The Psychopathic Narcissist
Written by Randi Fine
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
An acclaimed, highly visible “psychopathic narcissist” named Sam Vaknin is widely considered an expert on the topic of narcissism. He is an author, his YouTube catalog is extensive, and he is an “esteemed” speaker at many seminars.
When Vaknin speaks he exudes an air of authority. He is well educated and is a professor of psychology (not a licensed mental health professional). He does however hold a Ph.D in Philosphy. His revelation about the true nature of narcissists and what motivates them, as heard in the seminar “Divorcing the Narcissist”, though frightening is astonishingly accurate and quite disconcerting.
According to Vaknin, a speaker at that seminar, we are all “units off the shelf, out of the box, that are interchangeable”. Each of us has what he calls a “specific user manual” that narcissists use to “leverage information to some extent.” He states with deadpan expression, “People are tools, instruments, avatars. You are not special; none of you. You are what you can give.”
Vaknin admits that narcissists are “mind snatchers who infect our minds” and that they believe they are “givers of life”. He acknowledges the fact that narcissists “mortally wound people”, then pompously adds that they render us “shapeless”, “dissolve us in acid”, pulverize us”, and “automize us.” Though we have all felt this way, it is shocking to know the truth.
Vaknin boasts, albeit dryly, about being the first one to start the online narcissistic personality disorder awareness movement. He claims to have started the first support groups and invented a lot of the language used around NPD. That may be true, but he does so with such an overinflated sense of self that it is easy to see how much supply he gets from that proclamation. And with an affect of expertise, seemingly proclaiming lord over all NPD information for survivors now available and debunking most of it he states: “I’ve been watching all of you evolve from a very privileged position.” He is watching us? That sounds like typical predatory behavior (which he denies they exhibit). Chills came over me when I heard him say that.
During the seminar, a member of the audience yells out and calls him “scum.” A woman defends him. Vaknin responds by saying that the accusation doesn’t bother him; that he’s been called far worse. Then he smugly adds, “I’m here, I’m well paid, you’re all listening to me, and this is going to be on Youtube.” If that doesn’t describe his motive for doing this work I don’t know what does.
Sam Vaknin describes narcissists and their motives well. That valuable information gives us clear insight into our abusers’ minds. But when it comes to advising those who have suffered abuse under the duress of a narcissist, his perspective is very dangerous.
He tells us that victims should own their part in the relationship because they “co-created it” through what he calls “shared psychosis.” He accuses us that in sharing our pain with others we speak a “language of passivity”. And by calling ourselves victims he says that we “eliminate all responsibility.” He further adds that there is no such thing as an empath and describing ourselves as such comes from a place of “learned helplessness.”
I strongly argue with Vaknin’s position. How can he claim that narcissists are “mind snatchers” among other despicable things and then expound that we should own our part in it. In my extensive experience as a narcissistic abuse expert, it is precisely the word “victim” that releases a great deal of the burden of responsibility survivors feel. They have certainly been victimized by these monsters; predators that take them hostage so they have captive supply to “feed” on.
According to Vaknin, our suffering, which he calls the “pain of interchangeability”, causes us to rush into any form of solace. He refers to our reaction as “rebound rush.” And he claims that believing we can heal our abuser with love or negotiate with he or she is what he calls “malignant optimism”. Perhaps these things are so, but hearing him say them only adds insult to injury. It resolves nothing, though that doesn’t concern him; he admits that he has no empathy for anyone but himself.
As all narcissists do, Vaknin drastically minimizes our experience of the devastating trauma they cause. He has no idea what it takes to heal from this severe trauma nor does he care. How could he and why would he? He’s a narcissist. With this kind of information out there it is no wonder that so many professionals, friends and family tell us to “just get over it.”
Please do not listen to Sam Vaknin’s advice. He cannot possibly understand the experience of someone who has been abused this way. You will never be able to heal if you follow the sagacious “wisdom” of such a pathologically impeded mindset.
The bottom line is, never take advice from a narcissist, no matter how “respected” or renowned he or she is. Seek the help of someone experienced; a professional who has a track record with this specialized kind of recovery.
*In full disclosure I admit that I included information from Vaknin’s book Malignant Self Love about cerebral and somatic narcissistic personality types in my book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind. I also recommended his videos. I do regret doing that and ask you to kindly disregard that advice.
Randi Fine is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.