Author Topic: Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or "I, Psychopath"?  (Read 176973 times)

Offline Laura

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or "I, Psychopath"?
« on: March 11, 2008, 12:36:53 PM »
I keep getting questions from readers of sott and the forum about Sam Vaknin.   The more I have read about this guy, the more I think that something just is not right there.  I want to collect some material I've found on the net here in this thread and hope that some of you will help out on this one.  The documents are in no particular order, only as I have found them on the net.  In some cases, I saved them without grabbing the url, so if anyone can get those, that would be helpful.

First item I find in my folder is the following:

Quote
Was There a Need to Revisit Narcissism? An In-Depth Look At Where Sam Vaknin
is Leading NPD

By Tony C. Brown

"Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited," by Sam Vaknin was first
published in 1997 and is now in its fourth impression. The author is a self-
diagnosed "Narcissist" who reached this conclusion while incarcerated in an
Israeli prison. Mr. Vaknin describes a process of examining how he came to
be in prison, with his marriage over and his finances in shocking condition.
It is my understanding that since this book first came into print that he
has also come to describe himself as misanthrope and schizoid. Mr. Vaknin
has stated that he has never attempted to work through his issues in a
formal therapy, rather he believes that his writing to be his therapy. It is
my understanding that since this book first came into print that he has also
come to describe himself as schizoid and misanthrope.

I voluntarily entered therapy in March of 1996 and was eventually diagnosed
by a licensed clinical psychologist as suffering from Narcissistic
Personality Disorder (NPD). Recently I was asked by a cross section of
people diagnosed with NPD, friends and family of those so diagnosed, and
those effected by possible narcissistic behavior to read Sam Vaknin's book
and discuss whether I believe his views offer a realistic view of this
disorder.

My first objective was to develop a better understanding of Sam. A check of
the Curriculum Vitae published on Mr. Vaknin's web site as of August 11
brought forward several concerns. First, there is no listing for where Mr.
Vaknin obtained his Bachelor Master's degree. Next, there is a disturbing
aspect of Ph.D. that Mr. Vaknin claims from Pacific Western University. A
check of the Pacific Western web site revealed, "The University is oriented
to those individuals not seeking licenses or credentials requiring
accredited degrees. Our programs are not designed to meet any established
requirements by private or professional associations. If a license or a
credential is desired, a check should be made of state, federal,
association, and credential requirements before applying. Pacific Western
University has not sought membership in any independent accrediting
association." I am of the firm belief that for a Ph.D. to be legitimate it
must be offered by an accredited university. It is for this reason that I
will not be using the title of Dr. in reference to Mr. Sam Vaknin.

Mr. Vaknin's biography also claims a certificate in counseling offered
through Brainbench, an online "school". As near as I can tell from examining
the criteria that Brainbench lists on their web site the only requirement
for receiving such a certificate is to pass an exam, which appears to be
open book. There are no requirements for working in a professional
counseling setting and receiving supervision on counseling techniques. It
should also be noted that the link to the transcript that is included on Mr.
Vaknin's site does not have his name or other readily accessible information
for a visitor to confirm this is indeed Sam's transcript, so are being asked
to place our trust in his word. I am very concerned that Mr. Vaknin is
intentionally misleading people about his credentials in counseling with
this certificate that must people will not take the time to investigate.

The best insight I have found for understanding Sam's intentions in writing
"Malignant Self Love" came in an interview Bob Goodman conducted with Mr.
Vaknin and was published on the Natterbox website in 2000. The following
exchange helped me develop a better understanding of Mr. Vaknin's motives
and agenda.

Bob Goodman writes, "I've seen Malignant Self Love' described in some
contexts as a self-help book. Often in this genre, we see authors who have
triumphed over some personal adversity and wish to help others do the same.
But your approach is quite different. You write that your discovery of your
own NPD "was a painful process which led nowhere. I am no different -- and
no healthier -- today than I was when I wrote this book. My disorder is here
to stay, the prognosis poor and alarming." Do you see the book, then, as
more a work of self-literacy than self-healing?"

Mr Vaknin replies, "I never described "Malignant Self Love" as a helpful
work. It is not. It is a dark, hopeless tome. Narcissists have no horizons,
they are doomed by their own history, by their successful adaptation to
abnormal circumstances and by the uncompromising nature of their defense
mechanisms. My book is a scientific observation of the beast, coupled with
an effort to salvage its victims. Narcissists are absent-minded sadists and
they victimize everyone around them. Those in contact with them need
guidance and help. "Malignant Self Love" is a phenomenology of the predator
on the one hand, and a vindication and validation of its prey on the other."

Mr. Goodman continues his interview, "You are a self-professed narcissist,
and you warn your readers that narcissists are punishing, pathological, and
not to be trusted. Yet hundreds of readers or customers seem to be looking
to you for help and advice on how to cope with their own narcissism or their
relationship with a narcissist. I'm struck by a kind of hall-of-mirrors
effect here. How do you reconcile these seeming contradictions?"

Mr. Vaknin replies, "Indeed, only seeming. I may have misphrased myself. By
"helpful" I meant "intended to help." The book was never intended to help
anyone. Above all, it was meant to attract attention and adulation
(narcissistic supply) to its author, myself. Being in a guru-like status is
the ultimate narcissistic experience. Had I not also been a misanthrope and
a schizoid, I might have actually enjoyed it. The book is imbued with an
acerbic and vitriolic self-hatred, replete with diatribes and jeremiads and
glaring warnings regarding narcissists and their despicable behavior. I
refused to be "politically correct" and call the narcissist "other-
challenged." Yet, I am a narcissist and the book is, therefore, a self-
directed "J'accuse." This satisfies the enfant terrible in me, the part of
me that seeks to be despised, abhorred, derided and, ultimately, punished by
society at large."

It was with this background information that I started my journey of reading
Mr. Vaknin's book, "Malignant Self Love". The introduction raised a very
serious concern that the author was combining several identifiable
psychological terms into one all consuming label which he calls Narcissism.
I am deeply concerned that throughout this offering the author is either
oblivious to, or ignores the reality of that Narcissism, Narcissistic
Personality Disorder (NPD), Anti-Social Personality Disorder, and
Psychopaths are not synonymous terms. Throughout the book Sam repeatedly
calls behaviors specific to all of these categories "Narcissism". Much of
the behavior that the author talks about in this book would be more
accurately used to describe Anti-social-Psychopathic behavior, yet is
presented as "Narcissism". The message that the author is attempting to
articulate to his readers is significantly reduced by the fact that in re-
visiting narcissism he appears to be re-defining it to meet his agenda.

The professionals that I have worked with in my therapy and in other
settings have expressed a concern that NPD has lost most of its scientific
meaning because of what narcissism has come to mean in popular culture. It
is for this reason that I believe we must expect anyone claiming expert
status on this disorder to take great care not to add to the confusion by
allowing their agenda to supercede what is commonly known and accepted
regarding NPD and all other identified psychological disorders.

Mr. Vaknin appears to be of the belief that Narcissism is the root or cause
of all personality disorders. This leaves me wondering again exactly how Sam
defines Narcissism. In this instance he appears to be suggesting that
"Narcissism" is the arrest in childhood development which is believed to be
the cause of many psychological disorders. The term used by mental health
professionals to describe the this early childhood trauma is narcissistic
injury or narcissistic wound. A narcissistic injury is a wound inflicted on
a young child's ego or true self when they experience trauma such as abuse,
neglect, abandonment, death of a parent etc. Evidence appears to confirm
that people respond to narcissistic wounds differently depending on a
variety of environmental and biological factors which can lead to a wide
range of mental illnesses. It is not accurate to suggest that Narcissism,
Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Wounds are synonymous
terms and they should not be used interchangeably.

It is interesting to me that from the beginning of his book the author makes
a distinction as what he calls Narcissists or "N's" to be somehow different
from other people. Throughout this book a person who is suffering from what
the author calls narcissism is rarely, if ever, referred to as anything
other than a narcissist. I cannot recall a place where he indicates that a
Narcissist a person. The result is the establishment of an "us" vs. "them"
setting which appears to work against healing and coming together as a
community.

The anger, to the point of rage, that the author feels almost leaps off the
pages, especially in the first couple of chapters. I find myself asking who
is the author mad at and how does he feel writing this book is helping him
get beyond that anger. If we are to believe that the author regards his
writing as therapy than it would be logical to assume he is making an effort
to resolve demons hidden deep within himself. This may be happening, though
the process is obscure to the reader.

Mr.Vaknin makes several interesting wide reaching observations about the
behavior of "Narcissists. One such assessment address whether Narcissists
understand cause and effect thinking as it relates to their behavior . "The
narcissist does not suffer from a faulty sense of causation. He is able to
accurately predict the outcomes of his actions and he knows that he might be
forced to pay a dear price for his deeds. But he doesn't care." No
supporting scientific information is given to defend this view, so the
reader is left to assume this is the opinion of the author. I find this
troubling as human beings suffering from NPD often struggle with cause and
affect thinking. A person with this disorder views the world through the
eyes of a child and attempts to relate to others from the viewpoint much
younger than their actual age. It is not that they understand that their
behavior will cause a certain reaction from people and do it anyway. They
lack the emotional developmental skills needed to understand how and why an
adult will react to their actions. On the other hand psychopaths may be able
to process how their behavior will affect someone and will make a conscious
decision to engage in the behavior despite, maybe because of the affect.
This is a huge difference between NPD and Psychopaths and shows how these
disorders cannot be lumped into one overriding category.

One of the more revealing commentaries in this offering centers around the
authors feelings about treating Narcissists in formal therapy, "his
therapist in particular and to psychology in general. He seeks treatment
only following a major crisis, which directly threatens his projected and
perceived image. We can say that the narcissist's "pride" has to be severely
hurt to motivate him to admit his need for help. Even then, the therapy
sessions resemble a battleground. The narcissist is aloof and distanced,
demonstrates his superiority in a myriad of ways, resents what he perceives
to be an intrusion on his innermost sanctum. He is offended by any hint
regarding defects or dysfunctions in his personality or in his behavior. A
narcissist is a narcissist is a narcissist even when he asks for help with
his world and worldview shattered."

This is an interesting assessment that is revealing in many ways. It is
accurate to suggest that it often takes a major crisis before a person
suffering from NPD will seek therapy, as was the case with myself. Much of
what the author talks about are indeed concerns that must be worked through
a therapy process. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a person suffering
from NPD can voluntarily enter therapy and work through these and the many
other issues that will come out during the course of a relationship between
a therapist and client. It appears that Mr. Vaknin is using this and other
aspects of his writing as an excuse for himself not to enter therapy. I
regard this as a classic game that is played by people suffering from a lot
of the disorders that the author has lumped into the classification of
Narcissism. It is unfortunate he appears to lack the insight to get beyond
this dilemma as this would be more helpful than implying therapy is very
difficult..

Mr. Vaknin spends a considerable amount of time discussing how a
"Narcissist" reacts to intimacy. He writes, "intimacy transforms us all into
unique beings. It , therefore, negates the uniqueness of those who should be
judged to be truly unique even in the absence of intimacy." He goes on to
suggest, "since it (intimacy) is a common pursuit, it cannot be unique." It
is fascinating that intimacy transforms us into unique beings, but intimacy
itself is not unique. Once again there is no scientific data given to
support the idea that intimacy cannot be unique. I suspect most people will
say every intimate encounter or relationship they have ever experienced has
been somewhat unique to all others. Each person is different and we do bring
different dynamics to every relationship. This is more evidence of a great
need of the author to simplify complex dynamics and place all people into
one category.

Throughout the book one gets the impression that the author is offering an
indictment against himself as a form of explanation why he will never
attempt to work on healing his issues. A classic example being his view of
envy and a Narcissist, " narcissist's mind is pervaded by conscious and
unconscious transformations of enormous amounts of aggression into envy. The
more severe cases of Narcissistic Personality Disorders (NPD) display
partial control of their drives, anxiety intolerance and rigid sublimatory
channels. With these individuals, the magnitude of the hatred is so great,
that they deny both the emotion and any awareness of it. Alternatively,
aggression is converted to action or to acting out. This denial affects
normal cognitive functioning as well. Such an individual would,
intermittently, have bouts of arrogance, curiosity and pseudo-stupidity, all
transformations of aggression taken to the extreme. It is difficult to tell
envy from hatred in these cases."

There is some truth to this issue, but it is presented in such a way that
one might think this cannot be overcome by working with a licensed mental
health professional. I have spent a great deal of time working on issues
around envy as envy has played a role in some of more serious acting out. It
is difficult to talk about such intimate relationships and it is dependent
upon the client to bring these raw emotions into a therapy session. Working
through envy is dependent upon your specific circumstances but in most cases
people suffering from NPD can indeed learn a healthy way of looking others
that does not lead to envy.

Toward the end of the book the author confirms a truth about people
suffering from NPD and other personality disorders, "Being a child, he feels
no need to acquire adult skills or adult qualifications. Many a narcissist
do not complete their studies, or even do not have a driving license. They
feel that people should adore them as they are and could and should supply
them with all the needs that they, as children, cannot themselves secure."
This appears to explain why Mr. Vaknin has not taken the time or put forward
the effort to secure the credentials which is expected of anyone claiming to
hold a doctorate or a counseling certificate.

My overall impression of "Malignant Self Love" is that the author spent a
lot of time talking around the issues which has labeled "Narcissism", but
offered almost no insight into the emotions which drive the behavior of a
person suffering from NPD. I came away with the sense that the author was
trying very hard to sell the reader on the idea that he is a Narcissist,
coming close to creating a whole new classification of Narcissism in the
process. I believe the lasting result of this effort has been to create mass
confusion among people about Narcissism, NPD, Anti-social Personality
Disorder and Psychopaths.

I believe it is of great significance that Mr. Vaknin stated in the
interview with Bob Goodman that "Malignant Self Love" was never intended to
help anyone, rather its primary intention was to bring adulation to the
author, Sam Vaknin. My honest assessment is this offering amounts to a
period of acting out where the author attempted to scapegoat his lifelong
behaviors on what he felt he could label an incurable disease. It is of
significance that not only has Mr. Vaknin never sought therapy, and does not
believe that "Narcissists" can recover, but there is no indication that he
has genuine feelings of remorse or regret for his behavior.

The truly disturbing aspect of this book is that the author indicates in the
interview with Bob Goodman that there is something about them which has led
them to be victimized by narcissists. Sam comments that, "The victims of
narcissists have rarely become victims randomly. It is very akin to an
immunological response: there is a structural affinity, an inexorable
attraction, an irreversible bonding and an ensuing addiction far stronger
than any substance abuse. I, therefore, am doubtful not only with regards to
the prognosis of a narcissist but also with regards to the healing prospects
of those exposed to his poisoned charms. The inverted narcissists (a sub-
species of codependent who is specifically attracted to narcissists) are
narcissists -- kind of mirror narcissists. As such, they are no less doomed
than the original." It is important to stress that the idea of Inverted
Narcissism is not recognized by most professionals, and is an example of the
author making things up as he goes through his writings. After reading this
it is both fascinating and infuriating to contemplate the cult guru leader
status that the author has achieved among people who consider themselves
"victims of narcissists". Clearly people are not using their brains to think
critically and ask themselves and Mr. Vaknin some very difficult questions.

It is widely accepted in the psychological community that a person suffering
from NPD does have a conscience and the ability to express genuine remorse
and regret. This is one of the significant obvious differences between NPD
and what professionals classify as Antisocial-Psychopath. If we allow
ourselves to look beyond the book and examine other behavior Mr. Vaknin has
displayed in his work the concern regarding the accuracy of his self-
diagnosis becomes dramatically magnified.

Sam lives a nomad lifestyle which he describes in the interview with Bob
Goodman. Mr. Goodman asks, "I understand you're something of a nomad now,
hopping from country to country and job to job. Do you ever long for a more
settled existence?" Sam replies, "Never. You are describing a morgue, a
cemetery. My life is colorful, adventurous, impossible, cinematic. Sure, I
pay a price -- who doesn't? Is there no price to be for a sedentary,
predictable, numbing existence? When one is 90 years old, all that is left
is memories. You are the director of the movie of your life, a 70 years-long
movie. Now, sit back and begin to watch: is it a boring film? would you have
watched it had it not been yours? If the answers are negative and positive,
respectively, you succeeded to live well, regardless of the price you paid."

Mr. Vaknin's nomad lifestyle is reflected in his ownership of several
different support forums for "victims of narcissists". After studying the
archives on a variety of forums it seems that when Nr. Vaknin becomes bored
with a group or if he feels they are threatening him by moving in a
direction he is not comfortable than he ceases participation, sometimes
starting a new group on another list. Many people have brought forward
questions and concerns to me about the behavior on these support forums. One
of the major concerns is centered around Sam deleting posts on his support
forums for no reason other than the author challenged his theories toward
narcissism, often by suggesting that a person suffering from NPD can
recover. It is clear that messages are deleted and people are banned based
on the childish needs of Sam Vaknin. I regard these alleged support forums
to be some of the unhealthiest such communities I have ever encountered,
online or in the Real World. People are encouraged to worship Sam and his
theories regarding Narcissism and are actively discouraged from critical
thinking. Other concerns have been raised about the intent and behavior
around these support forums but it would require a separate case study to
examine everything which has taken place in the name of support from
Narcissistic abuse.

What are some of the other motives which could lead Mr. Vaknin to engage in
what I now firmly believe amounts to what is known as narcissistic acting
out? Once again Sam offers insight to this question in an email exchange
with Bob Goodman falling their interview. Sam was concerned about the status
of the copyright of the article and wrote, "Regarding the copyright: I
retain the copyright on everything I write - including responses to an
interview. I hate Americans in general and their pusillanimous litigious
minds in particular (as does most of the world) -- so, do me a favor: take
it or leave it and don't waste my time with this any longer. Thank you,
Sam". It is a widely accepted fact that most of the study around NPD has
centered around behavior here in the United States. Could it be that Sam saw
an opportunity to lash out at Americans as a class of people, perhaps
thinking that he is so smart that they will accept him as an authority. It
is interesting that he likes America well enough to buy a degree from one of
our diploma mills, and obtain a counseling certificate from one of our
online schools, thereby obtaining credentials without doing the work
required of others. I guess America has its better side, isn't that right
Mr. Vaknin?

In the interview with Bob Goodman the author makes it clear exactly how he
feels about his own intelligence and authority on narcissism. Goodman asks,
"I'm still curious, though, what your attitude is toward your "customers."
It's clear you appreciate the attention from them, but do you consider them
foolish for seeking advice from a narcissist such as yourself?" Mr. Vaknin
replies, "I am by far the most intelligent person I know, so, the deep-
seated belief that others are bumbling, ineffectual fools is a constant
feature of my mental landscape. But seeking advice from a narcissist about
narcissism doesn't sound foolish to me -- if the consumer applies judgement
and his or her knowledge of narcissism and its distortions to the advice
received." I found this answer to be amusing as it a classic example of a
person suffering from a severe personality disorder to greatly exaggerate
their own intelligence and importance. It is even more interesting would
viewed from the perspective that this work in my opinion confirms that the
author has little or no understanding of narcissism and the various other
psychological disorders which are related to the topics which he addresses.

I do not believe that Sam Vaknin suffers from Narcissistic Personality
Disorder. It is my opinion that if he were to be diagnosed by an impartial,
licensed mental health professional who has no knowledge of what has gone on
over the last six years that the diagnosis would not be NPD. I think it is
very regrettable that the author has lead what I believe to be a campaign of
hatred and misinformation around Narcissism and NPD. Many people who are
suffering from this disorder, their friends and family, and those harmed by
what they thought was narcissistic abuse have been affected by this period
of acting out. It is time to reclaim the scientific meaning of NPD and
reestablish the boundaries around Narcissism, NPD, Anti-social Personality
Disorder and Psychopaths.

I am very concerned about the level of misinformation which now hovers over
the question of NPD. Sadly much of hatred that we see is a result of this
campaign of misinformation. Interestingly enough the majority of people who
express the most hate toward what they call Narcissists are referring to
people that they have diagnosed themselves, rather than a licensed mental
health worker. I am of the firm belief that unless a person has been
diagnosed by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist than you have an
opinion and that's all you have. A family member or friend is not qualified
to make an impartial judgement based exclusively on the DSM criteria. The
reason we have licensed professionals is because these are very complex
disorders that we're talking about and it is not possible to understand them
in a few sentences. The DSM was never intended to be used the way it now is
by the community. It is a tool for professionals that can be a source of
great information, but can also be abused, as we have seen repeatedly.

I believe that intentional misinformation and efforts to make large numbers
of people hate other people because of their psychological disorders amounts
to a form of psychological terrorism. Vulnerable people in considerable
amounts of pain are searching for information on healing and are instead
finding themselves the target of an unbelievable campaign of hate and
misinformation. Once again I state emphatically that we must reclaim the
scientific meaning of NPD and remain vigilant in our efforts to develop a
process of healing and recovery.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a very complex psychological illness.
People suffering from this disorder, their family and friends and victims
have all will benefit if we are able to move beyond this effort to redefine
Narcissism to fit the needs of one person. All human beings who have been
affected by this disorder need to work side-by-side with licensed mental
health professionals to get beyond the scare tactics of psychological
terrorism and move to a place of healing. In short we need to reclaim NPD
and redefine the distinctions of Narcissistic Injury, Narcissism,
Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, and
Psychopaths. It has been suggested to me that there are as many variations
of NPD as there are people suffering from this disorder. A commonly accepted
reality of human nature is that we all react differently to different
stimuli and that no two traumas are exactly the same. Together we can et
beyond the rather bizarre attitude that a Narcissist-is a Narcissist-is a
Narcissist.


Given that Mr. Vaknin insists on defending his work, primairly through his
old writings, it is important to clarify scientific information which he
claims to base his work. As with anyone seeking to be accepted in scientific
or professional terms, credentials are important. I have yet to see anything
to affirm a doctorate degree awarded to Mr. Vaknin from an accredited
university. Likewise, I have yet to see anything in terms of counseling
skills working with directly with clients in a supervised setting. Given the
continued claim of scientific research both of these questions must be
addressed.

Several questions have come forward with regards to the scientific process
used by Mr. Vaknin. I look forward to seeing answers to these questions that
can be confirmed by a truly independent, licensed source.

With regards to those who were identified as NPD. In how many cases was the
diagnosis made by a licensed mental health professional, verus self-
diagnosis or diagnosis by family, friend etc...

2) With regards to family and friends who have been affected by this
disorder. How many of the people involved had their loved ones diagnosed by
a licensed mental health professional versus self diagnosis or family/
friend speculation.

3) What method was used by these professionals in diagnosis and whatever
therapy might have been attempted.

4) How were people selected to participate in this scientific process?

5) Were motivations for participation evaluated and measured in the final
analysis of this data?

6) What was the attitude toward NPD of the professionals who participated in
this scientific research?

7) Has there been an independent confirmation of the scientific data and
where can it be found on the Internet or elsewhere.

8) Why is the scientific data not included in the book?
He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Offline Laura

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2008, 12:39:14 PM »
On Amazon, we find that Sam sure likes Liane Leedom:

 
Quote
5.0 out of 5 stars  Enlightenment at last!, October 24, 2006
By    Sam Vaknin "author of Malignant Self Love - N... (Skopje, Macedonia) -

See all my reviews

(REAL NAME)  

The author, a trained psychiatrist and a single mother of three, has written
in accessible language a much needed compendium of current scientific
knowledge regarding two pernicious mental health disorders: the Antisocial
Personality Disorder (psychopathy) and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD). Both have a genetic component, though how decisive is still
disputed. But the book goes way beyond a laymen's introduction. It addresses
the needs of parents of children at risk - offspring of patients with either
disorder. The book provides practical, hands-on advice on how to screen for
warning signs and how to prevent the disorder from fully developing. It is a
commendable and impressive feat that the author succeeds to proffer a whole
new psychodynamic model without once resorting to obscure lingo and psycho-
babble. Parents with children diagnosed with Conduct Disorder or
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (usually the precursors of the Antisocial
Personality Disorder) or with ADHD would greatly benefit from this tome and
are likely to find it a source of calm, friendly, and authoritative
reassurance. Sam Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism
Revisited"
Somehow, I don't think I would like being endorsed by him.
He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Offline Laura

  • Administrator
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    • http://www.laura-knight-jadczyk.com
Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2008, 12:40:07 PM »
More searching on "Sam Vaknin" turns up this on Sandra L. Brown's site:

Quote
http://howtospotadangerousman.blogspot.com/

ANNOUNCEMENT FROM AN AUSTRALIAN TV PRODUCER:

    * Are you or someone you know suffering from Narcissistic Personality
Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder (aka psychopathy)?

    * Are you familiar with the work of Sam Vaknin - his
book/websites/online forums?

    * How has Sam Vaknin affected your understanding of NPD and impacted on
your life?

We are making a documentary about Narcissistic Personality Disorder for
Australian, German and Canadian television. The documentary explores the
contribution made by Sam Vaknin through his book and his websites, and we
are looking for people whose life he has touched (positively or negatively)
to share their experiences with us.

At this stage we are seeking testimonials for research purposes but we are
also looking for contributions to be included in the documentary
(anonymously or otherwise).

Directed by Ian Walker, the film is being made in Australia by independent
production
company Magic Real Picture Company

Many thanks,
Danielle Brigham
Researcher, Magic Real Picture Company
danielle@magicreal.com.au
mrwalker@pacific.net.au
He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Offline Laura

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2008, 12:43:17 PM »
We already know that Vaknin got his "credentials" from a diploma mill, but
here is a bit more about that from one of our researchers who has been
digging around a bit.

Quote
I had a look around for a few hours on Friday night and couldn't find much.
Probably more because he has no formal qualifications in the world of
psychology, thus no papers in journals and thus no peer review.....  so, he
seems to be off the radar.

His "doctorate" is from pacific Northwestern University...... a one time
diploma mill.

Quote
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/12/15/calu

"Pacific Western dates to 1977. In September 2004, investigators with the
United States Government Accountability Office released a report titled
"Diploma Mills." In it, federal investigators wrote that they had posed as
prospective students and placed phone calls to three institutions, including
Pacific Western, to inquire about degrees. Institution representatives
emphasized to the investigators that "they are not in the business of
providing, and do not permit students to enroll for, individual courses or
training. Instead, the schools market and require payment for degrees on a
flat-fee basis."


And foreign newspapers have reported on the travails of numerous individuals
with credentials from Pacific Western. Last summer, an Australian newspaper
discovered that the former judge Marcus Einfeld, a national figure in the
country, touted a Ph.D. from PWU. And in late 2005, Barry McSweeney was
forced to resign from his position as chief science adviser to the Irish
government after he refused to make public his doctoral thesis from PWU.

Meanwhile, newspapers in Korea report that lawmakers and police have opened
an inquiry into more than 150 high-ranking national figures who have
received degrees at unauthorized foreign colleges. The Korea Times reported
that 34 of those individuals received doctorates from Pacific Western. Those
officials currently work at the education ministry and an agency affiliated
with the Ministry of Science and Technology."
He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Offline Laura

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2008, 12:44:11 PM »
From a wikipedia discussion page:

Quote
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jfdwolff/Archive_15

under the topic: Narcissistic Personality Disorder External Links Suggested
Compromise

I happen to be a psychologist, albeit a graduate one, with no postgraduate
work. What alarms me the most here is some person's agenda and their
obsessive mission to dominate the information available on the internet
concerning a psychiatric disorder. And while i find it unavoidable that
people with such bizzare notions can roam freely on the net, i consider it
unacceptable to allow such individuals to use wikipedia as one of the means
of disemminating their misinformation. This is an encyclopaedia and our aim
is objectivity not self promotion or skewed personal agendas. The initial
state of the article i reviewed a couple of days ago hosted a multitude of
links to the very same Sam Vankin that i have been refering to, as a matter
of principle i removed all of them, on the basis of his being unqualified to
comment on the issue. As it stands right now, there are currently two links
to Sam Vankin, one on a personal (one of the many) webpage and another
portraying itself as an msn or yahoo -can't recall- group on the issue which
is run and operated by Vankin again and in which readers mistakenly adress
this character as "Dr. Sam Vankin". To have an encyclopedia pointing to a
webpage where an individual is fraudulently posing as Dr. when he has no
expertise whatsoever in the field (other than some one year psy related
online "internet" degree...) is unacceptable. I have also been informed of a
lot of people on the internet who feel they have been victimized (no
wonder...) by this person, and he takes the same quasi intimidating tactic
with me when he mentions on of his last edits (all anonymously done and
under different guises each time) something about the greeks and the terms
vandalism, obviously having looked up my ip adress and found that i am
posting via a Greek provider. Regardless of where some of the terms in the
npd article are sourced from i consider it unacceptable to even allow one
single reference to a person who, to my proffesional knowledge, is not the
self proffesed npd sufferer he claims he is but a bona fide sociopath as
witnessed by his actions. The other personal experience webpage that i have
left the link to, is quite different from this guy's obsessive drive
concerning this particular issue. I will not take any editing action until I
hear from you, i gather from your resume here that you are well meaning and
not yet another of Vankin's
aliases.87.202.22.19.19&action=edit>

Please inform me which part of Vaknin's work you disagree with. I'm trying
to find out whether I can mediate this issue.
JFW
 | T@lk 21:25, 28 November
2005 (UTC)

I think I have so far made my points clear. I consider this guy a fraud (as
is clearly demonstrated by him posing as Dr. on an (his) npd support site),
and I also consider him unqualified to be linking multiple links to his
webside by virtue of his professed self diagnosis of npd (as qualified as
ted bundy would be on writing on serial killers and linking his wesides -
people suffering from such disorders npd's verging on sociopathy have little
or no insight into their condition) and his having authored a book on the
issue at some obscure publishing house, I find his contast spamming of the
article with his links (either covertly or overtly) unacceptable, as are his
intimidation tactics with respect to my person. Wikipedia is no substitute
for treatment, and, what's more important, a precedent should not be set on
sufferers of psychiatric disorders thinking they can dominate their
respective disorders articles on wikipedia. I won't have wikipedia catering
to his grandiosity delusions. Such is the nature of his endeavour that is he
so wishes he can submit his edits anonymously, but external links should
have the authority they deserve, and they are not there (nor are the talk
pages) for the self promotion of anyone. The parody that was the npd article
a few days ago, with Sam Vankin number one link, Sam Vankin msn group number
2 link, Sam Vankin's book number three link, Sam Vankins yahoo groups number
four etc. etc. is a disgrace to the project and the thousands of
contributors here. I think I have made myself pretty clear on where I stand
on the issue, and I honestly can't see how what I am saying can be disputed,
but I of course stand open to all
discussion.87.202.22.19.22.19&action=edit>

He is entitled to call himself Dr, unless you can prove he has no PhD in
philosophy. It is true that a layperson writing on a medical subject creates
the impression he is a doctor by calling himself Dr. I am investigating the
other claims. I think it is not reasonable to have >1 external link to Sam's
work. JFW |
T@lk09:42, 29
November 2005 (UTC)

"He is entitled to call himself Dr, unless you can prove he has no PhD in
philosophy."

 Actually the burden of proof lies on him, otherwise everyone
could declare any qualifications about their person and the rest of us would
have to play investigative detectives to either verify or disprove that. I
also have it from good sources that his only credentials are some obscure
internet degrees. In any case all these are beside the point, as you mention
"It is true that a layperson writing on a medical subject creates the
impression he is a doctor by calling himself Dr." And that by itself is
proof of deceit, both intent and willingness to mislead, and verifies my
claim of this individual defrauding others. It's common defrauding tactic to
write on issues unrelated to your (in this case unverified) qualifications
and use your Phd title to take credit, where credit is not due. This tactic
is not the sole one depicting fraud. Vankin has again and again anonymously
edited the page, never revealing his identity, and has used multiple aliases
and guises also to do so, all of them praising his "work". Like i said the
net is wide enough for this sociopath to lure the guilible into his net of
various courses, support sites, groups etc, i won't have wikipedia assisting
him in this quest of giving him anymore undue authority.

I also wish that you would refer to Sam Vankin either by his full name or
surname, because candid and cordial use of the first name indicates friendly
association with him, which I am sure is not the case
here.87.202.22.19&action=edit>

I'm not sure if verifying Vaknin's credentials is a priority. The fact is, I
want to know why you consider his work inappropriate. Just because he's
written a lot of the narcissistic personality
disorder-
related
stuff here doesn't mean his content is poor quality (although I have my
personal views on narcissism ).

Let's take this back to the talk page.
JFW
 | T@lk 10:07, 29 November
2005 (UTC)

I have some work to resume at the moment, i will be contributing to this
discussion in the near future. My main crux is the obsessive self promotion,
defrauding, posing as an expert, using wikipedia as a link outlet. I also
have issues with his writings which i consider merging npd with sociopathy,
and which i find rambling and repetative. In any case I can't take anyone at
face value who chose to pose as Dr.'s in a self help group, and who should
be in treatment rather than writing about their disorder to cater for their
self importance. I really wish i had more time here, but like i said, i will
make up for it in the near
future.87.202.22.1919&action=edit>
He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Offline purplehaze

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2008, 12:57:19 PM »
Would you trust a mass murdered to help you solve a mass murder?
The thing about Sam is that he spends so much time posting his stuff all over the net, victims can't help but slam right into it while looking for help.

The sad thing is that on his forums, when he "talks to victims" about their stories he seems to pay NO attention to the individual's details.  He just gives them link after link of his spewing about narcissism.  He also uses very erudite language making the victims who look to him for help feel like the great unwashed; which further feeds his narcissim.

And the manager of many of his forums will accept no questioning of Sam's work.  Sam has just enough about narcissim right to seem credible, unfortunately.

BTW - Tony Brown was also an admitted narcissist.  His HealNPD forum is controversial at best.

This thread on another forum may be of interest:  _http://amazingforums.com/forum2/LIBRAN0/157.html

Offline Laura

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2008, 01:15:56 PM »
Hmmm... after reading some of that thread, I get the impression that this guy, Tony Brown, did not have NPD, but did have narcissistic traits.  Is that too fine a distinction?

Reminds me of some other gal on the net who claims to have the "cure" for NPD.  I'll have to dig that info up since it is not right to hand.  Anyway, supposedly, her husband was "diagnosed" with NPD (though this was never professionally done, just an "online diagnosis") and she didn't want to give up on him so she decided she would cure him by becoming his "parent."  

Well, there IS something to be said for "re-parenting" someone you love, but somehow I don't think that what she is doing is exactly that.  I always say that the only thing that can control a psychopath is a bigger psychopath and that seems to be the method she is using: holding the threat of jail over the guy's head.  And, of course, he gets to claim that he is a "cured narcissist" and be part of an "online expert team of narcissist curers", so what's he gonna do?  Hmmm... jail... make money selling a phony cure... not hard to choose, is it?

Is any of this Tony Brown material still available on the net?
He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Offline Laura

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2008, 01:18:47 PM »
Continuing to read that thread... gads, what a lot of pathology going on there!  Here's a classic:

Quote
**NEWS FLASH** ALL Narcissists were at one time victims of abuse. Thats how they BECAME NPDers. As for me having a hard time putting myself in the shoes of someone who has been on the recieving end of "narcissistic" abuse, i have a BPD mother and an NPD father. You name it, i've been through it. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse. i've been through it ALL. Being raised by my BPD mother was like having someone forcibly holding a pillow over my face, soffocating me while screaming "i'm helping you i'm helping you"....The difference between you and i is that i have long since let go of a "victim" identity. i'm no longer looking for people to blame. i COULD have dehumanized BPDers in the same way you attempt to dehumanize and objectify NPDers, but no....some of my closest friends are BPDers, some of my closest friends are psychopaths, some of my friends are "nons" and many of my friends are NPDers. Yes, Tony was looking for something similar to a "cure" for NPD. And the "cure" he put his life's work into was getting people to look at the NPDers in their lives as PEOPLE who have suffered abuse to make them take on such complex coping mechinisms, and NOT to see them as "sick" "ill" "crazy" "diseased" or at fault for all the problems in every relationship they have with others. EXACTLY the OPPOSITE of what you are doing here.
That is basically the "psychopaths are made by bad treatment" argument.  And this person claims that some of his/her closest friends are psychopaths???!!!
He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Offline purplehaze

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2008, 01:29:26 PM »
Are you talking about Lightworker?  She's been tossed off a number of forums - wonder why (lol)

Here's some more reading on Tony Brown (sorry to get off the subject of Vaknin - will get back on track asap!)  Some of these are mind blowing:

_http://npd-only.site-forums.com/index.htm

_http://groups.msn.com/FriendsofNarcissists/general.msnw?action=get_message&mview=0&ID_Message=3336&LastModified=4675644807296198130

_http://frost.bbboy.net/healnpd

_http://www.careplace.com/group/1436

FRIENDS of Narcissists?  Actually looks like a lot of "we wish the N was a real person and not a false self" magical thinkers.


Administrator's note: I added "_" in front of each hyperlink.  While we want the links to be available to our readers to check out, we don't want hyperlinking to add to the google ranking of the sites in question.  This generally only applies to sites we are citing because they are examples of what we do not condone.

Offline purplehaze

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2008, 01:31:04 PM »
Considering your work on Political Ponerology - you are going to "love" this one from Sam:

_http://globalpolitician.com/articledes.asp?ID=2434&cid=12&sid=89

Psychiatry as a Means of Social Control - Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/9/2007

If you are a rebellious child or teenager and you have not been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder, you are still at risk of being labelled and pathologized.

The DSM informs us that "The essential feature of Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behavior towards authority figures that persists for at least 6 months."

Unbelievable as this Orwellian, Big Brother text is - it gets worse. If you are under 18 years old and you lose your temper, argue with adults, actively "defy or refuse to comply with the requests or rules of adults", deliberately do things that annoy said adults, blame others for your mistakes or misbehavior - then unquestionably you are a sick little puppy. And who is to make these value judgements? An adult psychologist or psychiatrist or social worker or therapist. And what if you disagree with these authorities? They get annoyed and this is proof positive that you are afflicted with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Did anyone mention catch-22?

And the charade continues, masquerading as "science". If you are touchy or get easily annoyed (for instance by the half-baked diagnoses rendered by certain mental health practitioners), you are ODD (i.e., you suffer from Oppositional Defiant Disorder).You are allowed to be touchy when you are an adult - it is then called assertiveness. You are allowed to get pissed off when you are above the crucial (though utterly arbitrary) age limit. Then it is called "expressing your emotions", which is by and large a good thing.So tell us the charlatans that call themselves mental health 'professionals' (as though psychology is an exact science, not merely an elaborate literary exercise).

The DSM, this manual of the Potemkin science known as clinical psychology, continues to enlighten us:

If you are habitually angry and resentful, spiteful or vindictive and these traits impair your "normal" social, academic, or occupational functioning (whatever "normal" means in today's pluralistic and anomic culture), beware: you may be harbouring Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). It is not clear what the DSM means by 'occupational' when Oppositional Defiant Disorder typically applies to primary school age children. Perhaps we will find out in the DSM V.

"The behaviors must occur more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level." - the DSM helpfully elaborates. If the child is psychotic or suffers from a mood disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder should not be diagnosed.

Why am I bothering you with this tripe? Because the DSM is ominously
clear:

"The diagnosis is not made if ... criteria are met for Conduct Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder (in an individual above the age of 18)."

Get this straight: if you are above the age of 18 and you are stubborn, resistant to directions, "unwilling to compromise, give in, or negotiate with adults and peers", ignore orders, argue, fail to accept blame for misdeeds, and deliberately annoy others - you stand a good chance of being "diagnosed" as a psychopath.

Let us hope that the "scholars" of the DSM V Committee have the good sense to remove this blatant tool of social control from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. But don't count on it and don't argue with them if they don't. They may diagnose you with something.

Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. In addition to writing for the Global Politician, he served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. Sam Vaknin's Web site is at _http://samvak.tripod.com

Offline purplehaze

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2008, 11:04:22 PM »
With all the discussion and defense of Eric Pepin http://www.cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=1360&p=18 because some consider HBI a cult, would like to see how many are starting to think Vaknin's followers are a cult in formation?

His articles are ALLLL over the net like weeds, the support boards run by his enforcer - Femfree - demand total agreement and compliance with the doctrine of Sam.  And Sam talks down to the victims in the guise of "helping them" (IOHO)

So? Anyone got other input on this ...um... narcissism guru?

Offline anart

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2008, 03:25:16 AM »
It seems to me that anytime people allow someone else to do their thinking for them - they are in a 'cult dynamic'.  It also seems that any time one person is the undisputed authority who cannot be questioned - or who is the 'master' - be it the 'narcissistic guru' or the 'crossing the abyss master' -  then, there is a 'cult dynamic' going on.  

Ultimately, the most powerful aspect of humanity is the ability to think for oneself, to question and to learn - without being coerced, convinced or manipulated.

It's also really interesting to look into the evolution of the word 'cult' in the last, oh, forty years or so - how it has changed and even why it has changed.

As far as Vankin is concerned - I'd say that the level of emotional manipulation and control certainly speaks to a cult-like dynamic - to my understanding he is a very dangerous man doing an enormous amount of harm.  Seems we, as a culture, have quite a few of those types these days - thus the absolute imperative that those with knowledge of these activities share it with others - to prevent further damage and abuse.

Of course, this ability to share information about pathological behavior and emotional/sexual/spiritual/psychological abuse is dependent upon concrete freedom of speech and expression - and, thus, here we are battling for that fundamental right as we speak.

Offline Mr. Premise

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2008, 04:11:38 AM »
Well said, Anart! This goes to the heart of it. The one thing the psychopath fears is the sharing of information among the victims and potential victims.

Quote from: anart
Of course, this ability to share information about pathological behavior and emotional/sexual/spiritual/psychological abuse is dependent upon concrete freedom of speech and expression - and, thus, here we are battling for that fundamental right as we speak.

Offline purplehaze

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2008, 04:31:08 AM »
Heck YES! The predator/psychopath just hates anyone who questions him or looks at him critically and does everything he can to enforce compliance and keep his targets either apart or walking in lock step.  

Once the cat starts jumping out the bag - the psychopath ATTACKS the truth-sayer.  (just look at what is happening with this forum, simply for posting & commenting about already reported news)

It's hard to dig up information on Vaknin without crawling over the wall of stuff he himself has put out there.  A daunting task that needs doing.

Quote from: DonaldJHunt
Well said, Anart! This goes to the heart of it. The one thing the psychopath fears is the sharing of information among the victims and potential victims.

Offline name

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Sam Vaknin - Narcissist or Psychopath?
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2008, 10:59:46 PM »
I read a considerable part of Vaknin's site some time during the first half of 2007. I found the site by following links from http://www.cassiopaea.com/cassiopaea/psychopath.htm.

I stopped reading when I decided that whatever or whomever he was portraying, that was/is not me. I don't remember specifics, but what I remember is the extremely harsh view of self and world described by Vaknin, as if constantly implying "we narcissists are the worst and most baddest and incorrigible human specimens ...", the black/white approach.

I wasn't then aware (or overlooked, or they were placed later) the three other links about Vaknin on same page I mention above. In the meantime I've also read them.

In the meantime I've also read Marta Stout and Elan Golomb, and comparing what these two women write with what is on Vaknin's site, I can just say that both of them 'click' with me and come far nearer to describing something identifiable by me: Golomb right-brain, Stout left-brain.

The one thing which I don't remember having read at Vaknin's is something similar to the wise words of Martha Stout at the end of her book: she mentions in passing that the people who have the best chances of getting out of their problem are those who assume responsibility, who stop pushing their problems on others. I'd say that Vaknin's site is not exactly about that, but that's just my 2 cents.
Pale harmlessness that, with all too frequent success passes itself off as meekness, should not be mistaken as a virtue - Aquinas