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Munchausen and Munchausen by Proxy Syndromes: Forms of Pathological Narcissism?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/24/2013
Patients afflicted with the Factitious Disorder colloquially known as “Munchausen Syndrome” seek to attract the attention of medical personnel by feigning or by self-inflicting serious illness or injury. “Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome” (Factitious Illness or Disorder by Proxy, or Imposed by Another, or FII – Fabricated or Induced Illness by Carers) involves the patient inducing illness in or causing injury to a dependent (child, old parent) in order to gain, in her capacity as a caretaker, the attention, praise, and sympathy of medical care providers. Both syndromes are forms of shared psychosi...
Psychology of The Lifestyle (Swinging)
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/13/2013
The Lifestyle involves sexual acts performed by more than two participants whether in the same space, or separately. It is also known as “swinging”, “wife-, or spouse-swapping”, “wife-, or spouse-sharing”, “group sex” and, where multiple people interact with a single person, “gangbanging”. Swinging can be soft (engaging in sexual activity with one’s own intimate partner, but in the presence of others), or hard (having sex not with one’s spouse or mate.) Threesomes (mostly male-female-male or MFM) are the most common configuration.
The Death of Traditional Sex in a Unisex World
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/7/2013
Traditional sex – the heady cocktail of lust and emotional bonding - is all but dead. In a culture of casual, almost anonymous hookups, suppressing attendant emerging emotions is the bon ton and women and men drift apart, zerovalent atoms in an ever-shifting, kaleidoscopic world, separated by a yawning expectations gap, their virtual isolation aided and abetted by technologies, collectively misnomered “social media“.
Narcissists, Social Media, and Porn
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/11/2013
Social media, such as Tumblr.com, have become the playground of narcissists, psychopaths, and sadists who post extreme and, at times, illegal porn and revel in the reactions to it, thus garnering vicarious narcissistic supply. Via such postings, they express their rabid misogyny by objectifying women and subjecting them to humiliating subjugation and to aggression bordering on outright violence.
Pretend Warrior Syndrome (PWS)
Sasha Uzunov - 8/30/2013
John Anthony Hines, aged 69, was recently found guilty in an Australian court of falsely acting as a Vietnam War veteran. Characters such as Hines evoke little sympathy from real-life veterans who have faced death or have had mates killed in battle. We tend to view military impostors as being con-men seeking financial gain or suffering from a psychological problem. I would like to offer a third explanation, even though I am not a qualified psychologist, biologist, anthropologist. However, I can only offer observations, anecdotal evidence and material that I have gleaned from the media.
Children of Same-sex Couples
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/2/2013
With same-sex marriage becoming a legal reality throughout the world, and with many benefits from lower taxes to expat health insurance or other key solution being available to gay couples, another issue comes up because many more children are going to be raised by homosexual parents, or even bytransgendered or transsexual ones. How is this going to affect the child’s masculinity or femininity?
The Demigod: Ahab, killed by Moby Dick or his obsession for revenge?
Stone A. Washington - 6/25/2013
Ahab is a strange man who lost his leg to a monstrous whale on his last voyage. Confined to his cabin due to a strange sickness, the captain has been in a savage mood since his encounter with the whale. Ishmael points out that the biblical Ahab was an evil man, but Peleg says that, in his opinion, Ahab is a good man: “He’s a grand, ungodly, godlike man” who is “kind of moody-desperate moody, and savage sometimes.”
Is This Not Child Abuse?
Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye - 6/13/2013
If anyone had told me a few years ago that a time will come in Nigeria when the authorities will approve the teaching of sexual immorality as a subject in junior and secondary schools, I would have thought that the person had lost his mind. But now, before our very eyes, it is happening, and I lack words to describe the shock among many Nigerians!
Letter to Generation Y: Live the Classics
Stone A. Washington - 5/22/2013
Introduction: My father is Professor Ellis Washington, a legal commentator. In his 2011 WND.com article, “Letter to Generation Y” he is trying to help his professor friend, Professor Leonard McCoy’s son, Rashaan Thompson, a member of Gen. Y, to get back on the right track so he can go back to college as a freshman and have a successful career and a beautiful life in the future.
Impulse Control and Narcissistic Fear of Failure
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/28/2013
Many narcissistic defences, traits, and behaviours revolve around the compulsive need to sustain a grandiose self-image of perfection (“perfectionism”).
The Beautiful Mathematical Laws of Physics
Rashidul Bari - 3/28/2013
Women usually love apples, although many holy books, including Genesis and the Quran, prohibited the eating of the apple. So it’s no surprise that my wife, as a woman, loves apples. In fact, she loves apples so much that she never forgets to give me an apple every morning before I leave home. “What makes this so-called fruit of Eden so special?” I asked her once. “An apple a day will keep you away from doctor,” she replied.
Margaret Mead: Prophet of the sexual revolution
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 2/17/2013
Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
The New Matriarchy and the Redundant Male
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 2/10/2013
From the dawn of history to the late 1950s, the collective had been the organizing principle of human affairs. The pursuit of happiness was channelled via collectives and even dissidents and rebels formed collectives to express their grievances. But, this old system brought humanity to the verge of extinction. Disenchanted with mass ideologies, people switched to the opposite pole: militant individualism, which became the new battle cry and organizing principle of increasingly more narcissistic collectives and individuals alike.
Internationalization versus Globalization of Higher Education and Education for Peace
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 2/10/2013
1. Internationalization versus Globalization of Higher Education
People-pleasers and Pathological Charmers
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/30/2013
People-pleasers dread conflicts and wish to avoid them (they are conflict-averse) - hence their need to believe that they are universally liked. Some choose people-pleaser professions and learn how to become a social worker, a counselor or a community organizer. Always pleasant, well-mannered, and civil, the conflict-averse people-pleaser is also evasive and vague, hard to pin down, sometimes obsequious and, generally, a spineless “non-entity”. These qualities are self-defeating as they tend to antagonize people rather than please them.
Once and Future Monogamy
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/2/2013
The ancient institution of monogamous marriage is ill-suited to the exigencies of modern Western civilization. People of both genders live and work longer (which renders monogamy impracticable); travel far and away frequently; and are exposed to tempting romantic alternatives via social networking and in various workplace and social settings.
Thoughts Regarding Our Dystopic Future
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/29/2012
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.
A Progressive Obsession
Jason R. Werbics - 9/29/2012
The most interesting feature to emerge from the Great Economic Collapse of 2008 is not how this event forced people to realize what truly takes precedence in their lives, but more importantly, how the common man and woman have been hoodwinked and lied to by the progressive, manipulated into believing political ideas and slogans that turned out to be false, presented with solutions to today’s problems that have more to do with undercutting the “enlightened freedoms” guaranteed by the American Constitution than moving America toward a tomorrow of prosperity.
Sex - Or Gender? Film Review: "What to Expect When You Are Expecting" (2012)
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/18/2012
Modern pop culture bombards us with gender stereotypes, which by now have become truisms: women are always sensitive, misunderstood, in touch with their emotions and neglected; men are commitment-phobic, confused, narcissistic, hypersexed, and hell-bent on frustrating the opposite number.
The Dynamics of Modern Marriages
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/8/2012
Until recently, couples formed around promises of emotional exclusivity and sexual fidelity, uniqueness in each other’s mind and life, and (more common until the 1940s) virginity. Marriage was also a partnership: economic, or related to childrearing, or companionship. It was based on the partners’ past and background and geared towards a shared future.
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 7/21/2012
Academic Collectivism relies on the claims of “experts” rather than original documents as the standard for truth.
Time-limited Marriage: Solution to Cheating and Divorce?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/10/2012
The ancient institution of monogamous marriage is ill-suited to the exigencies of modern Western civilization. People of both genders live and work longer (which renders monogamy impracticable); travel far and away frequently; and are exposed to thousands of tempting romantic alternatives via social networking. In an age of malignant individualism, bordering on narcissism, men and women alike put themselves, their fantasies, and their needs first, all else – family included – be damned. And with 5 decades of uninterrupted prosperity and feminism/ women’s lib most of the female denizens of the ...
Deconstructionism in modern society
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 6/23/2012
Conservative historian David Barton, in his outstanding new book—“The Jefferson Lies: Exploring the Myths You’ve Always Known About Thomas Jefferson,” has once again presented an opus that shines the light of truth on the lies and propaganda of atheism, progressivism, liberalism, humanism, and secular elites who possess a venal hatred against American exceptionalism.
Cold Empathy and Warm Empathy
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/20/2012
Empathy is comprised of two components:
I. Cold Empathy: an intersubjective agreement as to the mental content (especially emotions) of two or more human subjects;
II. Warm Empathy: the emotional response to Cold Empathy.
Cold Empathy is an act of taxonomy and an attempt to overcome the barriers posed by the inaccessibility of the private languages of the empathee and the empathor. It entails a comparison of the mental states of the subjects, based on introspection and the classification of said mental states within agreed linguistic and cultural...
The Demise of Empathy at Home and in the Family and the Role of Technology
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/4/2012
Empathy is on a precipitous decline in the family and home environments. Technology is partly to blame, but so are other social and economic trends.
The Demise of Empathy in Business and the Workplace
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/3/2012
Empathy is at the foundation of both altruism and collaboration. Thus, while it does consume scarce resources, empathy confers important evolutionary advantages both from the individual’s point of view (cooperation) and from the species’s (altruism.)
IQCRACY: Against Barbarians with iPads
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/23/2012
The survival of the species depends on the establishment of an IQcracy, a Platonian Republic of the Intellect. At the top, serving as leaders and decision-makers, would be people with 150 IQ and higher. A soaring Intelligence Quotient (IQ), by itself, is insufficient, of course. Members of this elite of "philosopher-kings" would also have to be possessed with a high emotional quotient (EQ) and sound mental health.
Parasite singles, boomerang kids, and accordion families
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/21/2012
The Japanese call them “parasite singles”, the Americans “boomerang kids”. Sociologists refer to the “accordion family”: it expands and then contracts as children return to what should have been an “empty nest.” With an anemic jobs market (youth unemployment hovers above 20% throughout the industrial world), extended education, and a culture of rampant individualism (not to say egotistical narcissism), parents are forced to continue to bankroll their children and take care of their needs well into their offspring’s thirties. Infantilism rocks and rules.
The Delegitimization of Torture
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 2/29/2012
Throughout human (and Western) history and well into the 19th century torture was considered in large swathes of the world (and of Europe) to be a legitimate tool of interrogation, intended mainly to prove innocence and weed out the guilty. Torture was socially accepted and condoned. Both Church and state made use of torture habitually. There were manuals about torture techniques and implements. Written codes of conduct regulated minutely the process of torture and clearly demarcated what was allowed and what was impermissible.
Bodily Effects of Torture and Abuse
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/31/2012
There is one place in which one's privacy, intimacy, integrity and inviolability are guaranteed – one's body, a unique temple and a familiar territory of sensa and personal history. The torturer invades, defiles and desecrates this shrine. He does so publicly, deliberately, repeatedly and, often, sadistically and sexually, with undisguised pleasure. Hence the all-pervasive, long-lasting, and, frequently, irreversible effects and outcomes of torture.
A Shawshank Redemption Christmas
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 12/8/2011
I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't wanna know. Some things are best left unsaid… It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away and for the briefest of moments every last man at Shawshank felt free.
Private Education - A Bad Idea?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/2/2011
I am not too impressed with the level of public education. But is private education the solution?
The Democratic Renaissance Springs Forth into its Second Year: A New Era of Enlightenment Emerges
Jason R. Werbics - 12/2/2011
Eyes have been opened. Minds have been freed.
At the time of its publication in the summer of 2010, who could have imagined that the Direct Democracy Ireland manifesto, with its foreshadowing of a Democratic Renaissance, would be the first document of its kind to accurately describe a political and intellectual movement yet to attain substance and form; an aspiration that resided solely in the hearts and minds of millions around the world, brought closer together through technology and social media; an audacity to dream a little dream of freedom, dignity and hope everywhere, emboldened ...
Poverty: a social burden or a challenge to be alleviated
Iqbal Ahmed - 10/27/2011
What is poverty? It points to a cycle of human behavior, suggesting that the poor remain in poverty because of their adaptation to the burden of unfulfilled needs.
Narcissist's Reactions to Deficient, Fake, Negative, Low-grade, or Static Narcissistic Supply
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/9/2011
The narcissist presents to the world a facade of invincibility, equanimity, superiority, skilfulness, cool-headedness, invulnerability, and, in short: indifference.
Darwin’s legal legacy: Justice O.W. Holmes
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 9/1/2011
To Holmes law was simply an embodiment of the ends and purposes of a society at a given point in its history.
Psychopathic Narcissists: The Uncanny Valley of Cold Empathy
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/22/2011
Cold Empathy evokes the concept of “Uncanny Valley”, coined in 1970 by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. Mori suggested that people react positively to androids (humanlike robots) for as long as they differ from real humans in meaningful and discernible ways. But the minute these contraptions come to resemble humans uncannily, though imperfectly, human observers tend to experience repulsion, revulsion, and other negative emotions, including fear.
The Insanity of the Insanity Defense
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/16/2011
By Sam Vaknin
Author of "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"
Aron Levy, who kidnapped, murdered and dismembered 8-year old Leiby Kletzky in Brooklyn now faces a battery of defense-appointed experts in an attempt to plead NGRI (“Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity”). He has a history of “psychiatric disorders” and had been hearing voices, his lawyers claim.
The insanity defense in criminal trials is nothing new. The Babylonian Talmud had this to say 1800 years ago: “It is an ill thing to knock against a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor. He that wounds them is culpable, b...
Letter to Generation Y
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 8/12/2011
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments.
Ron Coody - 7/27/2011
On the front page of the Turkish newspaper I picked up today at the local Istanbul cafe two articles confronted me.
Ann Coulter on [liberal] mob psychology
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 7/21/2011
Laws of logic have no action on crowds.
~ Gustave Le Bon (1896)
But liberals, being a mob, are perfectly capable of holding two completely contradictory ideas in their heads at the same time.
~ Ann Coulter
Leading conservative intellectual and my fellow WND colleague, Ann Coulter has done it again writing yet another #1 New York Times bestselling book, “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America.” In this outstanding book Coulter uses the enduring idée fixe that “Democrats are heirs to the French Revolution, the uprising of a mob. Conservatives are heirs to the Am...
Caylee Calls us to the Crossroads
Ron Coody - 7/13/2011
I've read a little bit in recent days about the case of the death of Caylee Anthony. It's tragic, unbelievably tragic. The court acquitted her mother of murder. What's so unbelievably frustrating and unjust in the matter is that a little girl died and was tossed out. The mother doesn't seem to care. Where is the desperate attempt to locate the person who put duct tape on Caylee's mouth and let her to decay in the woods? Where is the heart-wrenching sense of loss that a normal mother would feel at losing her child? All the mother seems to care about is having gotten off free.
Letter to Generation X
Ellis Washington, J.D. - 7/12/2011
Property, brains and character will settle the question of civil rights.
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/9/2011
"We permit all things to ourselves and that which we call sin in others is experiment for us, for there is no crime to the intellect."
How The Stupid Took Over the World
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/4/2011
The Stupid, the Retarded, and the Moronic are everywhere: among the working classes, of course, but increasingly you can find them displacing the erstwhile elites, spawning hordes of mindless politicians, idiot business tycoons, narcissistic media personalities, vacuous celebrities, illiterate bestselling authors, athletes with far more brawn than brain, repetitious pop singers, and even ignorant academics.
Narcissists and Hotel Maids: The Strauss-Kahn Affair and Beyond
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/20/2011
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the scandal-ridden former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. But, if he did try to rape the hotel maid in New-York in May 2011, his behavior would conform to the type of misconduct common among malignant narcissists.
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/1/2011
The commoditization and commercialization of Time are recent phenomena. Until the advent of the Industrial Revolution, man’s time was at the mercy of Nature and the seasons or surrendered to superiors and masters to be allocated at their will. Serfs and servants, vassals, and clergy were mere cogs in social machines which dictated what they did and, as importantly, when they did it, in accordance with strict long-predetermined schedules.
The West, state multiculturalism and its failure
Abid Mustafa - 4/26/2011
Earlier this year, David Cameron launched a devastating tirade against 30 years of multiculturalism in Britain. He warned that multiculturalism was incubating extremist ideology and directly contributing to home-grown Islamic terrorism. He said,” We have failed to provide a vision of society [to young Muslims] to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values. All this leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless. And the search for something to belong to and believe in can lead them to extremist ideology."
Book Review: Working
Dr. Tony Donaldson - 4/15/2011
Review of Working, edited by Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Jalaini Abu Hassan, Adeline Ooi and Beverly Yong, with photography by Tara Sosrowardoyo. Published by Rogue Art, Kuala Lumpur  MYR120 [US $40]
Dancing as an Evolutionary Strategy
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/3/2011
Dances are thinly disguised simulations of sex acts. But there’s more to dancing than bawdy ribaldry. The sweaty proximity allows the partners to exchange an enormous amount of information about their respective bodies: from joint suppleness, through spatial orientation and coordination, and down to the fine details of their immunological systems (such as the major histocompatibility complex MHC) carried by their body odours. In this sense, dancing aids and abets the forces of natural selection and eugenic breeding. Indeed, in many 16th and 17th century textbooks dancing is grouped with hunting, fighting, wrestling, and running.
The Film "Inception" and its Errors
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/14/2010
In the film "Inception", Dom Cobb, is an "extractor": he steals confidential information by hacking into a subject's brain during a dream and conning the victim into disclosing his secrets. This intellectually-challenging and visually-captivating film makes a series of assumptions, none of which withstands close scrutiny:
The Psychology of Spree Shooters
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/4/2010
Most spree shooters are loners. They are either schizoid (with deficient interpersonal skills) or paranoid and even paranoid-schizophrenic (psychotic, delusional). Their dysfunction is all-pervasive: their family life, career, romantic relationships, professional and material accomplishments are all adversely affected by their mental mayhem. They feel excluded and shunned and are profoundly ashamed of and frustrated with their inadequacies and with their sadistic, self-destructive, suicidal, and self-defeating "inner judge" (inner, introjected "voices" or narrative). This frustration builds up...
Envy as the Foundation of Capitalism
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/17/2010
In the 18th century, the political philosopher and novelist Jean-Jacques Rousseau made a distinction between amour de soi and amour propre. The former involved striking a balance between regard for one's own welfare and well-being and the empathy that one owed and felt towards others. It was another phrase for self-love, self-regard, and self-awareness. The latter - amour proper - was all about grandiose and malignant narcissism, an unseemly conflation of self-gratification and conceited haughtiness, and the insatiable need to be reflected in the gaze of others as the only path to self-knowled...
Public Intellectuals: The Rise of the Librarians and the Decline of the Author
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/14/2010
There are two flavours of public intellectual: librarians and authors.
A Classification of Lies and Confabulations
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/28/2010
A statement constitutes a lie only if at least one of the interlocutors knows it to be untrue, yet insists or assumes that it is true. If all the parties involved in the exchange know that the statement is false or if none of them know whether it is false or true, then it is fiction or an act of faith.
The Wikipedia Cult
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/28/2010
Interview granted to Daniel Tynan, May 2010
Q. When did the cult start?
A. I was involved with both the Wikipedia and its predecessor, the Nupedia. When the Nupedia was shelved and the Wikipedia launched, the first clusters of contributors regarded themselves as knowledge-aficionados, akin to an open-source movement. The Wikipedia did not possess the penetration and clout that it now enjoys. It was a club of gifted amateurs, to use the British expression. But as the Wikipedia expanded and attained its current status and prowess, power-hungry, narcissistic bullies leverag...
Symbol and Essence
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/24/2010
Aborigines in Australia believe that the entire universe is regenerated whenever they chant their songlines (Yiri). This is reminiscent of the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, which postulates that particles – and, really, the entire world – are the outcomes of choices made by observers (the “collapse of the wave function”). The ancient Hebrews – and many orthodox Jews to this very day – swear by the miraculous power of their alphabet and its numerical equivalent (gimatria). The real name of God is so potent that it is never to be uttered lest in wreaks havoc and calamity on the...
Why is Mathematics so Successful?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/16/2010
In earlier epochs, people used myths and religious narratives to encode all knowledge, even of a scientific and technological character. Words and sentences are still widely deployed in many branches of the Humanities, the encroachment of mathematical modeling and statistics notwithstanding. Yet, mathematics reigns supreme and unchallenged in the natural sciences. Why is that? What has catapulted mathematics (as distinct from traditional logic) to this august position within three centuries?
PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist Revised) Test: What's Wrong with Psychological Tests
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/12/2010
The second edition of the PCL-R test, originally designed by the controversial maverick Canadian criminologist Robert Hare in 1980 and again in 1991, contains 20 items designed to rate symptoms which are common among psychopaths in forensic populations (such as prison inmates or child molesters). It is designed to cover the major psychopathic traits and behaviours: callous, selfish, remorseless use of others (Factor 1), chronically unstable and antisocial lifestyle (Factor 2), interpersonal and affective deficits, an impulsive lifestyle and antisocial behaviour.
Why Narcissists Cheat on their Spouses, Commit Adultery and have Extramarital Affairs and Liaisons
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/12/2010
Narcissists cheat on their spouses, commit adultery and have extramarital affairs and liaisons for a variety of reasons which reflect disparate psychodynamic processes:
Paradigm-Shifting vs. Paradigm-sustaining Science
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/7/2010
It is interesting to note that paradigm-shifting work is often produced by non-specialist outsiders, gifted amateurs, and laymen (such as Da Vinci, Steno, Mandel, Freud, and, to some extent, Einstein). As Thomas Kuhn noted, run of the mill scientists are vested and invested in the status quo and normally generate paradigm-sustaining theories and discoveries.
The Age of Stupid
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 2/6/2010
We live in a civilization that glorifies and elevates stupid people. The heroes of the previous centuries were all philosophers, scientists, and authors. Our role models are muscle-bound footballers, empty-headed pop stars, and rapacious, narcissistic businessmen. This dumbing down of Mankind is the culmination of several trends.
Transformations of Aggression
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 2/6/2010
Prone to magical thinking, the narcissist is deeply convinced of the transcendental meaning of his life. He fervently believes in his own uniqueness and "mission". He constantly searches for clues regarding the hidden - though inevitable - meaning of his personal life. The narcissist is forever a "public persona", even when alone, in the confines of his bedroom. His every move, his every act, his every decision and every scribbling is of momentous consequence. The narcissist often documents his life with vigil, for the benefit of future biographers. His every utterance and shred of correspondence are carefully orchestrated as befitting a historical figure of import.
The Body as a Torture Chamber
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/15/2010
There is one place in which one's privacy, intimacy, integrity and inviolability are guaranteed: one's body, a unique temple and a familiar territory of sensa and personal history. The process of chronic disease invades, defiles and desecrates this shrine. It does so publicly, enhancing the sufferer's sense of helplessness and utter humiliation. Hence the all-pervasive, long-lasting, and, frequently, irreversible effects and outcomes of long-term, intractable illness.
The Invention of Telling the Truth
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/14/2010
The extent of confusion that reigns when we discuss the concept of truth is evident in the film "The Invention of Lying". The movie takes place in a world where people are genetically unable to lie. When one of them, presumably an aberrant mutant (his son inherits his newfound ability), stumbles across the art of confabulation, his life is transformed overnight: he becomes rich, a celebrity, and marries the girl of his dreams (who scorned him before).
The Negative Survival Value of Taboos
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/10/2010
Most taboos - especially those appertaining to sex and food - have clear survival value: coprophagia and cannibalism may be fatal and pedophilia and incest can have a deleterious effect on the quality of the gene pool. But taboos are creatures of their time. Their longevity and resistance to rational reappraisal are counter-productive as far as the human species and individuals are concerned.
Dissociative Identity Disorder and the Cycle of Violence
Marina Mazur, Ph.D. candidate - 11/20/2009
Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is one of the most controversial mental disorders. The questions of its etiology and epidemiology are omnipresent in the psychological community. Research concerning the disorderâ€™s connection to aggressive and violent behaviors in society is only in its infantile stages. However, if dissociative identity disorder is accepted as a valid form of mental illness and its causes and treatments are understood, then some types of interpersonal violence and self-destructive behaviors can be recognized, alleviated and eventually cured.
Cyber-celebrity vs. "Real" World Fame
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/31/2009
I know at least ten people whose personal Websites attract as many unique visitors a year as the number of copies sold of Dan Brown's books. Yet, Dan Brown is a global celebrity and they remain largely anonymous. Why is that? Fame is defined as the number of people who have heard about you. If the same number of people learns of your existence online as has heard of Dan Brown, why is it that he is in all the prime time TV talk shows and you are not? What is the difference between cyber-fame and the "real world" variety? Isn't the Internet an integral part of our reality?
The Incorporeal World of "Surrogates"
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/18/2009
In the futuristic sci-fi film "Surrogates" (2009), people stay at home, their nervous system wired to allow them to remote control a robot, their surrogate. The robot and its operator, the human being, are an ontological unity: both share identical, objective experiences. There is one exception: when something bad happens to the robot, its owner is shielded from the consequences by some kind of "firewall", or in-built defense.
The Dethroning of Man in the Western Worldview
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/14/2009
Whatever its faults, religion is anthropocentric while science isn't (though, for public relations considerations, it claims to be). Thus, when the Copernican revolution dethroned Earth and Man as the twin centers of God's Universe it also dispensed with the individual as an organizing principle and exegetic lens. This was only the first step in a long march and it was followed by similar developments in a variety of fields of human knowledge and endeavor.
The Concepts of Boundary and Trace
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/23/2009
The concepts of boundary and trace are intimately intertwined and are both fuzzy. Physical boundaries are often the measurable manifestations of the operation of boundary conditions. They, therefore, have to do with discernible change which, in turn, is inextricably linked to memory: a changed state or entity are always compared to some things (states or entities) that preceded them or that are coterminous and co-spatial with them but different to them. We deduce change by remembering what went before.
Social Values and the Health System
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/4/2009
There are as many health systems and models as there are countries. This is because healthcare is a public good and, thus, reflects the social and cultural values of the societies that design and adopt them.
Narcissistic Injury, Narcissistic Wound, and Narcissistic Scar
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/11/2009
An occasional or circumstantial threat (real or imagined) to the narcissist's grandiose and fantastic self-perception (False Self) as perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, and entitled to special treatment and recognition, regardless of his actual accomplishments (or lack thereof).
A repeated or recurrent identical or similar threat (real or imagined) to the narcissist's grandiose and fantastic self-perception (False Self) as perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, and entitled to special treatment and recognition, regardless of his actual accomp...
Classification of Abusive Behaviors
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/28/2009
Abusive conduct is not a uniform, homogeneous phenomenon. It stems and emanates from multiples sources and manifests in a myriad ways. Following are a few useful distinctions which pertain to abuse and could serve as organizing, taxonomical principles (dimensional typologies) in a kind of matrix.
Twitter: Narcissism or Age-old Communication?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/26/2009
It has become fashionable to castigate Twitter - the microblogging service - as an expression of rampant narcissism. Yet, narcissists are verbose and they do not take kindly to limitations imposed on them by third parties. They feel entitled to special treatment and are rebellious. They are enamored with their own voice. Thus, rather than gratify the average narcissist and provide him or her with narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, affirmation), Twitter is actually liable to cause narcissistic injury.
The Decline of Text and the Re-emergence of the Visual
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/26/2009
YouTube has already replaced Yahoo and will shortly overtake Google as the primary Web search destination among children and teenagers. Its repository of videos - hitherto mere entertainment - is now beginning to also serve as a reference library and a news source. This development seals the fate of text. It is being dethroned as the main vehicle for the delivery of information, insight, and opinion.
True Prophets are Bad Team-players
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/7/2008
Prophets and prognosticators of social, political, and economic trends are often shunned, outcast, mocked, or outright punished. Even when their predictions come true during their own lifetime, they are rarely acknowledged or compensated for the abuse and mistreatment meted out to them throughout their "years in the desert". In stark contradistinction, the originators of scientific theories attain fame and a slew of pecuniary rewards once their theories prevail.
Why Do We Love Pets?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/10/2008
The presence of pets activates in us two primitive psychological defense mechanisms: projection and narcissism.
Parenting as a Moral Obligation
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/21/2008
Do we have a moral obligation to become parents? Some would say: yes. There are three types of arguments to support such a contention:
Common Problems with Psychological Laboratory Tests
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/5/2008
Psychological laboratory tests suffer from a series of common philosophical, methodological, and design problems.
Folie a Plusieurs
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/3/2007
By design, both agents were shrouded in darkness. I could see their silhouettes, the army-like crew cut, the wire-rimmed glasses, the more senior agent's hearing aid. Their hands rested, lifeless and stolid, on the plain wooden conference table that separated us. They were waiting for my response, immobile, patient, pent up aggression in check, heads slightly bowed. The overhead neon lights crackled and fizzled ominously but otherwise the room was soundproof and windowless. I was led there via a bank of elevators and a series of elaborate Escher-like staircases. By now, I was utterly disoriented.
The Adrenaline Junkie
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/15/2007
Narcissistic Supply is exciting. When it is available, the narcissist feels elated, omnipotent, omniscient, handsome, sexy, adventurous, invincible, and irresistible. When it is missing, the narcissist first enters a manic phase of trying to replenish his supply and, if he fails, the narcissist shrivels, withdraws and is reduced to a zombie-like state of numbness.
Narcissism and Addiction
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/3/2007
In our attempt to decipher the human psyche (in itself a mere construct, not an ontological entity), we have come up with two answers:
Understanding everyday concepts – Space and Time
Saberi Roy - 9/16/2007
The nature of space and time has been controversial since the Greek philosophical traditions or even earlier in the eastern mystical tradition. Whereas the Eastern mystics considered space as an immutable platform of the universe in which things ‘arise’, the Greeks including Plato and Aristotle used the concept of ‘space’ synonymous with ‘place’. In the Timeaus, Plato wrote of space as a ‘receptacle’ of anything material. Space, according to Aristotle was a limit of a piece of matter and motion is simply a change of place. The nature of time was also equally problematic because although ‘space...
Dr. Watson and Mr. Hastings
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/15/2007
"Who's the fairest of them all?" – asks the Bad Queen in the fairy tale. Having provided the wrong answer, the mirror is smashed to smithereens. Not a bad allegory for how the narcissist treats his "friends".
The Madness of Playing Games
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/13/2007
If a lone, unkempt, person, standing on a soapbox were to say that he should become the Prime Minister, he would have been diagnosed by a passing psychiatrist as suffering from this or that mental disturbance. But were the same psychiatrist to frequent the same spot and see a crowd of millions saluting the same lonely, shabby figure - what would have his diagnosis been? Surely, different (perhaps of a more political hue).
The Interrupted Self
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/13/2007
In a series of experiments described in articles published in Science in mid 2007, British and Swiss researchers concluded that "their experiments reinforce the idea that the 'self' is closely tied to a 'within-body' position, which is dependent on information from the senses. 'We look at 'self' with regard to spatial characteristics, and maybe they form the basis upon which self-consciousness has evolved'", one of them told the New Scientist ("Out-of-body experiences are 'all in the mind'", NewScientist.com news service, 23 August 2007).
Women and Literacy
Kamala Sarup - 9/13/2007
On 8 September, every year, we celebrate International Literacy Day. According to recent estimates, there are approximately 862 million illiterate people in the world. More than 100 million children lack access to education. Nearly two-thirds of whom are girls.
Addiction to Fame and Celebrity
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/10/2007
Question: Are Narcissists addicted to being famous?
Answer: You bet. This, by far, is their predominant drive. Being famous encompasses a few important functions: it endows the narcissist with power, provides him with a constant Source of Narcissistic Supply (admiration, adoration, approval, awe), and fulfils important Ego functions.
Zoroastrianism: Prosperity and Peace
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 9/9/2007
“Only one Ahura Mazda there is. He is Lord of life and knowledge…He is Supreme and is, epitome of ultimate peace. He is one and only one. Consciousness, Truth, Justice, Reality, Love and Compassion emerge only as per His being. Man should worship Him and may peace be unto man.”
Religion, Science and Social Progress
Saberi Roy - 9/6/2007
Social progress in modern society seems to be completely based on two platforms – science and technological advancement which includes everything from our sense of gravity to the internet to space travel; and religion which has largely shaped modern political and social systems and formed a broader cultural ethos. Even though many countries separate religion from the state and that is necessary at this time, we cannot deny that religions continue to remain the very basis of all political thought. In fact a close analysis of major religious texts of the world shows that all religious texts prop...
The Society of the Spectacle
Aleksandar Dimishkovski - 9/2/2007
"In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation." – Guy Debord
Information Technology at a Crossroads: Interview with Joe Santana and Jim Donovan
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/1/2007
In the wake of the brutal burst of the dotcom bubble, the corporate role of information technology and its purveyors has been at the heart of a heated debate. "Manage IT" is a just-published guide for IT managers, authored by Joe Santana and Jim Donovan.
Morality: A Fundamental Of Civilization?
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 8/27/2007
A review of thousands of years of human history, in which various civilizations raised their flags in different parts of the globe, from time to time, confirms the fact that morality always remained established in human society in both forms, direct as well as indirect. Morality, as one of the strong supplementary value of non-violence, not only existed, rather it functioned as a guide remaining active and dynamic in daily chores of man; and ultimately it called for all-round human welfare and inspired man for this purpose.
Escaping the Malthusian Trap
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/26/2007
In his book, "A Farewell to Alms" (Princeton University Press, 2007), Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, suggests that downward social mobility in England caused the Industrial Revolution in the early years of the 19th century. As the offspring of peasants died off of hunger and disease, the numerous and cosseted descendants of the British upper middle classes took over their jobs.
The Cult of the Amateur, Part 2
Michael Hart - 7/7/2007
When it comes to science names such as Einstein, Newton, Galileo, stand out above all the rest when it comes to understanding those scientific aspects of the universe around us. However, the world did not accept these as scientists at the time when they focused their imagination on things the rest of world's experts would sooner have left unexplored.
The Cult of the Amateur - Part 1
Michael Hart - 7/6/2007
The Titanics of world media crashed, full speed ahead, into these new media options years ago. These people STILL don't realize that half of the world population that will ever buy cell phones already have done so; nor are their realizations of the world view in touch with the effects of such a change from one-way media to two-way media, but are still in shock that the Internet provided media coverage to bloggers that toppled "The Great and Powerful Oz" in the form of Dan Rather, while their news reports tried and failed, to make a fake story about toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein.
Rule of Law, Discrimination, and Morality
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/29/2007
In an article titled "Places Far Away, Places Very near - Mauthausen, the Camps of the Shoah, and the Bystanders" (published in Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck (eds.) - The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed, and the Reexamined - Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1998), the author, Gordon J. Horwitz, describes how the denizens of the picturesque towns surrounding the infaous death camp were drawn into its economic and immoral ambit.
I've Been Thinking...
Michael Hart - 6/15/2007
I was thinking about how a status symbol of today is those cell phones that everyone has clipped onto their belt or purse. I can't afford one, so, I'm wearing my garage door opener. You know, I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people who avoided me just didn't like me.
Is 99.9% of Human Genome The Same?
Iqbal Latif - 6/13/2007
Poverty and human sufffering was a common theme in Harvard University class of 2007. Former president Bill Clinton urged Harvard University's graduating seniors yesterday to serve others in an age of uncertainty. "For all the opportunity, there's a lot of inequality," he told an estimated crowd of 20,000 gathered on one of Harvard's main yards during yesterday's Class Day ceremony. "The world is awash today with political, psychological conflicts, which require us to divide up and demean people." "The world is awash today in political, religious, almost psychological conflicts, which require u...
On The Great Taboo - Sex
Iqbal Latif - 5/18/2007
Sex is the most fragile and perceptive obsession of man. This is a taboo, all and sundry want but no one really wants to talk about it, it remains hidden within our inner being, trapped like a volcano spewing to burst. The need is to indulge into education and knowledge of sex as an integral requirement of our organization and prepare our lives living with the authenticity of sex as essential as food, education and environment. Regular sex drains stresses according to recent studies, where sex is taken as a taboo we find societies restricted with free will and thinking. Sexual abuse becomes ra...
Victim reaction to Abuse by Narcissists and Psychopaths
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/23/2007
Personality disorders are not only all-pervasive, but also diffuse and shape-shifting. It is taxing and emotionally harrowing to watch how a loved one is consumed by these pernicious and largely incurable conditions. Victims adopt varying stances and react in different ways to the inevitable abuse involved in relationships with personality disordered patients.
Empathy and Personality Disorders
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/21/2007
What is Empathy?
Normal people use a variety of abstract concepts and psychological constructs to relate to other persons. Emotions are such modes of inter-relatedness. Narcissists and psychopaths are different. Their "equipment" is lacking. They understand only one language: self-interest. Their inner dialog and private language revolve around the constant measurement of utility. They regard others as mere objects, instruments of gratification, and representations of functions.
Book Review: "Morals for the 21st Century" by John Baines
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/20/2007
Texts written by (often) megalomaniac, self-appointed "teachers", invariably display the same sad attributes. Most blatantly, they contain false pretensions to knowledge. "John Baines" (the pseudonym of a Chilean "contemporary philosopher") pretends to know physics, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, to mention but three disciplines - yet, he doesn't. The "science" in "Morals for the 21st Century" is the most pernicious kind of pseudo-science: replete with citations (usually from speculative pulp pop tomes), honourable sounding Ph.D.s, and inane concoctions, such as "biophotons" and "destructive ...
The Partiality of Wholeness
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/13/2007
Religious people believe in the existence of a supreme being. It has many attributes but two of the most striking are that it seems to both encompass and to pervade everything. Judaic sources are in the habit of saying that we all have a "share of the upper divine soul". Put more formally, we can say that we are both part of a whole and yet permeated by it.
Legitimizing Final Causes
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/5/2007
In his book, Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century, published in 2002, Howard Bloom suggests that all the organisms on the planet contribute to a pool of knowledge and, thus, constitute a "global brain". He further says that different life-forms "strike deals" to modify their "behavior" and traits and thus be of use to each other.
The Manifold of Sense - Part II
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/3/2007
Sense data are entities cyclically defined. Their existence depends upon being sensed by a sensor equipped with senses. Yet, they define the senses to a large extent (imagine trying to define the sense of vision without visuals). Ostensibly, they are entities, though subjective. Allegedly, they possess the properties that we perceive in an external object (if it is there), as it appears to have them. In other words, though the external object is perceived, what we really get in touch with directly, what we apprehend without mediation – are the subjective sensa. What is (probably) perceived is ...
Parapsychology and the Paranormal
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/1/2007
The words "supernatural", "paranormal", and "parapsychology" are prime examples of oxymorons. Nature, by its extended definition, is all-inclusive and all-pervasive. Nothing is outside its orbit and everything that is logically and physically possible is within its purview. If something exists and occurs then, ipso facto, it is normal (or abnormal, but never para or "beyond" the normal). Psychology is the science of human cognition, emotion, and behavior. No human phenomenon evades its remit.
The Manifold of Sense - Part I
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 2/25/2007
"Anthropologists report enormous differences in the ways that different cultures categorize emotions. Some languages, in fact, do not even have a word for emotion. Other languages differ in the number of words they have to name emotions. While English has over 2,000 words to describe emotional categories, there are only 750 such descriptive words in Taiwanese Chinese. One tribal language has only 7 words that could be translated into categories of emotion… the words used to name or describe an emotion can influence what emotion is experienced. For example, Tahitians do not have a word directly...
Affiliation and Morality
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 2/22/2007
The Anglo-Saxon members of the motley "Coalition of the Willing" were proud of their aircraft's and missiles' "surgical" precision. The legal (and moral) imperative to spare the lives of innocent civilians was well observed, they bragged. "Collateral damage" was minimized. They were lucky to have confronted a dilapidated enemy. Precision bombing is expensive, in terms of lives - of fighter pilots. Military planners are well aware that there is a hushed trade-off between civilian and combatant casualties.
Narcissist vs. Psychopath
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 2/21/2007
We all heard the terms "psychopath" or "sociopath". These are the old names for a patient with the Antisocial Personality Disorder (AsPD). It is hard to distinguish narcissists from psychopaths. The latter may simply be a less inhibited and less grandiose form of the former. Indeed, the DSM V Committee is considering to abolish this distinction altogether.
Nature, Aesthetics, Pleasure, and Ethics
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 2/19/2007
The distinction often made between emotions and judgements gives rise to a host of conflicting accounts of morality. Yet, in the same way that the distinction "observer-observed" is false, so is the distinction between emotions and judgements. Emotions contain judgements and judgements are formed by both emotions and the ratio. Emotions are responses to sensa (see "The Manifold of Sense") and inevitably incorporate judgements (and beliefs) about those sensa. Some of these judgements are inherent (the outcome of biological evolution), others cultural, some unconscious, others conscious, and the...
The Definition of Definitions
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/16/2006
The sentence "all cats are black" is evidently untrue even if only one cat in the whole universe were to be white. Thus, the property "being black" cannot form a part of the definition of a cat. The lesson to be learnt is that definitions must be universal. They must apply to all the members of a defined set (the set of "all cats" in our example).
Gender Bias in Diagnosing Personality Disorders
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 10/17/2006
Ever since Freud, more women than men sought therapy. Consequently, terms like "hysteria' are intimately connected to female physiology and alleged female psychology. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the bible of the psychiatric profession) expressly professes gender bias: personality disorders such as Borderline and Histrionic are supposed to be more common among women. but the DSM is rather even-handed: other personality disorders (e.g., the Narcissistic and Antisocial as well as the Schizotypal, Obsessive-Compulsive, Schizoid, and Paranoid) are more prevalent among men.
The Basic Dilemma of the Artist
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/15/2006
"I know of no 'new programme'. Only that art is forever manifesting itself in new forms, since there are forever new personalities-its essence can never alter, I believe. Perhaps I am wrong. But speaking for myself, I know that I have no programme, only the unaccountable longing to grasp what I see and feel, and to find the purest means of _expression for it."
- Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
The Social Impact of Psychopaths and Antisocials
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/13/2006
Is the psychopath, sociopath, and someone with the Antisocial Personality Disorder one and the same? The DSM says "yes". Scholars such as Robert Hare and Theodore Millon beg to differ. The psychopath has antisocial traits for sure but they are coupled with and enhanced by callousness, ruthlessness, extreme lack of empathy, deficient impulse control, deceitfulness, and sadism.
The History of Personality Disorders
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/11/2006
Well into the eighteenth century, the only types of mental illness - then collectively known as "delirium" or "mania" - were depression (melancholy), psychoses, and delusions. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the French psychiatrist Pinel coined the phrase "manie sans delire" (insanity without delusions). He described patients who lacked impulse control, often raged when frustrated, and were prone to outbursts of violence. He noted that such patients were not subject to delusions. He was referring, of course, to psychopaths (subjects with the Antisocial Personality Disorder). Across the ocean, in the United States, Benjamin Rush made similar observations.
Whose Brain Is It Anyway?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 7/7/2006
In "Being John Malkovich", a quintessential loser, an out-of-job puppeteer, is hired by a firm, whose offices are ensconced in a half floor (literally. The ceiling is about a metre high, reminiscent of Taniel's hallucinatory Alice in Wonderland illustrations). By sheer accident, he discovers a tunnel (a "portal", in Internet-age parlance), which sucks its visitors into the mind of the celebrated actor, John Malkovich. The movie is a tongue in cheek discourse of identity, gender and passion in an age of languid promiscuity. It poses all the right metaphysical riddles and presses the viewers' intellectual stimulation buttons.
What is Intuition?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/28/2006
I. The Three Intuitions
IA. Eidetic Intuitions
Intuition is supposed to be a form of direct access. Yet, direct access to what? Does it access directly "intuitions" (abstract objects, akin to numbers or properties - see "Bestowed Existence")? Are intuitions the objects of the mental act of Intuition? Perhaps intuition is the mind's way of interacting directly with Platonic ideals or Phenomenological "essences"? By "directly" I mean without the intellectual mediation of a manipulated symbol system, and without the benefits of inference, observation, experience, or reason.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) - Pros and Cons
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/23/2006
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fourth edition, text revision [American Psychiatric Association. DSM-IV-TR, Washington, 2000] - or the DSM-IV-TR for short - describes Axis II personality disorders as "deeply ingrained, maladaptive, lifelong behavior patterns". But the classificatory model the DSM has been using since 1952 is harshly criticized as woefully inadequate by many scholars and practitioners.
The Construct of Normal Personality
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/22/2006
Personality disorders are dysfunctions of our whole identity, tears in the fabric of who we are. They are all-pervasive because our personality is ubiquitous and permeates each and every one of our mental cells. I just published the first article in this topic titled "What is Personality?". Read it to understand the subtle differences between "personality", "character", and "temperament".
The Cultural Narcissist - Part IV: Lasch in an Age of Diminishing Expectations
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/21/2006
Lasch was a fanatic religious man. He would have rejected this title with vehemence. But he was the worst type: unable to commit himself to the practice while advocating its employment by others. If you asked him why was religion good, he would have waxed on concerning its good result. He said nothing about the inherent nature of religion, its tenets, its view of Mankind's destiny, or anything else of substance. Lasch was a social engineer of the derided Marxist type: if it works, if it molds the masses, if it keeps them "in limits", subservient - use it. Religion worked wonders in this respec...
The Cultural Narcissist - Part II: Lasch in an Age of Diminishing Expectations
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/19/2006
Lasch envisioned a communitarian society, one where men are self made and the State is gradually made redundant. This is a worthy vision and a vision worthy of some other era. Lasch never woke up to the realities of the late 20th century: mass populations concentrated in sprawling metropolitan areas, market failures in the provision of public goods, the gigantic tasks of introducing literacy and good health to vast swathes of the planet, an ever increasing demand for evermore goods and services. Small, self-help communities are not efficient enough to survive - though the ethical aspect is praiseworthy:
The Cultural Narcissist - Part I: Lasch in an Age of Diminishing Expectations
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/18/2006
"The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning in life. Liberated from the superstitions of the past, he doubts even the reality of his own existence. Superficially relaxed and tolerant, he finds little use for dogmas of racial and ethnic purity but at the same time forfeits the security of group loyalties and regards everyone as a rival for the favors conferred by a paternalistic state. His sexual attitudes are permissive rather than puritanical, even though his emancipation from ancient taboos brings him...
The Misanthropic Altruist
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/31/2006
Some narcissists are ostentatiously generous - they donate to charity, lavish gifts on their closest, abundantly provide for their nearest and dearest, and, in general, are open-handed and unstintingly benevolent. How can this be reconciled with the pronounced lack of empathy and with the pernicious self-preoccupation that is so typical of narcissists?
The Pathological Charmer
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/30/2006
The narcissist is confident that people find him irresistible. His unfailing charm is part of his self-imputed omnipotence. This inane conviction is what makes the narcissist a "pathological charmer". The somatic narcissist and the histrionic flaunt their sex appeal, virility or femininity, sexual prowess, musculature, physique, training, or athletic achievements.
The New Dark Ages
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/20/2006
When I was growing up in a slum in Israel, I devoutly believed that knowledge and education will set me free and catapult me from my miserable circumstances into a glamorous world of happy learning. But now, as an adult, I find myself in an alien universe where functional literacy is non-existent even in developed countries, where "culture" means merely sports and music, where science is decried as evil and feared by increasingly hostile and aggressive masses, and where irrationality in all its forms (religiosity, the occult, conspiracy theories) flourishes.
The Complusive Giver
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/18/2006
To all appearances, the compulsive giver is an altruistic, empathic, and caring person. Actually, he or she is a people-pleaser and a codependent. The compulsive giver is trapped in a narrative of his own confabulation: how his nearest and dearest need him because they are poor, young, inexperienced, lacking in intelligence or good looks, and are otherwise inferior to him. Compulsive giving, therefore, involves pathological narcissism.
Why do We Celebrate Birthdays
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 4/10/2006
Why do we celebrate birthdays? What is it that we are toasting? Is it the fact that we have survived another year against many odds? Are we marking the progress we have made, our cumulative achievements and possessions? Is a birthday the _expression of hope sprung eternal to live another year?
Manners of Speech
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/30/2006
Scholars like J. L. Austin and H. P. Grice have suggested novel taxonomies of speech acts and linguistic constructs. The prevailing trend is to classify speech according to nits functions - indicative, interrogative, imperative, expressive, performative, etc.
The Narcissism of Differences Big and Small
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/27/2006
Freud coined the phrase "narcissism of small differences" in a paper titled "The Taboo of Virginity" that he published in 1917. Referring to earlier work by British anthropologist Ernest Crawley, he said that we reserve our most virulent emotions – aggression, hatred, envy – towards those who resemble us the most. We feel threatened not by the Other with whom we have little in common – but by the "nearly-we", who mirror and reflect us.
Narcissism at a Glance
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 1/26/2006
Primary Narcissism, in psychology is a defense mechanism, common in the formative years (6 months to 6 years old). It is intended to shield the infant and toddler from the inevitable hurt and fears involved in the individuation-separation phase of personal development.
The Cult of the Narcissist
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/14/2005
The narcissist is the guru at the centre of a cult. Like other gurus, he demands complete obedience from his flock: his spouse, his offspring, other family members, friends, and colleagues. He feels entitled to adulation and special treatment by his followers. He punishes the wayward and the straying lambs. He enforces discipline, adherence to his teachings, and common goals. The less accomplished he is in reality – the more stringent his mastery and the more pervasive the brainwashing.
Lies People Tell
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/13/2005
All people lie some of the time. They use words to convey their lies while their body language usually gives them away. This is curious. Why did evolution prefer this self defeating strategy? The answer lies in the causes of the phenomenon.
Is Psychology a Science?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/2/2005
All theories - scientific or not - start with a problem. They aim to solve it by proving that what appears to be "problematic" is not. They re-state the conundrum, or introduce new data, new variables, a new classification, or new organizing principles. They incorporate the problem in a larger body of knowledge, or in a conjecture ("solution"). They explain why we thought we had an issue on our hands - and how it can be avoided, vitiated, or resolved.
The Science of Superstitions
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/1/2005
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science."
Nature vs. Mankind
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 12/1/2005
The Second Law of Thermodynamics predicts the gradual energetic decay of physical closed systems ("entropy"). Arguably, the Universe as a whole is precisely such a system.
The Pathology of Love
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/29/2005
Recebts studies buttress the unpalatable truth that falling in love is, in some ways, indistinguishable from a severe pathology. Behavior changes are reminiscent of psychosis and, biochemically speaking, passionate love closely imitates substance abuse. Appearing in the BBC series Body Hits on December 4, Dr. John Marsden, the head of the British National Addiction Center, said that love is addictive, akin to cocaine and speed. Sex is a "booby trap", intended to bind the partners long enough to bond.
The Good Enough Family
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/29/2005
The families of the not too distant past were orientated along four axes. These axes were not mutually exclusive. Some overlapped, all of them enhanced each other.
The Habit of Identity
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/28/2005
In a famous experiment, students were asked to take a lemon home and to get used to it. Three days later, they were able to single out "their" lemon from a pile of rather similar ones. They seemed to have bonded. Is this the true meaning of love, bonding, coupling? Do we simply get used to other human beings, pets, or objects?
Narcissism and Evil
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/11/2005
In his bestselling "People of the Lie", Scott Peck claims that narcissists are evil. Are they?
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 11/11/2005
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1999 edition) defines empathy as: "The ability to imagine oneself in anther's place and understand the other's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. It is a term coined in the early 20th century, equivalent to the German Einfühlung and modelled on "sympathy." The term is used with special (but not exclusive) reference to aesthetic experience. The most obvious example, perhaps, is that of the actor or singer who genuinely feels the part he is performing. With other works of art, a spectator may, by a kind of introjection, feel himself involved in what he observes ...
The Professions of the Narcissist
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 9/1/2005
The narcissist naturally gravitates towards those professions which guarantee the abundant and uninterrupted provision of Narcissistic Supply. He seeks to interact with people from a position of authority, advantage, or superiority. He thus elicits their automatic admiration, adulation, and affirmation – or, failing that, their fear and obedience.
In Defense of Psychoanalysis - Introduction
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/8/2005
No social theory has been more influential and, later, more reviled than psychoanalysis. It burst upon the scene of modern thought, a fresh breath of revolutionary and daring imagination, a Herculean feat of model-construction, and a challenge to established morals and manners. It is now widely considered nothing better than a confabulation, a baseless narrative, a snapshot of Freud's tormented psyche and thwarted 19th century Mitteleuropa middle class prejudices.
The Revolution of Psychoanalysis
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 6/7/2005
Towards the end of the 19th century, the new discipline of psychology became entrenched in both Europe and America. The study of the human mind, hitherto a preserve of philosophers and theologians, became a legitimate subject of scientific (some would say, pseudo-scientific) scrutiny.
The Narcissist, God, and Social Institutions
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 5/27/2005
"1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always lear...
Collective Narcissism - Narcissism, Culture, and Society
Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 3/18/2005
In their book "Personality Disorders in Modern Life", Theodore Millon and Roger Davis state, as a matter of fact, that pathological narcissism was the preserve of "the royal and the wealthy" and that it "seems to have gained prominence only in the late twentieth century". Narcissism, according to them, may be associated with "higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs ... Individuals in less advantaged nations .. are too busy trying (to survive) ... to be arrogant and grandiose".