Sam Vaknin’s Instagram Epigrams (archive only)

Narcissism with Vaknin on Instagram (active account)



These are four dysfunctional attitudes to women:

1. The Woman Lover idealizes women and regards them as an enigmatic force of nature, a mysterious fount of fascinating magical otherness and of womblike immersion. He is addicted to women: their aesthetic, smells, voices, rituals, quirks, and emotions. Places each woman he meets at the crosshairs of his undivided, rapturous, and breathless attention.

2. The Woman Hater regards women as menacing, manipulative, dark, evil, scheming, and heartless sorceresses out to pulverize his heart and deplete his wallet. He treats women with hostility and contempt that often morph into aggressive animosity.

3. The Nerdish Drone treats women as men with a different set of genitalia. To him, all women are strictly potential partners in the startup that is his life: toiling accomplices in family, business, and social functions. All work and no play. Relationships with them are tedious and grinding, though could also be companionable and friendly. Not much fire there. Life is an endless stream of analyses, negotiations, rules, and transactions till death them do part.

4. The Narcissist homes in and captures women to be his slaves: sex dolls, service providers, and captive audience to his grandiose schemes and fantastic exploits. Abhors, fears, and is enraged by independent-minded women who pursue their own self-actualization and refuse to adulate him uncritically. He is the center of attention, the star - and women are his mere peripheral satellites.


It is ironic that the narcissist - who considers himself omnipotent (all-powerful) and godlike - also has alloplastic defenses and an external locus of control. What are these?

People with alloplastic (as opposed to autoplastic) defenses believe that whatever happens to them is the fault of others: spouse, colleagues, the boss, the government, the world at large, or even God. Their failures, bad decisions, reversals, and defeats are either misfortune or the ineluctable outcomes of malign and insidious conspiracies. This involves a modicum of paranoia and more than a pinch of fatalism ("there is nothing I can do about it"). The constant frustration yields all manner of aggression (including passive aggression) or even decompensation, acting out, and depressive illness.

An external locus of control is the natural extension of having alloplastic defenses: if nothing is one's fault or one's responsibility, then one has no control, mastery, or ownership of one's life. Someone with an external locus of control feels like driftwood on powerful ocean waves: at the mercy of - usually invisible - forces, his life determined by currents, trends, and decisions made way above his head and out of sight.

This is exactly how even the most powerful and successful narcissists - think Trump - view their lives: as the largely incomprehensible outcomes of sinister, hostile, ruthless, and unrelenting attempts to put them down, control and direct, co-opt and compromise them. At the beck and call of unnamed powers, most narcissists - especially religious ones - use even this learned helplessness to buttress and uphold their grandiosity: their lives are steered and directed from without because they form a part of some cosmically significant plot, plan, narrative, or pattern. Their paranoid persecutory ideation - that they are the targets of cabals and their conspiracies - serve to enhance their inflated and fantastic self-image.


Cognitive dissonance is when someone holds simultaneously two conflicting views, values, or bits of information which call for diametrically opposed decisions or actions. This state of things generates an inner conflict and triggers several primitive (infantile) defense mechanisms such as denial, splitting, projection, and reaction formation.

One way to cope with this predicament - to transition from dissonance to consonance - is to come up with a reconciling narrative, a theory which seamlessly accommodates both conflicting points of view or data.

Such soothing fiction falls into several categories:

1. Temporal: A is true at one time and not-A is true at another period. Or: A is a transient state of affairs.

2. Reactive: A is the normal. Not-A happened because of some trigger, provocation, or change in circumstances or conditions. Not-A is abnormal, and, therefore, an aberration or a mere curiosity.

3. Inclusive: both A and Not-A are pieces of a bigger puzzle, picture, or theory. Their contradistinction is only apparent because we have no access to or awareness of the true and full picture, our knowledge or capacity to know are limited.

4. Denial: both A and Not-A are true and lead to the same conclusions. There is no contradiction. For example: he loves me. He beats me up. But his battering just proves that he loves me, it is his way of showing that he loves me.

5. Defensive: both A and not-A are valid. But only A applies to me while not-A may apply to others (splitting). Not-A is bad (projection) and should be eradicated in others in order to restore A to its rightful place as the sole viable and ethical alternative (reaction formation).


With the advent of Web 2.0 and UGC (User-generated Content), the Internet has completed its transformation into an anarchic and lawless ochlocracy (mob-rule) based on pernicious anonymity and malignant egalitarianism. The Internet is a mass medium and like all media it must be regulated. The laws that apply offline must and, in due time, will apply online, as legislators are exposed to the multifarious unsavory aspects of the Web.

In most jurisdictions, laws and regulations passed and intermittently enforced against cybercrime attempt to prevent and constrain only a few obviously illegal acts: spammers, spyware purveyors, child pornographers, pirates of intellectual property, drug and weapons, traders, tax evaders, and terrorists are the blatant tip of a much subtler iceberg of malicious and pernicious misconduct, some of it on the Dark Web. Examples of less regulated or unregulated crime include illegal mining of cryptocurrencies (cryptojacking), human traffickers, libel, stalking, and harassment (including trolling, bullying, revenge porn, and smear campaigns).

These are the minimal, initial steps that have to be taken in order to forestall a meltdown of this indispensable utility, the Internet:


In the modern world , privacy - the freedom to withhold or divulge information - and autonomy - the liberty to act in certain ways when not in public - are illusory in that their scope and essence are ever-shifting, reversible, and culture-dependent. They both are perceived as public concessions - not as the inalienable (though, perhaps, as Judith Jarvis Thomson observes, derivative) rights that they are.

The trend from non-intrusiveness to wholesale invasiveness is clear:

Only two hundred years ago, the legal regulation of economic relations between consenting adults - a quintessentially private matter - would have been unthinkable and bitterly resisted. Only a century ago, no bureaucrat would have dared intervene in domestic affairs. A Man's home was, indeed, his castle.

Nowadays, the right - let alone dwindling technological ability - to maintain a private sphere is multiply contested and challenged. Feminists, such as Catharine MacKinnon, regard it as a patriarchal stratagem to perpetuate abusive male domination. Conservatives blame it for mounting crime and terrorism. Sociologists - and the Church - worry about social atomization and alienation.

Consequently, today, both one's business and one's family are open books to the authorities, the media, community groups, non-governmental organizations, and assorted busybodies.

Which leads us back to privacy, the topic of this essay. It is often confused with autonomy. The private sphere comprises both. Yet, the former has little to do with the latter . Even the acute minds of the Supreme Court of the United States keep getting it wrong.

Continue reading


Snippets from my newest YouTube vid: Parents of codependents teach their offspring to expect only conditional, transactional love: the child is supposed to render a service, perform, or fulfil the parent's wishes & dreams in return for affection & compassion, attention & emotion. Ineluctably, the hurt child reacts with rage to this unjust mistreatment.

With no recourse to the offending parent, this fury is either directed at others (who stand in for the bad parent) - or inwardly. The former solution yields a psychopath, or a passive-aggressive (negativistic) - the latter solution, a masochist or depressive. Similarly, with an unavailable parent, the child's reserve of love can be directed inward, at himself (to yield a narcissist), or outward, towards others (and, thus, form a codependent.)

When the codependent merges with a love object, she interprets her newfound attachment and bond as a betrayal of the punitive parent. She fully anticipates the internalized parent’s disapproval and dreads its (self-)destructive disciplinarian measures. In an attempt to placate this implacable divinity she turns on her partner and lashes out at him, thus establishing where her true loyalties and affiliation lie (i.e., with the parent.) Concurrently, she punishes herself as she tries to pre-empt the merciless onslaught of her sadistic parental introjects and superego: she engages in a panoply of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviours.

Acutely aware of the risk of losing her partner owing to her abusive misconduct, the codependent experiences extreme abandonment anxiety. She swings wildly between self-effacing and clinging (“doormat”) behaviours on the one hand and explosive, vituperative invective on the other hand: the former being the manifestations of her “eternal child” and the latter expressions of her “punitive parent”.

Much more:


"Failed" narcissist is a clinical term coined by Grotstein to describe a phase in the formation of borderline personalities.

The COLLAPSED narcissist is angered by a lack of narcissistic supply & directs some of this fury inwards, punishing himself for his "failure". This masochistic behavior has the added "benefit" of forcing the narcissist's closest to pay him the attention that he craves.

By undermining his work, his relationships, and his efforts, the increasingly fragile narcissist avoids additional criticism and censure (negative supply). Self-inflicted failure is the narcissist's doing and thus proves that he is the master of his own fate. So, collapsed narcissists act carelessly, withdraw in mid-effort, are constantly fatigued, bored, or disaffected and thus passive-aggressively sabotage their lives. Their suffering is defiant and by "deciding to abort" they reassert their omnipotence.

The narcissist's pronounced and public misery and self-pity are compensatory and "reinforce (his) self-esteem against overwhelming convictions of worthlessness" (Millon, 2000). His tribulations and anguish render him, in his eyes, unique, saintly, virtuous, righteous, resilient, and significant. They are, in other words, self-generated narcissistic supply.

Thus, paradoxically, the worst his anguish and unhappiness, the more relieved and elated such a narcissist feels!

In extremis, when all these default behaviors and solutions fail, or when only negative, fake, low-grade, and static narcissistic supply is to be had, the narcissist "falls apart" in a process of disintegration known as decompensation (the inability to maintain psychological defenses in the face of mounting stress.) This is accompanied by “acting out”: when an inner conflict (most often, frustration) translates into aggression. It involves acting with little or no insight or reflection and in order to attract attention and disrupt other people's cosy lives.

Read about the narcissist's disintegration here:


Malignant optimist: "Where there is a will, there is a way!"

Sam Vaknin (and Agatha Christie): "Nope. Where there is a will, there is usually a dead body."

Read about malignant optimism:

Read about Agatha Christie (ladies first):

Read about Sam Vaknin (why on earth would you want to do that?):


What is Trump's secret sauce? The occasional bankruptcy aside, the man succeeded in every single field he had ever entered.

First: he is incapable of deep analytic thinking - and he lacks intellectual curiosity. Consequently, he is unaware of risks, precedents, subtleties, and nuances. Grandiosely convinced of his infallibility, omnipotence, and omniscience, he charges blindly and foolishly ahead.

He is daring but never reckless. He skirts the thin line between the criminal and the barely permissible - but never crosses it. He is a coward.

He fakes it HUGEly and TREMENDOUSly and in a narcissistic society of appearances and truthiness, this is often all it takes.

He never wavers and thus inspires others with his blind tenacity and inhuman drive and stamina. He convinces people that his success will rub off them and lift them out of pedestrian mediocrity. He makes them feel special, chosen, winners just by virtue of being in his coterie.

He is a psychopathic narcissist. In today's world this is a beneficial adaptation. He is endowed with cold empathy and ruthlessness and not inhibited by emotions or empathy (though he fakes both well). He has no core and no identity. Like a chameleon, he perfectly adapts to his ecosystem to extract from it the maximum. He is a man for all seasons.

Behold, the next step in our evolutionary ladder as a species: Donald J. Trump. And I am kidding you not. I wish I were.


Some heterosexual women intensely dislike and reject their gender and even sex. This usually has to do with a developed sense of competitiveness with other women and with internalized misogyny. Identifying with woman-haters, especially in sexist and chauvinistic families or societies, has an adaptative value and guarantees favorable outcomes.

Women are reified by the vagina which is described by misogynists as dark, wet, deep, contaminated and minacious (like the medieval vagina dentata). Even children - women's main and prized distinction - do not appeal to women who hate women and are perceived as a freedom-denying burden.

Female misogynists like men a lot, identify with them, and seek to emulate them. Men are epitomized by the penis which is viewed by such women as clean, erect, visible, and proud. Masculine qualities are praiseworthy: men are protectors and providers.

The sexual style of female misogynists is also closer to the stereotype of man than woman: they hunt for men, cocktease aggressively, fuck perfunctorily and selfishly, get up and leave. Their sex involves infatuation and idealization, but rarely any true, deep, and lasting emotion. They are interested in things and pursuits that typically interest men.

Still, the female misogynist is a woman. So, she hates this aspect of herself and casts her femininity as whorish, bad, labile, and risky. She would tend to be sociosexually unrestrictive (promiscuous). The female misogynist tends to pair with a male woman-hater. After all, they share the same view of women. Yet, she believes that he should treat her as the only exception. But when he does treat her as the exception, when he relates to her as the only woman who is as good as a man (and therefore avoids having sex with her or refrains from courting her) - she resents him. She takes revenge on him, and punishes him, behaving exactly like a "typical woman" and further justifying his misogynism!


Contrary to appearances, sapiosexuals - people who are sexually turned on by intelligence - are a dying breed.

In the 1950s, Albert Einstein was a rock star and a sex symbol. Nowadays, these roles are reserved to brawny footballers, not brainiac nerds.

The very word "sapiosexual" reflects the malaise of our age: it is a pretentious molestation of a Latin verb. It is about poseur nescient appearance, not true substance or erudition.
Why is sapiosexuality going extinct? Three reasons.

Malignant egalitarianism and truthiness imply that everyone is at least as intelligent, capable, and knowledgeable as everyone else about every subject under the sun;

A soundbite, 144 characters only skimming and browsing mentality resulted in the amputated truncation of our attention span. We have no time for true learning because it requires more than 10 seconds and the suspension of both dichotomous thinking and grandiose fantasies of omniscience.

Finally, in a hookup and celebrity culture, emphasis shifted to looks: the only information instantly accessible as the foundation for sexual decision-making. Narcissistic and histrionic preoccupation with image and appearances precludes the deep dives which are a prerequisite to appreciating the mind in all its splendid complexity - and attractiveness.


Good conventional sex leads to a climax via BEING. You feel every nerve and cell in your body come alive and die in ecstasy.

With an experienced partner, a veteran dom (=dominant), BDSM (bondage and sadomasochistic) sex is about experiencing orgasm via NOT being.

The dom takes away your will, your inhibitions, your boundaries and your separate existence. You are utterly objectified. You surrender completely, irreparably defeated. This act of vanishing, merger, and fusion is the climax.


Why do some narcissists appear to be bumbling fools, never mind how intelligent they actually are? Eight reasons:

1. No impulse control, no forethought, no foresight = counterproductive, self-defeating, and self-destructive decisions and actions.

2. Acting out: when narcissistic supply is deficient, narcissists decompensate and go haywire (see: and my post on collapsed narcissists).

3. Pseudo-stupidity: to avoid the consequences of their misdeeds, narcissists pretend that they have misunderstood something you have said or done or that you took advantage of their good nature.

4. Gullibility: narcissists are grandiose and fantasts, so they misjudge reality (impaired reality test), their skills and limitations, and the intentions of others.

5. No empathy means that the narcissist disastrously misreads others and behaves in socially unacceptable and clownish ways.

6. His sense of entitlement renders the narcissist an overweening buffoon, the butt of mockery and derision, rather than the awe he believes that he inspires and the respect he thinks that he deserves.

7. Hypervigilance leads to disproportionate aggression directed at imaginary slights and to persecutory delusions: paranoid ideation often directed at innocent targets.

8. Finally, the narcissist uses false modesty to fish for compliments. But his attempts are so transparent and inarticulate, so fake and manipulative that people react with repulsion and seek to humiliate him.


Codependents and borderlines do not react to object impermanence (inconstancy) the same way as narcissists do. When they are abandoned or left alone by significant others, they experience anxiety, but it manifests differently.

Narcissists delete the absent person and dissociate (forget about him or her). They do not miss the missing ex or lover or child or neighbor or colleague. They simply move on to the next interchangeable target.

Borderlines and codependents are much more like the infants described in Piaget's work: they react even to the slightest hint of absence as a total abandonment and then proceed to cling, mourn, and get depressed.

In extreme cases borderlines decompensate and disintegrate and then act out recklessly (go on shopping sprees or engage in promiscuous sex, for examples).


The vast majority of women would refuse to French kiss a man they have just met. The same women would not hesitate to kiss & be groped by a celebrity. Trump is absolutely right for once.

This is because the celebrity is not a stranger. His life is an open book, few secrets, a weird type of public intimacy. People know more about the private lives of celebrities than they know about their neighbors or even family members.

The narcissist depends on his coterie for Narcissistic Supply. He resents this addictive dependence & himself for being so frail & impotent. It negates his self-delusional grandiose fantasy of omnipotence.

To compensate for this shameful neediness, the narcissist holds his sycophantic acolytes in contempt. He finds his fans, admirers, & followers repulsive & holds them to be inferior. He sees himself reflected in their presumptuousness & sense of entitlement & takes exception to this constant & tawdry reminder.

Fans often claim to possess inside information about their idol & to have special rights to privileged access simply by virtue of their unbridled adulation & time-tested loyalty. But, the narcissist, not being a mere mortal, believes himself to be beyond human comprehension & refuses to render anyone special by granting him or her concessions denied to others. Being special is his exclusive prerogative. His followers conduct implies a certain egalitarian camaraderie which the narcissist finds abhorrent, humiliating, & infuriating.

Groupies and hangers-on somehow fancy themselves entitled to the narcissist’s favour & largesse, his time, attention, & other resources. They convince themselves that they are exempt from the narcissist’s rage & wrath and immune to his vagaries & abuse. This self-imputed & self-conferred status irritates the narcissist no end as it challenges & encroaches on his standing as the only source of preferential treatment & the sole decision-maker when it comes to the allocation of his precious & cosmically significant wherewithal.

More about the narcissist's conflicted relationship with his fans


Are dreams a source of reliable divination (precognition)? Generations upon generations seem to have thought so. They incubated dreams and lucid dreaming by travelling afar, by fasting and by engaging in all other manners of self deprivation or intoxication. With the exception of this highly dubious role, dreams do seem to have three important functions:

To process repressed emotions (wishes, per Freud) and other mental content which has been suppressed and stored in the unconscious.

To order, classify and, generally, to pigeonhole conscious experiences of the day or days preceding the dreaming ("day residues"). A partial overlap with the former function is inevitable: some sensory input is immediately relegated to the darker and dimmer kingdoms of the subconscious and unconscious without being consciously processed at all.

To "stay in touch" with the outside world. External sensory input is interpreted by the dream and represented in its unique language of symbols and disjunction. Research has shown this to be a rare event, independent of the timing of the stimuli: during sleep or immediately prior to it. Still, when it does happen, it seems that even when the interpretation is dead wrong – the substantial information is preserved. A collapsing bedpost (as in Maury's famous dream) will become a French guillotine, for instance. The message conserved: there is physical danger to the neck and head.

All three functions are part of a much larger one:


The narcissist regards learning something new and getting advice as narcissistic injuries because both situations imply that he is not perfect and not omniscient (all-knowing).

To defend against this challenge to his grandiosity, the narcissist distorts reality and uses reframing, cognitive biases, and emotional regulation:

1. I knew that already. There is nothing new here.

2. It was actually my idea, not yours.

3. You are wrong. Truth is relative. This is just your opinion.

4. I am far more qualified to make this call or to state this fact.

5. You are saying this because something is wrong with you or because your research is sloppy or because you are ignorant (devaluing the source).

6. I prefer to not hear from you again. I am busy. Please don't bother me. Go away. Fuck off. Aggression.

7. I listened to you carefully and will consider your views. NOT. Passive-aggression.


First time transgressions - cheating on your spouse, doing drugs - involve emotional preparedness (being bored or frustrated, possessing a low arousal or low boredom threshold in psychopaths, for example)+disinhibition (overcoming guilt and shame owing to peer pressure or example, environment, alcohol or other factors)+loss of impulse control+a cognitive choice ("go for it or go get it"). 😉

The second time is different: it becomes a habit, with practiced moves. Habituation often leads to addiction, a form of compulsion. A confluence of physiological and psychological factors conspire to render the newly formed behavior a pattern: the thrill of the illicit or the dangerously risky and reckless, self-destructiveness or masochism, affirmation of oneself as a bad, unworthy object, and, of course, the bodily effects of such actions.

There are two types of habit: intensive and extensive. Intensive habits - like smoking or binging on food or libation - cater to and satisfy a limited array of needs and cravings, predilections and proclivities, pathologies and wishes. They are easier to dispense with.

But extensive habits - like cheating or antisocial conduct - are very difficult to get rid of because they gratify and reflect the totality of the personality, its quirks, and idiosyncrasies. The serial adulterer brings into play every aspect and dimension of who she is. Only a miracle will slow her down. Same goes for the drug addict or the pathological gambler or the alcoholic.


ANSWER THIS ONE QUESTION Ladies, I need your help. I am contemplating a heuristic rudimentary personality test. Please leave your responses to the following question in the comments section. Thank you wholeheartedly.

For your birthday, which of these five gifts would you PREFER to get from your boyfriend/lover/spouse?

Pay attention: I am not asking you which gift you NEED - but which one WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIEST. You can choose ONLY ONE GIFT! NO MULTIPLE CHOICES.

1. The car you always wanted

2. A diamond necklace

3. A 14-day cruise on a liner

4. A sumptuous bouquet of flowers

5. A romantic poem or a short story composed especially for you


Some women - single & married - use male attention to regulate their sense of self-worth (self confidence & self esteem). When low, these "attention whores" become flirtatious, seductive, cocktease, & trade sex for even the most inconsequential signs of attention: a chat, a compliment, small gifts, flowers, or a meal. Even if the attention they get is vulgar & demeaning - being groped & fondled in public or the targets of lewd, loud, explicit "compliments" - they still prefer it to being ignored. "Bad or the wrong kind of attention is better than no attention." Male attention serves a few functions:

1. It reassures the woman of her irresistibility & attractiveness. A Woman who is rejected, neglected, abandoned, & ignored by her intimate partner feels compelled to restore her badly eroded self-image. So, she conducts a "poll" among other men, offering her body in exchange for an erectile affirmation, a vote of fluids that she is still desirable.

2. Reasserting control & power over men via her sex, such a woman assuages her anxiety over their misogynistic hostility & aggression. She tames them with her body to feel safe.

3. Some women are adrenaline junkies. Illicit affairs, cheating, deception, risky & reckless behaviors or situations are all perceived as thrilling & breathless adventures which alleviate the tedium of daily life.

4. Many of these women sexualize frustration, act out. Their impulse control is impaired. They use addictive sex & compulsive, habitual cheating to avenge themselves.

5. Unsated hunger for intimacy & a semblance of emotion is overpowering. A woman who lacks both will sometimes provide access to her body in return for even the feigned versions of what she craves.

6. Finally: some women break all boundaries in a feast of unbridled promiscuity. This is a form of masochistic self punishment, self-annihilation, & an affirmation of the woman's deeply ingrained introjects (inner critic, voices, superego) which inform her mercilessly that she is a whore, a bad object, & unworthy of anything better than being pumped and dumped by multiple men.


Every film star is a political pundit. Every vacuous celebrity is a philosopher. Every athlete has solid views about economics. The cognitive bias known as the Halo Effect is a crucial pivot of malignant egalitarianism.

The Halo Effect is when we make implicit or explicit assumptions about the skills, talents, erudition, intelligence, experience, circumstances, and prospects of someone because of their looks or accomplishments in unrelated fields.

The internet created a universal Halo Effect: everyone now has access to information and is empowered to publish and broadcast, gang up with like-minded others, and act. Everyone now feels like an instant celebrity: a combination of Einstein and Aristotle, qualified to pass judgment, express opinions, and give advice, omniscient and even omnipotent. In other words: narcissistic.

In such an environment, where everyone is an expert, there are no experts, no facts, and no truth, no benchmarks, yardsticks, or absolutes. Everything is "relative" and up for grabs. Your version of reality is as good as mine and there is nothing I can ever teach you.

The mobs of aggressive retards, the majority of the denizens of cyberspace, deter true intellects and scholars from entering the fray. The yawning abyss between academe and the community is larger than ever. Misinformation, disinformation, sheer nonsense, and patent insanity have become indistinguishable from true knowledge. Discoverability has become a major problem.


A man can give a woman total freedom - but with little security. Or total security at the price of her freedom.

Only one man in a million - an extreme codependent with an all-consuming abandonment anxiety - gives his woman both: total freedom to do as she pleases with the total security that - never mind what she does, even if she shatters his heart and mind to smithereens time and again - he will always be there for her and take care of her needs.

All the benefits of a committed relationship, without a single one of its costs.

Total entitlement on the receiving end and utter self-negation on the other pole.

Usually, such a man whose pecuniary generosity is unlimited, even profligate and reckless, believes that he has nothing else to share but his money and what his money can buy: he bribes his woman to stay with him, thereby commodifying the relationship.

Of course, this fully applies across genders. Simply switch the pronouns.


Many self-styled "empaths" are actually codependent enablers. There is a difference between being compassionate or empathic and enabling.

Compassion means that you hold a realistic view of your partner, but refuse to participate in his shared psychosis (his paranoia, mind games, power plays). Enabling means that you aid and abet your significant other: together with him, you descend into his madness, his personal Hades, his mental purgatory, and his fantasies and ideation.

Compassion is about providing your counterpart with external boundaries, checks and balances, control, and a realistic feedback.

Enabling involves fusing and merging with the other, erasing all the boundaries, helping to fend off hurtful reality by becoming delusional jointly.


Addiction masquerades. When we mentally conjure up an image of a junkie, it is usually that of an unkempt, devious, and disintegrating misfit. But the overwhelming majority of addicts are nothing like that.

Someone with an addictive personality interacts with his environment - social and physical or even internal - via his addiction, by getting addicted. Narcissists are addicted to narcissistic supply. Obsessive-compulsive are addicted to their anxiety-reducing rituals. Borderlines and codependents are addicted to the presence of other people in their lives.

Some women are addicted to male attention and would go to any self-degrading length to obtain it (most attention whores are female and have Histrionic or Borderline personality disorder). Many people are addicted to money and the freedom or power and control that it affords. They will accept any abuse and risk in order to gain access to it.

People get addicted to the most bizarre objects (hoarding), to emotions (love addicts), to activities (social media, sports), places, to circumstances, to periods in their lives. Addiction activates other mental health pathologies such as fixation and numerous defense mechanisms such as denial. Addiction is a response to emotional dysregulation, dysfunctionality, delusions (grandeur, persecution), a labile sense of self-worth, identity issues, impaired impulse control, and underlying mood disorders.


The three malignancies are: malignant optimism, malignant egalitarianism - and malignant tolerance.

Malignant tolerance is the belief that any behavior and any speech act - anything - go and are acceptable and permissible in the private sphere (aka moral relativism). All inhibitions and constraints should be relegated exclusively to the public sphere (examples: political correctness, metoo, and similar social phenomena). This dichotomy has pernicious and insidious implications.

Malignant tolerance suppresses public free speech and other forms of expression even as it fosters in the private sphere malignant individualism that borders on narcissism.

In this sense, malignant tolerance creates a dynamic similar to the narcissist-codependent dyad with every individual as the narcissist and society at large as a codependent. It was only a matter of time before narcissists like Trump, Duterte, Putin, Erdogan, and now Bolsonaro took advantage of this sick intercourse between private and public to vault themselves into positions of leadership.


Munchausen by Narcissist: seeking interactions and relationships with narcissists in order to be victimized by the narcissist and thus secure attention, commiseration, sympathy, and resources from mental health professionals, victims and survivors online, the community or society, and friends and family.

Munchausen by Narcissist is akin to the two other Munchausen syndromes (Factitious Disorders), observed mostly among women.

In the classic Munchausen Syndrome, the patient feigns physical illnesses or actually hurts herself in order to attract the attention and compassion of medical staff.

In Munchausen by Proxy, the patient causes other people - usually her own children - to become gravely ill (for example: by poisoning them) in order to become the center of attention, pity, and admiration of doctors, nurses, and spectators.


Impulsive people act first and consider their options later. Impaired, deficient, lacking, or absent impulse control serves important psychological needs:

In some mental health pathologies - cluster B ("dramatic") personality disorders, mood disorders, and others - unfulfilled or suppressed urges, drives, and impulses give rise to extreme anxiety and stress. Instantly catering to these pressing wishes is the only way to alleviate and ameliorate this inexorably mounting inner volcanic pressure.

Following impulsive acts - cheating, spending, shopping, promising, travelling, binge eating, whatever - there is an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame followed by purging and penitent behaviors (like acting extra nice to the cheated spouse, forced vomiting, or working hard to make up for the profligacy). This leads to a restoration of inner peace and homeostasis (balance) and a cathartic feeling of having attained a state of "clean slate". At least until the next transgression. It is an almost religious experience.

But impulsivity has another critical function: the regulation of labile self-esteem, fluctuating self-confidence, and one's sense of self-worth via the restoration of grandiosity. The cheating spouse affirms his irresistibility, the shopaholic her omnipotence, the kleptomaniac her invincibility and luck ("getting away with it"). The forbidden, risky, and illicit nature of most impulsive acts and behaviors only adds to this mystical aura of uniqueness. This magical elevation to a godlike status of invincibility feels like a euphoric high and is addictive - as are all the impulsive behaviours. Recidivism is guaranteed: no agreement or rule or vow can prevent them from recurring.


People made millions on my ideas, advice, and original work in numerous fields from psychology to finance. So how come at age 57 I ended up having only modest means?

I am a slacker and a loafer. I held a job only once in my entire life and that was 37 years ago. I wake up and go to sleep at irregular hours. I lounge about the apartment in my pjs, surfing, reading, writing, watching movies. Couldn't be bothered to do anything more - unless, of course, there is narcissistic supply in it. I have been leading the undisciplined life of a junkie and I look like an aging alcoholic (which I am not - alcoholic, that is): flabby, pasty, neglected.

I am obviously unmotivated and lack even a trace of ambition because ambition means having to work hard and collaborate with others. The only thing I hate more than toil is people. I abhor the rat race and teamwork. I hold myself superior to the retards that surround me and resent having to accommodate them. The minute I have enough money for my needs, I cease, desist, and withdraw into my cave.

Which leads to the third reason I am not filthy rich: my grandiosity. I consider myself above pedestrian things like money, conventions, schedules, and duties. These are for lesser mortals with an IQ score inferior to my stratospheric 190.

Finally, I am a spoiled, tempestuous brat with an inflated view of myself, my place in the world, and my contributions to it. I feel entitled to be served hand over foot. The silver platter. I expect others to do the hard slog and go the extra mile. I will make a regal entry just to pick up the (low lying) fruits, as HRH Free Rider. And then I ask myself why some people - and all women - find me utterly obnoxious and repulsive!


The film (The Place, 2017) is a daring exposition of theodicy. It challenges and rebuffs our traditional views on good and evil, God and Satan. These concepts are fluid and they seamlessly intermesh to form unities, says the auteur. Our self-righteous distinctions are too crass to truly capture the finer grained intricacies, nuances, and subtleties of life. We judge others because we are limited entities and because we are grandiose narcissists who think they know everything.

Things may be preordained, but only if and when we settle on certain choices. The enigmatic man keeps telling his beseechers: “You can cancel the contract! You can forgo your wish! I cannot change what’s written in this black book, but you can walk away!” It is a rebuke of Calvinist predetermination and its pernicious abrogation of responsibility. The film is a celebration of the freedom and angst that are the human condition and how each fork in the road gives us a chance and the power to defy even the Devil, even God himself, as we mould our selves and our personal histories with our two all too mortal hands.

Read the detailed review at the bottom of this page:


There are two ways to regulate intimate relationships: via intimacy or with romantic jealousy.

Mature partners achieve a workable balance between togetherness and personal autonomy. They engender intimacy via both communication and actions. Intimacy feels so good that no one in his right mind will exit such a bond. Thus, both abandonment or separation anxiety and romantic jealousy are absent in healthy relationships: object permanence (constancy) is accomplished.

When one of the partners is a codependent or a borderline and the other is a narcissist or a psychopath or a histrionic (common combinations), or when both partners suffer from mood disorders, they cannot achieve or maintain even minimal intimacy. Instead, they mesh, merge, or fuse.

This fusion fosters intolerable abandonment or separation anxiety. The only way to regulate this anxiety is to make sure that the partner doesn't jump ship. This is done by provoking his/her romantic jealousy (a reaction to anticipated loss). Indiscreet extramarital affairs, flagrant promiscuity, ostentatious flirtatious or seductive behaviors with strangers, provocative speech or dress, and hints of impending breakup - are all ways to provoke the partner into sitting up and paying attention and to raise her/his "value" in his/her eyes ("I am desirable and irresistible to other men/women"). The instigator wants her counterpart to set boundaries and put his foot down as proofs that he cares.

Alas, such behaviors precipitate what they had been meant to prevent and have the exact opposite effect to the one intended: anticipating loss and pain aversion combine to drive the injured party away and actually guarantee eventual separation and abandonment.


Interdisciplinarity - borrowing concepts and tools from one field of study or practice to enrich another and contribute to it - is either derided or hyped in academic circles. In my experience, being exposed to a variety of disciplines is invaluable.

Consider my recent tribulations:

I am in the throes of developing a new approach to advertising, sales, and marketing, based on Behavioral Economics and Behavioral Finance.

Conventional economics is founded on wildly unrealistic assumptions regarding human nature and, by extension, the conduct of human institutions.

One of them is that firms seek to maximize profits and productivity. Having managed and owned many firms and having spent two decades as advisor to firms on 4 continents, I can attest that this is unmitigated nonsense.

Firms seek to optimize - not maximize - profits, they adopt the path of least resistance. And as far as productivity: it depends on how fierce the competition is. Absent competition, there is no incentive to increase it.

I was wracking my brain on how to capture the essence of the real conduct and choices of the firm. And then it occurred to me: The GOOD ENOUGH firm! It is a phrase I shamelessly modelled after Winnicott's good enough mother (in his book, "Playing and Reality"). Firms invariably settle on being good enough, until they are rattled by an external shock.

So, my access to both domains - economics and psychology - fostered the kind of synergy that I needed to obtain a breakthrough. It works!


Rapacious elites have betrayed the masses everywhere, subverting institutions and the instruments of power to self-enrich, oppress, and deprive lesser mortals. No one is buying anymore the counterfactual sedatives they dole out: democracy, rule of law, the American dream, level playing field, equal opportunity.

So, the ignorant, dumb, disenfranchised, unskilled, impoverished, scared, bigoted, and aggressive hordes have risen, armed with technologies and ballot boxes. The mobs took over the levers of power and elevated people who resemble them, with whom they could identify and communicate: mostly losers and failures, ugly, vile, stupid, nescient, hateful, prejudiced, superstitious, paranoid, and narcissistic leaders. People like Erdogan, Putin, Trump, Duterte, Orban, and, most recently, Bolsonaro. In two words: unadulterated scum, not unlike the Hitlers and Mussolinis of yesteryear minus the murderous and unbridled violence. At this stage.

There is also a new class of celebrities. In the 1940s it was Albert Einstein. In the 1950s it was Noel Coward. In the 1970s it was Carl Sagan. The celebrities of today emerge from the lowest rungs of society. These footballers, reality TV habitués, chefs, and starlets are the role models of a porn-obsessed, selfie and soundbite generation: they are all vacuous, ostentatious, self-preoccupied, uneducated, birdbrained, and inarticulate. Many of them look like mutated specimen. And their fans adore them because they are alike, because they reify their only hope: "If this repulsive moron made it, surely so can I". And the terrifying truth is that they, indeed, can and, more and more frequently, they actually do make it.


What did Life teach me? I am 57 years old and have led the combined lives of 10 people. At least.

I have learned that Life doesn't always accommodate our plans and wishes - but it always turns out to be far better than our fears.

If you just let life happen, it takes care of you. We have only limited information - life has a lot more. Events that look like disasters are usually agents of positive change.

Trust life, do not fight it. Plan flexibly, execute wisely, retreat smartly, advance promptly, and invariably celebrate all these steps on the path that is your being.

Assume the worst, hope for the best, settle for the real. Even when you are stuck, you are carried forward at blinding speed. Love the innumerable gifts that you had been given.

Clichés are golden truths forged by experience: setbacks are opportunities, raw gold never glitters, the grass is green, and every cloud has silver. Tunnels always end in light.

Be positive but not gullible, assured but not grandiose, happy yet never euphoric. Some emotions are bad advisors, other indispensable counsellors: know which is which. And, yes, change what you can but only what you can. Do not aim for the stars, let them aim for you, who are of stardust.

Remember: this dream ends one day. The only things we take with us are sepia memories and they are the only thing we leave behind. Work on having a life worth remembering by both yourself and others.


Swipe left to see the next photo: diabolical in the first and angelic in the second. "Who, me??? No way! You got the wrong guy! I am innocent! I have an ironclad alibi! I was misunderstood! I don't even know the perpetrators!" Trump, anyone? "Plausible deniability" in intelligence work and in dirty politics means making sure that nothing and no one connects you to particularly heinous and deplorable acts undertaken by you or on your behalf.

In the virtual reality bubble generated by the narcissist's fantastic grandiosity, frequent dissociation, compulsive lying and confabulations, plausible deniability is a key strategy.

The narcissist accomplishes this feat by gaslighting (casting in doubt the accuracy of other people's memories of events); by using proxies ("flying monkeys") and then distancing himself from his emissaries; by psychologically inducing action in third parties ("brainwashing", dog whistle, wink-wink, nod-nod, Trump's favorite techniques); by an outright denial of reality; and by acting in public in a way that would make it impossible to associate him with the misdeeds or crimes ("reaction formation").

More about gaslighting and ambient abuse:

Abuse by proxy


Shooting an interview for the documentary "Plugged In" @plugged_in_documentary by Richard Grannon @richard_grannon and @richardalexanderwillett : the less savory effects of social media: thinking about social media in new ways. Then another 2 hours on malignant egalitarianism and its 25 manifestations.

Narcissists and psychopaths online


Day 1 over. Talked for 5 straight hours. Poor Richard nodded off and nearly dropped on the plush carpet @richard_grannon The director did everything he could to cut me off, including to pretend that there are no more batteries @richardalexanderwillett But I knew better than to surrender. I aggressively shooed out the waitresses. My wife @reframingtheself foresaw what was coming and tried to warn Richard about me. To no avail. She eloped with a tall, handsome guy. I proceeded to elocute. And on I talked. The director's future spouse ostentatiously flung out a thickset volume to read through. I ignored her. At last, Nature called. When I returned, everyone dispersed hurriedly, leaving behind discarded equipment and money in envelopes. Only then did I shut up, like the True Jew that I am, the Unstoppable Gab Machine with the brogue(s) to match.


At the center of attention the way I like it. Minutes before the seminar with @saradavisondivorcecoach and @richard_grannon The videographer and director @richardalexanderwillett center stage. Photo courtesy of Lidija @reframingtheself

People said that the seminar and the freeform dialog with Richard that followed were great. I certainly enjoyed it massively.


A more balanced view of this truly great seminar with @richard_grannon @saradavisondivorcecoach and, of course, ME @vakninsamnarcissist Videography and direction @richardalexanderwillett We discussed everything: from divorce to slavery (same topic, coming to think of it). Lidija @reframingtheself contributed answers to a few questions. Fascinating.


Many futurologists - professional (Toffler) and less so (Naisbitt) - tried their hand at predicting the future. They proved quite successful at foretelling major trends but not as lucky in delineating their details. This is because, inevitably, every futurologist has to resort to crude tools such as extrapolation. The modern day versions of the biblical prophets are much better informed - and this, precisely, seems to be the problem. The informational clutter obscures the outlines of the more pertinent elements.

The futurologist has to divine which of a host of changes which occur in his times and place ushers in a new era. Since the speed at which human societies change has radically accelerated, the futurologist's work has become more compounded and less certain.

It is better to stick to truisms, however banal. True and tried is the key to successful (and, therefore, useful) predictions. What can we rely upon which is immutable and invariant, not dependent on cultural context, technological level, or geopolitical developments?

Human nature, naturally.

Yet, the introduction of human nature into the prognostic equation may further complicate it. Human nature is, arguably, the most complex thing in the universe. It is characteristically unpredictable and behaviourally stochastic. It is not the kind of paradigm conducive to clear-cut, unequivocal, unambiguous forecasts.

This is why it is advisable to isolate two or three axes around which human nature - or its more explicit manifestations - revolves. These organizational principles must possess comprehensive explanatory powers, on the one hand and exhibit some kind of synergy, on the other hand.

I propose such a trio of dimensions: Individualism, Collectivism and Time (History) coupled with four trends: increasing self-sufficiency, personal mobility, risk mitigation, and the quest for immediacy (the demise of delayed gratification.) The permutations of these seven parameters provide a complete view of today's and future world.



Funzing Talk yesterday: is pathological narcissism a personality disorder - or a social and interpersonal dysfunction?



After the events. The shadowy figure in the background is me, exhausted by socializing and hanging out. @richard_grannon @reframingtheself


Onward to Sao Paulo, Brazil to the Quantum House Resiliency Summit (November 9-11) and a presentation on "How does Narcissistic Abuse Differ from Other Forms of Abuse?" A Cold Therapy seminar follows November 14-18. @claudiariecken @reframingtheself


Second day spent at the British Library. Books have always been my only true home. My refuge and sanctuary. Whenever I tried to venture into life and interact with people, I failed miserably and had been roundlessly and heartlessly rejected and abandoned. I then retreated to my books and let them whisper me into healing. The world is cruel to monsters like me. And, of course, I react with double cruelty, wounded and broken deeper with each encounter.


Lifting the weight of human knowledge at the British Library. Swipe to the left to see Newton peering down at the competition (me, of course). Another swipe and I am having an earnest conversation with the remainders of my colleagues, contemplating a tower of the obsolete objects known as "books", and printing my misanthrope manifesto. Great fun!


Granted an hourlong interview to a true crime co-production on the Brian Blackwell murders. He slaughtered his parents in a vicious frenzy and then went on a States-side vacation and spending spree with his golddigging "girlfriend". I tried to contribute three insights:

1. All psychopaths are narcissists (narcissism is one of the modules of the diagnostic test for psychopathy PCL-R). But very few narcissists are antisocial. Blackwell has been misdiagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Actually: he is a textbook psychopath.

2. Personality disorders should never serve as grounds for diminished responsibility because they do not lead to diminished capacity. None of the three tests of NGRI (Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity) is met. Narcissists can tell right from wrong, have criminal intent (mens rea), and can control their impulses (have no "irresistible impulses").

3. The teenager Blackwell was the quintessential and ineluctable product of his society and culture, embedded as he was in a civilization that rewarded ruthless ambition, callousness, recklessness, aggression, and ostentatiousness.

Insanity Defense


"Explode Your Sales": a 6 hour seminar on November 24, under the auspices of the Macedonia Management Association. The topic? "Behavioral Sales". Never heard of it? For good reason: I have created it as a novel confluence of the tenets and experiments of Behavioral Economics, Behavioral Finance, and concepts and heuristics borrowed from theories of marketing, advertising, and sales.

I chose Macedonia, my adoptive country, to launch this new interdisciplinary set of powerful sales techniques.

Swipe to the left to learn 10 facts about me (in Macedonian). More about my work in psychology


3 hour lecture about recasting pathological narcissism at the Quantum House Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Next week: 5 days seminar on Cold Therapy. Are pathological narcissism and psychopathy positive adaptations in a world gone mad and bad?

Lecture yesterday at the Quantum House Resiliency Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Next week: 5 days of Cold Therapy training.


"Hey": a Macedonian (tragic) comedy, directed by Vasil Hristov, in which I make a cameo appearance as a news analyst and commentator, aptly named Gerald Davies.

The movie was shot during the authoritarian regime of former Prime Minister of Nikola Gruevski. Samizdat.

Sam Vaknin on IMDB:


The full interview I made with @richard_grannon for the @plugged_in_documentary on social media as a premeditated epidemic has just been released on Facebook:

The documentary's Facebook page:


Seminar about pathological narcissism and Cold Therapy in Brazil. All the participants are mental health practitioners, but there is also a criminal lawyer among them and an educator. Even the translators are psychologists. Organized by @claudiariecken and Quantum House.


The first two - of five - days of the seminar in Sao Paulo are over: all the introductory material. History of psychology, the concept of pathological narcissism, DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), psychological defense mechanisms - a crash course. Swipe to the left to see me depleted at the end of the day.

Today, finally, I am beginning to teach Cold Therapy and its techniques.


An exhausting, delirious tour and a whirlwind of lectures, seminars, dialogues, interviews, and sightseeing in London and Sao Paulo with @richard_grannon and @claudiariecken


The artificial distinction between food and medication is relatively new. Until fairly recently, various comestibles and libations were prescribed as cures and featured side by side with medicines in medical textbooks. After all, both edibles and drugs are taken per os and both result in gastrointestinal, hormonal, and immunological changes to the body.

Big Pharma engendered the schism to be able to charge more for substances that are either directly extracted from plants and animals - or which are synthesized based on natural substances.


The 5-days Cold Therapy seminar in Sao Paulo, Brazil ended and the first fully certified therapists are returning tomorrow to their various countries.

Onward to London and then back to Skopje and the Behavioral Sales seminar on Saturday.


Other Scoring: a Cold Therapy technique that forces the narcissist to develop rudimentary empathy by putting himself in other people's shoes and trying to guess what they are thinking. Swipe to the left for more.

The narcissist's grandiosity is leveraged during this phase: "Surely you can answer these simple questions?"


Let's clear up some misconceptions: If the members of the couple are having sex ONLY with others - it is not an open marriage or an open relationship, but legitimized cheating. One of the partners is usually codependent and gives in to the other's blackmail. Such an "open" relationship is about clinging, control, and the inter-couple power matrix.

In swinging, if one of the parties is passive and just observes his partner having sex with others, s/he is a cuckquean or a cuckold, not a Lifestyle swinger. Swinging requires the full participation and interaction of everyone. Spouse swapping is a form of swinging that involves cuckoldry.

If the parties lie and deceive each other about their whereabouts and activities, they are being unfaithful. Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) means: no questions asked, no lies told.


No one can disappoint us the way we disappoint ourselves. We are our own worst enemies. When we realize how much we had let ourselves down and wasted the gifts that we possess, we get depressed.

But often what looks like waste is actually a learning curve, an endowed period of self-exploration and boundary setting. Nothing is ever wasted if you only decide to make use of it.


Every stage in our transition from adolescence to adulthood is delayed by an average of 3.5 years, studies show. Adolescents come in two states: infuriating and gratifying. Luckily, they alternate between these two conditions frequently enough to let us love them.

Nowadays, adolescence extends at least to age 24: they live with their parents, are financially dependent, and proceed with their studies for much longer. They shun marriage or even serious relationships as well as most adult responsibilities and attributes: from dating and sex (down 50%) to obtaining a driver's licence and traveling abroad.

Highly narcissistic and thoroughly asocial and atomized, Millennials are slackers who haunt the toxic and lowbrow swamps of social media. Not a pretty or endearing sight.


I am developing a new concept: Human Colony Collapse Syndrome (H2CS). It is modelled on the sudden, catastrophic collapse in bee populations and hives in the past decade.

For several historical, cultural, and technological reasons, as a species, we are losing ur ability and skills to cooperate towards goals and in teams.

This new syndrome of narcissistic solipsism manifests on all levels: from the collective to the individual. It accounts for many anomic phenomena, from divorce to hookups to political partisanship to teen suicide and crime.



About a decade ago, I collaborated with one of the biggest substance abuse rehab centers in the USA. In my 20s, I co-owned a similar but much smaller center in Israel.

Would love to hear any comments and ideas you may have.

Watch my interview about the dangers of social media (with @richard_grannon for the @plugged_in_documentary shot and directed by @richardalexanderwillett ). The interview is available on Richard's YT channel and on mine:


Date? Job interview? Sales? 6 hours seminar on behavioral economics, behavioral finance, neuroeconomics, and cognitive biases and how to leverage them to make money. Skopje, under the auspices of the Association of Macedonian Managers.


My mother was a frustrating, withholding, & sadistic borderline & I am trying to regain her love (resolve early conflicts) via my women.

Relationships with labile borderlines are very intense & I equate intensity & lability with authenticity & depth. I also associate being loved with withholding, pain, betrayal, & frustration. Only a borderline can deliver this package of emotions & behaviors on a constant basis. The whole relationship is a protracted trauma bond. "Normal" women do not interest me as WOMEN at least. Still: I am very threatened & I hate certain behaviors and traits associated with Borderline: they make me feel insecure, abandoned, & tortured.

In other words: loved?

No. Some behaviors make me feel abandoned, not loved. Promiscuity & cheating, for example. Or lack of empathy & a lack of interest in me & in my life. Or pathological lying & constant deception. These behaviors make me want to walk away because they provoke my abandonment anxiety to the maximum.

I feel LOVED when my Borderline partner is totally faithful to me, jealous, obsessed with me - when I am her only focus and reason for life. The INTENSITY of her dependence on me & clinging turns me on. At the same time, she tortures me & betrays me by withholding her love (but not her interest in me & addiction to me), by playing mind games, & by causing me excruciating pain as she watches me suffer (example: in threesomes). But for me to be even interested in her, let alone love her, the Borderline MUST show no interest in other men, be thoroughly preoccupied with me, addicted to my presence in her life & truthful to a fault. I must be her only reason to live, she will literally die if I leave her. She must cling to me ferociously & scrutinize every aspect of my being relentlessly & ceaselessly. This power that I have over her is the key.

Feeling LOVED attracts me inexorably and irresistibly. Feeling abandoned drives me away. Borderlines evoke both emotions in me. This is the source of my approach-avoidance repetition compulsion.


Quote from the interview about the toxicity of social media with @richard_grannon and @richardalexanderwillett for the @plugged_in_documentary

Courtesy my brother Shimon.


Nobel prizewinner economist, Gary Becker, noted the partly irrational effect that packaging has on sales. Only partly irrational because, in a world of bounded rationality, the quality of the packaging and the care and attention put into it are strong signals regarding the business ethics and financial robustness of the manufacturer.

Advertising fulfils the same signalling function: the content of the ad is of far less importance than the facts that the advertiser could afford the campaign and was sufficiently invested in the product to undertake it.

We can think of packaging as a form of positive framing (Kahneman): it sways our purchasing decisions by being the first item of information we glean (anchor) and sometimes the most crucial one (default effect).


Empath is a word that is both meaningless and grandiose. It is meaningless because - with the exception of psychopaths and narcissists - everyone possesses empathy and, therefore, every single human being is an "empath". Actually, even narcissists and psychopaths sport a truncated form: "cold empathy" (cognitive and emotionless).

Self-imputed and self-touted "empaths" are grandiose and with pronounced narcissistic traits and behaviors. Just visit any forum of "empaths" to witness the vicious sniping, gratuitous cruelty, nauseating self-righteousness, and professional victimhood. No greater dens of narcissism and dysempathic cesspools than these congregations of "empaths". ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

One of the techniques of Cold Therapy is the Map of Happiness.

The client is asked to make a list of the 10 things or people without which or whom he cannot be happy.

Then s/he is asked to find a common denominator among two or more of the items on the list that is also a prerequisite or precondition for these items.

Example: the client cannot be happy without luxury goods and travelling. A common denominator which is also a precondition for these two: money. We substitute "money" for these 2 items and cross them out.

Another example: "gardening", "singing", "teaching". Common denominator and prerequisite: "Things I excel in" or "excellence". Having narrowed down the list to 3 items, it is time to do some mental zero accounting.

Try to imagine that your life is starting from zero and that you have no access to any of the 3 items on the list (the people and possessions without which you cannot be happy). How would you go about securing your happiness? What strategies would you adopt?


Psychopaths and narcissists rationalize their extreme misconduct in order to reduce dissonance; ameliorate anxiety; bury incipient, dimly felt stirrings of guilt; and legitimize such misbehaviours in the future. Healthy people also rationalize but usually only in order to account for an irrational or ill-conceived decision or choice.

Narcopaths create artificial moral hierarchies or exclude certain activities from the ethical or social calculus. For instance: "Kissing is not as serious as having sex; killing Jews is OK because they are evil; I cheated on my husband but I didn't climax, so it's not as sinful." This is cognitive dissonance resolved via reframing.

Reframing involves a group of defense mechanisms, the most notable of which is rationalization. People with cluster B personality disorders use these defense mechanisms to justify even the most extreme misbehavior or to render it more acceptable and "just". Examples: "I stole the money but I lost it; I fucked my husband's best friend but I did not enjoy it; I had to do it, my wife left me no choice; a blowjob is not as sinful as fucking; I cheated with him only once, I will never see him again, what's the big deal; I was drunk, I didn't know what I was doing".
As opposed to healthy people, rationalization in narcopaths is coupled with alloplastic defneses (blaming others for one's egregious violations) and an external locus of control: It just happened; I was made to do it; the circumstances were unique; I was not myself (on auto-pilot). What narcopaths call "guilt" is not what people experience typically. It is more basic - atavistic and animalistic - and less social. Their "guilt" has to do with the FEAR of getting caught, harming themselves and losing "loved" ones (read: sources of narcissistic supply and services).


Psychopath = Alien AND Predator

Narcissist = Attention!

Empath = Love is a Battlefield

Monogamous = One Pussy Cat

Philanderer = Cunt Keep It in His Pants

Swinging = Sharing is Caring

Masturbation = Got to Hand it to Me

Love Affair = Betray of Light

Guru = What You Get is What He Sees

Pessimist = Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

Optimist = What Tunnel?

Investor = Failed Speculator

Entrepreneurship = Repeating the Same Thing with Different Results Each Time (while Insanity = Repeating the Same Thing Expecting Different Results Each Time).


Psychotherapy seeks to restore the patient's reality test, for example by eliminating erroneous negative automatic thoughts (CBT), or by dredging up repressed memories and emotions from the unconscious (psychoanalysis). But what to do when the patient's pathology is justified and buttressed by reality? When the narcissist's grandiosity is rooted in facts or the client's depression is the ineluctable outcome of constant failures and a stream of losses?

The fact is that all treatment modalities are at a loss on how to deal with reality-based (or evidence-based) pathologies. Counterintuitively, pathology can be a healthy reaction to a sick and dysfunctional environment or to outlandish circumstances. Pathology, in other words, is dependent on context. It could well be the therapist's best ally. In Cold Therapy we recognize this fact and leverage or even foster pathological reactions and psychological defense mechanisms to induce healing. Kuzushi: using the opponent's momentum against him is not valuable only in martial arts.

If the pathology is an appropriate reaction to immutable conditions, the client's personality, and a relentless individual history, the only solution is to totally reboot the patient's life: relocate, find a new vocation (preferably start with menial work), form new relationships, even a change of name. A clean slate.


Steven Jobs had one important insight in his entire life: that people are imbeciles and should be treated as such. Prior to this epiphany, this college dropout had failed in everything he had done and touched, to the point of being ousted by a soft-drinks executive from the very company he had founded. By 1985, his products had been roundly rejected by both the robust business market and the fledgling home market.

Maybe his exposure to Pixar taught him that the vast majority of people being stupid, consumers are more interested in visuals, bells, and whistles (and status symbols) than in content, functionality, and substance. What matters is how the product looks, not what it does. Hence the iPod, iPhone, and iPad: breathtakingly designed contraptions with decidedly inferior functions. Jobs created the perfect “content” (read: junk) delivery vehicles because, as the obnoxious narcissist that he was, he homed in on the vulnerabilities and shortcomings of the members of his cult.

Yet, Jobs is universally lauded in the media as a visionary and a genius. Why this blanket endorsement? Is it merely the infamous herd mentality of most journalists and pundits? Is hagiography back in vogue? Is being bon ton more important than being right? Indiscriminately fawning on public figures (recall Obama) is nothing new. But re-writing history the way the media has just done with Jobs is a nadir.

Cults and narcissists


The intimate partner in a trauma bond constitutes a "safe (or secure) base". In child psychology a safe or secure base is typically the infant's mother. The child experiments with his new boundaries as a separate individual (separation-individuation) knowing that it can always return to the safe base.

In a trauma bonded dyad (couple), the parties feel free to experiment with the most reckless misbehaviors and indulge in the most outlandish fantasies, knowing that the safe (or secure) base partner will always be there for them.

The safe base partner shapes the other's sense of identity and many of her beliefs and cognitions (thoughts). The two members of the bond are merged and fused. It is not easy to let go of the partner's voice, representation, imago, or avatar in one's head (introject). Unconsciously, it is perceived as who one is.

In a trauma bond, the introject is negative and sadistic but it is a part of one's self-perception of who one is, one's demarcated identity (as a "bad, worthless, malicious, crazy object".) This is why any change to the status quo is treated as a threat and the relationship is remarkably stable despite the copious amounts of mind altering abuse.


Beauty has always been associated with sickness, not with health. The most priceless tulip bulbs in the 1637 Tulipmania were infected with a virus that rendered the petals variegated and multicolored. Most fashion models until recently sported bodies that can charitably be described only as anorectic or emaciated.


But recent developments have plunged the pathologizing of pulchritude into a nadir. Today, the very complimenting of beauty has been pathologized and criminalized. Women the world over are on a crusade to outlaw beauty and the discourse that it ineluctably engendered for millennia.

Nowadays, women protest indignantly when told that they are attractive. Incredibly and inanely, they label "abuse" even merely verbal expressions of admiration: they feel that their boundaries are breached and their trust betrayed. Women feel objectified and dehumanized, as though their beauty were an alien and irrelevant aspect of their being, somewhat awkward and shameful.

Women claim vociferously that to mark their beauty and sex appeal is to ignore their other offerings and to treat them as inferior. Can't one make the same argument about any other human trait? Should a public intellectual rail against being singled out for her intellect, an athlete for her physique, a mother for her compassion, and an entrepreneur for her vision and daring? All these are innate, mostly inherited properties, cultivated through the years, exactly like beauty and allure.

Women are recklessly undermining the very foundations of inter-gender communication, conflating aggression with assertiveness, abrasiveness with boundary setting, and narcissism with self-confidence. We are going to pay a horrible price for this sick dynamic: pathologizing the beautiful dance between men and women, pathologizing beauty itself.


If their mouths are moving, they are lying: histrionics, psychopaths, and narcissists lie all the time. Their lies may be goal-oriented (to secure sex or money), intended to regulate grandiosity or a labile sense of self-worth, to buttress a stance of victimhood, or simply because the forbidden and illicit are risky and thrilling (in the cases of lying serial cheaters, promiscuous cockteasers, and attention whores, for example). So, when communicating with these types, WHAT they say is largely irrelevant. The only relevant information is WHY they choose to say what they are saying. The SELECTION of lies is revealing, telling, and informative.


The same applies in psychotherapy. In the anamnetic (intake) phase, most patients confabulate and offer narratives that are ego-syntonic (self-justifying). WHAT they say is not nearly as crucial or edifying as the CHOICES they make in telling their stories.


The psychopathic Narcissist says (and means):

I love you (as long as you function and serve me and my needs and goals);

I care for you (as a maintenance chore);

You are the only one (at this stage);

I never lie (it is a lie, of course);

You are the best (anything else you would like me to say in order to secure your subservient presence?);

I will change, this time it will be different (but not with you);

Tell me the truth (don't dare!);

You can trust me (most retarded amnesiacs do!);

I have my principles (the first amongst which is: have no principles);

I cannot be bought (for this price, but I am open to haggling);

I am superintelligent and can see things that you can't (luckily for me, or you would have abandoned me long ago).


Never befriend your employees or socialize with them. If you ignore this advice, they will begin to regard you as one of them and instead of looking up to you, they will envy and resent you for your "luck" in having acquired your enterprise and your wealth.


Passive-aggressive behaviors will soon follow, culminating in outright hatred and sabotage. Keep clearly demarcated boundaries and eschew faux egalitarianism and ersatz camaraderie.


This is especially true in highly competitive buyers' markets where your employees can easily defect to your adversaries, replete with years of skilling, your client list, and intellectual property. Maintain the minimum necessary investment in your staff and never ever spoil them or raise their expectations for special treatment and their narcissistic sense of entitlement. Pamper your clients instead.


Always have backup personnel at your beck and call. Attempt to automate the business. Subcontract. Outsource. Keep your workplace lean and mean: proffer tough love, cultivate a modicum of awe or even fear and lots of uncertainty and abandonment anxiety in order to curb staff mobility. Be generous and respectful, not stingy and abusive. But be the boss, not a follower. Your employees expect you to lead them, not only to consult them. Seek feedback, your door always open, but remain the sole decision-maker.


Position your brand as high-brow or low-brow but never as "hi, bro". Middle of the road brands are road kill waiting to happen. Overcharge. Flaunt exclusivity and elitism if you can get away with it.


Maintain a backup of everything on the cloud. Trust no one, supervise everyone. Work as hard as your least employee but never be ostentatiously virtuous. Don't rub your status in, but don't be falsely modest or frugal. Give your workers an example to emulate, not to tear down. Do not frustrate, triangulate, and divide. Conquer instead.



Networks go through a life cycle which can be divided to three phases: 1. Memetic Phase 2. Network Effects Phase 3. Collapse. The Memetic Phase is autonomous and based on replication of memes. It is characterized by fecundity but not by fidelity or longevity. The transition to the phase of network effects (network externality) is based on a bandwagon effect: a positive feedback loop enhances the value of the network for its members and users the greater their number is.


As some critical mass is transcended, the network goes viral. The network declines, decays and collapses if it fails to activate its members: consume their time, monetize their eyeballs, reward them for time spent within the network, or otherwise create value added intrinsically or extrinsically. Similarly, if the network is homophilic – is biased as far as information and membership flows are concerned, is subject to solipsistic confirmation bias – it is doomed to collapse. Following the collapse, the network can survive as a remnant or residual network (“neutron star network”), or as an archive.




The holidays season should be a time of family get-togethers, love shared, and relatives and friends brought up to date. Holidays are supposed to be the reification of that contradiction in terms: mass or group intimacy.


Instead, for victims of family violence and abuse, the holidays are recurring nightmares, replete with danger and duplicity, a theater of the absurd with menacing overtones. This is especially true when the offender also has Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorders (psychopathy). It is important to understand the mindset of such abusers:


What can you do about it?


Act against your better instincts: do not try to involve your abuser in festivities, family events, birthdays, special occasions, and gatherings. Such attempts will only infuriate him further. Instead, leave him be, let him sulk, mired and immersed as he is in his self-pity, seething envy, and martyrdom complex. Go out, join friends and family at their abodes, and celebrate to your heart's content. Chances are that by the time you have returned your abuser will have forgotten all about it and things will revert to "normal". Admittedly, some abusive intimate partners will be spoiling for a fight no matter what. There is nothing you can do about it except set boundaries and punish misbehavior and maltreatment. Whether you choose to involve your abuser in holiday activities or not is immaterial: he will torment and haunt you all the same. With the narcissistic and psychopathic abuser no good deed goes unpunished.


It is easy to confuse the concepts of "virtual reality" and a "computerized model of reality (simulation)". The former is a self-contained Universe, replete with its "laws of physics" and "logic". It can bear resemblance to the real world or not. It can be consistent or not. It can interact with the real world or not. In short, it is an arbitrary environment. In contrast, a model of reality must have a direct and strong relationship to the world. It must obey the rules of physics and of logic. The absence of such a relationship renders it meaningless. A flight simulator is not much good in a world without airplanes or if it ignores the laws of nature. A technical analysis program is useless without a stock exchange or if its mathematically erroneous.


Yet, the two concepts are often confused because they are both mediated by and reside on computers. The computer is a self-contained (though not closed) Universe. It incorporates the hardware, the data and the instructions for the manipulation of the data (software). It is, therefore, by definition, a virtual reality. It is versatile and can correlate its reality with the world outside. But it can also refrain from doing so. This is the ominous "what if" in artificial intelligence (AI). What if a computer were to refuse to correlate its internal (virtual) reality with the reality of its makers? What if it were to impose its own reality on us and make it the privileged one?


In the visually tantalizing movie, "The Matrix", a breed of AI computers takes over the world. It harvests human embryos in laboratories called "fields". It then feeds them through grim looking tubes and keeps them immersed in gelatinous liquid in cocoons. This new "machine species" derives its energy needs from the electricity produced by the billions of human bodies thus preserved. A sophisticated, all-pervasive, computer program called "The Matrix" generates a "world" inhabited by the consciousness of the unfortunate human batteries. Ensconced in their shells, they see themselves walking, talking, working & making love.





The Old Gods wander


your promised lands


with reticence.


Grey, forced benevolence.


They shrug their crumpled robes,


extend in veinous hand


black cornucopia.


You're fighting back, it's evident,


bony protrusions, a thumping chest,


the clamming up of sweaty pearls.


They aim at your Olympian head.


There, in the meadows of your mind,


grazing on dewy hurt,


a premonition


of impending doom.


Poetry of Healing and Abuse



Apocalypse? Not likely.


The Yellow Vests in France and Belgium are part of a global revolt against the elites and their institutions. It started years ago. It is just the beginning. We are in a period similar to 1763-1918 when all the monarchies and empires collapsed.


It is going to be a deeply unsettling period, though, with everything we know falling apart around our ears. Very disorienting. Massive dislocations and anomies. And technology will render everything more fast and furious.


It will not be an apocalypse. It will be a transfer of power to new institutions with a new ethos and equipped with empowering technologies. Dinosaurs older than 30 years will find it terrifying.


It will resemble previous transitions: the collapse of the Roman empire, the Renaissance, the Reformation, or the demise of the European monarchy.


The new stakeholders are already here: young, ignorant, mostly stupid, narcissistic, aggressive, technologically savvy, schizoid, asexual. They elect populist leaders. They detest authority, experts, hierarchies.



Merry almost Christmas!


The City at dusk


The City laces its inhabitants in shades of grey. Oppressively close to the surface, some of us duck, others simply walk carefully, our shoulders stooped, trying to avoid the monochrome rainbow, somewhere over, at the end of the hesitant drizzle.


The City rains itself on us, impaled on one hundreds towers, on a thousand immolated golden domes. We pretend to not see as it bleeds into the river. We just cross each other in ornate street corners, ambushed from behind dilapidated structures.


We don't nod our heads politely anymore. We are not sure whether they will stay connected to their lolling bodies if we do.


It is at such times that I remember an especially sad song, interlaced with wailing.


Wall after wall, turret after turret, I re-visit her. It is there, in that city, which is not Muslim, nor Jewish, or Christian, not entirely modern, nor decidedly antique that I met her.


And the pain.


Poetry of Healing and Abuse



What is the difference between self-love and narcissism and how does it affect the capacity to love others?


There are two differences between healthy self-love and pathological narcissism: (a) in the ability to tell reality from fantasy, and (b) in the ability to empathise and, indeed, to fully and maturely love others. As we said, the narcissist does not love himself. It is because he has very little True Self to love. Instead, a monstrous, grandiose, and malignant construct – the False Self – encroaches upon his True Self and devours it.


The narcissist loves an image which he projects onto others who reflect it to the narcissist (the False Self). This process reassures the narcissist of both the objective existence of his False Self and of the boundaries of his Ego. It blurs all distinctions between reality and fantasy.


Self-love is a precondition for the experience and expression of mature love. One cannot truly love someone else if one does not first love one's True Self. If we had never loved ourselves – we had never experienced unconditional love and, therefore, we do not know how to love.


If we keep living in a world of fantasy – how could we notice the very real people around us who ask for our love and who deserve it? The narcissist wants to love. In his rare moments of self-awareness, he feels ego-dystonic (unhappy with his situation and with his relationships with others). This is his predicament: he is sentenced to isolation precisely because his need of other people is so great.





Diamonds are the biggest case of marketing-induced irrationality, con artistry, and false advertising, generating demand where there should have been none.


As opposed to gold, gem-grade diamonds have no other uses but to adorn the arms and necks of the ostentatious and the gullible, engaged in conspicuous consumption and relative positioning.


Carbon-based diamonds have a perfect, much cheaper substitute: synthetic diamonds. And yet people insist to buy the original. Diamonds also have virtually indistinguishable immitations (zirconia and silicon). Diamonds are abundant. The scarcity is artificial and created by cartels that govern the industry with an iron fist.


Diamonds are easy to extract and are found in zones of warfare and famine ("blood diamonds"), where the average wage is less than 100 USD a month. They should have been very cheap: no more than a few cents a carat.


The diamond industry - from manufacturers to jewellers and gem designers - engage in egregious brainwashing, capitalizing knowingly on human cognitive biases and vulnerabilities.


Technically, the entire field is a Ponzi or pyramid scheme: the value of diamonds as an investment depends crucially on new suckers and their money.


At times of crisis, danger, depression, failure, and narcissistic injury, the narcissist feels that he is watching himself from the outside. This is not an out-of-body experience. The narcissist just assumes, involuntarily, the position of a spectator, a polite observer mildly interested in the whereabouts of one, Mr. Narcissist.


It is akin to watching a movie, the illusion is not complete, neither is it precise. This dissociative detachment (a combination depersonalization and derealisation) continues for as long as the narcissist's ego-dystonic behaviour persists, for as long as the crisis goes on, for as long as the narcissist cannot face who he is, what he is doing and the consequences of his actions.


Since this is the case most of the time, the narcissist gets used to seeing himself in the role of the protagonist (usually the hero) of a motion picture or of a novel. It also sits well with his grandiosity and fantasies. Sometimes, he talks about himself in the third person singular. Sometimes he calls his "other", narcissistic, self by a different name.


He describes his life, its events, ups and downs, pains, elation and disappointments in the most remote, "professional" and coldly analytical voice, as though describing (though with a modicum of involvement) the life of some exotic insect (echoes of Kafka's "Metamorphosis"). The metaphor of "life as a movie", and gaining control by "writing a scenario" or by "inventing a narrative" is, therefore, not a modern invention. Cavemen narcissists have, probably, done the same. But this is only the external, superficial, facet of the disorder.


The crux of the problem is that the narcissist really FEELS this way. He actually experiences his life as belonging to someone else, his body as dead weight (or as an instrument in the service of some entity), his deeds as a-moral and not immoral (he cannot be judged for something he didn't do now, can he?)




The confluent pandemics of broken marriages, social media, and mass media produced age-inappropriate adolescents with lost innocence and no sense of wonder. They are jaded: they have seen, heard, and done it all. They look like older people in teenage bodies. Depression is starting earlier with each generation: debilitating depressive disorders, anxiety, and suicide rates have skyrocketed out of control (up 10 times, 5-fold, and 600% from the 1950s, respectively). Growing up is now a hazardous occupation.


Having ripened and matured way too fast, these progeric kids struggle with pernicious sexual precocity and with overpowering emotions that they cannot identify, comprehend, or understand and which often feel like a force of nature.


These dysfunctional teenagers instinctively try to avoid the mistakes that their parents made in their relationships - often by avoiding having a relationship altogether.

Schizoid, atomized, firewalled and shielded by their electronic devices, lonely and envious, they stumble through life unaided by their narcissistic and equally dysphoric progenitors, having to parent themselves throughout this crucial period in their lives, with helicopter parenting a poor and debilitating substitute for real upbringing.


I love to cook. During my unruly service, the air force punished me by sending me to serve 3 months in the mega kitchen of its remotest base. I learned French cooking there and fed my creations to the pilots and officers.


Cooking (and taking long, thoughtful showers, replete with vociferous Italian arias) are my versions of meditation. I also love to wash dishes. I never told this fact to any active psychiatrist, lest I be committed.


So, what is in this casserole?


My own recipe: Chinese food, rice, mushrooms, smoked meat, chicken breast (the only kind of breasts I have access to, lately), spices, yogurt, and much more besides. Like the chef: irresistibly yummy!



We are ships that pass in pitch darkness, blowing horns of despair and need, trying to avoid the inevitable collision of intimacy, the lifeboats of cheating and emotional absenteeism at the ready.


There is no moon on our ocean, just the churning waves of loneliness, the froth of our relationship sprayed thin across our lives, as insubstantial as the dreamworld we call our mind.


Lone seagulls of pity oversee us, necklaced albatrosses of empathy and love, phosphorous fish gaze up, their mouths agape at our oddness.


At times, we shipwreck, outcast on our islands, and we wonder at the exoticism of our selves, the hopelessness of memory: such strange beasts we are, such miracles, once in our lifetimes, a roll of DNA, or an experiment gone awry.


We set sail into penumbral seas in a doomed quest for sun and flowers. And yet it is our forlornness that renders us so painfully beautiful to behold even in the absence of any light.



When a couple is in a state of shared psychosis (folie a deux), they uphold a common delusional or paranoid or narcissistic narrative about themselves and about the world and settle on a code of conduct. Shared psychoses require the partners to fuse and merge and, therefore, present psychodynamic aspects of both dependent (codependency) and borderline personality disorders.


When one of the partners opts out of the shared psychotic disorder, the other half feels annuled, incomplete (amputated) and cast out. S/he reacts with a depressive episode whose severity and duration can be extreme.


The depression resolves into two solutions or orientations. Some rejected partners react by utterly repressing the past (dissociating). They live solely in the present, like there is no yesterday - or tomorrow (carpe diem). They act out recklessly or antisocially or promiscuously.


Others get stuck in the past and are debilitated and rendered dysfunctional by nostalgia and abandonment anxiety. They live like there is no today or tomorrow.


Both types usually end up enmeshed in a new shared psychosis in an attempt to recapture the magic of being one with another person and the overwhelming sensations of safety and acceptance that it provides.


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Grandiosity and entitlement - the two pillars of narcissism - are widely misunderstood.


In previous work, I proposed to regard grandiosity as a cognitive deficit: an impaired reality test that leads to a gross misjudgment of one's abilities, gifts, knowledge, skills, and roles. A Dunning-Kruger Effect writ large.


The ineluctable corollary of grandiosity is entitlement: if you are divine then you deserve special treatment.


I suggest to reconsider entitlement: it is not a behavior, but a delusion. The narcissist is deluded by his grandiose fantasies and within his delusional space, he develops expectations regarding his environment and adopts behaviors that conform to these expectations and uphold them.


Together, grandiosity and entitlement provide the narcissist with a complete virtual reality with an organizing principle and commensurate theory of mind and theory of the world around him and how it should function.


The narcissist them imposes this virtual reality on a pathological narcissistic space (a physical place where his grandiosity and entitlement are uncontested or even egged on).


The narcissist treats criticism, or disagreement, or data that negate his self-perception and grandiosity as countervailing, challenging, and destabilizing information because they are felt as opprobrium, castigation, and mockery.


This is the reason for the narcissist's disproportionate reactions to perceived insults. He simply takes them as more "real" and more "serious". The narcissist is constantly on the lookout for slights. He is hypervigilant. He perceives every disagreement as criticism and every critical remark as complete and humiliating rejection: nothing short of a threat. Gradually, his mind turns into a chaotic battlefield of paranoia and ideas of reference.


The narcissist relates to his human environment through his unresolved conflicts. It is the energy of the tension thus created that sustains him.


The narcissist is a person driven by parlously imminent eruptions, by the unsettling prospect of losing his precarious balance. Being a narcissist is a tightrope act. The narcissist must remain alert and on-edge. Only in a constant state of active conflict does he attain the requisite levels of mental arousal.


This periodical interaction with the objects of his conflicts sustains the inner turmoil, keeps the narcissist on his toes, infuses him with the intoxicating sensation that he is alive.


So, reacts defensively. He becomes conspicuously indignant, aggressive and cold. He detaches emotionally for fear of yet another (narcissistic) injury. He devalues the person who made the disparaging remark, the critical comment, the unflattering observation, the innocuous joke at the narcissist's expense.


Financial Abuse (Sam Vaknin, Guardian, June 29, 2013) Q. Would narcissists often try to restrict their partner's independence by reducing their access to shared family finances? Why?


A. Narcissists are control freaks, paranoid, jealous, possessive, & envious. They are the sad products of early childhood abandonment by parents, caregivers, role models, and/or peers. Hence their extreme abandonment anxiety & insecure attachment style. Fostering financial dependence in their nearest & dearest is just another way of making sure of their continued presence as sources of narcissistic supply (attention.) He who holds the purse strings holds the heart's strings.


Reducing other people to begging & cajoling also buttresses the narcissist's grandiose fantasy of omnipotence & provides him with a somewhat sadistic gratification.


Q. Would it also happen with female narcissists exercising control over men?


A. Yes. There is no major psychodynamic difference between male & female narcissists.


Q. What advice would you give to someone in a relationship with a narcissist? Should they try to keep their finances separate?


A. They should never allow themselves to be irrevocably separated from their family of origin & close friends. They should maintain their support network & refuse to become a part of the narcissist's cult-like shared psychosis. They should make sure that they have independent sources of wealth (a trust fund; real estate; bank accounts; deposits; securities) & sustainable sources of income (a job; rental income; interest & dividends; royalties). Above all: they should not share with their narcissistic intimate partner the full, unmitigated details of their life and critical bits of information such as banking passwords and safe box access codes.


Q. I understand that narcissists will sometimes sacrifice their finances and get into big trouble financially (even going bankrupt) in order to satisfy other narcissistic desires - so I presume this means that narcissists are also people whose finances can be instable?




I wrote this article in 2001(!): "The Internet is the ideal e-book distribution channel. It threatens the monopoly of the big publishing houses. Ironically, early publishers rebelled against the knowledge monopoly of the Church. The industry flourished in non-theocratic societies such as the Netherlands and England - and languished where religion reigned (the Islamic world, and Medieval Europe). With e-books, content is once more a collaborative effort, as it has been well into the Middle Ages. Knowledge, information, and narratives were once generated through the interactions of authors and audience (remember Socrates). Interactive e-books, multimedia, discussion lists, and collective authorship efforts restore this great tradition.


Authors are again the publishers and marketers of their work as they have been well into the 19th century when many books debuted as serialized pamphlets in daily papers or magazines or were sold by subscription. Serialized e-books hark back to these intervallic traditions. E-books may also help restore the balance between best-sellers and midlist authors and between fiction and non-fiction. E-books are best suited to cater to neglected niche markets.


E-books, cheaper than even paperbacks, are the quintessential "literature for the millions". Both erstwhile reprint libraries and current e-book publishers specialize in inexpensive books in the public domain (i.e., whose copyright expired). John Bell (competing with Dr. Johnson) put out "The Poets of Great Britain" in 1777-83. Each of the 109 volumes cost six shillings (compared to the usual guinea or more). The Railway Library of novels (1,300 volumes) costs 1 shilling apiece only eight decades later. E-books and POD resume this trend.


The plunge in book prices, the lowering of barriers to entry aided by new technologies and plentiful credit, the proliferation of publishers, and the cutthroat competition among booksellers was such that price regulation (cartel) had to be introduced. Net publisher prices, trade discounts, and list prices are all anti-competitive practices of 19th century Europe.



Why do narcissists seek intimacy if they find it so stifling and reprehensible? Why do they get married if the marital bond feels more like a prison? Why do they commit, love bomb, court, and propose if all that time they experience themselves as hostages within the growing attachment?


Typically, they end up ghosting, undermining the intimacy, cheating, deceiving, lying, and becoming passive-aggressive or even aggressive outright. Why go through this cycle countless times?


Because it feels wonderful to be unshackled and freed from the demands of an intimate relationship. Breaking up induces in the narcissist an intoxicating and addictive manic euphoria. The narcissist seeks closeness and commitment IN ORDER to renege and withdraw! When he cheats on his spouse, or absents himself from her life, or dumps her - he feels omnipotent and thrilled and elated and liberated. Suddenly even the sky is not the limit.


The narcissist's ideal romantic partner is someone who colludes in this approach-avoidance repetition compulsion by embracing him and restoring the faux intimacy every time he returns from his forays of destructive or obstructive independence. She herself may engage in the very same behaviors out of the very same reasons: an all-pervasive dread of true love, companionship, and togetherness.


Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7. Their "old new year" is a week later, on January 14. It is all Julius Caesar's fault ... The Romans sometimes neglected to introduce an extra month every two years to amortize the difference between their lunar calendar and the natural solar year. Julius Caesar decreed that the year 46 BC should have 445 days (some historians implausibly say: 443 days) in order to bridge the yawning discrepancy that accumulated over the preceding seven centuries. It was aptly titled the "Year of Confusion". To "reset" the calendar, Julius Caesar affixed the New Year on January 1 (the day the Senate traditionally convened) and added a day or two to a few months.


He thus gave rise to the Julian Calendar, a latter day rendition of the Aristarchus calendar from 239 BC. After his assassination, the month of Quintilis was renamed Julius (July) in his honor. The Julian calendar estimated the length of the natural solar year (the time it takes for the earth to make one orbit of the sun) to be 365 days and 6 hours. Every fourth year the extra six hours were collected and added as an extra day to the year, creating a leap year of 366 days. But the calendar's underlying estimate was off by 11 minutes and 14 seconds. It was longer than the natural solar year.


The extra minutes accumulated to one whole day. By 325 AD, the Spring Equinox was arriving on March 21st on the Julian Calendar - instead of March 25. The First Ecumenical Council met in Nicea in 325 and determined that the date to celebrate Pascha was on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the Spring Equinox on March 21st. In other words, it enshrined the Julian calendar's aberration. Thus, by 1582, the Spring Equinox was arriving on March 11. Pope Gregory XIII decided - in his tenth year in office - to drop 3 leap years every 400 years by specifying that any year whose number ended with 00 must also be evenly divisible by 400 in order to have a 29-day February.


But this was only the beginning:


Why do good people - church-goers, pillars of the community, the salt of the earth - ignore abuse and neglect, even when it is on their doorstep and in their proverbial backyard (for instance, in hospitals, orphanages, shelters, prisons, and the like)?


I. Lack of Clear Definition


Perhaps because the word "abuse" is so ill-defined & so open to culture-bound interpretation.


We should distinguish functional abuse from the sadistic variety. The former is calculated to ensure outcomes or to punish transgressors. It is measured, impersonal, efficient, and disinterested.


The latter - the sadistic variety - fulfils the emotional needs of the perpetrator.


This distinction is often blurred. People feel uncertain and, therefore, reluctant to intervene. "The authorities know best" - they lie to themselves.


II. Avoiding the Unpleasant


People, good people, tend to avert their eyes from certain institutions which deal with anomalies and pain, death and illness - the unsavory aspects of life which no one likes to be reminded of.


Like poor relatives, these institutions and events inside them are ignored and shunned.


III. The Common Guilt


Moreover, even good people abuse others habitually. Abusive conduct is so widespread that no one is exempt. Ours is a narcissistic - and, therefore, abusive - civilization.


People who find themselves caught up in anomic states - for instance, soldiers in war, nurses in hospitals, managers in corporations, parents or spouses in disintegrating families, or incarcerated inmates - tend to feel helpless and alienated. They experience a partial or total loss of control.


They are rendered vulnerable, powerless, and defenseless by events and circumstances beyond their influence.


Abuse amounts to exerting an absolute and all-pervasive domination of the victim's existence. It is a coping strategy employed by the abuser who wishes to reassert control over his life and, thus, to re-establish his mastery and superiority. By subjugating the victim - he regains his self-confidence and regulate his sense of self-worth.


Many more reasons here:


Context matters. The same symbol can be perceived as either the number 13 or the letter B. Juxtaposed with 2 other lines, the upper line is judged to be longer (it is not). And Rubin's drawing is either a vase - or two profiles of human faces.


By now, it is a trite observation that meaning is context-dependent and, therefore, not invariant or immutable. Contextualists in aesthetics study a work of art's historical and cultural background in order to appreciate it. Philosophers of science have convincingly demonstrated that theoretical constructs (such as the electron or dark matter) derive their meaning from their place in complex deductive systems of empirically-testable theorems. Ethicists repeat that values are rendered instrumental and moral problems solvable by their relationships with a-priori moral principles. In all these cases, context precedes meaning and gives interactive birth to it.


However, the reverse is also true: context emerges from meaning and is preceded by it. This is evident in a surprising array of fields: from language to social norms, from semiotics to computer programming, and from logic to animal behavior.


Contexts can have empirical or exegetic properties. In other words: they can act as webs or matrices and merely associate discrete elements; or they can provide an interpretation to these recurrent associations, they can render them meaningful. The principle of causation is an example of such interpretative faculties in action: A is invariably followed by B and a mechanism or process C can be demonstrated that links them both. Thereafter, it is safe to say that A causes B. Space-time provides the backdrop of meaning to the context (the recurrent association of A and B) which, in turn, gives rise to more meaning (causation).


Learn more here:


It takes two to tango – and an equal number to sustain a long-term abusive relationship. The abuser and the abused form a bond, a dynamic, and a dependence. Expressions such as "folie a deux", shared psychotic disorder (shared psychosis), trauma bonding, and the "Stockholm Syndrome" capture facets of this danse macabre. It often ends fatally. It is always an excruciatingly painful affair.


Abuse is closely correlated with alcoholism, drug consumption, intimate-partner homicide, teen pregnancy, infant and child mortality, spontaneous abortion, reckless behaviours, suicide, and the onset of mental health disorders. It doesn't help that society refuses to openly and frankly tackle this pernicious phenomenon and the guilt and shame associated with it.


People – overwhelmingly women – remain in an abusive household for a variety of reasons: economic, parental (to protect the children), and psychological. But the objective obstacles facing the battered spouse cannot be overstated.


The abuser treats his spouse as an object, an extension of himself, devoid of a separate existence and denuded of distinct needs. Thus, typically, the couple's assets are on his name – from real estate to medical insurance policies. The victim has no family or friends because her abusive partner or husband frowns on her initial independence and regards it as a threat. By intimidating, cajoling, charming, and making false promises, the abuser isolates his prey from the rest of society and, thus, makes her dependence on him total. She is often also denied the option to study and acquire marketable skills or augment them.




Many natural born entrepreneurs are too generous, too creative, too impatient, too peripatetic, and too trusting to be good managers. Entrepreneurship sports the pyrotechnic fireworks of a love affair - management is often as staid as a marriage with children.


A good manager is exactly like a good parent: he provides the perfect balance between discipline and love. Too much discipline harms the employees, too much love spoils them. Discipline has be seen: it must be visible and dispensed in public. Love has to be privately afforded and intimately administered.


A good manager monitors the competition but is not afraid of it. She never allows her competitors to affect, let alone dictate, her business decisions and strategy.


Time. Does time pass - or are we passing in time? Our memories are time travel. Our bodies remember: witness our scars. Our minds recall: we miss ourselves and others. Nostalgia is about refusing to accept the tyranny of Time even as we succumb to its ineluctable inexorability.


Every new year we celebrate the coming of the unexpected, the emergence of potentials, the promise of contentment, if not happiness. It is the triumph of hope over experience. But we struggle forward and trudge on and we kiss each others' wet cheeks and cross fingers to be there for them in times of need. Time permitting. And very often geography and circumstances tear us apart and we are denied even this illusory comfort.


How tragic our mortality is, how forlorn our attempts to deny it, how human it is to know our transience and still ignore it defiantly. Is there anything more touching than this childlike prevarication?


Happy New Year to all of us. Do not let Time win. Remember forcefully.


Life gives us a window of opportunity surrounded by a wall of broken dreams and unrealized potentials, deadening routines and the white static of survival.


Shockingly few people dare leap into the clear azure skies. Most of us recoil: "If I try this, I might fall and crash", or "The sky is always bluer outside the window", or "better the wall I know than the window I am not familiar with", or "What is so great about soaring anyhow? It is much safer here, on my tattered couch, facing an array of flickering screens."


And so we crouch and gaze at the wall, the barrier that firewalls us from life and its uncertainties and promise. And when we next lift our eyes to reconnoitre outside, the sun is set, the clouds pregnant with sooty hail, an angry wind tugs at the shutters. We close the windows and we are filled with sweet remorse and the nostalgia for what could have been.


And then we head back to our screens.


Alice: Ten Years Later – A Culinary Reverie by: Sam Vaknin


Ten year anniversaries are nothing to sneeze at, thought Alice as she surveyed the kitchen. Sure enough, someone sneezed vociferously and insistently just to her left. “Have I been thinking aloud?” enquired Alice, alarmed. “No more than usual,” answered the cook, “and the soup decidedly begs for more pepper, you know.” Exasperated, Alice rolled her eyes (a gesture she mastered only recently and was very proud of): “This time, I came armed with the recipe, Cook,” she admonished her sternly, “Here, read for yourself: not a trace of pepper to be had throughout the proceedings!” “Impossible!” declared Cook and eyed her suspiciously. She snatched the tattered page, perused it awhile and then read it aloud, triumphantly.


Disconcerted by this decisive rebuttal of her new-found bravado, Alice settled on a three-legged stool which stood smack in the geometric navel of the kitchen. “When will everyone be here?” she mused to no one in particular. “Precisely when they will arrive!” bellowed Cook and hauled the sooty cauldron onto the fire – “The Cat’s grin has been here since the morning!” “Is there anything else on the menu?” enquired Alice “I am mighty hungry and don’t think I can quell it with a mere dollop! And the pepper is bound to make everyone so thirsty, not to mention sneeze-prone!” Cook grunted absentmindedly: “March Hare promised to bring some wine. And to drag in Dormouse, if he is not asleep, of course.” “Dormouse is always asleep” sighed Alice “and March Hare doesn’t know the first difference between wine and tea!” “Wine, tea” snorted Cook as she hurried around in a haze of pepper “It’s all the same to me. It should be all the same to you, you know, makes life considerably simpler!” “Things can go awfully wrong if you don’t call them by their proper names” insisted Alice “Consider this recipe for chicken in wine. It wouldn’t be the same with tea, I grant you!”


Alice continues her adventures here:


We spend the first half of life trying to transform our fantasies into reality - and the second part of life trying to transform our reality into a dream.


We seek happiness outside ourselves and away from home only to discover that it is within ourselves and in our abode.


We substitute ephemeral and useless money and material goods for the useful lifelong treasures of our minds and souls. We trade true love for lifestyle.


The luckier among us discover these lessons through deprivation and misfortune. The accursed continue to live in camouflaged misery, consumed by an ever-expanding internal void till their dying day.


We play games because they & their outcomes are reversible. No game-player expects his involvement, or his particular moves to make a lasting impression on history, fellow humans, a territory, or a business entity.


Actions can be classified as a "game" when they do not intend to exert a lasting (that is, irreversible) influence on the environment. When such intention is evident - the very same actions qualify as something completely different. Games are intended to be forgotten, eroded by time and entropy, by quantum events in our brains and macro-events in physical reality.


Games - as opposed to absolutely all other human activities - are entropic. Negentropy - the act of reducing entropy and increasing order - is present in a game, only to be reversed later. Nowhere is this more evident than in video games: destructive acts constitute the very foundation of these contraptions. When children start to play (and adults, for that matter - see Eric Berne's books on the subject) they commence by dissolution, by being destructively analytic. It is through games that we recognize our temporariness, the looming shadow of death, our forthcoming dissolution, evaporation, annihilation.


These FACTS we repress in normal life lest they overwhelm us and render us paralysed. We pretend that we are going to live forever, we use this ridiculous, counter-factual assumption as a working hypothesis. Playing games lets us confront our transience by engaging in activities which, by their very definition, are temporary, have no past and no future, and are temporally and physically detached. This is as close to death as we get.


Small wonder that rituals (a variant of games) typify religious activities. Religion is among the few human disciplines which tackle death head on, sometimes as a centrepiece (consider the symbolic sacrifice of Jesus).




Narcissistic collectives and societies. Five (or more) of the following nine criteria must be met:


1. The group as a whole, or members of the group - acting as such and by virtue of their association and affiliation with the group - feel grandiose and self-important (e.g., they exaggerate the group's achievements and talents to the point of lying, demand to be recognized as superior - simply for belonging to the group and without commensurate achievement)


2. The group as a whole, or members of the group - acting as such and by virtue of their association and affiliation with the group - are obsessed with group fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance, bodily beauty or performance, or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering ideals or political theories


3. The group as a whole, or members of the group - acting as such and by virtue of their association and affiliation with the group - are firmly convinced that the group is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status groups (or institutions)


4. The group as a whole, or members of the group - acting as such and by virtue of their association and affiliation with the group - require excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation - or, failing that, wish to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply)





A courageous and altruistic endeavour by the inimitable Richard Grannon @richard_grannon : this documentary (“Plugged-in”) is financed by him, but made available free on his channel!


Go to Richard's YouTube channel to watch our conversations and some excellent and insightful solo videos he made on this burning topic:


The conversations with me are also available here:


Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars? This video seems to prove the point.


USA Today Magazine reported the findings of a survey of 1000 girls in grades three to twelve conducted by Harris Interactive for "Girls". Roughly half the respondents thought that boys and girls have the same abilities - compared to less than one third of boys. A small majority of the girls felt that "people think we are only interested in love and romance". Somewhat less than two thirds of the girls were told not to brag about things they do well and were expected to spend the bulk of their time on housework and taking care of younger children. Stereotypical thinking had a practical effect: girls who believe that they are as able as boys and face the same opportunities are way more likely to plan to go to college.


But do boys and girls have the same abilities? Absolutely not. Boys are better at spatial orientation and math. Girls are better at emotions and relationships. And do girls face the same opportunities as boys? It would be perplexing if they did, taking into account physiological, cognitive, emotional, and reproductive disparities - not to mention historical and cultural handicaps. It boils down to this politically incorrect statement: girls are not boys and never will be.


Still, there is a long stretch from "girls are not boys" to "girls are inferior to boys" and thence to "girls should be discriminated against or confined". Much separates stereotypes and generalizations from discriminatory practice.





Children psychopaths? Is there such a thing?


Children and adolescents with conduct disorder are budding psychopaths. They repeatedly and deliberately (and joyfully) violate the rights of others and breach age-appropriate social norms and rules. Some of them gleefully hurt and torture people or, more frequently, animals. Others damage property. Yet others habitually deceive, lie, and steal. These behaviors inevitably render them socially, occupationally, and academically dysfunctional. They are poor performers at home, in school, and in the community. As such adolescents grow up, and beyond the age of 18, the diagnosis automatically changes from Conduct Disorder to the Antisocial Personality Disorder.


Children with Conduct Disorder are in denial. They tend to minimize their problems and blame others for their misbehavior and failures. This shifting of guilt justifies, as far as they are concerned, their invariably and pervasively aggressive, bullying, intimidating, and menacing gestures and tantrums. Adolescents with Conduct Disorder are often embroiled in fights, both verbal and physical. They frequently use weapons, purchased or improvised (e.g., broken glass) and they are cruel. Many underage muggers, extortionists, purse-snatchers, rapists, robbers, shoplifters, burglars, arsonists, vandals, and animal torturers are diagnosed with Conduct Disorder.


Conduct Disorder comes in many shapes and forms. Some adolescents are "cerebral" rather than physical. These are likely to act as con-artists, lie their way out of awkward situations, swindle everyone, their parents and teachers included, and forge documents to erase debts or obtain material benefits.


Conduct-disordered children and adolescent find it difficult to abide by any rules and to honor agreements. They regard societal norms as onerous impositions. They stay late at night, run from home, are truant from school, or absent from work without good cause. Some adolescents with Conduct Disorder have been also diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and at least one personality disorder.


Burn the old - in with the young? Is this the way of the world?


Future versus Past Oriented Cultures


Some cultures look to the past – real or imaginary – for inspiration, motivation, sustenance, hope, guidance and direction. Experience and history serve as unerring vade mecums.


These cultures tend to direct their efforts and resources and invest them in what already exists. They are, therefore, bound to be materialistic, figurative, substantive, and earthly.


They are likely to prefer old age to youth, old habits to new, old buildings to modern architecture, etc. This preference of the Elders (a term of veneration) over the Youngsters (a denigrating coinage) typifies them strongly. These cultures are likely to be risk averse.


Other cultures look to the future – always projected – for the same reasons. These cultures invest their efforts and resources in an ephemeral vision, upon the nature or image of which there is no agreement or certainty.


These cultures are, inevitably, more abstract (inhabiting, as they are, the mental space of an eternal Gedankenexperiment), more imaginative, more creative (having to design multiple scenarios just to survive). They are also more likely to have a youth cult: to prefer the young, the new, the revolutionary, the fresh to the old, the habitual, and the predictable. They are risk-centered and risk-assuming cultures.


The Classification of Cultures


Euphemisms and political correctness are pernicious - even lethal - forms of self-censorship and deceit. The Germans referred to the Holocaust as the Final Solution and to the gas chambers as showers. Nuff said.


Consider the murderous practice of Warfare:


The past century started as the great age of euphemism, the simplest form of code, a coarse way to secure power from scrutiny. Thus "War" became "Defence" (the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces), gas chambers became baths and the extermination of people became final solution or cleansing. It was a crude experimentation by the power elites with Man's propensity to deny and repress unpleasant information if provided with a half-plausible alternative. The age of political correctness started with the fin de siecle of the previous century not with the fin de siecle of this one.


It is by no mere chance or coincidence that modern computer systems - actually most modern technology - is a direct result of warfare, war budgets and the evolution or the attempted evolution of weaponry.


Thus, military and civil, offence and defence, war and peace, weapons and machinery, scientist and warrior, artist and warrior, codes and information, denotates and connotates, distant and near, here and there - were blurred beyond re-distinction. An Orwellian newspeak emerged. The overt codes - the ones learned by every kid (language, totems, insignia, behaviour) were all but subsumed by covert codes (ones which require special learning or initiation). It is a stonewalling world, a source of frustration and alienation. It is a narcissistic world in that it harbours no empathy.


People have to learn how to be themselves because if they don't - the world will not recognize them as distinct entities. Becoming became a process of tuition rather than an a-priori, evolutionary unfolding. We decode our lives today, slowly, meticulously, painfully. Power is obtained only by those who master their lives as well as the lives of others.


The Secret Art of Power



When one's sense of self-worth is unstable, a good way to regulate it is by obtaining narcissistic supply (attention, affirmation, adulation, admiration, being feared, or hated). The narcissistic individual acquires a sense of reality and roots and counters his desultory groundlessness and inherent instability by feeding on reactions to his False Self. Thus, the narcissist's gregariousness is instrumental in buttressing his grandiose, fantastic, and inflated self-image and self-esteem.


Still, such behavior is not confined to narcissists. In anomic societies and periods, when institutions are rendered suspect by incompetence, corruption, and insularity, people tend to react by forming mobs and crowds. This mass-gregariousness sustains their sense of identity and aids in the regulation of their perceived self-worth. It is a narcissistic defence against dislocation and alienation.


A prime example of such reaction can be found online. As experts, scholars, institutions, and gatekeepers failed to ride the tigers of modern technology and the new media, users congregated and formed their own social networks and repositories of "knowledge" (mostly culled from raw data and primary sources, as in the case of Wikipedia, the "encyclopaedia" that anyone can edit). In a way, they "crowdsourced" their self-esteem.


Can narcissists have friends?



Four decades ago, the Polish-American-Jewish author, Jerzy Kosinski, wrote the book "Being There". It describes the election to the presidency of the United States of a simpleton, a gardener, whose vapid & trite pronouncements are taken to be sagacious & penetrating insights into human affairs. The "Being There Syndrome" is now manifest throughout the world.


Given a high enough level of frustration, triggered by recurrent, endemic, & systemic failures in all spheres of policy, even the most resilient democracy develops a predilection to "strong men", leaders whose self-confidence, sangfroid, & apparent omniscience all but "guarantee" a change of course for the better.


These are usually people with a thin political resume, having accomplished little prior to their ascendance. They appear to have erupted on the scene from nowhere. They are received as providential messiahs precisely because they are unencumbered with a discernible past &, thus, are ostensibly unburdened by prior affiliations & commitments. Their only duty is to the future. They are a-historical: they have no history & they are above history.


Indeed, it is precisely this apparent lack of a biography that qualifies these leaders to represent & bring about a fantastic & grandiose future. They act as a blank screen upon which the multitudes project their own traits, wishes, personal biographies, needs, & yearnings.


The more these leaders deviate from their initial promises & the more they fail, the dearer they are to the hearts of their constituents: like them, their new-chosen leader is struggling, coping, trying, & failing &, like them, he has his shortcomings & vices. This affinity is endearing & captivating. It helps to form a shared psychosis (follie-a-plusieurs) between ruler & people & fosters the emergence of a hagiography.




Therapy is not always a smooth ride.


Victims of abuse are saddled with emotional baggage which often provokes even in the most experienced therapists reactions of helplessness, rage, fear and guilt.


Countertransference is common: therapists of both genders identify with the victim and resent her for making them feel impotent and inadequate (for instance, in their role as "social protectors"). Reportedly, to fend off anxiety and a sense of vulnerability ("it could have been me, sitting there!"), female therapists involuntarily blame the "spineless" victim and her poor judgement for causing the abuse. Some female therapists concentrate on the victim's childhood (rather than her harrowing present) or accuse her of overreacting.


Male therapists may assume the mantle of the "chivalrous rescuer", the "knight in the shining armour" – thus, inadvertently upholding the victim's view of herself as immature, helpless, in need of protection, vulnerable, weak, and ignorant. The male therapist may be driven to prove to the victim that not all men are "beasts", that there are "good" specimen (like himself). If his (conscious or unconscious) overtures are rejected, the therapist may identify with the abuser and re-victimise or pathologise his patient.


Many therapists tend to overidentify with the victim and rage at the abuser, at the police, and at "the system". They expect the victim to be equally aggressive even as they broadcast to her how powerless, unjustly treated, and discriminated against she is. If she "fails" to externalise aggression and show assertiveness, they feel betrayed and disappointed.


Most therapists react impatiently to the victim's perceived co-dependence, unclear messages, and on-off relationship with her tormentor. Such rejection by the therapist may lead to a premature termination of the therapy, well before the victim learned how to process anger and cope with her low self-esteem and learned helplessness.




Knowledge is Power" goes the old German adage. But power, as any schoolboy knows, always has negative and positive sides to it. Information exhibits the same duality: properly provided, it is a positive power of unequalled strength. Improperly disseminated and presented, it is nothing short of destructive. The management of the structure, content, provision and dissemination of information is, therefore, of paramount importance to a nation, especially if it is in its infancy (as an independent state). Information has four dimensions and five axes of dissemination, some vertical and some horizontal.


The four dimensions are:


A Greek-American conspiracy - to OUST Nikola Gruevski and change the country's name to the "Republic of North Macedonia" - was described in my articles in August 2008-June 2009.


In 2009, I published a book, titled "Macedonia: A Nation at a Crossroads":


On page 6, I refer to an article I published on August 26, 2008.


In that article, I described a secret American-Greek plan to get rid of Gruevski and force Macedonia to accept the name "Republic of North Macedonia"


The article was titled "Greek-American Plan to Resolve Macedonias Name Issue?"


The article was reprinted in many media, including the Greek media and on blogs around the world:


I followed up with article dated June 3, 2009 and titled: "The Republic of North Macedonia and Palestine: Obama Loses Patience with Bush Allies".


Both articles were also included in this document:


Macedonians responsed to my revelations. Example:


"Conspicuous existence" is a form of "conspicuous consumption", in which the consumed commodity is Narcissistic Supply. The narcissist elaborately stage manages his very being. His every movement, his tone of voice, his inflection, his poise, his text and subtext and context are carefully orchestrated to yield the maximum effect and to garner the most attention.


Narcissists appear to be unpleasantly deliberate. They are somehow "wrong", like automata gone awry. They are too human, or too inhuman, or too modest, or too haughty, or too loving, or too cold, or too empathic, or too stony, or too industrious, or too casual, or too enthusiastic, or too indifferent, or too courteous, or too abrasive.


They are excess embodied. They act their part and their acting shows. Their show invariably unravels at the seams under the slightest stress. Their enthusiasm is always manic, their emotional expression unnatural, their body language defies their statements, their statements belie their intentions, their intentions are focused on the one and only drug - securing Narcissistic Supply from other people.


The narcissist authors his life and scripts it. To him, time is the medium upon which he, the narcissist, records the narrative of his recherché biography. He is, therefore, always calculated, as though listening to an inner voice, to a "director", or a "choreographer" of his unfolding history. His speech is tumid. His motion stunted. His emotional palette, a mockery of true countenances.




Abuse has many forms. Expropriating someone's childhood in favour of adult pursuits is one of the subtlest varieties of soul murder.


I never was a child. I was a "wunderkind", the answer to my mother's prayers and intellectual frustration. A human computing machine, a walking-talking encyclopaedia, a curiosity, a circus freak. I was observed by developmental psychologists, interviewed by the media, endured the envy of my peers and their pushy mothers. I constantly clashed with figures of authority because I felt entitled to special treatment, immune to prosecution and superior. It was a narcissist's dream. Abundant Narcissistic Supply - rivers of awe, the aura of glamour, incessant attention, open adulation, country-wide fame and celebrity.


I refused to grow up. In my mind, my tender age was an integral part of the precocious miracle that I became. One looks much less phenomenal and one's exploits and achievements are much less awe-inspiring at the age of 40, I thought. Better stay young forever and thus secure my Narcissistic Supply. Plus, my life is my parents' punishment. Childless, I keep hoping against hope and counterfactually that they care enough to hurt.


So, I wouldn't grow up. I never took out a driver's licence.


I do not have children. I rarely have sex. I never settle down in one place. I reject intimacy. In short: I refrain from adulthood and adult chores. I have no adult skills. I assume no adult responsibilities. I expect indulgence from others. I am petulant and haughtily spoiled. I am capricious, infantile and emotionally labile and immature. In short: I am a 40 years old brat.

(Written in 2001. Continued here: )


Photo taken while investigating organ trafficking in Kosovo, Romania, Turkey, South Africa, and other countries. Later, I took part in an investigation of human trafficking - but that is another story altogether.


kidney fetches $2700 in Turkey and up to $4000 in the Philippines. Another $6,000-12,000 go to various intermediaries. According to the October 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, this is a high price. An Indian or Iraqi kidney enriches its former owner by a mere $1000. Wealthy clients later pay for the rare organ up to $150,000.


CBS News aired, five years ago, a documentary, filmed by Antenna 3 of Spain, in which undercover reporters in Mexico were asked, by a priest acting as a middleman for a doctor, to pay close to 1 million dollars for a single kidney. An auction of a human kidney on eBay in February 2000 drew a bid of $100,000 before the company put a stop to it. Another auction in September 1999 drew $5.7 million - though, probably, merely as a prank.


Organ harvesting operations flourish in Asia (in the Philippines, where it was briefly legal in 2007-8), in Turkey and Iran, in central Europe, mainly in the Czech Republic, and in the Caucasus, mainly in Georgia. Penumbral middlemen and surgeons operate on Turkish, Moldovan, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Romanian, Bosnian, Kosovar, Macedonian, Albanian and assorted east European donors.


They remove kidneys, lungs, pieces of liver, even corneas, bones, tendons, heart valves, skin and other sellable human bits. The organs are kept in cold storage and air lifted to illegal distribution centers in the United States, Germany, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, and other rich, industrialized locales. It gives "brain drain" a new, spine chilling, meaning.


Organ trafficking has become an international trade. It involves Indian, Thai, Philippine, Brazilian, Turkish and Israeli doctors who scour the Balkan and other destitute regions for tissues:


Follow these steps for a surprise!


Go to:


Type "Targets of Revenge" in the search box


In the results page, click on book by Jeffrey S. Stephens.


When the book opens on the screen (at a random page), go to the left of the screen and find a search box with the button Go next to it.


Delete any words that may appear in the search box, type the name Vaknin and press the Go button.


To the right of the screen, you will now see 5 boxes with my name (Vaknin) highlighted in each one of them.


Click on the first box.


A page from the book will fill the screen. Read it.


Once you had finished reading it, go to the top of the page, to the yellow-orange colored navigation bar.


Click on "Next", "Previous", and "View All" to toggle between the pages of the book that contain my name.




Sunday, January 27. Sports Arena Boris Trajkovski, Skopje. 11:00 AM. Join the thousands who already bought tickets to LYCONET SENSATION.


I was invited by the one & only marketing guru and uber-entrepreneur @zoran.vitanov to share some counterintuitive - frankly, shocking - but useful insights about the "Life Cycle of Network: Making Them Thrive and Their Members Prosper". One example from my lecture:


The orthodox prevailing wisdom is that as some critical mass is transcended, the network goes viral. In nature, viral pandemics self-limit and peter out. Similarly, the network declines, decays and collapses if it fails to activate its members.


But, in reality, networks thrive when two conditions are met rigorously: (1) When they generate meaning intrinsically, no matter how outlandish it is (consider religions, scientology, and inane or eccentric cults such as flat Earthers, birthers, or believers in reptilian aliens as the true rulers of humanity). Such self-generated meaning bonds the members and affords them a feeling of “home”, of exclusivity, belonging to a brotherhood, and a narcissistic boost due to their access to arcane or occult knowledge. Networks decay when meaning is imported (extrinsic) or even when it arises as a result of the network’s interactions with other exegetic, nomological, or hermeneutic systems. (2) Networks thrive when they generate value endogenously, by empowering and gratifying their members as they leverage the total resources of the network. Political parties in opposition, social media, and the Freemasons are examples of such networks. Networks decay when they depend on the outside for value creation (exogenous value proposition). Even hybrid networks – such as MLMs (Multi-Level Marketing) - are doomed to fail ultimately.


Thus, the more insulated, self-contained, and self-sufficient the network and its memeplex are as far as generating meaning (goals) and value (benefits, both emotional and economic) – the longer it survives and the more it prospers. Think Facebook.


Is He a Psychopath? Four Red Flags


1. Psychopaths are “too good to be true”. They besiege their interlocutors with a relentless charm offensive, flaunting their accomplishments, skills, talents, brilliance, acuity, and good fortune.


2. Information asymmetry: The psychopath may flood you with unwanted and unwarranted information – and disinformation - about himself while conspicuously being incurious about you. Alternatively, he keeps mum about his life while intrusively “milking” you for the most intimate details of yours.


3. Belaboured normalcy and effortless deviance: Actions that are reflexive, or effortless with normal, healthy people require an inordinate amount of premeditation, concentration, planning, and laborious investment by the psychopath. Acts that normal folk would find abhorrent come naturally and effortlessly to the psychopath.


4. Alloplastic Defenses: The psychopath blames others, the authorities, institutions, or the world at large for his failures, defeats, and mishaps. It is never his fault. He has an external locus of control: his life is ruled from the outside, the collected sad outcomes of injustice, discrimination, and conspiracy.





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