#163 Narcissism: The Organising Principle of Our Society – Professor Sam Vaknin

Professor Sam Vaknin, the world’s Real foremost leading expert, takes you on a very deep dive into narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder.

I went into this thinking that I was going to learn about a mental health issue, but what I soon began to realise was that this is much bigger than that – to use Sam’s own words ‘narcissism is more than just a mental health issue or a personality disorder; it’s an organising principle of our culture and our society’. It’s a primal drive in all of us that pervades parenting, education, media, social media, politics, governments, all of it.

Sam talks in great detail about the dynamics and mechanics of narcissism. He then goes on to discussing the specific design of social media and the links between its usage and narcissism, which is very chilling indeed.

He then goes on to talk about how narcissism is shaping all of us and why is now becoming the one true religion – a decentralised, networked religion.

Sam finishes with two suggestions of how to navigate the waters ahead.

This isn’t easy listening, but it’s necessary listening if you truly want, and have it in you, to understand the ‘water you swim in’.

Read Full Transcript

Bryn 

So for some time I’ve been drawn to want to know more about narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder, I think for a number of reasons. And also, for me, there was some there something in there about this topic and linked to social media.

 

And so, I decided that I would reach out to the world’s foremost leading expert on this, the grandfather of narcissistic research. Professor Sam Vaknin, who very kindly agreed to come on the podcast this week.

 

I went into this thinking that I was going to learn more about a mental health issue, but what a soon began to realise was that this is bigger than that. This is so much bigger than that. This is, to use Sam’s word, narcissism is more than just a mental health issue or a personality disorder. It’s an organising principle of our culture and our society. It’s a primal drive. That is where this episode just goes………It pervades parenting, education, media, social media, politics, governments, all of it. Once it begins to sink in, it’s pretty huge.

 

In this episode, Sam talks in great detail about the dynamics and mechanics of narcissism so you truly understand that. He then goes into discussing the mechanics of social media and the links between social media and narcissism and that is really quite chilling. He then goes on and this is where it gets, it gets big,  and he then goes on to talk about why narcissism is the one true religion decentralised, networked religion.

 

He then finishes with two key parts. One is an invitation to leave our requirement for answers and the need to answer things and to divert our attention towards focusing on asking better questions. And then the second thing is to consider our own hubris and our own open up to our own humbleness as a human being.

 

This isn’t easy listening. But it’s necessary listening.

 

You can see during the episode just how it sank in for me, and two days later, it’s still doing the same. It’s one of the weightiest podcasts I’ve done, but probably one of the most necessary ones. So enjoy Sam

 

 

Bryn 

Hello and welcome back to WA Real. I’m your host Bryn Edwards. Today I have a great pleasure of talking to Professor Sam Vaknin. Sam, welcome to the show.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Thank you. Pleasure to be here.

 

Bryn 

Thank you. Just for our let’s just for viewers of this. You are over in Macedonia right now.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

I’m in North Macedonia. The name has been changed a while back following a 20 year conflict with Greece. So I’m in North Macedonia,

 

Bryn 

North Macedonia. So for people who may be unaware, you have extensively studied and talked and explained about narcissistic personality disorder, dating back to the 90s with your book, malignant self love You could almost be considered the grandfather of this topic. Is that correct?

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Yes, unfortunately, age wise, I think you’re right. If not wisdom wise,

 

Bryn 

And one of the one of the questions I always like to ask guests, particularly guests, who are such experts in field is, why was it? Why is this so pertinent to you?

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

narcissism?

 

Bryn 

Yes.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Well, I don’t like to dwell on my private life. So I’ll just mention it in passing. I’ve been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve been diagnosed twice with narcissistic personality disorder, and it got through my thick skull the second time. And, and then I said, Well, you know, I need to look into this. And I tried to look into this and to my dismay, consternation and utter shock. There were there was almost nothing about the topic. There was Sigmund Freud coined the term in 1915 that there were a few studies by coot brilliant genius by Kahoot, but within the framework of a bigger concept called self psychology. And then there were snippets of works by Ken Berg and others, but essentially nothing and all of it coming from one school in psychology, which frankly has been somewhat discredited, and is no longer taught in universities and so on. So I was actually in a state of shock. And I said, I will try to I try to represent my inner experiences, and outer interpersonal relationships and interactions with people, social interactions, other I’ll try to I’ll try to describe these. And then I came across the first barrier, there was no language, there was simply no words. Now we know that language words create consciousness, or as my esteemed colleague Jordan Peterson would say, language creativity. Yeah, yeah. And there was no language, there were no words. So I had to invent the whole language. This is the language in use today. About 90% of all the words in use today to describe narcissism were actually invented by me in 1995. But because I’m such a genius, but because I, I, there was no way for me to talk otherwise. Yeah. And, and that’s how it all just how it all started.

 

Bryn 

Right? So many people will be aware of Narcissus, who looks gazes it is a reflection in the mirror and the myth of the story that goes with that. But what is that let’s let’s get to the root of it. So to start off with what is narcissism? What are some of the the mechanics and dynamics around it?

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

As usual, the Greeks have set a table and we are just kind of rehashing First, first notice that in the Greek myth of loss issues, who was a youth in Greece who who was condemned, he was cursed. To fall in love with his own reflection, there was a goddess who cursed him to fall in love with his own flesh. First of all, it’s a curse. Hmm, it’s not a blessing. It’s a curse. It’s a hindrance. It’s a disability. It’s a problem. It’s an indolent illness. There’s no positive word that can be associated with narcissism. It is not like many narcissists, say, an evolutionary advantage, a positive adaptation. It is not like many current scholars suggest high functioning, high functioning adaptation to modern civilization and modern society. It’s rather the other way around. Individual Narcissus have created civilization and society in their own image and render Equally dysfunctional, not the other way. So of course within a dysfunctional within a dysfunctional society, this function pays it paid to be a psychopath in Nazi Germany. It was an adaptive strategy, you know. So that’s the first thing, the curse the element of the curse. The second thing in the Greek myth, the guy falling falls in love with his own reflection. It’s a very important distinction. He does not fall in love with himself. narcissism is not self love. narcissism is the love of your own reflection via the medium and the agency of other people. And here’s the problem, because you want your reflection to be perfect and brilliant and omnipotent and omniscient and godlike and etc, etc. you force people you coerce them, you threatened them you blackmail them you manipulator into providing you with exactly this reflection. And when they deviate from this grandiose, perfect reflection of yourself, you punish them, you abuse them. There’s no tolerance, the zero tolerance agnosticism the sources of narcissistic supply the people surrounding the Narcissus must provide him with only one kind of reflection which he dictates. It’s like the famous joke if I want your opinion and give it to you. It’s about the same thing but I want my reflection over here it is. That’s the second element in the in the myth. And the third element in debates is the youth. narcissism. pathological narcissism is a reaction to early childhood abuse and trauma. Now, there are many scholars nowadays who dispute this. They would say it’s not true, we can find what we did find in clinical settings. Many people diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, who had not gone through who had not experienced childhood abuse? The problem is with the scholars, not with narcissism. So the famous joke with Albert Einstein, when they asked him what happens if the light doesn’t obey what you say what’s in your theory is that when the light has a problem, so it’s the same here, the scholars have a problem, sort of a problem because they define abuse too narrowly. They take into account only classical forms of abuse, like physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological and verbal abuse, etc. Now, these these forms of abuse, of course exist, they’re egregious, they’re horrible, they should be eradicated and countered and everything, all the you know, all the slogans, but they’re actually a tiny minority of the abuse experienced by children. Children much more often are subjected to the second type of abuse, which had been identified by Karen hormones. In the 40s and that is when the child is put on a pedestal. idolised idolise spoiled, pampered. And so the child’s boundaries are breached, they are breached, and he’s not allowed to separate from the parent. He’s not allowed to individually become an individual. And then very often, he is forced to parent defy. He’s forced to actually act as the parent to the parent house and there’s a lot of ambient insistence on so these are these are also forms of abuse and many narcissists. Most narcissists actually go through this route. As children, they can do no wrong. As children, they are no discipline. As children, they are not exposed to reality. As children, they are not able to evolve and grow and develop psychologically, and especially they’re not allowed to become autonomous Separate from the parent individuals, because the parent is in himself or herself in mature and narcissistic, and she wants to merge and fuse with a child forever. She wants to render the child an extension of herself or an elemental construct within our own psyche. So it’s intergenerational immaturity, propagated via abuse, that masquerades, masquerades as love and caring. That’s the most pernicious form your most pernicious form.

 

Bryn 

Because as I listen to you there, you know, what are some of the modern features or features of modern parenting, you know, you can be everything you can do it or put you on a pedestal. You know, we don’t, you know, medals for just participating and things like that is not all Part of this wider definition of abuse that you’re talking about,

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

not only modern parenting, but the modern education system, especially in some countries in the West, I’m alluding to the United States mainly, have taken this form of abuse and re fighted and elevated and rendered it the principle of action, an organising principle, and a hermeneutic principle principles that imbues life with meaning. So today, it’s not uncommon for a teacher to tell the children your own special, and if you only put your mind to it, there’s nothing you cannot do. Magical Thinking. But the logical elements in narcissism and pathological elements generally have become the curriculum and the syllabus and the agenda of the modern family and modern education system. Now if you ask me, which you don’t But I’m gonna ask, anyhow, if you ask me why I’m kidding. I mean, my wry sense of humour, it’s, it’s pretty much

 

Bryn 

it should ask you as well.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

You might as well go take a strong

 

Bryn 

kick and kick it out.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

So, I think in the case of parents, modern per parents, there’s a lot of shame and guilt because modern parents feel guilty and ashamed. Take for example, divorced parents. Yeah, there’s an intolerable load of shame and guilt for having disrupted the family unit and family environment. They’re trying to overcompensate for this, even parents who are still together. monogamy nowadays is under normal stress, normal stress or stresses in multiple and so this vitually not functional relationship left All relationships are subject to friction and dysfunction. And so, in most relationships nowadays last two to three times longer if they survive survive two to three times longer than 100 years ago, which puts them under absolutely torsion in to the breaking point. So children feel this. parents know that children feel this and they try to overcompensate the whole thing is overcompensation. Now if the education system caters to the rising tide of narcissism, in society, societal collective narcissism, right education system, simply, especially the education system in the West, where it’s utterly commercialised and privatised. Even public education systems in the West are essentially commercialised and privatised. So, they are they respond to the to the wishes and the needs of the client? Very similar to social media? No, yeah, everything adopts everything adopts to the collective mindset and there is no question studies by twin studies by Campbell studies by numerous others, there’s no question that our civilization, and especially the younger elements in our population are much more narcissistic. Then Then let’s say in the 1980s, five times more actually, narcissism is the defining psychological moment in the individual and in the collective nowadays. So, obviously, education system adopted. So the politics, so the technology, so the technology, so it showcases we’re getting so big

 

 

this later, but

 

Bryn 

we’ll get into technology and show business and politics like what I’m

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

saying is education is not an exception, everything adopt.

 

 

Yes, please then.

 

Bryn 

And that’s really interesting, because one of the questions I wanted to ask you is because it strikes me that even the word narcissism seems to be more prevalent in the modern daily vernacular. And I wanted to know whether So to use our example here in Western Australia, and people are more scared of sharks in the ocean, because we go looking for them more, because we have more drones and we have things to look out for them because they’re a threat to the beach. So therefore you become more tuned and more aware. And so one of the questions I had for you and you sort of answered that now is is is is narcissism become more prevalent? Because we started to because you created the lexicon and we can now look for it, you know, with with a lot more clarity, or is it a function? Or is it a symptom of a slightly at Well, not slightly, a dysfunctional world unity that we start to live in now.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

As much as I would love to take credit for these mega mega social trends? It would aggrandize me and elevate me make my day. Unfortunately, I cannot. Although the statistics are pretty impressive. The first nine years of the existence of my website, I’ve had 100 and 20 million unique visitors from 190 territories makes me sound like the Coronavirus. I’ve been, it’s like, the message was out there big time. Within the first minute. I mentioned the first nine years because my website and my support groups were the only ones. Yeah, nine years. The second one was in 2004. So for these nine in these nine years, 100 and 20 million people visited the website. It’s a time when the internet was in its infancy in its inception. So you can imagine the impact. And yet, unfortunately, I cannot take credit or debit for what’s happening today. The studies are unequivocal, there is an inherent integral, innate rise in narcissism, especially among the younger generations. Today adolescence is defined 15 to 25. In this age group, there is an explosion of losses. There’s an equal equal explosion of of narcissism above the age of 65. In the population group above the age of 65, an explosion of narcissism entitlement and and commensurate behaviours, for example, infidelity. And there is the baby boomers are an interesting case. Because I think with the baby boomers narcissism was there. But now the fact that we are more sensitive to it renders the more visible is Narcissus. narcissism is really rising among the very young, the very old, these two population groups, there is an interesting factor. These are exactly the two groups where social media prevail. These are the two groups that provide the growth, the engine of growth in social media, up to 25 and over 65 and in this to narcissism is absolutely supernova. There’s No other way to describe it, like five times higher among college students in your licence.

 

Bryn 

So, again, these these are just helping me to clarify. And is there a is there almost a level in these behaviours that is healthy and helps us to function? Or is it just as you said earlier on a curse occurs set of behaviours, cursor to beliefs, cursor personality. Do you understand what I’m asking?

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Well, narcissism like everything else in life is a spectrum of growth. Now the the fathers of psychoanalysis, psycho psychoanalytic psychology and psycho psychodynamic theories and object relations theories, this gigantic group of schools of psychology. the fathers of all these suggested that we all have healthy noses that there is a face ostracism in infancy. It’s called primary narcissism that is indispensable for personal growth and personal development. I will just mention briefly an example or give a taste of why it is indispensable for the baby for the toddler to let go of mommy and explore the world. The baby needs to be grandiose. The baby needs to assess risk incorrectly. The baby needs to feel immune to the consequences of his actions. The baby needs to be impulsive, defiant. In other words, a baby needs to be not only a narcissist, but I would say a psychopathic narcissist. The first act of separation and individuation with a baby when the toddler leaves mommy’s leg and ventures out two metres and then runs back in panic. These two metres of the longest two metres in his life Never mind how often he travels later. These two metres are the longest because they are they are known. They are the terra incognita. They are the fright they are the monster. They are the you know, in to venture out there. You really need to be grandiose you need to feel godlike. Yes. So this is an example of how healthy narcissism helps us to explore the world. Right? Similarly, young, linked intimately healthy narcissism with a process called introversion, as opposed to Freud, Freud said that introversion is a bad thing. Essentially, you’re said look, no way. intervention is a very good thing is when you introvert, when you look inside, you’re able to put together all the disparate elements inside you. And when you put all of them together, when you constantly them, you create the self, that the self is crucially dependent on introversion, and he proved he should he had shown in my view, critical inclusively. That Without Gnosticism introversion would be either lacking or pathological and therefore the self would never constantly. So that’s the second example from another school. The object relations, which is a third school, in object relations, relating to other people is impossible if we didn’t translate relate to ourselves or as as the as we put it colloquially, you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself, you first have to love yourself, in order to love others, you first have to relate to your self as an object. If you want to relate to others as an object because you are the laboratoire you are conducting all the dangerous experiments on yourself, what will happen if I love Will I get hurt? Is it painful? Can I do it to what extent can I do it? What are my boundaries with myself? So, in the initial stage of personal development, there is this state of mind which is very much a question. to multiple personality, where you are your own object of desire, your own erotic object with which to use floydian parlance, your limit or your lifeforce is directed at yourself. Yes, and only then when you feel safe when you discover that everything is okay, nothing, nothing really, really bad happen. Only then do you dare venture out and direct some of this energy to others. So even object relations schools, they clearly say that healthy narcissism is, is a prerequisite. Now, of course, there are schools that say that narcissism in any shape or form is pathological. I strongly disagree. I think there would be no self confidence, low self esteem, no regulation of sense of self worth, no emotional regulation and no mood regulation without narcissism. And I don’t want to transform this into one of my boring lectures. So I will not go into each one of these but there’s a There are a lot of studies and logical pathways leading from one to the other. In general internal regulation, or regulation of the internal space environment critically depends on helping others. And then what happens is, if your narcissism remains infantile, if it remains that narcissism of the six months or six months old, if it remains that narcissism of the two years old, then you’re in trouble. Then you’re a pathological Lawson. Healthy narcissism grows and matures with the others and becomes what Freud called secondary narcissism. So to wrap it up, in a way, I agree with those I strongly disagree with. They say narcissism is bad. Yeah. Any narcissism is better. And I say they are right and they’re wrong. Because other narcissism has nothing whatsoever to do with infant eyeglasses. You might as well call it some other name, self love, maybe. So totally different phenomenon. So it’s the infant style now says yes,

 

Bryn 

turns into because,

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

yes, this occurs, and others. Other scholars have written about it. There’s a famous book called The Peter Pan syndrome. Peter Pan, you know, people refuse to grow up in long before that there was a whole whole group of psychologists and they came up with the concept of where it goes, the eternal adolescent think or put the head yesterday I read, the rest is there in the booklet, a series of letters about the about the poet, Percy bysshe Shelley in Britain, and one of the lettuces, I there’s some problem with this guy with this point, you know, and he strikes me very much like a boy You know, it’s all We all knew about a mature child like people who refuse to grow up. Yes, unhealthy narcissism. Yeah. And

 

Bryn 

I’ve known people who have returned it referred to as Peter Pan.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Yes, Peter Pan’s they refuse to work. Peter Pan explicitly says in the book, I refuse to grow. I don’t want to be another business. So it’s not like it emanates from the book or but he it’s a clear statement of principle. By the way, the Little Prince centric, repealing book, The Little Prince, the Little Prince is very much the same. He extolled the virtues of remaining an eternal child, as he says that other good socks have a point coming to think of is

 

Bryn 

probably onto something. So if so far as an everyday person listening to this, how

 

 

how, how do

 

Bryn 

I Almost like overtly spot or sent a narcissist in my everyday interactions, whether it be in the workplace or within a friend group or something like that.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Up there are numerous, numerous red flags and warning signs. And so I’ll start with the basic thing. gut instinct. Yeah, when you’re with a narcissist, we have documented in several studies a phenomenon called uncanny valley. You feel uncomfortable, and you don’t know why. You can’t you put your finger it’s like something is gone awry. Like this person has been Miss assembled. When went wrong in the assembly line, you know? Yeah, it’s like an off some notice of key. Like there’s some something fake and wrong. And but you can’t put your finger in it. Because the narcissists are adept at putting on a facade of perfection. So you can so this person, you got to If you feel something’s wrong, if it’s something’s fake, you feel this discomfiture. Probably you’re in the presence of a narcissist. Second thing, Narcissus would relapse and remit remission. remission to childlike infotype no childlike infantile states. They would act the adult for six hours. And then there would be a pause or a break in the meeting, and you will, you’ll be witnessing a spoiled child. So they have these flashes of a spoiled brat Spoiled Brat fleshes. The third thing is cognitive deficits. Now I’m going to make the most inane nonsensical statements which would stun you and shock you. I’m not talking about conspiracy theories. For example, conspiracy theories are inane statements, but they’re inane statements founded on some rationality some Some progressions of cause and effect, Narcissus would make utterly Alice in Wonderland in eight statements. And the reason is they lack empathy. They can’t gauge the environment and other people, and they have cognitive deficits. They filter everything to contribute to uphold and buttress their grandiosity and where it doesn’t fit in roughly. The rejigging sort of you know, these are the three I would say that that are maybe a fourth and I’ll let you go. The fourth is Narcissus mistreat people gratuitously. They abuse gratuitously, right? So they would abuse they would abuse the waiter, they would abuse the cabbie. They would abuse the maid they would just abuse for the fun of it. Yeah, and there would be no rhyme or reason to the abuse. It’s not like they’re trying. They’re goal oriented like the psychopath, but they’re just abused. And then they’ll forget about it and they will also be very much at a loss. What had they done wrong? They would then rationalise and justify their behaviour and so so if you see someone mistreating especially service people, mistreating them for no good reason. It’s an excellent, excellent mark of losses. Hmm. And so service people aside

 

Bryn 

and you mentioned that they this concept of narcissist supply and obviously the supply has to come from someone else because they’re not giving it to themselves. And I asked that question did not spend much time by themselves.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Well, let’s let’s correct a few misapprehensions here narcissistic supply was a was a term, a term coined in the 1930s by a psychoanalyst. I took it I appropriated it in good narcissistic fashion, I appropriated it and imbued it with utterly new content. So today’s narcissistic supply is my work, but in issue I owe the credit to this guy. So, and the second second amendment narcissists are capable of providing themselves with supply. Of course they are, they have they have whole routines in a dialogue in a monologue and so on so forth, readymade to supply themselves. So, for example, memories, they they recall their moments of glory and victory and triumph, or they they would construct situations, which would aggrandize them all by themselves. So, actually, Narcissus spend a lot of time alone. They have a prolonged scissoring streak. And the reason they spend a lot of time alone is because they’re trying to avoid narcissistic injuries. And an even worse phase of narcissistic injury called narcissistic modification, as this is a modification can be life threatening, very dangerous situation where All the law says defences crumble and he’s skinless. And he’s triggered and traumatised to such an extreme extent that he can become psychotic, lose it or he can even take his own life or or so it’s very very so to avoid to avoid the triggers that might bring on narcissistic injury and mortification. Narcissus very often withdraw from life from society from sources of supply and sort of gather force, when they use this time to construct a new scheme a new strategy for obtaining narcissistic supply. So they may go into hibernation as an economist and emerge from hibernation as a philosopher. They think Oh no, I can get supply as a philosopher. So I mean, the hell with not with economy economics, so they also they also use these periods to scout for alternative sources of supply grown grown the sources of supplying by a love bombing and other techniques and bring the sources of supply into their lives. sources of supply are people simply people and sources of supply. If several critical functions the most critical of which is what I call secondary narcissistic supply, secondary narcissistic supply is very simple. The source of supply has to memorise, it’s like an external hard disk, external memory. She has to memorise all the moments of glory, victory and triumph of the Narcissus and recount these moments to him when he’s down on supply. So the main role or main role is to regulate the flow of supply. When he’s down, she floods him with supply. When he’s up, he doesn’t need her. And when he’s up, he tends to ignore the source of supply. He neglect sir He Abundance airy. But then he runs short. He runs low runs deficient on supply, and suddenly she’s the love of his life. And her role then, is to remind him, How great is how omnipotent omniscient, how he Beatrice is. So he she regulates the supply?

 

Bryn 

Is there any particular characteristics of the people that they draw from?

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

No, that’s another myth online, unfortunately, online. Something like 90% of the information is misinformation. And that includes information preferred by people with academic degrees, who discovered that they are experts a lot. This isn’t because there’s a lot of money. I am very, very, very, very aggravated by the onslaught of charlatans crooks, con artists, including ones with very, very high academic degrees, no integrity, and many of these people have published nothing In the field of loss, never studied narcissism never researched narcissism. Never were involved with narcissism. And yet, from one morning to the next, they had become a leading expert on narcissism. And they spew out in ordinate amounts of nonsense, misleading, misleading nonsense. So is a phrase that gets bandied around

 

Bryn 

a lot nowadays,

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

what? Not just if there’s money in it, it’s a cottage industry, there’s money. So it attracts unscrupulous, unscrupulous people. So style cultures, victims become cultures, dogs become victims become coaches, and academics, who suddenly realise they can make a lot of money by lying and pretending to be experts. It’s a very

 

Bryn 

Tell me a failure about coaches because it strikes me that there’s an absolute proliferation of people who want to Help. And whilst on one level. You know, we all want to help our fellow citizens and neighbours and brothers and sisters, etc, etc, turning into a bigger and bigger industry and there’s something about it to go back to your first warning sign. There’s something about it for me personally, that just

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

feels a bit awkward. One cannot and should not of course, generalise. They’re authentic. They’re authentic people. But unfortunately, and no one knows the scene as well as I do in one way if you wish I had created the scene. So I would say with full responsibility, that nine out of 10 nine out of 10 out for the money and of this, perhaps half have no idea what they’re talking about. And this is pretty unique to the scene of narcissism. If, for example, you compared the scene of borderline personality disorder, there’s a lot more substance and a lot more scholarship. And it’s a lot, a lot better founded. And these people refer to literature a lot more often. Yeah. So you have giant forums of people with borderline personality disorder, the families and so forth with a million members. For example, on Reddit, the forum on Reddit is about a million members. And so, yeah, and these people, I go through the threads, and I’m not welcome there, because my view of borderline is very deep. So it’s not that they’re my friends. So to begin, I’m absolutely not welcome. And yet, I appreciate them. Because they often quote articles and I mean, they they’re serious. Yet, in Gnosticism, you’ll find people with doctorates with PhDs making stupid, stupid videos like the dark glare in the Narcissus is how the mouse’s eyes become metallic when it makes you or seven ways. Save these seven words and demolish the narcissist or how to take revenge. These are people with PhDs, Shame on them. Shame on these people because they are disgrace, a disgrace to the profession. The absolute charlatans, dilettantes and con artists, I have no other way to describe this. Most of them never read a single paper or book on laughter. They conflate and confuse terms they use failed narcissism instead of collapse loss, for example, many of them which is a prime indicator that you had never read anything about narcissism. You know, it’s Really bad. It’s assessable out there. And it’s assessable out there for one reason. When you study borderline, you’re studying a mental health phenomenon. It’s limited to this. The illness and its effect on the sick on the patient, no, the patient’s human environment, his family, his workplace, etc. That’s borderline bipolar, the same schizophrenia the same. narcissism is not only a mental health issue, it’s an organising principle of society and culture. It it, it makes it imbues our existence with sense and meaning. It serves to interpret political moves. So people characterise Donald Trump as a narcissist, and that explains a lot of his behaviour and decisions. We are no longer talking about mental illness therefore Talking about a political tool. Bloomberg. Bloomberg when he became a political candidate, he hired a self styled expert on narcissism to understand Donald Trump. I was approached by the Biden campaign to become their advisor, for example. So Narcissus, narcissism has permeated permeated other areas which have nothing to do with mental health and which are very lucrative. For example, there are people who advise Hollywood on narcissistic characters in movies. There are people who advise political parties, on their opponents and adversaries. There are people who participate in designing or redesigning the education system to reduce narcissism. narcissism is everywhere. narcissism is an organising principle of society and culture and modern civilization. And it is an excellent mandatory principle it makes life meaningful and full of sense. And that’s, that’s why it’s contaminated in adultery, the money, it corrupted everyone in this because you open a channel, a YouTube channel to help victims. And before you know it, you’re inundated with offers to give lectures and seminars to groups which are not victims whose members are not victims, but for example, political operatives, or education professionals or healthcare professionals. I participate in numerous international conferences, which have nothing to do with narcissism or even psychology, but they want to hear my view about narcissism because it affects their profession. This is the issue. No one. No one invites an expert on borderline personality disorder to advise the Democratic Party In United States, no, this will never happen. And such a contract could easily be half a million to a million dollars. So a lot of money here, sloshing around money corrupts.

 

Bryn 

Wow, the pervasiveness into the culture that you’ve just

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

demonstrated, but that answer is somewhat chilling. It is chilling because it brings into the game. People who not only have no idea what they’re talking about, but they are in in many respects psychopaths. Even if they are not psychopaths, clinically, they behave empty socially psychopathically because To start with, they know they don’t know anything. I have correspondence with one of the leading luminaries of narcissism, online, correspondence, writing in writing, you’re telling me because we used to be friends, that and it’s not written before Anyone begins to speculate. Richard is actually one of the good guys. Richard does a lot of research before he says anything. It’s someone else. And I have a letter from this guy telling me I have no idea of narcissism. I never heard, but there’s a lot of money in it. Tomorrow, I’m going to open a YouTube channel and declare myself an expert on loss. It’s an academic. I have a letter. I mean, I’m not speckling. So it’s really bad out there. It’s either trucks or even normal people become psychopathic, because they become goal oriented. They become antisocial. They lie, they cheat, they call. It’s tempting. It’s seductive. Not only the money, but the power because you have you have a channel with 300,000 500,000 suddenly you are someone your celebrity you’re, I mean, if you read Jordan Peterson Book, Peterson’s book. There’s about four pages if I counted correctly, detailing in in, in intricate minutiae how he rose to stardom on the internet, Quora, and he gives numbers on this on this date on YouTube, I hit 18 million views on this in this date 7000 people have voted my core oppose of this. This men is aggrandize and elevated and inflated by his newfound celebrity, having been an obscure middle of the road or even Low, low end of the road, academic who contributed very, very next to nothing to his field. Although he made a few contributions. I’m quoting him by the way, I’m quoting him in mind, but he was not you know, he was not Sigmund Freud. He was one of the middle character but suddenly YouTube Making a celebrity is difficult it’s it’s difficult to resist, difficult to resist. I also have 10s of millions of views on my channel. And I’m a narcissist. I should have been the guy who is doing this. I should have I should have been the one telling the victims Yes, your victims and your abuser is horrible. I should have been the one compromising the truth, my truth in order to become popular. I never did this. I never did this. I’m now in the midst of a campaign. attacking a nonsensical new word empath. And empaths are a very, very big, vociferous, vicious group of people. You don’t take on the empaths unless you are truly committed to the truth. I am committed

 

Bryn 

what he described what are empaths just so we’re clear.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

empaths are self styled self aggrandizing Self declared victims of narcissistic abuse and they claimed that they had fallen victim to narcissistic abuse because they are wonderful kind in alternately mice and empathic people but in ordinarily is the key word. Yes. It’s not like saying listen, I was a nice guy and a kind guy and I was taking advantage of that okay, what happens often Of course, narcissistic narcissistic abuse is founded on exploitation and abuse and and spotting your vulnerabilities and homing in on the chinks in your armour and all this is okay. They’re not saying this. They’re saying we are unusually an exceptionally an inordinately an amazingly nice and kind. That’s why they don’t realise they have such zero self awareness. They don’t realise this is a grandiose narcissistic statement. When you use the words amazingly excited Additionally, in order you are a grandiose narcissist. These people, in all likelihood are covert Narcissus, who have been outlasted, sorry. By overt Narcissus, they definitely behave like covert Narcissus. If you go to their forums, they’re officious they’re sniping. They’re passive aggressive. They are aggressive. They are. They’re horrible people. I’m sorry to say this is a collective, absolutely horrible people. And so I’m, I’m on a crusade against these people. Because, you know, of course, needless to say that empathy is not a word we use in a khadeem has no clinical meaning. It’s a totally nonsensical word because every single individual on the planet has empathy. Even narcissists and psychopaths have empathy, which was recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, edition five, the latest edition. The only difference is the narcissist empathy, the psychopaths Don’t have an emotional resonance element. The narcissist looks at you, he analyses you. He spots your vulnerabilities and weaknesses and frailties and shortcomings and insecurities. And then he leverages them to obtain supply. The psychopath does the same. And he leverages this newfound information. These are the results of this scan, MRI, mental MRI scan. psychopath uses this to secure goals like sex money, take your money, take your wife take something. So there is glory. But stop stop to think for a second. Is it possible for me to call you to cheat you to deceive you to abuse you. If I have zero empathy, of course not. I need empathy to understand you. I need a modicum of empathy to realise What makes you tick, to reverse engineer you to take over you to body snatch you to brainwash you. I need everything. What happens is this. The narcissist and the psychopath have as much empathy as any empath, perhaps even more, mind you, but but it stops there. They scan you, that gathers information and it has zero emotional rhythms. If a psychopath sees you crying on screen, he says your crime will tell, he will tell Himself, He will say to himself, this guy’s crying. So therefore, he said, Well, that is called cognitive empathy, cognitive empathy, analytical empathy. called I call it called empathy. He was he was, this guy’s crying, he said, so normal person, a healthy person would say, this guy is crying. He said, it makes me sad. I want him to not cry. I want him to stop crying. I will tell him everything will be okay coolly. I know how you feel. You make me feel sad. Please stop. You know that’s a healthy person. a psychopath would say, Great. This guy is crying this vulnerable is weak. Now what can I take from him? You know? So or if you want a more vulgar, vulgar example, a psychopath who pick up a woman and go with her to a bar, get her drunk. And then he wouldn’t say, Well, she’s drunk, and I shouldn’t take advantage of her or something. But it was a great, she’s drunk. She must be disinhibited. I cannot have sex. Yeah, it’s gone already. That’s the only difference but empathy is there. Huh? Everyone has empathy. That’s why the term empathy is idiotic, nonsensical, empty, clinically meaningless. So

 

Bryn 

thoroughly deep dived into narcissism and, you know, going right back to start USA in the first place. component of the original story is about the reflection and falling in love with the reflection. I now understand why social media in and of itself can be such a breeding ground for this because it doesn’t it doesn’t take a colleague or a Sigmund Freud to work out that and what I put online is what I want people to like click Share, I think I think I saw a video of yours where you mentioned you know, the number of selfies I mean selfies only just recently become a world but the number of selfies of the our posts isn’t like you know, 70 80% and in that act in and of itself, I’m going to take a picture of myself and then put that out of there.

 

 

It’s now

 

Bryn 

a lot of pennies are dropping for me. I’ve always called cognitively got this I guess I’m now sort of feeling it is that social media is a real breeding ground for this. And it’s Let me ask question is it specifically designed for this? Or is it become a byproduct or is it in a No, no, that’s probably a rabbit hole

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

which was run on I made a documentary called plugged in. And it got it garnered millions of views. It’s a touch touched a raw nerve. And in that documentary, based on on research beforehand, I made the statement that social media were designed to obtain all these nefarious and pernicious manipulative outcomes. This is supported by numerous testimonies by engineers who were involved in the design of Facebook in the design of Google including chief engineers, the engineers who set the strategic goals in the design templates. So chief engineer of Google does a testimony online, you can go and watch. Chief Engineer of Facebook x format, I’m sorry, former chief engine, former chief engineer official openly says we designed it to condition people to get them addicted as possible. But you see, when you’re not sure about something, follow the money and follow your common sense. Follow the common sense. Social media make money by keeping you glued to the screen. They monetize your eyeballs. This is not to make money. They don’t charge you anything. It’s they monetize your eyeballs. They need your eyeballs to remain stuck on the screen. So this implies two things. Number one, they will they will have designed their platforms to keep your eyeballs glued to the screen stands to reason you don’t need to be a genius analyst or have insider information. It stands to reason Number two, everything else outside the screen is the mortal enemy of the social media. So your wife is the mortal enemy of the social media, your children of the mortal adversary of Facebook. Facebook, hates your wife and hates your children and hates your friends and detest your community. Facebook does not want you to do anything else. Except gaze at the screen as it is advertisers scroll there, whereas in total, and if you break this gaze for a minute, because your daughter came to hug you, Facebook hates your daughter, because she just took away from Facebook, half $1 Yeah, she took money from Zuckerberg pocket your daughter when you bought her, so they will try to discourage you from being so That’s the irony in social media and social media. These are a social media. These are media intended to encourage you to become solipsistic, autistic sqillzer, avoidant, socially shy, because their business model depends on isolating. Where else do we find this kind of approach with narcissism, psychopaths, narcissists and psychopaths groom groom their victims by socially isolating them. They remove the social safety nets that victims have. They cut off the victims access to her family. They then alienate the victim from her friends. They isolate her and isolate her until she becomes 100,000,000% dependent on a single source of sustenance in feedback, the narcissist grooming is another name for isolation. Social media are grooming you. They are teaching you, they’re conditioning you to self isolate. We have all been self isolating long before the virus. Indeed, in that interview, I say something very chilling. It’s public record is something very true. I think social media, I like viruses. And the best thing that can happen to them is if a real virus were to come along, I’m saying this under the interview. Yeah. It’s it’s prophetic almost. I’m not giving myself compliments, but it’s, it stands to reason. Who made who made money during this pandemic, I guess, social media. digital platforms like Amazon, are also dependent on your attention. These are Attention merchants and they are converting you enter into an attention whore. Now they’re doing this using a series of extremely sophisticated, and I have not doubt that they’ve had been advised by unscrupulous psychologists that some of my fraternity had collaborated with designing this. And they are using essentially several, several tools but I’m focused on one because time is shorter. I want to monopolise. So, and it’s called relative position. relative positioning is when you keep comparing yourself to others. This provokes of illogical envy. provokes anxiety, provokes depression. If you’re failing. Anxiety and depression. Create a loop. You’re trying to reduce an ameliorating anxiety depression in the social media. Social media and common sense listen guy, you’re depressed, you’re anxious all you have to do, all you have to do is put another post, make another video, you know, then you get 2000 likes then you will not be depressed and anxious. But here’s the problem with social media the self defeat the self destructive element in self detonating element in social media. They constructed the platform to be a relative positioning platform and to create operant conditioning, not addiction. It’s a big mistake. People are confusing the two addictions you can break. addictions you can break any smoker will tell you this, any alcoholic will tell you this addictions you can break operant conditioning you cannot break. Any dog will tell you that at least the dogs that participated in Buffalo’s experiments, yes, you cannot break operant conditioning. So they they conditioned you and they conditioned you to self medicate. self medicate with a platform to reduce the very anxiety and depression that they are inducing in you. And they are inducing it in you by creating endless comparisons with others in a variety of ways, numerous dozens of ways. Now, here’s the problem. And here’s the self detonating self destructive element. You are comparing yourself, not only to other people, but to your previous self. Let me explain. Yesterday you made a post, you receive 200 likes. Today you’re making a post, you received 100 likes, you feel bad. You have the person. Sorry, your lesson. This is relative positioning with your previous selves, not only with other people, had you been the only user on the platform, you would still be anxious and depressed. And you’ve been the single user in the bubble because you would be compelled to compare yourself to your previous performance. So, this is not only operant conditioning, this is self This is improvised explosive device love that you cannot escape the negative mental health consequences because even if the platform tomorrow, even if they were to become virtues and remove all the all the you know, comparison or relative positioning tools like likes, even if they were to humanise the platform and converted really to a social interaction tool, which is very easy to do. There were social media before social media, for example, IRC, IRC or M IRC. And of course, there were less support groups. I mean, there were many other forms of social media before social media, and they had nothing to do with relative positioning. They were really about communication. It’s very easy, extremely easy to take Facebook and convert it into the gigantic dialogue. Perform the universe, yet a force for good. If they were to do this tomorrow, it’s too late. Because you are already comparing yourself to yourself, they have conditioned you to compare yourself to yourself. And this, this has permeated and penetrated the real world. As we no longer make a distinction between the virtual and the digital, digital, and the real cyberspace is the only space. So now in the real world, we are doing exactly the same. We are conditioned to never be happy. Now there’s one mental health condition that has this feature called narcissism. In narcissism, the narcissist is never happy, because his expectations of himself, not of others of himself, are so inflated. so fantastic. So unrealistic. So grandiose. perfectionist that he can never make it. He is never happy because he never approves of himself. And he never approves of himself and of his accomplishments, because his expectations are fantastic. Social media is converting all of us to Narcissus. teaching us to develop self expectations, which can never be satisfied. Today you have 200 likes tomorrow, you need 300 it’s like drugs, exactly the same mechanism of drugs. Tomorrow, you need 300 if you don’t get 300, you’re depressed and anxious and compelled to self medicate and reduce the anxiety by posting another post and that post gets 150 likes, a situation becomes much worse. There has been an absolute supernova of depression and anxiety disorders among people under the age of 25. And among people above the age of six You find these are the two groups who have been using social media, and scholars like Twenge, Campbell and others. Wait, they studied the question whether there is any other factor that can explain this explosion in depression and anxiety. And they found none. Only one screen time, screen time and within screen time, the main component was social media. Social media and screen exposure to screens make us all mentally ill by fostering the equivalent of narcissism and buy in enhance the exploding rates of depression and anxiety. Now imagine what’s happening in this pandemic. People are cut off reality cut off the familiar cut off their habits and cut off all the support networks. They’re heavily dependent on social media, which are constructed to induce not to reduce to induce depression and anxiety. As you can imagine, in a study about six weeks ago, 34%, three 4% of the other population of the United States were found to have developed new depressive and anxiety disorders. You wanted to publish population of course, the longer the slumps, and the more we are dependent on social media, by the end all of us will be depressed and these are machines for creating depression, anxiety, and narcissism. I heard that. Yeah.

 

Bryn 

That’s me being open and honest about letting that sink in. I mean, I just the thought of that is chilling in the fact that blocker absolutely blocker healing is a world I’ve used several times now here. And the fact that it’s just trickling in and trickling in And trickling in and you don’t like I’m 45 I, I like to I probably foolishly or not like to pride myself on the fact that I’m Facebook didn’t turn up until I was in my life till 30. So I still can see the difference between a friend on Facebook and what a real friend actually is for those younger than me, and, and then and now listening to you, you know for those younger than me the who is swimming in the pool swimming in the pool where it’s already there when they turn up into life. And also, yeah, those older than me who may be less critical thinking and more, you know, why would this be a bad thing? I bow down to authority. And you can see how it is just scary. Just taking a moment as this will sinks in if I’m gonna be honest

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

it’s a it’s probably because people are comparing social media to knives or guns. So everything can be abused. You can cooperate, or you can kill someone you have a gun is a gun you can kill, you can kill for food or you can kill. So the thing everything is jewel use. Everything is an evil side and a good side. So the case with social media, it’s the wrong comparison. Social media were designed to be evil only. They were not designed to have jewel use to be good and to be evil, so that you can make a choice. I’m going to use it only in a good way. Like I’m going to use a knife or D to cut bread. I will never use it to kill someone. It’s a choice. With every object. There is an implicit choice of use and abuse, not with social media. Social media has taken away that if taken In a way, the choice for you. By the way, when you use social media, you see how little choice you have made dictate to you everything. You cannot customise anything. It’s all dictated it’s authoritarianism. If you talk about political culture, it’s a dictatorship. Absolute dictators, including no rampant censorship. Yeah, it’s a totally authoritarian framework. Ask yourself, the generations that have grown on social media and are used to being dictated to you will communicate only this way, you are allowed to do only this. You are not allowed to do this. You are not allowed to use these words. You are not allowed to pause, like a generation that grew up. How can they sustain democracy? How can they sustain one concept of choice do they hear? There’s a big brother in California, and he tells them what to think what to say what to do. As long as they confine themselves to cats and cakes. It’s okay. But the minute the try to exercise critical thinking, express opinions and so they’re in trouble. Their accounts could be deleted. It’s a massive punishment in today’s world if your account is deleted, I’ve had my Instagram account deleted. I have had my page on Donald Trump deleted a page which contained only only works by scholars on electronic academics. I didn’t post conspiracy theory or any such nonsense, I’m dead set against these things. And yet the page was deleted. My YouTube videos have been taken down including utterly innocent YouTube videos on on virology epidemiology and so on. I’ve medical education so In addition to everything as medical education, I’m qualified to make this video so yeah, I mean, it’s a so you, you you grow up to obey. It’s a foot police. This is 1984 Joe well, police book has got a different Yeah, it’s all there. It’s just, I think even with the censorship, the thing that the thing that scares me

 

Bryn 

and as well as the, the more the more with the censorship and the more the the lack of ability to express yourself whether it’s the good parts or the bad parts or whatever the the fact that we start we potentially will start to identify with this perfect reflection of ourself and try to aspire to that all the time means that we detract from actually what it means to be human which means you know, there’s good days and bad days and and that You know, as somebody who found his life like this during the end of the 30s and into the 40s, in what at first it was a midlife realignment, and that was coming to terms with, with, you know, with my shadow and I found myself reading a lot of Carl Jung and appreciating that I’d spent all my life individuating myself by saying I am this but not that I’m this but not that and then all of a sudden all those knots, which had been shoved down decided that they wanted to come up and they wanted some air time. And they were all the bits I didn’t really like about myself as I reached the peak of my individual, you know, what I refer to as the peak of my individual power, the latter 30s and I feel like that’s as far as you can sort of go before the shadow comes in. And, and there’s just no space for that in this, you. Your whole attention is focused on a perfect reflection, and then anything that that starts to question the narrative, sense it so you can’t explore you can’t delve into yourself, you don’t even acknowledge some of the darker, the dark because the lights not shone on them they’re not dark because they’re bad. And, and so we’re going to end up I mean, I remember what I was like at the age of sort of DSM 38 is blue out. And I wonder whether, you know, some of it was from being in a boys boarding school, but, you know, whilst it was untidy, it was the most healthy and cathartic part of my life. And it was it helped me to be in touch with the human. Now, if I extrapolate my experience, one which I embodied and, and just put some of those elements out there, there’s going to be a lot of bundled up and screwed up people. The way this continues, you know, I hear your part about the, the the operant conditioning of narcissism to me, there’s also this in a lack of Have humaneness in it.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

And as this one, this is called This is called in authenticity or in existentialist philosophy, it’s called bet bet faith. It’s when you present to the world the version of yourself which has very little to do with yourself, or which incorporates only highly selective or selected and specific elements, which misrepresent you, is a totality and integrative totality. In other words, cut a long story short when you’re like, pure and simple, convenient when you lie to the world, because omission is lying as much as commission. Yeah, you don’t have to actively say something by not saying something you’re like equally like fallacious we are forced into fallacious existence. You know, it reminds me, you know, musicians, they have their own style. And then the musician wants to experiment with a new style, and his fans are all over him. They want him dead. They feel betrayed. You know what’s wrong with you? You are metal, hard rock. You are this. You come to classical music You see? I mean, you went into classical music You’re a traitor. It’s the same here we are all we’ve all been rendered many celebrities, many celebrities, someone like me would have never had hundreds of thousands of people following him and would have never had 100 and 20 million people reading his work. Never End of story. Never mind how brilliant I am. Of course I’m brave, but I’m kidding. But never. So it it deformed a default my psychology. Yeah. Somewhere there had been less assured of myself. You know what, perhaps less narcissistic, less grandiose. I believe this attention would have more than me. Victor Hugo, Victor Hugo, you’ll know the famous French 19th century Every author, he wrote a book, wrote a famous book called The Hunchback of Notre DOM. And in the book, there’s a chapter and the chapter is called kombucha causes. kombucha, kombucha. See we’re vagabonds vagabonds, perhaps gipsies Roma no one knows. But there were vagabonds and there were kidnapping children, babies, sorry, there cannot be newborn babies. And they were putting them in bottles. And the babies grew inside the bottles. And then when they were when they were old enough, they broke the bottle but the baby the child was already shaped in the form of the bottle. Yeah, they were known as kombucha causing child stealers child thieves. Yeah, we’re all in these bottles. Now. We’re all growing inside these bottles. And even if one day, we break the bottle, it’s too late. We’re deformed. Everyone is now a mini celebrity so they are afraid to experiment. Afraid to be truthful. In authentic in Bend, faith, fallacious liars, pretentious, and they have transformed all of us into con artists. Simply this is the definition of con artists. It’s someone who uses and abuses your confidence to sell you something, including his self image. Yeah, we all come with this

 

Bryn 

and that certainly fits in with you know, the plethora of celebrity you know real reality TV shows that we have which started with big brother. Now in Australia we have married at first sight and bachelor and all this shite if you don’t mind saying no.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

I’m just hoping for Toronto. Please

 

Bryn 

What is it gonna take for us to reconcile this? I mean,

 

 

yeah, I mean,

 

 

what was the trajectory at what?

 

Bryn 

like to have faith in the human spirit coming in at some point, but if it’s conditioned into its operating behaviours, and where do you see this going? So

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

I think it at some stage, people will rebel. And I think what will happen humanity will fracture into two tribes, incompatible tribes and non communicating tribes. Yeah, one one would be people who have been conditioned and are being conditioned and willingly submit themselves to the conditioning of social media because of the instant celebrity Because of the dopamine rushes, yeah, this is biochemical. There’s this element because of heightened anxiety and the only way to reduce it on the accessible way social media is also there will be people there’ll be a tribe of people using social media residing in cyberspace, totally digitised virtual people, let’s call them this way. Yeah virtual people in all in all but but in all but carbon they would have a carbon presence, but the carbon presence would be just a container. And one should never confuse the container with the content. Of course, content will be digital. This paper will be teaching will have been digitised. They will also have sex with digitise sex doors. They will I mean, they will absolutely convert everything to virtual and digital. And already we see very worrying trends dating dating online. The young has declined by 56%. Sex among the young has declined by well over three quarters. Yeah, these are the most basic interactions among young people. And they have no have no interest to the minimum. They prefer to play video games will be online social media and sociable. About half of all half of all communication today, between people who are proximate. They sit next to each other. Half of all communication is via smartphones. So you would see two girls sitting next to each other and, and texting or

 

Bryn 

using joke about whether people think

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

so, so with these people who would become residents of virtual reality TV, virtual space, and then there would be those of us who would rebel. Not necessarily Oh, Our age group. I mean, I’m older than you, but not necessarily this age group. But I think I think it will be h h independent. I think there’ll be many young people who rebelled meaning old people, ribbon, old fashioned people, people with memory, pre digital memory, like you’ll like me, but there will be a rebellion of no variable rebellion, the outcome of this rebellion would be to go real. So there will be people who will go real and people will go digital or unreal, or go artificial go virtual. So go read go virtual. And this will be two incompatible non communicating tribes and humanity refraction in the most profound sense of the word. Well, the last time this happened was a few thousand years ago, with religion. Religion did this. What is religion? Religion is virtual reality. It’s a space to space to which you migrate Heaven help you migrate into this space. Yes. And you live you live in that space. you interact with God, you your behaviours dictated and directed by this virtual sphere. Religion was the precursor of cyberspace. And that is exactly the enormous force of cyberspace. cyberspace is a new secular religion. And it is coupled with yet another religion, known as Gnosticism. And agnosticism is a true religion in the classic sense of the word, not secular. And if you give me time, I’ll explain why. And if you don’t want to then have a look.

 

Bryn 

Yeah, no, I’d say I’d like to know the difference.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Okay, so to understand why agnosticism is the new religion, which will overtake by stone, Christianity, Islam and Judaism and Buddhism combined. This would be by far the prevalent religion. In 50 years v religion and it will be a religion. cyberspace is a religious space. Similar to, for example, the religious space in the minds of people in the Middle Ages. People in the Middle Ages believed that their earthly existence their existence of Earth, their corporeal existence, their physical existence is meaningless. They believe the important life starts in the afterlife. They placed emphasis on the afterlife. So all people in the Middle Ages in Christianity, and not only Christianity, or people in the Middle Ages, they did not inhabit reality. They inhabited virtual reality. They didn’t call it Facebook. They call it heaven. They didn’t call it Zuckerberg. They called it God. Both of them were Jewish. It’s okay. They I mean they But it was virtual reality it was cyberspace. And they all waited bided by the time on earth to get to the real game. And the real game was afterlife. That’s where the action was. You were sentenced to spend 40 years here in this shithole. But the real thing started after you die, you had died. And that’s why they invested in ordinate efforts here on Earth, to secure their place in the religious cyberspace of Heaven and Hell, indulgences, the concept of sin building cathedrals of a hundreds of years, over centuries. You know, these were projects intended to secure the foundations, if you wish, the technological foundations of afterlife. The cyberspace of the time was called afterlife. So, cyberspace of today virtual relative today is what after life used to be to in the Middle Ages, but not Islam is not the equivalent of Heaven and Hell, it’s the equivalent of Christianity. It’s a new religion. Absolutely. Which makes me I guess, Moses, okay. I’m kidding. Definitely not Jesus. I want to live long, but most Yeah. Seriously, I will try to explain why bear with me. What is narcissism? What happens to the narcissistic individual at a very early phase in early childhood, the child experiences abuse and trauma. The child says, I can’t take it anymore. It hurts. I’m in pain. I’m going to invent an imaginary friend. And this imaginary friend will protect me Will firewall me it will be a decoy, all the pain and the abuse will go to that imaginary friend, not to me. And that imaginary friend would be Everything that I’m not, I’m small, he’s big. I don’t know many things. He knows everything. I am powerless. He is all powerful. My mommy tells me I’m bad, he’s perfect, etc. He’s everything I’m not now make a list. All Powerful, all know what is God? The child invents a private religion. Well, he invents God, he discovers God, the false self. This imaginary friend that protects the child is God. The main function of God was always to protect humanity. People invented gold to protect them, because they were small and powerless and ignorant and frightened and abused by the elements and abused by others and they wanted an imaginary friend to Protect them. They invented God, as does the child. The child invents the false self is God. And then it’s a private religion with one worshipper, and one God, the God is the fourth son. The worshipper is the child as the Narcissus grows, he’s religion, his private religion becomes missionary. He’s trying to recruit you to his religion. He’s trying to force you to tell him that his false self is not false. That it’s real. In other words, he’s trying to convert you like the missionaries did in Africa. You know, he’s trying to convert you to a believer in his false self. He wants him to tell you, yes, you are a genius. Yes, you are handsome. Yes, you are brilliant. Yes, you are perfect. Your false self is not false. It’s a true God. It’s a God of life. Gives you accurate information about yourself and about the environment. It’s a survival tool and mechanism, believe in it worshipping. in the initial stages of narcissism, the initial stages of narcissism, there’s also human sacrifice. So already you’re seeing the elements of religion, you’re seeing a godlike entity, you’re seeing missionary activity is all hallmarks of religion. And now I’ll come to the next one human sacrifice. At the initial stage, when the child invents the private religion, in his new gold, he makes a human sacrifice, but it’s trying. He has no access to any other person except himself. So that’s the human sacrifice he’s offering. He sacrifices himself, the child with this new God, and He sacrifices what we call the true self. That’s why the Narcissus has no true self. He has no true self because they are On he had sacrificed it to the Moloch to this new God to this new insatiable, voracious gold. And he’s left empty nonexistence. narcissism is not a disease of too much existence. narcissism is a disease of absence. Hmm. The narcissist is a void. It’s an absence. It’s a hall of mirrors. It’s an empty, empty corridor with howling winds. It’s deep space. There’s nobody there. The self that used to be there has long been sacrificed to an unforgiving God, the false self. And now we come. We wrap it up in the social level, on the social level, as more of us become narcissistic, via technological means otherwise education system, dead parenting is more of us become narcissistic. more of us have private religions. more of us have false gods for selves, more of us make human sacrifices, more of us try to convert each other. narcissism is the is a more postmodern religion because it’s distributed. It’s a network religion. It’s a religion with multiple gods, multiple worshipers, multiple temples, multiple shrines, multiple human sacrifices, where every God is someone else’s worshipper, and every worshipper is someone else’s goal. It’s a network concept. Yes, because that’s the metaphor. That’s the metaphor we live in today. We borrowed the technological metaphor into our religion. And if you look at other religions, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, they all borrowed, they all borrow the prevailing technological metaphor of the If you read the Bible, I mean the Old Testament. It’s full of references to cutting edge technology of the period. Ploughshares. Agricultural decodes is all over the book, God comparison so very often to a farmer. worshipers of God compare themselves to plants to seeds. To the prevailing the dominant metaphor of Judaism is an agricultural metaphor. The dominant metaphor of Islam is the technology or technologies that facilitated normal existence in the desert. Technology is another name for religion. Simple we see it in social media. Give you a discount on therapy.

 

Bryn 

I’m gonna be digesting and processing that for days.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

But

 

Bryn 

yeah, I was following and just

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Huh, I’m flattered. Thank you.

 

 

represent you. Thank you. So

 

Bryn 

that’s I, I pride myself in being able to think about things and see patterns and try draw analogies, but that’s another level that you’ve just gone to. And yeah, I’ve had 25 years.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Yeah, I had a forum 25 years, but

 

Bryn 

I bet you know, as I sit and listen to it, it puts it into a greater, greater, greater context.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Just because all things human, all things human is the same. We keep repeating the same thing. Different disguises were deceived by the costumes and the uniforms. But underneath the costumes in the uniforms as human bodies, human minds, and they have not changed in the last 10,000 years, they haven’t changed without 100,000 perhaps in a million years, we all wear the same animal. Same animal. We’re smarter but the same at the same time.

 

Bryn 

So what are some of the simple things we can do to keep it real other than switch the fucking screen off? Go out date pick up chicks.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

This would be a good start. You

 

Bryn 

can have conversations with people.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

You know the two conflicting kind of schools does the Jordan Peterson school which says we have strayed we’re simply straight. All we need to do is go back. Go back to tradition. Go back to console The values go back to what the ancients had taught us. Go back to the family, go back to structural social units. Go back to monogamy, go back to traditional gender roles. Peterson is a reactionary, in a good sense, not reactionary, in the bad sense is not advocating genocide, but is is a reaction, a social reaction. So that’s one school of thought. And of course, Peterson is not alone in this and not the first. So there’s this school of thought. And there is a school of thought which I would call fatalism. And Jordan Peterson wrongly calls nearly. And that’s the school of thought that says that social trends are there for a reason. Technologies reify. traits and cognitions and emotions. In other words, the conscious don’t Bring these about, they just leverage and reflect other much deeper, much more profound processes in human populations. religions, another name for technologies. A religion is a social technology. So religions are also reflective. This is true. The problem is not in social media and whether we turn off the screen or law screens can be useful we have in this conversation. That’s not the problem. Problem, in other words, is not to discard the technologies or to discard the religions because all the only thing that will happen if you tomorrow, discarded technologies and religions, we’re going to invent new technologies and new religions. The need is there. The need is there. The template of human cognitions emotions, its own fears, anxieties, it’s there. Something has happened to us. Not to the manifestations of us. That’s where I started. strongly differ with Jordan Peterson. Jordan Peterson is a doctor who treats the symptoms. That’s very nice, of course reduce the temperature, this inflammation. It’s not the problem. He’s describing the Malays. It says what we need to control this malaise. We need to reverse it, we need to. But wait a minute. How did the Malays why the Malays came about? Yeah. Why did we choose to undermine traditional gender roles? It’s bad to undermine, we can argue it’s bad. It’s good. If I’m left leftist, I would say it’s very good. If I’m a feminist, of course, I would say it’s very good. traditional gender roles were slavery. And if I’m Jordan Peterson, I would say it’s very bad. We are we don’t know what we’re doing. We are reverse. We are engineering. We are destroying our futures. Okay, that’s legitimate, legitimate debate. But that’s not the main debate. Nor is it frankly a very important debate. destruction. The only debate that matters is why did we choose this course of action? This path? Why for example, didn’t generals become much more entrenched, much stronger, much more delineated and demarcate fight in times of uncertainty and anxiety and crisis? Actually, we tend to freeze that initial response. Why didn’t we freeze? Why instead of freezing? We exploded everything decomposed, everything ruined everything. What was this self destructive? What were the self destruction is coming from and is it self destruction? Or perhaps it’s not. These are the critical issues that no one deals with? Peterson included. No one is dealing with these questions. You know what it reminds me when you go to therapy? Yeah, a client comes to me and she begins to say Listen, this happened. I don’t give a fig about what you’re saying a finger. Because what she’s saying has been filtered over many days. It’s a narrative. It has very little to do with what really happened. It’s fictitious. In large part. It’s, honestly, it’s not journalism, you cannot really rely on what you say. That’s her subjective version of the events, having been fitted through many emotional layers and history, her prejudices or biases. So what she says is absolutely not relevant. There is a relevant question, why does she choose this version of the events? Yes, what is your motivation to choose this narrative, and not any over another 90 possible narratives? Which incorporate the very same facts. Why did you choose this narrative? This is the question facing humanity. Why did we choose this narrative? Not? How do we reverse this narrative, which is Jordan Peterson’s message. How do we reverse? Well not? What are the elements of this narrative? Which is Slava Dziedzic. These are secondary, to my mind boring questions, and not really important. Why did we choose this narrative? In my work in narcissism? I am trying very hard to answer this question, because I think narcissism has a lot to do with it. I think narcissism embodies somehow directly or indirectly the answer to the question, why did we choose this nerd? Let’s see, narcissism is not an intellectual analytical construct. It’s not just a mental wordplay. It’s not a game. It’s a primordial psychological drive force. So we are going down really deep in the answer is narcissism. We are not being flippant, or Ah, the world is narcissistic. Everyone is more narcissistic. That’s what? No, this is a very weighty statement. So as I’ve just demonstrated narcissism is a religion. And religions are by far the most profound manifestations of the human spirit and psyche. Much more than science, science is nothing technology is nothing is new science and technology and you get there are only 300 years old. You know, religion is the name of the game. So narcissism is a religion. Do you understand what I’m saying? It’s a new religion. narcissism is a foundational psychological force is the basis of most mental illness and most men telehealth these are not. This is where we should focus. That’s why I’m focusing on narcissism, not because I have nothing better to do in my other head. So I’m a physicist and I write short fiction, I do many things. I think narcissism is the core. It’s the key, and it’s the answer we’re looking for. If you ask me to a heavier answer, no, of course, I don’t have the answer. But I have the question. I think I have the question. The question is, what is narcissism? why we chose narcissism? Why narcissism to cover how to deal with nothing? That’s the core question. You serve this. Everything will settle into place. Women will be women. Men will be men, societies will function. Love will flourish. Dating will resume sex will become functional. Solve this, this is the virus. This is the virus. The COVID-19 virus affects the brain The liver and the lungs in the kidneys, and the blood has multiple effects. Don’t treat the effects as we’re doing today. Today we’re treating the symptoms. Don’t treat the effects, kill the bloody virus. Suddenly everything would be okay. The brain, the liver, the kidney, everything will fall into place in one fell swoop, focus there. I was delighted to read. When I read the Peterson’s book for the second time, I was delighted to notice how many times you mentioned quite a few times throughout his writing thing six straw, this is it. This is where we should go. This is where we should focus, but nothing there. Nothing the coach, search type expert YouTube environment. This is where we should focus. Philosophers should focus on this psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, I want to know how gnosis is manifested in primitive societies. Not one study, not one. I can couldn’t find one. Are you kidding me? narcissism must have been crucial to survival, especially in primitive societies. And yet, not one. narcissism underlies sexual identity and sexual differentiation underlies gender roles and gender acculturation. It underlies many, it is the core of identity. And because it is the core of identity, it is the feature of memory. Memory is identity. Take away your memories, you have Alzheimer tomorrow, take away your memories, you’ve no identity. So memory and identity but wait a minute, narcissism is the main character of memories. It also it’s our identity. It’s all social media narcissism, you name it narcissism, this people are sensing this politics, narcissism, showbusiness. You know, they feed the the common folk Feel that narcissism is much more than us. They feel it in their bones. This way this gigantic online movement started, not because of some marketing. I mean, I invented the language maybe but really didn’t have much to do with the with the movement. There are many bigger, much bigger movers and shakers there. It’s a global social, I think it’s the biggest social movement online, there is I’ve checked, I’ve checked the forums and so on today narcissism is the main keyword and buzzword every movie, every TV series, every book I read, all over the place. People feel that there is something there, which might sort out their lives might make finally sense and meaning of it all. Yeah, the last time they felt like this was this was 2000 years ago, or maybe 1500 years ago with religion. They felt that the concept of God, the organising principle of God, can make sense of their lives can sort out their lives and can bring them to a good place. Ironically, the study of narcissism should not be the study of pathology, but the study of a solution. I’m not saying that narcissism is a solution. I think if you study narcissism, you will find what’s wrong. Sleep fine. What’s wrong, you will find the cure. It’s very simple sequence. You don’t need to be a genius.

 

 

That’s phenomenal.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Share with me,

 

Bryn 

I am. This is Britain’s processing face.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Oh, well, you have a brain. I have a brain mixed doors. That’s and I have an MRI to prove it. Sorry. I have an MRI image to prove it. Yes, indeed my brain scan proof that I bring

 

 

the biggest thing there’s nothing Why

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

do you think they invented MRI? There was a strong suspicion many people don’t have brains.

 

Bryn 

Indeed, the nice thing that comes up to me at the moment is wanting to join you on the journey of trying to work out why we choose this narrative. Why are we choosing that? And, and, and to? To have the clarity of the question is just even in and of itself really kind of,

 

 

I just got this big.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

It’s important to phrase to formulate the right question. People focus too much on answers, as opposed to formulate the questions. You see, Western society Western civilization is results oriented, solution oriented. It’s a fix it, fix it culture. Everything must have a cure. every disease must have a cure why every problem must have an Answer 12 rules and your life is changed. Awaken the giant think and the universe will arrange itself. It’s all goal oriented, psychopathic, psychopathic civilization. It’s the core laureate. But all previous civilizations or previous civilizations, they were never concerned with the answers. They did not even pretend to be to think they didn’t presume to be able to discern the answers. They were very, very focused the agenda the main agenda was formulating the right questions. So, someone like Socrates, Socrates was not concerned with the answers. He was concerned with the questions. So, so was Plato. these are these are the fathers of modern but go a bit further the count the cause of concern with with answers to the questions, you actually said nonces were possible because the only certainties that exists You go, you got to come. Cut, didn’t pretend to have answers. He claimed that he’s able to decipher the structure. But then he used the structure to present questions. So big neutron By the way, if you go to physics, I’m a physicist. doctorate is physics. So, the big fish, the great physicists, they didn’t provide answers. They provided the right questions. How did Einstein formulate his theory of relativity? It opens with a question. He says what would happen if a light wave? No, he didn’t say listen guys, no light is travelling at this speed. And if you do this, it will be no humility, we have we no more no longer have humility. Even if you look at public intellectuals. I mentioned Peter Solon. She I didn’t mean to single them out. They are part of a subculture of public intellectual. They’re not humble. They’re arrogant. They’re they’re grandiose. And and this is a betrayal of the concept of public intellectual, the public intellectual, should not tell you what to do should not be prescriptive. You should not visit the 12 rules. These are the 10. These are the seven principles. It’s not, that’s not okay. The main role of a public intellectual is to provoke you to think for yourself and to hope, that with crowdsourcing of all these answers from a million or 2 million people, and some wisdom will emerge. Some wisdom will emerge. I must admit it in the Middle Ages. public intellectuals were a lot more honest and integral, perhaps because they humble themselves in front of God. They didn’t usurp God. They didn’t stick in forgot, you know, they, they were force, they were forced to be humble even the masses were forced to be humble. That was a bolt on you know this Gordon is you know humble I must say in Middle Ages the discourse it’s very futile. It’s futile because you deal with imaginary entities like angels a lot but but utility aside, the discourse was more honest and led to much better results in the Renaissance, the renaissance in their in modern science and so on the Enlightenment later, they didn’t come from nor they came from the Christian tradition. And the Christian credit tradition came from the scholasticism of the Jews in the Talmud. And the debt was influenced by neoplatonism in Egypt, in neoplatonism, was influenced by the father and mother of the way we think, Socrates, Socrates and Aristotle, us, these two giants. And these two drives were focused on on framing the right questions, questions to pose to other people, Socrates, in questions, suppose to nature. We started, let’s say under the story, and that’s how modern science operates. real scientists, not the ones on television, grandiose Narcissus, hubris, and nonsense. Not talking about the scientists. The real fight is those who toil in laboratories anonymously. They are humble. They are humble, and they focus on the questions. They focus on formulating the right question they know nature will answer. ask the right question. People will answer Focus on the right questions. Don’t think you have the answers focus on the question. People will also focus on asking nature the right questions nature will ask. The everything all of existence is resonance. But you can’t obtain the right frequency. If you strike the false note, and grandiosity is a false note. Because grandiosity encompasses the art, the question and the answer, and here’s a rule, a rule of the universe. The question is never where the answer is. Never. If anyone tells you I have the question and the answer, they’re lying, they’re con artists. There are people who formulate the questions and people who propose answers. There are experiments where we pose a question and there are the answers and the answers are never never Together with the questions. So we lost this humility. We lost this humility, and our public intellectuals are not making it better. Politicians are not making the show business. All our role models are not. So you see, in the 1950s, the most desirable men, there were even then there were opinion polls of desirable men in the 1940s and 50s, the 30s 40s and 50s. The most desirable men on Earth was Albert Einstein, the Apollo physicists. He was the most desirable men on Earth. Marilyn Monroe wanted a child with him. And she married off a million. They were the desirable men. There were the heartthrobs and the drop dead gorgeous. Today, who do we have? Who do we have reality TV stars footballers, athletes, actors singers. have them put together 100 iq if I’m optimistic we have deteriorated. The very last question. short answer is no. Not statistically. It’s 50%. Right? Yeah.

 

Bryn 

It’s not a close question. So Well, last question. We’ll keep it quick. As a hypothetical one I always enjoy asking my guests this question is it’s a hypothetical question, but I always enjoy if you could take So, so I’d like you to bear in mind, you’re very clever person. I like to just go with the question rather than pull it to pieces. If you could, if you could upload a short piece of nugget into the collective consciousness. So everyone just gets it. What would it be?

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

I think this the last one That we we have lost humility. We have lost the sense of proportionality. And until we regain it, things will get worse and worse and worse. What’s the virus is the virus not the manifestation of hubris in the way we treat nature. We are not humble in front of nature. If you are a religious person which are not, we are not humble in front of God. We have converted God into our agents and our servants. He micromanages our lives, we ask him to do this and to do that and to even our prayers became grandiose, and lack humility. If you go to United States, evangelicals and soul, they have a personal relationship with God one on one, and they can summon him, someone in mind you and they can talk to him. And definitely they make demands and and they expecting to micromanage their puny, meaningless lives. And if he doesn’t get pissed off, that’s religion or you military should be the founding principle, the pillar. What can you expect in silence in politics and showbusiness? And so you have scientists. In my frame. Scientists making claims about the brain, making claims about genes, which are atrociously grandiose. We know nothing about the brain, nothing, not a thing. Until 10 years ago, these, these Jeep style geniuses didn’t even know that the main neurotransmitter in the brain is produced in the intestines, not in the brain until 10 years ago. And until seven years ago, they didn’t know that the brain lies upon our two hyper structures. One hyper structure which filters spinal fluid, and another hyper structure which facilitate communication. They were studying the brain for 100 years. They didn’t know. They didn’t know the foundations of the brain. They know nothing. And yet, yes, of course we know. They dared to give people antidepressants, which regulated the secretion and reabsorption of a substance called serotonin. And they started giving people these pills 40 years ago, and only 10 years ago, they discovered that most of serotonin is not produced in the brain at all, because it’s in the intestines. This is the extent of hubris and antidepressants made a tremendous damage, damage to sexual lives of people to mood dysregulation and so on. so forth. They were not a beneficial thing. So, one sentence, be humble. Humble yourself.

 

Bryn 

Sam. It’s been an absolute honour and pleasure to listen to you.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Thank you very much. You’re good interlocutor, patient one.

 

Bryn 

Thank you. Hi. just absorb. And obviously if anybody wants to hear and find out more, they can go to your YouTube channel and find you there.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Yes, I have a YouTube channel and on Amazon, my books etc. Today it’s very easy. No need to give them links or just Google.

 

Bryn 

Sam, thank you very much.

 

Professor Sam Vaknin 

Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. Really.

Comments

  1. So glad Sam has reached an Aussie podcast – thank you.
    His expertise and knowledge regarding all cluster B disorders has been an outstanding component to my own learnings after experiencing a close relationship with an NPD. He and Richard Grannon have been absolute key in the recovery and growth of a huge population crippled with C-PTSD/PTSD from such experiences.
    There’s no doubt the world population is feeling the traumas due to society being driven by narcissistic ways.

    1. Author

      Thank you Carly for your comment – It was a real privilege to have Sam on the show and hopefully we’ll be continuing the line of enquiry in a few months. Also stay tuned as the other notable figure you mentioned will be featuring on the show very soon 🙂

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