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Why Narcissist APPEARS So STUPID (Borderlines and Psychopaths, too!)

Uploaded 6/2/2023, approx. 19 minute read

Today is Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day and it pleases me in no end to see my brainchild accepted into the mainstream.

Millions of people around the world are aware today of narcissists, their behavior or mis-behaviour and the particular form of abuse, the likes of which there is none.

Narcissistic abuse. I was the first to describe it in the 90s and popularize it over the next 10 years when I had had the only website on narcissism and the only 6 support groups on narcissism online well into 2004.

And then all hell broke loose and people discovered that there is money in narcissism. So now everyone and his dog or cat are experts on narcissistic abuse, coaches, trainers, you name it.

I'm glad that I created the cottage industry and have been sustaining so many tens of thousands of people around the globe. It's a gratifying feeling. I've made a difference.

But this is not the topic of today's video.

Self-congratulation is always welcome of course. No one else will congratulate me.

So I congratulate myself. This is an example of self-supply.

Today is a jealous day. I'm jealous. I'm full of jealous.


And so we are going to discuss normally stupidity. Why?

Or why?

Is the narcissist so bloody stupid? Is he for real?

Now when I say he, it of course pertains to she as well.

Gender pronouns are interchangeable. There's an equal number of women and men diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder nowadays as opposed to the 70s and 80s when the vast majority of NPD sufferers were men.

Today that's not the situation women have taken over. Women have become more narcissistic than men in many ways, regrettably.

So I'm going to use he for literary convenience sake. But of course it applies to women as well.

We're going to discuss a very strange phenomenon.

The fact that even highly gifted, highly endowed, highly intelligent, extremely high IQ narcissists are total retards when it comes to life itself.

And I propose this.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited. I'm a former visiting professor of psychology in Southern Federal University in West Oveston in Russia. And I'm entering my 11th year on the faculty of SIAPS, the Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies in Cambridge, the United Kingdom, Canada, and with a campus in Lagos, Nigeria.

Now that you have my academic resume, let us proceed to what interests you most. And what interests you most is Sam Vaknin's hair.

No, I'm kidding. What interests you most is of course narcissistic abuse and its multifarious manifestations.


Let's start with facts, as we usually do.

There is a disagreement as to whether people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have an IQ which is higher than the average or lower than the average.

Carver in 1977 came up with a former answer. BPDs, Borderlines, are more intelligent than the average population.

Actually, he found that the IQ of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder is around 135.

Siewier-Szceti or Saketi or something in 1993 found the exact opposite.

It was a study published by the National Institutes of Health in the United States, which is the authority on mental health, among other things.

And the study found conclusively that people with borderline personality disorder actually have a much lower IQ than average, and that includes their verbal skills.

And the same debate has been raging for decades over narcissistic personality disorder, psychopathy, and so on and so forth.

But this, how much, what is the level of IQ they have and how much IQ they have? This may be the wrong question, because IQ tests measure types of intelligence that have little to do with life, life skills, and perspicacity.

Look it up. In short, some people are intelligent, clever, smart, sharp, cunning, but also unwise.

Wisdom is not connected to IQ. Wisdom is not a derivative or an inevitable outcome of a high IQ, a high intelligence shield.

Perspicacity, the ability to kind of predict the future and adapt yourself positively to it, also has nothing to do with IQ.

So the question is wrong. The question we should be asking is, are narcissists and borderlines and psychopaths and so on, cluster B personalities, dark personalities, are they wise? Are they positively adapted to life itself and its challenges, its exigencies, the vicissitudes and ups and downs and downs and cycles of life? Are these people built to live and to survive and to thrive? Or does the disorder preclude all these?

This is the topic of today's video.


A few terminological issues, lexical points.

Pseudo-stupidity is not the same as stupidity. Pseudo-stupidity is pretending to be stupid, acting as if naive, but actually behind the scenes being very, very sharp and cunning and manipulative and so on. This is pseudo-stupidity.

Stupidity is actually being stupid, being inane and effete and not very adept at coping with life and designing survival strategies and coping techniques.

So we should distinguish pseudo-stupidity from stupidity as we will be doing shortly.

Second thing, when I say dark personalities, these are not people diagnosed with narcissism, these are not people diagnosed with psychopathy and so on and so forth.

In the dark triad, the dark triad contains three elements, subclinical psychopathy, psychopathy that cannot be diagnosed, subclinical narcissism, narcissism that cannot be diagnosed and Machiavellianism, the ability to manipulate your human environment in order to secure favorable outcomes, a form of self-efficacy that comes at the expense of other people by exploiting them or coercing them or gaslighting them or brainwashing them or entraining them.

So these are terminological issues. Remember and replay if you have to.


OK, so let's proceed.

Why do we find some narcissists, some borderlines, some psychopaths, actually the majority of them, why do we find them a bit stupid? Why do they commit so many mistakes? Why are they error prone? Why do they rarely get anything right, anything from relationships to the workplace? Why do they misread other people so egregiously, almost to the level of autism spectrum disorder? What's wrong with these people? What's wrong with them?

To be people, the Cluster B Personality Disorder are either pseudo stupid or stupid.

For example, covert narcissists are pseudo stupid. They pretend to be stupid because they know that by acting stupid, people around them will put their guard down and give them an opportunity to penetrate the defenses of other people and manipulate them and obtain the desirable results.

So this is pseudo, pseudo stupidity. People who are covert narcissists, they are also pseudo humble. They display pseudo humility. They pretend to be modest. They declare, they describe themselves as hapless victims. They're never to blame for anything. They're never guilty of anything. They've never done anything wrong. They are just continuously being victimized and preyed upon. And they're codependent actually. This is a form of pseudo stupidity. It's to put yourself down, to underestimate your capacity to read other people, to manipulate other people, to interact with other people, to claim that somehow you're disabled. And that's why you keep falling prey to predators. It's a form of pseudo stupidity. It's typical of covert narcissists, the overt narcissists, the grandiose narcissists, and the borderline and the psychopath.

They're simply stupid. They're not pseudo stupid. They're really, really actually stupid.

And in this video today, I will explain to you why. I'll give you the reasons.

And there are so many of them, so many reasons, so many causes, so many etiologies, what we call etiopathology.

There is such a background of dynamics which are not helpful, not conducive to wisdom, that it is what is shocking is that these people survive at all.

I mean, they are so profoundly moronic because they can't help it. That's the way they are built.

Start with grandiosity.

Grandiosity is a severe cognitive distortion. It impairs the reality testing of those affected. It also undermines and sabotages self-efficacy.

Now, those are very many big words, ten dollar words. My favorite is. Let me try to break them down for you.

Grandiosity is the belief that your inflated self-image is actually real. It's not fake. Your false self is not false. Other people may be getting it wrong, but you know for sure that you are unique, unprecedented, amazing, perfect, brilliant, and so on and so forth.

It would take other people time to discover all these things. That's because they're so stupid than you. You are superior in every conceivable way, intellectually, bodily, whatever.

So grandiosity is a filter that distorts information from reality, incoming information, feedback, input. They're all distorted. They're all reframed.

Grandiosity falsifies reality.

And so in the absence of a firm grasp on reality, of course, you can't act wisely.


The second thing is grandiosity hampers, obstructs self-efficacy.

In order to operate efficaciously, efficiently in the environment with other people, you need to be able to read people appropriately. You need to be able to resonate with people. In short, you need to have empathy.

The lack of empathy, common to all Cluster B personality disorders, and in the case of borderlines, it's not a lack, but it's substantial reduction in empathy.

That's the most recent research, most recent studies we have. It even made it into the DSM file.

So the deficiencies in empathy, which in the case of the psychopath lead to absolute absence of any kind of empathy except cold empathy. Cold empathy is cognitive empathy and reflexive empathy.

So the absence of emotional empathy, warm empathy, the ability to resonate emotionally with another person. When this is missing, you can't decipher other people properly. You can't understand other people. And obviously, you can't manage yourself properly and efficiently with other people.

And so this undermines your capacity to obtain goals, to realize your potential, to actualize your potential, to self-actualize, to collaborate with other people towards obtaining bigger goals, to work in a team, to survive in a workplace, to have an ongoing relationship, which is savory and a happy one.

In short, it limits you.

Grandiosity and a lack of empathy limit you to the point that you are stupid. They alienate people and they narrow your opportunities and subject you to recurrent diversity.

Repetition, compulsion is the direct outcome of this.

Narcissists, psychopaths and borderline keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again, no matter how often they get penalized, no matter how high the cost, they keep repeating it. And they keep repeating these mistakes because they keep disastrously misreading their environment and other people.

It is a great definition of stupidity.


Now, these people, Cluster B personalities, they lack impulse control. They're defiant. They're contumacious. They reject authority. And they decompensate under stress. Their defenses crumble and they act in inanely crazy making. They do insane things. And these drawbacks guarantee frustration or worse.

Again, acting in a self-defeating, self-handicapping, self-destructive manner is a form of extreme, extreme ingrained, profound stupidity.

Next thing, next mechanism.

In most of these disorders, there's extreme dissociation, especially in borderline personality disorder, but also in narcissism. There is dissociation because these people are dissociative. They're very bad at learning from past experiences. They never learn the lesson, not because they aren't able to derive a lesson, but because they keep forgetting the facts and the details. Or they keep rewriting history to conform to their grandiose, fantastic, inflated self-image.

And so there's no learning. These people never learn. And again, it leads to repetition compulsion, covering the same ground, the same swampish quicksand ground.

Their previous actions adenbraid their next actions. Their obstinacy, what appears to be obstinacy, is actually panic. These people are in panic because they know that they don't know.

They have no database of life experience that they can draw on safely. They're not sure of their own experiences. They're not sure whether their memories are true or some kind of fictional concoction.

It's a nightmarish existence. They go through life second-guessing themselves, confabulating in order to bridge memory gaps. It's terrifying. It's like having a very, very short-term memory without any long-term memory, a goldfish memory, a Korsakov syndrome memory.

It's pretty frightening.

But it also leads to what strikes observers as extreme stupidity. I mean, for Christ's sake, you've done the same thing a few years ago. Why did you do it again? Why do you keep repeating your mistakes and your misbehavior and your misdeeds and your misconduct? Why do you keep finding yourself in the throes of conundrums and scandals and mess and worse threats? Why do you keep driving yourself into situations which represent risk and danger and adversity, doing precisely, replicating actions that you've done before?

It's a form of stupidity. These people are also entitled. They think they're entitled to special treatment without any commensurate accomplishments.

And they're manic, like in bipolar, you know? They're manic.

So they never plan thoroughly. They're sloppy. They execute with no attention to detail. So everything goes awry. Everything goes wrong. Everything looks shoddy and con-artistic in a way.

And so they appear to be incapable of the perfection that they attribute to themselves, or even much less.

They appear to be a kind of poor imitation of the real thing. And this strikes people as truly stupid because with a minimal investment of resources, they could have accomplished so much more.

They could have done. They could have achieved. They could have granted themselves the access that they so seek to higher paying jobs, to better looking people, to more accomplished professionals, to institutions and so on.

They deny themselves all these opportunities by refusing to invest, to commit.

This is not laziness. It transcends laziness. It's some kind of resignation. It's like saying, "Well, if the world doesn't realize how deserving I am, how entitled I am, even without any effort on my part, then something's wrong with the world."

I'm not going to justify the world's ignorance and niscuous and stupidity. How come they don't realize that I'm the world's leading genius or the most drop-dead gorgeous woman or the most amazing scholar? How come they don't realize this?

They should have. And I should have to put no effort into communicating this to them or justifying it or underlying it, or founding it or anything. I don't need to work hard. This is so self-evident that I'm superior and perfect and brilliant and godlike and amazing and omnipotent and omniscient.

It should come as a self-evident truth, like in the Constitution of the United States. This is, of course, extremely stupid.


At the heart of all this is the fact that these people are immature. They are the mental equivalents of children.

And this renders them naive and gullible. They're very open to manipulation, to extortion. They're prone to being victimized by con artists and swindlers because they trust themselves to never fall prey to a predator.

It's part of their grandiosity.

But there's another reason.

Over the years, over the decades of their lives, these people have learned to leverage the appearance of infantile helplessness and helplessness.

This infantile helplessness is a signal.

What they're saying is, "Please don't hurt me. I'm just a baby. Please don't hurt me. Please don't hurt me. I'm a simpleton. Please don't hurt me. I'm naive and gullible.

It is a kind of mimicry. I refer you to my video, the video that I've made about mimicry.

Stupidity, in this case, is a kind of mimicry.

They're pretending to be a lot less than they are, a lot less dangerous, a lot less evil, a lot less manipulative, a lot less Machiavellian, a lot less narcissistic, a lot less grandiose, a lot less worldly, and so on and so forth.

They pretend to be terrified. They pretend to be hopeless. They pretend to be amiable. They pretend to be naive. And so they pretend all these things in order to fend off potential threats and predators.

It's a Machiavellian tool, in effect. It's a manipulative strategy.


Now, most of people with cluster B personality disorders, especially people with borderline personality disorders, suffer from an identity disturbance.

Because they have memory gaps and severe dissociation, they are unable to form a stable core identity.

And so they fluctuate between various identities on the fly, in response, in reaction to environmental pressures and stresses and stressors.

So because there's no core identity, there's identity disturbance, these people are unable to maintain continuity and coherence.

They depend on other people for external regulation of a sense of self-worth, in the case of narcissism, or external regulation of emotions and wounds, in the case of borderline.

And so when you observe them from the outside, they appear to be fickle, unstable, stupidly disloyal to themselves, or even without selves.

It's as if they are suggestible.

The latest fad, the latest fashion, the latest statement, the latest question, turn them around 180 degrees.

They don't have a stable center of gravity. They are catastrophically influenced by every bit of information from the environment and every push and pull of other people.

We call this suggestibility. It's very common in histrionic personalities.

And this extreme dependency on external input makes them look really, really stupid.

Additionally, these people have alloplastic defenses. They tend to blame other people or the environment or God or the universe or reality, what have you, or natural disasters or whatever.

They tend to blame the outside for their own misjudgments, miscalculations, defeats and failures.

And you know, when you do it all the time, it appears that you're covering up for something, covering up for your own inadequacy, worthlessness, inanity, lack of good judgment.

And ultimately stupidity.

Generally, with alloplastic defenses comes a paralyzing external locus of control.

It's as if people with cluster B personality disorders say our fate is determined from the outside.

There's nothing we can do about it.

But this creates behaviors which are erroneously identified with stupidity, for example, indecisiveness, reticence, reluctance, avoidance, withdrawal.

These are all behaviors of avoiding the world because the world is perceived essentially as hostile and malevolent and in control of their lives.

And this indecisiveness or avoidance, they appear to be, they appear to involve, you know, a lack of intelligence, simply a lack of intelligence.

I mentioned dark personalities. Dark personalities may be Machiavellian, but they are so embedded in fantasy.

All these personalities have fantasy defenses. They're so paranoid. This paranoia is a form of grandiosity. It puts you at the center of attention, malign attention, malevolent attention, but still attention.

So these personalities are fantastic. They're in fantasy much more than in reality. They're paranoid.

Everyone is a persecutory object. Everyone is a potential enemy or a real one. They are into conspiracy theories, global or personal, and they are firewalls. They're separated by rigid defenses.

So put all of these together and people immediately spot them, immediately see through them if they're willing.

As many people are not willing to see through these defenses and behaviors and so on.

That's not the topic of today's video.


But if you are willing, the narcissist, the psychopath, the borderline on the first meeting, in the first five minutes, present you with a visit card. And on this visit card is a complete list of all their problems and all their dysfunctions. And so they're not very good at deceiving people or manipulating them unless the victims want to be deceived, unless the victims derive some benefit from being manipulated.

And this is why these personalities resort ultimately and pretty fast to entraining brainwashing and coercion. That's why they deteriorate into coercive acts almost invariably.

And finally, cluster B personalities are post-traumatic. They are compensatory. They're broken. They're false.

At the core of each and every one of them, there's a bad object, a series of introjects, a series of voices, which are harsh and critical and even sadistic. They have internal enemies. Many of their internal objects are persecutory.

And so this constant battle zone, this constant civil war leads them to abuse substances and develop addictions.

All in all, these people are a sorry sight and intelligent as they may be, they're absolute unmitigated idiots. Inadequate failures, losers, the reification of a life rejected, a potential wasted, and total misapprehension and miscomprehension of life, the world and others. They are these people, narcissists, borderline psychopaths, they're invalids. They're extremely disabled people. And their disability reaches the point where it far outweighs any IQ they may have.

The ability to solve mathematical equations is very nice. But how often do you need it in real life? The capacity to synthesize insights from various disciplines is astounding. But how often do you do that in a lifetime? And how do you cope with your wife, lovers, children, coworkers, bosses, the authorities, the law? How do you survive life itself if you don't know the first thing about being human?

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