Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 65
Narcissism, Pathological Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the Narcissist,
And Relationships with Abusive Narcissists and Psychopaths
Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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Current Biography: Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin (YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, Google Scholar) is the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited (Amazon) and After the Rain: How the West Lost the East (Amazon) as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, international affairs, and award-winning short fiction. He was Senior Business Correspondent for United Press International (February, 2001 - April, 2003), CEO of Narcissus Publications (April, 1997 - April 2013), Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician (January, 2011 -), a columnist for PopMatters, eBookWeb, Bellaonline, and Central Europe Review, an editor for The Open Directory and Suite101 (Categories: Mental Health and Central East Europe), and a contributor to Middle East Times, a contributing writer to The American Chronicle Media Group, Columnist and Analyst for Nova Makedonija, Fokus, and Kapital, Founding Analyst of The Analyst Network, former president of the Israeli chapter of the Unification Church's Professors for World Peace Academy, and served in the Israeli Defense Forces (1979-1982). He has been awarded Israel's Council of Culture and Art Prize for Maiden Prose (1997), The Rotary Club Award for Social Studies (1976), and the Bilateral Relations Studies Award of the American Embassy in Israel (1978), among other awards. He is Visiting Professor of Psychology, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don, Russia (September, 2017 to present), Professor of Finance and Psychology in SIAS-CIAPS (Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies) (April, 2012 to present), a Senior Correspondent for New York Daily Sun (January, 2015 - Present), and Columnist for Allied Newspapers Group (January, 2015 - Present). He lives in Skopje, North Macedonia with his wife, Lidija Rangelovska. Here we talk about genius and insanity.
*Previous interviews listed chronologically after interview.*
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Delusions remain ubiquitous. Delusions in conspiracy theories found in 5G, backmasking, Big Pharma, chemtrails, free energy suppression, Holocaust denial, New World Order-ism, QAnon, and so on. Delusions formalized in cults. Delusions in religious discourse, organization, and practice. Delusions promoted in quack ‘medicine’ with acupuncture, alternative ‘medicine,’ anti-GMO movements, anti-vaccination activism, aromatherapy, chiropractory, conversion therapy, faith healing, homeopathy, naturopathy, psychic surgery, Reiki, reflexology, traditional Chinese medicine, and such. Delusions in anti-intellectualism with creation ‘science’ (e.g., the variants of Creationism and Intelligent Design), global warming denialism or even alarmism in some respects, God of the gaps-ism, ‘holy’ text literalism, homeschooling, paranormalism, quantum woo, und so weiter. Delusions in bigotries and prejudices including anti-Semitism, or racist ideologies bound to politics or religion (e.g., white supremacist KKK, black supremacist Nation of Islam, and the like). Delusions in social and political cure-alls for societies’ ills - panaceas, e.g., American commitments to the idea of every problem having a solution. Then there are those who took a permanent lift-off from terra firma and detached from reality altogether, e.g., or a case study, the person running the “Sam Vaknin Scum Antichrist” YouTube channel – an apparent idiotic crazy (read: demented screwball) person. You know the deal. We’re on the same page in the identical book here. There’s a thin line, as has been observed before, between true genius and real insanity. What factors set the distinctions between insanity, on the one hand, and genius, on the other?
Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin:
The problem is that both madness and genius involve the ability to reframe reality in an unexpected way (i.e., provide insight) either by gaining a synoptic or interdisciplinary vantage point – or by radically departing from hidden underlying assumptions.
The scientific method is designed to tell the two apart by applying the test of falsifiable predictions. Both madness and genius are theories of the world and of the mind and, like every other type of theory, they yield predictions which can then be tested and falsified.
Most of the predictions yielded by insanity are easily and instantly falsifiable. Most of the predictions garnered by genius hold water for long stretches of time and, even when falsified, it is only in private cases or in extreme conditions. Thus, the theories of relativity falsify Newtonian prediction only on vast scales with incredible energies.
Jacobsen: What are the easiest means by which to distinguish a genius from an insane person?
Psychopathology is rigid. It is unyielding, not amenable to learning, nauseatingly repetitive, constricting, and divorced from reality (impaired reality testing). The genius is immersed in the world even if he is a recluse, he learns and evolves all the time, his mind is kaleidoscopic and vibrant, ever expanding. Insanity is mummified, genius is life reified.
Jacobsen: Is high intelligence required for true genius?
If by intelligence you mean IQ then the answer is a resounding no. The adage about perspiration and inspiration applies. But, more importantly, genius is the ability to see familiar things in a fresh, unprecedented way. Imagination, intuition, and the ability to tell apart the critical from the tangential are the core constituents of genius – not intelligence.
What intelligence does contribute to genius is alacrity. It is a catalyst. It speeds up both the processes of theorizing and of discovery.
Jacobsen: What happens to an insane person who happens to have high intelligence too?
He is likely to construct theories that will pass for genius, especially among laymen. The intelligence of the gifted madman serves to camouflage the lack of rigor and the delusional, counterfactual content of his creations. Rather than catalyze disruptive discoveries, his intellect works overtime at the service of aggressively defending a manifestly risible sleight of hand. It is not open to any modificatory feedback from the environment. The madman’s intellect is solipsistic and moribund.
Jacobsen: What happens in the mind of a genius who slowly deteriorates into an insane person?
He visibly transitions from cognitive flexibility to defensive and hypervigilant rigidity (confirmation bias). His work becomes way more easily falsifiable, sometimes even with mere Gedankenexperiments. He repeats himself ad nauseam. He becomes grandiose (cognitively distorts reality to buttress an inflated and fantastic self-image).
Jacobsen: How do fake geniuses cover for their lack of insight, ingenuity, intelligence, etc.?
They copy and plagiarize. They imitate a real genius’s structured thinking and work. They are good at promoting themselves and getting credit where none is due. Most of these frauds are actually intelligent, but dark personalities (subclinical narcissists, subsclinical psychopa
Jacobsen: Is true genius more inborn, innate, native to the individual or more honed, refined, developed extrinsically?
We know that IQ is responsive to environmental stimuli. The analytic kind genius (IQ above 140 or 160) is by far the most studied because it is the most facilely measurable. There are no studies that rigorously link it to heredity. On balance, anecdotal evidence clearly suggests that genius is acquired and can be inculcated at an early age if the child is subjected to rigorous training and a regime of positive and negative reinforcements.
It would behoove us to make a distinction between polymath or synoptic genius and “idiot savant” type of one-track mental acuity (think “Rain Man”). The latter form definitely is neurological and, probably, with a pronounced genetic contribution.
Jacobsen: Some mental disorders, including schizophrenia, appear mostly heritable. Is it the same for various states of insanity in general?
We don’t know enough, not by a long shot. Certain mental illnesses present with structural and functional abnormalities of the brain that are very likely to be genetically coded for: schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder. Other mental health issues run in families, so a genetic component is indicated: Borderline Personality Disorder and psychopathy, for instance.
Jacobsen: Which five individuals seem like true geniuses in the modern world to you? I do not mean rich, famous, well-cited, and the like; even though, they may be rich, famous, or well-cited, etc., as a consequence of successful implementation of aspects of their genius.
Versatile polymaths included Einstein (of course), Richard Feynman (see my interview on Chronon Field Theory), Noam Chomsky, George Steiner (whom I had the pleasure of knowing), and Adolf Hitler (who regrettably turned his considerable gifts to the dark side).
Jacobsen: Do you consider yourself a genius?
Shoshannim: Thank you, once again, for your time and the opportunity, Prof. Vaknin.
Vaknin: OK, Shoshanim!
(News Intervention: January 28, 2022)
(News Intervention: January 30, 2022)
(News Intervention: February 2, 2022)
(News Intervention: February 11, 2022)
(News Intervention: April 30, 2022)
(News Intervention: May 21, 2022)
(News Intervention: May 24, 2022)
(News Intervention: May 26, 2022)
(News Intervention: May 28, 2022)
Previous Interviews Read by Prof. Vaknin (Hyperlinks Active for Titles)
(Prof. Sam Vaknin: January 26, 2022)
(Prof. Sam Vaknin: January 29, 2022)
(Prof. Sam Vaknin: January 31, 2022)
(Prof. Sam Vaknin: February 3, 2022)
Prof. Sam Vaknin: May 25, 2022)
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Freedom of expression is a paper right in most places of the world. It is listed in international rights documents and in national constitutions. Yet, one could ask, “What is the ‘free’ part of freedom of expression?” It depends on the society and the culture, and the person. So, to open this session, what is a proper framing of rights, responsibilities, obligations, and privileges in societies, i.e., an accurate frame or definition to ground practice of free expression?
Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin:
Freedom of expression, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press, is a feature of individualistic societies. Where collectivism reigns, this amalgam of rights is subordinated to the greater good.
Ironically, utilitarianism inexorably leads to limitations on these freedoms intended to protect the majority against the incursions of disruptive or even destructive minorities.
Yet, even in anarchic polities, freedom of expression cannot be abused to spread panic (crying fire in a crowded theatre), life threatening misinformation (re: the COVID-19 pandemic), or to threaten the wellbeing and lives of others (e.g., virulent racism, or calls for eugenic culling, or victimization). Only anomic civilizations in decadent decline countenance such toxic speech acts.
Jacobsen: Which countries and parts of the world seem the freest regarding freedom of expression?
It is a surprisingly mixed bag including perennials like Denmark and Finland, but also surprises like Argentina and Slovakia.
But freedom – all freedoms – are on the decline everywhere, besieged by populism, profound mistrust of authority and of expertise, anti-intellectualism, anti-elitism, anti-liberalism (anti-“progressivism”), and the dominance of rapid dissemination technologies such as social media.
Ochlocracies (mob rule) are regaining ground all over the world, led by authoritarian, proudly ignorant, and defiantly contumacious and reactant narcissistic-psychopathic leaders.
Jacobsen: Which nations and regions of the world seem the least free regarding freedom of expression?
Again, the rankings are counterintuitive. Canada, for example, is less free than Uruguay and the USA is languishing with Peru somewhere at the bottom of the upper third.
Jacobsen: How did (and does) the internet change freedom of expression or the access to free exchange of words, ideas, and philosophies, or simply disjointed randomly emoted thoughts?
In the internet age, the distinction between raw information and knowledge (structured data) is lost. The internet is a huge dumping ground for half-baked truths, rank nonsense, misinformation, propaganda, hate speech, speculation, and outright derangement. Even where vetted and reliable information is available, it is unprocessed and out of context.
No single technology has harmed free expression more than the internet. It has created a problem of discoverability (locating quality content in a sempiternal tsunami of trash) and allowed mobs to form and to ominously suppress speech by sheer force of numbers (the cancel culture is the latest example of such transgressions).
All semblance of civilized, informed speech is now lost even in academe. Social media were deliberately constructed by engineers and turncoat psychologists to polarize aggressive speech and cement confirmation bias (silos of like-minded people in echo chambers).
Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, is this net good or net bad?
Bad by a long shot.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpvv_ooqJik (The True Toxicity of Social Media)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY79nDYjW94 (Malignant Egalitarianism)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvuRmP3KP1g (The Need to Be Seen)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgjOH0kDErw (A-social Media: Fracking Mankind)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVprI6_P8GE (Plugged-in Documentary)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2rKrWNWkS0 (How to Fix Social Media)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIElARjRGTo (Social Media as the Big Eye)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NTwxAJDMTo (Metaverse: Conspiracy or Heaven?
Jacobsen: One camp will claim complete freedom of expression in social media will be a net good because the liars and defamers will be overwhelmed by more reasonable voices and evidence. Another camp thinks there should be sharp restrictions on particular types of speech, electronic communication, and so on. Those are two big ones. A third believes in outlawing social media altogether, so stringently binding or making illegal social media for some people if not most or all. It’d be similar to acquisition of a firearm in much of the world, getting a driver’s license, qualifying as a surgeon or an accountant, and such. You have commented on this. With social media, what should be done for or against freedom of expression, if anything?
Social media are utilities and should be subjected to the same regulatory oversights that other media and monopolistic utilities are under.
Additionally, owing to the addictive nature of social media, laws should be passed to restrict their use and to monitor the content posted on them.
Self-regulation is a myth on Wall Street as it is in tech valleys around the globe. Where money rears its head, morality and restraint and the public interest go out of the window.
Crowdsourced regulation is the dumbest idea ever. Majorities are forever silent and conflict-averse. Ask the misnamed Mensheviks who were actually the overwhelming majority and yielded to the equally mislabeled Bolsheviks who were more ruthless and vociferous and better mobilized.
Jacobsen: What does social media and internet use do in mild use and in chronic use to the mental health of individuals and groups?
The evidence is unequivocal (see the studies by Twenge et al.): the more extensive the exposure to screens, the longer the screentime, the higher the prevalence and incidence of anxiety and depressive disorders, especially among the young (under 25) and among seniors over 65. There is no such thing as “mild” or “moderate” use: the effects commence at the first moment of use.
Jacobsen: What do trends of expression and outcomes among users of social media tell us about individual psychology and mass psychology, and social media in general?
By far the biggest problem social media use has fostered is what I call “malignant egalitarianism”.
Malignant egalitarianism is threatening our existence as a species. Until about 10 years ago, people - even narcissists - had role models they sought to learn from and emulate and ideals which they aspired to.
Today, everyone - never mind how unintelligent, ignorant, or unaccomplished - claim superiority or at least equality to everyone else.
Armed with egalitarian equal access technology like social media, everyone virulently detest and seek to destroy or reduce to their level their betters and that which they cannot attain or equal.
Pathological envy (egged on by instruments of relative
positioning such as “likes”) had fully substituted for learning and self-improvement.
Experts, scholars, and intellectuals are scorned and threatened. Everyone is an
instant polymath and an ersatz da Vinci.
But, this is just one of many vile side effects and byproducts of social media. Watch my videos on the topic (see links above).
Jacobsen: How will the Metaverse, and associated developments, in the 2030s affect relations between people?
Is the Metaverse the ultimate dystopia, an escape from reality, or the promised technological heaven? I summarized my views in this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NTwxAJDMTo
Jacobsen: If the goal is mental health for most people most of the time, what are the most efficacious policies and laws for governments to enact, and for individuals and families to practice, regarding social media and the right to freedom of expression?
Limit usage time (clocks embedded in the app will terminate use after 2 hours);
Only real life friends and acquaintances would be allowed to become online friends;
Identity verification would be mandatory for various types of content;
Introduce an accreditation system for experts, gurus, and coaches online;
ScholarTube for vetted, evidence-based knowledge provided by real-life academics or experts;
Curation of most content prior to its release (the contemporary Wikipedia model as distinct from the original crowdsourcing mess).
More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2rKrWNWkS0 (How to Fix Social Media)
Shoshannim: Thank you, Dr. Shmuel.
Vaknin: You are always welcome, shoshanim!
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Misogyny and misandry, what defines them?
Prof. Shmuel “Sam” Vaknin:
Misogyny and misandry are forms of inverted gender dysphoria, actually. It is hatred, resentment, and revulsion brought on by the opposite sex. It encompasses all aspects and dimensions of the hate figure and in this sense, it is akin to racism.
Jacobsen: Historically, how have misogyny and misandry manifested in partnerships, in individual social settings, and in cultures at large?
Misogyny has been the patriarchal organizing principles of all societies from the agricultural revolution to this very day. It permeated all institutions, from the family to the Church to the state.
Misogyny was mainly intended to restrict the freedoms of women in order to prevent them from procreating extradyadically and thus secure the intergenerational transfer of wealth to the male’s rightful offspring.
Misandry is the reaction of some waves of feminism in the past 150 years or so. It is visceral and bitter, but not nearly as organized and institutionalized as misogyny.
Recently both are on the increase.
Jacobsen: As you note in several productions, there are obvious cases of a ‘rollback’ of women’s rights in the United States through murmurings of repeals of Roe v Wade and in state legislatures, in Russia with the (re-)legalization – in a manner of speaking – of domestic abuse, in Afghanistan with women confined to the home, in Ethiopia with sexual violence (by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces), in Turkey via withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, and in online hate groups comprised of resentful, bitter, anomic, hopeless, potentially mentally ill, batches of men in MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), Black Pillers, Red Pillers, Incels (Involuntary Celibates), generic male supremacists, PUAs (Pick Up Artists), MRM men (Men’s Rights Movement), TFLers (True Forced Loners), and so on. These men, young and old alike, seem composed of anomie, despair, and porcelain, transmogrified into contempt for the Other. Do these seem like a disunified variegated 'wave' of anti-women sentiments and acts by men online and offline around the world?
Some men are fighting back against what they perceive to be the ominous usurpation of rights and powers by women. They are also aghast at the way women have appropriated stereotypical male behaviors, such as promiscuity.
The counter-movement started off in disparate groups but now has coalesced into an agenda that is promoted by lawmakers all over the world. The backlash is fierce. Men are still the gatekeepers in most countries in the world. This doesn’t bode well for women. Legal rights and access to services such as healthcare and educations are being rolled back and freedoms are curtailed.
Women are bound to be radicalized by such counter-reform. They are likely to become way more militant and masculinized. They are shunning men in growing numbers and resorting to male substitutes even when it comes to procreation: donor sperm and IVF.
Jacobsen: What seems like the psychology of the men with the authority to impose these ‘rollbacks’ in legislation and socio-cultural life?
This is a state of panic, both moral and operational. Inter-gender morality was imposed by men in order to preserve the “purity” of women and their role as domestic comforters-in-chief. As power shifted from men to women, this ideal has been shattered.
Moreover, women emulate aggressive, ambitious men. In multiple studies, women described themselves in exclusively masculine terms. They have been taking away men’s jobs for well over a hundred years now. They are way more educated than men so men feel absolutely threatened, very much like a species going extinct.
Men who react adversely to the ascendance of women and the emergence of a unigender world via legislation and politics are anxious, sociosexually restricted, narcissistic (but not psychopathic), insecure, and, in some cases, with a conflicted sexual and gender identity.
Jacobsen: What seems like the psychology of the men in these international, disparate online groups, who even create their own lingo, patois?
These are rabid misogynists who have created an ideology around their deep-seated, irrational, and pathological hatred. They have primitive defenses, are highly narcissistic and even psychopathic, and tend to externalize aggression. They tend to hold grudges and grievances, ruminate and fixate, and be vengeful and hypervigilant.
Jacobsen: You agree with First Wave Feminism and Second Wave Feminism, and disagree with Third Wave Feminism and Fourth Wave Feminism. What defines them?
First and second wave feminisms (in plural: there are many schools) were focused on leveling the playing field and fighting abusive and exploitative practices such as prostitution and pornography.
Starting with the suffragettes, they focused on the franchise (the right to vote), equal wages, access (to healthcare, education, the workplace, daycare), revising the dress code (“rational dress”), the right to own and dispose of property, and converting marriage from indentured bondage to an intimate, hopefully lifelong equal partnership.
The third wave was a psychopathic outgrowth. While claiming to be inclusive and permissive, it was a defiant and reckless attempt to “empower” women by eliminating all boundaries, conventions, and mores of any kind in all fields of life.
What women have garnered from the confluence of the three waves is that they should make their careers the pivot of their lives, avoid meaningful, committed relationships with men, and pursue sex as a pastime with any man.
Ironically, the third wave played right into the hands of predatory men (“players”) who took advantage of the newfangled promiscuity while assiduously avoiding any hint of commitment or investment. Third wave feminists internalized the male gaze (“internalized oppression”) and pride themselves on being “sluts”.
The fourth wave of feminism is focused on real problems such as sexual harassment, rape, and body shaming as well as intersectionality (discrimination of women who belong to more than one minority). In many ways, it is an offshoot of second wave feminism.
Jacobsen: Even within these four waves of feminism, what seem like the most laudable portions and the most contemptible parts of each?
First, second, and fourth wave feminisms are legitimate movements which have improved and strengthened societies around the world by integrating women in the social and economic fabrics of their milieus.
The third wave was utterly destructive. It hijacked the feminist message and precipitated the gender wars which are threatening to undo the accomplishments of the first and second waves.
Moreover: corporate interested coopted the messaging of the third wave to encourage women to remain single and promiscuous in order to encourage their participation in the labor force and thus convert them into consumers.
Jacobsen: Since history cannot be rewritten in actuality, though can be erased and rewritten in records, what might Fifth Wave Feminism incorporate as lessons from the previous four to correct course from the clear antipathy between the sexes – maintaining the proper equalitarian victories and jettisoning the improper inegalitarian losses?
Feminism needs to fight the patriarchy and its discriminatory practices – not men. It needs to recognize that men and women are equal, but not identical. It needs to encourage women to adopt boundaried sexuality and the formation of intimate partnerships, cohabitation households, and families with men (or women, if they are so inclined). It needs to expose the way business and the third wave end up disempowering women like never before.
Jacobsen: How can science on sex and gender clarify the fact from the fiction, as the sea floor of these waves – so to speak? Something to set limits on conversation based on reality in contrast to discourses entirely in the realm of fantasy.
I dealt with this at length in the interview I gave you about gender wars https://www.newsintervention.com/prof-sam-vaknin-on-the-gender-wars/
Jacobsen: How might such a fifth wave grounded in science inform international human rights discourse, national legislation, sociocultural lives, families, and individual self-identification?
Women are not a minority. Numerically, they are a majority. Their situation is reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa and needs to be tackled with the same tools: nonviolent resistance; truth and reconciliation; a peaceful and consensual transfer of power; an integrated society with no discrimination or subterfuge; equal rights and obligations while recognizing the uniqueness of each constituency.
Shoshanim: Thanks much, Prof. Samuel.
Vaknin: You are very welcome. May we both live to see the day men and women love each other the way they should.
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