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Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Narcissists: Type 4 of Corporate Psychopaths

News Toxic Managers Recommended Books Divorcing Borderline Psychopath Recommended Links Classic cycle of sociopathic relations (access-seduce-devalue-discard) Female Sociopaths
Emotion-phobia Conflicts with a narcissistic domineering mother The Techniques of a Female Sociopaths Understanding Borderline Rage Borderliners and sociopaths in marriage Social dominance orientation Marital Infidelity
The Fiefdom Syndrome Stockholm Syndrom Learned helplessness Negative Politeness Six ways to say 'No' and mean it Diplomatic Communication Steps for Decreasing Toxic Worry
Understanding Micromanagers and control freaks Surviving Micromanagers Authoritarians Double High Authoritarians Enemy at the Gate The psychopath in the corner office High Demand Cults Leaders Practices
Movies about narsissists The Devil Wears Prada American Beauty August Osage County      
    Conformism Groupthink Films depicting female sociopath Psychopaths in Movies Humor

Introduction

  "Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities.

But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless."

Jeffrey Kluger

"Vanity, thy name is narcissism".

The lack of empathy amongst the US elite including the managers class and higher level leadership,  makes for a disturbing tolerance for pain and misery and injustice in others. some even claim that the USA is a nation of narcissists. As Daniel J. Boorstin observed: "As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism. The beloved Echo of our ancestors, the virgin America, has been abandoned. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves. "Which, of cause, is only partially true. But neoliberalism definitely promote narcissism and sociopathy like no other social system. Under neoliberalism  highly individualistic behaviors including mild to severe forms of narcissism are not only pervasive but often encouraged. To get a fleeing what is to be working under a narcissist (in this case a female) you can watch The Devil Wears Prada.

It is wrong to view narcissist as a person who is in love with himself/herself. It is more accurate to characterize the pathological narcissist as someone who created and try to protect by all means possible an fake, idealized mask, they are wearing instead of their "real" personality. Which might well be "ugly ducking" complex with disenfranchised, wounded self.

The narcissist is just one type of corporate psychopath and it shares probably more then 90% of traits with the general case of psychopathic personality. Like in all such cases the true character is carefully and skillfully disguised behind an image he/she wants to project. Some researchers like Alexander Lowen even suggested that paranoid personality is a subtype of “narcissistic character”.  Profound lack of self-awareness and insularity amongst the managers of large corporation is a norm, not an exception. They consider themselves to be "Masters of the Universe".  And it sets a potential for a disastrous series of actions, with escalating harshness toward employees, who are considered just "expendable"  Untermensch  .

It goes without saying that like all psychopaths any narcissist is always a bully and they share many personal and behavioral traits with them ( see Behavior of the serial bully for the original list).

This is not black and white situation in a sense that such person has 100% of narcissists traits and that "normal" persons do not have such traits at all.  There is a continuum of narcissistic traits. Mild cases may be labeled as vain personalities, and mostly demonstrate self centeredness and vanity. But at some point quantity turns in quality and became a narcissistic personality disorder. Persons belonging to those "extreme" cases are  oblivious to the needs of others and focus on maintaining a false and grandiose image of themselves.  In a corporate environment such person can be a workaholic, who completely neglect family for carrier advancement. Extreme cases are 100% sociopaths, feeling over-entitled and completely lacking conscience and empathy. They also have  no respect for the law, and a distinct tendency to engage risky, impulsive,  borderline or openly criminal behaviour.

Extreme lack of empathy  can lead to the destruction of career of people who had been his subordinates or colleagues or are considered as a stumbling block to the carrier success. Sometimes that couples with strong elements of sadism and paranoid tendencies. The latter trait quite probably conceals an feeling of  inferiority and personal cowardice.

The same is true about the life with narcissist. It's actually even more of a trap, as in this case you definitely married the facade that hides a completely different personality. It's not necessary can be "bee queen" syndrome it can manifest in highlighted self-modesty, self-effacement, aloofness, and inaccessibility. Narcissistic persons are often unsociable and very protective of their privacy. Hyper reactivity to perceived humiliations and threats to self-esteem.  Some studies associate narcissism with the defensive form of self-esteem regulation. In other words, narcissistic individuals with an inflated self-view and high but unstable self-esteem tend to dominate and control situations and other people and react with anger and hostility toward perceived threats to their positive self-regard and self-esteem. They also tend to exhibit an unrealistic goal setting, leading to impaired judgment. The inability to engage in long-term commitments has primarily been associated with the lack of tolerance for the challenge to self-esteem and the intensity of affects involved in a deep long-term mutual relationship. Early enthusiasm typically followed by disappointment. This lack of commitment is actually a reliable indicator of narcissism. Lack of commitment also can be expressed as irresponsible behaviour such as infidelity. Narcissistic individuals are usually identified by their specific interpersonal pattern with a more or less overtly arrogant and haughty attitude, and entitled and controlling behavior. Hostility can range from subtle passive-aggressive behavior to sadistic or explosive behavior. Inability to commit to others is another typical trait. 

Some researchers distinguish between two major types:

  1. Arrogant, the overt grandiose type. They are characterized by overt and striking grandiosity: a sense of superiority and self-importance, a tendency to exaggerate talents or achievement, and a belief in being special and unique.  Some among them are high archivers whose qualities indeed are valuable, adaptable, and truly "exceed expectations". This type of  narcissistic persons is  superficial but also smooth and effective social adaptation, entitlement, and lack of empathy. They are prone to devaluation, contempt, and depreciation of others, is extremely envious and unable to receive help from others. Some has severe mood swings which makes them similar to BPD.  Usually, such people come across as dislikable and can evoke strong negative reactions in other people. In addition, envy of others or the belief that others envy them, and  cruel and exploitative attitudes and behavior toward other people or society are common character traits that impair such an individual capacity for interpersonal functioning and, especially, long-term commitments such as marriage. 
  2. Shy narcissists. Shyness has been defined as a fear of negative social evaluations, leading to discomfort that limits desire for social contact. Shy narcissists may actually represent a more severe narcissistic pathology compared to the overtly offensive and dislikable one. For this type of narcissists unrealistic self-evaluation and difficulties in adjusting to social life leave them dissatisfied outsiders. They have exaggerated sense of shame and overuse it in regulating self-esteem (Intense shame leads to problem in normal social functioning with dominating feelings of anger and a lowering of self-esteem). They hide their grandiose beliefs and aspirations, and appear modest and seemingly uninterested in social success. They might have intact or even high moral standards. They are often aware of their inability to empathize, and they can actually be helpful and are able to feel grateful and even feel concern for others. Their impaired capacity for deep relations can be either hidden or apparent, but their yearnings for social contact, acceptance, and recognition are suppressed. They also feel shame when their grandiose ambitions are revealed... The pain of shame and its resulting loss of self-esteem may give rise to unfocused anger and hostility. The aggression is initially directed toward the self. However, shame-based anger can easily be directed toward others as a retaliation, because shame typically involves the imagery of a real or imagined disapproving other. Unrecognized or unacknowledged shame is likely to result in rage that is directed inward or outward.

There are also gender differences in narcissism. Men manifest a greater sense of uniqueness, more interpersonal exploitativeness, entitlement and lack of empathy, while women show more intense reaction to slights from others. Specific narcissistic patterns in women include excessive demandss, overcontrol, self-absorption, grandiose fantasies, possessiveness, and lack of empathy. Pathological narcissism is identified by degree of severity, dominance of aggression versus shame, and by the extent to which its manifestations are overt or covert. Pathological narcissism encompasses different levels of functioning or degrees of severity. They can range from extraordinarily high levels of functioning combined with exceptional capabilities,  to malignant forms of narcissism and antisocial or psychopathic behavior often found in criminals

People belonging to the first type impress others as being 'personalities'; they are especially suited to act as a support for others, to take on the role of leaders and to give a fresh stimulus to cultural development or to damage the established state of affairs a self-confident, arrogant, vigorous, and impressive individual, an athletic type—hard and sharp with masculine features. These individuals are haughty, cold, reserved, or aggressive with disguised sadistic traits in relation to others. They resent subordination and readily achieve leading positions. When hurt, they react with cold reserve, deep depression, or intense aggression. Their narcissism is expressed in an exaggerated display of self-confidence, dignity, and superiority. They are often considered highly desirable as sexual partners because of their masculine traits, despite the fact that they usually show contempt for the female sex. Sexuality serves less as a vehicle of love than as one of aggression and conquest.

This grandiosity (an unrealistic sense of superiority) causes the narcissistic person to view others with disdain or as different or inferior. It also refers to a sense of uniqueness, the belief that few others have much in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people. Additional attitudes and behaviors that serve to support and enhance the inflated self-esteem include admiring attention seeking, boastful and pretentious attitudes, and unrestrained self-centered  behavior.

Among people belonging to the second type a very interesting case is a narcissistic scientist (or programmer), a person with a superior often workaholic attitude and who, although fully able to understand others intellectually, still is completely indifferent to them. However, their achievements become overshadowed by their preoccupation with acclaim, an attitude of "all or nothing", or dreams of glory, of attaining a position of extraordinary power or worldwide recognition. These people are dependent upon the evidence of their success, and they can become hypersensitive to the lack of such evidence.  Narcissism has usually been discussed in the context of unrealistic ideas of success and the difficulties of tolerating lack of success.

In both cases the focus is on personal achievements, personal grandiosity, and fulfilling personal ambitions which puts family aside and result in neglect of magical partner and children.  Such marriages are often characterized by dependency, revenge, rage, unfaithfulness, and lack of consideration for the other spouse.  NPD and BPD spouses share   mood swings, as well as a sense of inappropriateness, depersonalization, anger, feelings of emptiness and boredom, and a sense of injustice (NPD) and alienation (BPD).  Some female NPD patients can function on an overt borderline level. Good qualities in other people evoke a sense of humiliation and inferiority, and feelings of envy are warded off by devaluing or avoiding such people or by trying to destroy whatever good comes from them in order to protect self-esteem and maintain superiority.

Emotion-phobia

Narcissists are typically not comfortable with their own emotions. They listen only for the kind of information they seek, displaying very string "confirmation bias". and while insensitive to real people needs, they can be very sensitive to similar situation in movies. this is somewhat paradoxical, but very true. They don’t learn easily from others. They don’t like to teach, they prefer to indoctrinate. They tend to dominate meetings with subordinates. Often they are emotionally isolated. Nevertheless they are relentless and ruthless in their pursuit of "victory", whatever that means. In this sense, they display kind of "champion" character.

 Dr. Craig Malkin noted (5 Early Warning Signs You're With a Narcissist):

Emotion-phobia: Feelings are a natural consequence of being human, and we tend to have lots of them in the course of normal interactions. But the very fact of having a feeling in the presence of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even the occasional tragedy or failure. Narcissists abhor feeling influenced in any significant way. It challenges their sense of perfect autonomy; to admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them. So they often change the subject when feelings come up, especially their own, and as quick as they might be to anger, it’s often like pulling teeth to get them to admit that they’ve reached the boiling point — even when they’re in the midst of the most terrifying tirade.

It demonstrates itself in such ways as lack of interest to movies (because of the emotions they elicit), especially tragedies and theatrical plays. Or desire to avoid events connected with deep emotions such as funerals, or even celebrations. At the same time they themselves can behave like a "drama-queens" and kings) who respond to some minor "provocation" with level of emotion (for example anger) that is completely out of place. This allows them to feel that their lives have meaning, that they are at the center of a significant human story. We all need a sense of meaning, but trying to meet this need with our own emotional excess is ultimately a hollow exercise (and pretty tiresome for everyone around us). Anger and rage are the only acceptable emotions to a narcissist. They cover up every other emotion (hurt, desperation, pain, disappointment, fear, shame, guilt) with anger. It's a 'confusion to the enemy' sort of tactic - make everyone think you are mad, and blame them for it, and they'll never suspect that you are afraid. And if you dare show feelings you're accused of being over emotional or over sensitive when really our feelings are completely normal and appropriate!

Based on the emotional theory, the emotional life is crucial due to communication and finding a direction in difficult situations. When we communicate with other people, it is common to experience feelings that we don’t express and we may express other feelings than those we experience. For example we might cry when we feel angry, or yell when we are afraid. Family culture and socio-cultural settings affect our way of expressing and communicating our emotions. Avoiding certain emotions is called affect phobia or emotional phobia.

It is easy to think of a emotion communication misunderstandings that can occur between two people when one person is afraid, but is instead yelling. The other person interprets that as criticism, becoming angry and starting to cry. The first message, of being afraid never came to the other person’s knowledge because the yelling was misinterpreted as anger and the person in need of support (the person afraid) becomes the supporter of the person (feeling criticism) who begins to cry. This leads to discussions and quarrels about the wrong things.

What is especially interesting is that it is a subset of set of behaviour known as social anxiety, which run completely opposite to the image of self-confident successful human being narcissist is trying to project. Here is more general description of this set of behaviors  (Social anxiety - Mayo Clinic) a

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include persistent:

For children, anxiety about interacting with adults or peers may be shown by crying, having temper tantrums, clinging to parents or refusing to speak in social situations.

 

Often narcissists are often sex addicts (see Are All Sex Addicts Narcissists). Narcissists are cut off from others by their underlying insecurity but they nevertheless can become expert at manipulating people in order to draw them in.  They can be habitually seductive as a way of finding validation and power in relating to people generally. Pedophiles often display narcissistic behaviour. See  for example Adrian Lyne  interpretation of Nabokov Lolita where the main character professor Humbert Humbert is definitely a malignant narcissist, while his victim Lolita displays some trait of a female sociopath -- may be induced by the trauma. Lolita. It's extremely frightening for me how people react to it and actually begin to blame the little girl merely based on the stepfather's perspective. So I think Humbert Humbert did a great job being one of the biggest narcissists ever.

As any complex ensamble of traits narsiissism has many faces and can be very difficult to spot unless you are suboradinate or a family mamber. So good is the mask is that he/she is wearing "in public". One insiteful description of less obvious but diagnostically important traits (among them I think "emotion-phobia" is the most important) was provided by Dr. Craig Malkin in his post 5 Early Warning Signs You're With a Narcissist (05/30/2013, huffingtonpost.com):

At the beginning of April this year, I was tapped by the Huffington Post Live team for a discussion on narcissism. I happily agreed to appear, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that narcissism happens to be one of my favorite subjects. Early in my training, I had the pleasure of working with one of the foremost authorities on narcissism in our field, and in part because of that experience, I went on to work with quite a few clients who’d been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. That’s where I learned that the formal diagnostic label hardly does justice to the richness and complexity of this condition. The most glaring problems are easy to spot — the apparent absence of even a shred of empathy, the grandiose plans and posturing, the rage at being called out on the slightest of imperfections or normal human missteps — but if you get too hung up on the obvious traits, you can easily miss the subtle (and often more common) features that allow a narcissist to sneak into your life and wreak havoc.

Just ask Tina Swithin, who went on to write a book about surviving her experience with a man who clearly meets criteria for NPD (and very likely, a few other diagnoses). To her lovestruck eyes, her soon-to-be husband seemed more like a prince charming than the callous, deceitful spendthrift he later proved to be. Looking back, Tina explains, there were signs of trouble from the start, but they were far from obvious at the time. In real life, the most dangerous villains rarely advertise their malevolence.

So what are we to do? How do we protect ourselves from narcissists if they’re so adept at slipping into our lives unnoticed?

I shared some of my answers to that question in our conversation, and I encourage you to watch it. But there were a few I didn’t get to, and others I didn’t have the chance to describe in depth, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to revisit the topic here. Tread carefully if you catch a glimpse of any of these subtler signs:

1) Projected Feelings of Insecurity: I don’t mean that narcissists see insecurity everywhere. I’m talking about a different kind of projection altogether, akin to playing hot potato with a sense of smallness and deficiency. Narcissists say and do things, subtle or obvious, that make you feel less smart, less accomplished, less competent. It’s as if they’re saying, “I don’t want to feel this insecure and small; here, you take the feelings.” Picture the boss who questions your methods after their own decision derails an important project, the date who frequently claims not to understand what you’ve said, even when you’ve been perfectly clear, or the friend who always damns you with faint praise (“Pretty good job this time!”). Remember the saying: “Don’t knock your neighbor’s porch light out to make yours shine brighter.” Well, the narcissist loves to knock out your lights to seem brighter by comparison.

2) Emotion-phobia: Feelings are a natural consequence of being human, and we tend to have lots of them in the course of normal interactions. But the very fact of having a feeling in the presence of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even the occasional tragedy or failure. Narcissists abhor feeling influenced in any significant way. It challenges their sense of perfect autonomy; to admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them. So they often change the subject when feelings come up, especially their own, and as quick as they might be to anger, it’s often like pulling teeth to get them to admit that they’ve reached the boiling point — even when they’re in the midst of the most terrifying tirade.

3) A Fragmented Family Story: Narcissism seems to be born of neglect and abuse, both of which are notorious for creating an insecure attachment style (for more on attachment, see here and here). But the very fact that narcissists, for all their posturing, are deeply insecure, also gives us an easy way to spot them. Insecurely attached people can’t talk coherently about their family and childhood; their early memories are confused, contradictory, and riddled with gaps. Narcissists often give themselves away precisely because their childhood story makes no sense, and the most common myth they carry around is the perfect family story. If your date sings their praises for their exalted family but the reasons for their panegyric seem vague or discursive, look out. The devil is in the details, as they say — and very likely, that’s why you’re not hearing them.

4) Idol Worship: Another common narcissistic tendency you might be less familiar with is the habit of putting people on pedestals. The logic goes a bit like this: “If I find someone perfect to be close to, maybe some of their perfection will rub off on me, and I’ll become perfect by association.” The fact that no one can be perfect is usually lost on the idol-worshipping narcissist — at least until they discover, as they inevitably do, that their idol has clay feet. And stand back once that happens. Few experiences can prepare you for the vitriol of a suddenly disappointed narcissist. Look out for any pressure to conform to an image of perfection, no matter how lovely or magical the compulsive flattery might feel.

5) A High Need for Control: For the same reason narcissists often loathe the subject of feelings, they can’t stand to be at the mercy of other people’s preferences; it reminds them that they aren’t invulnerable or completely independent — that, in fact, they might have to ask for what they want — and even worse, people may not feel like meeting the request. Rather than express needs or preferences themselves, they often arrange events (and maneuver people) to orchestrate the outcomes they desire. In the extreme form, this can manifest as abusive, controlling behaviors. (Think of the man who berates his wife when dinner isn’t ready as soon as he comes home. He lashes out precisely because at that very moment, he’s forced to acknowledge that he depends on his wife, something he’d rather avoid.) But as with most of these red flags, the efforts at control are often far subtler than outright abuse. Be on the look out for anyone who leaves you feeling nervous about approaching certain topics or sharing your own preferences. Narcissists have a way of making choices feel off-limits without expressing any anger at all — a disapproving wince, a last-minute call to preempt the plans, chronic lateness whenever you’re in charge of arranging a night together. It’s more like a war of attrition on your will than an outright assault on your freedom.

None of these signs, in isolation, proves that you’re with a narcissist. But if you see a lot of them, it’s best to sit up and take notice. They’re all way of dodging vulnerability, and that’s a narcissist’s favorite tactic.

Types of narcissists

Wikipedia lists several types of narcissists:

Theodore Millon identified five subtypes of narcissist.[2][3] Any individual narcissist may exhibit none or one of the following:

We can distinguish between non-malignant and malignant narcissism. The malignant narcissists are similar to fanatic type above, but are not bound by a mission they shares with other followers of the same ideology or religion or their own passion. Rather, he manifests contempt of the values of his followers as well. Unlike the antisocial personality, however, he does not act criminality. Such a would-be tyrant works relentlessly to create an environment, a social and ideological structure, in which the manifestations of his disorder such as cruelty and paranoia can be legitimized as justifiable behavior which helps to promote hem/her into a leadership position.  This is especially typical in the early stages of his career, during his initial climb to power by zealous, fanatical adoption of political and social positions that are shared by power that be and iron loyalty. 

Diagnostic criteria

I would say that the first and the most important diagnostic criteria that can be used in everyday life for early diagnosis is the super-sensitivity to criticism and disproportionate reaction to any criticism, which is viewed as a personal threat and can produce inadequate, even violent reaction. On the other hand, narcissists are often quick to judge, criticize, ridicule, and blame you. Some narcissists are emotionally abusive as in “Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others”. By making you feel inferior, they boost their fragile ego, and feel better about themselves. Watch for the following:

  1. Extreme sensitivity to reactions of others and highly vulnerable to criticism and adverse judgment; reaction to any criticism with rage and resentment in case of subordinates and fake shame and humiliation is case of peers. Arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes coupled with rage when contradicted, or confronted. Arguments are always difficult as narcissism assume that he/she is always right. This trait is the most helpful in diagnosing the disorder. Among typical manifestations is overly aggressive responses to criticism - ("How dare he criticize me? That lying bastard, I swear I'll get even, if it takes years"). This essay notes that they see the criticism as a threat to their self, making them great fun during job performance reviews:

    "Since the narcissist is incapable of asserting his or her own sense of adequacy, the narcissist seeks to be admired by others. However, the narcissist’s extremely fragile sense of self worth does not allow him or her to risk any criticism."

  2. Short-fuse: anticipates attack and takes offense easily, reacting with tantrums. Engages in revenge fantasies; in family life narcissist transforms life with him into a constant battle for complete enslavement of other members of the family and crushing any revolt.
  3. Envy. Such individuals typically ridicules the achievements of others.
  4. Disregard for conventional values and society's rules through deceitful and dishonest behavior . Such behavior may range from seductive, Don Juan-like recurrent efforts to conquer or passively exploit others sexually or financially, to  actual crimes such as petty stealing. However, narcissistic people who can present a variety of antisocial behavior are usually aware of moral norms and standards and able to feel guilt and concern
  5. Lack the capacity for deep commitment

The second important diagnostic criteria is a set of attention-seeking  behaviors. Life became a spectacle with the particular narcissist in leading role (of course). Many narcissists try to impress others by making themselves "flashy" externally, paying huge attention to cloth, makeup, perfume, cars, etc.  The attempt is made to "over-represent" his own personality, substituting for the perceived, inadequate “real” self with more comfortable idealized image.  The underlying message is always the same: “I and only I am worth of love, admiration, and acceptance!”.  Narcissists usually are quite charismatic and persuasive. But they view other people as objects although they can fake it: when they’re interested in you, they make you feel very special and wanted.

Sometimes attention seeking demonstrates itself in being confrontational, negative, or arrogant. Narcissists often try to dominate any conversation. You struggle to have your views and feelings heard and is constantly interrupted.  When you finally get a chance to get a word in, if your views do not coincide with the views of a  narcissist, your comments are likely to be refuted, or at best dismissed and ignored. Most narcissists interrupt others and quickly switches the focus back to himself/herself. Narcissists typically has little or not genuine interest in you as a personality (you are an object for them, useful for enhancing their self-image).   The narcissist also enjoys getting away with violating rules and social norms. They often shows wanton disregard for other people’s thoughts, feelings, possessions, and physical space. For example, they can borrows items or money and never return them. They easily breaks promises and obligations, shows no remorse and blaming the victim. Narcissists often expect preferential treatment from others. They expect others to cater (often instantly) to their needs, without getting anything in return. In their mindset, the world revolves around them and they expect preferential treatment from others, who should cater to their needs and whims. Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, believing that others cannot live or survive without their magnificent contributions.

If this "attention-seeking" set of traits is combined with hypersensitivity to criticism the chances that you are dealing with narcissists are pretty high.

If this "attention-seeking" set of traits is combined with hypersensitivity to criticism the chances that you are dealing with narcissists are pretty high.

While this is a systemic trait that is not easily decomposed on components, among typical signs of narcissism we can mention those listed in Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Please be aware that "trait"-based static definitions are very limited and cannot provide true insights into this psychopathic behavior that is driven all consuming addiction to power:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements). This grandiosity (an unrealistic sense of superiority) causes the narcissistic person to view others with disdain or as different or inferior. It also refers to a sense of uniqueness, the belief that few others have much in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people. Additional attitudes and behaviors that serve to support and enhance the inflated self-esteem include admiring attention seeking, boastful and pretentious attitudes, and unrestrained self-centered  behavior.

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of high achievements, unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love. Many narcissistic people are indeed very capable and do have sustained periods of successful academic, professional, or creative accomplishments. The combination of exceptional talents or intellectual giftedness, grandiose fantasies, and strong self-investment can, in certain cases, lead to extraordinary intellectual, creative, or innovative contributions

(3) believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

(4) requires excessive admiration

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.

 A sense of entitlement is one of the most  the most reliable and valid indicator of narcissism. Expressions of entitlement can range from infuriated reactions—irritability, hostile rejecting, or vindictive behavior—to feeling surprised, hurt, unappreciated, unfairly treated, or even exploited. Entitlement is closely related to a passive attitude and lack of self-initiative   and to an experience of not getting as much as one deserves . It can also be associated with expectations or hopes for reparation of past damages or correction of injustices. An expectation that things should come easily and be provided by others often comes with negative or even shameful feelings toward the requirement of one's own efforts. Further explorations of people's feelings of entitlement may reveal a striking contrast between inner experiences of defectiveness, undesirability, or worthlessness and an overt special entitled attitude of unrealistic rights, expectations, and exemptions. Entitlement in such a dynamic context may have its roots in unmodulated aggression and harsh judgmental self-criticism.
A sense of exaggerated entitlement can also exist under a seemingly timid, compliant, or masochistic surface in people who present a willingness to attend to others while secretly feeling used, unrecognized, and resentful.

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

Exploitativeness  traditionally focused on privileges, material, or monetary gain, or personal or professional resources of others is typical for all sociopaths.   It seems important to differentiate among (a) the more obvious, active, and consciously exploitative behavior found in antisocial and psychopathic individuals, (b) the needfulfilling exploitative behavior found in borderline patients, and (c) the more passive, manipulative, and entitled, emotionally focused exploitative behavior that serves to support or enhance self-esteem in narcissistic individuals. It also seems important to differentiate exploitative behavior resulting from aggressive entitlement, that is, the sense of the right to pick on, blame, and misuse others, and that resulting from revengeful or malignant entitlement, that is, the right to retaliate, parasitize, or violate others.

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

Several narcissistic features interfere with empathy. Low affect tolerance (Emotion-phobia) is one of the most important among them.  Feelings of both shame and envy are accompanied by the urge to withdraw, which hinders empathy. Biased self-perception, egocentricity, and self-preoccupation interfere with the ability for perspective taking and emotional resonance. By nature, entitlement and the readiness for self-serving expectations in others are incompatible with empathy. In addition, self-enhancement and other strategies to protect and increase self-esteem are also incompatible with interpersonal orientation and empathy. Some narcissistic people present as extremely sensitive with seemingly good or even superior ability to identify feelings and intentions in others. However, these people often lack the ability to respond and relate to people who seek their genuine attention or empathy.

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Some narcississ are strikingly arrogant and haughty; others might initially appear more timid but gradually present more hidden and specific areas of disdainful or pejorative attitudes. We need to differentiate between active and passive interpersonal hostility. The degree and type of hostility can vary from less obvious passive-aggressive behavior to overtly belittling, exploitative, or sadistic behavior, especially toward subordinates. They also mentioned the need for interpersonal control as an important aspect of the narcissistic individual's relational pattern, that is, an unempathic, detached involvement with self-serving purposes. The motive for such strivings can stem both from a sense of superiority vis-a-vis others and from a need to protect self-esteem and self-cohesiveness from threatening or unexpected disorganizing experiences. In addition, interpersonal dominance is used as a strategy to manage hostility and regulate self-esteem  noticed that language and words can be used for narcissistic strivings in interpersonal relationships less for the purpose of communicating and understanding and more for a manipulative function -- to frighten or to soothe, to distance or to merge, to control or to be controlled 

Strong and adverse reactions to criticism was excluded from the DSM-IV NPD criteria. Howerever it remains a valuable diagnostic criterion. Narcissistic people are hypersensitive and prone to rapidly interpreting situations  as threatening or humiliating.  Narcissistic people tend to interpret tasks and events as opportunities to show off, to demonstrate their superiority, and to compete with others. When criticized, they tend to react in various ways: They ward off intolerable criticism or threats by overestimating their own contributions, by ignoring or devaluing the critique or the person who criticizes, or by aggressively counter arguing or defending themselves; they also use self aggrandizing strategies and self-illusion to boost positive feedback, commit to unrealistic goals, and take exaggerated credit for a success. Studies  support the observation that people with high narcissism tend to have strong aggressive and violent reactions to any threat to their sense of superiority or self-esteem. Aggressive reactions to criticism may be more or less controlled and obvious—ranging from cognitive reconstructions of events and subtle, well-hidden feelings of disdain or contempt, to intense aggressive argumentativeness, criticism, and rage outbursts, to more or less controlled aggressive and violent behavior. Intense emotional reactions such as rage and shame. Narcissistic rage is a specific form of rage that represents one of two reactions (the other being shameful withdrawal) in a perceived  injury to self-image.  This type of rage, which can range from deep chronic grudge to  violent fury, is related to the need for absolute control of the environment. Narcissistic rage is  characterized by relentlessness, sharp reasoning, lack of empathy, and unforgivingness. It served as a method of restoring a sense of internal power and safety.

Here is an extended list of common patterns of behaviour:

  1. Oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen and how they are seen by others. While demonstrating an overwhelming, arrogant, unhealthy attention-seeking at the same time tries portray himself as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate person; sees nothing wrong with their behavior and chooses to remain oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen and how they are seen by others. Sometimes attention seeking is demonstrates itself in being confrontational or negative just for the sake of getting into a fight. Some narcissists liked to argue and would instigate arguments with others quite often.
  2. Systematic pathological lying, especially about past achievements, contacts etc (waving false reality); the ability to takes advantage of others to achieve own goals. When a narcissist has a problem he tends to escalates it to crisis and is furious if others aren't there immediately to help him/her (this is especially typical in personal relationships). Attempts to create an artificial positive image to compensate for his own low self-worth; demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements; careful hiding of personal incompetence under the mask, for example, the mask of demanding but fair manager.

    Narcissists are masters of creating "artificial reality" adept at manipulating perceptions and are excellent imitators (Zelig-like types, chameleons). They like to project work ethic and emphasize team work, while destroying the team and converting it into a pack of frightened animals. The narcissist is willing to accept the employee as an "under-humans" (Untermensch ), whose need obediently support his/her grandiose fantasies. Typically malignant narcissists are pathological compulsive liars. This is a lifestyle trait and they have no shame at all because their very self is a fake, an invention.

  3. Unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment (sense of entitlement). Expects unreasonable or special and favorable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations. Requires and expects constant attention and/or admiration. Sensitive to praise and can take gross over-exaggerations at face value. Often tries to create a personality cult as a part of the despotic rule.
  4. Napoleonic complex: they are convinced of their superiority and has an overbearing belief in their qualities of leadership, feelings of self-importance.
  5. Complete lacks of empathy (which is typical for all psychopaths). Often misses the semantic meaning of language, misinterprets what is said, sometimes wrongly thinking that comments of a satirical, ironic or general negative nature apply to him or herself . Easy to provoke for attack. Narcissists are arrogant, self-aggrandizing, and manipulative. All contacts are pure instruments in achieving the goals. For narcissistic managers staff is actually "stuff": they cares little for others other than as a source of affirmation. Their co-workers as mere instruments, objects, tools.
  6. Kiss-up behavior as narcissists depends on peers for a sense of self-worth; carefully cultivate relationships with superiors. typically pays a lot of attention to association with people of status and achievement; envious of others and expects others to be envious of him or her."
  7. Often attempts to overcome feeling of inadequacy by overcontrol; they are often controls freaks and micromanagers although of different flavor then paranoid incompetent micromanagers (PIMM).
  8. Needs immediate gratification, resulting in poorly performing in situations requiring staying power in which accomplishing difficult objectives take considerable time;
  9. Rigid, inflexible thinking - Anyone with a different approach is seen as personally attacking the narcissist. Petty: often narcissists get inappropriately angry when they see little things, like grammar errors. ("My way is the ONLY RIGHT way and any other way is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG").
  10. Arrogant, boastful and pretentious; often fakes competence. - These are people with fake certificates and awards on their walls, the kind of people who exaggerate their accomplishments or use inflated job titles like "Engineer, Physicist" in their resume job histories. - (i.e. "I'm a Sanitation Engineer"). This narcissistic trait is especially prevalent in IT environment where people elevate themselves to the "expert" status, and then treat people in a demeaning way when they get questions ("Boy, now that's a really stupid question. Where did you go to college?)".
  11. May have alcohol or drag dependence. Cocaine addicts typically demonstrate strong narcissistic traits, kind of "induced" narcissism.

Cruelty and  attempts to take advantage of others as the most important early warning signs

This form of behaviour is the most vividly seen in narcissistic children, which manage literally to enslave their parents. To the extent that parent are afraid to criticize even truly abnormal behaviour fearing a violent reaction.

Like all psychopaths narcissists lack empathy (which in common language means cruelty)  and consider co-workers, subordinates and family members as objects that can be instrumental in achieving his/her goals. They view people as tools and try to manipulated them to satisfy their (even perverse as in case of pedophiles and other sexual predators) needs.

They often demonstrate cruelty to animals in childhood. It should be stressed that for narcissist other people are not humans they are just tools. Actually the best insight into narcissistic bosses can be obtained not from reading "self-help" literature devoted to the topic, but from literature devoted to the analysis of the behavior of the leaders of high demand cults. 

Manipulation can take many, sometimes intricate forms (10 Signs That You're in a Relationship with a Narcissist Psychology Today): 
Making decisions for others to suit one’s own needs. The narcissist may use his or her romantic partner, child, friend, or colleague to meet unreasonable self-serving needs, fulfill unrealized dreams, or cover up self-perceived inadequacies and flaws.

“If my son doesn’t grow up to be a professional baseball player, I’ll disown him”

― Anonymous father

“Aren’t you beautiful? Aren’t you beautiful? You’re going to be just as pretty as mommy”

― Anonymous mother

Another way narcissists manipulate is through guilt, such as proclaiming, “I’ve given you so much, and you’re so ungrateful,” or, “I’m a victim—you must help me or you’re not a good person.” They hijack your emotions, and beguile you to make unreasonable sacrifices

Narcissistic mothers are very smart and crafty, and know how to redirect problems onto another while abusing their children and husbands. Narcissistic Abuse Movies about Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Gail MeyersNovember 24, 2013 at 8:23 PM

Unfortunately, I know exactly what you are saying about being abused by a narcissistic mother but then have everyone believe you abused her. I am so glad to hear you have escaped. I wish you well in your healing journey.
 

Lies is constant and pervasive

In a way lying  is a way of life for any psychopath including narcissist, and they often believe in created by themselves artificial life story, artificial achievement and such. In other words in artificial reality. Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, M.D., even titled his book “People of the Lie”.  If you face problem with narcissistic boss you need to be especially aware that they behave more like politician on a company trail and often use disinformation and brainwashing to achieve their goals. Like most politicians, they do not care one bit about the damage they inflict on their victims (aka subordinates). Again, for they, other people are just tools.  And this smoke screen for their selfish and abusive actions can be quite sophisticated (they do  it all their adult like, and repetition is a path to perfection) and thus very difficult for common people to discern and counteract. You need to train yourself in this respect.  Again, books can help. Here is one review of Scott Peck, M.D.,  book “People of the Lie” which in not perfect but still can be useful reading on the subject (the first part of it):
Brad C. Pape, March 11, 2006

explains why evil often causes confusion 

If you have ever experienced or been frustrated by people who seem to have a hidden agenda then you will enjoy and benefit from this book. The author states (some are paraphrased) and explains the following:
  1. The evil hide their motives with lies.
  2. Evil people want to appear to be good.
  3. When confronted by evil, the wisest and most secure adult will usually experience confusion.
  4. Evil seeks to discourage others to think for themselves (fosters dependency).
  5. To oppose evil we must have an ongoing dedication to reality at all cost.

I agree that to be mentally healthy we must believe what is true and only what is true. After reading this book you will be better equipped to deal with people who cause strife and confusion. It will also help you identify thought patterns where you are lying to yourself. 

I would like to stress that what distinguish narcissists from other corporate psychopaths is an all-pervasive pattern of self-promotion, need for admiration or adulation, sense of grandiosity (super competent, super-diligent, super-workaholic, super-economical, etc). A false image that narcissist quite cleverly projects is not unique trait and is typical for all types of corporate psychopaths. The key difference is the amount of efforts spend on building and maintaining the image and, especially, the "cult of personality". In a way narcissist can be defined as a psychopath preoccupied with building a false and often grandiose self-image. Almost nothing can be spared in efforts to have people admire, applaud and envy in order to create it.

Such bosses are so self-absorbed that they continually make excuses about the abuse they commit to other people. Often quickly turning every story 180 degrees in the opposite direction and always claiming being a victim when all signs clearly points to them as the perpetrator. Here is another review of the same book (which actually points as the major flow of this book too):

Lisa Kerr (Charleston, West Virginia USA) - See all my reviews

Psychological part, great. Superstition part, nope., August 29, 2014

Great description and examples of the malignant narcissist personality type. However, the second half of the book essentially recommends curing these people with a type of prayer or exorcism. That's nonsense. Pray if you like, and if it makes you feel better, but learn some realistic cognitive behavioral techniques if you are trying to deal with an "evil" person (such as an abusive parent or ex) or keep such people out of your life in the future.

And this type of bosses and this type of behaviour is now pandemic within corporations, as these folks clamor and cling to power, money and title oblivious to the human carnage left.

Narcissistic managers are less likely to make major changes in their behavior than are managers with other toxic issues. They are also particularly likely to become outraged and vindictive if someone challenges their behavior. Therefore, when you are dealing with a manager who is rigid or aggressive, it is important to determine whether narcissism or other disorders lie underneath their destructive behavior.

The acute lack of self-respect

While according to Greek origin of the term a narcissist is a person in love with himself, in reality, it is mostly the opposite. Narcissists suffer from the acute lack of self-respect. That's why narcissism is frequently discussed as a type of depression. And that's why aggression, anger at any threat to the image is the most valuable sign for diagnostics of narcissism.

So in a way this is mechanism of overcompensation of low self-esteem.

The overall pattern of narcissistic behavior is emotional instability and aggressive behavior caused by insecurity and weakness rather than any real feelings of confidence or self-esteem.

Cultivation of narcissism in as immanent feature of American culture and politics under neoliberalism

Commentator John Hockenberry recently linked narcissism and politics He hypothesized that US politics is nothing but toxic mixture of nationalism and narcissism:

"Narcissism IS politics in America. What else can the world possibly think listening to our political rhetoric... the constant invocations of being the greatest nation on earth, the greatest people, the pinnacle of civilization, the divine custodians of all that is moral and free in the world?"

Similar views were expressed by Christopher Lasch in the book  The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations.  When The Culture of Narcissism was first published, it was clear that Christopher Lasch had identified an important trend although he failed to attribute it to neoliberal transformation of the society (aka Great Transformation). Neoliberalism or casino capitalism as it often called lead to dramatic decay of Christian values in American society, the decline of the communities, family and complete "atomization" of the society. New neoliberal values along the lines of dog eats dog were enforced via compete dominance of corporate media which allow to call black white and white black. That create an extremely favorable environment for narcissists, especially in large transnational corporation.  In a way it became  a required trait for the corporate brass. We can even talk about synergy of narcissism and neoliberalism. The book quickly became a bestseller.

Despite being published in 1983 this book and his later book The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy are probably as relevant today as when they were written.  He did not understand that he essentially is writing about the process of conversion of the USA into neoliberal society, but he aptly described its negative, destructive effects. The USA, in Lasch's view, become a culture of narcissists to whom, as the author states, "the world is a mirror, whereas the rugged individualist saw it as an empty wilderness to be shaped to his own design."

Political and managerial elites who lack any sense of social and civic values and care only about personal enrichment force this neoliberal transformation on the society. Reflecting on the rise of noncommittal sexual hookups Lasch states that "the happy hooker stands in place of Horatio Alger as the prototype of personal success." In other words the classic "rags to riches" story of a hardworking individual has been replaced by the story of a person content with selling themselves to the highest bidder, never really putting in the hard work required to succeed in life.

The media's promotion of narcissism under neoliberalism is like waves hitting the shore. It can wear down even the strongest, and seems easily brainwash the majority. Probably more effectively the Chinese communists ever were able to do. In a way both books are an indictment of neoliberalism as a cult, as destructive for human relations social religion. It falls into a group of other books which share the similar concerns such as Daniel Boorstin's "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America," and Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle" 

While "narcissism" is psychological term,  Lasch consider it is also a sociological category, a "metaphor for the human condition". In this, larger context it means more than just lack of empathy, a tendency toward manipulative actions and pretentious behavior, but also artificially created longing to some "virtual reality", mass illusion fed by MSM and inability to face the truth.  "People today hunger not for personal salvation, but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health, and psychic security". 

This fixation on  "Me and Mine" contributes to the dissolution of communities and relationships under neoliberalism, which everybody feels as if we live highly individualized, atomized lives detached from the concerns about others. "Personal liberation" (rallying slogan of radicalism in sixties ) tuned to be a direct road to neoliberal slavery. Without using the word "neoliberalism" Christopher Lasch explains under neoliberalism "The new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension." Much like narcissists regard their colleagues, subordinates and family members. They are just tools, pawns to be sacrificed on the chessboard. Nothing more, nothing less. 

Here is a telling Amazon review:

J from NY (New York) - (VINE VOICE) See all my reviews

Me and Mine, October 12, 2014

Christopher Lasch's "The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations" is one of the more chillingly prescient books I've ever come across. At times it approaches the power of an essay by Benjamin or Ernest Becker's "The Denial of Death".

Lasch's central thesis is that we are, paradoxically, a nation of "for me, by me, and ending in I." The cult of celebrity and a baseless narcissism which ends in a useless self love and terror of death has degenerated into the cult of individual celebrity as technology grows in power and gives each person a mostly illusory voice on everything from what they had for breakfast to international politics. People find the idea of living for other people repugnant and artists from Jean Paul Sartre to Woody Allen have assured us time and time again that the central fact of death is the only fact worth measuring anything by. In America the "the left believe they sing songs of new social orders while what they actually sing are the birth pangs of death" while "Conservatives unwittingly side with the social forces that contribute to the destruction of traditional values."

Inhabiting the rough terrain between the 60's and the beginning of Reaganoia, he occasionally submits to the common temptation of blaming the horrifying superficiality and self hatred of our culture on progressive politics, using Susan Stern (a member of the Weathermen) as a prime example of what it means to be a "empty narcissist with a dark wet hole in place of a soul". (That there ever was a left wing that had any sort of imposing presence of any kind is a sort of demented solace now, and I'm sure he got that as the 80's continued.) But if these are not prophetic passages, I've never understood the word:

"Our society, far from fostering private life at the expense of public life, has made deep and lasting friendships, love affairs, and marriages increasingly difficult to achieve. As social life becomes more and more warlike and barbaric, personal relations, which ostensibly provide relief from these conditions, take on the character of combat."

"Success in our society has to be ratified by publicity. The tycoon who lives impersonal obscurity, the empire builder who controls the destines of nations from behind the scenes, are vanishing types. Even elective officials, ostensibly preoccupied with questions of high policy, have to keep themselves constantly on view; all politics become a form of spectacle. The modern prince does not much care "there's a job to be done"--the slogan of American capitalism in a earlier ad more enterprising stage of its development, what interests him is that "relevant audiences," in the language of the Pentagon Papers, have to be cajoled, won over, seduced."

"Both men and women have come to approach personal relations with heightened appreciation of their emotional risks. Determined to manipulate the emotions of otherwise while protecting themselves against emotional inure, both sexes cultivate a protective shallowness, a cynical detachment they do not altogether feel but which soon become habitual and in any case embitters personal relations merely through its repeated profession. Yet at the sometime, people demand from personal relations the richness and intensity of a religious experience."

Now there are TV shows about TV shows; massive websites which barely have to ask the user to advertise themselves and sell all their personal information at the cost of, well, pretty much everything; irony has become the norm and not the exception in art. Even the pretension toward spiritual values is a matter of mockery.

There is pretty much not a thing Lasch missed in the progress of this psychological tendency which is now a way of life practically unknown to it's victims. Where he lays the blame, however, is very surprising -- extreme progressive politics. He fears Fromm's critique of society and one even gets the sense that he believed the middle class (when it really existed) was getting a little big for it's britches.

American culture always used propaganda and narcissism as a tool to bolster a love affair between person and psyche; did Lasch read Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends and Influence People"? Or any of the ever increasing novels that glorified "the enterprising age" of capitalism written in the 40's and 50's?

The implicit and very clear message of much economic behavior since the beginning of our nation was neatly summed up with a three word phrase: "Me and Mine". If it weren't for his conveniently conservative shortsightedness on these subjects, I couldn't give this book enough stars. 

And it's not that the culture of of competitive individualism is dying. It is that neoliberalim inject narcissism as a method to keeping 1% of population rich and the other 99% struggling.  Most of MSM brainwashing is devoted precisely to a campaign against shame and guilt, the object of which is to make people "feel good about themselves" while hurting other people. 

Steven H Propp (Sacramento, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER) 

IS THE "CULTURE OF COMPETITIVE INDIVIDUALISM" DYING?, August 16, 2013

Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) was a historian and professor at the University of Rochester. This 1979 book won the National Book Award in the "Current Interest" category. He wrote in the Preface, "Much could be written about the signs of new life in the United States. This book, however, describes a way of life that is dying---the culture of competitive individualism, which in its decadence has carried the logic of individualism to the extreme of a war of all against all, the pursuit of happiness to the dead end of a narcissistic preoccupation with the self." (Pg. 21) He adds, "The narcissist has no interest in the future because, in part, he has so little interst in the past... the devaluation of the past has become one of the most important symptoms of the cultural crisis to which this book addresses itself, often drawing on historical experience to explain what is wrong with our present arrangements. A denial of the past, superficially progressive and optimistic, proves on closer analysis to embody the dispair of a society that cannot face the future." (Pg. 23, 25-26)

He states, "As social life becomes more and more warlike and barbaric, personal relations... take on the character of combat. Some of the new therapies dignify this combat as 'assertiveness' and 'fighting fair in love and marriage.' Others celebrate impermanent attachments under such formulas as 'open marriage' and 'open-ended commitments.' Thus they intensify the disease they pretend to cure. They do this... by obscuring the social origins of the suffering... that is painfully but falsely experienced as purely personal and private." (Pg. 69-70)

He says, "Vaguely uneasy about the emotional response evoked by competitive sports, the critics of 'passive' spectatorship wish to enlist sport in the service of healthy physical exercise, subduing or eliminating the element of fantasy, make-believe, and play-acting that has always been associated with games. The demand for greater participation, like the distrust of competition, seems to originate in a fear that unconscious impulses will overwhelm us if we allow them expression." (Pg. 194)

He suggests, "the decline of literacy cannot be attributed solely to the failure of the educational system. Schools in modern society serve largely to train people for work, but most of the available jobs, even in the higher economic range, no longer require a high level of technical or intellectual competence. Indeed most jobs consist so largely of routine, and depend so little on enterprise and resourcefulness, that anyone who successfully completes a given course of study soon finds himself 'overqualified' for most of the positions available. The deterioration of the educational system thus reflects the waning social demand for initiative, enterprise, and the compulsion to achieve." (Pg. 223-224)

He concludes, "more and more people find themselves disqualified... from the performance of adult responsibilities and become dependent on some form of medical authority. The psychological expression of this dependence is narcissism. In its pathological form, narcissism originates as a defense against feelings of helpless dependency in early life, which it tries to counter with 'blind optimism' and grandiose illusions of personal self-sufficiency." (Pg. 389)

A bit "dated," this book neverless may interest those looking for "social critiques" with a historical perspective.

And other interesting review of the took that touches the similar theme:
A Certain Bibliophile (San Antonio, Texas) - See all my reviews

A Nineteenth-Century Problem Made Manifest, February 15, 2013

Christopher Lasch's "The Culture of Narcissism" was originally published in 1979, and has been a major cynosure of cultural and social criticism ever since. English literary critic Frank Kermode called it, not inaccurately, a "hellfire sermon." It is a wholesale indictment of contemporary American culture. It also happens to fall into a group of other books which share the same body of concerns that I have been working my way through, or around, in recent months: Daniel Boorstin's "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America," Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle," Philip Rieff's entire corpus (especially "Charisma," but also his earlier work on Freud), and even the book I'm currently reading, Tony Judt's "Ill Fares the Land."

All of these books discuss some aspect of social anomie, loss of community, and subsequent feelings of dissolution. This isn't by any means a new debate; in the field of sociology, it dates at least as far back as Ferdinand Tonnies' distinction between gemeinschaft and gesellschaft, a distinction that was almost a prerequisite for the invention of modernism.

First, a note on the word "narcissism." It was formerly a clinical term to diagnose the individual, but has "gone global" - or at least national. Lasch doesn't really mean for the term to be a diagnosis in the clinical sense, but rather a "metaphor for the human condition" in contemporary times. In his argot, the word means much more than just lack of empathy, a tendency toward manipulative actions and pretentious behavior. "People today hunger not for personal salvation, let alone for the restoration of an earlier golden age, but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health, and psychic security" (p. 7). Lasch is more interested in the dissolution of communities and relationships that makes us feel as if we live highly individualized, atomized lives detached from the concerns of others. The book spells out the ways in which these patterns are positively correlated with the rise of materialism, technologism, "personal liberation" (those bywords of sixties radicalism) and nominal egalitarianism.

His few words on contemporary corporate America will strike anyone who has ever worked in one of these organizational hellscapes: he states that corporate bureaucracies "put a premium on the manipulation of interpersonal relations, discourage the formation of deep personal attachments and at the same time provide the narcissist with the approval he needs in order to validate his self-esteem."

A la Debord, the politics of narcissism become more about "managing impressions" and "human relations" more than actually solving problems, citing Kennedy's disaster at the Bay of Pigs as an example. To steal from the language of yet another late French thinker, it's all about the simulacra. In a chapter called "The Degradation of Sport," he notes that enormous amounts of corporate money have turned athletes into mere entertainers to be sold to the most prestigious sports syndicate. The central concept of the sporting even - the agon, the contest - has been displaced in order to sell products and personalities who will invariably be with the team for only a short time.

Lasch's political affiliations are sometimes interestingly and tellingly misconstrued. Though often criticized for being a reactionary conservative simply because he points to the radicalism of the sixties as one of the desiderata under consideration, Lasch's analysis is self-consciously informed by both Marx and Freud, two figures hardly recognized for being popularly co-opted by various brands of twentieth-century conservatism. Those who believe that Lasch is a blind ideologue on other side of the spectrum need to read him again: he explicitly faults both the right for their veneration of the market's "invisible hand" and the left for their cultural progressivism. Lasch is in politics, above all else, a democratic humanist.

He writes in the Afterword, "The best defenses against the terrors of existence are the homely comforts of love, work, and family life, which connect us to a world that is independent of our wishes yet responsive to our needs. It is through love and work, as Freud noted ... that we exchange crippling emotional conflict for ordinary unhappiness." It might not sound like a prognosis abounding in optimism, but it drips with the sincerity of an honest, heartfelt critic of American culture.

Lasch's last question was an important one: can a society survive when the neoliberal elite abandoned the idea of the country and increasingly operates as a global force? Neoliberalism have created unprecedented wealth for the financial oligarchy, or .01% of population, but as the 2008 financial meltdown and the 2010 Flash Crash have shown us all too well made both the global economy much more volatile and society unstable. The problem is that under neoliberalm the entire system rests on values are destructive to the society as a whole: individualism, efficiency,  consumption. Furthermore, neoliberal regime has repressed values that increase stability of the society: sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience. If psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdowns are to be avoided, we need get rid of neoliberalism.   As an educator, I would like to think that this process might begin in the classroom. Unfortunately, neoliberalism transformed and poisoned university education too.

Narcissists as addicts: addicts to power and control of others

Another interesting insight in behaviour of narcissistic bosses stems from viewing them as addicts. And they are often sex addicts. In any case they really demonstrate some commonality with narcoaddicts, for example heroin addicts:

Cocaine addicts also typically demonstrate strong narcissistic traits (Impulsive decisions,  Increased sociability, including talkativeness or good humor, becoming angry without a good cause, mood swings).

It can be well that addiction creates a kind of induced narcissism. Both the narcissist and the addict are first and foremost self absorbed.  See also Narcissism In A Bottle The Self-Centeredness Of Addiction  Dr. Tian Dayton

Idealize-seduce-devalue-discard cycle

As narcissists are often sex addicts, narcissist managers represent direct danger to female subordinates, such as secretaries due to their propensity to seduce. To seduce just to prove that they can. The other person is just a tool designed to increase their self-word, another "conquest". Paradoxically this is also true for females, which also are often sex addicts in their own right and like to "collect trophies". While people typically view seduction narrowly as purely sexual in nature, but  actually the concept is wider then that. Wikipedia gives the following definition:

Seduction is the process of deliberately enticing a person, to lead astray, as from duty, rectitude, or the like; to corrupt, to persuade or induce to engage in sexual behaviour. The word seduction stems from Latin and means literally "to lead astray". As a result, the term may have a positive or negative connotation. Famous seducers from history or legend include Lilith, Giacomo Casanova and the fictional character Don Juan. Seduction as a phenomenon is not the subject of scientific interest, although similar, more specific terms like short-term mating, casual sex or mating strategies are used in evolutionary psychology.[1] The Internet enabled the existence of a seduction community which is based on pseudoscientific discourse on seduction.

Seduction, seen negatively, involves temptation and enticement, often sexual in nature, to lead someone astray into a behavioral choice they would not have made if they were not in a state of sexual arousal. Seen positively, seduction is a synonym for the act of charming someone — male or female — by an appeal to the senses, often with the goal of reducing unfounded fears and leading to their "sexual emancipation"

Which most commonly is discussed in the context of Narcissism, but has much wider applicability.

See Classic cycle of sociopathic relations (idealize-seduce-devalue-discard)

Tendency to sadism

Here is one interesting review of the book Emotional Blackmail When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You. I found on Amazon. Please note that Sam Valkin is an author of book on Narcissism and being himself a narcissist tends to exaggerate things. But I think he is right about tendency to sadism, which is often observed among narcissists:

Sam Vaknin "author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" (Skopje, Macedonia) - See all my reviews 
The Guilt of the Abused, November 23, 2003

This book describes insightfully the dance macabre that is the abuser-victim dyad. Self-flagellation is a characteristic of those who choose to live with a narcissist (and a choice it is). Constant guilt feelings, self-reproach, self-recrimination and, thus -- self-punishment typify the relationships formed between the sadist-narcissist and the masochistic-dependent mate or partner.

The narcissist projects his inner turmoil and drags everyone around him into a swirl of bitterness, suspiciousness, meanness, aggression and pettiness. His life is a reflection of his psychological landscape: barren, paranoiac, tormented, guilt ridden. He feels compelled to do unto others what he perpetrates unto himself. He gradually transforms all around him into replicas of his conflictive, punishing personality structures.

Some narcissists are more subtle than others. They disguise their sadism. For instance, they "educate" their nearest and dearest (for their sake, as they present it). This "education" is compulsive, obsessive, incessantly, harshly and unduly critical. Its effect is to erode the subject, to humiliate, to create dependence, to intimidate, to restrain, to control, to paralyze.

The narcissist deliberately confuses responsibility with guilt and demands compensation for his or her "sacrifices". By provoking guilt in responsibility-laden situations, the narcissist transforms life with him into a constant trial.

The narcissist-victim dyad is a conspiracy, a collusion of victim and mental tormentor, a collaboration of two needy people who find solace and supply in each other's deviations. Only by breaking loose, by aborting the game, by ignoring the rules - can the victim be transformed (and by the way, acquire the newly found appreciation of the narcissist).

The narcissist's partner should not feel guilty or responsible and should not seek to change what only time (not even therapy) and (difficult) circumstances may change. She should not strive to please and to appease, to be and not to be, to barely survive as a superposition of pain and fear.

Releasing herself from the chains of guilt and from the throes of a debilitating relationship - is the best help that a loving mate can provide to her ailing narcissistic partner. Sam Vaknin,

Quotes about narcissism

“A current pejorative adjective is narcissistic. Generally, a narcissist is anyone better looking than you are, but lately the adjective is often applied to those "liberals" who prefer to improve the lives of others rather than exploit them. Apparently, a concern for others is self-love at its least attractive, while greed is now a sign of the highest altruism. But then to reverse, periodically, the meanings of words is a very small price to pay for our vast freedom not only to conform but to consume.” ― Gore Vidal, Point to Point Navigation

L'Oreal's slogan 'because you're worth it' has come to epitomize banal narcissism of early 21st century capitalism; easy indulgence and effortless self-love all available at a flick of the credit card. ―  Geoff Mulgan

“The 'Selfie Stick' has to top the list for what best defines narcissism in society today.”  ― Alex Morritt

There's a definition of narcissism that when a parent is narcissistic, instead of the child seeing himself reflected in the mother's face and the mother's joy, the child of the narcissistic parent feels like, 'What can I do to make her okay, to make her happy?' -- Susan Sullivan

All of nationalism can be understood as a kind of collective narcissism. -- Geoff Mulgan

“Narcissists have poor self-esteem, but they are typically very successful. They feel entitled; they’re self-important; they crave admiration and lack empathy. They are also exploitative and envious. The malignant types never forget a slight. They may kill you ten years later for cutting them off in traffic. But they act perfectly normal while plotting their revenge.”  ― Janet M. Tavakoli

“This story ["The Depressed Person"] was the most painful thing I ever wrote. It's about narcissism, which is a part of depression. The character has traits of myself. I really lost friends while writing on that story, I became ugly and unhappy and just yelled at people. The cruel thing with depression is that it's such a self-centered illness - Dostoevsky shows that pretty good in his "Notes from Underground". The depression is painful, you're sapped/consumed by yourself; the worse the depression, the more you just think about yourself and the stranger and repellent you appear to others.”  ― David Foster Wallace

“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one's narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one's desires and fears.” ― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

“I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn't say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers.”
― Sylvia Plath

“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence, their mission is to distract, detract and extract, and make you live in abject poverty.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

“The faculty to think objectively is reason; the emotional attitude behind reason is that of humility. To be objective, to use one's reason, is possible only if one has achieved an attitude of humility, if one has emerged from the dreams of omniscience and omnipotence which one has as a child. Love, being dependent on the relative absence of narcissism, requires the developement of humility, objectivity and reason.

I must try to see the difference between my picture of a person and his behavior, as it is narcissistically distorted, and the person's reality as it exists regardless of my interests, needs and fears.”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving


“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.”
― John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

“Often the narcissist believes that other people are "faking it", leveraging emotional displays to achieve a goal. He is convinced that their ostensible "feelings" are grounded in ulterior, non-emotional motives. Faced with other people's genuine emotions, the narcissist becomes suspicious and embarrassed. He feels compelled to avoid emotion-tinged situations, or worse, experiences surges of almost uncontrollable aggression in the presence of expressed sentiments. They remind him how imperfect he is and how poorly equipped.”  ― Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited
 

“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.”
― Sam Vaknin

“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
― Sam Vaknin, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited

“When the healthy pursuit of self-interest and self-realization turns into self-absorption, other people can lose their intrinsic value in our eyes and become mere means to the fulfillment of our needs and desires.”
― P.M. Forni, The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude

The silent killer of all great men and women of achievement - particularly men, I don't know why, maybe it's the testosterone - I think it's narcissism. Even more than hubris. And for women, too. Narcissism is the killer. -- James Woods

Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities. But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless. Jeffrey Kluger

If we weren't born with anti-social passions - narcissism, envy, lust, meanness, greed, hunger for power, just to name the more obvious - why the need for so many laws, whether religious or secular, that govern behavior? -- Dennis Prager

Since narcissism is fueled by a greater need to be admired than to be liked, psychologists might use that fact as a therapeutic lever - stressing to patients that being known as a narcissist will actually cause them to lose the respect and social status they crave. -- Jeffrey Kluger

The great accomplishment of Jobs's life is how effectively he put his idiosyncrasies - his petulance, his narcissism, and his rudeness - in the service of perfection. -- Malcolm Gladwell

I doubt there's anything you could say to Donald Rumsfeld that would puncture the armor of his narcissism. -- Phil Klay

I think a lot of self-importance is a product of fear. And fear, living in sort of an un-self-examined fear-based life, tends to lead to narcissism and self-importance. -- Moby

Individualism. Narcissism. Value-free choices. These are all key elements in the decline of the practice of mutual accountability in Western churches, among clergy and laity alike. -- David Augsburger

“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“so often victims end up unnecessarily prolonging their abuse because they buy into the notion that their abuser must be coming from a wounded place and that only patient love and tolerance (and lots of misguided therapy) will help them heal.” ― George K. Simon

Movies about narcissism
 

Narcissistic personalities have  been well represented in Hollywood production. Most of them have been striking and easily identified as the typical arrogant or psychopathic narcissistic type, such as Michael Caine's portrayal of Graham Marshall in Shock to the System, Charles Boyer's portrayal of Gregory Anton in Gaslight, and Roy Scheider's portrayal of Joseph Gideon (a.k.a. Bob Fosse) in All That Jazz.

Two  French films Read My Lips, by Jacques Audiard, staring Emmanuelle Devos and Vincent Cassel, and The Piano Teacher, by Michael Haneke (from a novel by Elfride Jelinek) starring Isabelle Huppert and Benoit Magimel, beautifully portray the shy  narcissistic personality.

Carla Bhem (actress Emmanuelle Devos in Read My Lips), a lonely, hearing-impaired, stress-sensitive, underpaid, and badly treated office manager with an exceptional capacity to read lips, surprises the audience with her interpersonal control, personal impact, and capacity for vengefulness.

Erika Kohut (in The Piano Teacher, played by Isabelle Huppert), a sensitive but stoic and perfectionist music professor and pianist, shows amazing cruelty and sadomasochistic demeanor toward her students as the piano teacher and toward her intrusive and controlling mother with whom she lives and shares a bedroom. We follow the encounters between these women and their male partners—Paul, an unskilled office aid just released from jail, and Walter, an exceptionally handsome and gifted piano student.

Extracted mainly from Narcissistic Abuse Movies about Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Movies about narcissistic mothers

Extracted mainly from Narcissistic Abuse Movies about Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

TV Shows:

Also, here is a blog post with a bunch of film recommendations.

Here are some other collections


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Old News ;-)

[Sep 10, 2016] Meet the Malignant Narcissist

Notable quotes:
"... A personality disorder characterized by grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one's superiority; a lack of empathy, lack of truthfulness, and the tendency to degrade others. ..."
"... Malignant narcissists not only see themselves as superior to others but believe in their superiority to the degree that they view others as relatively worthless, expendable, and justifiably exploitable. ..."
"... This type of narcissism is a defining characteristic of psychopathy/sociopathy and is rooted in an individual's deficient capacity for empathy. It's almost impossible for a person with such shallow feelings and such haughtiness to really care about others or to form a conscience with any of the qualities we typically associate with a humane attitude, which is why most researchers and thinkers on the topic of psychopathy think of psychopaths as individuals without a conscience altogether." ..."
Dec 09, 2015 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"A personality disorder characterized by grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one's superiority; a lack of empathy, lack of truthfulness, and the tendency to degrade others."

"Narcissism becomes particularly malignant (i.e. malevolent, dangerous, harmful, incurable) when it goes beyond mere vanity and excessive self-focus. Malignant narcissists not only see themselves as superior to others but believe in their superiority to the degree that they view others as relatively worthless, expendable, and justifiably exploitable.

This type of narcissism is a defining characteristic of psychopathy/sociopathy and is rooted in an individual's deficient capacity for empathy. It's almost impossible for a person with such shallow feelings and such haughtiness to really care about others or to form a conscience with any of the qualities we typically associate with a humane attitude, which is why most researchers and thinkers on the topic of psychopathy think of psychopaths as individuals without a conscience altogether."

"There is nothing about the man that is service-oriented. He's only serving himself."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/x54z2pRAvtg?rel=0"

[Aug 14, 2016] The cry of management bullying reduces wholesale ownership to bad personal behaviour, something to be corrected by the schoolteacher or the next authority up.

Notable quotes:
"... As extracurricular lesson. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com

clinical wasteman , August 13, 2016 at 11:31 am

BULLYING: (1.) Workplace. Cuts conflict over time and money down to schoolyard scale. If one schoolchild 'bullies' another the injury is real but the two are formal equals under the same coercive structure. Neither owns the other's means of survival.

Apply the metaphor to boss and worker, then, and the stakes of the conflict evaporate, or rather stay in the hands that always held them. The cry of 'management bullying' reduces wholesale ownership to bad personal behaviour, something to be corrected by the schoolteacher or the next authority up. A plea for Help that counts as the surrender (usually by proxy) of the managed.

(2.) As extracurricular lesson. Actual schoolyard violence is 'bullying' when the perpetrator fits the profile for Multi-Agency Intervention better than the target. In the opposite case, counsellors and Restorative Justice practitioners may declare the ordeal a lesson in Life Skills for the injured party. A salutary warning that s/he must either curb a too-sharp tongue or be unemployable as well as regularly beaten up in years to come.

From the many more than 25 "words and phrases" at: http://www.wealthofnegations.org/

[Aug 01, 2016] Bullying Definition

Notable quotes:
"... Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. ..."
"... Kids who bully use their power-such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity-to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people. ..."
"... The set of behaviors definition given is not age dependent. The definition may have been provided to provide a basis for recognizing and determining a set of behaviors that may be defined as bullying, but says nothing about age levels. It's a description of a set of human behaviors being applied to a particular age group for the sake of defining a particular basis of illegal behavior. ..."
www.stopbullying.gov

Below is the definition of bullying from stopbullying.gov. (US Department of Health & Human Services)

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Types of Bullying

There are three types of bullying:

Jack, August 1, 2016 11:23 am

Warren,
That is a nonsensical reply. The set of behaviors definition given is not age dependent. The definition may have been provided to provide a basis for recognizing and determining a set of behaviors that may be defined as bullying, but says nothing about age levels. It's a description of a set of human behaviors being applied to a particular age group for the sake of defining a particular basis of illegal behavior.

Ed, Maybe bullying should be described as a high priority issue in our schools, but assigning it to the number one spot may be a bit hyperbolic.

Edward Lambert, August 1, 2016 12:07 pm

Jack,
It is a very high priority. I went to a presentation by the local school superintendent. She said bullying was the #1 priority by law. She has to drop anything and everything that she is doing when a case of bullying presents itself by law. That is how serious the situation became.

[May 24, 2016] A Psychologist Analyzes Donald Trump's Personality

The Atlantic

... ... ...

Fifty years of empirical research in personality psychology have resulted in a scientific consensus regarding the most basic dimensions of human variability. There are countless ways to differentiate one person from the next, but psychological scientists have settled on a relatively simple taxonomy, known widely as the Big Five:

Most people score near the middle on any given dimension, but some score toward one pole or the other. Research decisively shows that higher scores on extroversion are associated with greater happiness and broader social connections, higher scores on conscientiousness predict greater success in school and at work, and higher scores on agreeableness are associated with deeper relationships. By contrast, higher scores on neuroticism are always bad, having proved to be a risk factor for unhappiness, dysfunctional relationships, and mental-health problems. From adolescence through midlife, many people tend to become more conscientious and agreeable, and less neurotic, but these changes are typically slight: The Big Five personality traits are pretty stable across a person's lifetime.

... ... ...

Research suggests that extroverts tend to take high-stakes risks and that people with low levels of openness rarely question their deepest convictions. Entering office with high levels of extroversion and very low openness, Bush was predisposed to make bold decisions aimed at achieving big rewards, and to make them with the assurance that he could not be wrong. As I argued in my psychological biography of Bush, the game-changing decision to invade Iraq was the kind of decision he was likely to make. As world events transpired to open up an opportunity for the invasion, Bush found additional psychological affirmation both in his lifelong desire-pursued again and again before he ever became president-to defend his beloved father from enemies (think: Saddam Hussein) and in his own life story, wherein the hero liberates himself from oppressive forces (think: sin, alcohol) to restore peace and freedom.

Like Bush, a President Trump might try to swing for the fences in an effort to deliver big payoffs-to make America great again, as his campaign slogan says. As a real-estate developer, he has certainly taken big risks, although he has become a more conservative businessman following setbacks in the 1990s. As a result of the risks he has taken, Trump can (and does) point to luxurious urban towers, lavish golf courses, and a personal fortune that is, by some estimates, in the billions, all of which clearly bring him big psychic rewards. Risky decisions have also resulted in four Chapter 11 business bankruptcies involving some of his casinos and resorts. Because he is not burdened with Bush's low level of openness (psychologists have rated Bush at the bottom of the list on this trait), Trump may be a more flexible and pragmatic decision maker, more like Bill Clinton than Bush: He may look longer and harder than Bush did before he leaps. And because he is viewed as markedly less ideological than most presidential candidates (political observers note that on some issues he seems conservative, on others liberal, and on still others nonclassifiable), Trump may be able to switch positions easily, leaving room to maneuver in negotiations with Congress and foreign leaders. But on balance, he's unlikely to shy away from risky decisions that, should they work out, could burnish his legacy and provide him an emotional payoff.

The real psychological wild card, however, is Trump's agreeableness-or lack thereof. There has probably never been a U.S. president as consistently and overtly disagreeable on the public stage as Donald Trump is. If Nixon comes closest, we might predict that Trump's style of decision making would look like the hard-nosed realpolitik that Nixon and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, displayed in international affairs during the early 1970s, along with its bare-knuckled domestic analog. That may not be all bad, depending on one's perspective. Not readily swayed by warm sentiments or humanitarian impulses, decision makers who, like Nixon, are dispositionally low on agreeableness might hold certain advantages when it comes to balancing competing interests or bargaining with adversaries, such as China in Nixon's time. In international affairs, Nixon was tough, pragmatic, and coolly rational. Trump seems capable of a similar toughness and strategic pragmatism, although the cool rationality does not always seem to fit, probably because Trump's disagreeableness appears so strongly motivated by anger.

In domestic politics, Nixon was widely recognized to be cunning, callous, cynical, and Machiavellian, even by the standards of American politicians. Empathy was not his strong suit. This sounds a lot like Donald Trump, too-except you have to add the ebullient extroversion, the relentless showmanship, and the larger-than-life celebrity. Nixon could never fill a room the way Trump can.

... ... ...

During and after World War II, psychologists conceived of the authoritarian personality as a pattern of attitudes and values revolving around adherence to society's traditional norms, submission to authorities who personify or reinforce those norms, and antipathy-to the point of hatred and aggression-toward those who either challenge in-group norms or lie outside their orbit. Among white Americans, high scores on measures of authoritarianism today tend to be associated with prejudice against a wide range of "out-groups," including homosexuals, African Americans, immigrants, and Muslims. Authoritarianism is also associated with suspiciousness of the humanities and the arts, and with cognitive rigidity, militaristic sentiments, and Christian fundamentalism.

When individuals with authoritarian proclivities fear that their way of life is being threatened, they may turn to strong leaders who promise to keep them safe-leaders like Donald Trump. In a national poll conducted recently by the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams, high levels of authoritarianism emerged as the single strongest predictor of expressing political support for Donald Trump. Trump's promise to build a wall on the Mexican border to keep illegal immigrants out and his railing against Muslims and other outsiders have presumably fed that dynamic.

As the social psychologist Jesse Graham has noted, Trump appeals to an ancient fear of contagion, which analogizes out-groups to parasites, poisons, and other impurities. In this regard, it is perhaps no psychological accident that Trump displays a phobia of germs, and seems repulsed by bodily fluids, especially women's. He famously remarked that Megyn Kelly of Fox News had "blood coming out of her wherever," and he repeatedly characterized Hillary Clinton's bathroom break during a Democratic debate as "disgusting." Disgust is a primal response to impurity. On a daily basis, Trump seems to experience more disgust, or at least to say he does, than most people do.

The authoritarian mandate is to ensure the security, purity, and goodness of the in-group-to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. In the 1820s, white settlers in Georgia and other frontier areas lived in constant fear of American Indian tribes. They resented the federal government for not keeping them safe from what they perceived to be a mortal threat and a corrupting contagion. Responding to these fears, President Jackson pushed hard for the passage of the Indian Removal Act, which eventually led to the forced relocation of 45,000 American Indians. At least 4,000 Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears, which ran from Georgia to the Oklahoma territory.

An American strand of authoritarianism may help explain why the thrice-married, foul-mouthed Donald Trump should prove to be so attractive to white Christian evangelicals. As Jerry Falwell Jr. told The New York Times in February, "All the social issues-traditional family values, abortion-are moot if isis blows up some of our cities or if the borders are not fortified." Rank-and-file evangelicals "are trying to save the country," Falwell said. Being "saved" has a special resonance among evangelicals-saved from sin and damnation, of course, but also saved from the threats and impurities of a corrupt and dangerous world.

Trump appeals to an ancient fear of contagion, which analogizes out-groups to parasites and poisons.

When my research associates and I once asked politically conservative Christians scoring high on authoritarianism to imagine what their life (and their world) might have been like had they never found religious faith, many described utter chaos-families torn apart, rampant infidelity and hate, cities on fire, the inner rings of hell. By contrast, equally devout politically liberal Christians who scored low on authoritarianism described a barren world depleted of all resources, joyless and bleak, like the arid surface of the moon. For authoritarian Christians, a strong faith-like a strong leader-saves them from chaos and tamps down fears and conflicts. Donald Trump is a savior, even if he preens and swears, and waffles on the issue of abortion.

In December, on the campaign trail in Raleigh, North Carolina, Trump stoked fears in his audience by repeatedly saying that "something bad is happening" and "something really dangerous is going on." He was asked by a 12-year-old girl from Virginia, "I'm scared-what are you going to do to protect this country?"

Trump responded: "You know what, darling? You're not going to be scared anymore. They're going to be scared."

... ... ...

In the negotiations for the Menie Estate in Scotland, Trump wore Tom Griffin down by making one outlandish demand after another and bargaining hard on even the most trivial issues of disagreement. He never quit fighting. "Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition," Trump writes. When local residents refused to sell properties that Trump needed in order to finish the golf resort, he ridiculed them on the Late Show With David Letterman and in newspapers, describing the locals as rubes who lived in "disgusting" ramshackle hovels. As D'Antonio recounts in Never Enough, Trump's attacks incurred the enmity of millions in the British Isles, inspired an award-winning documentary highly critical of Trump (You've Been Trumped), and transformed a local farmer and part-time fisherman named Michael Forbes into a national hero. After painting the words no golf course on his barn and telling Trump he could "take his money and shove it up his arse," Forbes received the 2012 Top Scot honor at the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Awards. (That same year, Trump's golf course was completed nonetheless. He promised that its construction would create 1,200 permanent jobs in the Aberdeen area, but to date, only about 200 have been documented.)

Trump's recommendations for successful deal making include less antagonistic strategies: "protect the downside" (anticipate what can go wrong), "maximize your options," "know your market," "get the word out," and "have fun." As president, Trump would negotiate better trade deals with China, he says, guarantee a better health-care system by making deals with pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, and force Mexico to agree to a deal whereby it would pay for a border wall. On the campaign trail, he has often said that he would simply pick up the phone and call people-say, a CEO wishing to move his company to Mexico-in order to make propitious deals for the American people.

Trump's focus on personal relationships and one-on-one negotiating pays respect to a venerable political tradition. For example, a contributor to Lyndon B. Johnson's success in pushing through civil-rights legislation and other social programs in the 1960s was his unparalleled expertise in cajoling lawmakers. Obama, by contrast, has been accused of failing to put in the personal effort needed to forge close and productive relationships with individual members of Congress.

... ... ...

For psychologists, it is almost impossible to talk about Donald Trump without using the word narcissism. Asked to sum up Trump's personality for an article in Vanity Fair, Howard Gardner, a psychologist at Harvard, responded, "Remarkably narcissistic." George Simon, a clinical psychologist who conducts seminars on manipulative behavior, says Trump is "so classic that I'm archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there's no better example" of narcissism. "Otherwise I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He's like a dream come true."

When I walk north on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, where I live, I often stop to admire the sleek tower that Trump built on the Chicago River. But why did he have to stencil his name in 20‑foot letters across the front? As nearly everybody knows, Trump has attached his name to pretty much everything he has ever touched-from casinos to steaks to a so-called university that promised to teach students how to become rich. Self-references pervade Trump's speeches and conversations, too. When, in the summer of 1999, he stood up to offer remarks at his father's funeral, Trump spoke mainly about himself. It was the toughest day of his own life, Trump began. He went on to talk about Fred Trump's greatest achievement: raising a brilliant and renowned son. As Gwenda Blair writes in her three-generation biography of the Trump family, The Trumps, "the first-person singular pronouns, the I and me and my, eclipsed the he and his. Where others spoke of their memories of Fred Trump, [Donald] spoke of Fred Trump's endorsement."

... Highly narcissistic people are always trying to draw attention to themselves. Repeated and inordinate self-reference is a distinguishing feature of their personality.

Narcissism in presidents is a double-edged sword. It is associated with historians' ratings of "greatness"-but also with impeachment resolutions.

To consider the role of narcissism in Donald Trump's life is to go beyond the dispositional traits of the social actor-beyond the high extroversion and low agreeableness, beyond his personal schemata for decision making-to try to figure out what motivates the man. What does Donald Trump really want? What are his most valued life goals?

Narcissus wanted, more than anything else, to love himself. People with strong narcissistic needs want to love themselves, and they desperately want others to love them too-or at least admire them, see them as brilliant and powerful and beautiful, even just see them, period. The fundamental life goal is to promote the greatness of the self, for all to see. "I'm the king of Palm Beach," Trump told the journalist Timothy O'Brien for his 2005 book, TrumpNation. Celebrities and rich people "all come over" to Mar-a-Lago, Trump's exclusive Palm Beach estate. "They all eat, they all love me, they all kiss my ass. And then they all leave and say, 'Isn't he horrible.' But I'm the king."

The renowned psychoanalytic theorist Heinz Kohut argued that narcissism stems from a deficiency in early-life mirroring: The parents fail to lovingly reflect back the young boy's (or girl's) own budding grandiosity, leaving the child in desperate need of affirmation from others. Accordingly, some experts insist that narcissistic motivations cover up an underlying insecurity. But others argue that there is nothing necessarily compensatory, or even immature, about certain forms of narcissism. Consistent with this view, I can find no evidence in the biographical record to suggest that Donald Trump experienced anything but a loving relationship with his mother and father. Narcissistic people like Trump may seek glorification over and over, but not necessarily because they suffered from negative family dynamics as children. Rather, they simply cannot get enough. The parental praise and strong encouragement that might reinforce a sense of security for most boys and young men may instead have added rocket fuel to Donald Trump's hot ambitions.

Ever since grade school, Trump has wanted to be No. 1. Attending New York Military Academy for high school, he was relatively popular among his peers and with the faculty, but he did not have any close confidants. As both a coach and an admiring classmate recall in The Trumps, Donald stood out for being the most competitive young man in a very competitive environment. His need to excel-to be the best athlete in school, for example, and to chart out the most ambitious future career-may have crowded out intense friendships by making it impossible for him to show the kind of weakness and vulnerability that true intimacy typically requires.

Whereas you might think that narcissism would be part of the job description for anybody aspiring to become the chief executive of the United States, American presidents appear to have varied widely on this psychological construct. In a 2013 Psychological Science research article, behavioral scientists ranked U.S. presidents on characteristics of what the authors called "grandiose narcissism." Lyndon Johnson scored the highest, followed closely by Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson. Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Nixon, and Clinton were next. Millard Fillmore ranked the lowest. Correlating these ranks with objective indices of presidential performance, the researchers found that narcissism in presidents is something of a double-edged sword. On the positive side, grandiose narcissism is associated with initiating legislation, public persuasiveness, agenda setting, and historians' ratings of "greatness." On the negative side, it is also associated with unethical behavior and congressional impeachment resolutions.

In business, government, sports, and many other arenas, people will put up with a great deal of self-serving and obnoxious behavior on the part of narcissists as long as the narcissists continually perform at high levels. Steve Jobs was, in my opinion, every bit Trump's equal when it comes to grandiose narcissism. He heaped abuse on colleagues, subordinates, and friends; cried, at age 27, when he learned that Time magazine had not chosen him to be Man of the Year; and got upset when he received a congratulatory phone call, following the iPad's introduction in 2010, from President Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, rather than the president himself. Unlike Trump, he basically ignored his kids, to the point of refusing to acknowledge for some time that one of them was his.

Psychological research demonstrates that many narcissists come across as charming, witty, and charismatic upon initial acquaintance. They can attain high levels of popularity and esteem in the short term. As long as they prove to be successful and brilliant-like Steve Jobs-they may be able to weather criticism and retain their exalted status. But more often than not, narcissists wear out their welcome. Over time, people become annoyed, if not infuriated, by their self-centeredness. When narcissists begin to disappoint those whom they once dazzled, their descent can be especially precipitous. There is still truth today in the ancient proverb: Pride goeth before the fall.

... ... ...

In middle age, George W. Bush formulated a life story that traced the transformation of a drunken ne'er-do-well into a self-regulated man of God. Key events in the story were his decision to marry a steady librarian at age 31, his conversion to evangelical Christianity in his late 30s, and his giving up alcohol forever the day after his 40th birthday party. By atoning for his sins and breaking his addiction, Bush was able to recover the feeling of control and freedom that he had enjoyed as a young boy growing up in Midland, Texas. Extending his narrative to the story of his country, Bush believed that American society could recapture the wholesome family values and small-town decency of yesteryear, by embracing a brand of compassionate conservatism.

... ... ...

Donald Trump grew up in a wealthy 1950s family with a mother who was devoted to the children and a father who was devoted to work. Parked in front of their mansion in Jamaica Estates, Queens, was a Cadillac for him and a Rolls-Royce for her. All five Trump children-Donald was the fourth-enjoyed a family environment in which their parents loved them and loved each other. And yet the first chapter in Donald Trump's story, as he tells it today, expresses nothing like Bush's gentle nostalgia or Obama's curiosity. Instead, it is saturated with a sense of danger and a need for toughness: The world cannot be trusted.

Fred Trump made a fortune building, owning, and managing apartment complexes in Queens and Brooklyn. On weekends, he would occasionally take one or two of his children along to inspect buildings. "He would drag me around with him while he collected small rents in tough sections of Brooklyn," Donald recalls in Crippled America. "It's not fun being a landlord. You have to be tough." On one such trip, Donald asked Fred why he always stood to the side of the tenant's door after ringing the bell. "Because sometimes they shoot right through the door," his father replied. While Fred's response may have been an exaggeration, it reflected his worldview. He trained his sons to be tough competitors, because his own experience taught him that if you were not vigilant and fierce, you would never survive in business. His lessons in toughness dovetailed with Donald's inborn aggressive temperament. "Growing up in Queens, I was a pretty tough kid," Trump writes. "I wanted to be the toughest kid in the neighborhood."

Fred applauded Donald's toughness and encouraged him to be a "killer," but he was not too keen about the prospects of juvenile delinquency. His decision to send his 13-year-old son off to military school, so as to alloy aggression with discipline, followed Donald's trip on the subway into Manhattan, with a friend, to purchase switchblades. As Trump tells it decades later, New York Military Academy was "a tough, tough place. There were ex–drill sergeants all over the place." The instructors "used to beat the shit out of you; those guys were rough."

Military school reinforced the strong work ethic and sense of discipline Trump had learned from his father. And it taught him how to deal with aggressive men, like his intimidating baseball coach, Theodore Dobias:

What I did, basically, was to convey that I respected his authority, but that he didn't intimidate me. It was a delicate balance. Like so many strong guys, Dobias had a tendency to go for the jugular if he smelled weakness. On the other hand, if he sensed strength but you didn't try to undermine him, he treated you like a man.

... ... ...

In Trump's own words from a 1981 People interview, the fundamental backdrop for his life narrative is this: "Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat." The protagonist of this story is akin to what the great 20th-century scholar and psychoanalyst Carl Jung identified in myth and folklore as the archetypal warrior. According to Jung, the warrior's greatest gifts are courage, discipline, and skill; his central life task is to fight for what matters; his typical response to a problem is to slay it or otherwise defeat it; his greatest fear is weakness or impotence. The greatest risk for the warrior is that he incites gratuitous violence in others, and brings it upon himself.

Trump loves boxing and football, and once owned a professional football team. In the opening segment of The Apprentice, he welcomes the television audience to a brutal Darwinian world:

New York. My city. Where the wheels of the global economy never stop turning. A concrete metropolis of unparalleled strength and purpose that drives the business world. Manhattan is a tough place. This island is the real jungle. If you're not careful, it can chew you up and spit you out. But if you work hard, you can really hit it big, and I mean really big.

The story here is not so much about making money. As Trump has written, "money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score." The story instead is about coming out on top.

As president, Donald Trump promises, he would make America great again. In Crippled America, he says that a first step toward victory is building up the armed forces: "Everything begins with a strong military. Everything." The enemies facing the United States are more terrifying than those the hero has confronted in Queens and Manhattan. "There has never been a more dangerous time," Trump says. Members of isis "are medieval barbarians" who must be pursued "relentlessly wherever they are, without stopping, until every one of them is dead." Less frightening but no less belligerent are our economic competitors, like the Chinese. They keep beating us. We have to beat them.

Andrew Jackson displayed many of the same psychological qualities that we see in Trump.

Economic victory is one thing; starting and winning real wars is quite another. In some ways, Trump appears to be less prone to military action than certain other candidates. He has strongly criticized George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, and has cautioned against sending American troops to Syria.

That said, I believe there is good reason to fear Trump's incendiary language regarding America's enemies. David Winter, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, analyzed U.S. presidential inaugural addresses and found that those presidents who laced their speeches with power-oriented, aggressive imagery were more likely than those who didn't to lead the country into war. The rhetoric that Trump uses to characterize both his own life story and his attitudes toward America's foes is certainly aggressive. And, as noted, his extroversion and narcissism suggest a willingness to take big risks-actions that history will remember. Tough talk can sometimes prevent armed conflict, as when a potential adversary steps down in fear. But belligerent language may also incite nationalistic anger..., and provoke the rival nations at whom Trump takes aim.

... ... ...

Nearly two centuries ago, President Andrew Jackson displayed many of the same psychological characteristics we see in Donald Trump-the extroversion and social dominance, the volatile temper, the shades of narcissism, the populist authoritarian appeal. Jackson was, and remains, a controversial figure in American history. Nonetheless, it appears that Thomas Jefferson had it wrong when he characterized Jackson as completely unfit to be president, a dangerous man who choked on his own rage. In fact, Jackson's considerable success in dramatically expanding the power of the presidency lay partly in his ability to regulate his anger and use it strategically to promote his agenda.

What's more, Jackson personified a narrative that inspired large parts of America and informed his presidential agenda. His life story appealed to the common man because Jackson himself was a common man-one who rose from abject poverty and privation to the most exalted political position in the land. Amid the early rumblings of Southern secession, Jackson mobilized Americans to believe in and work hard for the Union. The populism that his detractors feared would lead to mob rule instead connected common Americans to a higher calling-a sovereign unity of states committed to democracy. The Frenchman Michel Chevalier, a witness to American life in the 1830s, wrote that the throngs of everyday people who admired Jackson and found sustenance and substance for their own life story in his "belong to history, they partake of the grand; they are the episodes of a wondrous epic which will bequeath a lasting memory to posterity, that of the coming of democracy."

Who, really, is Donald Trump? What's behind the actor's mask? I can discern little more than narcissistic motivations and a complementary personal narrative about winning at any cost. It is as if Trump has invested so much of himself in developing and refining his socially dominant role that he has nothing left over to create a meaningful story for his life, or for the nation. It is always Donald Trump playing Donald Trump, fighting to win, but never knowing why.

[May 18, 2016] Less Than Artful Choices Narcissistic Personality Disorder According to Donald Trump

Notable quotes:
"... So, without further ado, Trump's quotable illustration of the hallmarks of NPD, defined according to DSM-IV as, "A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy." The disorder is indicated by at least five of the following: ..."
Big Think

Donald Trump was born in 1946. 34 years later, in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association's hefty volume of mental disorder classifications, the term "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" (NPD) first appeared as a diagnosable disease – Trump would doubtless say it was created in his honor (characteristic #1 of NPD: An exaggerated sense of self-importance). After all, the newly-minted personality disorder made its debut only nine years after he took the helm of his father's company… and renamed it from Elizabeth Trump & Son to The Trump Organization.

The most recent DSM, DSM-IV, is currently under extensive revision, with DSM-V scheduled for publication sometime in 2013, and both its listed diseases and their definitions are undergoing extensive scrutiny and contentious debate. On the chopping block are five of the ten or so so-called personality disorders, including NPD. Among the reasons for the cut are the frequent overlap between disorders, the general lack of stability of symptoms, and the range of those symptoms in reality, as compared to the either/or approach of the manual (either you have a disorder or you don't). So, before NPD becomes a thing of the past, at least in its current form, I thought we'd take a moment to reflect on some less than artful choices – or the things that make Trump look like he just stepped out of the fourth edition, symptom by symptom.

A caveat: I am obviously exaggerating, both Trump and narcissism. But debate on personality disorders, classifications, diagnoses, and treatments is well worthwhile, and a colorful spokesperson never hurts.

So, without further ado, Trump's quotable illustration of the hallmarks of NPD, defined according to DSM-IV as, "A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy." The disorder is indicated by at least five of the following:

1. An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

A sense of one's own importance, a grandiose feeling that one is alone responsible for any achievement is a hallmark of the narcissist. Grandiosity is one of the central tenets of a narcissistic personality. Narcissists tend to take credit for everything, as if no one else contributed to the end product. Witness Trump's declaration that, "When people see the beautiful marble in Trump Tower, they usually have no idea what I went through personally to achieve the end result. No one cares about the blood, sweat, and tears that art or beauty require." What do you know: not only is Trump a developer and an artistic visionary, but he seems to be a stellar architect and construction worker as well.

And history will agree (naturally). "Anyone who thinks my story is anywhere near over is sadly mistaken," says Trump. Sadly, indeed.

2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love How many presidential runs does it take for the process to be defined as a preoccupation rather than an occupation?

I'd leave it at that, except for the existence of this little gem: "My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body." Not only all-powerful, but all-beautiful, too. The man has it all.

3. Believes he is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) To narcissists, the "little people" or anyone beneath them (which is mostly everyone) don't matter. Trump's lambasting of Rosie O'Donnell is a good case in point: "Rosie O'Donnell called me a snake oil salesman. And, you know, coming from Rosie, that's pretty low because when you look at her and when you see the mind, the mind is weak. I don't see it. I don't get it. I never understood – how does she even get on television?"

Clearly, Rosie lacks the power to understand the dazzling intellect that is Donald Trump. Trump needs someone of equal status to appreciate his immensity. But it can't be Larry King, because as he told King, "Do you mind if I sit back a little? Because your breath is very bad. It really is. Has this been told to you before?"

4. Requires excessive admiration No matter the sincerity, as long as the praise comes frequently and at a high enough volume. Says Trump, "All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected." Clearly. Admired, wherever he may go, even when he's talking about himself in the third person, as in, "Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."

As he puts it, "Nobody but a total masochist wants to be criticized."

5. Has a sense of entitlement The world owes the narcissist everything; he, in turn, owes it nothing. I think Trump's attitude can be summed up with this approach to marriage: "I wish I'd had a great marriage. See, my father was always very proud of me, but the one thing he got right was that he had a great marriage. He was married for 64 years. One of my ex-wives once said to me, 'You have to work at a marriage.' And I said, 'That's the most ridiculous thing.'"

6. Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends I don't have a quote for this one, but perhaps we can talk to one of his ex-wives.

7. Lacks empathy Narcissists don't sympathize with the feelings of others. Who are these "others," anyway? No one matters except for me. I won't recreate the Rosie rampage in full, but sentiments like, "I'll sue her because it would be fun. I'd like to take some money out of her fat ass pockets," capture the spirit.

8. Is often envious of others or believes others to be envious of him Here, it seems like Trump is dominated by the second sentiment, the expectation that everyone is envious of his success. Everyone wants to be Trump. As he puts it, "The old rich may look down their noses at me, but I think they kiss my ass."

9. Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes Again, other people don't matter. They can be treated like nothing, because who are we kidding – nothing is the closest description of what they are.

Clients don't matter. As Trump puts it, "When I build something for somebody, I always add $50 million or $60 million onto the price. My guys come in, they say it's going to cost $75 million. I say it's going to cost $125 million, and I build it for $100 million. Basically, I did a lousy job. But they think I did a great job." Take them for the suckers they are; that's the ticket.

The media doesn't matter. According to Trump, "You know, it really doesn't matter what (the media) write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass." The piece of ass doesn't matter, either; any will do.

Other businesses don't matter. As Trump says, "If you want to buy something, it's obviously in your best interest to convince the seller that what he's got isn't worth very much."

But it's ok. Trump doesn't have to be nice. After all, it's not like he wants to run for office or anything: "I'm not running for office. I don't have to be politically correct. I don't have to be a nice person. Like I watch some of these weak-kneed politicians, it's disgusting. I don't have to be that way."

Too bad. We need a good candidate. Because according to Trump, "One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don't go into government."

[May 18, 2016] Barack Obama – Narcissist or Merely Narcissistic?

Notable quotes:
"... Narcissism is a defense mechanism whose role is to deflect hurt and trauma from the victim's "True Self" into a " False Self " which is omnipotent, invulnerable, and omniscient. This False Self is then used by the narcissist to garner narcissistic supply from his human environment. Narcissistic supply is any form of attention, both positive and negative and it is instrumental in the regulation of the narcissist's labile sense of self-worth. ..."
"... Many narcissists are over-achievers and ambitious. Some of them are even talented and skilled. But they are incapable of team work because they cannot tolerate setbacks. They are easily frustrated and demoralized and are unable to cope with disagreement and criticism. Though some narcissists have meteoric and inspiring careers, in the long-run, all of them find it difficult to maintain long-term professional achievements and the respect and appreciation of their peers. The narcissist's fantastic grandiosity, frequently coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically incommensurate with his or her real accomplishments (the "grandiosity gap"). ..."
"... An important distinction is between cerebral and somatic narcissists. The cerebrals derive their Narcissistic Supply from their intelligence or academic achievements and the somatics derive their Narcissistic Supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and romantic or physical "conquests". ..."
"... Subtly misrepresents facts and expediently and opportunistically shifts positions, views, opinions, and "ideals" (e.g., about campaign finance, re-districting). These flip-flops do not cause him overt distress and are ego-syntonic (he feels justified in acting this way). Alternatively, reuses to commit to a standpoint and, in the process, evidences a lack of empathy. ..."
"... Narcissism is regarded by many scholars to be an adaptative strategy ("healthy narcissism"). ..."
"... Pathological narcissism is the art of deception. The narcissist projects a False Self and manages all his social interactions through this concocted fictional construct. ..."
"... When the narcissist reveals his true colors, it is usually far too late. His victims are unable to separate from him. They are frustrated by this acquired helplessness and angry at themselves for having they failed to see through the narcissist earlier on. ..."
"... The narcissist instantly idealizes or devalues his interlocutor. This depends on how the narcissist appraises the potential his converser has as a Narcissistic Supply Source. The narcissist flatters, adores, admires and applauds the "target" in an embarrassingly exaggerated and profuse manner or sulks, abuses, and humiliates her. ..."
"... In general, the narcissist always prefers show-off to substance. One of the most effective methods of exposing a narcissist is by trying to delve deeper. The narcissist is shallow, a pond pretending to be an ocean. He likes to think of himself as a Renaissance man, a Jack of all trades. The narcissist never admits to ignorance in any field yet, typically, he is ignorant of them all. It is surprisingly easy to penetrate the gloss and the veneer of the narcissist's self-proclaimed omniscience. ..."
"... In general, the narcissist is very impatient, easily bored, with strong attention deficits unless and until he is the topic of discussion. One can publicly dissect all aspects of the intimate life of a narcissist without repercussions, providing the discourse is not "emotionally tinted". ..."
lettingfreedomring.com
Barack Obama appears to be a narcissist . Granted, only a qualified mental health diagnostician (which I am not) can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews. But, in the absence of access to Barack Obama, one has to rely on his overt performance and on testimonies by his closest, nearest and dearest.

Narcissistic leaders are nefarious and their effects pernicious. They are subtle, refined, socially-adept, manipulative, possessed of thespian skills, and convincing. Both types equally lack empathy and are ruthless and relentless or driven.

Perhaps it is time to require each candidate to high office in the USA to submit to a rigorous physical and mental checkup with the results made public.

I. Upbringing and Childhood

Obama's early life was decidedly chaotic and replete with traumatic and mentally bruising dislocations. Mixed-race marriages were even less common then. His parents went through a divorce when he was an infant (two years old). Obama saw his father only once again, before he died in a car accident. Then, his mother re-married and Obama had to relocate to Indonesia : a foreign land with a radically foreign culture, to be raised by a step-father. At the age of ten, he was whisked off to live with his maternal (white) grandparents. He saw his mother only intermittently in the following few years and then she vanished from his life in 1979. She died of cancer in 1995.

Pathological narcissism is a reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. The source of the abuse or trauma is immaterial: the perpetrators could be dysfunctional or absent parents, teachers, other adults, or peers.

II. Behavior Patterns

The narcissist:

Narcissism is a defense mechanism whose role is to deflect hurt and trauma from the victim's "True Self" into a " False Self " which is omnipotent, invulnerable, and omniscient. This False Self is then used by the narcissist to garner narcissistic supply from his human environment. Narcissistic supply is any form of attention, both positive and negative and it is instrumental in the regulation of the narcissist's labile sense of self-worth.

Perhaps the most immediately evident trait of patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is their vulnerability to criticism and disagreement. Subject to negative input, real or imagined, even to a mild rebuke, a constructive suggestion, or an offer to help, they feel injured, humiliated and empty and they react with disdain (devaluation), rage, and defiance.

From my book "Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited":

"To avoid such intolerable pain, some patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) socially withdraw and feign false modesty and humility to mask their underlying grandiosity . Dysthymic and depressive disorders are common reactions to isolation and feelings of shame and inadequacy."

Due to their lack of empathy, disregard for others, exploitativeness, sense of entitlement, and constant need for attention (narcissistic supply), narcissists are rarely able to maintain functional and healthy interpersonal relationships.

Many narcissists are over-achievers and ambitious. Some of them are even talented and skilled. But they are incapable of team work because they cannot tolerate setbacks. They are easily frustrated and demoralized and are unable to cope with disagreement and criticism. Though some narcissists have meteoric and inspiring careers, in the long-run, all of them find it difficult to maintain long-term professional achievements and the respect and appreciation of their peers. The narcissist's fantastic grandiosity, frequently coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically incommensurate with his or her real accomplishments (the "grandiosity gap").

An important distinction is between cerebral and somatic narcissists. The cerebrals derive their Narcissistic Supply from their intelligence or academic achievements and the somatics derive their Narcissistic Supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and romantic or physical "conquests".

Another crucial division within the ranks of patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is between the classic variety (those who meet five of the nine diagnostic criteria included in the DSM), and the compensatory kind (their narcissism compensates for deep-set feelings of inferiority and lack of self-worth).
Obama displays the following behaviors, which are among the hallmarks of pathological narcissism:

III. Body Language

Many complain of the incredible deceptive powers of the narcissist. They find themselves involved with narcissists (emotionally, in business, or otherwise) before they have a chance to discover their true character. Shocked by the later revelation, they mourn their inability to separate from the narcissist and their gullibility.

Narcissists are an elusive breed, hard to spot, harder to pinpoint, impossible to capture. Even an experienced mental health diagnostician with unmitigated access to the record and to the person examined would find it fiendishly difficult to determine with any degree of certainty whether someone suffers from a full fledged Narcissistic Personality Disorder or merely possesses narcissistic traits, a narcissistic style, a personality structure ("character"), or a narcissistic "overlay" superimposed on another mental health problem.

Moreover, it is important to distinguish between traits and behavior patterns that are independent of the patient's cultural-social context (i.e., which are inherent, or idiosyncratic) and reactive patterns, or conformity to cultural and social morals and norms. Reactions to severe life crises or circumstances are also often characterized by transient pathological narcissism, for instance (Ronningstam and Gunderson, 1996). But such reactions do not a narcissist make.

When a person belongs to a society or culture that has often been described as narcissistic by scholars (such as Theodore Millon) and social thinkers (e.g., Christopher Lasch) how much of his behavior can be attributed to his milieu and which of his traits are really his?

The Narcissistic Personality Disorder is rigorously defined in the DSM IV-TR with a set of strict criteria and differential diagnoses.

Narcissism is regarded by many scholars to be an adaptative strategy ("healthy narcissism"). It is considered pathological in the clinical sense only when it becomes a rigid personality structure replete with a series of primitive defence mechanisms (such as splitting, projection, projective identification, or intellectualization) and when it leads to dysfunctions in one or more areas of the patient's life.

Pathological narcissism is the art of deception. The narcissist projects a False Self and manages all his social interactions through this concocted fictional construct.

When the narcissist reveals his true colors, it is usually far too late. His victims are unable to separate from him. They are frustrated by this acquired helplessness and angry at themselves for having they failed to see through the narcissist earlier on.

But the narcissist does emit subtle, almost subliminal, signals ("presenting symptoms") even in a first or casual encounter. Compare the following list to Barack Obama's body language during his public appearances.

These are:

IV. Narcissistic and psychopathic Leaders

The narcissistic or psychopathic leader is the culmination and reification of his period, culture, and civilization. He is likely to rise to prominence in narcissistic societies.

The malignant narcissist invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and this is further exacerbated by the trappings of power. The narcissist's grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are supported by real life authority and the narcissist's predilection to surround himself with obsequious sycophants.

The narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as "victims of persecution".

The narcissistic leader fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.

The narcissistic leader is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people – or humanity at large – should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, the narcissistic leader became a distorted version of Nietzsche's "superman".

But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral.

In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things "natural" – or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to as "nature" is not natural at all.

The narcissistic leader invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial – though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols – not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.

In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism – and the cult's leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways" – against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

Minorities or "others" – often arbitrarily selected – constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are "decadent", they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin … They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenceless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm – together with Stalin – as a malignant narcissist. He was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. He provides us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil. He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.

The narcissistic leader prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime – the narcissistic leader having died, been deposed, or voted out of office – it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely-held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. "Earth shattering" and "revolutionary" scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of the narcissist. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform with the narcissistic narrative.

Thus, a narcissist who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite – is highly unlikely to use violence at first.

The pacific mask crumbles when the narcissist has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, the prime sources of his narcissistic supply – have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, the narcissist strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. "The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)", "they don't really know what they are doing", "following a rude awakening, they will revert to form", etc.

When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail – the narcissist is injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized – is now discarded with contempt and hatred.

This primitive defense mechanism is called "splitting". To the narcissist, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. A narcissistic leader is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc.

The "small people", the "rank and file", the "loyal soldiers" of the narcissist – his flock, his nation, his employees – they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated – is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of the narcissist. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

DISCLAIMER

I am not a mental health professional. Still, I have dedicated the last 12 years to the study of personality disorders in general and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in particular. I have authored nine (9) books about these topics, one of which is a Barnes and Noble best-seller ("Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"). My work is widely cited in scholarly tomes and publications and in the media. My books and the content of my Web site are based on correspondence since 1996 with hundreds of people suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (narcissists) and with thousands of their family members, friends, therapists, and colleagues.

[May 18, 2016] 10 Signs That Youre in a Relationship with a Narcissist

Notable quotes:
"... the narcissist is someone who has "buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self." ..."
"... In our highly individualistic and externally driven society, mild to severe forms of narcissism are not only pervasive but often encouraged. ..."
"... It is more accurate to characterize the pathological narcissist as someone who's in love with an idealized self-image , which they project in order to avoid feeling (and being seen as) the real, disenfranchised, wounded self. Deep down, most pathological narcissists feel like the "ugly duckling," even if they painfully don't want to admit it. ..."
"... Some narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, believing that others cannot live or survive without his or her magnificent contributions. ..."
"... "Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others" - Paramhansa Yogananda ..."
"... Making decisions for others to suit one's own needs. The narcissist may use his or her romantic partner, child, friend, or colleague to meet unreasonable self-serving needs, fulfill unrealized dreams , or cover up self-perceived inadequacies and flaws. ..."
www.psychologytoday.com

Be on the lookout for these, before you get manipulated.

"That's enough of me talking about myself; let's hear you talk about me"

― Anonymous

"It's not easy being superior to everyone I know."

― Anonymous

Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that the narcissist is someone who has "buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self." This alternate persona to the real self often comes across as grandiose, "above others," self-absorbed, and highly conceited. In our highly individualistic and externally driven society, mild to severe forms of narcissism are not only pervasive but often encouraged.

Narcissism is often interpreted in popular culture as a person who's in love with him or herself. It is more accurate to characterize the pathological narcissist as someone who's in love with an idealized self-image , which they project in order to avoid feeling (and being seen as) the real, disenfranchised, wounded self. Deep down, most pathological narcissists feel like the "ugly duckling," even if they painfully don't want to admit it.

How do you know when you're dealing with a narcissist? The following are some telltale signs, excerpted from my book (click on title): " How to Successfully Handle Narcissists (link is external) ". While most of us are guilty of some of the following behaviors at one time or another, a pathological narcissist tends to dwell habitually in several of the following personas, while remaining largely unaware of (or unconcerned with) how his or her actions affect others.

1. Conversation Hoarder . The narcissist loves to talk about him or herself, and doesn't give you a chance to take part in a two-way conversation. You struggle to have your views and feelings heard. When you do get a word in, if it's not in agreement with the narcissist, your comments are likely to be corrected, dismissed, or ignored. As in: "My father's favorite responses to my views were: 'but…,' 'actually…,' and 'there's more to it than this…' He always has to feel like he knows better." ― Anonymous

2. Conversation Interrupter. While many people have the poor communication habit of interrupting others, the narcissist interrupts and quickly switches the focus back to herself. He shows little genuine interest in you.

3. Rule Breaker. The narcissist enjoys getting away with violating rules and social norms, such as cutting in line, chronic under-tipping, stealing office supplies, breaking multiple appointments, or disobeying traffic laws. As in: "I take pride in persuading people to give me exceptions to their rules" ― Anonymous

4. Boundary Violator. Shows wanton disregard for other people's thoughts, feelings, possessions, and physical space. Oversteps and uses others without consideration or sensitivity. Borrows items or money without returning. Breaks promises and obligations repeatedly. Shows little remorse and blames the victim for one's own lack of respect. As in: "It's your fault that I forgot because you didn't remind me"― Anonymous

5. False Image Projection. Many narcissists like to do things to impress others by making themselves look good externally. This "trophy" complex can exhibit itself physically, romantically, sexually, socially, religiously, financially, materially, professionally, academically, or culturally. In these situations, the narcissist uses people, objects, status, and/or accomplishments to represent the self, substituting for the perceived, inadequate "real" self. These grandstanding "merit badges" are often exaggerated. The underlying message of this type of display is: "I'm better than you!" or "Look at how special I am-I'm worthy of everyone's love, admiration, and acceptance!" as in: "I dyed my hair blond and enlarged my breasts to get men's attention-and to make other women jealous " - Anonymous. Or "My accomplishments are everything" ― Anonymous executive Or "I never want to be looked upon as poor. My fiancé and I each drive a Mercedes. The best man at our upcoming wedding also drives a Mercedes." ― Anonymous.

In a big way, these external symbols become pivotal parts of the narcissist's false identity, replacing the real and injured self.

6. Entitlement. Narcissists often expect preferential treatment from others. They expect others to cater (often instantly) to their needs, without being considerate in return. In their mindset, the world revolves around them.

7. Charmer. Narcissists can be very charismatic and persuasive. When they're interested in you (for their own gratification), they make you feel very special and wanted. However, once they lose interest in you (most likely after they've gotten what they want, or became bored), they may drop you without a second thought. A narcissist can be very engaging and sociable, as long as you're fulfilling what she desires, and giving her all of your attention.

8. Grandiose Personality. Thinking of oneself as a hero or heroine, a prince or princess, or one of a kind special person. Some narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, believing that others cannot live or survive without his or her magnificent contributions. As in: "I'm looking for a man who will treat my daughter and me like princesses" ― Anonymous singles ad. Or: "Once again I saved the day-without me, they're nothing" ― Anonymous

9. Negative Emotions. Many narcissists enjoy spreading and arousing negative emotions to gain attention, feel powerful, and keep you insecure and off-balance. They are easily upset at any real or perceived slights or inattentiveness. They may throw a tantrum if you disagree with their views, or fail to meet their expectations. They are extremely sensitive to criticism, and typically respond with heated argument (fight) or cold detachment (flight). On the other hand, narcissists are often quick to judge, criticize, ridicule, and blame you. Some narcissists are emotionally abusive. By making you feel inferior, they boost their fragile ego, and feel better about themselves. As in: "Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others" - Paramhansa Yogananda

10. Manipulation: Using Others as an Extension of Self. Making decisions for others to suit one's own needs. The narcissist may use his or her romantic partner, child, friend, or colleague to meet unreasonable self-serving needs, fulfill unrealized dreams , or cover up self-perceived inadequacies and flaws. As in: "If my son doesn't grow up to be a professional baseball player, I'll disown him" ― Anonymous father. Or: "Aren't you beautiful? Aren't you beautiful? You're going to be just as pretty as mommy" ― Anonymous mother

Another way narcissists manipulate is through guilt, such as proclaiming, "I've given you so much, and you're so ungrateful," or, "I'm a victim-you must help me or you're not a good person." They hijack your emotions, and beguile you to make unreasonable sacrifices.

If you find yourself in a relationship with a difficult narcissist, there are many strategies and skills you can utilize to help restore health , balance, and respect. In my book (click on title): " How to Successfully Handle Narcissists (link is external) ," you'll learn how to maintain composure, ways to be proactive instead of reactive, seven powerful strategies to handle narcissists, eight ways to say "no" diplomatically but firmly, keys to negotiate successfully with narcissists, and seven types of power you can utilize to compel cooperation .

For more on dealing with difficult people, see my publications (click on titles):

Follow me on Twitter (link is external) , Facebook (link is external) , and LinkedIn (link is external) !

Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. is available as a presenter, workshop facilitator, and private coach. For more information, write to commsuccess@nipreston.com (link sends e-mail) , or visit www.nipreston.com (link is external) .



Old News ;-)

4 Warning Signs You're Dating a Narcissist World of Psychology

That is what a relationship with a narcissist is like. In the beginning there's flash and excitement. Their presence is magnetic and he or she seems larger than life. They are intelligent, charming, and popular, and when they're the center of attention, some of the spotlight shines on you, too, leaving you glowing with pride, importance, and accomplishment. Yet after a while, you discover that under the surface the relationship is hollow. Soon, the excitement and status wear thin.

This is because a true narcissist lacks inner qualities necessary for a healthy bond: empathic perspective-taking, a moral conscience, stable confidence, and the ability to be intimate and genuine with another human being. Being in a relationship with a narcissist (especially if you don't realize they are one) can leave you feeling worthless, emotionally exhausted, and unfulfilled.

So how can you know if you are in this kind of "hollow chocolate bunny" relationship before it crashes and burns in heartache? Do you have to wait until your relationship sours to find out? Not necessarily. Spotting the signs early means being able to avoid getting entangled in a narcissist's web, and could spare you from doing the challenging, messy work of digging yourself out later.

Here's a few signs to look for in your partner, which may signal that the person you are dating has narcissistic tendencies, and the negative effects those behaviors can have on you:

1. He poses as "The Most Interesting Man in the World."

A narcissist may initially intrigue you with his or her apparent confidence, swagger, or audacity, regaling you with stories about accomplishments, rubbing elbows with influential people, or their innumerable talents and gifts. He or she may seem fun and magnetic, always the center of attention and the life of the party, but this may actually be a facade - a ploy to satisfy the narcissist's pathological need for praise and reassurance. You may come to find out that the stories are exaggerated (or altogether false), their confidence is artificial and fragile, and his or her need for attention may trump good judgment or others' needs.

2. You feel talked down to.

Because narcissists deeply lack self-esteem, almost everything else in their lives is orchestrated to hide their weaknesses and give them a temporary sense of power and success. This can take the form of subtle insults that cause you to question your worth, such as a dismissive sneer when you make an observation, a condescending "that's nice" when you share an accomplishment you're proud of, or demeaning comments about your behavior or appearance.

When you look to a partner who is a narcissist, it can feel like you're looking into a funhouse mirror and getting back a distorted view of yourself. Your flaws seem to be highlighted and your strengths diminished - a careful ruse constructed to ensure the narcissist holds themselves in a more flattering light.

3. She acts like the victim.

Narcissism also is characterized by extreme self-centeredness. Anything that is outside the narcissist's experience or that contradicts his or her beliefs is wrong, foolish, or crazy. For this reason, a conflict with a narcissist is almost certain to end with all the blame being directed to you. This, combined with the funhouse mirror effect, can make even minor arguments emotionally exhausting.

Nothing you say can convince the narcissist that you're not making intentional and irrational attacks against him or her. In the narcissist's eyes, you're somehow responsible for their sadness, anger, or even immoral behavior.

4. Your relationship feels one-sided and shallow.

When it's time to move from casual to committed, this is where the "hollow chocolate bunny" effect of narcissism really shows through. A relationship with a narcissist is unlikely ever to reach greater depths of sharing, emotion, and intimacy.

A narcissist is likely to spend time with you when it suits his or her emotional, physical, or sexual needs, and dismiss or ignore your needs, desires, and preferences. Your time together is likely to be marked by a lack of genuine interest in anything other than him- or herself. For example, you could get late-night calls when he or she is distraught, excited, or wants something but similar calls from you may not even be answered. Attempts to share your deeper thoughts, beliefs, or feelings may be given lip service, ignored, or dismissed.

If these seem to describe your current relationship, don't panic. In fact, seize the opportunity to reflect and evaluate your twosome. These red flags may help shed light on the dysfunction you're bearing and guide you away from further pain. If you want to make things work, there are ways to cope with dating or living with a narcissist, including developing conflict-resolution skills and bolstering your own confidence and self-esteem to shield you against narcissistic attacks.

Ultimately, knowledge is power. Being aware of signs of narcissism (and some of the problems that can arise from dating a narcissist) allows you to be prepared and to make informed decisions about the relationship.

8 Undeniable Signs You've Fallen For A Narcissist

The Huffington Post | Brittany Wong | Posted 01.14.2016 | Divorce

Read More: Narcissism, Narcissist, Dating a Narcissist, Relationship With a Narcissist, How to Spot a Narcissist, Relationship Problems, Toxic Personality, Toxic Relationships, Divorce News


It's easy to fall for a narcissist: they're charming, polished and quick to get in your good graces with compliments and constant attention. Once you ...

Read Whole Story

10 Signs You're In Love With A Narcopath

YourTango | Posted 12.03.2015 | Divorce

Read More: Narcissist, Sociopath, Narcopath, Yourtango, Signs He's a Narcissist, Signs You're a Narcissist, Narcissist Signs, Dating a Narcissist, Divorce News


What do you get when you cross a sociopath with a narcissist?

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Are You Dating a Narcissist?

Lena Aburdene Derhally | Posted 07.07.2015 | Women

Read More: Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Dating a Narcissist, Dating Advice, Relationship Advice, Women News


There are definitely fairy tale stories out there of two people falling madly in love with each other right at the get go and spending their lives happily ever after, but that is generally not the norm. Keep your guard up the more intensely the person is into you and the earlier on it occurs.

Read Whole Story

6 Warning Signs You're Dating a Narcissist

Divorced Moms | Posted 03.19.2015 | Divorce

Read More: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Divorce a Narcissist, Dating a Narcissist, Nancy Kay, Divorce News


Could you be dating a narcissist and not even know it?

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Can A Narcissist Love Me?

Melissa Schenker | Posted 09.22.2014 | Women

Read More: Dating a Narcissist, Narcissism, Women, Relationships, Men Women Relationships, Love, Women News


A narcissist can seem to love you. A narcissist can make it look like love. A narcissist can say the words of love. A narcissist can think it's love. Unfortunately, when involved with a narcissist, you are enmeshed but not in love. You can be enmeshed and mistake that for love. But enmeshment and love are not the same thing.

Read Whole Story

Is There Something Wrong With Me if I've Been Involved with a Narcissist?

Melissa Schenker | Posted 08.13.2014 | Women

Read More: Women's Empowerment, Narcissism, Self-Esteem, Am I Dating a Narcissist, Is My Boyfriend a Narcissist, Dating a Narcissist, Signs of Narcissism, Relationship Advice, Women News


If you are still involved with a narcissist, you may not realize how completely your attention has been diverted from your self and your own life.

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7 Strategies for Dealing With the Narcissist You Love

Dr. Craig Malkin | Posted 06.23.2014 | Healthy Living

Read More: Healthy Relationships, Attachment, Narcissist, Relationships, Dating a Narcissist, Narcissism, Unhealthy Relationships, Insecurity, Narcissists, Emotional Intelligence, Healthy Living News


If you've tried a more loving approach to sharing what hurts in your relationship, and the narcissist in your life still won't soften, you truly have done everything you can.

Read Whole Story

Can Narcissists Change?

Dr. Craig Malkin | Posted 11.10.2013 | Healthy Living

Read More: Narcissism, Healthy Relationships, Narcissists, Unhealthy Relationships, Attachment, Narcissist, Relationships, Dating a Narcissist, Emotional Intelligence, Insecurity, Healthy Living News


As a therapist, I've seen firsthand that changing relational patterns often transforms even the most inflexible "trait" into something softer, gentler -- not a fixed feature, but a protection that eventually yields to touch and intimacy in all the ways one would hope.

Read Whole Story

5 Early Warning Signs You're With A Narcissist

Dr. Craig Malkin | Posted 07.30.2013 | Women

Read More: Attachment, Narcissism, Insecurity, Relationships, Emotional Intelligence, Tina Swithin, Narcissist, Video, Healthy Relationships, Unhealthy Relationships, Dating a Narcissist, Narcissists, Women News


The most glaring problems are easy to spot -- but if you get too hung up on the obvious traits, you can easily miss the subtle (and often more common) features that allow a narcissist to sneak into your life and wreak havoc.

[May 18, 2016] Obamas Malignant Narcissism

www.americanthinker.com
Here's a partial checklist . You decide.

1. "Common to malignant narcissism is narcissistic rage . Narcissistic rage is a reaction to narcissistic injury (when the narcissist feels degraded by another person, typically in the form of criticism )."
2. "When the narcissist's grandiose sense of self-worth is perceived as being attacked by another person, the narcissist's natural reaction is to rage and pull down the self-worth of others (to make the narcissist feel superior to others). It is an attempt by the narcissist to soothe their internal pain and hostility, while at the same time rebuilding their self worth."
3. "Narcissistic rage also occurs when the narcissist perceives that he/she is being prevented from accomplishing their grandiose fantasies."
4. "Because the narcissist derives pleasure from the fulfillment of their grandiose dreams (akin to an addiction), anyone standing between the narcissist and their (wish) fulfillment ... may be subject to narcissistic rage. Narcissistic rage will frequently include yelling and berating of the person that has slighted the narcissist, but if strong enough could provoke more hostile feelings."
5. "Individuals with malignant narcissism will display a two faced personality. Creation of a 'false self' is linked to the narcissist's fear of being inadequate or inferior to others and this mask becomes ingrained into their personality so as to project a sense of superiority to others at all times."
6. "The narcissist gains a sense of esteem from the feedback of other people as it is common for the malignant narcissist to suffer from extremely low levels of self-esteem."
7. "The ... false self of the malignant narcissist is created because the real self doesn't meet his or her own expectations. Instead, the narcissist tends to mimic emotional displays of other people and creates a grandiose self to harbor their internalized fantasies of greatness."
8. "The [false self] is used by the narcissist to present to the outside world what appears to be a normal, functioning human being and to help maintain his or her own fantasies of an idealized self. The narcissist constantly builds upon this false self, creating a fictional character that is used to show off to the world and to help them feed off the emotions of other people."
There's ongoing debate about "malignant narcissism" as a diagnosis, and some people prefer to use the standard DSM-IV version . It doesn't make much difference in this case.

... ... ...

It's possible that Obama may be a "fanatic type" of narcissist. That could mean a world of trouble for the Democrats, for the nation, and given his position in the world, for other countries as well.
Here is Theodore Millon's definition of the fanatic type:
fanatic type - including paranoid features. A severely narcissistically wounded individual, usually with major paranoid tendencies who holds onto an illusion of omnipotence. These people are fighting the reality of their insignificance and lost value and are trying to re-establish their self-esteem through grandiose fantasies and self-reinforcement. When unable to gain recognition of support from others, they take on the role of a heroic or worshipped person with a grandiose mission.

[May 18, 2016] Can Narcissists Change

Notable quotes:
"... Trait labels like narcissist, or the admittedly less stigmatizing ones like extrovert and introvert, merely provide a shorthand description. They're a stand-in for "this person scored high on a trait measure of narcissism or extroversion or introversion." They can never hope to capture the whole person. ..."
"... For more by Dr. Craig Malkin, click here . ..."
"... For more on emotional intelligence, click here . ..."
www.huffingtonpost.com

The author is a Clinical Psychologist, Lecturer Harvard Medical School

At the end of May 2013, I wrote an article titled "5 Early Warning Signs You're With a Narcissist." It sparked a number of rich conversations through comments, emails, Facebook and Twitter . Not surprisingly, the vast majority of reactions came from people who feared they were currently in a relationship with a narcissist. Nevertheless, some of them - often among the most heartfelt and desperate of messages - came from people who'd either been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), or felt convinced they met criteria for the diagnosis. From both sides, the same question surfaced again and again: Is there hope for those with NPD and the people who love them? Is there anything we can do if we see early warning signs or actual diagnostic criteria besides end the relationship? As simple as they might seem on the surface, questions like these resonate with some of the deepest concerns in psychology. Can we change our personalities? More to the point, can people who meet criteria for personality disorders open themselves up to new and better experiences in relationships and in the world? I'm going to go on record as saying, yes, I do believe it's possible for people to change, even if they've been diagnosed with something as deeply entrenched and formidable as a personality disorder.

Trait labels like narcissist, or the admittedly less stigmatizing ones like extrovert and introvert, merely provide a shorthand description. They're a stand-in for "this person scored high on a trait measure of narcissism or extroversion or introversion." They can never hope to capture the whole person. (Bear in mind that even Jung, who introduced the latter concepts, firmly believed we all possess both an introvert and an extrovert side , regardless of how much we tend to one side or the other.) Nevertheless, when they become diagnostic labels, like "narcissist" or "Narcissistic Personality Disorder," these stark descriptions imply something that goes far beyond a tendency or a style - they suggest permanence and a set of stable enduring features. I have more hope than this. I believe that rather than simply being "who we are," our personalities are also patterns of interaction. That is, personality, whether disordered or not , has as much to do with how (and with whom) we interact as it does with our genes and wired-in temperament.

So what pattern does the narcissist follow? Many have suggested that NPD emerges from an environment in which vulnerability comes to feel dangerous, representing, at worst, either a grave defect, or at best, a stubborn barrier to becoming a worthwhile human being - that's simplifying a great deal of research and theory, but it's a workable summary - hence the correlation between NPD and insecure attachment styles , in which fears of depending on anyone at all engender constant attempts to control the relationship or avoid intimacy altogether. If you devote yourself to directing interactions or holding people at arms length, it's a lot harder to become vulnerable (needless to say, the "safety" is largely an illusion). People with NPD have learned to ignore, suppress, deny, project and disavow their vulnerabilities (or at least try) in their attempts to shape and reshape "who they are" in their interactions. Change - allowing the vulnerability back in - means opening up to the very feelings they've learned to avoid at all costs. It's not that people with NPD can't change, it's that it often threatens their sense of personhood to try. And their failed relationships often confirm, in their minds, that narcissism is the safest way to live. Put another way, narcissists can't be narcissistic in a vacuum. They need the right audience in order to feel like a star, for example, so they often cultivate relationships with people who stick around for the show, instead of the person. Over time, as their perfect façade starts to slip, their constant fear that people will find them lacking becomes a horrifying reality. The very people who stuck around for the show lose interest when it ends - which merely convinces the narcissist they need to hide their flaws and put on a better show. Alternatively, even when they fall for someone who could be more than just an adoring fan - someone who offers the hope of a more authentic, enduring love - narcissists still live with the paralyzing fear they'll somehow be deemed unworthy. Their terror is frequently out of awareness, and nearly always managed with bravado and blame, but it's profound and palpable. Sadly, their anger at having their mistakes and missteps exposed ultimately alienates their loved ones, and the demise of yet another relationship prompts them to redouble their efforts to avoid vulnerability - in short, it pushes them towards more narcissism.

The sad irony of the narcissistic condition is that, in an effort to protect themselves, narcissists inevitably invite the very rejection and abandonment they fear in the first place. The key then, to interacting with someone you suspect is narcissistic, is to break the vicious circle - to gently thwart their frantic efforts to control, distance, defend or blame in the relationship by sending the message that you're more than willing to connect with them, but not on these terms - to invite them into a version of intimacy where they can be loved and admired, warts and all - if they only allow the experience to happen. As a therapist, I've seen firsthand that changing relational patterns often transforms even the most inflexible "trait" into something softer, gentler - not a fixed feature, but a protection that eventually yields to touch and intimacy in all the ways one would hope. Narcissism is a way of relating. Not everyone can shift into a more flexible form of intimacy, but some can, and in the next post, I plan to share steps you can take to help you decide whether or not the person you're with is capable of seeing themselves - and you - through a less-constricting lens than the narcissistic worldview. If you like my posts, let me know! Let's connect on facebook and twitter. I frequently respond to comments and questions there. And feel free to check out www.drcraigmalkin.com for more tips and advice, as well as information on my book in progress . For more by Dr. Craig Malkin, click here . For more on emotional intelligence, click here .

[May 18, 2016] 5 Early Warning Signs Youre With a Narcissist

Notable quotes:
"... Feelings are a natural consequence of being human, and we tend to have lots of them in the course of normal interactions. But the very fact of having a feeling in the presence of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even the occasional tragedy or failure. Narcissists abhor feeling influenced in any significant way. It challenges their sense of perfect autonomy; to admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them. So they often change the subject when feelings come up, especially their own, and as quick as they might be to anger, it's often like pulling teeth to get them to admit that they've reached the boiling point - even when they're in the midst of the most terrifying tirade. ..."
"... If you like my posts, let me know! Let's connect on facebook and twitter. I frequently respond to comments and questions there. And feel free to check out www.drcraigmalkin.com for more tips and advice, as well as information on my book in progress . ..."
"... For more by Dr. Craig Malkin, click here . ..."
www.huffingtonpost.com

Dr. Craig Malkin , Author, Clinical Psychologist, Lecturer Harvard Medical School

At the beginning of April this year, I was tapped by the Huffington Post Live team for a discussion on narcissism . I happily agreed to appear, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that narcissism happens to be one of my favorite subjects. Early in my training, I had the pleasure of working with one of the foremost authorities on narcissism in our field, and in part because of that experience, I went on to work with quite a few clients who'd been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder . That's where I learned that the formal diagnostic label hardly does justice to the richness and complexity of this condition. The most glaring problems are easy to spot - the apparent absence of even a shred of empathy, the grandiose plans and posturing, the rage at being called out on the slightest of imperfections or normal human missteps - but if you get too hung up on the obvious traits, you can easily miss the subtle (and often more common) features that allow a narcissist to sneak into your life and wreak havoc. Just ask Tina Swithin , who went on to write a book about surviving her experience with a man who clearly meets criteria for NPD (and very likely, a few other diagnoses). To her lovestruck eyes, her soon-to-be husband seemed more like a prince charming than the callous, deceitful spendthrift he later proved to be. Looking back, Tina explains, there were signs of trouble from the start, but they were far from obvious at the time. In real life, the most dangerous villains rarely advertise their malevolence. So what are we to do? How do we protect ourselves from narcissists if they're so adept at slipping into our lives unnoticed? I shared some of my answers to that question in our conversation, and I encourage you to watch it. But there were a few I didn't get to, and others I didn't have the chance to describe in depth, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to revisit the topic here. Tread carefully if you catch a glimpse of any of these subtler signs:

1) Projected Feelings of Insecurity: I don't mean that narcissists see insecurity everywhere. I'm talking about a different kind of projection altogether, akin to playing hot potato with a sense of smallness and deficiency. Narcissists say and do things, subtle or obvious, that make you feel less smart, less accomplished, less competent. It's as if they're saying, "I don't want to feel this insecure and small; here, you take the feelings." Picture the boss who questions your methods after their own decision derails an important project, the date who frequently claims not to understand what you've said, even when you've been perfectly clear, or the friend who always damns you with faint praise ("Pretty good job this time!"). Remember the saying: "Don't knock your neighbor's porch light out to make yours shine brighter." Well, the narcissist loves to knock out your lights to seem brighter by comparison.

2) Emotion-phobia: Feelings are a natural consequence of being human, and we tend to have lots of them in the course of normal interactions. But the very fact of having a feeling in the presence of another person suggests you can be touched emotionally by friends, family, partners, and even the occasional tragedy or failure. Narcissists abhor feeling influenced in any significant way. It challenges their sense of perfect autonomy; to admit to a feeling of any kind suggests they can be affected by someone or something outside of them. So they often change the subject when feelings come up, especially their own, and as quick as they might be to anger, it's often like pulling teeth to get them to admit that they've reached the boiling point - even when they're in the midst of the most terrifying tirade.

3) A Fragmented Family Story: Narcissism seems to be born of neglect and abuse, both of which are notorious for creating an insecure attachment style (for more on attachment, see here and here ). But the very fact that narcissists, for all their posturing, are deeply insecure, also gives us an easy way to spot them. Insecurely attached people can't talk coherently about their family and childhood; their early memories are confused, contradictory, and riddled with gaps. Narcissists often give themselves away precisely because their childhood story makes no sense, and the most common myth they carry around is the perfect family story. If your date sings their praises for their exalted family but the reasons for their panegyric seem vague or discursive, look out. The devil is in the details, as they say - and very likely, that's why you're not hearing them.

4) Idol Worship: Another common narcissistic tendency you might be less familiar with is the habit of putting people on pedestals. The logic goes a bit like this: "If I find someone perfect to be close to, maybe some of their perfection will rub off on me, and I'll become perfect by association." The fact that no one can be perfect is usually lost on the idol-worshipping narcissist - at least until they discover, as they inevitably do, that their idol has clay feet. And stand back once that happens. Few experiences can prepare you for the vitriol of a suddenly disappointed narcissist. Look out for any pressure to conform to an image of perfection, no matter how lovely or magical the compulsive flattery might feel.

5) A High Need for Control: For the same reason narcissists often loathe the subject of feelings, they can't stand to be at the mercy of other people's preferences; it reminds them that they aren't invulnerable or completely independent - that, in fact, they might have to ask for what they want - and even worse, people may not feel like meeting the request. Rather than express needs or preferences themselves, they often arrange events (and maneuver people) to orchestrate the outcomes they desire. In the extreme form, this can manifest as abusive, controlling behaviors. (Think of the man who berates his wife when dinner isn't ready as soon as he comes home. He lashes out precisely because at that very moment, he's forced to acknowledge that he depends on his wife, something he'd rather avoid.) But as with most of these red flags, the efforts at control are often far subtler than outright abuse. Be on the look out for anyone who leaves you feeling nervous about approaching certain topics or sharing your own preferences. Narcissists have a way of making choices feel off-limits without expressing any anger at all - a disapproving wince, a last-minute call to preempt the plans, chronic lateness whenever you're in charge of arranging a night together. It's more like a war of attrition on your will than an outright assault on your freedom. None of these signs, in isolation, proves that you're with a narcissist. But if you see a lot of them, it's best to sit up and take notice. They're all way of dodging vulnerability, and that's a narcissist's favorite tactic.

If you like my posts, let me know! Let's connect on facebook and twitter. I frequently respond to comments and questions there. And feel free to check out www.drcraigmalkin.com for more tips and advice, as well as information on my book in progress . For more by Dr. Craig Malkin, click here .

[May 18, 2016] Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist Therapists Weigh In!

Notable quotes:
"... As Dr. Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the master's of bioethics program at Columbia University, pointed out, the American Psychiatric Association declares it unethical for psychiatrists to comment on an individual's mental state without examining him personally and having the patient's consent to make such comments. ..."
"... To degrade people is really part of a cluster-B personality disorder: it's antisocial and shows a lack of remorse for other people. The way to make it O.K. to attack someone verbally, psychologically, or physically is to lower them. That's what he's doing. ..."
"... Narcissists are not necessarily liars, but they are notoriously uncomfortable with the truth. The truth means the potential to feel ashamed. If all they have to show the world as a source of feeling acceptable is their success and performance, be it in business or sports or celebrity, then the risk of people seeing them fail or squander their success is so difficult to their self-esteem that they feel ashamed. We call it the narcissistic injury. They're uncomfortable with their own limitations. It's not that they're cut out to lie, it's just that they can't handle what's real ..."
"... Most narcissists don't seek treatment unless there's someone threatening to take something away from them. There'd have to be some kind of meaningful consequence for him to come in. ..."
"... They're aware; the problem is, they don't care. They know how you'd like them to act; the problem is, they've got a different set of rules. The kind of approach that can have some impact is confrontational. It confronts distorted thinking and behavior patterns in the here-and-now moment when the narcissists are doing their thing in the session. It's confronted on the spot; you invite them to do something different, then you reinforce them for doing so. ..."
www.vanityfair.com

Vanity Fair

As his presidential campaign trundles forward, millions of sane Americans are wondering: What exactly is wrong with this strange individual? Now, we have an answer.

For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. "Remarkably narcissistic," said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. "Textbook narcissistic personality disorder," echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. "He's so classic that I'm archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there's no better example of his characteristics," said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. "Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He's like a dream come true."

That mental-health professionals are even willing to talk about Trump in the first place may attest to their deep concern about a Trump presidency. As Dr. Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry and the director of the master's of bioethics program at Columbia University, pointed out, the American Psychiatric Association declares it unethical for psychiatrists to comment on an individual's mental state without examining him personally and having the patient's consent to make such comments. This so-called Goldwater rule arose after the publication of a 1964 Fact magazine article in which psychiatrists were polled about Senator Barry Goldwater's fitness to be president. Senator Goldwater brought a $2 million suit against the magazine and its publisher; the Supreme Court awarded him $1 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.

But you don't need to have met Donald Trump to feel like you know him; even the smallest exposure can make you feel like you've just crossed a large body of water in a small boat with him. Indeed, though narcissistic personality disorder was removed from the most recent issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, for somewhat arcane reasons, the traits that have defined the disorder in the past-grandiosity; an expectation that others will recognize one's superiority; a lack of empathy-are writ large in Mr. Trump's behavior.

"He's very easy to diagnose," said psychotherapist Charlotte Prozan. "In the first debate, he talked over people and was domineering. He'll do anything to demean others, like tell Carly Fiorina he doesn't like her looks. 'You're fired!' would certainly come under lack of empathy. And he wants to deport immigrants, but [two of] his wives have been immigrants." Michaelis took a slightly different twist on Trump's desire to deport immigrants: "This man is known for his golf courses, but, with due respect, who does he think works on these golf courses?"

Mr. Trump's bullying nature-taunting Senator John McCain for being captured in Vietnam, or saying Jeb Bush has "low energy"-is in keeping with the narcissistic profile. "In the field we use clusters of personality disorders," Michaelis said. "Narcissism is in cluster B, which means it has similarities with histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. There are similarities between them. Regardless of how you feel about John McCain, the man served-and suffered. Narcissism is an extreme defense against one's own feelings of worthlessness. To degrade people is really part of a cluster-B personality disorder: it's antisocial and shows a lack of remorse for other people. The way to make it O.K. to attack someone verbally, psychologically, or physically is to lower them. That's what he's doing."

What of Trump's tendency to position himself as a possible savior to the economy despite the fact that four of his companies have declared bankruptcy? "It's mind-boggling to me that that's not the story," said Michaelis. "This man has been given more than anyone could ever hope for," he added, referring to the fact that Trump is not wholly self-made, "yet he's failed miserably time and time again." Licensed clinical social worker Wendy Terrie Behary, the author of Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed, said,

"Narcissists are not necessarily liars, but they are notoriously uncomfortable with the truth. The truth means the potential to feel ashamed. If all they have to show the world as a source of feeling acceptable is their success and performance, be it in business or sports or celebrity, then the risk of people seeing them fail or squander their success is so difficult to their self-esteem that they feel ashamed. We call it the narcissistic injury. They're uncomfortable with their own limitations. It's not that they're cut out to lie, it's just that they can't handle what's real."

Indeed, the need to protect or exalt the self is at odds with the job requirements of a president. Michaelis said, "He's applying for the greatest job in the land, the greatest task of which is to serve, but there's nothing about the man that is service-oriented. He's only serving himself." As Prozan sees it, "He keeps saying he could negotiate with Putin because he's good at deals. But diplomacy involves a back and forth between equals." Dr. Klitzman added, "I have never met Donald Trump and so cannot comment on his psychological state. However, I think that, in general, many candidates who run for president are driven in large part by ego. I hope that does not preclude their motivation to govern with the best interests of the public as a whole in mind. Yet for some candidates, that may, alas, be a threat."

Asked what, if Mr. Trump were their patient, they would "work on" with him, several of the therapists laughed. "I'd be shocked if he walked in my door," said Behary. "Most narcissists don't seek treatment unless there's someone threatening to take something away from them. There'd have to be some kind of meaningful consequence for him to come in." Simon concurred but added, "There is help available, but it doesn't look like the help people are used to. It's not insight-oriented psychotherapy, because narcissists already have insight. They're aware; the problem is, they don't care. They know how you'd like them to act; the problem is, they've got a different set of rules. The kind of approach that can have some impact is confrontational. It confronts distorted thinking and behavior patterns in the here-and-now moment when the narcissists are doing their thing in the session. It's confronted on the spot; you invite them to do something different, then you reinforce them for doing so."

But for at least one mental-health professional, the Trump enigma, or should we say non-enigma, is larger than the bluster of the man whose own Web site calls him "the very definition of the American success story, continually setting the standards of excellence"-to this mind-set, Trump may be a kind of bellwether. Mr. Gardner said, "For me, the compelling question is the psychological state of his supporters. They are unable or unwilling to make a connection between the challenges faced by any president and the knowledge and behavior of Donald Trump. In a democracy, that is disastrous."

[May 16, 2016] Stockholm Syndrome The Psychological Mystery of Loving an Abuser, Page 1

Notable quotes:
"... In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The "Stockholm Syndrome" reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. ..."
"... Stockholm Syndrome (SS) can also be found in family, romantic, and interpersonal relationships. The abuser may be a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, father or mother, or any other role in which the abuser is in a position of control or authority. ..."
"... In relationships with abusers, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse), or a special treat are interpreted as not only positive, but evidence that the abuser is not "all bad" and may at some time correct his/her behavior. Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal or physical abuse in a certain situation. An aggressive and jealous partner may normally become intimidating or abusive in certain social situations, as when an opposite-sex coworker waves in a crowd. After seeing the wave, the victim expects to be verbally battered and when it doesn't happen, that "small kindness" is interpreted as a positive sign. ..."
"... During the relationship, the abuser/controller may share information about their past - how they were mistreated, abused, neglected, or wronged. ..."
"... Sympathy may develop toward the abuser and we often hear the victim of Stockholm Syndrome defending their abuser with "I know he fractured my jaw and ribs…but he's troubled. He had a rough childhood!" ..."
"... Keep in mind: once you become hardened to the "sad stories", they will simply try another approach. I know of no victim of abuse or crime who has heard their abuser say "I'm beating (robbing, mugging, etc.) you because my Mom hated me!" ..."
"... In abusive and controlling relationships, the victim has the sense they are always "walking on eggshells" - fearful of saying or doing anything that might prompt a violent/intimidating outburst. For their survival, they begin to see the world through the abuser's perspective. They begin to fix things that might prompt an outburst, act in ways they know makes the abuser happy, or avoid aspects of their own life that may prompt a problem. If we only have a dollar in our pocket, then most of our decisions become financial decisions. If our partner is an abuser or controller, then the majority of our decisions are based on our perception of the abuser's potential reaction. We become preoccupied with the needs, desires, and habits of the abuser/controller. ..."
"... Controlling partners have increased the financial obligations/debt in the relationship to the point that neither partner can financially survive on their own. ..."
"... The legal ending of a relationship, especially a marital relationship, often creates significant problems. ..."
"... The Controller often uses extreme threats including threatening to take the children out of state, threatening to quit their job/business rather than pay alimony/support, threatening public exposure of the victim's personal issues, or assuring the victim they will never have a peaceful life due to nonstop harassment. ..."
counsellingresource.com
While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as "Stockholm Syndrome" due to the publicity, the emotional "bonding" with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations such as:

In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The "Stockholm Syndrome" reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages. On the down side, it also assures that the hostages experiencing "Stockholm Syndrome" will not be very cooperative during rescue or criminal prosecution. Local law enforcement personnel have long recognized this syndrome with battered women who fail to press charges, bail their battering husband/boyfriend out of jail, and even physically attack police officers when they arrive to rescue them from a violent assault.

Stockholm Syndrome (SS) can also be found in family, romantic, and interpersonal relationships. The abuser may be a husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, father or mother, or any other role in which the abuser is in a position of control or authority.

It's important to understand the components of Stockholm Syndrome as they relate to abusive and controlling relationships. Once the syndrome is understood, it's easier to understand why victims support, love, and even defend their abusers and controllers.

Every syndrome has symptoms or behaviors, and Stockholm Syndrome is no exception. While a clear-cut list has not been established due to varying opinions by researchers and experts, several of these features will be present:

Stockholm Syndrome doesn't occur in every hostage or abusive situation. In another bank robbery involving hostages, after terrorizing patrons and employees for many hours, a police sharpshooter shot and wounded the terrorizing bank robber. After he hit the floor, two women picked him up and physically held him up to the window for another shot. As you can see, the length of time one is exposed to abuse/control and other factors are certainly involved.

It has been found that four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome. These four situations can be found in hostage, severe abuse, and abusive relationships:

By considering each situation we can understand how Stockholm Syndrome develops in romantic relationships as well as criminal/hostage situations. Looking at each situation:

Perceived Threat to One's Physical/Psychological Survival

The perception of threat can be formed by direct, indirect, or witnessed methods. Criminal or antisocial partners can directly threaten your life or the life of friends and family. Their history of violence leads us to believe that the captor/controller will carry out the threat in a direct manner if we fail to comply with their demands. The abuser assures us that only our cooperation keeps our loved ones safe.

Indirectly, the abuser/controller offers subtle threats that you will never leave them or have another partner, reminding you that people in the past have paid dearly for not following their wishes. Hints are often offered such as "I know people who can make others disappear". Indirect threats also come from the stories told by the abuser or controller - how they obtained revenge on those who have crossed them in the past. These stories of revenge are told to remind the victim that revenge is possible if they leave.

Witnessing violence or aggression is also a perceived threat. Witnessing a violent temper directed at a television set, others on the highway, or a third party clearly sends us the message that we could be the next target for violence. Witnessing the thoughts and attitudes of the abuser/controller is threatening and intimidating, knowing that we will be the target of those thoughts in the future.

The "Small Kindness" Perception

In threatening and survival situations, we look for evidence of hope - a small sign that the situation may improve. When an abuser/controller shows the victim some small kindness, even though it is to the abuser's benefit as well, the victim interprets that small kindness as a positive trait of the captor. In criminal/war hostage situations, letting the victim live is often enough. Small behaviors, such as allowing a bathroom visit or providing food/water, are enough to strengthen the Stockholm Syndrome in criminal hostage events.

In relationships with abusers, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse), or a special treat are interpreted as not only positive, but evidence that the abuser is not "all bad" and may at some time correct his/her behavior. Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal or physical abuse in a certain situation. An aggressive and jealous partner may normally become intimidating or abusive in certain social situations, as when an opposite-sex coworker waves in a crowd. After seeing the wave, the victim expects to be verbally battered and when it doesn't happen, that "small kindness" is interpreted as a positive sign.

Similar to the small kindness perception is the perception of a "soft side". During the relationship, the abuser/controller may share information about their past - how they were mistreated, abused, neglected, or wronged. The victim begins to feel the abuser/controller may be capable of fixing their behavior or worse yet, that they (abuser) may also be a "victim". Sympathy may develop toward the abuser and we often hear the victim of Stockholm Syndrome defending their abuser with "I know he fractured my jaw and ribs…but he's troubled. He had a rough childhood!"

Losers and abusers may admit they need psychiatric help or acknowledge they are mentally disturbed; however, it's almost always after they have already abused or intimidated the victim. The admission is a way of denying responsibility for the abuse. In truth, personality disorders and criminals have learned over the years that personal responsibility for their violent/abusive behaviors can be minimized and even denied by blaming their bad upbringing, abuse as a child, and now even video games. One murderer blamed his crime on eating too much junk food - now known as the "Twinkie Defense". While it may be true that the abuser/controller had a difficult upbringing, showing sympathy for his/her history produces no change in their behavior and in fact, prolongs the length of time you will be abused. While "sad stories" are always included in their apologies - after the abusive/controlling event - their behavior never changes! Keep in mind: once you become hardened to the "sad stories", they will simply try another approach. I know of no victim of abuse or crime who has heard their abuser say "I'm beating (robbing, mugging, etc.) you because my Mom hated me!"

Isolation from Perspectives Other than those of the Captor

In abusive and controlling relationships, the victim has the sense they are always "walking on eggshells" - fearful of saying or doing anything that might prompt a violent/intimidating outburst. For their survival, they begin to see the world through the abuser's perspective. They begin to fix things that might prompt an outburst, act in ways they know makes the abuser happy, or avoid aspects of their own life that may prompt a problem. If we only have a dollar in our pocket, then most of our decisions become financial decisions. If our partner is an abuser or controller, then the majority of our decisions are based on our perception of the abuser's potential reaction. We become preoccupied with the needs, desires, and habits of the abuser/controller.

Taking the abuser's perspective as a survival technique can become so intense that the victim actually develops anger toward those trying to help them. The abuser is already angry and resentful toward anyone who would provide the victim support, typically using multiple methods and manipulations to isolate the victim from others. Any contact the victim has with supportive people in the community is met with accusations, threats, and/or violent outbursts. Victims then turn on their family - fearing family contact will cause additional violence and abuse in the home. At this point, victims curse their parents and friends, tell them not to call and to stop interfering, and break off communication with others. Agreeing with the abuser/controller, supportive others are now viewed as "causing trouble" and must be avoided. Many victims threaten their family and friends with restraining orders if they continue to "interfere" or try to help the victim in their situation. On the surface it would appear that they have sided with the abuser/controller. In truth, they are trying to minimize contact with situations that might make them a target of additional verbal abuse or intimidation. If a casual phone call from Mom prompts a two-hour temper outburst with threats and accusations - the victim quickly realizes it's safer if Mom stops calling. If simply telling Mom to stop calling doesn't work, for his or her own safety the victim may accuse Mom of attempting to ruin the relationship and demand that she stop calling.

In severe cases of Stockholm Syndrome in relationships, the victim may have difficulty leaving the abuser and may actually feel the abusive situation is their fault. In law enforcement situations, the victim may actually feel the arrest of their partner for physical abuse or battering is their fault. Some women will allow their children to be removed by child protective agencies rather than give up the relationship with their abuser. As they take the perspective of the abuser, the children are at fault - they complained about the situation, they brought the attention of authorities to the home, and they put the adult relationship at risk. Sadly, the children have now become a danger to the victim's safety. For those with Stockholm Syndrome, allowing the children to be removed from the home decreases their victim stress while providing an emotionally and physically safer environment for the children.

Perceived Inability to Escape

As a hostage in a bank robbery, threatened by criminals with guns, it's easy to understand the perceived inability to escape. In romantic relationships, the belief that one can't escape is also very common. Many abusive/controlling relationships feel like till-death-do-us-part relationships - locked together by mutual financial issues/assets, mutual intimate knowledge, or legal situations. Here are some common situations:

In unhealthy relationships and definitely in Stockholm Syndrome there is a daily preoccupation with "trouble". Trouble is any individual, group, situation, comment, casual glance, or cold meal that may produce a temper tantrum or verbal abuse from the controller or abuser. To survive, "trouble" is to be avoided at all costs. The victim must control situations that produce trouble. That may include avoiding family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who may create "trouble" in the abusive relationship. The victim does not hate family and friends; they are only avoiding "trouble"! The victim also cleans the house, calms the children, scans the mail, avoids certain topics, and anticipates every issue of the controller or abuse in an effort to avoid "trouble". In this situation, children who are noisy become "trouble". Loved ones and friends are sources of "trouble" for the victim who is attempting to avoid verbal or physical aggression.

Stockholm Syndrome in relationships is not uncommon. Law enforcement professionals are painfully aware of the situation - making a domestic dispute one of the high-risk calls during work hours. Called by neighbors during a spousal abuse incident, the abuser is passive upon arrival of the police, only to find the abused spouse upset and threatening the officers if their abusive partner is arrested for domestic violence. In truth, the victim knows the abuser/controller will retaliate against him/her if 1) they encourage an arrest, 2) they offer statements about the abuse/fight that are deemed disloyal by the abuser, 3) they don't bail them out of jail as quickly as possible, and 4) they don't personally apologize for the situation - as though it was their fault.

Stockholm Syndrome produces an unhealthy bond with the controller and abuser. It is the reason many victims continue to support an abuser after the relationship is over. It's also the reason they continue to see "the good side" of an abusive individual and appear sympathetic to someone who has mentally and sometimes physically abused them.

Is There Something Else Involved?

In a short response - Yes! Throughout history, people have found themselves supporting and participating in life situations that range from abusive to bizarre. In talking to these active and willing participants in bad and bizarre situations, it is clear they have developed feelings and attitudes that support their participation. One way these feelings and thoughts are developed is known as "cognitive dissonance". As you can tell, psychologists have large words and phrases for just about everything.

"Cognitive Dissonance" explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable. When we have two sets of cognitions (knowledge, opinion, feelings, input from others, etc.) that are the opposite, the situation becomes emotionally uncomfortable. Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation - few want to admit that fact. Instead, we attempt to reduce the dissonance - the fact that our cognitions don't match, agree, or make sense when combined. "Cognitive Dissonance" can be reduced by adding new cognitions - adding new thoughts and attitudes. Some examples:

Leon Festinger first coined the term "Cognitive Dissonance". He had observed a cult (1956) in which members gave up their homes, incomes, and jobs to work for the cult. This cult believed in messages from outer space that predicted the day the world would end by a flood. As cult members and firm believers, they believed they would be saved by flying saucers at the appointed time. As they gathered and waited to be taken by flying saucers at the specified time, the end-of-the-world came and went. No flood and no flying saucer! Rather than believing they were foolish after all that personal and emotional investment - they decided their beliefs had actually saved the world from the flood and they became firmer in their beliefs after the failure of the prophecy. The moral: the more you invest (income, job, home, time, effort, etc.) the stronger your need to justify your position. If we invest $5.00 in a raffle ticket, we justify losing with "I'll get them next time". If you invest everything you have, it requires an almost unreasoning belief and unusual attitude to support and justify that investment.

Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable, and even humiliating. The initiation rituals of college fraternities, Marine boot camp, and graduate school all produce loyal and committed individuals. Almost any ordeal creates a bonding experience. Every couple, no matter how mismatched, falls in love in the movies after going through a terrorist takeover, being stalked by a killer, being stranded on an island, or being involved in an alien abduction. Investment and an ordeal are ingredients for a strong bonding - even if the bonding is unhealthy. No one bonds or falls in love by being a member of the Automobile Club or a music CD club. Struggling to survive on a deserted island - you bet!

Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:

Emotional Investment
We've invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
Social Investment
We've got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
Family Investments
If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
Financial Investment
In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
Lifestyle Investment
Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
Intimacy Investment
We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.

In many cases, it's not simply our feelings for an individual that keep us in an unhealthy relationship - it's often the amount of investment. Relationships are complex and we often only see the tip of the iceberg in public. For this reason, the most common phrase offered by the victim in defense of their unhealthy relationship is "You just don't understand!"

Combining Two Unhealthy Conditions

The combination of "Stockholm Syndrome" and "cognitive dissonance" produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended. In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed "all their eggs in one basket". The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.

For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship and eventually to their personal health and existence. The more family/friends protest the controlling and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes defensive. At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual.

Importantly, both Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance develop on an involuntary basis. The victim does not purposely invent this attitude. Both develop as an attempt to exist and survive in a threatening and controlling environment and relationship. Despite what we might think, our loved one is not in the unhealthy relationship to irritate us, embarrass us, or drive us to drink. What might have begun as a normal relationship has turned into a controlling and abusive situation. They are trying to survive. Their personality is developing the feelings and thoughts needed to survive the situation and lower their emotional and physical risks. All of us have developed attitudes and feelings that help us accept and survive situations. We have these attitudes/feelings about our jobs, our community, and other aspects of our life. As we have found throughout history, the more dysfunctional the situation, the more dysfunctional our adaptation and thoughts to survive. The victim is engaged in an attempt to survive and make a relationship work. Once they decide it doesn't work and can't be fixed, they will need our support as we patiently await their decision to return to a healthy and positive lifestyle.

Family and Friends of the Victim

When a family is confronted with a loved one involved with a 'Loser' or controlling/abusive individual, the situation becomes emotionally painful and socially difficult for the family. (See " Are You Dating a Loser? Identifying Losers, Controllers and Abusers ".) While each situation is different, some general guidelines to consider are:

Final Thoughts

You may be the victim of a controlling and abusive partner, seeking an understanding of your feelings and attitudes. You may have a son, daughter, or friend currently involved with a controlling and abusive partner, looking for ways to understand and help.

If a loved one is involved with a Loser, a controlling and abusing partner, the long-term outcome is difficult to determine due to the many factors involved. If their relationship is in the "dating" phase, they may end the relationship on their own. If the relationship has continued for over a year, they may require support and an exit plan before ending the relationship. Marriage and children further complicate their ability to leave the situation. When the victim decides to end the unhappy relationship, it's important that they view loved ones as supportive, loving, and understanding - not as a source of pressure, guilt, or aggression.

This article is an attempt to understand the complex feelings and attitudes that are as puzzling to the victim as they are to family and friends. Separately, I've outlined recommendations for detaching from a Loser or controlling/abusive individual, but clearly, there are more victims in this situation. (See " Are You Dating a Loser? Identifying Losers, Controllers and Abusers ".) It is hoped this article is helpful to family and friends who worry, cry, and have difficulty understanding the situation of their loved one. It has been said that knowledge is power. Hopefully this knowledge will prove helpful and powerful to victims and their loved ones.

Please consider this article as a general guideline. Some recommendations may be appropriate and helpful while some may not apply to a specific situation. In many cases, we may need additional professional help of a mental health or legal nature.

[May 16, 2016] https://www.reddit.com/r/raisedbynarcissists/comments/29dhay/good_movies_about_narcissistic/

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    [–] dopebojangles ADoNM with BPD 3 points 4 points 5 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    Also Betty Draper in the show Mad Men.

    [–] rammaam 1 point 2 points 3 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    And American Horror Story Coven. Jessica Lange plays a NM.

    [–] [deleted] 4 points 5 points 6 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    American Beauty - Annette Bennings character is a classic N

    [–] [deleted] 3 points 4 points 5 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    Ordinary People is a great one that may still be on Netflix.

    [–] Sub_Salac 3 points 4 points 5 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    I suspect the mother in Excision (2012) is an N. One of my favorite movies.

    [–] throwaway98721214 ACoN now NC with the entire FOO. 2 points 3 points 4 points 1 year ago (3 children)

    Films:

    Notes on a Scandal (Barbara) Oranges are not the only fruit (Mother) Drop Dead Fred (Mother) and as always, Tangled (Mother Gothel)

    (With the first two, the original books are quite harrowing (and accurate) in depicting the actions of an authority figure with NPD)

    TV shows: Nashville Season 2, eps 19 & 20 (Clare's mother)

    (I'm sure there's loads more than that, and they'll come to me!)

    [–] KissMyAspergers NAunt, Parent(s) with FLEAS 1 point 2 points 3 points 1 year ago (2 children)

    Seconding Tangled.

    [–] 1234567ate Nmom, Edad, SGsis 2 points 3 points 4 points 1 year ago (1 child)

    I can't even watch the part where she sings "mother knows best" it gives me the creeps..... Reminds me of my NMom....

    [–] KissMyAspergers NAunt, Parent(s) with FLEAS 2 points 3 points 4 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    Right? It's fucked up.

    [–] ArabRedditor 2 points 3 points 4 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    BATES MOTEL.

    The mother is the N, the younger child is the golden child, and the older son is the Scapegoat.

    [–] Dotdotbludot 2 points 3 points 4 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    I love the original, Gaslight (1944). Ingrid Bergman is slowly driven mad by her handsome new husband. It perfectly demonstrates Gaslighting abuse. Oddly, my Nmom loved the film, too. It can be hard to watch for those of us who have a lot of practice with recognizing red flags. Bergman's character is so trusting and walks right into so many N-traps!

    [–] PagingDrLector 2 points 3 points 4 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    I always thought the mother in Igby Goes Down was an Nmom.

    [–] modecat forging a new path 2 points 3 points 4 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    I think White Oleander is amazing. An amazing portrayal of narcissism. Just excellent. I can still feel the sting from that one. Just smolders.

    It's always so interesting when you watch a movie and start to figure out it's about narcissism.

    For me, as soon as I found RBN, all of a sudden every movie i watched was about a narcissist or his victim. It was so weird.

    [–] jm_kaye 1 point 2 points 3 points 1 year ago (1 child)

    Frances (1982) about Frances Farmer. Although she clearly had serious mental problems, her mother was absolutely no help.

    [–] modecat forging a new path 2 points 3 points 4 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    Yup, i think Frances makes such a great depiction of it. This movie is so sad. Just awful.

    [–] ArtichokeOwl 1 point 2 points 3 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    The Sopranos. Tony's mom is sooooo much like my Nmom!! Also the mother in Requiem for a Dream resonates with me a bit.

    [–] KissMyAspergers NAunt, Parent(s) with FLEAS 1 point 2 points 3 points 1 year ago (0 children)

    Just about anything involving serial killers (e.g. Criminal Minds) is gonna feature narcissism at some point.

    [–] DmKrispin ADoNM -1 points 0 points 1 point 1 year ago (0 children)

    Now Voyager (1942) starring Bette Davis and Paul Heinried.

  • [May 16, 2016] Barack Obama – Narcissist or Merely Narcissistic?

    Notable quotes:
    "... Narcissism is a defense mechanism whose role is to deflect hurt and trauma from the victim's "True Self" into a " False Self " which is omnipotent, invulnerable, and omniscient. This False Self is then used by the narcissist to garner narcissistic supply from his human environment. Narcissistic supply is any form of attention, both positive and negative and it is instrumental in the regulation of the narcissist's labile sense of self-worth. ..."
    lettingfreedomring.com
    Dr. Sam Vaknin, Ph.D

    January 28, 2012

    Barack Obama appears to be a narcissist . Granted, only a qualified mental health diagnostician (which I am not) can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews. But, in the absence of access to Barack Obama, one has to rely on his overt performance and on testimonies by his closest, nearest and dearest.

    Narcissistic leaders are nefarious and their effects pernicious. They are subtle, refined, socially-adept, manipulative, possessed of thespian skills, and convincing. Both types equally lack empathy and are ruthless and relentless or driven.

    Perhaps it is time to require each candidate to high office in the USA to submit to a rigorous physical and mental checkup with the results made public.

    I. Upbringing and Childhood

    Obama's early life was decidedly chaotic and replete with traumatic and mentally bruising dislocations. Mixed-race marriages were even less common then. His parents went through a divorce when he was an infant (two years old). Obama saw his father only once again, before he died in a car accident. Then, his mother re-married and Obama had to relocate to Indonesia : a foreign land with a radically foreign culture, to be raised by a step-father. At the age of ten, he was whisked off to live with his maternal (white) grandparents. He saw his mother only intermittently in the following few years and then she vanished from his life in 1979. She died of cancer in 1995.

    Pathological narcissism is a reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. The source of the abuse or trauma is immaterial: the perpetrators could be dysfunctional or absent parents, teachers, other adults, or peers.

    II. Behavior Patterns

    The narcissist:

    * Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements);

    * Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;

    * Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);

    * Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation â€" or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious ( Narcissistic Supply );

    * Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment;

    * Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;

    * Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;

    * Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;

    * Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above the law", and omnipresent ( magical thinking ). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.

    Narcissism is a defense mechanism whose role is to deflect hurt and trauma from the victim's "True Self" into a " False Self " which is omnipotent, invulnerable, and omniscient. This False Self is then used by the narcissist to garner narcissistic supply from his human environment. Narcissistic supply is any form of attention, both positive and negative and it is instrumental in the regulation of the narcissist's labile sense of self-worth.

    Perhaps the most immediately evident trait of patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is their vulnerability to criticism and disagreement. Subject to negative input, real or imagined, even to a mild rebuke, a constructive suggestion, or an offer to help, they feel injured, humiliated and empty and they react with disdain (devaluation), rage, and defiance.

    From my book "Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited":

    "To avoid such intolerable pain, some patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) socially withdraw and feign false modesty and humility to mask their underlying grandiosity . Dysthymic and depressive disorders are common reactions to isolation and feelings of shame and inadequacy."

    Due to their lack of empathy, disregard for others, exploitativeness, sense of entitlement, and constant need for attention (narcissistic supply), narcissists are rarely able to maintain functional and healthy interpersonal relationships.

    Many narcissists are over-achievers and ambitious. Some of them are even talented and skilled. But they are incapable of team work because they cannot tolerate setbacks. They are easily frustrated and demoralized and are unable to cope with disagreement and criticism. Though some narcissists have meteoric and inspiring careers, in the long-run, all of them find it difficult to maintain long-term professional achievements and the respect and appreciation of their peers. The narcissist's fantastic grandiosity, frequently coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically incommensurate with his or her real accomplishments (the "grandiosity gap").

    An important distinction is between cerebral and somatic narcissists. The cerebrals derive their Narcissistic Supply from their intelligence or academic achievements and the somatics derive their Narcissistic Supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and romantic or physical "conquests".

    Another crucial division within the ranks of patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is between the classic variety (those who meet five of the nine diagnostic criteria included in the DSM), and the compensatory kind (their narcissism compensates for deep-set feelings of inferiority and lack of self-worth).
    Obama displays the following behaviors, which are among the hallmarks of pathological narcissism:

    * Subtly misrepresents facts and expediently and opportunistically shifts positions, views, opinions, and "ideals" (e.g., about campaign finance, re-districting). These flip-flops do not cause him overt distress and are ego-syntonic (he feels justified in acting this way). Alternatively, reuses to commit to a standpoint and, in the process, evidences a lack of empathy.

    Ignores data that conflict with his fantasy world, or with his inflated and grandiose self-image. This has to do with magical thinking. Obama already sees himself as president because he is firmly convinced that his dreams, thoughts, and wishes affect reality. Additionally, he denies the gap between his fantasies and his modest or limited real-life achievements (for instance, in 12 years of academic career, he hasn't published a single scholarly paper or book).

    – Feels that he is above the law, incl. and especially his own laws.

    – Talks about himself in the 3rd person singluar or uses the regal "we" and craves to be the exclusive center of attention, even adulation

    – Have a messianic-cosmic vision of himself and his life and his "mission".

    – Sets ever more complex rules in a convoluted world of grandiose fantasies with its own language (jargon)

    – Displays false modesty and unctuous "folksiness" but unable to sustain these behaviors (the persona, or mask) for long. It slips and the true Obama is revealed: haughty, aloof, distant, and disdainful of simple folk and their lives.

    – Sublimates aggression and holds grudges.

    – Behaves as an eternal adolescent (e.g., his choice of language, youthful image he projects, demands indulgence and feels entitled to special treatment, even though his objective accomplishments do not justify it).

    III. Body Language

    Many complain of the incredible deceptive powers of the narcissist. They find themselves involved with narcissists (emotionally, in business, or otherwise) before they have a chance to discover their true character. Shocked by the later revelation, they mourn their inability to separate from the narcissist and their gullibility.

    Narcissists are an elusive breed, hard to spot, harder to pinpoint, impossible to capture. Even an experienced mental health diagnostician with unmitigated access to the record and to the person examined would find it fiendishly difficult to determine with any degree of certainty whether someone suffers from a full fledged Narcissistic Personality Disorder or merely possesses narcissistic traits, a narcissistic style, a personality structure ("character"), or a narcissistic "overlay" superimposed on another mental health problem.

    Moreover, it is important to distinguish between traits and behavior patterns that are independent of the patient's cultural-social context (i.e., which are inherent, or idiosyncratic) and reactive patterns, or conformity to cultural and social morals and norms. Reactions to severe life crises or circumstances are also often characterized by transient pathological narcissism, for instance (Ronningstam and Gunderson, 1996). But such reactions do not a narcissist make.

    When a person belongs to a society or culture that has often been described as narcissistic by scholars (such as Theodore Millon) and social thinkers (e.g., Christopher Lasch) how much of his behavior can be attributed to his milieu and which of his traits are really his?

    The Narcissistic Personality Disorder is rigorously defined in the DSM IV-TR with a set of strict criteria and differential diagnoses.

    Narcissism is regarded by many scholars to be an adaptative strategy ("healthy narcissism"). It is considered pathological in the clinical sense only when it becomes a rigid personality structure replete with a series of primitive defence mechanisms (such as splitting, projection, projective identification, or intellectualization) and when it leads to dysfunctions in one or more areas of the patient's life.

    Pathological narcissism is the art of deception. The narcissist projects a False Self and manages all his social interactions through this concocted fictional construct.

    When the narcissist reveals his true colors, it is usually far too late. His victims are unable to separate from him. They are frustrated by this acquired helplessness and angry at themselves for having they failed to see through the narcissist earlier on.

    But the narcissist does emit subtle, almost subliminal, signals ("presenting symptoms") even in a first or casual encounter. Compare the following list to Barack Obama's body language during his paublic appearances.

    These are:

    "Haughty" body language. The narcissist adopts a physical posture which implies and exudes an air of superiority, seniority, hidden powers, mysteriousness, amused indifference, etc. Though the narcissist usually maintains sustained and piercing eye contact, he often refrains from physical proximity (he is "territorial").

    The narcissist takes part in social interactions, even mere banter, condescendingly, from a position of supremacy and faux "magnanimity and largesse". But he rarely mingles socially and prefers to remain the "observer", or the "lone wolf".

    Entitlement markers. The narcissist immediately asks for "special treatment" of some kind. Not to wait his turn, to have a longer or a shorter therapeutic session, to talk directly to authority figures (and not to their assistants or secretaries), to be granted special payment terms, to enjoy custom tailored arrangements – or to get served first.

    The narcissist is the one who vocally and demonstratively demands the undivided attention of the head waiter in a restaurant, or monopolizes the hostess, or latches on to celebrities in a party. The narcissist reacts with rage and indignantly when denied his wishes and if treated equally with others whom he deems inferior.

    Idealization or devaluation. The narcissist instantly idealizes or devalues his interlocutor. This depends on how the narcissist appraises the potential his converser has as a Narcissistic Supply Source. The narcissist flatters, adores, admires and applauds the "target" in an embarrassingly exaggerated and profuse manner or sulks, abuses, and humiliates her.

    Narcissists are polite only in the presence of a potential Supply Source. But they are unable to sustain even perfunctory civility and fast deteriorate to barbs and thinly-veiled hostility, to verbal or other violent displays of abuse, rage attacks, or cold detachment.

    The "membership" posture. The narcissist always tries to "belong". Yet, at the very same time, he maintains his stance as an outsider. The narcissist seeks to be admired for his ability to integrate and ingratiate himself without investing the efforts commensurate with such an undertaking.

    For instance: if the narcissist talks to a psychologist, the narcissist first states emphatically that he never studied psychology. He then proceeds to make seemingly effortless use of obscure professional terms, thus demonstrating that he mastered the discipline all the same, as an autodidact, which proves that he is exceptionally intelligent or introspective.

    In general, the narcissist always prefers show-off to substance. One of the most effective methods of exposing a narcissist is by trying to delve deeper. The narcissist is shallow, a pond pretending to be an ocean. He likes to think of himself as a Renaissance man, a Jack of all trades. The narcissist never admits to ignorance in any field yet, typically, he is ignorant of them all. It is surprisingly easy to penetrate the gloss and the veneer of the narcissist's self-proclaimed omniscience.

    Bragging and false autobiography. The narcissist brags incessantly. His speech is peppered with "I", "my", "myself", and "mine". He describes himself as intelligent, or rich, or modest, or intuitive, or creative but always excessively, implausibly, and extraordinarily so.

    The narcissist's biography sounds unusually rich and complex. His achievements incommensurate with his age, education, or renown. Yet, his actual condition is evidently and demonstrably incompatible with his claims. Very often, the narcissist lies or his fantasies are easily discernible. He always name-drops and appropriates other people's experiences and accomplishments.

    Emotion-free language. The narcissist likes to talk about himself and only about himself. He is not interested in others or what they have to say, unless they constitute potential Sources of Supply and in order to obtain said supply. He acts bored, disdainful, even angry, if he feels that they are intruding on his precious time and, thus, abusing him.

    In general, the narcissist is very impatient, easily bored, with strong attention deficits unless and until he is the topic of discussion. One can publicly dissect all aspects of the intimate life of a narcissist without repercussions, providing the discourse is not "emotionally tinted".

    If asked to relate directly to his emotions, the narcissist intellectualizes, rationalizes, speaks about himself in the third person and in a detached "scientific" tone or composes a narrative with a fictitious character in it, suspiciously autobiographical. Narcissists like to refer to themselves in mechanical terms, as efficient automata or machines.

    Seriousness and sense of intrusion and coercion. The narcissist is dead serious about himself. He may possess a subtle, wry, and riotous sense of humor, scathing and cynical, but rarely is he self-deprecating. The narcissist regards himself as being on a constant mission, whose importance is cosmic and whose consequences are global. If a scientist, he is always in the throes of revolutionizing science. If a journalist, he is in the middle of the greatest story ever. If a novelist, he is on his way to a Booker or Nobel prize.

    This self-misperception is not amenable to light-headedness or self-effacement. The narcissist is easily hurt and insulted (narcissistic injury). Even the most innocuous remarks or acts are interpreted by him as belittling, intruding, or coercive. His time is more valuable than others' therefore, it cannot be wasted on unimportant matters such as mere banter or going out for a walk.

    Any suggested help, advice, or concerned inquiry are immediately cast by the narcissist as intentional humiliation, implying that the narcissist is in need of help and counsel and, thus, imperfect and less than omnipotent. Any attempt to set an agenda is, to the narcissist, an intimidating act of enslavement. In this sense, the narcissist is both schizoid and paranoid and often entertains ideas of reference.

    These, the lack of empathy, the aloofness, the disdain, the sense of entitlement, the constricted sense of humor, the unequal treatment and the paranoia render the narcissist a social misfit. The narcissist is able to provoke in his milieu, in his casual acquaintances, even in his psychotherapist, the strongest, most avid and furious hatred and revulsion. To his shock, indignation and consternation, he invariably induces in others unbridled aggression.

    He is perceived to be asocial at best and, often, antisocial. This, perhaps, is the strongest presenting symptom. One feels ill at ease in the presence of a narcissist for no apparent reason. No matter how charming, intelligent, thought provoking, outgoing, easy going and social the narcissist is – he fails to secure the sympathy of others, a sympathy he is never ready, willing, or able to reciprocate.

    IV. Narcissistic and psychopathic Leaders

    The narcissistic or psychopathic leader is the culmination and reification of his period, culture, and civilization. He is likely to rise to prominence in narcissistic societies.

    The malignant narcissist invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and this is further exacerbated by the trappings of power. The narcissist's grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are supported by real life authority and the narcissist's predilection to surround himself with obsequious sycophants.

    The narcissist's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as "victims of persecution".

    The narcissistic leader fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.

    The narcissistic leader is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people – or humanity at large – should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, the narcissistic leader became a distorted version of Nietzsche's "superman".

    But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral.

    In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things "natural" – or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to as "nature" is not natural at all.

    The narcissistic leader invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial – though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols – not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.

    In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

    Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism – and the cult's leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

    Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways" – against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

    Minorities or "others" – often arbitrarily selected – constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are "decadent", they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin … They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenceless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

    This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm – together with Stalin – as a malignant narcissist. He was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. He provides us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil. He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.

    The narcissistic leader prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime – the narcissistic leader having died, been deposed, or voted out of office – it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely-held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. "Earth shattering" and "revolutionary" scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

    It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of the narcissist. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform with the narcissistic narrative.

    Thus, a narcissist who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite – is highly unlikely to use violence at first.

    The pacific mask crumbles when the narcissist has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, the prime sources of his narcissistic supply – have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, the narcissist strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. "The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)", "they don't really know what they are doing", "following a rude awakening, they will revert to form", etc.

    When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail – the narcissist is injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized – is now discarded with contempt and hatred.

    This primitive defense mechanism is called "splitting". To the narcissist, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. A narcissistic leader is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc.

    The "small people", the "rank and file", the "loyal soldiers" of the narcissist – his flock, his nation, his employees – they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated – is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of the narcissist. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

    DISCLAIMER

    I am not a mental health professional. Still, I have dedicated the last 12 years to the study of personality disorders in general and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in particular. I have authored nine (9) books about these topics, one of which is a Barnes and Noble best-seller ("Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"). My work is widely cited in scholarly tomes and publications and in the media. My books and the content of my Web site are based on correspondence since 1996 with hundreds of people suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (narcissists) and with thousands of their family members, friends, therapists, and colleagues.

    Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain – How the West Lost the East as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, and international affairs. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, Global Politician, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101. Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com You can download 30 of his free ebooks in http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/freebooks.html .

    [May 16, 2016] Dr. Sam Vaknin - Barack Obama Is a Narcissist

    Notable quotes:
    "... His posture and his body language were louder than his empty words. ..."
    "... One must never underestimate the manipulative genius of pathological narcissists. They project such an imposing personality that it overwhelms those around them. Charmed by the charisma of the narcissist, people become like clay in his hands. They cheerfully do his bidding and delight to be at his service. The narcissist shapes the world around himself and reduces others in his own inverted image. He creates a cult of personality. His admirers become his co-dependents. ..."
    "... Narcissists have no interest in things that do not help them to reach their personal objective. They are focused on one thing alone and that is power. All other issues are meaningless to them and they do not want to waste their precious time on trivialities. Anything that does not help them is beneath them and do not deserve their attention. ..."
    www.snopes.com

    snopes.com

    Dr. Vaknin states "I must confess I was impressed by Sen. Barack Obama from the first time I saw him. At first I was excited to see a black candidate. He looked youthful, spoke well, appeared to be confident - a wholesome presidential package. I was put off soon, not just because of his shallowness but also because there was an air of haughtiness in his demeanor that was unsettling. His posture and his body language were louder than his empty words.

    Obama's speeches are unlike any political speech we have heard in American history. Never a politician in this land had such quasi "religious" impact on so many people. The fact that Obama is a total incognito with zero accomplishment, makes this inexplicable infatuation alarming. Obama is not an ordinary man. He is not a genius. In fact he is quite ignorant on most important subjects. Barack Obama is a narcissist. Dr. Sam Vaknin, the author of the Malignant Self Love believes "Barack Obama appears to be a narcissist."

    Vaknin is a world authority on narcissism. He understands narcissism and describes the inner mind of a narcissist like no other person. When he talks about narcissism everyone listens.

    Vaknin says that Obama's language, posture and demeanor, and the testimonies of his closest, dearest and nearest suggest that the Senator is either a narcissist or he may have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Narcissists project a grandiose but false image of themselves.

    ....All these men had a tremendous influence over their fanciers. They created a personality cult around themselves and with their blazing speeches elevated their admirers, filled their hearts with enthusiasm and instilled in their minds a new zest for life. They gave them hope! They promised them the moon, but alas, invariably they brought them to their doom.

    When you are a victim of a cult of personality, you don't know it until it is too late. One determining factor in the development of NPD is childhood abuse. "Obama's early life was decidedly chaotic and replete with traumatic and mentally bruising dislocations," says Vaknin.

    "Mixed-race marriages were even less common then. His parents went through a divorce when he was an infant (two years old). Obama saw his father only once again, before he died in a car accident. Then his mother re-married and Obama had to relocate to Indonesia, a foreign land with a radically foreign culture, to be raised by a step-father. At the age of ten, he was whisked off to live with his maternal (white) grandparents. He saw his mother only intermittently in the following few years and then she vanished from his life in 1979. She died of cancer in 1995".

    One must never underestimate the manipulative genius of pathological narcissists. They project such an imposing personality that it overwhelms those around them. Charmed by the charisma of the narcissist, people become like clay in his hands. They cheerfully do his bidding and delight to be at his service. The narcissist shapes the world around himself and reduces others in his own inverted image. He creates a cult of personality. His admirers become his co-dependents.

    Narcissists have no interest in things that do not help them to reach their personal objective. They are focused on one thing alone and that is power. All other issues are meaningless to them and they do not want to waste their precious time on trivialities. Anything that does not help them is beneath them and do not deserve their attention.

    [May 15, 2016] The Truth About Donald Trump's Narcissism

    Aug. 11, 2015 | /time.com
    Even as the comet that is The Donald continues to streak across the political sky-as babes peer in wonder out their windows, dogs bay in fear in the night and scholars debate the source of the great apparition-it's worth taking a moment to feel some compassion for the man who's causing all the mischief.

    The fact is, it can't be easy to wake up every day and discover that you're still Donald Trump. You were Trump yesterday, you're Trump today, and barring some extraordinary development, you'll be Trump tomorrow.

    There are, certainly, compensations to being Donald Trump. You're fabulously wealthy; you have a lifetime pass to help yourself to younger and younger wives, even as you get older and older-a two-way Benjamin Button dynamic that is equal parts enviable and grotesque. You own homes in Manhattan; Palm Beach; upstate New York; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Rancho Palos Verdes, California; and you're free to bunk down in a grand suite in practically any hotel, apartment building or resort that flies the Trump flag, anywhere on the planet-and there are a lot of them.

    But none of that changes the reality of waking up every morning, looking in the bathroom mirror, and seeing Donald Trump staring back at you. And no, it's not the hair; that, after all, is a choice-one that may be hard for most people to understand, but a choice all the same, and there's a certain who-asked-you confidence in continuing to make it. The problem with being Trump is the same thing that explains the enormous fame and success of Trump: a naked neediness, a certain shamelessness, an insatiable hunger to be the largest, loudest, most honkingly conspicuous presence in any room-the great, braying Trumpness of Trump-and that's probably far less of a revel than it seems.

    Contented people, well-grounded people, people at ease inside their skin, just don't behave the way Trump does. The shorthand-and increasingly lazy-description for Trump in recent weeks is that he is the id of the Republican party, and there's some truth in that. Trump indeed appears to be emotionally incontinent, a man wholly without-you should pardon the expression-any psychic sphincter. The boundary most people draw between thought and speech, between emotion and action, does not appear to exist for Trump. He says what he wants to say, insults whom he wants to insult, and never, ever considers apology or retreat.

    But that's not someone driven by the pleasures of the id-which, whatever else you can say about it, is a thing of happy appetites and uncaring impulses. It's far more someone driven by the rage and pain and emotional brittleness of narcissism, and everywhere in Trump's life are the signs of what a fraught state of mind that can be.

    There is Trump's compulsive use of superlatives-especially when he's talking about his own accomplishments. Maybe what he's building or selling really is the greatest, the grandest, the biggest, the best, but if that's so, let the product do the talking. If it can't, maybe it ain't so great.

    There's the compulsive promotion of the Trump name. Other giants of commerce and industry use their own names sparingly-even when they're businesspeople who have the opportunity to turn themselves from a person into a brand. There is no GatesWare software, no BezosBooks.com; it's not Zuckerbook you log onto a dozen times a day.

    But the Trump name is everywhere in the Trump world, and there's a reason for that. You can look at something you've built with quiet pride and know it's yours, or you can look at it worriedly, insecurely, fretting that someone, somewhere may not know that you created it-diminishing you in the process. And so you stamp what you build with two-story letters identifying who you are- like a child writing his name on a baseball glove-just to make sure there's no misunderstanding.

    On occasion, there is an almost-almost-endearing cluelessness to the primal way Trump signals his pride in himself. He poses for pictures with his suit jacket flaring open, his hands on his hips, index and ring fingers pointing inevitably groinward-a great-ape fitness and genital display if ever there was one. After he bought the moribund Gulf+Western Building in New York City's Columbus Circle, covered it in gold-colored glass, converted it into a luxury hotel and residence, and reinforced it with steel and concrete to make it less subject to swaying in the wind, Trump boasted to The New York Times that it was going to be "the stiffest building in the city." If he was aware of his own psychic subtext, he gave no indication.

    It's not just real estate Trump seeks to own or at least control. There was his attempt to trademark the words "You're fired," after they became a catchphrase on his reality show, The Apprentice. There was his offer to donate $5 million to a charity of President Obama's choosing if Obama would release his college transcripts to him, Donald Trump. In both cases, Trump wants something-possession, attention, the obeisance of no less than the President-and so he demands it. The behavior is less id than infant-the most narcissistic stage of the human life cycle.

    The petulance of Trump's public feuds-with Rosie ODonnell ("a total loser"), Seth Meyers ("He's a stutterer"), Robert De Niro ("We're not dealing with Albert Einstein") and Arianna Huffington, ("Unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man . . .")-is wholly of a piece with the fragility of the narcissistic ego. In Trump's imaginings, it is Fox News's Megyn Kelly who owes him an apology for asking pointed questions during the Republican debate, not Trump who owes Kelly an apology for his boorish behavior and school-yard Tweets ("Wow, @ megynkelly really bombed tonight. People are going wild on twitter! Funny to watch"). As for his sneering misogyny-his reference to blood coming out of Kelly's "wherever"? Nothing to see here. It's Jeb Bush who really should apologize to women for his comments about defunding Planned Parenthood.

    Trump was right on that score; Bush was indeed clueless to suggest that the annual cost of protecting women's health should not be as high as $500 million-or just over $3.14 per American woman per year. So Bush did what people with at least some humility do: He acknowledged his mistake and at least tried to qualify the statement. That option, however, is closed for the narcissist. The overweening ego that defines the condition is often just a bit of misdirection intended to conceal the exact opposite-a deep well of insecurity and even self-loathing. Any admission of wrong shatters that masquerade.

    To call Donald Trump a narcissist is, of course, to state the clinically obvious. There is the egotism of narcissism, the grandiosity of narcissism, the social obtuseness of narcissism. But if Trump is an easy target, he is also a pitiable one. Narcissism isn't easy, it isn't fun, it isn't something to be waved off as a personal shortcoming that hurts only the narcissists themselves, any more than you can look at the drunk or philanderer or compulsive gambler and not see grief and regret in his future.

    For now, yes, the Trump show is fun to watch. It will be less so if the carnival barker with his look-at-me antics continues to distract people from a serious discussion of important issues. It will be less still if Trump actually does wind up as the nominee of a major political party or mounts an independent campaign and succeeds in tipping the vote one way or the other.

    But that kind of triumph is not the fate that awaits most narcissists. Their act becomes old, their opponents become bold, and the audience-inevitably-moves onto something else. Trump the phenomenon will surely become Trump the afterthought. He is a man who desperately hungers for respect and attention and who, by dint of that very desperation, will likely wind up with neither. The pain will be his; the relief will be ours.

    Adapted from The Narcissist Next Door: Understanding the Monster in Your Family, in Your Office, in Your Bed-in Your World by Jeffrey Kluger by arrangement with Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, Copyright © 2015 by Jeffrey Kluger.

    [May 15, 2016] 10 Great Self-Absorbed, Narcissistic Movie Assholes The Playlist

    blogs.indiewire.com

    There's more than a few examples of the archetype doing the rounds at the moment, from the three lovably awful kids in Amazon's brilliant "Transparent" to the title character of Alex Ross Perry's brilliant "Listen Up Philip," which opened in limited release last Friday and will continue to expand in the coming weeks. Said archetype is of course often complex, and "asshole" frequently doesn't cover it. These characters often are masking deep pain, insecurity, self-doubt and or misplaced arrogance. But we know these types and while often not likable, they're real and often quite hilariously awful.

    So, to mark the release of "Listen Up Philip," which features a deliciously prickly Jason Schwartzman in the lead as a egocentric young writer who damages all his relationships, romantic or otherwise, we thought we'd pick out ten of our favorite self-absorbed, unpleasant and yet curiously watchable characters to go alongside his great turn in the aforementioned film. It should be noted that most of our examples come from the last decade or two, but that's not entirely surprising, given that we're arguably living in the most self-obsessed, insular age in human history (this is of course the era of the selfie). Take a look at our picks below, and let us know your favorites in the comments section.

    Sweet and Lowdown

    Sean Penn as Emmett Ray in "Sweet & Lowdown" (2000)

    Woody Allen is an obvious touchstone for "Listen Up Philip" ("Husbands And Wives" is named specifically by Ross Perry, and Sydney Pollack's character in that arguably qualifies for this list too), and Allen's certainly representative of self-absorption. But none of his creations have been more self-absorbed, or more asshole-y, than Sean Penn's central figure in "Sweet & Lowdown." The role of Emmet Ray, a reasonably well-known, heavy-drinking, scumbag of a jazz guitarist whose life is continually overshadowed by that of his idol Django Reinhardt, was originally penned by Allen (under the original title of "The Jazz Baby," back in the early 1970s) to be played by the writer/director, but after nearly thirty years in a drawer, went to Penn (though Johnny Depp was also reportedly considered). And it's hard to imagine anyone doing a better job. Penn brings a mix of swagger and deeply insecure neuroticism that makes him very much a creation of Allen, but one that doesn't simply echo the filmmaker in the manner of so many of his leading-men surrogates. As with the lead of another later film about a guitarist, the Coens' "Inside Llewyn Davis," Ray is talented, but enough of a fuck-up (drunken, a sometime pimp, kind of a coward, tight with money, and with a self-inflated view of his own "genius") that he'll never make the kind of impact that he'd like to. And when potential redemption comes along in the shape of Samantha Morton's sweet, mute Hattie, he throws it away in order to marry socialite Uma Thurman. And when he's dumped by her, he's stunned when Hattie's moved on. He's almost irredeemably awful, and yet Penn's performance, one of his very best, manages to find pathos, as well as a pleasing level of comedy, in the character, the kind of thing the actor doesn't get to do enough.

    The Life Aquatic

    Bill Murray as Steve Zissou in "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou" (2004)
    Wes Anderson characters can generally be grouped under the banner of "self-regarding" to one degree or another, from Max in "Rushmore" to even the animated Mr. Fox. But his prize asshole might just be Steve Zissou, in Anderson's fourth film. An oceanographer and documentary maker modelled loosely after Jacques Cousteau, Zissou is a man whose limited fame and prestige has gone very much to his head, who drags his inexplicably loyal crew on an Ahab-ish revenge trip against the shark that ate his long-time partner (Seymour Cassel). He has a certain affection for the people he travels with (he does at least launch a rescue mission when even hated insurance company employee Bud Cort is captured by pirates), but is resolutely unlovable otherwise, particularly in his relations with basically everyone, from consistently hitting on pregnant reporter Jane (Cate Blanchett), treating Klaus (Willem Dafoe) like a bullied lapdog, or feuding childishly with his maybe-son Ned (Owen Wilson), who's eventually killed in a helicopter crash on the hunt for the shark. Anderson's characters, even cantankerous assholes like Royal Tenenbaum, usually find some form of redemption, but there's surprisingly little for Zissou: Ned, who turns out not to be his son anyway, dies, and Zissou is once again acclaimed at a film festival for his finished picture. It's a decidedly sour note, and perhaps one of the reasons that the lavish, lovingly made 'Aquatic' is possibly Anderson's least-loved picture.

    The Social Network

    Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg in "The Social Network" (2010) "You're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like because you're a nerd," says Rooney Mara's Erica to Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) at the beginning of David Fincher's Aaron Sorkin penned "The Social Network." "And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole." And it's perfect introduction to the condescending, snobbish, ambitious, narcisisstic founder of Facebook, the website that will eventually make him a billionaire.

    And as the film goes on, Zuckerberg never exactly improves: he creates an insulting blog about Erica, hacks into Harvard's network to steal photos of women to let people rate their attractiveness, possibly steals the idea for his site from a trio of other students, freezes out best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), and ends up rich but estranged, endlessly refreshing his friend request to Erica. He's selfish, self-regarding, prickly and defensive, but in the hands of Eisenberg's meticulous, brilliant performance, you can also see why.

    He embodies the true revenge of the nerds, a twisted and bitter one, but he's only that way because that's what he thinks he has to be. As his attorney, Marylin (Rashida Jones) tells him at the film's conclusion, "you're not an asshole, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be."

    A Fish Called Wanda

    Kevin Kline as Otto in "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988)
    Self-absorption is often something that seems to come with intellect, as demonstrated by the characters on this list. Many of these figures genuinely are the smartest person in the room and treat anyone they deem not to be on their level with according levels of contempt. Otto, in "A Fish Called Wanda," is something slightly different, and all the funnier for it: he's a moron who only thinks he's the smartest person in the room. The result, unusually for a broad comedy like Charles Crichton's 1988 hit (penned by co-star John Cleese), won Kevin Kline a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The character is the film's secret weapon, a borderline psychotic, Limey-hating dimwit with a severe inferiority complex, which manifests in his continual threats to those around not to call him stupid. But as his lover Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) tells him, "I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs." Otto is a man who thinks "the Gettysburg Address was where Lincoln lived," that the central message of Buddhism is "every man for himself," and that the London Underground is a political movement. He's the ultimate Ugly American abroad ("you are the vulgarian, you fuck," he tells Cleese's Archie when he calls him on his swearing), a terrible driver with the most hilarious off-putting cum face in cinematic history, and a total tour de force from Kline that still remains the actor's finest hour. He's the truly hateable kind of asshole in the best possible way. It says it all that, after somehow surviving being run over by a steamroller, he becomes Minister of Justice in apartheid-era South Africa…

    Young Adult

    Charlize Theron as Mavis Gary in "Young Adult" (2011)
    Arguably Jason Reitman's best film to date, a brilliant gender-swapped inversion of the arrested-development theme that's dominated the comedy movie in the last decade or so, "Young Adult" revolves around a titanic performance from Charlize Theron, playing one of the most unrepentantly unlikable, unchangeable characters in recent cinema. Theron, arguably in a career-best turn, plays Mavis, a divorced writer of the teen-aimed books whose series has just been cancelled. On a whim, she returns to her small Minnesota hometown in an attempt to win back her high-school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson), who's just a had baby with his wife (Elizabeth Reaser). Mavis is clearly having some kind of deluded break with reality, but part of the brilliance of Theron's performance is how unquestioning she is of herself: a Mean Girl grown up, chasing simpler times when she ruled the world, and prepared to do just about anything to get there. Theron never courts your sympathy, but there's still a deep sadness in Mavis' absolute lack of self-reflection, not least when she's comes close to a breakthrough, only to be talked out of it by one of her few remaining admirers (a brilliant Colette Wolfe). People talked about her bravery in changing her appearance for her Oscar-winning turn in "Monster," but there's just as little vanity in her performance here, and the film simply wouldn't work without her.

    Baumbach Squid

    The Assorted Jerks Of Noah Baumbach
    Another obvious touchstone for "Listen Up Philip," Noah Baumbach is arguably, and we mean this in the nicest way possible, the king of the self-absorbed asshole. In fact, we decided to amalgamate his collected jerks into one selection, because otherwise it could have taken up half of the entire list. The filmmaker's been interested in the archetype ever since his debut "Kicking And Screaming," about chronically procrastinating recent college grads, but (after co-writing the script for two of Wes Anderson's most self-absorbed characters with "The Life Aquatic" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox") reached something of a zenith with what we like to call 'The Asshole Trilogy' : "The Squid & The Whale," "Margot At The Wedding" and "Greenberg." 'Squid' is the best, as we gradually see the effects of self-absorbed, generally toxic novelist Bernard (Jeff Daniels) on his son (Jesse Eisenberg) during the parents' bitter divorce, ending movingly with Walt rejecting the Way Of The Jerk. 2007's 'Margot' was disliked by many at the time, but has only grown in stature, with Nicole Kidman's brittle, sharp turn proving to be a perfect fit for the filmmakers' world-view, appalling (but still human) as she takes her frustrations in life out on her son. 2010's "Greenberg" is the least of the three, despite a raw and uncompromising performance by Ben Stiller in the title role, a thwarted man-child who can't see much beyond his own needs and worldview. The three films aren't the easiest watch (no wonder that Baumbach's next film, the delightful "Frances Ha," felt like such a breath of fresh air), but together do a pretty great job at encapsulating the era of mammoth selfishness.

    Roger Dodger

    Campbell Scott as Roger Swanson in "Roger Dodger" (2002)
    Jesse Eisenberg makes another appearance on this list (his more malevolent side in the recent "The Double" could also have qualified), but for once, he's not the asshole. That would be Campbell Scott, who is remarkably brilliant in Dylan Kidd's minor classic "Roger Dodger." Scott plays the titular Roger Swanson, a New York ad-man who's asked by his 16-year-old nephew to help him learn how to seduce women so he can lose his virginity. Roger's a self-described player and essentially a misogynist, and attempts to induct his young relative in what he describes as essentially a war of the sexes. A smarmy early '00s precursor to today's pick-up artist scumbags, Roger doesn't have the charm that he thinks he does, particularly given that he's in an unacknowledged meltdown after being dumped by lover/boss Isabella Rosselini. Like many such people, he hates almost everyone around him, but no one brings out quite so much bile in him as himself, and it's this brilliant duality that makes the performance one of Scott's best. Kidd's film is a woozy, witty examination of sex and masculinity, and though it missteps a little towards the end in offering something of a redemption for the character, it still gave us one of the more iconic cinematic douchebags of the last couple of decades.

    Rachel Getting Married

    Anne Hathaway as Kym in "Rachel Getting Married" (2008)
    We think of being an asshole as a specifically male trait, but we've already seen with "Young Adult" and "Margot At The Wedding" that there's no gender divide. "Rachel Getting Married" is another great example, one that's arguably sadder and psychologically richer than either. Jonathan Demme's film stars a revelatory Anne Hathaway as Kym, who returns home from drug rehab to attend the wedding of her sister (Rosemarie DeWitt), only for the family's long-brushed-over painful past to emerge, as it tends to do in movies like this one. Kym initially seems like a comically awful person, a selfish, up-staging drug addict who hijacks the rehearsal dinner to make twelve-step apologies, and who seems to delight in deliberately upsetting almost anyone in her family and not accepting any blame for her actions. But over time, Kym richens, as we learn that she killed her younger brother in a car accident when she was high, and while that itself is clearly a terrible and selfish action, it's only continued to haunt her, and Hathaway is superb in painting a picture of a woman who longs to be forgiven by people who would like to, but might just find it impossible. Demme and the movie never let her off the hook, but that whatever small progress she might make happens at all feels all the more moving for being so hard-won.

    As Good As It Gets

    Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets" (1997)
    Ol' Jack plays cantankerous assholes the way Tom Hanks plays nice guys or Tom Cruise plays people who jumps off tall buildings: brilliantly, vigorously and frequently. In James L. Brooks' award-winning rom-com, Nicholson builds on earlier performances like "Five Easy Pieces" "Carnal Knowledge" and "Heartburn" to create something like a crown prince of unlikable fellas, OCD-suffering, racist, homophobic, misogynist misanthrope novelist Melvin Udall, whose carefully controlled life is upended by the intervention of gay neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear), and single-mother waitress Carol (Helen Hunt). Nicholson might be playing a slightly sitcom-ish, Archie Bunker-ish character, but the mix of his typical devilish charm, smartly and sparingly used, and a detailed psychological realism that makes Melvin into more than just an archetype, elevated the performance to Oscar-winning effect. Though of course it helps that Nicholson is clearly relishing the lovingly and intricately-written speeches that he gets to deploy ("never, never interrupt me, okay?," he tells Simon. "Not if there's a fire, not even if you hear the sound of a thud from my home and one week later there's a smell coming from there that can only be a decaying human body and you have to hold a hanky to your face because the stench is so thick that you think you're going to faint"). There's a certain degree of cheesiness to the way that Melvin softens up thanks to the love of a good woman, but Jack never makes you doubt it for a minute.

    Last Days of Disco

    The Many Assholes Of Whit Stillman
    Like Baumbach, Whit Stillman is a director who's made a career with characters who can't quite see past their own bubble of existence (and, usually, privilege), up to and including his current Amazon pilot "The Cosmopolitans." The pattern began with his debut "Metropolitan," in which Stillman favorite Chris Eigeman plays arguably the platonic ideal of the director's favorite archetype, a big-mouthed upper-class cynic who one can imagine going into Wall Street and essentially becoming Patrick Bateman in years to come ('"the surrealists were just bunch of social climbers," he condescendingly says at one point). Follow-up "Barcelona" sees Eigeman in a similarly smug role, the ugly American abroad, while "The Last Days Of Disco" sees Kate Beckinsale (who's fantastic here) as a particularly callow example of the type ("remember the Woodstock generation of the 1960s that were so full of themselves and conceited? None of them could dance," she tells someone at one point with the naivety of youth). If one was ungenerous, one could argue that the narrow worldview of his films makes Stillman and his archaic language rather self-absorbed himself, but that's a misreading: Stillman is ultimately a social satirist, a sort of cinematic heir to Jane Austen (whose influence is felt in his most recent picture, "Damsels In Distress," more than ever), savagely poking at the ridiculous attitudes and views of his characters without ever quite judging them.

    Honorable Mentions: There were various other possibilities that we dismissed as not quite being quite the right brand of asshole for this specific theme: think of Kirk Douglas in "Ace In The Hole," Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster in "Sweet Smell Of Success" (too toxic), even William Atherton in "Die Hard" and "Ghostbusters" (which veers closer to a simple villain). Among the ones who came closest to qualifying were Ed Norton and Micheal Keaton in "Birdman" (we wrote about their self-absorbed asshole-ish tendencies here), Rachel McAdams in "Mean Girls," Matt Damon in "The Departed," Paul Reiser in "Aliens," Aaron Eckhart in "In The Company Of Men," and Tom Hulce in "Amadeus," along with both Jason Schwartzman's villain, and arguably Michael Cera's hero, in "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World." Any others? Let us know below

    [May 15, 2016] Famous Narcissistic Movie Characters -

    May 14, 2013 | The Narcissistic Life

    If you want observe people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or strong narcissistic traits, look no further than your TV set. There are many memorable movie characters who display the basic characteristics of narcissism: the grandiose and overinflated sense of self, lack of empathy, exploitation of others with no remorse, and excessive self-focus. Listed below are some of the more well-known narcissists portrayed in the movies:

    Movie: The Devil Wears Prada
    Played By: Meryl Streep
    About: Now this is an NPD character that sticks with you.

    Movie: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
    Played By: Kenneth Branagh
    About: This is the definition of narcissism. Lockhart is hilarious. One of the comical moments from the series is when Lockhart is talking to Harry during his detention and says "Fame is a fickle friend, Harry. Celebrity is as celebrity does. Remember that." *turn and smile* He goes to such lengths as to fake his fame and risk the deaths of many students just to keep his ego fed.

    Movie: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    Played By: Sam Rockwell
    About: Zaphod (and Sam Rockwell) is great and Rockwell plays him well- he's fun for the role he has.

    Movie: American Psycho
    Played By: Christian Bale
    About: Bale plays the role with what appears to be ease. He's a completely memorable character with some very iconic scenes.

    Movie: Dinner for Schmucks
    Played By: Jemaine Clements
    About: Whether or not you liked the movie, most have agreed that Jamaine Clements was the best part.

    Movie: The American Pie Trilogy
    Played By: Seann William Scott
    About: Stifler thinks he's hot stuff, almost obnoxiously so. But he's not without his insecurities underneath it all. He's probably not a true narcissist as the rest on this list–it's much more of a front, at least partially. But there's no doubting he thinks highly of himself, and he's funny while he thinks so.

    Movie: Zoolander
    Played By: Ben Stiller
    About: "I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is."

    Movie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall/Get Him to the Greek
    Played by: Russell Brand
    About: Russell Brand was hilarious in them–clearly the best part of the movies.

    Movie: The Princess Bride
    Played By: Wallace Shawn
    About: Vizzini: "I can't compete with you physically, and you're no match for my brains." Westley: "You're that smart?" Vizzini: "Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato? Aristotle? Socrates?" Westley: "Yes." Vizzini: "Morons."

    Movie: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
    Played By: Will Ferrell
    About: The narcissism is right there in the title of the film! He's a fun character, wrapped up in his own little world.

    MOVIE: Gaslight
    Played by: Charles Boyer
    ABOUT: This classic movie is where the term gaslighting comes from, to indicate how an N (or other abuser) lies to you to make you doubt your experience of reality. Although the film is a bit dated now (it was made in the 1940s) it is still extremely gripping and terrifying. The narcissist in this film, Gregory Anton, is trying to deliberately send his new wife insane in order to inherit from her. An absolute must-watch for anybody interest in learning more about malignant NPD.

    MOVIE: Mommie Dearest
    Played By: Faye Dunaway
    ABOUT: A classic film. It's the real-life story of total narcissist Joan Crawford and her daughter Christina. This is a chillingly accurate portrayal of the hell of being raised by a narcissist.

    MOVIE: White Oleander
    Played by: Michelle Pfeiffer
    ABOUT: Michelle Pfeiffer plays the narcissistic mother in this amazing film, and by all accounts does a terrific job.

    MOVIE: Gone With the Wind
    Played by: Vivien Leigh
    ABOUT: Scarlett O'Hara is a total narcissist in this classic tale.

    Other Movies Portraying Narcissistic Characters

    • American Beauty (narcissistic mother)
    • East of Eden (narcissistic father)
    • Ordinary People (narcissistic mother)
    • Mermaids (Cher as Mrs. Flax)
    • Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (narcissistic sister)
    • Sybil (narcissistic mother)
    • The Little Foxes (narcissistic mother)
    • Flowers in the Attic (narcissistic mother)
    • Matilda (both parents are narcissists)
    • Coraline (both "other" parents are narcissists)
    • Precious (narcissistic mother)
    • Girl Interrupted (Angelina Jolie)
    • Life or Something Like It (Angelina Jolie)

    References:

    http://www.narcissism101.com/NarcissistsinMedia/narcissistsinmov.html
    http://dementeddoorknob.blogspot.com/2010/10/top-10-favorite-narcissistic-characters.html
    http://daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/movies-featuring-npd.html
    http://www.outofthefog.net/Movies.html

    [Mar 22, 2016] The Vampire's Bite Victims of Narcissists Speak Out

    Notable quotes:
    "... N would [even] lie when the truth would save his neck ..."
    "... "I lie. Compulsively and needlessly. All the time. About everything. And I often contradict myself. Why do I need to do this? To make myself interesting or attractive. In other words, to secure narcissistic supply (attention, admiration, adulation, gossip )." ..."
    "... Because they're not genuinely interested in others, they're poor listeners ..."
    "... They can be extremely mean-spirited (as in taking an almost perverse delight in raining on another's parade). ..."
    "... They're untrustworthy: As one discussant bluntly puts it: "Don't tell them anything you aren't prepared to get shoved up your butt later ..."
    "... Despite their self- confident , better-than-thou exterior, they often betray feelings of weakness, insecurity, inferiority, jealousy , and cowardice. One commenter even sums them up as "emotional cripples." ..."
    "... What I, and others on this board, have learned from dealing with N bullies in our personal lives applies to terrorists. There can be no appeasement, no attempting to reason with them, no attempt to "fix" them, to unseat their deep-seated hatred, shame and envy. Sounds terribly harsh to the uninitiated, but not recognizing that can only lead to our own destruction. ..."
    "... Looking back on ALL the Ns I've ever known and merged with, I see there WERE signs within minutes of meeting the N that they were grossly selfish, immoral, sex -addicted or [that] something was definitely 'off' [about them]. I didn't honour my intuition, gut feelings and instinct. The truth is that I had almost no experience setting healthy boundaries. ..."
    Apr 23, 2014 | Psychology Today
    Of all the oppressive, crazy-making features of the narcissist, the one perhaps most frequently cited is their exasperating dishonesty. And such untruthfulness has at times led their no-longer-so-gullible victims to describe them as con artists. Here's a highly selective sampling of such complaints:

    The controversial Dr. Sam Vaknin, creator of this forum on narcissism and himself a self-confessed NPD, has written profusely-at times, brilliantly-on the subject. In his article "Pseudologica Fantastica," he freely admits:

    ... ... ...

    Below, I'll summarize some other distressing characteristics of the narcissist regularly alluded to by their victims:

    The one consolation for victims of the narcissist's "dagger" (or "vampirish teeth") is the hard-won insights they eventually gain, which makes it possible for at least some of them to repudiate a relationship that's been so toxic to them. Again, in their own (sadder-but-wiser) words:

    [Mar 22, 2016] The Secret to Spotting Subtle Narcissists

    Notable quotes:
    "... The entitlement surge of subtle narcissism is a bit like the normally happy drunk suddenly becoming surly and going on a bender, cleaning out the liquor cabinets and storming off to buy more booze. ..."
    "... Your partner begins complaining about the messy house after your pregnancy, feeling he works hard enough that he deserves to come home to a clean house.... ..."
    Mar 16, 2016 | Psychology Today

    ...narcissism is marked by an entitlement surge-those moments when a normally understanding friend or partner or coworker angrily behaves as if the world owes them. It's usually triggered by a sudden fear that their special status has been threatened in some way. Until this point, their need for the world to revolve around them is mostly under wraps, because it hasn't been called into question. Kevin didn't ask for Sherry's support or even try to understand how hard her year after her mother's death had been. In his mind, he deserved her full understanding because he felt so close to his dream of a becoming a law partner.

    The entitlement surge of subtle narcissism is a bit like the normally happy drunk suddenly becoming surly and going on a bender, cleaning out the liquor cabinets and storming off to buy more booze. Your usually affable boss suddenly tears into you, worried that the latest project (his idea) is failing. Unbeknownst to you, he's secretly had plans to become the CEO ever since he arrived. Your partner begins complaining about the messy house after your pregnancy, feeling he works hard enough that he deserves to come home to a clean house....

    ... ... ...

    To read more about subtle (and dangerous) narcissism, including specific, research-backed strategies to protect yourself from it, order Rethinking Narcissism (link is external) today.

    [Mar 22, 2016] The 5 Most Dangerous Myths About Narcissism (Part 2)

    Notable quotes:
    "... The other narcissist is my mother. For years I lived in terror of her rages, and how the family pretty much revolves around her. I didn't understand how a parent could be so cruel, and assume everyone else was a bad person. ..."
    "... As far as healthy narcissism goes, it's something I'm working on. My mother has stripped all of our self-esteem, as she relishes putting loved one's fault under the microscope as often and loudly as possible. I grew up with massive amounts of fear and anxiety assuming everyone was very concerned about every minor mistake I made. I wish I had worked on this earlier. Mom taught me how to make a mountain out of a tiny molehill. ..."
    "... It's true, many children who've lived with extremely narcissistic parents--and I count myself among them--grow up to struggle with a more generous self-image. ..."
    Feb 17, 2016 | Psychology Today

    Narcissism has never been an official mental health disorder. Narcissist isn't a recognized diagnostic descriptor either; it's shorthand for someone who scores higher than the average on narcissism measures and may or may not be disordered

    ...It's a mistake to talk about "symptoms of narcissism." What people usually mean is symptoms of pathological narcissism or NPD.

    Anonymous on February 17, 2016 - 9:04am

    I have two narcissists in my family. One borders on sociopathy so I avoid her, she scares me. The other narcissist is my mother. For years I lived in terror of her rages, and how the family pretty much revolves around her. I didn't understand how a parent could be so cruel, and assume everyone else was a bad person.

    But now that can attach a label to the problem and get a better understanding of what is happening and why, I can create much better boundaries and sit back and watch the crazy unfold. My mother is pretty frustrated that her usual tricks aren't having the impact on me that they once did.

    As far as healthy narcissism goes, it's something I'm working on. My mother has stripped all of our self-esteem, as she relishes putting loved one's fault under the microscope as often and loudly as possible. I grew up with massive amounts of fear and anxiety assuming everyone was very concerned about every minor mistake I made. I wish I had worked on this earlier. Mom taught me how to make a mountain out of a tiny molehill.

    Craig Malkin PhD on February 19, 2016

    It sounds like you've been through hell

    And come back. It's true, many children who've lived with extremely narcissistic parents--and I count myself among them--grow up to struggle with a more generous self-image. It's like we swallow that parent whole, their voice plaguing us at every turn. It's hard work silencing that inner critic. But that's the task -- well worth undertaking-- of overcoming echoism and finding our voices. I wish you well in continuing to find yours.

    [Mar 22, 2016] 9 Enlightening Quotes on Narcissists

    Notable quotes:
    "... In fact, one of their central defenses (or stratagems) is to endlessly project onto others the very flaws (and fears!) they're unable, or unwilling, to allow into awareness. ..."
    "... "Narcissists are great con-artists. After all, they succeed in deluding themselves! As a result, very few professionals see through them." ~ ..."
    "... most therapists learn quickly enough the signs and signals that give away a narcissistic patient (e.g., regularly blaming others for their problems, taking very little responsibility for why their lives aren't working, telling them how to do therapy , ..."
    Apr 14, 2014 | Psychology Today

    Curiously, deep, deep down-and undoubtedly unconscious to them-they know they're not really what they project. In fact, one of their central defenses (or stratagems) is to endlessly project onto others the very flaws (and fears!) they're unable, or unwilling, to allow into awareness. As critical as they are about others' shortcomings, they're amazingly blind to their own. (And in this respect, the reader might take a look at my earlier piece, "The Narcissist's Dilemma: They Can Dish It Out, But . . . ").

    ... ... ...

    "To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance." ~ Oscar Wilde

    Although as stated, this quote is undoubtedly ambiguous, the term "romance" leads me to believe that Wilde's notion of self-love leans toward the pathological-and maybe the auto-erotic as well. But healthy self-love really has very little to do with the romantic: it's grounded in positive self-regard and an acceptance of one's flaws and frailties. On the contrary, being "in love with" oneself (as implied by Wilde's quote) suggests a self-absorption that can only be detrimental to narcissists in their relationships with others. In fact, one of the most common descriptions of unhealthy narcissism emphasizes their inability to care about other people-apart, that is, from how these others might satisfy the demands of their (insatiable) egos.

    "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm, but the harm [that they cause] does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves." ~ T. S. Eliot

    This quote makes a vital distinction between narcissists' being malevolent (cf. the sociopath) and their simply lacking concern about how their behaviors might adversely affect others. It's yet another way of drawing attention to their supreme self-absorption, which makes it impossible for them to empathically identify with another's feelings, Most of the time they don't consciously intend to take advantage of others. Such exploitation is merely a side effect of their overriding need to feel more important and better than others-and so feel "good enough." Nonetheless, their insensitivity to the wants and needs of those around them can at times be nothing less than astonishing.

    ... ... ...

    "Narcissists are great con-artists. After all, they succeed in deluding themselves! As a result, very few professionals see through them." ~ anonymous.

    This statement seems somewhat exaggerated to me. For most therapists learn quickly enough the signs and signals that give away a narcissistic patient (e.g., regularly blaming others for their problems, taking very little responsibility for why their lives aren't working, telling them how to do therapy, etc.).

    Still, the quote is instructive in pointing out not only the enormous self-deception in the way narcissists see themselves, but also their singular expertise in deceiving others. Speaking with bogus authority, they typically have an excellent track record in getting others to see things as they do, even though the result to those so taken in can be disastrous (e.g., being persuaded to make a truly ill-considered investment).

    All of which is to say that-on many different levels-getting involved with a narcissist can be as dangerous as a snake bite. And the unexpected sting of it all can, alas, last a good deal longer.

    Note 1: In examining literally hundreds of quotes for this post, I came across many that centered not anywhere so much on the narcissist as on their hapless victims. Consequently, my next post will explore the damage that narcissists-especially those far out on the narcissistic continuum -do to those who unwittingly put their trust in them. It's called "The Vampire's Bite: Victims of Narcissists Speak Out."

    Note 2: If you'd like to explore other posts I've written on narcissism, here are the links:

    Note 3: If you'd like to check out other posts I've done for Psychology Today blogs generally-on a broad variety of topics-click here.

    [Mar 16, 2016] The Narcissicist’s Seduction: A Card Trick by Ixchel

    The site is down as domain name expired, so the article is reproduced in full. The same Idealize-seduce-devalue-discard cycle is used by narcissists for subordinates.
    | phoenixsphere.wordpress.com

    Have you ever watched someone perform a card trick which appeared to be magic? Has anyone ever explained a ‘magic’ card trick so that suddenly you understood how it worked and why you were fooled by it in the first place? Have you ever experienced the ‘Aha!’ moment which comes after dissecting the steps of a card trick?

    The Narcissist‘s Seduction is a card trick. (Please note that while using the term narcissist, I am also referring to Antisocial personality disorder, sociopaths, psychopaths, as all these disorders seem to bleed into each other in the middle and all perform many of the same card tricks.) Before you know that it is a trick, it appears to be magic. Once you’ve been fooled, however, you can dissect the layers and see exactly how the narcissist deceived you and with what ease you were deceived.

    While the Narcissist performs his card trick of seduction upon you, the world around you, once gray and common, becomes magical. You would never guess that the very special relationship you are developing with the narcissist is actually a formulated recipe to create an aura of intimacy so that you will open up your trust and let this person into your life completely by throwing normal caution to the wind.

    The narcissict who came back into my life after an absence of eighteen years played the most spellbinding of card tricks on me. It lasted close to three years, during which time I was under his control.

    With an onslaught of cards and letters pleading forgiveness based on his ‘getting his act together’, with gifts of money and jewelry to myself and our adult daughter (whom he had not supported or raised), with nice clothes, exceptional manners and excessive friendliness to our friends, with constant attention, flowers, and putting his best foot forward by accentuating his upcoming art show and hiding his degenerate friends, by making puppy dog eyes and expressing his sadness at the years spent without us, by swearing to our daughter that he had always been and would always be in love with her mother, by lying about his drinking and getting high, my ex husband the narcissist managed to wriggle a center stage position in our lives within four months of contacting us.

    As my daughter recalls, “He sent a few gifts, said the right things, dressed nicely, was extremely polite, and we opened the door of our life wide open to him, willing on very little grounds to forgive all his previous bad behavior and neglect.”

    As an opener of the card trick, the narcissist preys upon your vulnerabilities. I was vulnerable to this narcissist for several reasons. First, I was disappointed in love and lonely. Second, I had unresolved feelings for the narcissist. Third, I had a fanciful delusion of ‘true love’ which was probably based upon our relationship when were twenty and he had worshipped me on a pedestal. Fourth, I had a belief in life as a spiritual journey, in which I should trust the people who came into my life if they appeared to have good intentions. Finally, I had a soft heart and forgave easily.

    All of these characteristics combined within me to create a perfect storm for the narcissist invasion of Spring 2008.

    When the curtain fell two and a half years later, the narcissist’s mask dropped and I could see him for what he truly was- an emotional manipulator who had used me for a sexual relationship and as a short cut to have a relationship with our daughter. Heartbroken, my world broke apart, and I have chronicled my emotional reeling in the first several months of this blog.

    For many months last year, every day brought new revelations of what the narcissist had lied to me about, as I pieced together the pieces of the shattered reality he had convinced me to be true.

    In retrospect, I realize that his whole performance was a card trick. I see through it all. I see my vulnerability, his deliberate lies and putting his best face forward, his overzealous politeness to my friends and family, the gifts, the long phone calls, the vows of eternal love, as simply steps of the narcissist’s card trick of seduction. The trick worked; he eased his way into our lives without ever having to explain or atone for his past behavior. He simply glossed over it.

    The narcissist card trick is all about show. It is about anticipating what others will want to see in order to gain their trust. The trick is about front loading affection and intimacy with gifts and money. In this way, it is a sort of bribery. Narcissists lie, cheat and bribe their way into our lives because they want something from us. We are only a means to an end for them, and the seduction trick is their entrance ticket into our hearts.

    Now that I see how the trick works, it is no longer a mystery. It is perfectly clear. But my knowledge is four years too late.

    Namaste.

    Feeling Like Spilling Your Guts to the Narcissist?

    Are you reading self-help books telling you to spill your guts and Save Your Relationship?

    Keep your self-examination PRIVATE. Do not tell your spouse. Do not send him or her a letter of apology, listing your many flaws and faults. Many of us make that mistake before learning about pathological narcissism. There is a huge distinction between normal narcissism and pathological and one of the differences is introspection. When people who naturally introspect realize they have contributed to problems in the relationship, they take responsibility for themselves and alter their behavior.

    In a normal relationship, both people recognize their ‘shadow side’: the things we do unconsciously that disturb us and confuse a partner. We see it and we change it and we grow as a result. We assume our relationship with a narcissist works the same way–that once we admit we were selfish or self-centered, they will do likewise.

    Have you noticed how healing an argument can be when both people take a hard look at themselves, admit their flaws, and apologize? When people apologize, I’ve noticed that other people are quick to forgive because they also realize that despite their best efforts to love someone, they ALSO make mistakes. With the narcissist however, admitting your flaws LETS THEM OFF THE HOOK. What happens afterwards is that during another altercation, the narcissist USES every intimacy you revealed about yourself to justify WHY they did what they did. You feel like a failure and the narcissist is off the hook….AGAIN. As long as we admit to having contributed to ‘the problem’, the narcissist will AVOID (deny) his or her responsibility!

    This is counter-intuitive for people who are NOT narcissists. So we apologize again, hoping the narcissist will mirror our behavior by doing likewise and they DO NOT. In fact, they will build on your humble admission of fault as a character trait. For example: everyone does things that are ‘selfish’ (insert whatever ‘trait’ you want here). You say, “I am so sorry for only thinking of myself!” and you expect this admission to trigger a similar response from your partner. Instead, each time you are taking responsibility for your behavior, the narcissist accuses you of being selfish. He or she doesn’t say, “I feel neglected when you do such-and-such”. No. Why not? Because “I feel neglected” is self-revelatory. Instead, the narcissist says, “You are a Selfish person. Even YOU admit it.”

    Most people who have written about their break-up with a narcissist, have learned to introspect and take responsibility for their part in the fiasco. Most people also learn over time, that the narcissist will use any excuse, ANY EXCUSE AT ALL, to avoid taking responsibility. Your short list of defects, mistakes, flaws, and weaknesses become the reason WHY the narcissist acted the way they did. It may appear to others that we’re pointing accusatory fingers at narcissists without examining ourselves. This is simply NOT true. We have learned, even if we aren’t conscious of it, that our admission of personal weakness will be used against us.In a normal relationship, people are LOATH to bring up any intimacy someone has revealed about themselves. They respect the person’s willingness to be honest about their problems. They empathize with how it feels when your weaknesses are used like weapons of humiliation. There’s an invisible line that we do not cross, even if we are angry and defensive. We do not use someone’s painful revelations against them.Most people have been taking responsibility throughout the relationship, catching themselves in the act and apologizing. They didn’t realize the narcissist was gathering ammunition instead of examining him or herself. The narcissist may cry or weep or appear to be suffering when you apologize but sad to say, it’s not real. You’ll know that the next time you’ve done something really swell and the narcissist says, “You may have excelled at that project, sweetie, but that’s because you are so incredibly SELFISH. Even YOU said so!”

    During my divorce, I read a recommended book titled “Spiritual Divorce” and dutifully listed my mistakes, flaws, ignroance, blah-blah-blah and tried to have a ‘closure’ conversation with my spouse. I did not know about narcissism at the time. Do Not Do This if you believe your partner is narcissistic. It releases them from whatever introspection they are capable of and increases your VULNERABILITY. It’s humiliating when your tender admissions, offered in ‘good faith‘, used against you. Or shared with the narcissist’s new rescuer.

    You must be cautious when sorting through self-help books that are NOT recommended for pathological relationships. YOU, the non-N, may end up being humiliated, degraded, and your most spiritual aspects of yourself brutalized. If you want (or feel a need) to self-deprecate, please post to a support group that allows you to express your feelings whatever they may be. For some reason, most people WANT to admit the things they did ‘wrong’. We need to purge and confess to being flawed. That’s the good and the bad about having a conscience.

    Remember: Pointing fingers at narcissists is difficult for Non-Ns. We want to be fair. We want to be honest. For every finger pointed at the N, we have three pointed back towards ourselves. So in order to feel good about ourselves, we can admit to having flaws, shadows and defects, too. But we CANNOT, SHOULD NOT, DO NOT need to admit this to the narcissist. It’s not good for YOU and it’s definitely NOT good for the narcissist.

    When narcissists feel threatened, they cannot stop themselves from using whatever ammunition they have to defend themselves. Some narcissists regret their behavior afterwards but not nearly as much as we regret having trusted them.Hugs,

    [Dec 17, 2014] Is Your Boss a Psychopath By Alan Deutschman

    July 1, 2005 | Fast Company

    Odds are you've run across one of these characters in your career. They're glib, charming, manipulative, deceitful, ruthless — and very, very destructive. And there may be lots of them in America's corner offices.

    One of the most provocative ideas about business in this decade so far surfaced in a most unlikely place. The forum wasn't the Harvard Business School or one of those $4,000-a-head conferences where Silicon Valley's venture capitalists search for the next big thing. It was a convention of Canadian cops in the far-flung province of Newfoundland. The speaker, a 71-year-old professor emeritus from the University of British Columbia, remains virtually unknown in the business realm. But he's renowned in his own field: criminal psychology. Robert Hare is the creator of the Psychopathy Checklist. The 20-item personality evaluation has exerted enormous influence in its quarter-century history. It's the standard tool for making clinical diagnoses of psychopaths — the 1% of the general population that isn't burdened by conscience. Psychopaths have a profound lack of empathy. They use other people callously and remorselessly for their own ends. They seduce victims with a hypnotic charm that masks their true nature as pathological liars, master con artists, and heartless manipulators. Easily bored, they crave constant stimulation, so they seek thrills from real-life "games" they can win — and take pleasure from their power over other people.

    On that August day in 2002, Hare gave a talk on psychopathy to about 150 police and law-enforcement officials. He was a legendary figure to that crowd. The FBI and the British justice system have long relied on his advice. He created the P-Scan, a test widely used by police departments to screen new recruits for psychopathy, and his ideas have inspired the testing of firefighters, teachers, and operators of nuclear power plants.

    According to the Canadian Press and Toronto Sun reporters who rescued the moment from obscurity, Hare began by talking about Mafia hit men and sex offenders, whose photos were projected on a large screen behind him. But then those images were replaced by pictures of top executives from WorldCom, which had just declared bankruptcy, and Enron, which imploded only months earlier. The securities frauds would eventually lead to long prison sentences for WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and Enron CFO Andrew Fastow.

    "These are callous, cold-blooded individuals," Hare said.

    "They don't care that you have thoughts and feelings. They have no sense of guilt or remorse." He talked about the pain and suffering the corporate rogues had inflicted on thousands of people who had lost their jobs, or their life's savings. Some of those victims would succumb to heart attacks or commit suicide, he said.

    Then Hare came out with a startling proposal. He said that the recent corporate scandals could have been prevented if CEOs were screened for psychopathic behavior. "Why wouldn't we want to screen them?" he asked. "We screen police officers, teachers. Why not people who are going to handle billions of dollars?"\

    It's Hare's latest contribution to the public awareness of "corporate psychopathy." He appeared in the 2003 documentary The Corporation, giving authority to the film's premise that corporations are "sociopathic" (a synonym for "psychopathic") because they ruthlessly seek their own selfish interests — "shareholder value" — without regard for the harms they cause to others, such as environmental damage.

    Is Hare right? Are corporations fundamentally psychopathic organizations that attract similarly disposed people? It's a compelling idea, especially given the recent evidence. Such scandals as Enron and WorldCom aren't just aberrations; they represent what can happen when some basic currents in our business culture turn malignant. We're worshipful of top executives who seem charismatic, visionary, and tough. So long as they're lifting profits and stock prices, we're willing to overlook that they can also be callous, conning, manipulative, deceitful, verbally and psychologically abusive, remorseless, exploitative, self-delusional, irresponsible, and megalomaniacal. So we collude in the elevation of leaders who are sadly insensitive to hurting others and society at large.

    But wait, you say: Don't bona fide psychopaths become serial killers or other kinds of violent criminals, rather than the guys in the next cubicle or the corner office? That was the conventional wisdom. Indeed, Hare began his work by studying men in prison. Granted, that's still an unusually good place to look for the conscience-impaired. The average Psychopathy Checklist score for incarcerated male offenders in North America is 23.3, out of a possible 40. hic," the range for the most violent offenders. Hare has said that the typical citizen would score a 3 or 4, while anything below that is "sliding into sainthood."

    On the broad continuum between the ethical everyman and the predatory killer, there's plenty of room for people who are ruthless but not violent. This is where you're likely to find such people as Ebbers, Fastow, ImClone CEO Sam Waksal, and hotelier Leona Helmsley. We put several big-name CEOs through the checklist, and they scored as "moderately psychopathic"; our quiz on page 48 lets you try a similar exercise with your favorite boss. And this summer, together with New York industrial psychologist Paul Babiak, Hare begins marketing the B-Scan, a personality test that companies can use to spot job candidates who may have an MBA but lack a conscience. "I always said that if I wasn't studying psychopaths in prison, I'd do it at the stock exchange," Hare told Fast Company. "There are certainly more people in the business world who would score high in the psychopathic dimension than in the general population. You'll find them in any organization where, by the nature of one's position, you have power and control over other people and the opportunity to get something."

    There's evidence that the business climate has become even more hospitable to psychopaths in recent years. In pioneering long-term studies of psychopaths in the workplace, Babiak focused on a half-dozen unnamed companies: One was a fast-growing high-tech firm, and the others were large multinationals undergoing dramatic organizational changes — severe downsizing, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures. That's just the sort of corporate tumult that has increasingly characterized the U.S. business landscape in the last couple of decades. And just as wars can produce exciting opportunities for murderous psychopaths to shine (think of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic), Babiak found that these organizational shake-ups created a welcoming environment for the corporate killer. "The psychopath has no difficulty dealing with the consequences of rapid change; in fact, he or she thrives on it," Babiak claims. "Organizational chaos provides both the necessary stimulation for psychopathic thrill seeking and sufficient cover for psychopathic manipulation and abusive behavior."

    And you can make a compelling case that the New Economy, with its rule-breaking and roller-coaster results, is just dandy for folks with psychopathic traits too. A slow-moving old-economy corporation would be too boring for a psychopath, who needs constant stimulation. Its rigid structures and processes and predictable ways might stymie his unethical scheming. But a charge-ahead New Economy maverick — an Enron, for instance — would seem the ideal place for this kind of operator.

    But how can we recognize psychopathic types? Hare has revised his Psychopathy Checklist (known as the PCL-R, or simply "the Hare") to make it easier to identify so-called subcriminal or corporate psychopaths. He has broken down the 20 personality characteristics into two subsets, or "factors." Corporate psychopaths score high on Factor 1, the "selfish, callous, and remorseless use of others" category. It includes eight traits: glibness and superficial charm; grandiose sense of self-worth; pathological lying; conning and manipulativeness; lack of remorse or guilt; shallow affect (i.e., a coldness covered up by dramatic emotional displays that are actually playacting); callousness and lack of empathy; and the failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions. Sound like anyone you know? (Corporate psychopaths score only low to moderate on Factor 2, which pinpoints "chronically unstable, antisocial, and socially deviant lifestyle," the hallmarks of people who wind up in jail for rougher crimes than creative accounting.)

    This view is supported by research by psychologists Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon at the University of Surrey, who interviewed and gave personality tests to 39 high-level British executives and compared their profiles with those of criminals and psychiatric patients. The executives were even more likely to be superficially charming, egocentric, insincere, and manipulative, and just as likely to be grandiose, exploitative, and lacking in empathy. Board and Fritzon concluded that the businesspeople they studied might be called "successful psychopaths." In contrast, the criminals — the "unsuccessful psychopaths" — were more impulsive and physically aggressive.

    The Factor 1 psychopathic traits seem like the playbook of many corporate power brokers through the decades.

    In the most recent wave of scandals, Enron's Fastow displayed many of the corporate psychopath's traits. He pressured his bosses for a promotion to CFO even though he had a shaky grasp of the position's basic responsibilities, such as accounting and treasury operations. Suffering delusions of grandeur after just a little time on the job, Fastow ordered Enron's PR people to lobby CFO magazine to make him its CFO of the Year. But Fastow's master manipulation was a scheme to loot Enron. He set up separate partnerships, secretly run by himself, to engage in deals with Enron. The deals quickly made tens of millions of dollars for Fastow — and prettified Enron's financials in the short run by taking unwanted assets off its books. But they left Enron with time bombs that would ultimately cause the company's total implosion — and lose shareholders billions. When Enron's scandals were exposed, Fastow pleaded guilty to securities fraud and agreed to pay back nearly $24 million and serve 10 years in prison.

    "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap might score impressively on the corporate Psychopathy Checklist too. What do you say about a guy who didn't attend his own parents' funerals? He allegedly threatened his first wife with guns and knives. She charged that he left her with no food and no access to their money while he was away for days. His divorce was granted on grounds of "extreme cruelty." That's the characteristic that endeared him to Wall Street, which applauded when he fired 11,000 workers at Scott Paper, then another 6,000 (half the labor force) at Sunbeam. Chainsaw hurled a chair at his human-resources chief, the very man who approved the handgun and bulletproof vest on his expense report. Dunlap needed the protection because so many people despised him. His plant closings kept up his reputation for ruthlessness but made no sense economically, and Sunbeam's financial gains were really the result of Dunlap's alleged book cooking. When he was finally exposed and booted, Dunlap had the nerve to demand severance pay and insist that the board reprice his stock options. Talk about failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions.

    While knaves such as Fastow and Dunlap make the headlines, most horror stories of workplace psychopathy remain the stuff of frightened whispers. Insiders in the New York media business say the publisher of one of the nation's most famous magazines broke the nose of one of his female sales reps in the 1990s. But he was considered so valuable to the organization that the incident didn't impede his career.

    Most criminals — whether psychopathic or not — are shaped by poverty and often childhood abuse as well. In contrast, corporate psychopaths typically grew up in stable, loving families that were middle class or affluent. But because they're pathological liars, they tell romanticized tales of rising from tough, impoverished backgrounds. Dunlap pretended that he grew up as the son of a laid-off dockworker; in truth, his father worked steadily and raised his family in suburban comfort. The corporate psychopaths whom Babiak studied all went to college, and a couple even had PhDs. Their ruthless pursuit of self-interest was more easily accomplished in the white-collar realm, which their backgrounds had groomed them for, rather than the criminal one, which comes with much lousier odds.

    Psychopaths succeed in conventional society in large measure because few of us grasp that they are fundamentally different from ourselves. We assume that they, too, care about other people's feelings. This makes it easier for them to "play" us. Although they lack empathy, they develop an actor's expertise in evoking ours. While they don't care about us, "they have an element of emotional intelligence, of being able to see our emotions very clearly and manipulate them," says Michael Maccoby, a psychotherapist who has consulted for major corporations.

    Psychopaths are typically very likable. They make us believe that they reciprocate our loyalty and friendship. When we realize that they were conning us all along, we feel betrayed and foolish. "People see sociopathy in their personal lives, and they don't have a clue that it has a label or that others have encountered it," says Martha Stout, a psychologist at the Harvard Medical School and the author of the recent best-seller The Sociopath Next Door: The Ruthless Versus the Rest of Us (Broadway Books, 2005). "It makes them feel crazy or alone. It goes against our intuition that a small percentage of people can be so different from the rest of us — and so evil. Good people don't want to believe it."

    Of course, cynics might say that it can be an advantage to lack a conscience. That's probably why major investors installed Dunlap as the CEO of Sunbeam: He had no qualms about decimating the workforce to impress Wall Street. One reason outside executives get brought into troubled companies is that they lack the emotional stake in either the enterprise or its people. It's easier for them to act callously and remorselessly, which is exactly what their backers want. The obvious danger of the new B-Scan test for psychopathic tendencies is that companies will hire or promote people with high scores rather than screen them out. Even Babiak, the test's codeveloper, says that while "a high score is a red flag, sometimes middle scores are okay. Perhaps you don't want the most honest and upfront salesman."

    Indeed, not every aberrant boss is necessarily a corporate psychopath. There's another personality that's often found in the executive suite: the narcissist. While many psychologists would call narcissism a disorder, this trait can be quite beneficial for top bosses, and it's certainly less pathological than psychopathy. Maccoby's book The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Perils of Visionary Leadership (Broadway Books, 2003) portrays the narcissistic CEO as a grandiose egotist who is on a mission to help humanity in the abstract even though he's often insensitive to the real people around him. Maccoby counts Apple's Steve Jobs, General Electric's Jack Welch, Intel's Andy Grove, Microsoft's Bill Gates, and Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher as "productive narcissists," or PNs. Narcissists are visionaries who attract hordes of followers, which can make them excel as innovators, but they're poor listeners and they can be awfully touchy about criticism. "These people don't have much empathy," Maccoby says. "When Bill Gates tells someone, 'That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard,' or Steve Jobs calls someone a bozo, they're not concerned about people's feelings. They see other people as a means toward their ends. But they do have a sense of changing the world — in their eyes, improving the world. They build their own view of what the world should be and get others recruited to their vision. Psychopaths, in contrast, are only interested in self."

    Maccoby concedes that productive narcissists can become "drunk with power" and turn destructive. The trick, he thinks, is to pair a productive narcissist with a "productive obsessive," or conscientious, control-minded manager. Think of Grove when he was matched with chief operating officer Craig Barrett, Gates with president Steve Ballmer, Kelleher with COO Colleen Barrett, and Oracle's Larry Ellison with COO Ray Lane and CFO Jeff Henley. In his remarkably successful second tour of duty at Apple, Jobs has been balanced by steady, competent behind-the-scenes players such as Timothy Cook, his executive vice president for sales and operations.

    But our culture's embrace of narcissism as the hallmark of admired business leaders is dangerous, Babiak maintains, since "individuals who are really psychopaths are often mistaken for narcissists and chosen by the organization for leadership positions." How does he distinguish the difference between the two types? "In the case of a narcissist, everything is me, me, me," Babiak explains. "With a psychopath, it's 'Is it thrilling, is it a game I can win, and does it hurt others?' My belief is a psychopath enjoys hurting others."

    Intriguingly, Babiak believes that it's extremely unlikely for an entrepreneurial founder-CEO to be a corporate psychopath because the company is an extension of his own ego — something he promotes rather than plunders. "The psychopath has no allegiance to the company at all, just to self," Babiak says. "A psychopath is playing a short-term parasitic game." That was the profile of Fastow and Dunlap — guys out to profit for themselves without any concern for the companies and lives they were wrecking. In contrast, Jobs and Ellison want their own companies to thrive forever — indeed, to dominate their industries and take over other fields as well. "An entrepreneurial founder-CEO might have a narcissistic tendency that looks like psychopathy," Babiak says. "But they have a vested interest: Their identity is wrapped up with the company's existence. They're loyal to the company." So these types are ruthless not only for themselves but also for their companies, their extensions of self.

    The issue is whether we will continue to elevate, celebrate, and reward so many executives who, however charismatic, remain indifferent to hurting other people. Babiak says that while the first line of defense against psychopaths in the workplace is screening job candidates, the second line is a "culture of openness and trust, especially when the company is undergoing intense, chaotic change."

    Europe is far ahead of the United States in trying to deal with psychological abuse and manipulation at work. The "antibullying" movement in Europe has produced new laws in France and Sweden. Harvard's Stout suggests that the relentlessly individualistic culture of the United States contributes a lot to our problems. She points out that psychopathy has a dramatically lower incidence in certain Asian cultures, where the heritage has emphasized community bonds rather than glorified self-interest. "If we continue to go this way in our Western culture," she says, "evolutionarily speaking, it doesn't end well."

    The good news is that we can do something about corporate psychopaths. Scientific consensus says that only about 50% of personality is influenced by genetics, so psychopaths are molded by our culture just as much as they are born among us. But unless American business makes a dramatic shift, we'll get more Enrons — and deserve them.

    Alan Deutschman is a Fast Company senior writer based in San Francisco.

    [Oct 26, 2014] The Narcissism of Sex Addicts and Some Strategies for Therapists Sex and Intimacy

    Narcissism Equals Low Self-Esteem

    A majority of sex addicts behave in ways that are seen by others as narcissistic. Narcissistic personality traits are often described in terms such as grandiosity, self-centeredness and over-entitlement. This suggests the narcissist has an inflated sense of self-worth. In fact the opposite is true.

    Most narcissism is actually a defense system. The narcissist has acquired a façade of superiority and self-sufficiency as a defense against unconscious feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. This defense is often bolstered by career success or being prominent in the community. This self-image is flimsy and superficial, but it is felt by the narcissist-addict to be his or her true self.

    As such, this false self protects the addict from experiencing his or her vast reservoir of unhappiness and insecurity

    [Oct 26, 2014] 7 Myths About Grandiosity, Narcissism, And Big-Shot-ism

    A hallmark of narcissism is overconfidence. But there’s one thing that narcissists can legitimately be confident about: Not all that we assume about narcissism is true. Research psychologist Jean Twenge laid out these seven myths about narcissism, which she and her coauthor identify in their new book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement. Edited excerpts from her conversation with U.S. News:

    1. Narcissism is really high self-esteem. No, it’s not. Someone can have really high self-esteem and not be narcissistic. The key difference is that people high in self-esteem focus on relationships and narcissists are missing that piece about caring about relationships. They want to know what other people can do for them, but in terms of having close emotional relationships, they don’t care.

    2. Deep down, narcissists are insecure and have low self-esteem. People assume that narcissists must be concealing some deep insecurity or they actually hate themselves. But the data don’t back it up. Even if you measure self-esteem in a subtle, unconscious way, deep down inside, narcissists think they’re awesome. It’s important to understand that this is a myth because when people act like jerks and they behave narcissistically, often others will say that the solution is that they really need to boost their self-esteem. Well, that’s not going to help. That’s exactly their problem.

    [Jun 22, 2014] THE TYRANNY OF TOXIC MANAGERS: AN EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE APPROACH TO DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES by Roy Lubit

    March 1, 2004 | iveybusinessjournal.com

    Narcissistic managers

    Preoccupied with their own importance, narcissistic managers are grandiose and arrogant. They devalue others, lack empathy for others and have little, if any, conscience. Feeling exempt from the normal rules of society, they exploit people without remorse. Narcissistic individuals are also very sensitive to anything that threatens their self-esteem. Challenges to their grandiose self image can lead to narcissistic rage that sees them lose all judgment and attack in ways that are destructive to themselves and their victims.

    Arrogant with peers and subordinates, they may suddenly become submissive in the presence of a superior. Once the superior has left, they may well disparage her. They generally deprecate and exploit others, including former idols. They may, however, idealize powerful individuals who support them, though only for a short time.

    Under the surface, narcissistic managers struggle with fragile self-esteem. They also have a sense of emptiness arising from their lack of true self-love and inability to care about other people or about abstract values such as honesty and integrity. Their grandiose fantasies are attempts to fill the emptiness and reinforce their fragile self-esteem.

    The classic narcissistic manager is grandiose. Grandiose managers are legends in their own minds. Preoccupied with their exaggerated accomplishments and grandiose expectations for the future, they expect others to hold them in awe. Constantly boasting, they resemble peacocks strutting around with their tail feathers unfurled.

    Some narcissistic managers are not effusive about their abilities and accomplishments. What stands out about them is a willingness to exploit others, a willingness to break the law, or a desire to control and dominate others.

    Narcissistic managers are less likely to make major changes in their behaviour than are managers with other issues. They are also particularly likely to become outraged and vindictive if someone challenges their behaviour. Therefore, when you are dealing with a manager who is rigid or aggressive, it is important to know whether narcissism or other disorders lie underneath their destructive behaviour.

    A milder variant of narcissistic managers are those with learned narcissism. They are not desperately trying to hide and shield fragile self-esteem arising from a troubled childhood. Rather, their success in some area has brought sufficient fame and fortune that they have been shielded from the normal consequences of behaving arrogantly and treating others poorly. Moreover, as people incessantly flatter them, they come to believe the glorifying compliments. Although somewhat grandiose and inconsiderate of others, these people have a conscience and can feel empathy for others; they simply do not realize the full impact of their behavior on others. People with learned narcissism are far more amenable to change than are those with narcissism resulting from problems early on in emotional development.

    ... ... ...

    Coping with a narcissistic manager is very difficult for most people. You can’t make it a fun experience, but there are things you can do to make yourself less vulnerable to them.

    If you are subordinate to a narcissistic manager:

    Superiors of narcissistic managers also need to be careful. If you supervise a narcissistic manager you should:

    [Nov 03, 2013] The Age of Narcissism

    Jesse's Café Américain

    "Narcissism falls along the axis of what psychologists call personality disorders, one of a group that includes antisocial, dependent, histrionic, avoidant and borderline personalities.

    But by most measures, narcissism is one of the worst, if only because the narcissists themselves are so clueless."

    -- Jeffrey Kluger

    “Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence...

    The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.”

    -- Sam Vaknin

    If you wish to see the narcissist in their natural habitat, the chat boards and comment sections of some blogs are where the marginally successful dwell, often dominating the conversation with their self-obsessed arrogance. Sometimes in periods of unusual circumstances they can even rise to positions of power. They are attracted to corporate structures, and financial and political positions.

    They have no humility, no doubts, and no empathy. Whatever life or luck or others may have helped them to achieve, they feel that they deserve it all, and more. They have worked for everything they have, whereas others who have suffered setbacks and misfortune simply have made bad choices or been lazy. And if others have been cheated and abused, then they deserve it for being stupid.

    They are often judgmental and racist, and brimming over with hateful scorn for others, unless they can be co-opted into their sphere of influence and behave according to the narcissist's world and rules.

    As Thomas Aquinas said, 'well-ordered self-love is right and natural.' It is when this natural behaviour becomes excessive and twisted that it becomes a pathology, a disorder of the personality.

    Often narcissists have exaggerated ideas about their own talents and worth and work. Sometimes they are compensating for the neglect and disregard, or even abuse, of one or both parents who failed to see and appreciate how special they are. At other times they are the product of an environment in which they have been raised to believe that they are special, and deserve special treatment and consideration. Since obviously not all children of privilege or abuse become narcissists, it might have its genesis in an untreated form of depression or genetic predisposition.

    "The classic narcissist is overly self-confident and sees themselves as superior than other people. Think of a child who has always been told by mom and dad that they would be great, and then that child takes and internally distorts that message into superiority.

    The compensatory narcissist covers up with their grandiose behavior, a deep-seated deficit in self-esteem. Think of a child who felt devalued but instead of giving up on life, resorts to fantasies of grandeur and greatness. This person will either live in that fantasy world or decide to create that fantasy world in real life."

    If this affliction is accompanied by other problems such as sadism or malignant mania, they may become a destructive element for all who encounter them. Their illness affects others more than themselves, so they may often not seek treatment, and excuse the damage they inflict with the 'weakness' of others.

    They seek to fill the great empty holes of self-loathing with the lives and possessions of others, all the while proudly wreathing their actions with self serving rationalization.

    They are more to be pitied than scorned, as they are living in a small part the hell which they are making for themselves. But we must guard ourselves against their powerful certainty in an age of uncertainty. Their certainty is a madness which serves none but itself.

    "Narcissism is a psychological condition defined as an obsession with the self. While not all forms of self-love or self-interest are destructive, extreme cases can be very damaging and may be diagnosed as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

    In these instances, the disorder is characterized by a lack of empathy for others, sadistic or destructive tendencies, and a compulsion to satisfy personal needs above all other goals.

    People suffering from NPD tend to have difficulty establishing or maintaining friendships, close family relationships, and even careers. About 1% of people have this condition, and up to 3/4 of those diagnosed with it are men.

    The signs of narcissism often revolve around a person's perception of himself in comparison to other people.

    Those with severe cases often believe they are naturally superior to others or that they possess extraordinary capabilities. They may have extreme difficulty acknowledging personal weaknesses, yet also have fragile self-esteem.

    Narcissistic people also frequently believe that they are not truly appreciated, and can be prone to outbursts of anger, jealousy, and self-loathing when they do not get what they feel they deserve."


    Hallmarks of Narcissism

    A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

    •Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
    •Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
    •Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
    •Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
    •Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
    •Requires excessive admiration
    •Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
    •Believes that he or she is "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
    •Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

    [Feb 27, 2013] The Culture of Narcissism American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations

    Amazon.com

    Christopher Lasch's "The Culture of Narcissism" was originally published in 1979, and has been a major cynosure of cultural and social criticism ever since. English literary critic Frank Kermode called it, not inaccurately, a "hellfire sermon." It is a wholesale indictment of contemporary American culture. It also happens to fall into a group of other books which share the same body of concerns that I have been working my way through, or around, in recent months: Daniel Boorstin's "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America," Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle," Philip Rieff's entire corpus (especially "Charisma," but also his earlier work on Freud), and even the book I'm currently reading, Tony Judt's "Ill Fares the Land."

    All of these books discuss some aspect of social anomie, loss of community, and subsequent feelings of dissolution. This isn't by any means a new debate; in the field of sociology, it dates at least as far back as Ferdinand Tonnies' distinction between gemeinschaft and gesellschaft, a distinction that was almost a prerequisite for the invention of modernism.

    First, a note on the word "narcissism." It was formerly a clinical term to diagnose the individual, but has "gone global" - or at least national. Lasch doesn't really mean for the term to be a diagnosis in the clinical sense, but rather a "metaphor for the human condition" in contemporary times. In his argot, the word means much more than just lack of empathy, a tendency toward manipulative actions and pretentious behavior. "People today hunger not for personal salvation, let alone for the restoration of an earlier golden age, but for the feeling, the momentary illusion, of personal well-being, health, and psychic security" (p. 7). Lasch is more interested in the dissolution of communities and relationships that makes us feel as if we live highly individualized, atomized lives detached from the concerns of others. The book spells out the ways in which these patterns are positively correlated with the rise of materialism, technologism, "personal liberation" (those bywords of sixties radicalism) and nominal egalitarianism.

    His few words on contemporary corporate America will strike anyone who has ever worked in one of these organizational hellscapes: he states that corporate bureaucracies

    "put a premium on the manipulation of interpersonal relations, discourage the formation of deep personal attachments and at the same time provide the narcissist with the approval he needs in order to validate his self-esteem."

    A la Debord, the politics of narcissism become more about "managing impressions" and "human relations" more than actually solving problems, citing Kennedy's disaster at the Bay of Pigs as an example. To steal from the language of yet another late French thinker, it's all about the simulacra. In a chapter called "The Degradation of Sport," he notes that enormous amounts of corporate money have turned athletes into mere entertainers to be sold to the most prestigious sports syndicate. The central concept of the sporting even - the agon, the contest - has been displaced in order to sell products and personalities who will invariably be with the team for only a short time.

    Lasch's political affiliations are sometimes interestingly and tellingly misconstrued. Though often criticized for being a reactionary conservative simply because he points to the radicalism of the sixties as one of the desiderata under consideration, Lasch's analysis is self-consciously informed by both Marx and Freud, two figures hardly recognized for being popularly co-opted by various brands of twentieth-century conservatism. Those who believe that Lasch is a blind ideologue on other side of the spectrum need to read him again: he explicitly faults both the right for their veneration of the market's "invisible hand" and the left for their cultural progressivism. Lasch is in politics, above all else, a democratic humanist.

    He writes in the Afterword,

    "The best defenses against the terrors of existence are the homely comforts of love, work, and family life, which connect us to a world that is independent of our wishes yet responsive to our needs. It is through love and work, as Freud noted ... that we exchange crippling emotional conflict for ordinary unhappiness."

    It might not sound like a prognosis abounding in optimism, but it drips with the sincerity of an honest, heartfelt critic of American culture.

    Clark L. Coleman (Virginia)

    Great on observation, not so great on causes and cures, November 17, 2010

    The ideal book of cultural criticism would accomplish three things: (1) Show us convincingly that there is a problem. (2) Diagnose the causes of the problem. (3) Recommend a credible cure for the problem. Lasch is excellent at the first goal, examining many areas of American culture in detail and showing the narcissistic common denominator of many social ills. His diagnosis of the problem, couched entirely in Freudian perspectives, is suspect in my opinion (details to follow). He does not attempt to prescribe any cures. Charitably, we could say that the book is large enough as it is and he had no room for prescription. I would give the book about 4-5 stars on achieving the first goal, about 2 stars on the second goal, none on the third goal.

    The first major problem with Lasch's diagnosis of the causes of our narcissism is that he makes it sound inevitable, implying (intentionally or not) that there is no cure. The trends of industrialization, growth in size of society and government, etc. are often described in terms that cause you to despair that we could ever reverse the negative effects. Even the trends that were consciously directed by the intellectual elite (e.g. feminism, sexual liberation) are described fatalistically; you cannot turn back the clock, the old ways are too abhorrent to want to restore them, etc.

    The second major diagnosis problem is that Lasch does not perceive the irony (or hypocrisy) of condemning the ill effects of the modern therapeutic culture, brought about by all the social science pseudo-experts that he rips apart, while being totally absorbed in the language and perspective of Freudianism. The therapeutic culture came about because an older religious culture gave way to a secular psychological perspective from the late 19th century through the 20th century. I doubt that the cure is to be found if we continue to immerse ourselves in secular psychological thinking.

    The third major diagnosis problem is that there is a more fundamental diagnosis of how we came to be so narcissistic. Rather than blaming a variety of economic, political, and social trends that cannot be reversed, the deficiency of modern Western societies lies in the loss of transcendence. With a lack of conviction in the eternal importance of each life, each aspect of life is hollowed out. Marriage was about propagating one's faith, race, ethnicity, and family line; now, it is about chasing romantic happiness. Work was performed to support one's family and perpetuate the civilization; now it is to make money for any purpose whatsoever, from supporting your family to enabling your consumerism. Numerous examples could be given. If there is no transcendence, no connection to the eternal, I am left with ME and my SELF and my desires. Narcissism is inevitable.

    Lasch is a modern liberal who tears apart our culture because of the effects of liberal modernity, but who cannot bring himself to recommend the cures that are needed because the implication of his criticisms is that we must reject the modern, secular, anti-traditional, anti-transcendent culture and turn back the clock (horrors!) to earlier ways of living and thinking. After each criticism of how feminism has destroyed relations between the sexes, for example, he hastens to add that the old ways were certainly oppressive and terrible as well. In which case, what is left for the reader besides despair?

    The book is worth reading for its description of the symptoms of our ills. Many observations provide insight into aspects of modern life that we might not realize differ so greatly from not so long ago (e.g. education, sports), depending on what you have read in these areas before this book. Be forewarned that when you finish, you will be full of criticism of our culture and will have been given little idea of where to go from there.

    [Feb 17, 2013] 20 Traits Of A Narcissist

    Business Insider

    The ex-LAPD officer who was the most hunted fugitive in California until Tuesday might have been a huge narcissist, according to experts.

    Christopher Dorner, who allegedly killed two civilians and a cop, is presumed dead after a fire ravaged the mountain cabin where he was hiding from police.

    Dorner was likely suffering from a "classic case of malignant narcissistic personality disorder," retired FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole told The Associated Press, pointing to his grandiose belief that he could evade all the police chasing him down.

    In Michael Maccoby's book "The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership," he says that many leaders have some element of narcissism.

    However, the productive ones have learned to retain an element of their egos, while moderating the negative side effects of narcissism.

    Lawyers may also share those narcissistic traits.

    The over-the-top workaholic tendencies that make lawyers so great at their jobs means they may also be perfectionists, which is a narcissistic trait.

    We collected a variety of insights from Maccoby's book, Psychology Today, and other sources and compiled them into a diagnostic test.

    The more you identify with these characteristics, the more likely you're an egocentric narcissist.

    Does Facebook Turn People Into Narcissists

    NYTimes.com

    Recently I tried to persuade a friend, a professional woman in her 40s, to create a Facebook account. Like many people, I’m a regular user, usually to post photos and updates of my daughter’s sports and academic accomplishments — and to keep track of friends and family. But my friend believed Facebook would drain her time. She said that if she couldn’t maintain friendships in the real world, she wasn’t interested in keeping up with the small details of people’s lives.

    There has been a lot of scholarship devoted to the study of Facebook, sparking debate about the mental health and personality traits of frequent users. Most recently, research from Western Illinois University suggested, like other studies before it, that Facebook appeals to our most narcissistic tendencies. The study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, asked 292 people to answer questions aimed at measuring how self-involved they were.

    Those who frequently updated their Facebook status, tagged themselves in photos and had large numbers of virtual friends, were more likely to exhibit narcissistic traits, the study found. Another study found that people with high levels of narcissism were more likely to spend more than an hour a day on Facebook, and they were also more likely to post digitally enhanced personal photos. But what the research doesn’t answer is whether Facebook attracts narcissists or turns us into them.

    Last month, a study of 233 Facebook-using college students by researchers at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the University of Hartford took a different approach. Were the students primarily writing self-promoting status updates? Or were they interested in others, clicking “likes” and posting comments on friends’ pages? How many Facebook friends did they collect?

    In addition to measuring narcissism (Do you like being the center of attention or blending in with the crowd?), the researchers also measured a student’s sense of privacy. (Do you share information with a wide circle of friends or value your privacy?) The researchers found, to their surprise, that frequency of Facebook use, whether it was for personal status updates or to connect with friends, was not associated with narcissism. Narcissism per se was associated with only one type of Facebook user — those who amassed unrealistically large numbers of Facebook friends.

    Instead, frequent Facebook users were more likely to score high on “openness” and were less concerned about privacy. So what seems like self-promoting behavior may just reflect a generation growing up in the digital age, where information — including details about personal lives — flows freely and connects us.

    “It’s a huge oversimplification to say Facebook is for narcissists,” said Lynne Kelly, director of the school of communication at the University of Hartford and one of the study’s authors. “You share information about yourself on Facebook as a way to maintain relationships.”

    The social medium of choice for the self-absorbed appears to be Twitter. The researchers found an association between tweeting about oneself and high narcissism scores. That finding alone, I think, is worth tweeting about.

    [Jul 15, 2009] The Economics of Narcissism By Marion Maneker

    Jul 14, 2009 | The Big Money

    How grandiosity and lack of empathy created our modern malaise

    Narcissism is back in the news, thanks to Sarah Palin. Todd Purdum's Vanity Fair profile, which appeared just days before Palin announced her resignation, described the Alaskan governor this way:

    More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin's extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of "narcissistic personality disorder" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—"a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy"—and thought it fit her perfectly.

    The diagnosis clearly resonates, not because it is accurate (who knows?) but because narcissism is the psychological substrate of our troubled times. During the credit boom, an unquenchable need for short-term success, combined with a lack of empathy for those who didn't share in the economic windfalls, was a byproduct of a society trying desperately to survive beyond its means. We both empowered the most ruthlessly self-aggrandizing among us and succumbed to the erosion of any authority that might have contained the overweening. We lost any independent measure of the American dream.

    Still, a question remains: Was the army of narcissists unleashed upon our society a product of the boom or the cause of it—or both? For John Gartner, grandiosity was a precondition for success. His 2005 book The Hypomanic Edge praised the reckless abandon of Americans who leapt before they looked. (Slate's Dan Gross made a great case for why those leaders ultimately threaten the institutions they lead.)

    In the noughties—given our obsessing over celebrities, insatiable consumption of debt to keep up with others, and the loss of any meaningful values that might sustain us in adversity—the country seemed to be caught up in its own culture of narcissism. As exceptional as this new culture was, it was not new. The culture of narcissism first appeared as a popular concept 30 years ago. And this week marks the apogee of its influence with the anniversary of President Jimmy Carter's infamous "malaise" speech (delivered on July 15, 1979).

    That much-reviled address is an unlikely subject for study. But historian Kevin Mattson has done his best to reclaim it in his new book What the Heck Are You Up to, Mr. President? To Mattson, a desperate nation, hobbled by a stagnating economy with chronic energy shortages, a crumbling manufacturing sector, and crippling inflation, was buoyed by Carter's willingness to level with them. Carter tried to snap the country out of its frenzy of selfishness and return it to a civic-minded purpose. The speech boosted the president's poll numbers by 11 points in one evening, and the event seemed to provide a catharsis of sorts, if a short-lived one.

    The 1970s were a nadir of American self-confidence. Carter came to give the "malaise" speech at the prodding of Patrick Caddell, who was himself inspired by a reading of historian Christopher Lasch's surprise best-seller of 1979, The Culture of Narcissism. A quiet Midwesterner with a cranky pen, Lasch was the Paul Krugman of 1979 — an esoteric thinker whose political stance was informed by raw anger and disgust. Lasch may have used radical cultural concepts to inform his views, but he himself was deeply and personally conservative. He would later write a book dismissing the notion of progress and locating our best hope as a society in small-town acceptance of limitations.

    The Culture of Narcissism was an attack not only on the excesses and disillusionment of the '70s but also on the growth of institutions—the liberal state, corporations, and the therapeutic culture—that broke down the individual's independence and authority. Those institutions may have grown out of a need to protect us from depredations. But the unintended consequence was to replace our freedom and individual authority with insecurity and anxiety.

    Thus was born the narcissistic personality of the 1970s. The cultural narcissist—as opposed to the clinical one, like Palin—can overcome the anxiety created by his or her lost economic and social independence, according to Lasch, only "by seeing his ‘grandiose self' reflected in the attentions of others, or by attaching himself to those who radiate celebrity, power, and charisma. For the narcissist, the world is a mirror whereas the rugged individualist saw it as an empty wilderness to be shaped in his own design."

    Narcissism thrives only where positive authority—a world of role models who establish genuine, trusted leadership and an economic system where rules are defined and enforced—no longer presides. Lasch's narcissism was a direct result of the hypocrisy of the liberal state and its collapse under the multiple assaults of the Vietnam War, Watergate, the degraded environment, and the emasculating energy crisis.

    In our own day, narcissism seems the direct result not of societal failure but of success run amok. (Though we've had our own fruitless, frustrating war with its concomitant betrayals of public trust and an awareness of impending environmental collapse, too.) Beginning in 1994—15 years after the "malaise" speech and 15 years before today—the United States turned itself inside out. The Republican congressional victory of 1994 brought about a libertarian detente between left and right centered around globalization, in the form of NAFTA, and cultural truce, where everyone agreed to disagree on hot-button issues like abortion.

    The new order unleashed an explosion of wealth, new technology, and a reinvention of politics both domestically and internationally. The '90s ended up being the 1970s in reverse. Instead of the decline of industry, we had the upending explosion of the Internet. Where the 1970s had eroding pessimism, the 1990s had the optimism that "this time, it is different."

    In both cases, the path from past to future was no longer clear, which created confusion and doubt about what rules to follow. Clinton's new liberalism sought deregulation and a return to personal responsibility, but only one side of the equation took hold. Throughout American society in the 1990s, authority was eclipsed by the unparalleled success of young people.

    There were other similarities between then and now that contributed to the emergence of the cultural narcissist. Both eras had presidents who were threatened with impeachment. Both eras had a vertiginous rise in housing prices. In the 1970s, homes became a rare anchor for embattled Americans as their most important asset became a refuge from rampant inflation.

    For us later, our houses were the devil's candy to satisfy our insatiable needs. Instead of the last and most vital of our assets—the one protected from bankruptcy by homestead laws in many states—we used property as a grub stake in a poker match, hoping to win shallow advantages like better-looking kitchens, elaborate home theaters, and more authentic personal experiences. Each one of these desires fits neatly into the Lasch-ian definition of narcissism: the frantic need to distinguish ourselves without ever mastering our anxieties.

    Lacking her own goals, and an independent measure of success, the narcissistic personality keeps chasing a fleeting dream. Perhaps that is why the debt bubble churned endlessly without restraint. We had everything, but it was never enough. Insatiability, of course, is a hallmark symptom.

    Another era of adversity might have restored the bulwarks of our society. The excesses of the Internet boom were burned off in the scandals of Enron, Tyco, and the like. The Sept. 11 attacks also seemed to presage a new era of rationality. The Bush administration's response, however, was narcissism through and through. A sober response would have been to track down the malefactors to ensure that justice prevailed. Instead, the neocons in the Bush Pentagon pursued an unlikely target—Iraq—with the misguided idea that they could transform the politics of the Middle East through shock and awe. (Grandiose?) They even imagined they would be greeted as liberators. (Admiration seeking?) And they failed to address the root causes of Sept. 11 attacks: the frustrations felt by the disenfranchised toward the United States. (Not much empathy there, eh?)

    So the flood of credit from 2002 on only fueled the narcissism raging at the center of our society. To read the Culture of Narcissism today is to look at ourselves through a distant mirror. We have a better communicator as president, but many of the same maladies confront us—a crippled economy, a recently discredited president whose White House was filled with dirty-tricksters, and a sense that American power no longer has a place in the world. The only good thing is that the feeling of desperation so pervasive during Jimmy Carter's time has not taken hold; but that could be because we just haven't hit bottom yet.

    Marion Maneker is the former publisher of HarperCollins's business imprint.

    [Jun 22, 2008] Narcissistic Personality Disorder - HealthBoards.com Message Boards

    Re: Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    Yes. I have just realized that my last relationship was doomed to failure because of his of NPD. He's not been diagnosed with it as far as I know but I am quite sure he has it based on the standard criteria.

    He wanted constant attention and doting -- this included me brushing his hair frequently and him trying on clothes and asking repeatedly, "Aren't I cute?". He seemed to not care about my or anybody else's problems. Anytime he had a problem he escalated it to crisis and was furious if I wasn't there to help him (somehow he had decided it was my job to care for him). He took millions upon millions of digital images of himself and even lately got himself a web cam which just shows him sitting at the computer. He was often contrary just for the sake of getting into a fight. He liked to fight and would instigate them quite often. He rarely ever paid for any of our "dates" and owes me quite a lot of money (and seemed to forget about 1/2 of it). If I was at his house, he would want to spend hours upon hours on the computer and would get mad if I went to watch t.v. because he wanted me to sit in a chair, adjacent to him on the computer while he was on the computer. He seemed to totally lack empathy. He was a pathological liar and I believe that he believed in his own lies. He had multiple on-line emotional relationships so that he would have constant attention and adoration. If we were visiting my sister or my friends, he would literally cling to me as if he has hands and arms were Velcro and would snuggle his head into my shoulder and giggle like a school girl and would prefer the he and I sat and had our own internal conversations forsaking the company of other folks who were present. He had frequent mood swings. He said really unkind things to me which I pointed out to him that he was hurtful and he said, "oh, I was just teasing because I like you."

    Somehow I thought that I would "fix him". I entered into this relationship on the heels of a very difficult break-up. I wasn't ready to see anyone and he had just gotten out of a relationship. I have since learned that I am co-dependent and I thought that he was as well but after reading more and more I am pretty sure that it is NPD. Last week he "broke up" with me at least three times. I had been trying to break up with him for some time but he kept luring me back in and I was lonely so I took the bait. I want to distance myself from him but I'm worried that it may just make him seek even more attention from me. I'm trying to "step out" of the relationship rather than end it with an official break up. Yes, I said he broke up with me three times but it was actually him saying, "well I guess I'm not the right guy for you" and making generalizations about me and our relationship and then hanging up. He does not recognize ALL of the things that I have done to improve his life over the course of 5 months. He takes it all for granted and he will escalate the smallest disappointment with me so that he can be right and feel entitled to some kind of reparation.

    I struggle with self-esteem issues and still dealing with a break-up from last summer. For the last several months I have been crying daily and feeling extremely anxious. I gained a lot of weight and stopped exercising or doing anything good for me because he demanded my time. I have not seen him in over two weeks now. I'm feeling more happy and confident than I have since he and I have been going out. I hate to lose him as a friend but he sucks the life out of me. It's sad because when we had good moments those highs were really high. He could be sweet to me and he always made me laugh and we shared so many similar things that made knowing him very easy. It breaks my heart that I cannot fix him. It makes me mad that I wasted all this time with him because he really doesn't mean it when he says "I love you". He figured out that with me, needy me, those three words can get you everywhere.

    [Jun 22, 2008] Living with a Narcissist? Overcome the love locking you in. Deal with the Abuse.

    Is your partner a narcissist? You may not know how to tell, but even worse, you may be thinking that you are the crazy one. Narcissists work hard to distort our reality to make their reality feel safer.

    So what is a narcissist? Someone who preens in front of the mirror all day in admiration? NOT! Ask yourself this: is your partner intensely angered by anything that seems to suggest that he or she might have a flaw? Narcissists will do anything, including brutalizing their own family, to maintain their own feeling that others see them as without any flaws. And, narcissists have extreme and illogical sensitivities, sometimes connecting the most minute observations with their intense fears of being seen as flawed. Narcissists will strain every muscle to meet their own "flawless" image, and demean or destroy anyone or anything who casts any doubt on this image. If you see this dynamic in your partner, family member, coworker, or friend, you are very probably dealing with a narcissist.

    Overcome the Love Locking You In

    Many of us ended up in unhealthy relationships because, in the beginning, our partners held up a false front. Many of us felt or thought that we had met our soul mate; found the perfect partner; met that one special person in the universe. It's no surprise that we can fall in love with someone like this!

    Later, usually after we've made a binding commitment like marriage, or sometimes after the relationship changes due to children being born, a job change, or other major life changes, our partner shows a completely different side. The person who was once perfect now can become angry, demeaning, demanding, and harshly critical. When alcohol or drugs are involved, the substance abuse usually takes a big step up, too. I talk about this dynamic in my book on disordered behavior, Meaning from Madness. From someone we have deep feelings for, these actions are brutal. Yet we may still have strong feelings of love pulling us to that person. Talk about being torn!

    Get free sample sections by email!! - Click Here to Sign up
    At some point, many of us realize this situation needs to change, but feelings are not chosen. How can you overcome the love that pulls you to someone who is abusing you?

    While you can't turn those feelings off like a switch, you can learn to understand where those feelings come from, and how our minds create them, and then set the stage for new feelings to develop - hopefully toward someone who's better for us. At first this issue was a chapter in my book, Tears and Healing, but it was so important it eventually became its own short book, In Love and Loving It - Or Not! The really sad part is that our minds create these feelings so that we'll be motivated to engage in a relationship that meets our emotional needs, yet those same feelings can end up locking us in, pulling back again into a broken relationship that just can't fill those needs! Its like a trap, one that we need new understanding to get out of.

    Deal with the Abuse

    Disordered people aren't just hurtful. They also spin our reality to make theirs less painful. They project their problems onto us, and blame us for what they do. After a while it becomes hard to distinguish what is real from what is being projected and what is being distorted. We begin to doubt our reality and question whether we're the crazy ones. What's more, disordered people hide their problems very effectively, concealing their disease from most people, causing us further confusion.

    The truth is, THEY'RE NOT RIGHT. But they feel better when they can get us to carry the burden of their illness and their behavior.

    [Jun 22, 2008] Narcissists brilliant workers, but terrible colleagues

    15 March 2002 | New Scientist

    Narcissistic people do not make pleasant colleagues, but they perform better than average at tasks that would daunt others, according to new US research.

    "Narcissists will leave everyone else to do the drudgery and come in at the end to take all the credit, or show up when there's some opportunity to be admired," says Roy Baumeister of Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, who led the research.

    "But if you need someone to make a crucial presentation or to do something spectacular, they could be good to have around," he adds.

    The study is the first to find that narcissistic people perform better on tasks that give them the opportunity for glory, Baumeister says.

    In the mirror

    The team studied 248 people, who completed questionnaires assessing the degree to which they agreed with statements such as: I am an extraordinary person, I like to look at myself in the mirror, the world would be a better place if I ruled it.

    They then took part in four tests: the children's board game Operation (a test of manual skill), darts, and measures of arithmetic and creativity.

    People who scored higher on the narcissism measure performed on average about 20 per cent better on the tests when they were given the chance to shine, says Baumeister.

    "For example, we'd have an audience present or not present. Or we'd tell them that to do well, they'd have to outperform 95 per cent of other people, or only 50 per cent. Being better than average isn't much incentive to a narcissist, but 95 per cent was something they could really shoot for," he says.

    Noxious self esteem

    When given a high or public target to aim for, the more narcissistic people also performed better than those with lower narcissism scores.

    But the trait is poorly understood, Baumeister says: "We are at a fairly early stage of finding out about these people and what makes them tick."

    Most people have a degree of narcissism, but at its extreme it is characterised by a "noxious sense of self esteem," he says. "But why people grow up to be narcissists is a really important question and we do not have enough data on that."

    Baumeister presented his research at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society in Blackpool.

    [May 24, 2008] Narcissism in the Boardroom

    The perpetrators of the recent spate of financial frauds in the USA acted with callous disregard for both their employees and shareholders - not to mention other stakeholders. Psychologists have often remote-diagnosed them as "malignant, pathological narcissists".

    Narcissists are driven by the need to uphold and maintain a false self - a concocted, grandiose, and demanding psychological construct typical of the narcissistic personality disorder. The false self is projected to the world in order to garner "narcissistic supply" - adulation, admiration, or even notoriety and infamy. Any kind of attention is usually deemed by narcissists to be preferable to obscurity.

    The false self is suffused with fantasies of perfection, grandeur, brilliance, infallibility, immunity, significance, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. To be a narcissist is to be convinced of a great, inevitable personal destiny. The narcissist is preoccupied with ideal love, the construction of brilliant, revolutionary scientific theories, the composition or authoring or painting of the greatest work of art, the founding of a new school of thought, the attainment of fabulous wealth, the reshaping of a nation or a conglomerate, and so on. The narcissist never sets realistic goals to himself. He is forever preoccupied with fantasies of uniqueness, record breaking, or breathtaking achievements. His verbosity reflects this propensity.

    Reality is, naturally, quite different and this gives rise to a "grandiosity gap". The demands of the false self are never satisfied by the narcissist's accomplishments, standing, wealth, clout, sexual prowess, or knowledge. The narcissist's grandiosity and sense of entitlement are equally incommensurate with his achievements.

    To bridge the grandiosity gap, the malignant (pathological) narcissist resorts to shortcuts. These very often lead to fraud.

    The narcissist cares only about appearances. What matters to him are the facade of wealth and its attendant social status and narcissistic supply. Witness the travestied extravagance of Tyco's Denis Kozlowski. Media attention only exacerbates the narcissist's addiction and makes it incumbent on him to go to ever-wilder extremes to secure uninterrupted supply from this source.

    The narcissist lacks empathy - the ability to put himself in other people's shoes. He does not recognize boundaries - personal, corporate, or legal. Everything and everyone are to him mere instruments, extensions, objects unconditionally and uncomplainingly available in his pursuit of narcissistic gratification.

    This makes the narcissist perniciously exploitative. He uses, abuses, devalues, and discards even his nearest and dearest in the most chilling manner. The narcissist is utility-driven, obsessed with his overwhelming need to reduce his anxiety and regulate his labile sense of self-worth by securing a constant supply of his drug - attention. American executives acted without compunction when they raided their employees' pension funds - as did Robert Maxwell a generation earlier in Britain.

    [May 23, 2008] Revolt in the Boardroom The New Rules of Power in Corporate America Alan Murray Books

    From customer review

    Murray's weakest "case" involves Carly Fiorna at H-P. Here he contends that the board's initial concern involved Carly's complex matrix structure, and being out more than she was in (130 speeches in her last year). Then here overreaction to their concerns and desire for an operations leader led to her firing. Ignored were some of the serious costs of her matrix structure. The new CEO substantially improved H-P through laying off another 15,300 without any loss of revenues - mostly from the centralized personnel, finance, and in-house technical staffs she created. Hurd also split PCs back off from printers, phased out centralized selling (CSC) unit, raising product-manager accountable costs from 30% to 80%. A third major step was to centralize IT - databases went from 85 with 7,000 applications to 6 with 1,500 - cutting IT costs from 4% to 2%, using all H-P equipment and then using the experience and expertise to help sell services and equipment elsewhere. Thus, poor performance was also a major issue, as well as Carly's seemingly annual round of layoffs. (Most CEOs try to get this over all at once.) Regardless, Carly's leaving during the turmoil with her board to attend an economic conference in Switzerland was probably the last straw.

    [May 22, 2008] Tough Choices- A Memoir

    1.0 out of 5 stars Husband and other managers barely mentioned, October 10, 2007
    By San Jose Reader (San Jose, CA) - See all my reviews
    This review is from: Tough Choices: A Memoir (Paperback)

    Egomaniac. It is all about her. Her husband and the managers who reported to her are barely mentioned.

    There are successful women running companies. Would like to see books by them but they are too busy doing a good job to waste time on ego trips.

    1.0 out of 5 stars narcissistic and self-deluded, October 12, 2006

    By G. Mellen

    As a 21-year HP veteran who survived the Carly "cult of personality" years, I would describe this book as self-serving hogwash. In my opinion, her abrupt dispatch was the much deserved result of arrogance and incompetence, not sexism. In thousands of conversations with other HP employees during those five years, not once did I hear disparaging comments regarding her gender. The merger with Compaq was of dubious business value but allowed her to place her mark on this venerated company while diluting a culture based on egalitarianism and merit. HP missed quarter after quarter under Carly's leadership, the stock price dropped by 75%, and she blames everyone but herself. New CEO Mark Hurd demonstrated a more thorough understanding of the HP businesses during his first employee meeting than Carly ever had, and won back much of the employee drive and dedication that Carly squandered. HP hasn't missed a quarter since and the stock price has more than doubled. Carly bolstered HP's sagging brand, to be sure; spin is her specialty. But it seemed to employees that Carly then usurped the brand for her own personal glory.

    Carly eliminated thousands of competent and loyal HP employees who didn't get $42M golden parachutes, so please spare us the crocodile tears. Avoiding this book shouldn't be a Tough Choice for anyone.

    1.0 out of 5 stars How to Make a Mess and Deny Responsibility, October 11, 2006

    By C. Kurdas (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
    Sweet, smart, decent Carly Fiorina--how well she does faux innocence. She has no idea why she was fired! How could they fire her? All she did was to almost destroy a big company while making oodles of money for herself and spending her time getting her perfectly coiffed photos published. She writes that she likes to work with people--she must have really enjoyed making thousands of hard-working HP employees miserable.

    What's behind that tight smile? You won't know by reading her memoir, which is a book-length public relations release. It describes her career choices and corporate battles without useful insight. The cumbersome business jargon is annoying, but not quite as annoying as the bland, fake front she puts up. To get the real story of her ambitious drive up the executive ladder and ill-considered battle to acquire Compaq, read Backfire by Peter Burrows. That fight left HP reeling and its board a war zone, with leak investigations leading to the questionable tactics now under investigation by California prosecutors.

    Sure, HP had troubles and needed change, but her dreadful management left it a complete, chaotic shambles. It would be good to understand how things went so very wrong, but Fiorina is no better at explaining than she was at running the firm. Predictably, she goes for the "gender" card to defend herself. So let's be fair: she was certainly no worse than the male board members who agreed to her outrageous pay package. She and they could be icons for all that's wrong with corporate America.

    [Apr 28, 2008] Amazon.com Disarming the Narcissist Surviving & Thriving With the Self-Absorbed Wendy T. Behary Books

    This is an illusion that you can get past the narcissist's defenses with compassionate, empathetic communication. Once you fully grasp the fact that a narcissist is an abuser, why would you do anything but fight or run for the hills? You cannot help them. You cannot heal them. You will not change them. As one reader pointed out "Here are some of the behaviors described:
    1. They are never EVER wrong.
    2. They never admit to anything.
    3. Nothing is ever a great idea unless it comes from them.
    4. You will never get any credit for what you do. Ever.
    5. They don't seem to know or care how what they say might impact you.
    6. You get hopelessly entangled in their arguments, and it never leads to a resolution.
    7. Emotion = Weakness."
    5.0 out of 5 stars What an eye opener!, October 16, 2007

    By Stormy - See all my reviews

    I'm a 51 year old female who needed to read this book when I was 11 and then promptly be moved to another family! Both of my parents are Narcissists, but I didn't know what it was until I read this book. The book describes exactly how I was treated by both of my parents and why I never had a sense of self. I was never asked my thoughts, I was told how I was going to think and what I was going to do. Everything this book details is real. 15 years ago I severed ties with my father because he was the more physical abuser. I just recently I severed ties with my mother. Both of them are very abusive. I didn't realize what a lacky I was to my mother but always felt she didn't like me, or was jealous of me, or always but always disappointed her.

    She has tried to take over my life, my husband - almost telling me how to have sex with him or someone else will do it for me and my house by walking in rearranging my furniture, putting things on the wall and telling me that she's "helping me" and how everything would look so much better her way and has divided my 2 brothers and I to where we don't speak to one another anymore and she has blamed me for it.

    The control, mental abuse and meanness is behind closed doors and out in the open other people always wondered why I was so sensitive around my mother because she always was so delightful to be around.

    I moved away from my family when I was 24, and have back around my mother for 10 years. I'm absolutely drained of emotion. I understand now why I had depression and still have it and why I feel I need to please everyone and be a non entity.

    From reading this book, I am working on being my own person with my own actual thoughts and views and hold my head up high. The book does give you examples on how to get along with this type of person, only if you want to get along with them.

    For those who do, its a good guideline. For those who don't, read this book and beat your demons! What you thought was happening to you - it was and this validates those thoughts - the narcissist isn't ever going to validate you as a person. Break Free! This book has helped me tremendously to understand "it wasn't me" and I just might be worthy of someone loving me. 51 years to find that out.... what a waste of a life.

    5.0 out of 5 stars All I can say is WOW, December 2, 2007

    By Angelo (Stamford CT) - See all my reviews

    I dated someone who is described in this book, and while together I didn't know what the heck was wrong with her thinking at times...that is until I read this book. A happy relationship most of the time, it then became crazy other times, getting worse and worse as time went on. Eleanor Payson hits it right on the nose and explains the child-like behaviors that would occasionally surface from an otherwise truly brilliant and highly successful woman. Here are some of the behaviors described:

    1. They are never EVER wrong.
    2. They never admit to anything.
    3. Nothing is ever a great idea unless it comes from them.
    4. You will never get any credit for what you do. Ever.
    5. They don't seem to know or care how what they say might impact you.
    6. You get hopelessly entangled in their arguments, and it never leads to a resolution.
    7. Emotion = Weakness.

    And on and on it goes. The closer you get to them, the worse it becomes. Every chapter sent me reeling as all these behaviors are discussed. Probably half the book is highlighted in yellow and I read it twice. It was like this book was written about her.

    It also helped me confront my part in the whole thing as well.

    READ THIS BOOK if you suspect a significant other or parent has these tendencies listed above. If so, this book will blow you away. I wish I had this knowledge DURING the relationship and not after I ended it. Understanding the dynamic has brought me some closure and the wisdom of avoiding anything like it again. The sad (and most painful) part is that the only healthy thing you can do is leave.

    You cannot help them. You cannot heal them. You will not change them.

    3.0 out of 5 stars Fell short of what is promised, March 6, 2008

    Karen E. Fauls-traynor "karenft" (Chittenango, New York USA)

    Overall, I found this book to be disappointing. It was helpful in terms of learning about narcissists and why they behave the way they do. The information about schemas and the reasons why we let narcissists push our buttons was also interesting. What I was looking for--as promised in the book--was strategies for dealing with people with this disorder, and I thought that those listed were very unrealistic. The examples of helpful dialogue that the author gives are just not practical. A narcissist would be have tuned out after the first sentence of most of those monologues. The tips for dealing with a narcissist coworker were few and far between. Basically, I was left with the impression that there is not much you can do about a narcissist in your life except change your own behavior or get them out of your life.

    [Apr 27, 2008] Amazon.com The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family Eleanor Payson Books

    It's important to understand that people dealing with a narcissist will get only devaluation, criticism, and, especially, denial of any responsibility for any wrongdoing.
    5.0 out of 5 stars The yellow brick road, December 18, 2004

    Joe Kort "www.joekort.com" (Royal Oak, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews

    This book opened my eyes as a therapist about the *covert* narcissism that exists in families, particularly among women. There are so few books identifying both of these key components. Most books examine male narcissists along with the overt nature of the disorder. This book shines a different light and adds to the prism of possiblities for recovery.

    5.0 out of 5 stars This book helped me understand so much., October 24, 2003

    >By John B. Collins "John Collins the Architect" (Denver, CO USA) - See all my reviews

    As a 48 year old guy who has been working his way out of narcissistic codependence for about 15 years, this book clarified several issues I wasn't even aware of. Specifically, Ms. Payson deals squarely with the lack of self-esteem that a narcissist will imbue in a codependent's life. (The narcissist says, "I'm OK, you've got a long way to go and you'll never get there anyway.) Another thing is the insidious, clandestine way in which NPD's work their sordid magic. An NPD is someone with narcissistic personality disorder. The author goes through a 9 item list of the pitfalls and traps that keep a codependent codependent. Ms. Payson also explains in depth how being in a relationship with an NPD can happen in your love life, your work life, and your family life. Often these adult situations are a reliving of the same type of relationship from one's childhood. So much is clearer now and I feel much steadfast in my resolve to overcome this disorder. I have reassessed many of my friendships and old situations only to realize that I was unwittingly reliving my past.

    Mrs. Payson's language is clear, warm-hearted, and exact. She uses examples based on experiences of clients from her practice. All in all, I highly recommend this book to those who suffer from narcissistic co-dependence and those who know someone who does.

    4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, truly helpful book, April 27, 2006

    Black Hole Of Books (Chicago, IL)

    I'm not a big fan of the self-help genre in general, but The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists really struck home. I recently broke up with a narcissist for whom I was the codependent, and at a number of points in the book I just had to put it down for a moment and have a "Wow" moment. Not only Payson's descriptions of narcissistic traits (which made me a little uncomfortable, since I recognized some of my own behavior in them) but also her descriptions of the dynamics between narcissists and codependents have the ring of authentic experience; that's really what it's like being with an NPD sufferer. She also made me wonder: was this last one just the tip of the iceberg? Were there more before? Will there be more afterward? Some of this stuff gets pretty scary, but I really couldn't put the book down.

    I did take one star away for the writing, which is...well, not so great. There are lots of cliches, and the proofreading seems to be sort of nonexistent. ("Illusive" rather than "elusive?" Hmmm.) I found the writing distracting at points, but the force of the points Payson makes generally overcame the sludgy prose.

    5.0 out of 5 stars This Hits The Nail On The Head!, September 19, 2005

    eclectic1 - See all my reviews

    I've been in a committed relationship with someone who can double-talk circles about absolutely anything and around absolutely anyone. He rarely tells the truth about anything -- no matter how small the situation. Nothing is ever his fault. The most benign statement to him throws him into immediate defensive or striking-out-at-anyone mode. He doesn't give the slightest care about the effect his words or behavior has on anyone else's feelings or life. I thought I wasn't understanding enough, kind enough, or patient enough. This book helped rescue me from sure insanity! If you have a feeling you're in a relationship of confusion, lies, and emotional abuse -- you're probably living with someone in the throes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This is a must read handbook to help you sort through all the smoke & mirrors your "special someone" has been using to distract you from who he (or she) really is!

    Amazon.com Why Is It Always About You The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism Sandy Hotchkiss,James F. Masterson Books

    4.0 out of 5 stars Dealing with the egotists in your life., August 4, 2002

    By R. Shaff "Velocipede" (USA) - See all my reviews

    This review is from: Why Is It Always About You? Saving Yourself from the Narcissists in Your Life (Hardcover)

    Think you don't know a narcissist? Think again. Narcissists are everywhere particularly, in the public eye. Think about the Enron and Worldcom disasters. Do you think Skilling and Fastow or Ebbers and Sullivan aren't as narcissistic as they come? They fit the mold in spades. And how about our cultural obsession with these egotists? Aren't we somewhat awestruck by the "My ... doesn't stink" stars? From time-to-time, we're all a bit 'wowed.' I'm certainly guilty but perhaps now I'll have a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the situations and 'icons' involved. WHY IS IT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU is an extremely insightful expose' on the egotists in your world, whether mildly or flagrantly narcissistic. And, this 'disease' doesn't just apply to our public figures; it can be as close as your immediate family or, heaven forbid, yourself!

    Narcissism derives its origin from a youth in classical Greek Mythology, Narcissus. The story goes that one day Narcissus saw his reflection in a pool of water and immediately fell in love with his image. From that very moment, he began to see everything as it related to his own image. The world was his looking glass and his insatiable appetite for himself took him all over the globe, and he was invariably pleased with what he saw. He left in his path a troubling wake which slipped like a fever through the people who saw him.

    Ms. Hotchkiss has nailed this subject when she posits "Their needs are more important than anyone else's, and they expect to be accommodated in all things. They can't comprehend why they might not always come first." Narcissists are endearing, enticing creatures typically with extremely thick skins....but only to certain elements. Think about the guy or gal at the cocktail party who brazenly bullies his or her opinion on any and all subjects without any plausible evidence to back them up. Some find these people oppressive, some finding them fascinating. (As for me, I've just come to grips with the unmistakable fact that the breakup of a previous business partnership was due primarily to a case of narcissism. A childhood friend of mine who eventually became my partner was image-laden. Eventually, all things relative to our business became 'how did it benefit him?' Without knowledge of what I was experiencing, I became disenchanted and extremely angry. Perhaps if I'd had Ms. Hotchkiss's book at hand, I might have been able to craft an alternative path and save the partnership. Regardless, I have no regrets at this point.)

    Ms. Hotchkiss doesn't necessarily offer any new information about the origins of narcissism but she does a fascinating job of portraying the disorder and the types of behaviors associated with this 'malady.' According to Ms. Hotchkiss, narcissists morph their personalities to sng to achieve the adulation they seek.

    Ms. Hotchkiss breaks the narcissist down for the reader outlining the attributes one should understand. She entitles these attributes, "The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism" as follows: Shamelessness, Magical Thinking, Arrogance, Envy, Entitlement, Exploitation and Bad Boundaries. Ms. Hotchkiss illustrates these qualities with profiles of the narcissists she's encountered throughout the book. The irrefutable moral of each story is that these people are missing out on what's really important. They are so busy loving themselves that they've forgotten to love anyone else.

    By Marcy L. Thompson (Sammamish, WA USA)

    Why Is It Always About You? Saving Yourself from the Narcissists in Your Life (Hardcover)

    I admit to being disappointed in this book. Even so, it was a useful overview of a pervasive problem, one that faces most of us much of the time: how do we deal with self-absorbed narrcisists without being untrue to ourselves?

    Things I liked about the book include the use of illuminating examples, the checklists and suggested courses of action in dealing with particular kinds of issues, and the excellent explanation of what narrcissism is and where it comes from. In fact, the examples she gave of narcissism in action were all extremely good and useful. After reading several books on the subject, I have to say I think she does the best job of providing examples and elucidating them.

    Things I did not like about the book include the fact that since she covers so very much ground, much of it is covered superficially. One thing she did frequently that eventually grated on me a lot was to include a disclaimer right before offering advice about how to proceed in some particular kind of encounter with a narcissist. This disclamer essentially said "make sure you aren't being guilty of any narcissism before you start". Well, that makes sense. But one of the things the book makes clear is that narcissists can't really see that they are doing anything wrong at all. And so, I had to wonder exactly how is the reader supposed to determine whether, in this case, she is acting rationally or narcissistically?

    In conjunction with other books, I think this one is useful. However, be prepared for a certain level of superficiality.

    [Aug 17, 2007] The monster in the mirror - Times Online

    Claire is 47, a mother of two, and recently divorced. Her ex-husband, Dan, 58, was a successful businessman when they met 12 years ago. “By the time we separated,” she says, “I no longer knew what was true and what was a lie. I was emotionally battered, my confidence was in shreds, and I felt the person I had once been had somehow been sucked out of me by Dan’s bullying and manipulation.”

    A friend studying to be a psychotherapist suggested she look up narcissism on the internet. “I began reading everything I could, and that led me to narcissistic personality disorder [NPD]. It made me realise that not only me but a couple of friends had experienced something similar in their relationships. NPD is said to be particularly prevalent among the driven and ambitious.

    “At first, I thought Dan was a really secure guy, with normal values and objectives. A person with NPD will be whatever you want him to be – as long as it suits him. Then, suddenly, you’re in exile, and you’re left perplexed, blaming yourself for what you’ve apparently done wrong. I was either worshipped or, more often, undermined. At the same time, whatever traits you have that he finds attractive – and therefore threatening to his own sense of superiority – he will set out to destroy.

    “As the marriage progressed and I discovered more of his lies, the angrier he became and the more he drank,” Claire recalls. “I begged him to get help for the sake of the children – not realising that the root of the problem was probably NPD.”

    Dan agreed, but later Claire found out that the time he was supposed to be spending in alcohol-addiction centres and on anger-management courses, he was with his girlfriends. “Healthy narcissistic tendencies are life-preserving,” she says. “But when the narcissism is extreme, it’s hugely destructive to everyone around. It’s a form of emotional abuse that isn’t properly recognised yet, and it ought to be. Narcissists play a subtle, long-term psychological game that is truly deadly to the other person’s psyche.”

    Claire is one of a growing number of people in Britain who are convinced their partner, boss or one of their parents has NPD.

    Although Freud published his study On Narcissism in 1914, NPD wasn’t officially recognised as a personality disorder in the US until the 1980s. Seen as the high-flyers’ disease, often allied with drugs, gambling and alcohol abuse, it is now a multi-billion-dollar industry.

    ... ... ...

    In the myth, falling in love with one’s own image is seen as punishment for being incapable of loving another. In reality, NPD, at its most extreme, can lead to murder. In 2004, the public-school boy Brian Blackwell, 19, stabbed and bludgeoned his parents to death at their home in Merseyside before embarking on a £30,000 spending spree. He was obsessed with fantasies of success, power and brilliance, claiming, for instance, that he was a world-class tennis player. He was diagnosed as suffering from NPD.

    NPD appears to affect men more than women. A person with NPD is spectacularly lacking in curiosity or concern for others, but can easily simulate both if it ensures the continuation of what psychiatrists call “the narcissistic supply” of uncritical admiration and adulation.

    In Narcissism: Denial of the True Self, first published in 1985, the American psychiatrist Dr Alexander Lowen refers to the case of Erich, brought to him by his girlfriend, Janice. Dr Lowen asks Erich about his feelings. “Feelings!” Erich replies. “I don’t have any feelings… I programme my behaviour so that it is effective in the world.”

    Erich describes his mother as perpetually on the verge of hysteria, provoked by a father who was cold and hostile. Dr Lowen diagnoses that Erich has deadened his emotions in response to his parents’ dysfunctional relationship. He writes: “The narcissistic image develops in part as a compensation for an unacceptable self-image and, in part, as a defence against intolerable feelings… a state of living death.” Erich, in his relationship with Janice, has continued to shut down feeling while exercising power. “He got her to love him without any loving response on his part,” Dr Lowen explains. “Such exploitativeness is common to all narcissistic personalities.”

    So, how do you know if a person has NPD? Mental-health professionals in Europe and the US draw on two sets of guidelines that are regularly updated by international groups of psychologists and psychiatrists to help make a diagnosis. The ICD-10, the World Health Organization’s classification of mental and behavioural disorders, published in 1992, lists nine categories of personality disorder, but does not include NPD.

    In the US, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was first published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1952, in part to provide a benchmark for insurance companies handling medical claims. The fourth and current version (DSM-IV), published in 1994, lists 10 categories of personality disorder (see page 27) of which NPD is one. (DSM-V is due to be published in 2010.) DSM-IV also gives a list of nine characteristics, of which a person has to have at least five before NPD is considered.

    The nine include

    1. a grandiose sense of self-importance;
    2. preoccupations with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love;
    3. a belief that he or she is “special”, only understood by other “special” people;
    4. a need for admiration;
    5. a sense of entitlement or unreasonable expectations of favourable treatment;
    6. exploitative, taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends;
    7. unwillingness to recognise or identify with the needs of others;
    8. envious of others, or thinks others are envious of him or her,
    9. arrogance.

    In its most extreme form, known as malignant narcissism, paranoia and physical aggression may also be displayed: Stalin, Hitler and Saddam Hussein come to mind. In the rich and successful, many of the characteristics of NPD are of course seen as positive attributes. In a 2005 study, the psychologists Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon at Surrey University found that three personality disorders, including NPD, were more common in managers than in criminals.

    In an article in The New York Times, Board explained: “A smattering of egocentricity, a soupçon of grandiosity, a smidgen of manipulativeness and lack of empathy, and you have someone who can climb the corporate ladder and stay on the right side of the law, but still be a horror to work with. Add a bit more of those characteristics, plus lack of remorse and physical aggression, and you have someone who ends up behind bars.

    “What’s important is the degree to which a person has each ingredient or characteristic, and in what configuration.”

    Since many people may belong to more than one category of personality disorder, DSM-IV divides the categories into three clusters. NPD belongs to Cluster B – dramatic, emotional or erratic types, embracing histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

    “The characteristics and categories provide clues, but not a definitive diagnosis,” says Professor Eddie Kane, the director of the Personality Disorder Institute at Nottingham University. “While it’s clear when a person is psychotic or schizophrenic, we have to be wary in diagnosing personality disorder. Putting a label on someone’s behaviour that may have an enormous impact on their lives has to be very carefully considered.”

    In a paper published this May in The British Journal of Psychiatry, Professor Peter Tyrer and colleagues from the department of psychological medicine at Imperial College London wrote unequivocally: “The assessment of personality disorder is currently inaccurate, largely unreliable, frequently wrong and in need of improvement.”

    And the psychiatrist Dr Paul Moran of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, the author of several papers on personality disorders, says: “A number of biases can distort the assessment of personality. For instance, there is evidence to suggest that the term “personality disorder” may itself be a label applied to unlikable patients who are regarded as difficult. A person can be supremely confident, superficially charming, and only choosing to treat people as stepping stones in his life. But does that mean he’s displaying signs of NPD? At present in the UK, our understanding of the characteristics, causes and treatment of NPD are very rudimentary. It’s still only a theory about how some people might behave. However, I have no doubt that individuals can and do manifest these traits.”

    In 2006, a team that included Professor Jeremy Coid of the forensic-psychiatry unit at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, published an assessment of the prevalence of personality disorders in Great Britain in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The study concluded that they are “common”, affecting nearly 1 in 20 people (4.4%) – previous estimates have given a higher figure of 10-13%. What the study failed to find, however, was a single case of NPD. (DSM-IV estimates that about 1% of the US population has NPD.)

    “That does not mean it doesn’t exist in the UK,” Professor Coid says. “The questionnaires used to pick it up do not work very well because not many people admit to these criteria. People don’t like to admit they are arrogant and envious.”

    One reason why people with NPD appear few in number is that they are treatment resistant. Put plainly, they don’t believe they have a problem, so they rarely present themselves for help.

    Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin, 46, has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder twice. He is unusual in that he accepts the diagnosis, uniquely turning it into a way to provide an international source of narcissistic supply. Born in Israel, since the mid-1990s he has written extensively about himself and NPD, both on the internet and in books, including his magnus opus, Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited. Hundreds interact daily on his websites. He insists that he offers help and advice only to ensure a narcissistic supply of attention that confirms his superiority, intelligence and specialness – not because he cares.

    Vaknin is an unsettling combination of the chilling and the charming. In conversation, it’s hard to disentangle truth from the narcissist’s tools of the trade – exaggeration, flattery, grandiosity and the display of fake vulnerability and self-pity to elicit sympathy. He is a verified economist, award-winning writer, poet, philosopher, journalist and financial consultant. He is also, he says, a failure. On one of his websites, he writes: “I have lived in 12 countries, worked in 50, and I don’t think there is one that will take me back. I consider the businesses I drove to bankruptcy with my narcissistic temper tantrums and superiority contests… The fortunes I squandered… I cherished and revelled in my self-annihilation.”

    Vaknin lives in Skopje, Macedonia. He is one of five siblings, but he hasn’t seen his family for over a decade. His father was a construction worker from Morocco, who suffered from clinical depression. “Violence was the main channel of communication,” Vaknin says. His mother was from Turkey. She believed she was a prodigy, but had to leave school and sell shoes to rich people at the age of 14. “I have an IQ of 180 and it was her enormous misfortune to have me as her first-born,” Vaknin says. “My parents were ill-equipped to deal with normal children, let alone the gifted. I was her ambassador to the world, but I also constituted a threat.” Vaknin says his mother is a narcissist. In a short story – Nothing’s Happening at Home – fiction based on his own childhood, he describes the life of a six-year-old with a violent, resentful and unpredictable mother. “ …mother takes a broom to me and beats me forcefully on the back and all the neighbors [sic] watch… on the floor is this large yellow puddle in which I stand. Mummy’s broom gets all wet and the neighbors [sic] laugh… She takes down my trousers and I am exposed to the jeering crowd, drenched and naked. It isn’t a good day, this one”.

    “Children with narcissistic parents are objectified. They are like circus animals, performing on order, to extract a little love,” Vaknin says. “I don’t hate my mother. I hate what her illness did to her. I began to live as if life is a film and I’m playing out a script, totally detached to fend off hurt and injury. Now, I am a monster. Underneath the skin, I am a hideously deformed individual. When you look at the quadriplegic, you can understand if he can only wink – the quadriplegic is a marathon runner compared to me and my emotional disability.”

    At 17, Vaknin left home to join the army and never returned. He was first diagnosed with NPD at 26. He was living in opulence in London with his then wife, Nomi. On her insistence, he visited a psychiatrist. “When I first received the diagnosis, I was mortified and very frightened. Then, as a typical narcissist, I thought, ‘Can I use the diagnosis as leverage to become famous? Make money?’ The answer was yes.”

    In 1995, Vaknin was diagnosed for a second time by a psychiatrist in an Israeli jail. He was serving 11 months for fraud, trying to manipulate the price of stock. In jail he began to write Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited.

    “I am no healthier today than I was when I wrote that book. My disorder is here to stay, the prognosis is poor and alarming. The vast majority of narcissists end up at the very top or the very bottom – derelict, desolate, schizoid, bitter, decaying and decrepit. You won’t find any in the middle. My narcissism is much worse than it used to be. As my capacities dwindle, minute by minute, the gap between reality and grandiosity becomes bigger and bigger. The larger the gulf, the more narcissistic defences are needed.

    “I am an abject failure in comparison to my potential. I should have been a public intellectual. But people don’t like looking in the mirror, and I like forcing them to look.”

    Vaknin has been married to his second wife, Lidija, 37, for five years, and they have been together for 10. She is Macedonian. Lidija would like a child. In response, Vaknin says he is a cerebral narcissist, relying on his intellect to attract a narcissistic supply. He is not much interested in sex. “For Lidija, our relationship is a constant war of attrition,” Vaknin says. “I think she is very tired. She says sometimes she is being erased. But she stays, so I must respond to some of her emotional needs. A narcissist infiltrates his partners like acid,” he explains. “If she fails to erect strong defences, the narcissist takes over, forcing the eviction of the person’s original self.”

    Vaknin says narcissism recruits as it infects. “Narcissism creates a bubble universe similar to a cult. In the bubble, special rules apply that do not always correspond to an outer reality. The narcissist conditions people, so the victims come to assimilate the narcissist’s way of thinking. You can abandon the narcissist but the narcissist never abandons you. We are like body snatchers.”

    Lidija Vaknin appears undaunted. “Some people think I’m crazy to stay with him, but I’ve discovered I am strong. At the beginning, several times a day, I wanted to leave. Now, it’s easier. My father was a narcissist and very physically abusive. My previous partner was violent. I learnt to read the eyes, the mouth, the body language. I don’t feed Sam’s need for admiration. We talk and tackle the issue. Sometimes I have to repeat what I say many times, and sometimes I give up trying.

    “On occasions, he is untouchable. If he’s in that state, I don’t even try to communicate. He has his own world, and if I try to enter it, he explodes into many pieces. We are a good match. Sam is clever and funny. He makes jokes about himself, which is rare for a narcissist.”

    Lidija’s sister, Meri Petrov, says of Vaknin: “I’ve never met a man like him. He knows how to be a good friend, but one minute everything is going well, then suddenly he says horrible things and has a terrible anger. One minute he’s kind, the next I can’t define him. My sister has found a way to live with him, I don’t know how.”

    Vaknin believes his NPD was triggered by childhood trauma and abuse. “Every human being develops healthy narcissism. That is rendered pathological by abuse. By ‘abuse’ I mean refusal to acknowledge the emerging boundaries of the individual. Smothering, doting and excessive expectations are as abusive as beating and incest.”

    Dr Bob Johnson, consultant psychiatrist and co-founder of the James Nayler Foundation to further research into personality disorders, agrees. “Personality disorders are all to do with software. The trauma a person has experienced in childhood. They have nothing to do with predispositions or genetics or the type of society in which a person lives. Address the trauma and the personality disorder evaporates. But the individual first has to want to change.”

    Professor Eddie Kane disagrees. He says the causes of personality disorders, including NPD, may turn out to be “multi-factorial”. Biological, psychological and social-risk factors may have differing impacts on different individuals. Dr Joel Paris, professor of psychiatry at McGill University, Montreal, suggested 10 years ago that: “Personality disorders are pathological amplifications of normal personality traits… different social structures tend to reinforce some traits and discourage others.” The DSM-IV definition of personality disorder refers to behaviour “that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” – but could a narcissistic culture act as a hothouse for NPD?

    The American Dr Theodore Millon is an internationally renowned psychologist and psychiatrist. In Personality Disorders in Modern Life (2000), written with Roger Davis, he argued that pathological narcissism gained prominence only in the late 20th century. “Individuals in less advantaged nations… are too busy trying (to survive) to be arrogant and grandiose.” Millon and Davis attribute pathological narcissism to “a society that stresses individualism and self-gratification at the expense of the community, namely the United States”. Others see western culture devaluing and undermining the very elements, home and family life, work, self-reliance and healthy personal relationships that act as protective factors against narcissism.

    An extensive study showing the significant growth of narcissism in the US was published earlier this year. Headed by Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, it assessed the responses of 15,234 college students, between 1987 and 2006, to a test called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. It attempts to rate changes in areas such as self- esteem, assertiveness and whether individuals see themselves as leaders. As part of the inventory, students are asked to agree or disagree with statements such as, “I think I am a special person.” The study found, “an alarming rise in narcissism and self-centredness”. It discovered that the average college student scored higher in narcissism than 65% of students 19 years earlier. “We’ve seen a distinct increase in narcissism,” Twenge says. “Is some of it healthy narcissism? I’m not sure there is such a thing.”

    Twenge is also the author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable than Ever Before, published last year. “The rise in narcissism has very deep roots,” Twenge says. “We fixate on self-esteem and unthinkingly build narcissism because we believe the needs of the individual are paramount.”

    Yet, in highly narcissistic societies, millions do not develop NPD – why not? The psychologist Dr Jeffrey Young suggests an antidote might be: “Unconditional parental love that includes fair and firm boundaries, consistent discipline and a resistance to the inclination to spoil.”

    ... ... ...

    I spoke to several psychiatrists about what a person should do if he or she believes a partner has NPD. The response was unanimous: “Leave.” “The children of narcissists may find themselves attracted to narcissists, because they have had an early training,” says Dr Michael Isaac, consultant psychiatrist and senior lecturer in psychological medicine at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London. “But for other women, what often happens is a dovetailing of needs. A woman may feel a sense of service and self-abnegation. Or she may entertain the notion that she is his chosen one. It’s only later the pleasure becomes pain.”

    Claire has no regrets about making her break. Her ex-husband, Dan, rejects the suggestion that he has NPD. “If you have a lot invested in your choice of man, denial about his behaviour is easy. I thought it was my fault I couldn’t reach him. Learning about NPD put together a lot of the pieces in our marriage that had refused to fit before. I now know, if you’re living with someone who has the disorder, whatever you do will never be enough. Be warned.”

    ... ... ...

    How narcissistic are you?

    If a person displays five or more of the following traits, they are likely to have narcissistic tendencies

    Mental Help Net - Perspectives - Vol. 6, No. 1 - A Primer on Narcissism - Page 1 of 3

    The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has been recognized as a seperate mental health disorder in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) in 1980. Its diagnostic criteria and their interpretation have undergone a major revision in the DSM III-R (1987) and were substantially revamped in the DSM IV in 1994. The European ICD-10 basically contains identical language.

    An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts.

    Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:

    1. Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
    2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion
    3. Firmaly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions)
    4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation -or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).
    5. Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favourable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations
    6. Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends
    7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others
    8. Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her
    9. Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.

    Narcissism & NPD In Perspective Narcissistic Personality Disorder does not house all narcissism

    There are different types of narcissistic disorder according to, Alexander Lowen, M.D., in his book, Narcissism – Denial of True Self, “Narcissism covers a broad spectrum of behavior “

    Lowen lists five types of what he terms, “narcissistic character” in order of increasing narcissism as:

    1. “Phallic-Narcissistic Character
    2. Narcissistic Character – which he applies not to all types of narcissists but this type only
    3. Borderline Personality Disorder
    4. Psychopathic Personality
    5. Paranoid Personality “

    Lowen explains, “… the more narcissistic one is, the less one is identified with his or her feelings is inversely proportional to the degree of narcissism … there is a correlation between the denial of or lack of feeling and the lack of a sense of self.” (Pg 14)

    “People who are overly narcissistic commonly feel rejected, humiliated and threatened when criticised. To protect themselves from these dangers, they often react with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight, real or imagined. To avoid such situations, some narcissistic people withdraw socially and may feign modesty or humility.” (Wikipedia)

    The picture of narcissism is a confusing one, however, because not all professionals or theorists agree on everything about it. Some tend to describe narcissism in ways that would suggest that it is the same or manifests very similarly regardless of its originating sources, others totally disagree with that and posit that the narcissism seen, to one degree or another, in all personality disorders has its origin specific to the arrested emotional developmental stage that largely causes any given personality disorder.

    “There is a broad spectrum of pathologically narcissistic personalities, styles, and reactions -- from the very mild, reactive and transient, to the severe and inflexible narcissistic personality disorder.” (Wikipedia)

    There are vastly different reasons and manifestations in those with NPD and those with BPD that are different in causation or origin and that are also different in the roles that they play in the pathological dysfunctional structures of each personality disorder. (Masterson)

    To gain a clearer perspective of narcissism it is important to be aware of its source. The source of what causes narcissism in people is not the same for all people who are narcissistic. The same is true of the ways in which narcissism is manifested within the various syndromes or disorders on the spectrum of narcissism. Depending upon the source the disorder in personality may manifest as NPD, or BPD, and/or other personality disorders.

    “The common use of the term narcissism refers to some of the ways people defend themselves against this narcissistic dynamic: a concern with one’s own physical and social image, a preoccupation with one’s own thoughts and feelings, and a sense of grandiosity. There are, however, many other behaviors that can stem from narcissistic concerns, such as immersion in one’s own affairs to the exclusion of others, an inability to empathize with others’ experience, interpersonal rigidity, an insistence that one’s opinions and values are “right,” and a tendency to be easily offended and take things personally.” (Wikipedia)

    Aside from being varying degrees of experienced and manifested narcissism the points at which early childhood psychological and developmental arrests occur and the reasons for these narcissistic injuries are not all the same. They do not take place at the same age or for, necessarily the same reasons. Added to this is the reality that not all with any form of narcissism will necessarily display or manifest that narcissism exactly the same as others. Even those who have varying degrees of narcissism are individuals.

    It is also important to note that while narcissism is a common thread, to one degree or another, in all personality disorders. (MSN Encarta Encyclopedia) This should not see everyone with narcissism lumped into the definition of NPD. Those with NPD and BPD, while they may share some similarities are not one in the same either. (Masterson) (Lachkar)

    There is also such a thing as healthy narcissism that also needs to not be confused with pathological or unhealthy narcissism. We must also take into consideration when dealing with anyone with narcissistic traits, that we also live in highly narcissistic cultures.

    This also has an effect on our over-all perception of and experience with all that narcissism, across its continuum, in our daily lives.

    Not everything from everyone that has some narcissistic features to it means that someone has NPD or even BPD. Those who have personality disorders can benefit from professional diagnosis and treatment. However, it is important not to assign pathology to someone, without them being assessed by a professional.

    In order to put NPD into perspective it is important to be aware that narcissism is, to one degree or another, a feature of all personality disorders. Narcissism, like the traits that define BPD are found in the general population and are human traits, is found in everyone as well (healthy narcissism).

    Narcissism, no matter from where on the spectrum, aside from being in the healthy realm, it originates is a major contributing factor to those who have these features, to one degree or another, having considerable and substantial difficulty building and maintaining healthy adult age-appropriate relationships. For those who are in or have ended relationships with people who fall somewhere on this continuum of narcissism the reality of the pain and damage experienced is significant and traumatic.

    With a back-drop of an ever-proliferating culture of narcissism in many societies and cultures it may be too easy, equally erroneous, and not helpful to anyone if we lump everything together in attempts to find reasons for our negative and painful experiences and/or for all that goes wrong in very human attempts to relate, to understand each other, and to find our way in life.

    [Feb 19, 2007] Contradictory Behaviors of Narcissists Narcissism List

    10. Narcissists and Manipulation

    Narcissists are adept at manipulating what I call their Narcissistic Pathological Space (country, family, friends, colleagues, workplace). They are excellent imitators (Zelig-like types, chameleons). In the workplace they will project work ethic and the sharing of basic goals in a team work. To their spouse they will reflect "love", to their colleagues - collaboration and mutual respect. Scratch the surface though and out springs the ever-youthful narcissist: indignant, rageful, vengeful, dangerous, painful.

    11. Narcissist Employer

    To a narcissist-employer, his "staff" are secondary sources of narcissistic supply.

    An employee's presumption to be his employer's equal (friendship is possible only among equals) injures the narcissist. The narcissist is willing to accept the employee as an underling, whose very position as such serves to support his grandiose fantasies. But the grandiosity rests on such fragile foundations, that any hint of equality, disagreement, or of his needs (for a friend, for instance) threatens the narcissist profoundly. The narcissist is exceedingly insecure. It is easy to destabilize his impromptu "personality". His reactions are merely in self-defense.

    Classic narcissistic behavior is when idealization followed by devaluation. The devaluating attitude develops as a result of disagreements OR simply because time has eroded the employee's capacity to serve as a FRESH source of supply.

    In time, the employee is taken for granted by the narcissistic employer, and becomes uninspiring as a source of adulation, admiration and attention. The narcissist needs new thrills and stimuli.

    [Not true] The narcissist is notorious for his low threshold of resistance to boredom. He exhibits impulsive behaviors and has a chaotic biography precisely because of his need to introduce uncertainty and risk to what he regards as "stagnation" or "slow death" (=routine). Even something as innocuous as asking for office supplies constitutes a reminder of this deflating, hated, routine.

    Narcissists do many unnecessary, wrong and even dangerous things in pursuit of the stabilization of their inflated self-image.

    Narcissists feel suffocated by intimacy, or by the constant reminders of the REAL, nitty-gritty, world. It reduces them, makes them realize the "grandiosity gap" (between their self image and reality). It is treated as a threat to the precarious balance of their personality structures (mostly "false" and invented).

    Narcissists will forever shift the blame, pass the buck, and engage in cognitive dissonance. They "pathologize" the other, foster feelings of guilt and shame in the other, demean, debase and humiliate the other, in order to preserve their sense of grandiosity.

    Narcissists are pathological liars. They think nothing of it because their very self is FALSE, an invention.

    Here are a few useful guidelines:

    1. Never disagree with your narcissist-employer or contradict him.
    2. Never offer him any intimacy.
    3. Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements, or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on).
    4. Never remind him of real life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity (these are the BEST art materials ANY workplace is going to have, we get them EXCLUSIVELY, etc., etc.).
    5. Do not make any comment which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, diagnostic capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.

      Bad sentences start with: "I think you overlooked ... made a mistake here ... you don't know ... do you know ... you were not here yesterday so ... you cannot ... you should ...(perceived as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to restrictions placed on their omnipotent freedom) ... I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity.

      Narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves, their internalization processes were screwed up in their formative years and they did not differentiate objects properly)...".

    Narcissistic personality disorders

    My list of Narcissistic personality characteristics

    When I see anyone with low self-esteem covered-up by a grandiose presentation, I always suspect a narcissistic personality. These are the characteristics that I look out for:

    ... ... ...

    A clinical list of Narcissistic personality characteristics

    This article on dealing with narcissistic children has a good list, and has some of the items that I noted.

    Reality distortion and Inability to See and Hear -- The child sees situations through his own sense of woundedness and neediness. . .

    Mood Switching --The child's fractured self is caught in mood swings. She may go back and forth between "I'll be good" and pouting or outrage because she isn't getting what she wants. . .

    Poor Impulse Control and Frustration Tolerance -- The child is highly reactive to outside stimuli that seem to threaten his sense of self and cannot delay gratification. He wants things NOW! . . .

    Poor Ego Boundaries and Need for Control -- The child cannot view things from any other perspective other than his own. He is so caught in his own neediness that he cannot feel empathy for others.

    Denial of Uncomfortable Feelings --The child keeps the focus on what he wants not how he feels. His constant demanding keeps him from feeling the pain inside.

    Frequent Anger and Rage --The child substitutes anger and tantrums as a way of keeping her uncomfortable feelings from being experienced. She becomes a master of rationalization and justification of her explosive actions . . .

    Need for Admiration --The child erroneously believes that he is special and should be given special privileges. . .

    Grandiosity and Fantasy --The child spins grandiose fantasies to cover up the internal wounds of his fractured self. He sets up elaborate fantasy schemes of winning, becoming powerful or gaining revenge for injustice. Daydreams of becoming rich and famous without talent or hard work are common.

    Idealization and Devaluation of Teachers or Therapists --The child will make you feel that you are wonderful and special as long as you humor her. "As long as you give me what I want, you are the ideal person for me" . . .

    Externalization of Blame --The child cannot allow the bad feelings of being at fault for anything. He/she/they/YOU are the problem! He avoids feeling vulnerable by blaming others.

    Narcissism in the Workplace - Coping With A Narcissistic Boss

    David: Good Evening. I hope your day went well. Welcome to HealthyPlace.com and our chat conference on "Narcissism in the Workplace." I'm David Roberts, the moderator of tonight's chat. Some of the topics we'll be discussing include: How to cope with a narcissistic boss. And when is it time to toss in the towel and leave that troublesome job?

    Our guest is Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited and an authority on the subject of narcissism. You can read more about Dr. Vaknin by clicking on the link.

    Just to clarify, Dr. Vaknin is not a therapist or medical doctor of any sort. However, he is an expert on the subject of narcissism and a self-proclaimed narcissist. Good Evening Dr. Vaknin and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. Just so we are all clear on the subject, can you give us a brief overview of what narcissism is?

    Dr. Vaknin: Great to be here again. Thank you for having me and for the kind words. Hello, everyone.

    Narcissists are driven by the need to uphold and maintain a false self. They use the False Self to garner narcissistic supply which is any kind of attention adulation, admiration, or even notoriety and infamy.

    David: How does one recognize a narcissist?

    Dr. Vaknin: It is close to impossible and that is the secret of their astounding success. Narcissists are good actors. They are adept at charming others, persuading them, manipulating them, or otherwise influencing them to do their bidding. The narcissist's sense of self-worth is unstable (labile) so, the narcissist relies on input from other people to regulate his self-esteem and self-confidence. He focuses on potential sources of supply and engulfs them with focused attention and simulated deep emotions. Only in later encounter, as time passes and the number of interactions grows, is it possible to tell that someone is a narcissist.

    Narcissists are preoccuopied with grandiose fantasies unrealistic plans.

    David: So, in the beginning, you are saying they will get on your good side by charming you and pretending to be interested in you and what you're doing. Later, what kind of behaviors should a person expect from the: (1) narcissistic boss and (2) colleague? And I'm assuming here that the behaviors for the two might be different.

    Dr. Vaknin: Workplace narcissists seethe with anger and resentment.

    This sounds like myself ;-)

    [Not true] Cassandras who constantly predict impending doom.

    [Not true] They are intrusive and invasive. They firmly believe in their own omnipotence and omniscience. They feel entitled to special treatment and are convinced that they are above Man-made laws, including the rules of their place of employment.

    David: If you work with or under a narcissist, it sounds like your work life might be a living hell.

    Dr. Vaknin: You would never forget it. It is traumatic and very likely to end in actual bullying and stalking behaviors.

    David: What kind of individual, personality-wise, is best suited to work with a narcissist co-worker or boss?

    Dr. Vaknin: Certain pathological personalities - for instance, someone with a Dependent Personality Disorder - or an Inverted Narcissist may get along just fine.

    A submissive person whose expectations are limited, moods are subdued and willingness to absorb abuse is extended would survive with a narcissist, or even thrive in such an environment.

    But the vast majority of workers are likely to suffer ill-health effects, clash with the narcissist, or end up being sacked, reassigned, relocated, or demoted.

    The narcissistic bully very often gets his way: He gets promoted, the ideas he "adopted" become corporate policy, his misdeeds are overlooked, his misbehavior tolerated. This is partly because, as I said earlier, narcissists are excellent liars with considerable thespian skills - and partly because no one wants to mess around with a thug, even if his thuggery is limited to words and gestures.

    David: We have a lot of audience questions, Dr. Vaknin. Let's get to a few and then I have a few more questions to ask you. Here's the first one:

    AMichael: How common is narcissism within the population?

    Dr. Vaknin: According to orthodoxy, between 0.7%-1% of the adult population suffer from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This figure is an underestimate.

    Pathological narcissism is under-reported because, by definition, few narcissists admit that anything is wrong with them and that they may be the source of the constant problem in their life and the lives of their nearest or dearest. Narcissists resort to therapy only in the wake of a harrowing life crisis.

    They have alloplastic defenses - they tend to blame the world, their boss, society, God, their spouse for their misfortune and failures. Last, but not least, psychotherapists regard narcissists as "difficult" patients with a "severe" personality disorder - or, put plainly, lots of work with little reward. Narcissists, Paranoiacs and Psychotherapists Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) At a Glance.

    Doria57: Is there any way to get along with these type of people at work?

    Dr. Vaknin: Here are a few useful guidelines:

    1. Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him.
    2. Never offer him any intimacy. You are not his equal and an offer of intimacy insultingly implies that you are.
    3. Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on).
    4. Never remind him of life outside his bubble and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity.Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgement, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.
    5. Bad sentences start with: "I think you overlooked & made a mistake here & you don't know & do you know & you were not here yesterday so & you cannot & you should, etc. These are perceived as rude imposition. Narcissists react very badly to restrictions placed on their freedom.

    Linda3003: My husband is employed by a very large university, inspite of "outstanding" appraisals, many stolen ideas, marked increase in customer satisfaction and being very professional, he was resently fired. His boss did not like the acolaides my husband was receiving, etc. How does one combat the defamation?

    Dr. Vaknin: Depends on your resources and your ability to accept recurrent interim defeats. Narcissistic bosses are very tenacious and resourceful. They are pillars of the community, usually widely respected and believed. They have at their disposal the entire wherewithal of the organization.

    People say "where there's fire, there's smoke". "If he was fired, there must have been a good reason for it", "Why couldn't he simply get along? He must be egocentric, a bad team player." And so on. It is un uphill battle. My advice to you is to team up with an anti-bullying group or to have an attorney look into wrongful dismissal charges.

    Here is an excellent place to start your search: http://www.bullyonline.org/workbully/npd.htm, http://www.bullyonline.org/workbully/

    freedom03: I would like to know if the narcissist is aware of what they are doing?

    Dr. Vaknin: Aware, cunning, premeditated, and, sometimes, even enjoying every bit of it. But it is not malice that drives them. They believe in their own destiny, superiority, entitlement, exemption from laws promulgated by mere mortals. The narcissist regards himself as one would an expensive present, a gift to his company, to his family, to his neighbours, to his colleagues, to his country.

    Resistance calls for strenuous measures. Disagreement with the narcissist is bound to be the outcome of ignorance or obstructionism. Criticism is malevolent and ill-founded. The narcissist trusts that he has the full moral justification to battle his foes. To his mind, the world is a hostile place, full of Lilliputians who seek to shackle his genius, foresight, and natural advantages.

    They aim to harness and castrate - and they deserve his ire and the ensuing punishment he metes out to them in his infinite wisdom. It is a crusade against the injustice of not recognizing the narcissist's true place in this world - at the pinnacle.

    David: Dr. Vaknin, earlier you mention that the narcissist would act empathetic to draw in his prey, so to speak. In light of that, here's the next question:

    martha j: Can this person genuinely develop authentic empathy skills?

    Dr. Vaknin: No, he cannot. Narcissists lack the basic machinery of putting themselves in other people's shoes. They react with fury and denial when confronted with the fact that persons in their environments are individual entities with their own idiosyncratic and specific needs, preferences, choices, fears, hopes, and expectations. This, the refusal to grant autonomy, is at the core of abuse, whether on the domestic front or at the workplace. To the narcissist, others are mere extensions, instruments of gratification, sources of narcissistic supply. And nothing more than that.

    delaware1974: With so many people afflicted with this - why are we making it sound like a death sentence? All of us still need to move on with our lives ...are we supposed to give up and accept because it's hard? We spend alot of time talking about the negative or "escaping" the narcissist, "surviving" the narcissist, what about those of us that want to help them and NOT give up on them? Are there LIVE face-to-face help groups? Hope?

    Dr. Vaknin: It is possible to live with the narcissist, as I made clear earlier. It requires certain behavioral modifications and a willingness to accept the narcissist largely as he is. These may be of interest:

    And, yes, there are groups (though only online) who tackle healing and co-existance - they are listed here.

    I am not aware of a live group though I heard recently that something is being organized in New York. Bullying - and especially workplace bullying - is tackled by many online and live groups. This website, managed by a former bullying victim, Tim Field, is the best I know of. It contains links to hundreds of resources.

    David: For many people, Dr. Vaknin, if you are in a situation working with a narcissist or under a narcissist, they can't just pick up and leave their job. What is the best way for them to cope without "kissing" up to this person and being always vigilant about what you say and how you say it? or is that the only way to survive?

    Dr. Vaknin: It depends whether the narcissistic bully represents the corporate culture of the workplace - or is an isolated case attributable to a quirky nature or a personality disorder. Alas, very often, abusive behaviors in one's office or shop floor are merely the epitome of all-pervasive wrongdoing which permeates the entire hierarchy, from top management to the bottom rung of employment.

    Bullies rarely dare to express their tendencies in isolation and in defiance of the prevailing ethos. Or, if they do run against the grain of their place of employment, they lose their jobs. Typically, narcissists join already narcissistic firms and mesh well with a toxic workplace, a poisonous atmosphere, and an abusive management. If one is not willing to succumb to the mores and (lack of) ethics of the workplace, there is little one can do.

    Surprisingly few countries (Sweden, the United Kingdom, to some extent) outlaw workplace abuse specifically.

    Whistleblowers and "troublemakers" are frowned upon and are not protected by any institutions. It is a dismal landscape. The victim would do well to simply resign and move on, sad as this may be. As awareness of the phenomenon increases and laws take effect, hopefully this will change and bullied and abused workers will find effective ways to cope with mistreatment.

    TimeToFly: What typically happens to a narcissist when they lose their position of authority or their job. How do they react to that? My narcissist ex-husband recently lost his job. He will not say what happened exactly, typical. But since then he has been on a rampage to destroy me. It was right after the loss of his previous job that he left me and our children 4 years ago. He had been the manager of engineering and was first demoted, and then finally left the company. I never did get the story. He has just remarried, but his new life somehow has not distracted him from his obsession with destroying mine.

    Dr. Vaknin: Being demoted or losing one's job is a narcissistic injury (or wound). The entire edifice of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an elaborate and multi-layered reaction to past narcissistic injuries.

    A gap opens between the way the narcissistic imagines himself to be (grandiosity) and reality (unemployed, humiliated, discarded, unneeded). The narcissist strives to bridge the grandiosity gap but sometimes it is simply to abysmal to deny or ignore. So, some narcissists go through decompensation - their defense mechanisms crumble. They may even experience brief psychotic episodes. They become dysfunctional. The narcissists redouble their efforts to obtain narcissistic supply by any means - sex, exercise, attention-seeking behaviors. Yet others withdraw altogether to "lick their wounds" (schizoid posture). What is common to all these narcissists is the ominous feeling that they are losing control (and maybe even losing it).

    In a desparate effort to re-exert control, the narcissist becomes abusive. Sometimes abuse is about controlling the victim. Others seek "easy targets" - lonely women to "conquer" or simple tasks to accomplish, or no-brainers, or to compete against weak opponents with a guaranteed result.

    For more on these behaviors:

    David: If you are interested in purchasing Dr. Vaknin's excellent and very thorough book on narcissism, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, click on the link.

    jenmosaic: What causes NPD?

    Dr. Vaknin: No one knows. The accepted wisdom is that NPD is tan adaptative reaction to early childhood or early adolescence trauma and abuse. There are many forms of abuse. The more familiar ones - verbal, emotional, psychological, physical, sexual - of course yield psychopathologies. But are far more subtle and more insidious forms of mistreatment. Doting, smothering, ignoring personal boundaries, treating someone as an extension or a wish-fulfillment machine, spoiling, emotional blackmail, an ambience of paranoia or intimidation ("gaslighting") - have as long lasting effects as the "classic" varieties of abuse. Still, there is always the possibility of a hereditary component More about the roots of narcissism here

    David: Here are a couple of audience comments about what's been said tonight:

    Doria57: No one ever wants to form an anti-bullying group, they are afraid.

    martha j: The descriptions of the narcissistic boss --Isn't this the unfortunate all American definition of the "successful boss?

    Dr. Vaknin: I'd like to respond to that last comment. Mental health disorders - and especially personality disorders - are not divorced from the twin contexts of culture and society. Western society and culture are narcissistic. Disparate scholars and thinkers - Christopher Lasch on the one hand and Theodore Millon on the other hand - have concluded as much. Narcissistic behaviors - now labeled "misconduct" - have long been nornmative. The basically narcissistic traits of individualism competitiveness, unbridled ambition - are the founding stones of certain versions of capitalism. Thus, certain forms of abuse and bullying actually constitute an integral part of the folklore of corporate America. Narcissistic bosses were idolized. As long as this is the case, workplace abuse would be hard to overcome. More here:

    David: Thank you, Dr. Vaknin, for being our guest this evening and for sharing this information with us. And to those in the audience, thank you for coming and participating. I hope you found it helpful. We have a very large and active community here at HealthyPlace.com. You will always find people in the chatrooms and interacting with various sites. Also, if you found our site beneficial, I hope you'll pass our URL around to your friends, mail list buddies, and others. http://www.healthyplace.com


    Disclaimer: We are not recommending or endorsing any of the suggestions of our guest. In fact, we strongly encourage you to talk over any therapies, remedies or suggestions with your doctor BEFORE you implement them or make any changes in your treatment.


    We hold topical mental health chat conferences on on our site. The conference schedule and transcripts from previous chats are here.

    The Infinite Mind Narcissism

    Narcissists can be arrogant, self-aggrandizing, and manipulative. But what's it like to have narcissistic personality disorder? And how can it be treated? Guests include Dr. Jeffrey Young, the founder and director of the Schema Therapy Institute of New York and the Cognitive Therapy Centers of New York and Connecticut and co-author of "Reinventing Your Life"; Sandy Hotchkiss, a licensed clinical social worker and the author of "Why is it Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism"; Dr. Corinne Pache, an assistant professor of classics at Yale University and a fellow at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C., who talks about the myth of Narcissus and Echo; poet Tony Hoagland, whose latest collection is called "What Narcissism Means to Me"; and Samuel Vaknin, who has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and has written extensively about the topic.

    Host Dr. Fred Goodwin begins with an essay in which he says he has always been fascinated by the boundary between healthy narcissism and narcissism as a disorder. In his world of medical research, it's not uncommon to hear some colleagues at the top of their game described by other colleagues as narcissistic. The label is generally meant to be pejorative (and might also reflect some envy), but he doubts that it always actually translates into narcissistic personality disorder. From time to time, he says, a colleague that he knows quite well is described as narcissistic. And yet those who work closely with him will often describe him as generous and supportive, in other words capable of empathy - which is lacking in the true narcissist. Dr. Goodwin believes the ability to empathize is what really distinguishes healthy narcissism from a personality disorder, and it's important to remember empathy is not always visible from a distance.

    Then Dr. Goodwin interviews Samuel Vaknin. After receiving a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, Vaknin devoted himself to understanding the disorder and offering advice to others with it. He is the author of "Malignant Self-Love - Narcissism Revisited," and he runs, moderates, and contributes to several websites devoted to narcissistic personality disorder -- all of which, he readily admits, contributes the "narcissisistic supply" he craves.

    Vaknin, who lives in Skopje, Macedonia was interviewed by phone from Italy, where he was on vacation. He says the disorder affects every aspect of his life, from work to interpersonal relationships to sexual relations. He has been diagnosed twice, once after a relationship ended badly and again in an Israeli prison where he was incarcerated for securities offenses. He says it is not uncommon for narcissists to see themselves as above the law. They believe they deserve special treatment and do not understand other people's feelings or needs, he says, laeding to antisocial behavior.

    Vaknin then says he has no sense of his own self-worth. He needs other people to tell him what he's worth, and he therefore seeks constant admiration. Dr. Goodwin asks him if he feels he is special, and he says it's not a matter of feeling -- there is no distance between himself and that conviction -- it's more like "knowing" he's special. He admits that, if he is criticized, he is likely to erupt into rage, because his overriding sense of superiority has been challenged.

    Then, Dr. Goodwin interviews psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Young, who has developed a new treatment for personality disorders, combining elements of cognitive, behavioral, object relations, and gestalt therapy. Dr. Young is the founder and director of the Schema Therapy Institute of New York and the Cognitive Therapy Centers of New York and Connecticut. He's also teaches in the psychiatry department at Columbia University, and is the co-author of "Reinventing Your Life."

    Dr. Young begins by saying that the major characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder are seeing oneself as special, acting entitled, believing one should have whatever one wants, regardless of the feelings of others, and inflating oneself while putting others down. However, for people who actually have the disorder, the narcissism is a facade, a coping mechanism to deal with underlying feelings of loneliness and defectiveness. If they are challenged or criticized, they often react with rage because their self-image has been deflated. Then, their shame will often come to the surface and they can feel horrible about themselves.

    Dr. Young then explains the difference between healthy and unhealthy narcissism. Healthy narcissism is having a sense of your basic rights -- for example, not allowing someone to cut in front of you in line, or even feeling proud of your accomplishments and not hiding them. Unhealthy narcissism is becoming obsessed with having people think you are special, and not just having a sense of your own rights, but not caring at all about the rights of others.

    Since narcissists have difficulty admitting weakness, they usually do not seek treatment unless they have been deflated in some way, for example, if they are threatened with divorce of the loss of a job. Often, Dr. Young says, the only way to get a narcissist into treatment is with an ultimatum.

    Dr. Young has developed a form of treatment for personality disorders called schema therapy. It is based on the idea that we all have different personality modes, or parts of the self (angry, easygoing, focused, carefree, etc.). For people with personality disorders, these modes are much more extreme, some are dysfunctional, and it is difficult to move flexibly from one mode to another. He says most people with narcissistic personality disorder have three dominant modes -- the self-aggrandizing, entitled mode (which is what people see as narcissism), the shamed or lonely child mode (which is the underlying sadness and isolation), and the self-soothing or self-stimulating mode (when alone, to avoid feeling "the lonely child," they will often engage in activities like gambling, compulsive sex or speculative investing to distract themselves from their more vulnerable side).

    In therapy, directly addressing the narcissistic behavior generally doesn't work, so Dr. Young tries to engage "the lonely, shamed child," since that is the part of the person that is in pain. He does this by looking for any example of narcissistic behavior and then, rather than criticizing it, focusing on why the person is acting that way. The hope is to have the person acknowledge that he can feel vulnerable, he doesn't always feel good or think he's "the best," and in this way get him to understand his compensatory behavior. Dr. Young says that, of the people who stay in therapy, he is able to help the vast majority. However, as with any therapy for narcissists, unless the therapist spends the sessions telling the patients they're the best, many will leave early.

    To contact Dr. Young, please write to: Dr. Jeffrey Young, Director, Schema Therapy Institute, 36 West 44th Street, Suite 1007, New York, NY 10036. Or visit http://www.schematherapy.com

    The word "narcissism" derives from the name of the mythological character, Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. The myth was made famous by the Roman poet Ovid, who created a story of great beauty and psychological complexity. Dr. Goodwin's next guest is Dr. Corinne Pache, an assistant professor of classics at Yale University. She is currently a fellow at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC, where she is working on a project on "Divine Desire."

    Dr. Pache begins by telling the story of Narcissus and Echo, the nymph who fell in love with him and was rejected. She says that the ancients were very suspicious of the extremes of love, and this myth served as something of a cautionary tale. Narcissus is at one extreme -- he is only able to love himself. Echo represents the other extreme -- she, who can only repeat what others say, loses herself completely in the object of her love and has no sense of self at all. This is perfectly represented in a passage in which Ovid writes that Narcissus tells Echo, "I would die before I give you power over me," and Echo answers back repeating his last words, "I give you power over me." Both end up dying because their love is unattainable. Dr. Pache says the lesson still holds for today -- many of us have great difficulty finding a healthy balance between self and other.

    To contact Dr. Pache, please write to: Dr. Corinne Pache, Assistant Professor of Classics, Yale University, Department of Classics, P.O. Box 208266, 344 College Street, New Haven CT 06520-8266. Or visit: http://www.yale.edu/ or http://www.chs.harvard.edu

    Having a spouse, parent or even a boss who is a narcissist can have profound and even devastating effects. After a short break, we hear a first-hand account. Given the personal nature of the story this wife shares, she asked us not to mention her name. She has been married for 34 years, but noticed a problem with the relationship very early on. Her husband insisted that everything go his way and that she be subservient to him. He accepted nothing but adherence to his vision of how their lives and their relationship should be. When she did stand up for herself, he would sometimes become physically abusive. She says all this left her feeling out of control, small, lonely, sad, and angry. She says she was left with little self-esteem and did not leave her husband because she feared being alone.

    How do you handle the narcissist in YOUR life? Dr. Goodwin is then joined by Sandy Hotchkiss, the author of "Why is it Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism." Hotchkiss is a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice in individual, couples and family therapy in Pasadena, California.

    Dr. Goodwin begins by asking Ms. Hotchkiss how people can tell if their boss or spouse or parent is a true narcissist and not just a bit self-involved or self-absorbed. She answers that you can tell by the way they make you fee. They will generally make you feel as if you don't exist unless you are in service to them. She also says they are likely to inflate you to bask in your glow. This can be very seductive to some people, but the inflation never lasts -- you are also likely to be exploited and deflated. Narcissists tend to be attracted to one of two types of people -- those they admire (the super-model or corporate leader) or those who admire them. An exciting, fantasy romance can be possible at the beginning of relationships, but, since untreated narcissists do not have the capacity for empathy, they will probably not be there for their partners, unless it suits their own needs.

    Ms. Hotchkiss then describes the narcissistic parent, who, she says, is fundamentally incapable of recognizing the child as separate from himself or herself. The child grows up to be acutely attuned to what the parent needs from him or her. They often become stunted in some way in the development of their own self and can be magnets for other narcissists, since they are so good at meeting other people's needs (they can also grow up to be narcissists, themselves, if part of what the parent needed was a mirror for his or her own narcissism). She says that it is possible for an adult child to develop a compassionate relationship with a narcissistic parent, but only if the parent is not that toxic and the child recognizes the reality of the situation, grieves the loss of the parent he or she never had, and develops reciprocal relationships with other people in his or her life.

    Finally, Ms. Hotchkiss talks about the narcissistic boss. Since narcissists crave power, many rise to positions of great authority, where they create an environment in which their employees are exploited in the service of their dream. In all relationships with narcissists, power is key, and often you can improve your situation with a narcissist by accurately assessing the power balance and changing your own behavior. However, if your boss is a narcissist, you are actually in a position of limited power, and this can be very difficult. She says that if you really are stuck and cannot change jobs, the best you can do is create a "work persona" that you know is not you. The persona may get abused and exploited, but you must leave it at the office, and work on having a real life outside of your job.

    To contact Ms. Hotchkiss, please write to: Sandy Hotchkiss, 275 E. California Blvd, Suite J, Pasadena, CA 91106.

    To order "Why is it Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism," click here.

    Next, The Infinite Mind's Marit Haahr speaks with poet Tony Hoagland, whose latest collection -- "What Narcissism Means to Me" -- explores the narcissism in all of us. His previous works include "Donkey Gospel," which won the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets, and "Sweet Ruin," which won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry.

    Hoagland begins by reading his book's title poem, "What Narcissism Means to Me." It begins:

    There's Socialism and Communism and Capitalism,
    said Neal,
    and there's Feminism and Hedonism,
    and there's Capitalism and Bipedalism and Consumerism,

    but I think Narcissism is the system
    that means the most to me...

    Hoagland then says he believes American culture encourages self-involvement to a degree that makes it difficult for us to pay attention to anything but ourselves. He says our self-preoccupation is endlessly promoted and indulged by a consumer culture. Even the great American philosophers of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, people like Whitman and Emerson, have been co-opted in the service of car commercials (i.e. "March to the beat of a different drummer. Drive a Lexus."). With so many opportunities for self-gratification, it's difficult to know our own size in the world.

    To order "What Narcissism Means to Me," click here.

    Finally, commentator John Hockenberry looks at narcissism and politics. He says, "Narcissism IS politics in America. What else can the world possibly think listening to our political rhetoric... the constant invocations of being the greatest nation on earth, the greatest people, the pinnacle of civilization, the divine custodians of all that is moral and free in the world?"

    - Marit Haahr

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