Thank you so much for watching this video.
My esteemed and honorable, the distinguished guest is none other than Dr. Sam Vaknin.
Dr. Vaknin was, I had a media interview with him for a published article in the Wellness Insider, and he was called Her People, Her People, and he was very popular. A lot of you out there actually requested for more information, and so did the editor.
And that's why the editor-in-chief sent me on this mission to interview Dr. Vaknin.
So thank you, Dr. Vaknin, for agreeing to this in another interview. It was very good to get him, right, so popular, and he's so prolific and sought after by the media that, you know, it took me three months to get Dr. Vaknin to be available.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for spending the time with me.
Thank you for having me. Thank you. I appreciate you.
I'm going to do this for people who do not know Dr. Sam Vaknin. I'm just going to introduce him, right.
Dr. Sam Vaknin is a professor of psychology, as well as finance in various higher educational institutes around the world.
Additionally, Dr. Vaknin also possesses a PhD in physics. He is the author of Madeleine's Self-Love: Narcissism-Redistorted, which is considered by most academics.
As the authoritative guide on narcissism and narcissistic abuse, all right.
So one of our professors, Vaknin's own YouTube channels, is dedicated to cluster B personality disorders and has over 226,000 subscribers and 47 million views and growing.
In his capacity as a clinical psychologist, he's one of the world's leading and most sought after experts on the topic of narcissistic personality disorder, as responsible for much of the research and terminology that most scholars and clinicians use to describe narcissistic and psychopathic behaviors today.
So, you know, Dr. Vaknin, as early as the 1990s, he already coined most of the language and jargon that we use today in the field of psychology.
So thank you, Dr. Vaknin.
Once more, I'm so, so proud and honored to have you here.
So I'm going to start my very first question that all of us want to know, right?
You know, all of us are very confused. What is the difference between being bipolar, borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, sociopath, etc? Do most of us were untrained and uninitiated?
They all kind of sound the same, right? And at the very least, they have overlapping characteristics and similarities.
So could you kindly enlighten us, especially those of us who have no time or inclination to read the DSM-5 for ourselves?
No, very, very few people have the inclination to read the DSM-5.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. It has nothing to do with personality. It is also biochemically generated. It's a biochemical abnormality in the brain. And it consists of fluctuations between periods of mania, euphoria, elation, and grandiosity, and periods of depression, deep depression. So it has nothing to do with personality.
Borderline personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by emotional dysregulation, the inability to contain emotions and control them. And this leads to reckless behaviors, self-harm, and so on and so forth. This is the core feature of borderline personality disorder.
Now, statistic personality disorder is a disorder which very much like antisocial personality disorder is a disorder that consists of a lack of empathy, a feeling of entitlement and uniqueness, unreasonable demands from the environment, from the human environment, not commensurate with real life accomplishments.
And psychopathy is goal oriented and consists mostly of what we call reactants. Reactants means defiance, rejection of authority, and very often aggression environments.
So these are the distinguishing parameters. And we call this differential diagnosis.
But you are right to point out that there is a lot of overlap. And because there's a lot of overlap, it creates enormous problems because very often multiple personality disorders or multiple mental health disorders are diagnosed in the same patient, a phenomenon known as comorbidity.
So in Europe, outside North America, there is a new approach which says there's only one personality disorder with different emphases.
And so, for example, the other book, not the DSM, the other book which governs the rest of the world, and this is a book known as International Classification of Diseases, it's published by the World Health Organization. In the 11th edition of this book, published or about to be published, there is only one personality disorder with different manifestations.
So this is a much more correct approach, in my view.
Also, we should move away from lists of diagnostic criteria to a much more literary description of humanity because human beings are not very good when you try to reduce them to lists. It doesn't work very well.
Yeah, it's very hard to pigeonhole and ultimately this is a labor, right? And you know, human psychology is so vastly complex. And pretty much also the study of psychology is so ever morphing and changing in this understanding. And that's why these DSM always every decade or so, revents a new edition.
So I kind of like what you just mentioned that you can just summarize it and everyone has varying degrees of different psychosis and neurosis, so to speak. And so, wow, I think you can spend an entire life trying to understand it.
Many people do.
Many people do.
Well, OK, my second question would be, should we call on narcissists on their toxic behaviors? And if so, how best should one go about doing so?
The short answer is no.
And for two reasons.
One, some narcissists are also psychopaths and they are violent and aggressive. Most narcissists are also vindictive. They hold grudges. They are many narcissists, especially covert narcissists are manipulative and passive aggressive.
In short, calling the narcissist out on his behavior is likely to produce antisocial, dangerous reactions. So it's not a good idea in general.
Second reason and much more important.
There's no way to get to the narcissist. There's no way to communicate with the narcissist meaningfully. The narcissist is encased in a bubble of fantasy. And within this fantasy, it has a self image, which has very little to do with reality. We call it impaired reality testing.
So any attempt to force the narcissist to confront reality about himself, about others is bound to fail because his defenses are very rigid and his resistance is almost infinite.
I would strongly recommend against this strategy.
What I would recommend is to go no contact as much as possible and if not possible, then to communicate through intermediaries like lawyers, accountants and so on, evaluators, courts.
And if this is not possible, to go gray rock. In other words, to not respond to the narcissist attempts to solicit narcissistic supply or to provoke or to punish, etc., simply to go soft, no contact, basically.
Well yeah, you know, it's pretty much futile to go hit fighting with a narcissist might sort of just stay away as much as you can.
The concepts of hoovering and guest lighting are often synonymous or traits belonging to toxic and narcissistic people in general, especially people who are like grandiose and like CEOs, for example.
And could you kindly explain to us what's the psychology behind such unwanted behaviors and what can victims or this kind of recipients of this country, what can you do about it?
There's a lot of confusion when it comes to gaslighting. Gaslighting involves disparity and asymmetry of power. So usually one of the parties has to be empowered and the other one disempowered. So for example, an employer and an employee, a parent and a child. Gaslighting cannot take place among equals.
The second point about gaslighting is that gaslighting must be premeditated, premeditated part of a deliberative effort to distort the perception of reality of the victim.
Therefore, gaslighting is not common among narcissists actually, because narcissists believe their own fantasies. They believe their own lies. When they try to convince the victim that reality is different, they don't do so on a premeditated basis. They do it because they really believe their own fantasies.
However, psychopaths use gaslighting a lot and the psychopath wants you to believe that you're crazy, that you're going crazy. The psychopath wants to disempower you. The psychopath wants to motivate you to behave in ways which are self-destructive and counterproductive to you, but very useful to the psychopath.
And to do this, he must cast you, he must put you in a dreamlike state, in a surrealistic place.
And so psychopaths use gaslighting.
Hoovering is another thing and Hoovering is much more common among narcissists, but not very rare among psychopaths. Narcissists and borderlines actually. Hoovering is a word that I coined in the 90s. It describes the attempt to regain access to a former intimate partner and reintroduce her into a new shared fantasy.
So the narcissist creates a fantasy and then invites you into the fantasy. And if you are a former partner, this invitation would constitute Hoovering.
Hoovering is done using all the classic methods of love bombing and attempting to convince you that reality is different and so on and so forth.
The reason the narcissist engages in Hoovering is that when the intimate partner exits the narcissist's life, even if the narcissist had initiated the breakup, the partner leaves a trace in the narcissist's mind. This trace is called Introject. It's an avatar. It's a representation of the partner. So even when she's no longer in the narcissist's life physically, she is in the narcissist's mind mentally. There's a picture there. I call it a snapshot.
Now, the narcissist at some point attempts to rematch the internal representation, the inner internal object with the external object. And this is what we call Hoovering. You can put it differently. There's unfinished business.
The narcissist never provides closure. As far as he's concerned, no account is ever settled. And he has something called repetition compulsion. He must revisit all the time, all partners, all grievances, all grudges. He is like a hamster on the wheel.
And Hoovering is just the external manifestation of this internal repetition compulsion, which started, of course, in his early childhood when he couldn't reach an accommodation with his parents. And so he is left with the need to find substitute parents and to reenact the unresolved conflicts with them.
Why clarity? Thank you so much.
Because, you know, especially the concept of gaslighting is so thrown everywhere. So people don't fully grasp what it actually is.
Washington Post just came up with a long article interviewing the leading authorities on gaslighting. And they are extremely worried about the misuse of this term.
Pretty much inaccurate. And also a lot of us, you know, lay people, even learning new terms, like future faking. And, you know, this is also a part of a Hoovering tactic. And it's just overwhelming for us to hear so many new terms and digest and try to decipher what you all need. So thank you for your clarity.
Why are some adults so emotionally immature? And this is never seem to ever grow up and kind of remain very childish.
And, you know, for example, some adult males have really low emotional intelligence and grow up to be man-child with very unhealthy, fearful, avoidant, dismissive attachment styles.
Is there anything that can be ever done about this kind of a Peter Pan complex?
Well, people remain children because they were never given the chance to become adults.
To become an adult, you must go through two phases collectively known as separation individuation.
The first phase is around age two. And that is when you separate from mother, you begin to set boundaries between you and mother. And you become an individual in a process known as individuation.
The second phase of separation, individuation happens in adolescence. And in adolescence, you define yourself in contradiction to your parents. You kind of separate yourself from your parents. This is called negative identity formation.
These are critical phases if you are not allowed to separate from the parent, especially the mother. And if you are not allowed to set boundaries, you are punished whenever you set boundaries. If your boundaries are breached and violated on a regular basis, not respected, if you are disrespected as an individual, if you are not therefore allowed to become your own person, an individual, like an atom. If you are not given this opportunity actively or possibly, if the parents are selfish, if the parents abuse you, if the parents instrumentalize you in order to realize their unfulfilled dreams, wishes and hopes, if they parentify you, if they force you to act as the parent to the parents, you are the adult and they are the children. If they are immature, the parents are immature, etc., you will never be given an opportunity to grow up. Growing up involves saying goodbye to your parents and becoming your own person.
But the parents have a crucial role in helping you to do this. They need to legitimize this. They need to encourage you. They need to never punish you whenever you show independence and autonomy. They need to not use you and abuse you. They need to not instrumentalize you and parentify you.
If they fail in all these because they themselves are children, then you remain a child.
Now, as to the question, what can be done about this? Attachments does rarely change, but behaviors can be modified in therapy, for example.
So you can learn to act as an adult. Even if your internal experience is that of a child, you can still learn to act as an adult.
However, I regret to inform you that attachment styles are usually not always, but in the vast majority of cases, they're lifelong.
So if you develop an attachment style, which is, for example, avoidant, dismissive, if you fear intimacy, then you are very unlikely. This is very unlikely to change over the lifespan.
You need to find a partner who accommodates this and maybe have the same attachment style.
So for example, maybe you should have a long distance relationship, or you should not cohabit, or you should not get married, or you should have a new companionship, or you should have friends with benefits.
Today, luckily, there are many diverse and flexible solutions for each attachment style and each psychological problem.
Well, I guess, you know, what you just described makes a lot of sense because I realized, even with myself and a lot of people around me, we tend to find partners that kind of resemble and are very similar, identical to our own parents. Most people have daddy issues, mommy issues, and you find the partners exactly just like their parents in terms of personality characteristics.
For myself, I used to have a fearful attachment style. And in order to change it, it took a lot of self-awareness and a lot of years of therapy and consciously working on it to remove away that fear.
So it takes a lot of commitment and a strong desire as well as a consciousness and awareness to do that.
So I can attest that it's actually not easy. I wouldn't say it's not possible. It was possible for me, but it took a lot of, a lot of courage, a lot of effort on my part.
Dr. Kudit Kaimi also expand on the psychology why narcissists engage in love bombing, idealization, future faking, followed by devaluation of their partners, leaving their victims in tatters and very traumatized.
And this process sounds really insane. And it seems like something like our movie, a horror movie, in fact, you know, this whole topic is not very well understood or documented. And especially for people who have never experienced the abuse and the hands of a narcissist, it's very hard for them to relate.
So it's only people who have gone through this day. And even then they are also like, because they're so traumatized, they don't even know what shit
Yeah. Just two comments about the previous things you've said.
Tending to choose our parents in our partners. This is called repetition compulsion.
So we are like repeating our childhood experiences with a partner.
And there should be a distinction between attachment style and attachment behaviors.
What you have described, what you have accomplished is probably you have changed your attachment behaviors.
But attachment style is something different.
Attachment style is internal reactions to interpersonal relationships, not external.
You can, of course, change your behaviors. As I said, you can change your attachment behaviors. For example, you
can stop running away from intimacy. You can actually seek seek intimacy and so on. Even if you originally were dismissive or avoidant or fearful, you can still behave in ways which define your attachment style.
So coming coming back to your issue, to your question, I'm sorry.
You had a question about why why narcissists engage in low bombing and idealization?
I have another question. I'm 61, but not seen yet. I hope.
So narcissists cannot interact with intimate partners based on the reality principle. They need to establish a fantasy.
This is called the shared fantasy. It was first described in 1989 by Sanger.
The shared fantasy is a space, an imaginary space where the narcissist assigns roles to himself and to his intimate partner and both of them stage this theater production where they are actors and actresses and together they create a movie in effect.
Now, the problem is the narcissist creates an internal object, a representation, an avatar, as I said before, a snapshot representing his intimate partner. And this snapshot adheres to the fantasy. In other words, it fulfills a role in the fantasy.
But of course, the real partner, the real life partner is a living, developing human being. She changes, she makes decisions, she has new friends, she travels, she finds a new job. In other words, while the representation of the intimate partner in the shared fantasy is static, the partner herself, in reality, is dynamic.
And this creates a big gap. This creates a divergence between the inner object and the external object. In other words, the partner.
This makes the narcissist very anxious. When the partner displays signs of autonomy and independence and agency and decision making, the narcissist becomes very anxious because it contradicts the snapshot, it contradicts the internal object. So he becomes very angry that she makes him anxious.
Then he begins to think of her as an enemy because she's inducing in him unpleasant feelings all the time. And then he wants to get rid of her.
But at this stage, to get rid of her, he must revise the shared fantasy. He must admit that he had made a mistake in his evaluation of her, because initially he idealizes her.
In order to fit into the shared fantasy, the narcissist idealizes his partner so that he can idealize himself.
And so now he has to admit that he has idealized the wrong partner because she's now the enemy.
So what he does, he devalues her. He devalues. He says, she has changed. She's not the same. She or she, she called me, she cheated me, she deceived me. She's a psychopath. She's a narcissist.
So let me summarize.
Initially, the narcissist idealizes the intimate partner. Then he creates a shared fantasy. In the shared fantasy, the intimate partner is a picture, a snapshot, a photo. She must not change.
But in reality, she does change. The narcissist becomes anxious. Then he becomes angry. Then he begins to regard her as an enemy. Then he needs to devalue her in order to preserve his own grandiosity. He needs to say, I have idealized her. It was wrong to idealize her, but it's not my fault. She deceived me or she has changed or something. That's a devaluation.
And then he gets rid of her and he replaces her with the next target, with the next intimate partner.
The narcissist needs to do this because the intimate partner fulfills the role of a mother. So he needs to reenact his early childhood conflicts with his intimate partner. And then he needs to separate from the partner. Something which he failed to do with his original mother, he now wants to do with his substitute mother. With his original mother, the narcissist was not allowed to separate, to set boundaries, and to become an individual because the parents of the narcissist were themselves probably narcissistic.
So now the narcissist finds an intimate partner. He says to her, you will be my mother. And this time I'm going to separate from you successfully.
So the narcissist has a compulsion to discard his partner, to get rid of her, because that way he reenacts the ancient ritual of separation and individuation. And it goes on forever.
Narcissist, by the way, don't future faking. Future faking, as I said, implies premeditation. And future faking means that you know the difference between reality and fantasy. And you are selling someone a fantasy. You're conning someone. You're cheating someone. You're telling them you're making promises that you know you're not going to keep. You know you're not going to keep these promises because you can tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
Psychopaths, future fake, because they know the difference. Narcissists do not know the difference between reality and fantasy.
So when they make you a promise, when the narcissist makes you a promise, he really believes it. He believes he's going to keep it. And he believes in the fantasy. He confuses the fantasy with reality. That's why Kernberg, Otto Kernberg, who is the father of the field, Kernberg said that narcissists and borderlines are almost psychotic because they lose access to reality.
The very word borderline is on the border between neurosis and psychosis. Psychotic people don't perceive reality properly. They're confused about reality. It's the same with the narcissist.
And clinically, you could even say that narcissism is a form of psychosis.
So narcissists don't lie, don't, future fake, they don't gaslight. This is done by psychopaths.
Wow, doctor, that was so well explained. It's actually mind blowing. And like you said, just listening to that, actually, narcissists can technically be worse off than a psychopath when you see from that light.
And, you know, I, after you explained that, I totally understand the concept so much better. And I'm sure all the viewers would as well.
And we kind of all can be mini experts in our own right and be very conscious and aware when we come across something like that in the future.
That's my mini car.
All mini experts.
I love it.
It has been said that narcissists are unable to change or it's extremely difficult for them to turn over a new leaf. Some argue that they can change, but it takes a lot of self-awareness and willingness on their part. And if they seek proper and consistent treatment or their conditions, what's your own professional opinion and experience on this?
I also am aware of a technique that you call cold therapy that was invented by you for the treatment of narcissism.
So could you elaborate?
Again, a distinction that there's a very important distinction between internal state of state of mind and behaviors.
You can definitely modify the narcissist behaviors. You can teach the narcissist to be less abrasive, less aggressive, more accommodating, more compromising, more of a team worker, more pleasant, and so on and so forth. You can domesticate the narcissist like a pet.
You can teach the narcissist new tricks. And the narcissist can appear to be after therapy, a much more pro-social person.
Initially, the narcissist is antisocial in majority of cases, but after therapy, many narcissists become pro-social.
Actually, in the mid-90s, I suggested as a type of narcissist, which I coined the phrase pro-social or communal narcissist to describe this type of narcissist. These are narcissists whose grandiosity lies in being helpful to society, being altruistic, being charitable, contributing to society.
So you can train narcissists to transition from antisocial to pro-social and function perfectly. However, it doesn't change their internal landscape, their internal state.
So they still remain grandiose. They still have no empathy. They still have no access to positive emotions.
Categorically, these things cannot be changed. End of story. Anyone who says differently is a con artist or ignorant and usually both.
Period. There's no qualification, no shades of gray. The internal state of the narcissist cannot be modified. His behaviors can render him more palatable and acceptable to society and to his family, to his children and so on.
We can render narcissists more integrative. We can integrate them. That can be done and is being done. Cold therapy is a treatment modality that I came up with seven years ago, and it tackles only the aspect of grandiosity. It reduces the narcissist's need for narcissistic supply as a way to regulate his grandiosity, and it replaces external supply with self-supply.
So the narcissist becomes his own source of narcissistic supply and doesn't bother people anymore. And so he becomes self-sufficient, becomes like a self-contained unit.
Cold therapy is very dangerous therapy. I re-traumatize the narcissist. There is suicidal ideation in the patients. It's horrible. It's like a nuclear detonation. And yet it accomplishes very little. Even when I dismantle the narcissist, break him to pieces with an explosive device and put him back together, he is still the narcissist.
This is a condition that is intractable because it characterizes the totality of the personality. Even the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual says an all-pervasive condition affecting every area of life. That's not something you can cure.
I'm not talking about nonsense like psychedelics, which are supposed to treat narcissism, or I don't know, some genes.
I mean, this is such incredible nonsense.
Narcissism is way too complex for a single magic silver bullet. And even to change behaviors requires many, many years of therapy. And a lot of patients on behalf of the clinician and the practitioner, because narcissists really, really test you to the limit as a therapist.
They're arrogant, they compete with you, they know best, they devalue the therapist, and so on. Few therapists are willing to go through this. Most of them would not accept borderline the narcissist patients.
Another thing, one last thing with your permission.
People confuse narcissism and grandiosity.
Grandiosity is a trait which exists in many mental health conditions. For example, there is grandiosity in bipolar disorder, there is grandiosity in psychopathy, there is grandiosity in borderline personality disorder, and there is grandiosity in paranoid personality disorder.
Grandiosity is not narcissism. They should not be confused. The curiosity is one of the characteristics of narcissism. It's a cognitive distortion. It's a way to filter reality to support a specific inflated self-image.
But it's not unique to narcissism. That's why many self-styled experts spew nonsense and say that all psychopaths are narcissists. Of course, that's not true. All psychopaths are grandiose, but that is not narcissism.
Just to quickly clarify, you know, what you're trying to say is that the four types of narcissistic personality disorder from covert, overt, communal, and vulnerable, just pretty much is lumped together as the same. There's no way to improve or cure them.
Yes, narcissism is manifest.
Everything I said applies to all subtypes.
Well, I find the question, Doctor, could you briefly explain to us and help us to understand the term healthy narcissism? Because on the surface, it just sounds contradictory, paradoxical, and oxymoron, right? Ironic.
And you know, there's also people, what people say that actually everyone's a little bit narcissistic. Could you expand on this?
Yes, narcissism is a psychoanalytic term invented 107 years ago by Freud of wealth. And narcissism is a critical feature of the formation of the self because narcissism is investment of emotional energy in one's self. As you invest this energy in yourself, you begin to form the self.
And the second function of narcissism is to allow you to be grandiose enough to leave mother and explore the world.
Because you need to be really grandiose to think that you can survive on your own when you are two years old, that you don't need mother anymore, that you can explore the world.
So this grandiosity is a form of narcissism.
Narcissism is simply emotional investment in yourself. You would never have self-esteem or self-confidence or a sense of self-worth if you didn't have narcissism. Narcissism is healthy.
Only it has malignant manifestations. It's like saying a human cell is healthy, but it can become cancerous.
What people are talking when they are saying narcissism, they mean pathological narcissism as distinct from the healthy variety.
I think we have two minutes left.
Well, this is all very profound. Even I have to go and listen to this recording and let you all ponder and let you all sink in and digest.
Thank you, doctor. That was very enlightening.
Is there anything with last words you want to add?
Yes, I'm very worried by the corruption of the clinical term narcissism or pathological narcissism online.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of information is misinformation. Academics all over the world are avoiding YouTube because of this. I think they are abrogating the responsibility. I think they should go in there and fight the tsunami of misinformation and nonsense, but they are too afraid to do this because of the environment is toxic.
So there's academics and they talk only among themselves. And there are these self-styled expert YouTubers, which are not experts. And they just spew nonsense. And unfortunately, most late people are exposed to YouTube, not to any university.
Yes, I started that way too. That's also... Everyone. Yeah, yeah. You know, when you went, I did much in-depth research that I mentioned in the description.
And also that's why this video is so important and significant necessary that we put bonafide authentic information.
He said, hearing from the horse's mouth is much more crucial than say something when you can Google search all this information, but nothing beats hearing from a professor of psychology and someone who have a PhD.
I really hope my colleagues hear your message because I think they have a public responsibility to go into the firing, into the front line and dispense information. And I think they are irresponsible for not doing so.
Nothing beats hearing from a doctor, a life doctor like this, then research me online yourself.
Thankyourself. Thank you.
I think we have to say goodbye because we have a few seconds.
All right. All right.
Where can the audience go to find out more about you?
In the description. Just look at the description of the video.
Thank you, everyone, for watching this video and we hope you find much value in this and thank you very much again, doctor, from all of us from the bottom up. Thank you for everything.
All the knowledge that you spew.
Well, I'm blown away.