn. I did it because I'm impulsive. I did it because I was angry. I did it because I love her.

All these are trait-based, trait-based, self-based descriptions.

But when you ask a narcissist or a psychopath or even a borderline, why did you do that?

They're likely to describe the environment. They're not going to talk about themselves, rarely going to talk about themselves. They usually describe the environment.

So if you ask a psychopath, why did you snatch this old lady's purse?

He's not going to say, because I detest old ladies or because I'm impulsive or because I needed money. He's going to say, well, she left it unattended. He's going to describe the environment.

If you ask a woman, why did you sleep with this man? Why did you sleep with this man who had mistreated you? She would say, well, he created a pleasant environment for me.

So these people, narcissists, psychopaths and borderlines, they describe the environment. They derive their motivations and they derive the description of their internal world, their internal landscape from the outside. They outsource the description of their internal world.

It's like they are not aware. They are not aware of their own internal landscape. They are not aware of their own minds. They are not aware of who they are and what they do, they scan the environment for clues, for hints, for information, for data to help them to realize who they are and what they are doing.

Healthy people use trait-based descriptions, mental state-based descriptions and unhealthy people use state-based descriptions.

Healthy people use descriptions of themselves and explain their behavior by referring to their state, who they are, their motivations, their dreams, their hopes, their thoughts, their emotions.

Unhealthy people explain who they are and why they do what they're doing, why they did what they did because in reference to the environment, they refer to the outside to explain themselves.

And so these results confirmed this initial assumption. The initial assumption was that psychopaths, people with dark triad traits are going to use state-based descriptions and this was confirmed and upheld in the study and the results in the study held regardless of gender and regardless of age.

So it's equal, it applies equally to women and men and throughout the lifespan. It seems to be therefore constant.

It seems that psychopathy, narcissism and to some extent borderline, preconditioned people to refer to the environment for their own self-definition.

They derive their sense of identity, they derive the core from the outside, they outsource these functions.

The second study captured nuances using what we call sub-traits of narcissism and psychopathy.

And so they tried to differentiate the dark triad traits from one another in terms of self and in terms of the clarity of the self-concept.

They tried to see whether narcissism or psychopathy or Machiavellianism are somehow more strongly connected to any specific way of perceiving the self, to any stability of the self or lack of stability.

And so what they discovered is that high-level dark triad traits are associated with a weaker sense of self, an unclear self-concept.

Both men and women had identical results. Men are much more likely to be psychopathic than women, although this is changing very fast because women are imitating psychopathic men.

But still, the connection between dark triad traits and a weak unstable sense of self, and an unclear, diffuse, disturbed self-concept, this connection held across genders, across ages, and seems to be connected to the psychopathy, to the narcissism, not to whether you are a man or a woman, for example, or not to whether you are an okay boomer or a millennial.

This is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, the first time we are beginning to see the hints of an invariable clinical entity, a clinical entity that does not depend on a narrative, does not depend on intuition, including the therapist or diagnostician's intuition. A clinical entity that is all on its own.

It's a bit like tuberculosis or COVID-19. It's a disease that can strike anyone at any age, regardless of gender.

And it's the first time we're getting an inkling that narcissism and psychopathy may indeed be clinical entities. Gender-free, age-unrelated diseases, diseases, not even disorders.

With age, the sense of self in Machiavellianism strengthened.

So it seems that someone who has narcissism and psychopathy and also Machiavellianism, a dark triad person, has a better prognosis because he can develop greater self-awareness and later on greater self-acceptance.

This is not true for people who have only narcissism or only psychopathy or comorbidity of narcissism and psychopathy, but they're not Machiavellian.

Machiavellianism, therefore, is a stable trait. It's something that holds its uniform and it's unitary.

And you can think of it as the glue, the glue that holds together the narcissistic self-states, the psychopathic self-states, gradually, because Machiavellianism is superglue, it brings them all together and creates self-awareness and a cohesive sense of self. Healing, in effect.

Ironically, Machiavellianism is the only hope and chance for healing in narcissism and psychopathy.

Regrettably, most narcissists and psychopaths are not members of the dark triad. They are, you know, these are separate diagnoses. Only a small minority have dark triad traits and even smaller minority have dark tetra traits.

And so, the scholars went a bit deeper and they started to study sub-traits, sub-traits of narcissism, sub-traits, lower-level traits of psychopathy, and lower-level traits of Machiavellianism.

When they did this, it was there that they were shocked because everything they discovered when they went a bit deeper contradicted the upper-level picture, the meta-level picture.

You see, if you just look at narcissism as a complex, as a unitary kind of clinical picture, you look at psychopathy separately, you look at Machiavellianism separately, you say, well, narcissists and psychopaths don't have a sense of self. They have an unstable, diffused, disturbed sense of self which is not constant and not persistent across the lifespan regardless of gender.

That's a general conclusion.

But if you go a bit deeper, the picture becomes a lot more nuanced and fine-grained. When you look at grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, primary psychopathy, secondary psychopathy and Machiavellianism, the story almost reverses.

It's a bit shocking. It's like when you transition from macro systems to micro systems to quantum mechanics.

In the world of quantum mechanics, everything we know about the quantum world contradicts everything we experience in daily life. In the quantum world, objects can be in two places simultaneously. In the quantum world, there is action at a distance. In the quantum world, objects vanish behind the solid partition and appear on the other side. Things happen in the quantum world that could never happen in daily life. In our reality, as we perceive it through our senses.

The same in this study.

When you look at narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, you reach one set of conclusions. But when you go a bit deeper and analyze the subunits, the sub-trades, you get an entirely opposite picture.

Secondary psychopathy and vulnerable narcissism are most strongly correlated with a weaker or unclear sense of self.

Again, this is something I've been saying for at the very least a decade.

I've been advocating the view that borderline personality disorder is actually a form of secondary psychopathy and that covert narcissism is actually the only real form of narcissism because it's the only compensatory form.

So secondary psychopathy is borderline. Covert narcissism is narcissism. And these two, what's common? What do they have in common?

They have in common identity disturbance. They have in common a weak, unclear sense of self.

And this is why borderlines transition easily to secondary psychopathy and covert narcissism also transition easily to secondary psychopathy.

And that's why I proposed the additional diagnosis of covert borderline. It's the borderline who transitions to primary psychopathy as distinct from these two.

Okay. So we have these two subtypes, covert narcissism and secondary psychopath, also known as borderline.

And these ones have no sense of self to talk of.

Whatever sense of self they have, it shape shifts. It's unstable. It's unpredictable. It's impulsive. It's cerebral. It's dysregulated. It's discontinuous. It's non-persistent. It's not a self in any way, shape or form, any extension of the word.

They don't have a self to cut a long story short.

And today we are beginning to think that the only form of narcissism is compensatory narcissism and its primary manifestation, covert narcissism. We are beginning to think that what we used to call grandiose phallic overt narcissism is actually a form of primary psychopathy.

And this study tends to support this because it groups together secondary psychopathy, which is borderline with covert narcissism. And it groups together grandiose narcissism with primary psychopathy, which is the real psychopath.

And so grandiose narcissism has a mildly stronger sense of self, but not fully, not fully.

What the authors did, they analyzed the narcissistic personality inventory, NPI test. And they found that one of the dimensions of the test known as leadership authority, one of the components known as leadership authority component.

When that component was dominant in the grandiose narcissist, the narcissist had a stronger sense of self, not strong self, not a strong sense of self, but stronger sense of self, still diffuse, still disturbed, still not cohesive, still incongruent, still problematic, but stronger than in covert narcissism, stronger than the secondary psychopath. The grandiose narcissist with an emphasized NPI component of leadership authority had a stronger sense of self than covert narcissist and secondary psychopath.

The other NPI traits, the other NPI components of, for example, grandiose exhibitionism and entitlement exploitativeness, they correlated with a weaker sense of self.

And I'm proposing that the reason is that they actually measure covert narcissism.

Grandiose exhibitionism is a trait of grandiose narcissist, of course, but entitlement exploitativeness is very pronounced in covert narcissism.

When you look more closely, vulnerable or covert narcissism, what does it include? What is it made of?

It's insecurity, emotional reactivity, self-doubt, passive aggressions.

All these are correlated with problems, a problematic sense of self.

Grandiose narcissism is based on an innate, authentic sense of superiority.

Vulnerable covert narcissism is compensatory because it covers up for problems in the sense of self, because of developmental problems, developmental adversity.

You could say that the covert narcissist is a case of stunted growth or stunted development, which is a phrase we never use in academia, by the way. It's taboo. You're not supposed to use it. It's politically incorrect.

The grandiose narcissist did not experience developmental adversity. The grandiose narcissist experienced a breach of boundaries.

For example, instrumentalizing, spoiling parents, parents who've identified the narcissist, parents who've breached the narcissist's boundaries in other ways.

When boundaries are breached, the likely outcome is a grandiose narcissist. When boundaries are breached in childhood, the likely outcome is grandiose narcissism. When development and growth are stunted, when there is adversity, for example, classic abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, et cetera, we are likely to end up with a covert narcissist.

A covert narcissist is closely associated with borderline, which is a form of secondary psychopathy.

So this cluster, covert narcissist, borderline, secondary psychopathy, they are actually the constituents of the dark tetrad, not triad, tetrad, the new concept, the new construct.

And there, there is no self. The grandiose narcissist and the primary psychopath, they have a sense of self, much higher, on a much higher level, much more organized than the covert narcissist and the borderline secondary psychopath, but it's still a fragmented fractured self with multiple self-states.

Grandiose narcissists, who scored higher on leadership authority traits and components in the NPI, they had a clearer, more robust sense of self.

And the vulnerable narcissist, which is essentially the covert narcissist, which is essentially the traumatized narcissist, the narcissist who is post-traumatic and therefore, in my view, the only form of real compensatory narcissism, I believe the only real narcissist is the covert vulnerable compensatory narcissist, because I believe that narcissism is post-traumatic.

Well, this type of post-traumatic narcissist, yes, this type had a very, very diffuse sense of self, did not develop a self, in effect, had no ego and had to outsource ego functions even more than the grandiose, the grandiose narcissist.

So you could say that the grandiose narcissist is adaptive, is a form, grandiose narcissism is a form of adaptive narcissism.

Why? It's adaptive because it leads to a stronger sense of self, while covert narcissism is maladaptive narcissism, is problematic narcissism, because it compensates for a lack of self.

And so, when you see a narcissist with a combination of leadership authority, grandiose exhibitionism, entitlement exploitativeness, the more pronounced these other traits are, the less of a self he has.

For the first time, to the best of my knowledge, we can come up with a scale, a scale of coherence and cohesion of self in Cluster B personality disorders, an invaluable tool.

Primary psychopathy did not correlate with self-concept problems. Secondary psychopathy is correlated with self-concept problems. Let me repeat this, because this means that primary psychopathy and secondary psychopathy have nothing in common.

One, they are misnomer, they are mislabeled. Secondary psychopathy is not psychopathy. It's a wrong phrase, it's a wrong name.

Secondary psychopathy is emotional dysregulation, also known as borderline personality disorder.

Primary psychopaths have a perfectly intact self. The self of primary psychopaths is continuous, functional, demarcated, boundary, persistent, regulated, etc., etc. Primary psychopaths among cluster B have the highest functioning self. They are not totally functioning, but highest functioning.

Secondary psychopaths have no self at all. Instead of self-concept, a constant and consistent self-concept, instead they have what we know as identity disturbance.

They have no self, and exactly like the narcissists, they create a hive mind. They outsource their identity and self. They collect information from the environment.

The narcissist collects narcissistic supply from other people, puts it together, and generates on the fly, just in time, self. The narcissist generates millions of selves, millions of selves throughout his lifetime, by collecting data and input and feedback from people known as narcissistic supply, and using it, leveraging it, to generate a kaleidoscopic self that I call the hive mind.

The primary psychopath does not need to do that, and the secondary psychopath does that, but with an intimate partner.

So the secondary psychopath uses the intimate partner to outsource his identity, ego, and self-concept and functions.

The intimate partner of the borderline, also known as secondary psychopath, the intimate partner of a borderline, serves to define the identity and the self of the borderline.

And this is why the borderline is terrified of losing the intimate partner, because without the intimate partner, the borderline will be self-less, and not in the good sense of the word.

On the other hand, the borderline is terrified of engulfment and enmeshment, because the intimate partner takes over the borderline's identity, assimilates the borderline, digests the borderline. The borderline feels that she is disappearing, vanishing inside the intimate partner. Why? Because she does. It's true.

Grandiose narcissists, especially the grandiose narcissist with higher levels of authority, leadership, on the narcissistic personality inventory components.

These grandiose narcissists have a kind of more constellated self, a higher sense of self.

So this is the hierarchy now.

This is the number one primary psychopath. The primary psychopath has a good sense of self, almost healthy, almost like healthy people. Not totally, but almost.

Second down the ladder, the grandiose narcissist with authority leadership component. Also, relatively functioning, relatively well put together, relatively unitary, less diffuse, more boundaried self, regulated and functional.

Next, grandiose narcissist with leadership authority, grandiose exhibitionism, and entitlement exploitativeness in the narcissistic personality inventory test. The self is less cohesive, less coherent, less congruent, less functional, less regulated, less boundaried.

Next stage, the covert narcissist and the secondary psychopath.

They don't have a self. They don't have a self. The covert narcissist and the borderline, which is essentially a secondary psychopath, they import, outsource identity formation from other people. The covert narcissist imports it from sources of narcissistic supply and the borderline imports it from her intimate partner.

Now, the grandiose narcissist also uses narcissistic supply, of course. Narcissistic supply is a commodity that is used both in grandiose narcissism and in covert vulnerable narcissism.

But the roles of narcissistic supply are different. In covert narcissism, narcissistic supply is used in order to form, to amalgamate, to assemble a sense of self and identity.

Very similar to the borderline. The borderline does it with their intimate partner. The covert narcissist does it with his or her narcissist or with other people.

Grandiose narcissists, they need narcissistic supply, but they need narcissistic supply to regulate certain dimensions and ego functions.

For example, a sense of self worth. They have a labile sense of self worth and they use narcissistic supply to regulate it.

But the self in the grandiose narcissist is much more intact than in the covert narcissist and much more similar to primary psychopath.

Okay, just to clarify some of the concepts I've been using, I said before that primary and secondary psychopaths are not the same disorder. It's very misleading because it gives the impression that secondary psychopaths are kind of another variant of psychopathy.

That is not true.

Primary psychopaths are the only true psychopaths.

The same way that covert narcissists are the only real narcissists.

Primary psychopathy is innate. It comes from the inside and it is characterized by cruelty, callousness, lack of empathy, manipulativeness, superficial emotion, acting, not acting out, but acting, thespian skills, goal orientation, extreme goal orientation, lack of scruples, lack of boundaries and lack of respect for boundaries of others, defiance, impetuousness, impulsivity, contumaciousness, recklessness.

That's the primary psychopath, the true classic psychopath, which is often described by Robert Hare.

Secondary psychopathy is totally different.

Secondary psychopathy is characterized by impulsivity, hostility is driven actually by pain, by anxiety. Secondary psychopathy involves empathy, involves emotions and potential for remorse, driven by fear. It's a highly emotional state. Secondary psychopathy is an extreme form of emotional dysregulation. It's like covert narcissism.

Secondary psychopathy is related to adverse developmental experiences, including abuse, neglect, sexual abuse. It's also intimately linked to other psychiatric disorders characterized by risk taking and poor impulse control.

But in secondary psychopathy there's empathy and there are dysregulated overwhelming emotions. None of these exist with a primary psychopath.

So secondary psychopathy is simply another name for borderline, as simple as that. I don't know why we had to come up with these two separate constructs.

When the borderline faces anxiety, stress, she decompensates and she switches to another self-state, which is her secondary psychopathy self-state. She becomes a secondary psychopath. Anyone who has lived with a borderline has spent any time with a borderline, had witnessed this switching from borderline to secondary psychopath.

Same with the covert narcissist. Exposed to anxiety and stress, the covert narcissist switches and becomes a grandiose narcissist. That is his protective, rescuer, savior self-state. It's a drama triangle.

Actually, covert narcissists and borderlines triangulate, internally triangulate with a psychopathic self-state and a grandiose overt narcissistic self-state.

But they are the only true forms.

There are three true forms in cluster B. The true psychopath, factor one, primary psychopath. The true narcissist, the covert narcissist. The true borderline, which is the secondary psychopath.

The others, the primary psychopaths, the grandiose narcissist, they are actually one and the same. They are the deviants of cluster B because they have a pretty strong sense of self and self-concept. And they are much more, I would say, self efficacious adaptations.

We may wish to get rid of them altogether as separate diagnostic categories.

So, recently there had been studies about the so-called dark empath. It's a subtype of the dark triad, which combines maladaptive but pro-social traits, communal traits.

A while back 20 years ago, I coined the phrase pro-social and communal narcissist.

So, the dark empath, I mean, I detest the term empath, it says no clinical significance. But the dark empath is essentially this, a kind of subtype of the dark triad, which has maladaptive but pro-social traits.

And when we expand it into the dark tetrad, which I think is going to be the winning combination shortly, we include in it covert narcissism, vulnerable narcissism, and borderline.

This is it. This is the cluster B universe.

A primary psychopath, also known as a grandiose narcissist, a real narcissist, a true narcissist, which is the covert narcissist or vulnerable narcissist, a true borderline, which is a secondary psychopath.

These are the three types and the only three types.

And when you look at all of them, it's easy to see that they switch. It's easy to see that they are in flux.

The covert can become grandiose. The grandiose can become covert. The borderline can become psychopathic. The psychopath can become, they are in flux all the time, which is why I proposed my model, my standard model of personality disorders, where all personality disorders are actually one.

And people transition, I mean, patients or people with personality disorders transition between these states through the bridge of collapse.

One state collapses and another emerges. When there's a failure, when there's stress, when there is anxiety or threat, another self state emerges. And this self state mistakenly is described as a separate personality disorder.

Ultimately, there's only one personality disorder with multiple self states. And yes, everyone has all of them.

Okay, I would like to read to you as a kind of appendix or annex, I would like to read to you the questions, the self reporting questions in two relatively new tests for dark triad. The first one is known as the dirty dozen. And these are the questions.

Like all other tests, they rely on self reporting, which is very self defeating, because you can't expect a narcissist or a psychopath to self report honestly. It's a bit on the stupid side. And I'm being very charitable with my words. Still, it's a good description of the dark triad.

The dirty dozen, the dirty dozen was invented by several scholars. And here are the questions.

I tend to manipulate others to get my way.

I have used deceit or light to get my way.

I have used flattery to get my way.

I tend to exploit others towards my own end.

I tend to lack remorse

I tend to not be concerned with morality or the morality of my actions.

I tend to be callous and insensitive.

I tend to be cynical.

I tend to want others to admire me.

I tend to want others to pay attention to me.

I tend to seek prestige or status.

I tend to expect special favors from others.

And so these are the dirty dozen, another relatively new test.

And by the way, you can find a narcissistic personality inventory online, which is why I'm not I'm not describing it here.

But these two things you can't. The self concept clarity scale, it was invented by Campbell, Trapnell, Heine, Katz, and others in an article in 1996 titled Self-Concept Clarity: Measurement, Personality Correlates, and Cultural Boundaries. It was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Volume 70.

So here are the questions in the self concept clarity scale.

My beliefs about myself often conflict with one another.

On one day, I might have one opinion of myself and on another day, I might have a different opinion.

I spend a lot of time wondering about what kind of person I really am.

Sometimes I feel that I'm not really the person that I appear to be.

When I think about the kind of person I have been in the past, I'm not sure what I was really like.

I seldom experience conflict between the different aspects of my personality. Sometimes I think I know other people better than I know myself.

My beliefs about myself seem to change very frequently.

If I were asked to describe my personality, my description might end up being different from one day to another day.

Even if I wanted to, I don't think I could tell someone what I'm really like.

In general, I have a clear sense of who I am and what I am.

It is often hard for me to make up my mind about things because I don't really know what I want.

Now there's another scale. It's known as the Sense of Self Scale. It was created by Judith Flury, William Ikes, and it was published in the Journal of Self and Identity, Volume 6, in 2007, in an article titled having a weak versus strong sense of self, the Sense of Self Scale, SOSS. And here are the statements in the sense of self scale.

I wish I were more consistent in my feelings.

It's hard for me to figure out my own personality, interests, and opinions.

I often think how fragile my existence is.

I have a pretty good sense of what my long term goals are in life.

I sometimes wonder if people can actually see me.

Other people's thoughts and feelings seem to carry greater weight than my own.

I have a clear and definite sense of who I am and what I'm all about.

It bothers me that my personality doesn't seem to be well defined.

I'm not sure that I can understand or put much trust in my thoughts or feelings.

Who am I?

I need other people to help me understand what I think or how I feel.

I tend to be very sure of myself and stick to my own preferences, even when the group I'm with expresses different preferences.

Okay, so finally, confirmation about the connection between cluster B personality disorders and a weak or absent self.

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