A very interesting comment was placed under the article ‘Does Psychopaths Know They’re Psychopaths?‘ by a Reader who had some very interesting questions regarding differences between Psychopathy and Narcissism. He uses the best known and certainly in my opinion a primer example of someone who represents both conditions to a T: Mr. Sam Vaknin.
And I thought I would take the time to write a little extended answer and publish an article about the subject, in part because the relationship between psychopathy and narcissism is undeniable, but also because it continues – for good reasons – to have an interest in the wider public.
But just before I go ahead and post, I thought I should mention that I have found out what happened to the article I published yesterday and which never showed. It’s rather banal and not worth going into detail about, but I happen to have the original text saved, so I will publish it again.
It’s a two (or maybe three) parts article, and I will still have to find image, good websites that are worth linking to, selecting labels, and do editing, all of which usually takes at least as long as writing the article itself… No, that’s not really true. When I get started writing I am finished in a lot shorter time than any time I have spend on the finishing touches: Edit, links, labels, and proof reading.
First the text from the Reader who asked me and wrote the words, and following after that is my reply which hopefully answers what my Reader is asking. – I will have to say, though, that you seem to have understood quite a lot yourself, and there were times where I could add nothing new. Anyway, here we go:
Do you know this Internet Psychopath called Sam Vaknin? He knows everything about what he stand for and that is total frustration. He can’t help it to hate people. He even hates people with not only his mask but also the two childs inside of him hate people. That’s one of the main differences between a narcissist and a psychopath. A narcissist is frustrated because the child inside has created a fake ego that defends him from harm. This false ego has the same traits as some ignorant child that wants everything done the way he wants and he lies and manipulates to get it. Children are btw more narcissistic than real grownups that had a normal childhood and got raised without traumatic events. So, narcissists are kinda childish when you understand their behaviour and im sure a pscyhopath can control and hurt a narcissist very easily because a narcissist stands or falls with the need of feeling admired and getting attention the way he tries to control it. Without his ability to control people he falls apart right? PSychopaths dont have this problem right? They can be alone without a problem. Is this really true or do you think at this part the defence mechanism of Sam Vaknin is talking as he knows he is a psychopath instead of the narcissist he claimed to be? In brainscans (documentary I-psychopath) he scored out of the roof on psychopathy. Still, he does it all for money (power). A lot of the traits remain the same.
He also claims he just can’t understand what people feel when it comes to emotions. You claim you do feel this because you know the differences. THat means you have to have emphaty orelse you can’t see the differences between your emotions or the emotions of others. THat would mean that psychopaths have emotions? Please explain this. Thank you. You can call me Fleetwood if you like. 🙂
Yes, I know Sam – not offline, and I’ve only exchanged a few words with him, but I know who he is and what he stands for.
A lot of psychopaths are narcissists too, and if I’m to be completely honest – and I am – I also know how it feels to hate people. I’ve hated people most of my life, ‘even behind the mask’.
That said, I do believe he is more narcissistic than I am, and that’s not meant to be degrading, in fact I have some admiration for what he does. He really does take it all the way, and while he would say “I can foresee the outcome of everything I do, so there’s nothing brave about it”, I’d still say there’s something brave about standing up in public and declare that you hate children… he made a short but very honest video on Youtube: ‘Narcissists Hate Children and Envy Them‘about the subject but even I was too much of a pussy to compliment him for having expressed something I myself have felt when I was younger but still an adult.
The difference, I believe, is that narcissists feel negatively all the time, the emotions Vaknin express in the video I’ve mentioned are not fleeting or occasional, they’re the feelings he have for children every time he is presented for situations where children are involved like he explains…. and – as I said – I do think it is a sign of bravery to be open to this extent, for children is probably the one taboo that none of the rest of us have admitted any ill feelings against.
Well I’ve finally been open about it now, in this reply, and I’m going to again in a future article. — But my ill emotions regarding children aren’t chronic, and therein lies the difference between Vaknin and other major narcissists, and psychopaths who’s narcissism is secondary.
You’re right: At least to the outsider who understands a narcissist his feelings appear childish, and he is certainly – a common narcissist is – easy to control when you know the more central things about his emotional life, and they easily fall apart if they loose control and ability to maintain it.
But make no mistake about Sam Vaknin, he’s no ordinary narcissist. He may exaggerate here and there about his superiority, but that doesn’t mean he has no superiority over most people, he obviously does, and that too deserves admiration – something he never got when it was most important to him.
Your question about psychopaths, about whether or not they can live alone without feeling lonely, that, I would say, is definitely true. I haven’t met a psychopath who knows what it means to ‘feel lonely’.
Psychopaths can easily be alone.
It is being isolated, not necessarily from people but from the world, it is being isolated from your surroundings whatever they are and being unable to go exploring or go out and build a life for yourself, start doing something good, for example (as in my case, ironically enough); it is things like these that we don’t have the capacity to tolerate well.
Had I not luckily arrived at a time in my life, after 3-4 years of deep research and self scrutinizing, I would very likely – or rather, if I’m to be completely honest – I would’ve gone out and killed people during night time. I would’ve done it as a way to get an outlet, a means to survive another day or two, and I wouldn’t have needed to be paid even though I’m as poor as ever and deeply dependent upon somebody to lend me a hand.
But instead of killing people and stop caring about what I have come to view as possibly the most important thing I will be contributing to society during my life time (if I manage to turn things around!), I become horribly self destructive[1*].
If you have read the last few articles I’ve published here in the blog, you will know that I am dying – not only from medical malpractice and denied treatment and surgery, but from the isolation that has been forced upon me. I can say with complete honesty that I meet more lonely people outside than I ever did inside prison[2*].
I think I trailed off…[3*]
Make no mistake, Sam Vaknin is no ordinary Narcissist. I suspect that if psychopathy had been in the eye of the media when he began his authorship and started an internet presentation based career, he would’ve put more emphasis on his psychopathy. And his psychopathy is what enables him to distance himself emotionally when he feels slighted or attacked (as you saw in ‘I, Psychopath – at least according to the journalist who must’ve been an emotionally fragile person, and it doesn’t surprise me that it was someone like him who felt drawn to the project. When you experience emotional ‘overload’ your memory has a way of creating or altering things so that they appear worse than they in reality were.
I myself have experienced this on several occasions, and while in this case it did Sam Vaknin good in that it helped cement his capacity for mental cruelty and control, in my case it has at times led to me being accused of doing or saying things that I didn’t do or say, and there’s nothing I can do about it because people never believe him who is known as the stronger, bad guy.
Sam Vaknin can distance himself emotionally when the situation calls for it, this is what makes him successful. When he has weak moments he don’t show it but retreats, and I suspect that has cost him a few business deals. But that is for him to know and for the rest of us to only guess about.
He also claims he can’t understand what people feel when it comes to emotions.
That must be the emotional level of understanding that he talks about, for he most definitely understands from an intellectual level what people feels very well, just like any other psychopath does. He’s also an eminent observer with a very well functioning high intellect, and at least the first is something he has in common with psychopaths everywhere (far from all psychopaths – or narcissists, for that matter – are intelligent let alone highly intelligent, or has an intellect that functions well).
Neither narcissists nor psychopaths understand emotionally what other people are feeling. The psychopaths don’t understand it because they lack the neuropsychological ability to feel the emotions themselves, and narcissists don’t understand them because they have subliminized these feelings so deeply and so well that they may as well not be there in the first place – though they can be brought to surface with the help or the unrefusable cruel destructiveness of someone who lives to see people’s minds fall apart and themselves go into a chronic state of madness of catatonic non-existence.
This, again, is understandably not possible to do to a psychopath, and that is so whether or not he is a narcissist. Psychopaths are simply too well educated in the game of emotional-psychological hide and seek and have fine tuned their cognitive abilities so that only the most narcissistic can be caught off guard or reached that way.
I will say it is reality that psychopaths can absolutely be alone without a problem if they have a reason to do so and put their mind to it (are focused).
Do I think Sam Vaknin is aware that he is a psychopath first and a narcissist second? Well I don’t even know that he really IS a narcissist second to being a psychopath. I will say that being a psychopath is the most ‘powerful’ aspect of his psyche, while being a narcissist is the antisocial way that his personality has grown to develop it’s traits most prominently and visible.
In brainscans (documentary I-psychopath) he scored out of the roof on psychopathy. Still, he does it all for money (power).
No, that is incorrect. If he did it all for money and vague power he would be motivated only by typical psychopathic traits. But remember that Vaknin has an intellect and a background that – if he chose to – he could no doubt use to gain a similar amount of money and vague power, but he wouldn’t be able to so it as a free person in the sense that a man like himself needs to do things. There would be a lot of conditions on part of those who gave him the necessary contacts and loans, i.e., to make such an accomplishment.
The truth is he does it very much out of narcissistic motivation: I need to be my own man, I can’t be below someone else, I can’t answer to others, I know I’m better than others so I have to make my livelihood in a way that gives me sole power and as much money as possibly, but maybe most of all: Narcissistic Supply (= people who have to work with or for him on his terms – some of these people doing this freely since some people will see in him what he is striving to show the world that he is gifted with and can contribute with.
It is true that I say – and keep saying – that I have the capacity to feel empathy, but I am aware that my empathy is shorter lived than that of normal people, unless the person I have empathy remains within my immediate company for an extended time. Even so I will tend to switch my empathy for sympathy, and it is often the case that my sympathy makes me able to do much more for a hurting person than the mpathy I had at first.
Sympathy is the same as empathy but without the emotion, and it is the cognitive understanding of the other person’s feelings and situation that make me able to see the whole, the larger picture, where most people see only the person who is hurting (and themselves who are hurting along with that person).
My extended awareness enables me to see what is needed in the situation and make decisions that will get those necessary things done. — I don’t have number of how many times I’ve taken control on an accident scene – car crash, for example – and been the one who made sure everything went smoothly – or as smoothly as possible in a situation where a lot of people have to follow orders given by one individual who were some of the times much younger than themselves, and who had no visible authority to take any leader position.
I don’t know what you mean by: “[I] do feel this because [I] know the differences.”
But even so it is true, I do indeed have feelings, and so do most other psychopaths. The reason for this is that psychopathy isn’t a set one-fits-all condition, it’s a personality scale that has a lot of variation between the individuals, some have a little bit of a lot of different types of feelings or emotions while others have few, but strong emotions. How do you think we would get through life if we felt nothing? We’d have no reason, no incentive to do anything to survive.
The notion of the psychopath as some lizard like being with no human traits at all except for his appearance and ability to talk and mimic social skills, is ridiculous to the point of being outright laughable if it wasn’t because it is so unbelievably harmful, not only to the psychopaths – let’s forget about us for a second! – but to society and the future of the human race per se!
And that, my friend, is what I have learned, and it is what keeps me going – though I still don’t do it as well as I would like, but am struggling to change that.
And I believe I will return strong and capable as I always have! I believe that I will rise again, and I will do so in spite of everything!
“I WILL BE BACK!”
As one certain movie villain said. And be back he did – as a hero!
[1*] – I can’t help it, I must do this or… go out and commit very nasty types of violent crimes. So I take lots of drugs to ease the pain and make it possible to sit and write for an hour at the time before it gets too painful, and I drug myself into a stupor when I get so angry or frustrated that I simply can’t remain in that situation and therefore have to remove myself from it (which, as we know, isn’t physically possible at this time) or give in to horrible urges that I hardly can call urges anymore because they’re only a possible outlet.
Other than that I chain smoke and have been forced to eat take-away food from the approx. 1,5 mill citizen capital’s only fast food restaurant who delivers past 11 PM, and one such pizza, if I take away most of the fat stuff keeps my weight at a stand still for as far as I only eat one every day. But as another means of trying to numb my frustrations and anger, I have lately eaten more than that, so I’m growing beyond what’s healthy or comfortable.
[2*} – I happen to live in the country in the world who has the largest number of ‘lonely’ and single people (yes, they know this because everything the population does is being registered and recorded – AND kept secret from the population, but that’s a future discussion).
[3*] – I used to trail off a lot when I first began keeping this blog. I have a slight dyslexia along with the psychopathic ADHD-like trait being extremely pronounced in me, so it has taken me a LONG time to get over this trailing off to other subjects and forgetting what I was talking about to begin with in the process. That I see this returning is a very clear sign of the seriousness of the damage that my current treatment and overall situation does to me.