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Psychology of Con-artists, Fraudsters, and Scammers By: Sam Vaknin In December 2008, Bernard Madoff, a pillar of the Jewish

community and of Wall Street, admitted to having run a 50 billion USD Ponzi (Pyramid) scheme, the biggest scam in history. It is still debatable whether Bernard Madoff fits the profile of a classic scammer. AntiSemites blame his ancestry, the society and culture he grew in. To understand his psychology, you may wish to start by reading this short story I have written. It tackles in minute detail the psychodynamic processes in a con-man's mind as well as the curious bond that inevitably forms between perpetrator and victim. The Con Man Cometh Swathed in luminosity, we stir with measured competence our amber drinks in long-stemmed glasses. You are weighing my offer and I am waiting for your answer with hushed endurance. The armchairs are soft, the lobby is luxurious, as befits five-star hotels. I am not tense. I have anticipated your response even before I made my move. Soon, temples sheathed in perspiration, you use the outfit's thick paper napkins to wipe it off. Loosen your tie. Pretend to be immersed in calculations. You express strident dissatisfaction and I feign recoil, as though intimidated by your loudness. Withdrawing to my second line of defense, I surrender to your simulated wrath. The signs are here, the gestures, the infinitesimal movements that you cannot control. I lurk. I know that definite look, that imperceptible twitch, the inevitability of your surrender. I am a con man and you are my victim. The swindle is unfolding here and now, in this very atrium, amid all the extravagance. I am selling your soul and collecting the change. I am sharpened, like a raw nerve firing impulses to you, receiving yours, an electrical-chemical dialog, consisting of your smelly sweat, my scented exudation. I permeate your cracks. I broker an alliance with your fears, your pains, defense compensatory mechanisms. I know you. I've got to meld us into one. As dusk gives way to night, you trust me as you do yourself, for now I am nothing less than you. Having adopted your particular gesticulation, I nod approvingly with every mention of your family. You do not like me. You sense the danger. Your nostrils flare. Your eyes amok. Your hands so restless. You know me for a bilker, you realize I'll break your heart. I know you comprehend we both are choiceless. It's not about money. Emotions are at stake. I share your depths of loneliness and pain. Sitting opposed, I see the child in you, the adolescent. I discern the pleading sparkle in your eyes, your shoulders stooping in the very second you've decided to succumb. I am hurting for what I do to you. My only consolation is the inexorability of nature - mine and yours, this world's (in which we find ourselves and not of our choice). Still, we are here, you know.

I empathize with you without speech or motion. Your solitary sadness, the anguish, and your fears. I am your only friend, monopolist of your invisible cries, your inner hemorrhage of salty tears, the tissued scar that has become your being. Like me, the product of uncounted blows (which you sometimes crave). Being abused is being understood, having some meaning, forming a narrative. Without it, your life is nothing but an anecdotal stream of randomness. I deal the final, overwhelming coup-de-grace that will transform the torn sheets of your biography into a plot. It isn't everyday one meets a cheat. Such confident encounters can render everything explained. Don't give it up. It is a gift of life, not to be frivolously dispensed with. It is a test of worthiness. I think you qualify and I am the structure and the target you've been searching for and here I am. Now we are bound by money and by blood. In our common veins flows the same alliance that dilates our pupils. We hail from one beginning. We separated only to unite, at once, in this hotel, this late, and you exclaim: "I need to trust you like I do not trust a soul". You beseech me not to betray your faith. Perhaps not so explicitly, but both your eyes are moist, reflecting your vulnerability. I gravely radiate my utter guarantee of splendid outcomes. No hint of treason here. Concurrently I am plotting your emotional demise. At your request, not mine. It is an act of amity, to rid you of the very cause of your infirmity. I am the instrument of your delivery and liberation. I will deprive you of your ability to feel, to trust, and to believe. When we diverge, I will have molded you anew - much less susceptible, much more immune, the essence of resilience. It is my gift to you and you are surely grateful in advance. Thus, when you demand my fealty, you say: "Do not forget our verbal understanding". And when I vow my loyalty, I answer: "I shall not forget to stab you in the back." And now, to the transaction. I study you. I train you to ignore my presence and argue with yourself with the utmost sincerity. I teach you not to resent your weaknesses. So, you admit to them and I record all your confessions to be used against you to your benefit. Denuded of defenses, I leave you wounded by embezzlement, a cold, contemptible exposure. And, in the meantime, it's only warmth and safety, the intimacy of empathy, the propinquity of mutual understanding. I only ask of you one thing: the fullest trust, a willingness to yield. I remember having seen the following in an art house movie, it was a test: to fall, spread-eagled from a high embankment and to believe that I am there to catch you and break your lethal plunge. I am telling you I'll be there, yet you know I won't. Your caving in is none of my concern. I only undertook to bring you to the brink and I fulfilled this promise. It's up to you to climb it, it's up to you to tumble. I must not halt your crash, you have to recompose. It is my contribution to the transformation that metastasized in you long before we met.

But you are not yet at the stage of internalizing these veracities. You still naively link feigned geniality to constancy, intimacy and confidence in me and in my deeds, proximity and full disclosure. You are so terrified and mutilated, you come devalued. You cost me merely a whiskey tumbler and a compendium of ordinary words. One tear enough to alter your allegiances. You are malleable to the point of having no identity. You crave my touch and my affection. I crave your information and unbridled faith. "Here is my friendship and my caring, my tenderness and amity, here is a hug. I am your parent and your shrink, your buddy and your family." - so go the words of this inaudible dialog - "Give me your utter, blind, trust but limit it to one point only: your money or your life." I need to know about your funds, the riddles of your boardroom, commercial secrets, your skeletons, some intimate detail, a fear, resurgent hatred, the envy that consumes. I don't presume to be your confidant. Our sharing is confined to the pecuniary. I lull you into the relief that comes with much reduced demands. But you are an experienced businessman! You surely recognize my tactics and employ them, too! Still, you are both seduced and tempted, though on condition of maintaining "independent thinking". Well, almost independent. There is a tiny crack in your cerebral armor and I am there to thrust right through it. I am ready to habituate you. "I am in full control" - you'd say "So, where's the threat?" And, truly, there is none. There's only certainty. The certitude I offer you throughout our game. Sometimes I even venture: "I am a crook to be avoided". You listen with your occidental manners, head tilted obliquely, and when I am finished warning you, you say: "But where the danger lies? My trust in you is limited!" Indeed - but it is there! I lurk, awaiting your capitulation, inhabiting the margins, the twilight zone twixt greed and paranoia. I am a viral premonition, invading avaricious membranes, preaching a gospel of death and resurrection. Your death, your rising from the dead. Assuming the contours of my host, I abandon you deformed in dissolution. There's no respite, not even for a day. You are addicted to my nagging, to my penetrating gaze, instinctive sympathy, you're haunted. I don't let go. You are engulfed, cocooned, I am a soul mate of eerie insight, unselfish acumen. I vitiate myself for your minutest needs. I thrive on servitude. I leave no doubt that my self-love is exceeded only by my love for you. I am useful and you are a user. I am available and you avail yourself. But haven't you heard that there are no free lunches? My restaurant is classy, the prices most exorbitant, the invoices accumulate with every smile, with every word of reassurance, with every anxious inquiry as to your health, with every sacrifice I make, however insubstantial. I keep accounts in my unstated books and you rely on me for every double entry. The voices I instill in you: "He gives so of himself though largely unrewarded". You feel ashamed, compelled to compensate. A seed of Trojan guilt. I harp on it by mentioning others who deprived me. I count on you to do the rest. There's nothing more potent than egotistic love combined with raging culpability. You are mine to do with as I wish, it is your wish that I embody and possess.

The vise is tightened. Now it's time to ponder whether to feed on you at once or scavenge. You are already dying and in your mental carcass I am grown, an alien. Invoking your immunity, as I am wont to do, will further make you ill and conflict will erupt between your white cells and your black, the twin abodes of your awakened feelings. You hope against all odds that I am a soul-mate. How does it feel, the solitude? Few days with me - and you cannot recall! But I cannot remember how it feels to be together. I cannot waive my loneliness, my staunch companion. When I am with you, it prospers. And you must pay for that. I have no choice but to abscond with your possessions, lest I remain bereft. With utmost ethics, I keep you well-informed of these dynamics and you acknowledge my fragility which makes you desirous to salve my wounds. But I maintain the benefit of your surprise, the flowing motion. Always at an advantage over you, the interchangeable. I, on the other hand, cannot be replaced, as far as you're concerned. You are a loyal subject of your psychic state while I am a denizen of the eternal hunting grounds. No limits there, nor boundaries, only the nostrils quivering at the game, the surging musculature, the body fluids, the scent of decadence. Sometime, the prey becomes the predator, but only for a while. Admittedly, it's possible and you might turn the tables. But you don't want to. You crave so to be hunted. The orgiastic moment of my proverbial bullets penetrating willing flesh, the rape, the violation, the metaphoric blood and love, you are no longer satisfied with compromises. You want to die having experienced this eruption once. For what is life without such infringement if not mere ripening concluding in decay. What sets us, Man, apart from beast is our ability to self-deceive and swindle others. The rogue's advantage over quarry is his capacity to have his lies transmuted till you believe them true. I trek the unpaved pathways between my truth and your delusions. What am I, fiend or angel? A weak, disintegrating apparition - or a triumphant growth? I am devoid of conscience in my own reflection. It is a cause for mirth. My complex is binary: to fight or flight, I'm well or ill, it should have been this way or I was led astray. I am the blinding murkiness that never sets, not even when I sleep. It overwhelms me, too, but also renders me farsighted. It taught me my survival: strike ere you are struck, abandon ere you're trashed, control ere you are subjugated. So what do you say to it now? I told you everything and haven't said a word. You knew it all before. You grasp how dire my need is for your blood, your hurt, the traumatic coma that will follow. They say one's death bequeaths another's life. It is the most profound destination, to will existence to your pining duplicate. I am plump and short, my face is uncontrived and smiling. When I am serious, I am told, I am like a battered and deserted child and this provokes in you an ancient cuddling instinct. When I am proximate, your body and your soul are unrestrained. I watch you kindly and the artificial lighting of this magnific vestibule bounces off my glasses.

My eyes are cradled in blackened pouches of withered skin. I draw your gaze by sighing sadly and rubbing them with weary hands. You incline our body, gulp the piquant libation, and sign the document. Then, leaning back, you shut exhausted eyes. There is no doubt: you realize your error. It's not too late. The document lies there, it's ready for the tearing. But you refrain. You will not do it. "Another drink?" - You ask I smile, my chubby cheeks and wire glasses sparkle. "No, thanks" - I say. The Psychology of Corruption Most politicians bend the laws of the land and steal money or solicit bribes because they need the funds to support networks of patronage. Others do it in order to reward their nearest and dearest or to maintain a lavish lifestyle when their political lives are over. But these mundane reasons fail to explain why some officeholders go on a rampage and binge on endless quantities of lucre. All rationales crumble in the face of a Mobutu Sese Seko or a Saddam Hussein or a Ferdinand Marcos who absconded with billions of US dollars from the coffers of Zaire, Iraq, and the Philippines, respectively. These inconceivable dollops of hard cash and valuables often remain stashed and untouched, moldering in bank accounts and safes in Western banks. They serve no purpose, either political or economic. But they do fulfill a psychological need. These hoards are not the megalomaniacal equivalents of savings accounts. Rather they are of the nature of compulsive collections. Erstwhile president of Sierra Leone, Momoh, amassed hundreds of video players and other consumer goods in vast rooms in his mansion. As electricity supply was intermittent at best, his was a curious choice. He used to sit among these relics of his cupidity, fondling and counting them insatiably. While Momoh relished things with shiny buttons, people like Sese Seko, Hussein, and Marcos drooled over money. The ever-heightening mountains of greenbacks in their vaults soothed them, filled them with confidence, regulated their sense of self-worth, and served as a love substitute. The balances in their bulging bank accounts were of no practical import or intent. They merely catered to their psychopathology. These politicos were not only crooks but also kleptomaniacs. They could no more stop thieving than Hitler could stop murdering. Venality was an integral part of their psychological makeup. Kleptomania is about acting out. It is a compensatory act. Politics is a drab, uninspiring, unintelligent, and, often humiliating business. It is also risky and rather arbitrary. It involves enormous stress and unceasing conflict. Politicians with mental health disorders (for instance, narcissists or psychopaths) react by decompensation. They rob the state and coerce

businessmen to grease their palms because it makes them feel better, it helps them to repress their mounting fears and frustrations, and to restore their psychodynamic equilibrium. These politicians and bureaucrats "let off steam" by looting. Kleptomaniacs fail to resist or control the impulse to steal, even if they have no use for the booty. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR (2000), the bible of psychiatry, kleptomaniacs feel "pleasure, gratification, or relief when committing the theft." The good book proceeds to say that " ... (T)he individual may hoard the stolen objects ...". As most kleptomaniac politicians are also psychopaths, they rarely feel remorse or fear the consequences of their misdeeds. But this only makes them more culpable and dangerous. Financial Abuse (Interview granted to the Guardian, June 29, 2013) Q. Would narcissists often try to restrict their partner's independence by reducing their access to shared family finances? Why? A. Narcissists are control freaks, paranoid, jealous, possessive, and envious. They are the sad products of early childhood abandonment by parents, caregivers, role models, and/or peers. Hence their extreme abandonment anxiety and insecure attachment style. Fostering financial dependence in their nearest and dearest is just another way of making sure of their continued presence as sources of narcissistic supply (attention.) He who holds the purse strings holds the heart's strings. Reducing other people to begging and cajoling also buttresses the narcissist's grandiose fantasy of omnipotence and provides him with a somewhat sadistic gratification. Q. Would it also happen with female narcissists exercising control over men? A. Yes. There is no major psychodynamic difference between male and female narcissists. Q. What advice would you give to someone in a relationship with a narcissist? Should they try to keep their finances separate? A. They should never allow themselves to be irrevocably separated from their family of origin and close friends. They should maintain their support network and refuse to become a part of the narcissist's cult-like shared psychosis. They should make sure that they have independent sources of wealth (a trust fund; real estate; bank accounts; deposits; securities) and sustainable sources of income (a job; rental income; interest and dividends; royalties). Above all: they should not share with their narcissistic intimate partner the full, unmitigated details of their life and critical bits of information such as banking passwords and safe box access codes. Q. I understand that narcissists will sometimes sacrifice their finances and get into big trouble financially (even going bankrupt) in order to satisfy other narcissistic desires so I presume this means that narcissists are also people whose finances can be instable? A. It is not as simple as that. The classic narcissist maintains an island of stability in his life

(e.g.: his job, business, and finances) while the other dimensions of his existence (e.g., interpersonal relations) wallow in chaos and unpredictability. The narcissist may marry, divorce, and remarry with dizzying speed. Everything in his life may be in constant flux: friends, emotions, judgements, values, beliefs, place of residence, affiliations, hobbies. Everything, that is, except his work. His career is the island of compensating stability in his otherwise mercurial existence. This kind of narcissist is dogged by unmitigated ambition and devotion. He perseveres in one workplace or one job, patiently, persistently and blindly climbing up the corporate ladder and treading the career path. In his pursuit of job fulfilment and achievements, the narcissist is ruthless and unscrupulous – and, very often, successful. The borderline narcissist reacts to instability in one area of his life by introducing chaos into all the others. Thus, if such a narcissist resigns (or, more likely, is made redundant) – he also relocates to another city or country. If he divorces, he is also likely to resign his job. This added instability gives this type of narcissist the feeling that all the dimensions of his life are changing simultaneously, that he is being "unshackled", that a transformation is in progress. This, of course, is an illusion. Those who know the narcissist, no longer trust his frequent "conversions", "decisions", "crises", "transformations", "developments" and "periods". They see through his pretensions, protestations, and solemn declarations into the core of his instability. They know that he is not to be relied upon. They know that with narcissists, temporariness is the only permanence. Narcissists hate routine. When a narcissist finds himself doing the same things over and over again, he gets depressed. He oversleeps, over-eats, over-drinks and, in general, engages in addictive, impulsive, reckless, and compulsive behaviours. This is his way of re-introducing risk and excitement into what he (emotionally) perceives to be a barren life. The problem is that even the most exciting and varied existence becomes routine after a while. Living in the same country or apartment, meeting the same people, doing essentially the same things (even with changing content) – all "qualify", in the eyes of the narcissist, as stultifying rote. The narcissist feels entitled. He feels it is his right – due to his intellectual or physical superiority – to lead a thrilling, rewarding, kaleidoscopic life. He wants to force life itself, or at least people around him, to yield to his wishes and needs, supreme among them the need for stimulating variety.

Madoff is, in all likelihood, a psychopathic narcissist. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) at a Glance What is Pathological Narcissism?

Click HERE to learn more about Narcissism Pathological narcissism is a life-long pattern of traits and behaviours which signify infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one's gratification, dominance and ambition. As distinct from healthy narcissism which we all possess, pathological narcissism is maladaptive, rigid, persisting, and causes significant distress, and functional impairment. Pathological narcissism was first described in detail by Freud in his essay "On Narcissism" (1915). Other major contributors to the study of narcissism are: Melanie Klein, Karen Horney, Franz Kohut, Otto Kernberg, Theodore Millon, Elsa Roningstam, Gunderson, and Robert Hare. What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) (formerly known as megalomania or, colloquially, as egotism) is a form of pathological narcissism. It is a Cluster B (dramatic, emotional, or erratic) personality disorder. Other Cluster B personality disorders are the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), the Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD), and the Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) first appeared as a mental health diagnosis in the DSM III-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) in 1980. Diagnostic Criteria The ICD-10, the International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organisation in Geneva [1992] regards the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as "a personality disorder that fits none of the specific rubrics". It relegates it to the category "Other Specific Personality Disorders" together with the eccentric, "haltlose", immature, passive-aggressive, and psychoneurotic personality disorders and types. The American Psychiatric Association, based in Washington D.C., USA, publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, Text Revision (DSMIV-TR) [2000] where it provides the diagnostic criteria for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (301.81, p. 717). The DSM-IV-TR defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as "an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts", such as family life and work. The DSM specifies nine diagnostic criteria. Five (or more) of these criteria must be met for a diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) to be rendered. [In the text below, I have proposed modifications to the language of these criteria to incorporate current knowledge about this disorder. My modifications appear in bold italics.] [My amendments do not constitute a part of the text of the DSM-IV-TR, nor is the American Psychiatric Association (APA) associated with them in any way.]

[Click here to download a bibliography of the studies and research regarding the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) on which I based my proposed revisions.] Proposed Amended Criteria for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements); Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion; Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions); Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply); Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment; Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends; Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others; Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly; Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above the law", and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.

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Prevalence and Age and Gender Features According to the DSM IV-TR, between 2% and 16% of the population in clinical settings (between 0.5-1% of the general population) are diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Most narcissists (50-75%, according to the DSM-IV-TR) are men. We must carefully distinguish between the narcissistic traits of adolescents - narcissism is an integral part of their healthy personal development - and the full-fledge disorder. Adolescence is about self-definition, differentiation, separation from one's parents, and individuation. These inevitably involve narcissistic assertiveness which is not to be conflated or confused with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

"The lifetime prevalence rate of NPD is approximately 0.5-1 percent; however, the estimated prevalence in clinical settings is approximately 2-16 percent. Almost 75 percent of individuals diagnosed with NPD are male (APA, DSM IV-TR 2000)." From the Abstract of Psychotherapeutic Assessment and Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorder By Robert C. Schwartz,Ph.D., DAPA and Shannon D. Smith, Ph.D., DAPA (American Psychotherapy Association, Article #3004 Annals July/August 2002) Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is exacerbated by the onset of aging and the physical, mental, and occupational restrictions it imposes. In certain situations, such as under constant public scrutiny and exposure, a transient and reactive form of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has been observed by Robert Milman and labelled "Acquired Situational Narcissism". There is only scant research regarding the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), but studies have not demonstrated any ethnic, social, cultural, economic, genetic, or professional predilection to it. Comorbidity and Differential Diagnoses Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders ("co-morbidity"), such as mood disorders, eating disorders, and substance-related disorders. Patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are frequently abusive and prone to impulsive and reckless behaviours ("dual diagnosis"). Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is commonly diagnosed with other personality disorders, such as the Histrionic, Borderline, Paranoid, and Antisocial Personality Disorders. The personal style of those suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) should be distinguished from the personal styles of patients with other Cluster B Personality Disorders. The narcissist is grandiose, the histrionic coquettish, the antisocial (psychopath) callous, and the borderline needy. As opposed to patients with the Borderline Personality Disorder, the self-image of the narcissist is stable, he or she are less impulsive and less self-defeating or self-destructive and less concerned with abandonment issues (not as clinging). Contrary to the histrionic patient, the narcissist is achievements-orientated and proud of his or her possessions and accomplishments. Narcissists also rarely display their emotions as histrionics do and they hold the sensitivities and needs of others in contempt. According to the DSM-IV-TR, both narcissists and psychopaths are "tough-minded, glib, superficial, exploitative, and unempathic". But narcissists are less impulsive, less aggressive, and less deceitful. Psychopaths rarely seek narcissistic supply. As opposed to psychopaths, few narcissists are criminals.

Patients suffering from the range of obsessive-compulsive disorders are committed to perfection and believe that only they are capable of attaining it. But, as opposed to narcissists, they are self-critical and far more aware of their own deficiencies, flaws, and shortcomings. Clinical Features of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder The onset of pathological narcissism is in infancy, childhood and early adolescence. It is commonly attributed to childhood abuse and trauma inflicted by parents, authority figures, or even peers. Pathological narcissism is a defense mechanism intended to deflect hurt and trauma from the victim's "True Self" into a "False Self" which is omnipotent, invulnerable, and omniscient. The narcissist uses the False Self to regulate his or her labile sense of selfworth by extracting from his environment narcissistic supply (any form of attention, both positive and negative). There is a whole range of narcissistic reactions, styles, and personalities – from the mild, reactive and transient to the permanent personality disorder. Patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) feel injured, humiliated and empty when criticized. They often react with disdain (devaluation), rage, and defiance to any slight, real or imagined. To avoid such situations, some patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) socially withdraw and feign false modesty and humility to mask their underlying grandiosity. Dysthymic and depressive disorders are common reactions to isolation and feelings of shame and inadequacy. The interpersonal relationships of patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are typically impaired due to their lack of empathy, disregard for others, exploitativeness, sense of entitlement, and constant need for attention (narcissistic supply). Though often ambitious and capable, inability to tolerate setbacks, disagreement, and criticism make it difficult for patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) to work in a team or to maintain long-term professional achievements. The narcissist's fantastic grandiosity, frequently coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically incommensurate with his or her real accomplishments (the "grandiosity gap"). Patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are either "cerebral" (derive their Narcissistic Supply from their intelligence or academic achievements) or "somatic" (derive their Narcissistic Supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and romantic or physical "conquests"). Patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are either "classic" (meet five of the nine diagnostic criteria included in the DSM), or they are "compensatory" (their narcissism compensates for deep-set feelings of inferiority and lack of self-worth). Some narcissists are covert, or inverted narcissists. As codependents, they derive their narcissistic supply from their relationships with classic narcissists. Based on a survey of 1201 therapists and psychologists in clinical practice, Prof. Drew Westen of Emory University postulated the existence of three subtypes of narcissists:

1. High functioning or Exhibitionist: "(H)as an exaggerated sense of self-importance, but is also articulate, energetic, outgoing, and achievement oriented." (The equivalent of the Cerebral narcissist). 2. Fragile: "(W)ants to feel important and privileged to ward off painful feelings of inadequacy and loneliness" (The equivalent of the Compensatory narcissist). 3. Grandiose or Malignant: "(H)as an exaggerated sense of self-importance, feels privileged, exploits others, and lusts after power." (The equivalent of the Classic narcissist). Treatment and Prognosis The common treatment for patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is talk therapy (mainly psychodynamic psychotherapy or cognitive-behavioural treatment modalities). Talk therapy is used to modify the narcissist's antisocial, interpersonally exploitative, and dysfunctional behaviors, often with some success. Medication is prescribed to control and ameliorate attendant conditions such as mood disorders, or obsessivecompulsive disorders.

The prognosis for an adult suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is poor, though his adaptation to life and to others can improve with treatment. Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the DSM V- Click HERE to Watch the Video Abolish Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in DSM V? - Click HERE to Watch the Video DSM V proposed diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder available HERE. Read more about the shortcomings of the DSM IV and how they are tackled in the DSM V click HERE. The DSM V re-defines personality disorders thus: "The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits." According to the June 2011 text of the DSM V, the following criteria must be met to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder (in parentheses my comments): Significant impairments in personality functioning in either identity, or self-direction (should be: in both.) Identity The narcissist keeps referring to others excessively in order to regulate his self-esteem (really, sense of self-worth) and for "self-definition" (to define his identity.) His self-appraisal is

exaggerated, whether it is inflated, deflated, or fluctuating between these two poles and his emotional regulation reflects these vacillations. (Finally, the DSM V accepted what I have been saying for decades: that narcissists can have an "inferiority complex" and feel worthless and bad; that they go through cycles of ups and downs in their self-evaluation; and that this cycling influences their mood and affect.) Self-direction The narcissist sets goals in order to gain approval from others (narcissistic supply; the DSM V ignores the fact that the narcissist finds disapproval equally rewarding as long as it places him firmly in the limelight.) The narcissist lacks self-awareness as far as his motivation goes (and as far as everything else besides.) The narcissist's personal standards and benchmarks are either too high (which supports his grandiosity), or too low (buttresses his sense of entitlement, which is incommensurate with his real-life performance.) Impairments in interpersonal functioning in either empathy or intimacy (should be: in both.) Empathy The narcissist finds it difficult to identify with the emotions and needs of others, but is very attuned to their reactions when they are relevant to himself (cold empathy.) Consequently, he overestimates the effect he has on others or underestimates it (the classic narcissist never underestimates the effect he has on others - but the inverted narcissist does.) Intimacy The narcissist's relationships are self-serving and, therefore shallow and superficial. They are centred around and geared at the regulation of his self-esteem (obtaining narcissistic supply for the regulation of his labile sense of self-worth.) The narcissist is not "genuinely" interested in his intimate partner's experiences (implying that he does fake such interest convincingly.) The narcissist emphasizes his need for personal gain (by using the word "need", the DSM V acknowledges the compulsive and addictive nature of narcissistic supply). These twin fixtures of the narcissist's relationships render them one-sided: no mutuality or reciprocity (no intimacy). Pathological personality traits Antagonism characterized by grandiosity and attention-seeking Grandiosity The aforementioned feeling of entitlement. The DSM V adds that it can be either overt or covert (which corresponds to my taxonomy of classic and inverted narcissist.)

Grandiosity is characterized by self-centredness; a firmly-held conviction of superiority (arrogance or haughtiness); and condescending or patronizing attitudes. Attention-seeking The narcissist puts inordinate effort, time, and resources into attracting others (sources of narcissistic supply) and placing himself at the focus and centre of attention. He seeks admiration (the DSM V gets it completely wrong here: the narcissist does prefer to be admired and adulated, but, failing that, any kind of attention would do, even if it is negative.) The diagnostic criteria end with disclaimers and differential diagnoses, which reflect years of accumulated research and newly-gained knowledge: The above enumerated impairments should be "stable across time and consistent across situations ... not better understood as normative for the individual’s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment ... are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma)." Bibliography Goldman, Howard H., Review of General Psychiatry, fourth edition,1995.PrenticeHallInternational, London. Gelder, Michael, Gath, Dennis, Mayou, Richard, Cowen, Philip (eds.),Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry, third edition, 1996, reprinted 2000. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Vaknin, Sam, Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited, ninth revised impression, 19992013. Narcissus Publications, Prague and Skopje. Westen, Drew et al. Refining the Construct of Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Diagnostic Criteria and Subtypes (Posted at The Dual Role of the Narcissist's False Self The False Self replaces the narcissist’s True Self and is intended to shield him from hurt and narcissistic injury by self-imputing omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence (godlike attributes). The narcissist pretends that his False Self is real and demands that others affirm this confabulation. The False Self re-interprets information in a flattering or socially-acceptable light and also imitates and emulates normal emotions and empathy. Question: Why does the narcissist conjure up another Self? Why not simply transform his True Self into a False one?

Answer: We often marvel at the discrepancy between the private and public lives of our idols: celebrities, statesmen, stars, writers, and other accomplished figures. It is as though they have two personalities, two selves: the "true" one which they reserve for their nearest and dearest and the "fake" or "false" or "concocted" one which they flaunt in public. In contrast, the narcissist has no private life, no true self, no domain reserved exclusively for his nearest and dearest. His life is a spectacle, with free access to all, constantly on display, garnering narcissistic supply from his audience. In the theatre that is the narcissist's life, the actor is irrelevant. Only the show goes on. Once formed and functioning, the False Self stifles the growth of the True Self and paralyses it. Henceforth, the True Self is virtually non-existent and plays no role (active or passive) in the conscious life of the narcissist. It is difficult to "resuscitate" it, even with psychotherapy. This substitution is not only a question of alienation, as Horney observed. She said that because the Idealised (=False) Self sets impossible goals to the narcissist, the results are frustration and self hate which grow with every setback or failure. But the constant sadistic judgement, the self-berating, the suicidal ideation emanate from the narcissist's idealised, sadistic, Superego regardless of the existence or functioning of a False Self. There is no conflict between the True Self and the False Self. First, the True Self is much too weak to do battle with the overbearing False. Second, the False Self is adaptive (though maladaptive). It helps the True Self to cope with the world. Without the False Self, the True Self would be subjected to so much hurt that it will disintegrate. This happens to narcissists who go through a life crisis: their False Ego becomes dysfunctional and they experience a harrowing feeling of annulment. The False Self has many functions. The two most important are: 1. It serves as a decoy, it "attracts the fire". It is a proxy for the True Self. It is tough as nails and can absorb any amount of pain, hurt and negative emotions. By inventing it, the child develops immunity to the indifference, manipulation, sadism, smothering, or exploitation – in short: to the abuse – inflicted on him by his parents (or by other Primary Objects in his life). It is a cloak, protecting him, rendering him invisible and omnipotent at the same time. 2. The False Self is misrepresented by the narcissist as his True Self. The narcissist is saying, in effect: "I am not who you think I am. I am someone else. I am this (False) Self. Therefore, I deserve a better, painless, more considerate treatment." The False Self, thus, is a contraption intended to alter other people's behaviour and attitude towards the narcissist. These roles are crucial to survival and to the proper psychological functioning of the narcissist. The False Self is by far more important to the narcissist than his dilapidated, dysfunctional, True Self.

The two Selves are not part of a continuum, as the neo-Freudians postulated. Healthy people do not have a False Self which differs from its pathological equivalent in that it is more realistic and closer to the True Self. It is true that even healthy people have a mask [Guffman], or a persona [Jung] which they consciously present to the world. But these are a far cry from the False Self, which is mostly subconscious, depends on outside feedback, and is compulsive. The False Self is an adaptive reaction to pathological circumstances. But its dynamics make it predominate, devour the psyche and prey upon the True Self. Thus, it prevents the efficient, flexible functioning of the personality as a whole. That the narcissist possesses a prominent False Self as well as a suppressed and dilapidated True Self is common knowledge. Yet, how intertwined and inseparable are these two? Do they interact? How do they influence each other? And what behaviours can be attributed squarely to one or the other of these protagonists? Moreover, does the False Self assume traits and attributes of the True Self in order to deceive the world? Let's start by referring to an oft-occurring question: Why are narcissists not prone to suicide? The simple answer is that they died a long time ago. Narcissists are the true zombies of the world. Many scholars and therapists tried to grapple with the void at the core of the narcissist. The common view is that the remnants of the True Self are so ossified, shredded, cowed into submission and repressed – that, for all practical purposes, the True Self is dysfunctional and useless. In treating the narcissist, the therapist often tries to construct and nurture a completely new healthy self, rather than build upon the distorted wreckage strewn across the narcissist's psyche. But what of the rare glimpses of True Self oft reported by those who interact with the narcissist? Pathological narcissism is frequently comorbid with other disorders. The narcissistic spectrum is made up of gradations and shades of narcissism. Narcissistic traits or style or even personality (overlay) often attach to other disorders (co-morbidity). A person may well appear to be a full-fledged narcissist – may well appear to be suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) - but is not, in the strict, psychiatric, sense of the word. In such people, the True Self is still there and is sometimes observable. In a full-fledged narcissist, the False Self imitates the True Self. To do so artfully, it deploys two mechanisms: Re-Interpretation It causes the narcissist to re-interpret certain emotions and reactions in a flattering, socially acceptable, light. The narcissist may, for instance, interpret fear as compassion. If the

narcissist hurts someone he fears (e.g., an authority figure), he may feel bad afterwards and interpret his discomfort as empathy and compassion. To be afraid is humiliating – to be compassionate is commendable and earns the narcissist social commendation and understanding (narcissistic supply). Emulation The narcissist is possessed of an uncanny ability to psychologically penetrate others. Often, this gift is abused and put at the service of the narcissist's control freakery and sadism. The narcissist uses it liberally to annihilate the natural defences of his victims by faking empathy. This capacity is coupled with the narcissist's eerie ability to imitate emotions and their attendant behaviours (affect). The narcissist possesses "emotional resonance tables". He keeps records of every action and reaction, every utterance and consequence, every datum provided by others regarding their state of mind and emotional make-up. From these, he then constructs a set of formulas, which often result in impeccably accurate renditions of emotional behaviour. This can be enormously deceiving. Loving Gaze, Adulating Gaze Click HERE to Watch the Video In the film “The Beaver”, the character played by Mel Gibson suffers from depression. He latches on to a tattered puppet in the shape of a beaver and communicates exclusively through it. The Beaver is everything its ostensible master isn’t: daring, creative, exuberant, omnipotent, and omniscient, gregarious, resourceful, charismatic, and charming; a good father, good CEO, and good company all around. In short: The Beaver is the reification of the protagonist’s False Self. When his wife (Jodi Foster) confronts him, having exposed his confabulations and the need to let go of the contraption, The Beaver rages at her and asserts its superiority, invincibility, and brilliance. The depressive Walter – the True Self - is derided by The Beaver as a dysfunctional wreck, utterly dependent on the former’s ministrations and the interference it runs on his behalf. The film ends unrealistically with Walter mutilating his body – literally in order to rid himself of the domineering and all-pervasive appendage. “Unrealistically” because narcissists never succeed in resuscitating their dilapidated and crushed True Self. The narcissist IS his False Self: in real life, Walter should have been devoured and consumed by The Beaver – but then we would not have had a typical, syrupy Happy Ending, now, would we? Both the True Self and the False Self depend on the gaze of others. The False Self relies on adulation and attention – narcissistic supply – for the maintenance of the precarious, confabulated, fantastic, grandiose, and counterfactual narrative that is the narcissist’s persona, his public face. Without a constant flow of such high-quality input and feedback, without the adulating gaze, the narcissist crumbles like a house of ephemeral cards and resorts to a variety of dysfunctional, self-destructive, and self-defeating behaviors and defense mechanisms. Similarly and equally, the True Self needs a loving gaze to sustain itself. Another person’s love serves two purposes: it confirms the existence of the True Self as a lovable object and

thus lays the groundwork and facilitates the necessary and sufficient conditions for self-love; and it allows the True Self to perceive the existence of a “safe”, loving, and holding other. Such insight is at the very foundation of empathy. Do the False and True Selves ever fight it out, David vs. Goliath, Good vs. Evil, The Beaver vs. Walter? Alas, they never do. The False Self is concocted by the narcissist to fend off hurt. It is a perfect, impenetrable, impermeable shield, a cocoon; it rewards the narcissist by flooding him with warm, fuzzy, exhilarating feelings; and it sustains the narcissist’s delusions and fantasies. The False Self is the narcissist’s dreams come true. In other words: as far as the narcissist is concerned, the False Self is adaptive and functional. The narcissist is emotionally invested in the False Self and he despises the True Self for having failed to cope with the exigencies and vicissitudes of the narcissist’s life. The Psychopath and Antisocial Roots of the Disorder Are the psychopath, sociopath, and someone with the Antisocial Personality Disorder one and the same? The DSM says "yes". Scholars such as Robert Hare and Theodore Millon beg to differ. The psychopath has antisocial traits for sure but they are coupled with and enhanced by callousness, ruthlessness, extreme lack of empathy, deficient impulse control, deceitfulness, and sadism. Like other personality disorders, psychopathy becomes evident in early adolescence and is considered to be chronic. But unlike most other personality disorders, it is frequently ameliorated with age and tends to disappear altogether in by the fourth or fifth decade of life. This is because criminal behavior and substance abuse are both determinants of the disorders and behaviors more typical of young adults. Psychopathy may be hereditary. The psychopath's immediate family usually suffer from a variety of personality disorders. Cultural and Social Considerations The Antisocial Personality Disorder is a controversial mental health diagnoses. The psychopath refuses to conform to social norms and obey the law. He often inflicts pain and damage on his victims. But does that make this pattern of conduct a mental illness? The psychopath has no conscience or empathy. But is this necessarily pathological? Culturebound diagnoses are often abused as tools of social control. They allow the establishment, ruling elites, and groups with vested interests to label and restrain dissidents and troublemakers. Such diagnoses are frequently employed by totalitarian states to harness or even eliminate eccentrics, criminals, and deviants. Characteristics and Traits Like narcissists, psychopaths lack empathy and regard other people as mere instruments of gratification and utility or as objects to be manipulated. Psychopaths and narcissists have no

problem to grasp ideas and to formulate choices, needs, preferences, courses of action, and priorities. But they are shocked when other people do the very same. Most people accept that others have rights and obligations. The psychopath rejects this quid pro quo. As far as he is concerned, only might is right. People have no rights and he, the psychopath, has no obligations that derive from the "social contract". The psychopath holds himself to be above conventional morality and the law. The psychopath cannot delay gratification. He wants everything and wants it now. His whims, urges, catering to his needs, and the satisfaction of his drives take precedence over the needs, preferences, and emotions of even his nearest and dearest. Consequently, psychopaths feel no remorse when they hurt or defraud others. They don't possess even the most rudimentary conscience. They rationalize their (often criminal) behavior and intellectualize it. Psychopaths fall prey to their own primitive defense mechanisms (such as narcissism, splitting, and projection). The psychopath firmly believes that the world is a hostile, merciless place, prone to the survival of the fittest and that people are either "all good" or "all evil". The psychopath projects his own vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and shortcomings unto others and forces them to behave the way he expects them to (this defense mechanism is known as "projective identification"). Like narcissists, psychopaths are abusively exploitative and incapable of true love or intimacy. Narcissistic psychopath are particularly ill-suited to participate in the give and take of civilized society. Many of them are misfits or criminals. White collar psychopaths are likely to be deceitful and engage in rampant identity theft, the use of aliases, constant lying, fraud, and con-artistry for gain or pleasure. Psychopaths are irresponsible and unreliable. They do not honor contracts, undertakings, and obligations. They are unstable and unpredictable and rarely hold a job for long, repay their debts, or maintain long-term intimate relationships. Psychopaths are vindictive and hold grudges. They never regret or forget a thing. They are driven, and dangerous. I wrote this in the Open Site Encyclopedia: "Always in conflict with authority and frequently on the run, psychopaths possess a limited time horizon and seldom make medium or long term plans. They are impulsive and reckless, aggressive, violent, irritable, and, sometimes, the captives of magical thinking, believing themselves to be immune to the consequences of their own actions. Thus, psychopaths often end up in jail, having repeatedly flouted social norms and codified laws. Partly to avoid this fate and evade the law and partly to extract material benefits from unsuspecting victims, psychopaths habitually lie, steal others' identities, deceive, use aliases, and con for "personal profit or pleasure" as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual puts it." The Anxious Psychopath Psychopaths are said to be fearless and sang-froid. Their pain tolerance is very high. Still, contrary to popular perceptions and psychiatric orthodoxy, some psychopaths are

actuallyanxious and fearful. Their psychopathy is a defense against an underlying and allpervasive anxiety, either hereditary, or brought on by early childhood abuse. Is He a Psychopath? Four Red Flags Click HERE to Watch the Video 1. Psychopaths are “too good to be true”. They besiege their interlocutors with a relentless charm offensive, flaunting their accomplishments, skills, talents, brilliance, acuity, and good fortune. 2. Information asymmetry: The psychopath may flood you with unwanted and unwarranted information – and disinformation - about himself while conspicuously being incurious about you. Alternatively, he keeps mum about his life while intrusively “milking” you for the most intimate details of yours. 3. Belaboured normalcy and effortless deviance: Actions that are reflexive, or effortless with normal, healthy people require an inordinate amount of premeditation, concentration, planning, and laborious investment by the psychopath. Acts that normal folk would find abhorrent come naturally and effortlessly to the psychopath. 4. Alloplastic Defenses: The psychopath blames others, the authorities, institutions, or the world at large for his failures, defeats, and mishaps. It is never his fault. He has anexternal locus of control: his life is ruled from the outside, the collected sad outcomes of injustice, discrimination, and conspiracy. Narcissist vs. Psychopath We all heard the terms "psychopath" or "sociopath". These are the old or colloquial names for a patient with the Antisocial Personality Disorder (AsPD). It is hard to distinguish narcissists from psychopaths. The latter may simply be a less inhibited and less grandiose form of the former. Some scholars have suggested the existence of a hybrid "psychopathic narcissist", or "narcissistic psychopath". Indeed, the DSM V Committee is considering to merge these personality disorders. Still, there are some important nuances setting the two disorders apart: As opposed to most narcissists, psychopaths are either unable or unwilling to control their impulses or to delay gratification. They use their rage to control people and manipulate them into submission. Psychopaths, like narcissists, lack empathy but many of them are also sadistic: they take pleasure in inflicting pain on their victims or in deceiving them. They even find it funny! Psychopaths are far less able to form interpersonal relationships, even the twisted and tragic relationships that are the staple of the narcissist. Both the psychopath and the narcissist disregard society, its conventions, social cues and social treaties. But the psychopath carries this disdain to the extreme and is likely to be a

scheming, calculated, ruthless, and callous career criminal. Psychopaths are deliberately and gleefully evil while narcissists are absent-mindedly and incidentally evil. From my book "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited": "As opposed to what Scott Peck says, narcissists are not evil – they lack the intention to cause harm (mens rea). As Millon notes, certain narcissists 'incorporate moral values into their exaggerated sense of superiority. Here, moral laxity is seen (by the narcissist) as evidence of inferiority, and it is those who are unable to remain morally pure who are looked upon with contempt.' (Millon, Th., Davis, R. - Personality Disorders in Modern Life - John Wiley and Sons, 2000). Narcissists are simply indifferent, callous and careless in their conduct and in their treatment of others. Their abusive conduct is off-handed and absent-minded, not calculated and premeditated like the psychopath's." Psychopaths really do not need other people while narcissists are addicted to narcissistic supply (the admiration, attention, and envy of others). Millon and Davis (supra) add (p. 299-300): "When the egocentricity, lack of empathy, and sense of superiority of the narcissist crossfertilize with the impulsivity, deceitfulness, and criminal tendencies of the antisocial, the result is a psychopath, an individual who seeks the gratification of selfish impulses through any means without empathy or remorse." But, is Madoff malicious? Narcissism and Evil In his bestselling "People of the Lie", Scott Peck claims that narcissists are evil. Are they? The concept of "evil" in this age of moral relativism is slippery and ambiguous. The "Oxford Companion to Philosophy" (Oxford University Press, 1995) defines it thus: "The suffering which results from morally wrong human choices." To qualify as evil a person (Moral Agent) must meet these requirements: a. That he can and does consciously choose between the (morally) right and wrong and constantly and consistently prefers the latter; b. That he acts on his choice irrespective of the consequences to himself and to others. Clearly, evil must be premeditated. Francis Hutcheson and Joseph Butler argued that evil is a by-product of the pursuit of one's interest or cause at the expense of other people's interests or causes. But this ignores the critical element of conscious choice among equally efficacious alternatives. Moreover, people often pursue evil even when it jeopardizes their well-being and obstructs their interests. Sadomasochists even relish this orgy of mutual assured destruction. Narcissists satisfy both conditions only partly. Their evil is utilitarian. They are evil only when being malevolent secures a certain outcome. Sometimes, they consciously choose the morally wrong – but not invariably so. They act on their choice even if it inflicts misery and

pain on others. But they never opt for evil if they are to bear the consequences. They act maliciously because it is expedient to do so – not because it is "in their nature". The narcissist is able to tell right from wrong and to distinguish between good and evil. In the pursuit of his interests and causes, he sometimes chooses to act wickedly. Lacking empathy, the narcissist is rarely remorseful. Because he feels entitled, exploiting others is second nature. The narcissist abuses others absent-mindedly, off-handedly, as a matter of fact. The narcissist objectifies people and treats them as expendable commodities to be discarded after use. Admittedly, that, in itself, is evil. Yet, it is the mechanical, thoughtless, heartless face of narcissistic abuse – devoid of human passions and of familiar emotions – that renders it so alien, so frightful and so repellent. An argument can even be made (and I am not making it) that narcissists and psychopaths are like a force of nature: viruses, or tornadoes. They inflict havoc on their environment, but they cannot really help it. Healthy people are compelled by the process of socialization to make moral choices. Narcissists and psychopaths are compelled by nature and nurture alike to NOT make such choices. This is who they are, their quiddity. We are often shocked less by the actions of narcissist than by the way he acts. In the absence of a vocabulary rich enough to capture the subtle hues and gradations of the spectrum of narcissistic depravity, we default to habitual adjectives such as "good" and "evil". Such intellectual laziness does this pernicious phenomenon and its victims little justice. Read Ann's response: Note - Why are we Fascinated by Evil and Evildoers? The common explanation is that one is fascinated with evil and evildoers because, through them, one vicariously expresses the repressed, dark, and evil parts of one's own personality. Evildoers, according to this theory, represent the "shadow" nether lands of our selves and, thus, they constitute our antisocial alter egos. Being drawn to wickedness is an act of rebellion against social strictures and the crippling bondage that is modern life. It is a mock synthesis of our Dr. Jekyll with our Mr. Hyde. It is a cathartic exorcism of our inner demons. Yet, even a cursory examination of this account reveals its flaws. Far from being taken as a familiar, though suppressed, element of our psyche, evil is mysterious. Though preponderant, villains are often labeled "monsters" - abnormal, even supernatural aberrations. It took Hanna Arendt two thickset tomes to remind us that evil is banal and bureaucratic, not fiendish and omnipotent. In our minds, evil and magic are intertwined. Sinners seem to be in contact with some alternative reality where the laws of Man are suspended. Sadism, however deplorable, is also admirable because it is the reserve of Nietzsche's Supermen, an indicator of personal strength and resilience. A heart of stone lasts longer than its carnal counterpart. Throughout human history, ferocity, mercilessness, and lack of empathy were extolled as virtues and enshrined in social institutions such as the army and the courts. The doctrine of Social Darwinism and the advent of moral relativism and deconstruction did away with

ethical absolutism. The thick line between right and wrong thinned and blurred and, sometimes, vanished. Evil nowadays is merely another form of entertainment, a species of pornography, a sanguineous art. Evildoers enliven our gossip, color our drab routines and extract us from dreary existence and its depressive correlates. It is a little like collective self-injury. Selfmutilators report that parting their flesh with razor blades makes them feel alive and reawakened. In this synthetic universe of ours, evil and gore permit us to get in touch with real, raw, painful life. The higher our desensitized threshold of arousal, the more profound the evil that fascinates us. Like the stimuli-addicts that we are, we increase the dosage and consume added tales of malevolence and sinfulness and immorality. Thus, in the role of spectators, we safely maintain our sense of moral supremacy and self-righteousness even as we wallow in the minutest details of the vilest crimes. From My Correspondence I find it difficult to accept that I am irredeemably evil, that I ecstatically, almost orgasmically enjoy hurting people and that I actively seek to inflict pain on others. It runs so contrary to my long-cultivated and tenderly nurtured self-image as a benefactor, a sensitive intellectual, and a harmless hermit. In truth, my sadism meshes well and synergetically with two other behavior patterns: my relentless pursuit of narcissistic supply and my self-destructive, selfdefeating, and, therefore, masochistic streak. The process of torturing, humiliating, and offending people provides proof of my omnipotence, nourishes my grandiose fantasies, and buttresses my False Self. The victims' distress and dismay constitute narcissistic supply of the purest grade. It also alienates them and turns them into hostile witnesses or even enemies and stalkers. Thus, through the agency of my hapless and helpless victims, I bring upon my head recurrent torrents of wrath and punishment. This animosity guarantees my unraveling and my failure, outcomes which I avidly seek in order to placate my inner, chastising and castigating voices (what Freud called "the sadistic Superego"). Similarly, I am a fiercely independent person (known in psychological jargon as a "counterdependent"). But mine is a pathological variant of personal autonomy. I want to be free to frustrate myself by inflicting mental havoc on my human environment, including and especially my nearest and dearest, thus securing and incurring their inevitable ire. Getting attached to or becoming dependent on someone in any way - emotionally, financially, hierarchically, politically, religiously, or intellectually - means surrendering my ability to indulge my all-consuming urges: to torment, to feel like God, and to be ruined by the consequences of my own evil actions. Is Madoff, perhaps, Insane? Is the Narcissist Legally Insane?

Narcissists are not prone to "irresistible impulses" and dissociation (blanking out certain stressful events and actions). They more or less fully control their behavior and acts at all times. But exerting control over one's conduct requires the investment of resources, both mental and physical. Narcissists regard this as a waste of their precious time, or a humiliating chore. Lacking empathy, they don't care about other people's feelings, needs, priorities, wishes, preferences, and boundaries. As a result, narcissists are awkward, tactless, painful, taciturn, abrasive and insensitive. The narcissist often has rage attacks and grandiose fantasies. Most narcissists are also mildly obsessive-compulsive. Yet, all narcissists should be held accountable to the vast and overwhelming majority of their actions. At all times, even during the worst explosive episode, the narcissist can tell right from wrong and reign in their impulses. The narcissist's impulse control is unimpaired, though he may pretend otherwise in order to terrorize, manipulate and coerce his human environment into compliance. The only things the narcissist cannot "control" are his grandiose fantasies. All the same, he knows that lying and confabulating are morally wrong and can choose to refrain from doing so. The narcissist is perfectly capable of anticipating the consequences of his actions and their influence on others. Actually, narcissists are "X-ray" machines: they are very perceptive and sensitive to the subtlest nuances. But the narcissist does not care. For him, humans are dispensable, rechargeable, reusable. They are there to fulfil a function: to supply him with Narcissistic Supply (adoration, admiration, approval, affirmation, etc.) They do not have an existence apart from carrying out their "duties". Still, it is far from a clear-cut case. Some scholars note, correctly, that many narcissists have no criminal intent (“mens rea”) even when they commit criminal acts (“acti rei”). The narcissist may victimise, plunder, intimidate and abuse others - but not in the cold, calculating manner of the psychopath. The narcissist hurts people offhandedly, carelessly, and absentmindedly. The narcissist is more like a force of nature or a beast of prey - dangerous but not purposeful or evil. Moreover, many narcissists don't feel responsible for their actions. They believe that they are victims of injustice, bias, prejudice, and discrimination. This is because they are shapeshifters and actors. The narcissist is not one person - but two. The True Self is as good as dead and buried. The False Self changes so often in reaction to life's circumstances that the narcissist has no sense of personal continuity. From my book "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited": "The narcissist's perception of his life and his existence is discontinuous. The narcissist is a walking compilation of "personalities", each with its own personal history. The narcissist does not feel that he is, in any way, related to his former "selves". He, therefore, does not understand why he has to be punished for "someone else's" actions or inaction. This "injustice" surprises, hurts, and enrages him."

The Accountable Narcissist The narcissist knows to tell right from wrong and is aware of social norms and laws. Lacking empathy, he simply doesn’t care enough about others to act properly or to refrain from harmful action. Question: Should the narcissist be held accountable for his actions? Answer: Narcissists of all shades can usually control their behaviour and actions. They simply don't care to, they regard it as a waste of their precious time, or a humiliating chore. The narcissist feels both superior and entitled – regardless of his real gifts or achievements. Other people are inferior, his slaves, there to cater to his needs and make his existence seamless, flowing and smooth. The narcissist holds himself to be cosmically significant and thus entitled to the conditions needed to realise his talents and to successfully complete his mission (which changes fluidly and about which he has no clue except that it has to do with brilliance and fame). What the narcissist cannot control is his void, his emotional black hole, the fact that he doesn't know what it is like to be human (lacks empathy). As a result, narcissists are awkward, tactless, painful, taciturn, abrasive and insensitive. The narcissist should be held accountable to most of his actions, even taking into account his sometimes uncontrollable rage and the backdrop of his grandiose fantasies. Admittedly, at times, the narcissist finds it hard control his rage. But at all times, even during the worst explosive episode: a. He can tell right from wrong; b. He simply doesn't care about the other person sufficiently to refrain from action. Similarly, the narcissist cannot "control" his grandiose fantasies. He firmly believes that they constitute an accurate representation of reality. But: a. He knows that lying is wrong and not done; b. He simply doesn't care enough about society and others to refrain from confabulating. To summarize, narcissists should be held accountable for most of their actions because they can tell wrong from right and they can refrain from acting. They simply don't care enough about others to put to good use these twin abilities. Others are not sufficiently important to dent the narcissist's indifference or to alter his abusive conduct.

Madoff simply feels immune to the consequences of his actions and reinterprets his crimes to fit an ego-syntonic narrative. Crime and Punishment: The Never Repenting Narcissist The narcissistic personality is dissociative and discontinuous, split among the False and the True Self. Consequently, when punished for his misdeeds, the narcissist feels hurt and shocked. He rages against the perceived injustice. His sense of entitlement, his grandiose omnipotence, and his self-imputed immunity all suffer when the narcissist is held accountable. Question: Do narcissists feel guilty and if so, do they ever repent? Answer: The narcissist has no criminal intent (“mens rea”), though he may commit criminal acts (“acti rei”). He does not victimise, plunder, terrorise and abuse others in a cold, calculating manner. He does so offhandedly, as a manifestation of his genuine character. To be morally repugnant, one needs to be purposeful, to deliberate and contemplate the options and then to prefer evil to good, wrong over right. No ethical or moral judgement is possible without an act of choice. The narcissist's perception of his life and his existence is discontinuous. The narcissist is a walking compilation of "personalities", each with its own personal history. The narcissist does not feel that he is, in any way, related to his former "selves". He, therefore, does not understand why he has to be punished for "someone else's" actions or inaction. This "injustice" surprises, hurts, and enrages him. The narcissist is taken aback by society's insistence that he should be held accountable and punished for his transgressions. He feels wronged, hurt, the victim of pettiness, bigotry, bias, discrimination and injustice. He rebels and rages. Unable to link his act (perpetrated, as far as he is concerned, by a previous phase of his self, alien to his "current" self) to its outcomes – the narcissist is constantly baffled. Depending upon how pervasive his magical thinking is, the narcissist may develop persecutory delusions making him the quarry of powers cosmic and intrinsically ominous. He may develop compulsive rites to fend off this impending threat. The narcissist is an assemblage. He plays host to many personas. One of the personas is always in the "limelight". This is the persona, which interfaces with the outside world, and which guarantees an optimal inflow of Narcissistic Supply. This is the persona which minimises friction and resistance in the narcissist's daily dealings and, thus, the energy which the narcissist needs to expend in the process of obtaining his supply.

The "limelight persona" is surrounded by "shade personas". The latter are potential personas, ready to surface as soon as needed by the narcissist. Their emergence depends on their usefulness. An old persona might be rendered useless or less useful by a confluence of events. The narcissist is in the habit of constantly and erratically changing his circumstances. He switches between vocations, marriages, "friendships", countries, residences, lovers, and even enemies with startling and dazzling swiftness. He is a machine whose sole aim is to optimise its input, rather than its output – the input of Narcissistic Supply. To achieve its goal, this machine stops at nothing, and does not hesitate to alter itself beyond recognition. The narcissist is the true shape-shifter. To achieve ego-syntony (to feel good despite all these upheavals), the narcissist uses the twin mechanisms of idealisation and devaluation. The first is intended to help him to tenaciously attach to his newfound Source of Supply – the second to detach from it, once its usefulness has been exhausted. This is why and how the narcissist is able to pick up where he left off so easily. It is common for a narcissist returns to haunt an old or defunct PNS (Pathological Narcissistic Space, the hunting grounds of the narcissist). This happens when a narcissist can no longer occupy – physically or emotionally – his current PNS. Consider a narcissist who is imprisoned or exiled, divorced or fired. He can no longer obtain Narcissistic Supply from his old sources. He has to reinvent and reshape a new PNS. In his new settings (new family, new country, different city, new neighbourhood, new workplace) he tries out a few personas until he strikes gold and finds the one that provides him with the best results - Narcissistic Supply aplenty. But if the narcissist is forced to return to his previous PNS, he has no difficulty adjusting. He immediately assumes his old persona and begins to extract Narcissistic Supply from his old sources. The personas of the narcissist, in other words, bond with his respective PNS's. These couplets are both interchangeable and inseparable in the narcissist's mind. Every time he moves, the narcissist changes the narcissistic couplet: his PNS and the persona attached thereto. Thus, the narcissist is spatially and temporally discontinuous. His different personas are mostly in "cold storage". He does not feel that they are part of his current identity. They are "stored" or repressed, rigidly attached to four-dimensional PNS's. We say "four dimensional" because, to a narcissist, a PNS is "frozen" both in space and in time. This slicing of the narcissist's life is what stands behind the narcissist's apparent inability to predict the inevitable outcomes of his actions. Coupled with his inability to empathise, it renders him amoral and resilient - in short: a "survivor". His daredevil approach to life, his callousness, his ruthlessness, his maverick-ness, and, above all, his shock at being held accountable – are all partly the results of his uncanny ability to reinvent himself so completely. Denial Mechanisms of Abusive Narcissists and Psychopaths Abusers regularly deny the abuse ever took place – or rationalize their abusive behaviors. Denial is an integral part of the abuser's ability to "look at himself/herself in the mirror".

There are many types of denial. When confronted by his victims, most abusers tend to shift blame or avoid the topic altogether. Total Denial 1. Outright Denial Typical retorts by the abuser: "It never happened, or it was not abuse, you are just imagining it, or you want to hurt my (the abuser's) feelings." 2. Alloplastic Defense Common sentences when challenged: "It was your fault, you, or your behavior, or the circumstances, provoked me into such behavior." In other words: abusers blame the world - circumstances, other people - for their defeats, misfortune, misconduct, and failures (alloplastic defenses). The abuser firmly believes that his life is fully controlled by currents and persons over which and whom he has no influence whatsoever (external locus of control.) Sometimes, the abuser would say: "I made a mistake because I am stupid", implying that his deficiencies and inadequacy are things he has no control over and cannot change. This is also an alloplastic defence because it abrogates responsibility. Many abusers exclaim: "I misbehaved because I lost my temper." On the surface, this appears to be an autoplastic defence with the abuser assuming responsibility for his misconduct. But, it could be interpreted as an alloplastic defence, depending on whether the abuser believes that he can control his temper. An individual's alloplastic and autoplastic defences should not be confused with blame and guilt which are social constructs for social control. 3. Altruistic Defense Usual convoluted explanations: "I did it for you, in your best interests." 4. Transformative Defense Recurring themes: "What I did to you was not abuse – it was common and accepted behavior (at the time, or in the context of the prevailing culture or in accordance with social norms), it was not meant as abuse." Abusers frequently have narcissistic traits. As such, they are more concerned with appearance than with substance. Dependent for Narcissistic Supply on the community –neighbors, colleagues, co-workers, bosses, friends, extended family – they cultivate an unblemished reputation for honesty, industriousness, religiosity, reliability, and conformity. Forms of Denial in Public

1. Family Honor Stricture Characteristic admonitions: "We don't do dirty laundry publicly, the family's honor and repute must be preserved, what will the neighbors say?" 2. Family Functioning Stricture Dire and ominous scenarios: "If you snitch and inform the authorities, they will take me (the abusive parent) away and the whole family will disintegrate." Is the Narcissist Ever Sorry? Narcissists lack empathy so they never feel remorse or regret for their actions or inaction. They deny responsibility and shift the blame and guilt to others. Question: Doesn't the narcissist ever feel sorry for his "victims"? Answer: The narcissist always feels "bad". He experiences all manner of depressive episodes and lesser dysphoric moods. He goes through a full panoply of mood disorders and anxiety disorders. He experiences panic from time to time. It is not pleasant to be a narcissist. But he has a diminished capacity to empathise so he rarely feels sorry for what he does. He almost never puts himself in the shoes of his "victims". Actually, he doesn't regards them as victims at all! It is very common for the narcissist to feel victimized, deprived and discriminated against. He projects his own moods, cognitions, emotions, and actions onto others. Sure, he feels distressed because he is intelligent enough to realise that something is wrong with him in a major way. He compares himself to others and the outcome is never favourable. His grandiosity is one of the defence mechanisms that he uses to cover up for this disagreeable state of things. But its efficacy is partial and intermittent. The rest of the time, when it's not working, the narcissist is immersed in self-loathing and self-pity. He is under duress and distress most of his waking life. In a vague way, he is also sorry for those upon whom he inflicts the consequences of his personality disorder. He knows that they are not happy and he understands that it has something to do with him. Mostly, he uses even this to aggrandise himself: poor things, they can never fully understand him, they are so inferior. It is no wonder that they are so depressed. He puts himself at the centre of their world, the axis around which everything and everyone revolves. When confronted with major crises (a traumatic divorce, a financial entanglement, a demotion) the narcissist experiences real, excruciating, life-threatening pain. This is the narcissist's "cold turkey", his withdrawal symptoms. Narcissistic Supply is, like any other

drug, habit forming (psychologically). Its withdrawal has broad implications, all severely painful. Only then is the answer unqualified, unequivocal and unambiguous: yes, the narcissist is in pain – when devoid of his stream of adoration and other positive reinforcements. Empathy and Personality Disorders What is Empathy? Normal people use a variety of abstract concepts and psychological constructs to relate to other persons. Emotions are such modes of inter-relatedness. Narcissists and psychopaths are different. Their "equipment" is lacking. They understand only one language: self-interest. Their inner dialog and private language revolve around the constant measurement of utility. They regard others as mere objects, instruments of gratification, and representations of functions. This deficiency renders the narcissist and psychopath rigid and socially dysfunctional. They don't bond - they become dependent (on narcissistic supply, on drugs, on adrenaline rushes). They seek pleasure by manipulating their dearest and nearest or even by destroying them, the way a child interacts with his toys. Like autists, they fail to properly interpret or even grasp cues: their interlocutor's body language, the subtleties of speech, or social etiquette. Narcissists and psychopaths lack empathy. Empathy requires both the suspension of disbelief (by assuming someone else’s identity, like actors do) and the surrender of control (by allowing other people to dictate how one feels). Both feats go against the grain of narcissists, let alone psychopaths. It is safe to say that the same applies to such patients who are co-diagnosed (co-morbid) with other personality disorders, notably the Schizoid, Paranoid, Borderline, Avoidant, and Schizotypal. Empathy lubricates the wheels of interpersonal relationships. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (2011 edition) defines empathy as: "The ability to imagine oneself in anther's place and understand the other's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. It is a term coined in the early 20th century, equivalent to the German Einfühlung and modelled on "sympathy." The term is used with special (but not exclusive) reference to aesthetic experience. The most obvious example, perhaps, is that of the actor or singer who genuinely feels the part he is performing. With other works of art, a spectator may, by a kind of introjection, feel himself involved in what he observes or contemplates. The use of empathy is an important part of the counselling technique developed by the American psychologist Carl Rogers." This is how empathy is defined in "Psychology - An Introduction" (Ninth Edition) by Charles G. Morris, Prentice Hall, 1996: "Closely related to the ability to read other people's emotions is empathy - the arousal of an emotion in an observer that is a vicarious response to the other person's situation... Empathy depends not only on one's ability to identify someone else's emotions but also on one's capacity to put oneself in the other person's place and to experience an appropriate

emotional response. Just as sensitivity to non-verbal cues increases with age, so does empathy: The cognitive and perceptual abilities required for empathy develop only as a child matures... (page 442) In empathy training, for example, each member of the couple is taught to share inner feelings and to listen to and understand the partner's feelings before responding to them. The empathy technique focuses the couple's attention on feelings and requires that they spend more time listening and less time in rebuttal." (page 576). Empathy is the cornerstone of morality. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011 Edition: "Empathy and other forms of social awareness are important in the development of a moral sense. Morality embraces a person's beliefs about the appropriateness or goodness of what he does, thinks, or feels... Childhood is ... the time at which moral standards begin to develop in a process that often extends well into adulthood. The American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg hypothesized that people's development of moral standards passes through stages that can be grouped into three moral levels... At the third level, that of postconventional moral reasoning, the adult bases his moral standards on principles that he himself has evaluated and that he accepts as inherently valid, regardless of society's opinion. He is aware of the arbitrary, subjective nature of social standards and rules, which he regards as relative rather than absolute in authority. Thus the bases for justifying moral standards pass from avoidance of punishment to avoidance of adult disapproval and rejection to avoidance of internal guilt and selfrecrimination. The person's moral reasoning also moves toward increasingly greater social scope (i.e., including more people and institutions) and greater abstraction (i.e., from reasoning about physical events such as pain or pleasure to reasoning about values, rights, and implicit contracts)." "... Others have argued that because even rather young children are capable of showing empathy with the pain of others, the inhibition of aggressive behaviour arises from this moral affect rather than from the mere anticipation of punishment. Some scientists have found that children differ in their individual capacity for empathy, and, therefore, some children are more sensitive to moral prohibitions than others...” “Young children's growing awareness of their own emotional states, characteristics, and abilities leads to empathy--i.e., the ability to appreciate the feelings and perspectives of others. Empathy and other forms of social awareness are in turn important in the development of a moral sense... Another important aspect of children's emotional development is the formation of their self-concept, or identity--i.e., their sense of who they are and what their relation to other people is.” “According to Lipps's concept of empathy, a person appreciates another person's reaction by a projection of the self into the other. In his Ästhetik, 2 vol. (1903-06; 'Aesthetics'), he made all appreciation of art dependent upon a similar self-projection into the object." Empathy: Social Conditioning or Instinct?

This may well be the key. Empathy has little to do with the person with whom we empathize (the empathee). It may simply be the result of conditioning and socialization. In other words, when we hurt someone, we don't experience his or her pain. We experience OUR pain. Hurting somebody - hurts US. The reaction of pain is provoked in US by OUR own actions. We have been taught a learned response: to feel pain when we hurt someone. We attribute feelings, sensations and experiences to the object of our actions. It is the psychological defence mechanism of projection. Unable to conceive of inflicting pain upon ourselves - we displace the source. It is the other's pain that we are feeling, we keep telling ourselves, not our own. Additionally, we have been taught to feel responsible for our fellow beings (guilt). So, we also experience pain whenever another person claims to be anguished. We feel guilty owing to his or her condition, we feel somehow accountable even if we had nothing to do with the whole affair. In sum, to use the example of pain: When we see someone hurting, we experience pain for two reasons: 1. Because we feel guilty or somehow responsible for his or her condition 2. It is a learned response: we experience our own pain and project it on the empathee. We communicate our reaction to the other person and agree that we both share the same feeling (of being hurt, of being in pain, in our example). This unwritten and unspoken agreement is what we call empathy. The Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Perhaps the most important aspect of children's emotional development is a growing awareness of their own emotional states and the ability to discern and interpret the emotions of others. The last half of the second year is a time when children start becoming aware of their own emotional states, characteristics, abilities, and potential for action; this phenomenon is called self-awareness... (coupled with strong narcissistic behaviours and traits - SV)... This growing awareness of and ability to recall one's own emotional states leads to empathy, or the ability to appreciate the feelings and perceptions of others. Young children's dawning awareness of their own potential for action inspires them to try to direct (or otherwise affect) the behaviour of others... ...With age, children acquire the ability to understand the perspective, or point of view, of other people, a development that is closely linked with the empathic sharing of others' emotions... One major factor underlying these changes is the child's increasing cognitive sophistication. For example, in order to feel the emotion of guilt, a child must appreciate the fact that he could have inhibited a particular action of his that violated a moral standard. The awareness that one can impose a restraint on one's own behaviour requires

a certain level of cognitive maturation, and, therefore, the emotion of guilt cannot appear until that competence is attained." Still, empathy may be an instinctual REACTION to external stimuli that is fully contained within the empathor and then projected onto the empathee. This is clearly demonstrated by "inborn empathy". It is the ability to exhibit empathy and altruistic behaviour in response to facial expressions. Newborns react this way to their mother's facial expression of sadness or distress. This serves to prove that empathy has very little to do with the feelings, experiences or sensations of the other (the empathee). Surely, the infant has no idea what it is like to feel sad and definitely not what it is like for his mother to feel sad. In this case, it is a complex reflexive reaction. Later on, empathy is still rather reflexive, the result of conditioning. The 1999 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica quoted some fascinating research that supports the model I propose: "An extensive series of studies indicated that positive emotion feelings enhance empathy and altruism. It was shown by the American psychologist Alice M. Isen that relatively small favours or bits of good luck (like finding money in a coin telephone or getting an unexpected gift) induced positive emotion in people and that such emotion regularly increased the subjects' inclination to sympathize or provide help. Several studies have demonstrated that positive emotion facilitates creative problem solving. One of these studies showed that positive emotion enabled subjects to name more uses for common objects. Another showed that positive emotion enhanced creative problem solving by enabling subjects to see relations among objects (and other people - SV) that would otherwise go unnoticed. A number of studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of positive emotion on thinking, memory, and action in pre-school and older children." If empathy increases with positive emotion, then it has little to do with the empathee (the recipient or object of empathy) and everything to do with the empathor (the person who does the empathizing). As Paul Bloom notes in his contrarian essay, “The Baby in the Well”, published in the NewYorker (May 20, 2013), empathy is a blunt, biased, and stereotypical tool, ill-suited for guiding the design of public policy, which ought to be partial only to justice and constructive outcomes. We bestow our empathy on those who most resemble us and on identifiable victims who garner the most media attention. Empathy for individual sufferers blinds us to the overall picture and provokes in us the base instincts of retribution and vengeance. It distorts decision-making: thinking with one’s heart rather than one’s mind is bound to yield catastrophic consequences. This is precisely why we delegate the weighing of empathy and its implementation to faceless, bureaucratic institutions. They are less likely to be swayed by prejudice and preconception. They are more likely to optimize resources. In the long-run, they benefit the many, not the few. Cold Empathy vs. Warm Empathy and the Concept of “Unacanny Valley” Click HERE to watch the video

Contrary to widely held views, Narcissists and Psychopaths may actually possess empathy. They may even be hyper-empathic, attuned to the minutest signals emitted by their victims and endowed with apenetrating "X-ray vision". They tend to abuse their empathic skills by employing them exclusively for personal gain, the extraction of narcissistic supply, or in the pursuit of antisocial and sadistic goals. They regard their ability to empathize as another weapon in their arsenal. I suggest to label the narcissistic psychopath's version of empathy: "cold empathy", akin to the "cold emotions" felt by psychopaths. The cognitive element of empathy is there, but not so its emotional correlate. It is, consequently, a barren, detached, and cerebral kind of intrusive gaze, devoid of compassion and a feeling of affinity with one's fellow humans. Narcissists and psychopaths also appear to be “empathizing” with their possessions: objects, pets, and their sources of narcissistic supply or material benefits (often their nearest and dearest, significant others, or “friends” and associates). But this is not real empathy: it is a mere projection of the narcissist’s or psychopath’s own insecurities and fears, needs and wishes, fantasies and priorities. This kind of displayed “empathy” usually vanishes the minute its subject ceases to play a role in the narcissist’s or psychopath’s life and his psychodynamic processes. Cold Empathy evokes the concept of “Uncanny Valley”, coined in 1970 by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. Mori suggested that people react positively to androids (humanlike robots) for as long as they differ from real humans in meaningful and discernible ways. But the minute these contraptions come to resemble humans uncannily, though imperfectly, human observers tend to experience repulsion, revulsion, and other negative emotions, including fear. The same applies to psychopathic narcissists: they are near-perfect imitations of humans, but, lacking empathy and emotions, they are not exactly there. Psychopaths and narcissists strike their interlocutors as being some kind of “alien life-forms” or “artificial intelligence”, in short: akin to humanoid robots, or androids. When people come across narcissists or psychopaths the Uncanny Valley reaction kicks in: people feel revolted, scared, and repelled. They can’t put the finger on what it is that provokes these negative reactions, but, after a few initial encounters, they tend to keep their distance. Interview granted to the National Post, Toronto, Canada, July 2003 Q. How important is empathy to proper psychological functioning? A. Empathy is more important socially than it is psychologically. The absence of empathy for instance in the Narcissistic and Antisocial personality disorders - predisposes people to exploit and abuse others. Empathy is the bedrock of our sense of morality. Arguably, aggressive behavior is as inhibited by empathy at least as much as it is by anticipated punishment. But the existence of empathy in a person is also a sign of self-awareness, a healthy identity, a well-regulated sense of self-worth, and self-love (in the positive sense). Its absence denotes emotional and cognitive immaturity, an inability to love, to truly relate to others, to respect their boundaries and accept their needs, feelings, hopes, fears, choices, and preferences as autonomous entities.

Q. How is empathy developed? A. It may be innate. Even toddlers seem to empathize with the pain - or happiness - of others (such as their caregivers). Empathy increases as the child forms a self-concept (identity). The more aware the infant is of his or her emotional states, the more he explores his limitations and capabilities - the more prone he is to projecting this new found knowledge unto others. By attributing to people around him his new gained insights about himself, the child develop a moral sense and inhibits his anti-social impulses. The development of empathy is, therefore, a part of the process of socialization. But, as the American psychologist Carl Rogers taught us, empathy is also learned and inculcated. We are coached to feel guilt and pain when we inflict suffering on another person. Empathy is an attempt to avoid our own self-imposed agony by projecting it onto another. Q. Is there an increasing dearth of empathy in society today? Why do you think so? A. The social institutions that reified, propagated and administered empathy have imploded. The nuclear family, the closely-knit extended clan, the village, the neighborhood, the Churchhave all unraveled. Society is atomized and anomic. The resulting alienation fostered a wave of antisocial behavior, both criminal and "legitimate". The survival value of empathy is on the decline. It is far wiser to be cunning, to cut corners, to deceive, and to abuse - than to be empathic. Empathy has largely dropped from the contemporary curriculum of socialization. In a desperate attempt to cope with these inexorable processes, behaviors predicated on a lack of empathy have been pathologized and "medicalized". The sad truth is that narcissistic or antisocial conduct is both normative and rational. No amount of "diagnosis", "treatment", and medication can hide or reverse this fact. Ours is a cultural malaise which permeates every single cell and strand of the social fabric. Q. Is there any empirical evidence we can point to of a decline in empathy? Empathy cannot be measured directly - but only through proxies such as criminality, terrorism, charity, violence, antisocial behavior, related mental health disorders, or abuse.

Moreover, it is extremely difficult to separate the effects of deterrence from the effects of empathy.

If I don't batter my wife, torture animals, or steal - is it because I am empathetic or because I don't want to go to jail?

Rising litigiousness, zero tolerance, and skyrocketing rates of incarceration - as well as the ageing of the population - have sliced intimate partner violence and other forms of crime across the United States in the last decade. But this benevolent decline had nothing to do with increasing empathy.

The statistics are open to interpretation but it would be safe to say that the last century has been the most violent and least empathetic in human history. Wars and terrorism are on the rise, charity giving on the wane (measured as percentage of national wealth), welfare policies are being abolished, Darwinian models of capitalism are spreading. In the last two decades, mental health disorders were added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association whose hallmark is the lack of empathy. The violence is reflected in our popular culture: movies, video games, and the media. Empathy - supposedly a spontaneous reaction to the plight of our fellow humans - is now channeled through self-interested and bloated non-government organizations or multilateral outfits. The vibrant world of private empathy has been replaced by faceless state largesse. Pity, mercy, the elation of giving are tax-deductible. It is a sorry sight. Other People's Pain: Narcissism, Sadism, and Masochism Most narcissists enjoy an irrational and brief burst of relief after having suffered emotionally ("narcissistic injury") or after having sustained a loss. It is a sense of freedom, which comes with being unshackled. Having lost everything, the narcissist often feels that he has found himself, that he has been re-born, that he has been charged with natal energy, able to take on new challenges and to explore new territories. This elation is so addictive, that the narcissist often seeks pain, humiliation, punishment, scorn, and contempt - as long as they are public and involve the attention of peers and superiors. Being punished accords with the tormenting inner voices of the narcissist which keep telling him that he is bad, corrupt, and worthy of penalty. This is the masochistic streak in the narcissist. But the narcissist is also a sadist - albeit an unusual one. The narcissist inflicts pain and abuse on others. He devalues Sources of Supply, callously and off-handedly abandons them, and discards people, places, partnerships, and friendships unhesitatingly. Some narcissists - though by no means the majority - actually ENJOY abusing, taunting, tormenting, and freakishly controlling others ("gaslighting"). But most of them do these things absentmindedly, automatically, and, often, even without good reason. What is unusual about the narcissist's sadistic behaviours - premeditated acts of tormenting others while enjoying their anguished reactions - is that they are goal orientated. "Pure" sadists have no goal in mind except the pursuit of pleasure - pain as an art form (remember the Marquis de Sade?). The narcissist, on the other hand, haunts and hunts his victims for a reason - he wants them to reflect his inner state. It is all part of a mechanism called "Projective Identification". When the narcissist is angry, unhappy, disappointed, injured, or hurt - he feels unable to express his emotions sincerely and openly since to do so would be to admit his frailty, his neediness, and his weaknesses. He deplores his own humanity - his emotions, his vulnerability, his susceptibility, his gullibility, his inadequacies, and his failures. So, he makes use of other people to express his pain and his frustration, his pent up anger and his aggression. He achieves this by mentally torturing other people to the point of madness, by driving them to violence, by reducing them to scar tissue in search of outlet, closure, and, sometimes, revenge. He forces people to lose their own character traits - and adopt his own instead. In reaction to his constant and well-targeted abuse, they become abusive, vengeful,

ruthless, lacking empathy, obsessed, and aggressive. They mirror him faithfully and thus relieve him of the need to express himself directly. Having constructed this writhing hall of human mirrors, the narcissist withdraws. The goal achieved, he lets go. As opposed to the sadist, he is no in it, indefinitely, for the pleasure of it. He abuses and traumatizes, humiliates and abandons, discards and ignores, insults and provokes - only for the purpose of purging his inner demons. By possessing others, he purifies himself, cathartically, and exorcises his demented self. This accomplished, he acts almost with remorse. An episode of extreme abuse is followed by an act of great care and by mellifluous apologies. The Narcissistic Pendulum swings between the extremes of torturing others and empathically soothing the resulting pain. This incongruous behaviour, these "sudden" shifts between sadism and altruism, abuse and "love", ignoring and caring, abandoning and clinging, viciousness and remorse, the harsh and the tender - are, perhaps, the most difficult to comprehend and to accept. These swings produce in people around the narcissist emotional insecurity, an eroded sense of self-worth, fear, stress, and anxiety ("walking on eggshells"). Gradually, emotional paralysis ensues and they come to occupy the same emotional wasteland inhabited by the narcissist, his prisoners and hostages in more ways than one - and even when he is long out of their life. Narcissists and Psychopaths - Responsibility and Other Matters The narcissist can tell right from wrong, anticipate the consequences of his actions (though he feels immune to them) and control his behaviour and impulses. But, lacking empathy the narcissist doesn’t care: he treats others as objects and instruments of gratification (mere sources of narcissistic supply). Question: The narcissist is not entirely responsible for his actions. Should we judge him, get angry at him, be upset by him? Above all, should we communicate to him our displeasure? Answer: The narcissist knows to tell right from wrong. He is perfectly capable of anticipating the results of his actions and their influence on his human environment. The narcissist is very perceptive and sensitive to the subtlest nuances. He has to be: the very integrity of his personality depends upon input from others. But the narcissist does not care. Unable to empathise, he does not fully experience the outcomes of his deeds and decision. For him, humans are dispensable, rechargeable, reusable. They are there to fulfil a function: to supply him with Narcissistic Supply (adoration, admiration, approval, affirmation, etc.) They do not have an existence apart from carrying out their "duties". True: it is the disposition of the narcissist to treat humans in the inhuman way that he does. However, this propensity is absolutely controllable. The narcissist has a choice – he just doesn't think anyone is worth making it.

It is a fact that the narcissist can behave completely differently (under identical circumstances) – depending on who else is involved in the situation. He is not likely to be enraged by the behaviour of an important person (=with a potential to supply him narcissistically). But, he might become absolutely violent with his nearest and dearest under the same circumstances. This is because they are captives, they do not have to be won over, the Narcissistic Supply coming from them is taken for granted. Being a narcissist does not exempt the patient from being a human being. A person suffering from NPD must be subjected to the same moral treatment and judgement as the rest of us, less privileged ones. The courts do not recognise NPD as a mitigating circumstance – why should we? Treating the narcissist specially will only exacerbate the condition by supporting the grandiose, fantastic image the narcissist has of himself. The Talented Mr. Ripley "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is an Hitchcockian and blood-curdling study of the psychopath and his victims. At the centre of this masterpiece, set in the exquisitely decadent scapes of Italy, is a titanic encounter between Ripley, the aforementioned psychopath protagonist and young Greenleaf, a consummate narcissist. Ripley is a cartoonishly poor young adult whose overriding desire is to belong to a higher - or at least, richer - social class. While he waits upon the subjects of his not so hidden desires, he receives an offer he cannot refuse: to travel to Italy to retrieve the spoiled and hedonistic son of a shipbuilding magnate, Greenleaf Senior. He embarks upon a study of Junior's biography, personality, likes and hobbies. In a chillingly detailed process, he actually assumes Greenleaf's identity. Disembarking from a luxurious Cunard liner in his destination, Italy, he "confesses" to a gullible textile-heiress that he is the young Greenleaf, traveling incognito. Thus, we are subtly introduced to the two over-riding themes of the antisocial personality disorder (still labeled by many professional authorities "psychopathy" and "sociopathy"): an overwhelming dysphoria and an even more overweening drive to assuage this angst by belonging. The psychopath is an unhappy person. He is besieged by recurrent depression bouts, hypochondria and an overpowering sense of alienation and drift. He is bored with his own life and is permeated by a seething and explosive envy of the lucky, the mighty, the clever, the have it alls, the know it alls, the handsome, the happy - in short: his opposites. He feels discriminated against and dealt a poor hand in the great poker game called life. He is driven obsessively to right these perceived wrongs and feels entirely justified in adopting whatever means he deems necessary in pursuing this goal. Ripley's reality test is maintained throughout the film. In other words - while he gradually merges with the object of his admiring emulation, the young Greenleaf - Ripley can always tell the difference. After he kills Greenleaf in self-defense, he assumes his name, wears his clothes, cashes his checks and makes phone calls from his rooms. But he also murders - or tries to murder - those who suspect the truth. These acts of lethal self-preservation prove conclusively that he knows who he is and that he fully realizes that his acts are parlously illegal. Young Greenleaf is young, captivatingly energetic, infinitely charming, breathtakingly handsome and deceivingly emotional. He lacks real talents - he know how to play only six jazz tunes, can't make up his musical mind between his faithful sax and a newly alluring

drum kit and, an aspiring writer, can't even spell. These shortcomings and discrepancies are tucked under a glittering facade of non-chalance, refreshing spontaneity, an experimental spirit, unrepressed sexuality and unrestrained adventurism. But Greenleaf Jr. is a garden variety narcissist. He cheats on his lovely and loving girlfriend, Marge. He refuses to lend money - of which he seems to have an unlimited supply, courtesy his ever more disenchanted father - to a girl he impregnated. She commits suicide and he blames the primitiveness of the emergency services, sulks and kicks his precious record player. In the midst of this infantile temper tantrum the rudiments of a conscience are visible. He evidently feels guilty. At least for a while. Greenleaf Jr. falls in and out of love and friendship in a predictable pendulous rhythm. He idealizes his beaus and then devalues them. He finds them to be the quiddity of fascination one moment - and the distilled essence of boredom the next. And he is not shy about expressing his distaste and disenchantment. He is savagely cruel as he calls Ripley a leach who has taken over his life and his possessions (having previously invited him to do so in no uncertain terms). He says that he is relieved to see him go and he cancels off-handedly elaborate plans they made together. Greenleaf Jr. maintains a poor record of keeping promises and a rich record of violence, as we discover towards the end of this suspenseful, taut yarn. Ripley himself lacks an identity. He is a binary automaton driven by a set of two instructions - become someone and overcome resistance. He feels like a nobody and his overriding ambition is to be somebody, even if he has to fake it, or steal it. His only talents, he openly admits, are to fake both personalities and papers. He is a predator and he hunts for congruence, cohesion and meaning. He is in constant search of a family. Greenleaf Jr., he declares festively, is the older brother he never had. Together with the long suffering fiancée in waiting, Marge, they are a family. Hasn't Greenleaf Sr. actually adopted him? This identity disturbance, which is at the psychodynamic root of both pathological narcissism and rapacious psychopathy, is all-pervasive. Both Ripley and Greenleaf Jr. are not sure who they are. Ripley wants to be Greenleaf Jr. - not because of the latter's admirable personality, but because of his money. Greenleaf Jr. cultivates a False Self of a jazz giant in the making and the author of the Great American Novel but he is neither and he bitterly knows it. Even their sexual identity is not fully formed. Ripley is at once homoerotic, autoerotic and heteroerotic. He has a succession of homosexual lovers (though apparently only platonic ones). Yet, he is attracted to women. He falls desperately in love with Greenleaf's False Self and it is the revelation of the latter's dilapidated True Self that leads to the atavistically bloody scene in the boat. But Ripley is a different -and more ominous - beast altogether. He rambles on about the metaphorical dark chamber of his secrets, the key to which he wishes to share with a "loved" one. But this act of sharing (which never materializes) is intended merely to alleviate the constant pressure of the hot pursuit he is subjected to by the police and others. He disposes with equal equanimity of both loved ones and the occasional prying acquaintance. At least twice he utters words of love as he actually strangles his newfound inamorato and tries to slash an old and rekindled flame. He hesitates not a split second when confronted with an offer to betray Greenleaf Sr., his nominal employer and benefactor, and abscond with his money. He falsifies signatures with ease, makes eye contact convincingly, flashes the most heart rending smile when embarrassed or endangered. He is a caricature of the American dream: ambitious, driven, winsome, well versed in the mantras of the bourgeoisie. But

beneath this thin veneer of hard learned, self-conscious and uneasy civility - lurks a beast of prey best characterized by the DSM IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual): "Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior, deceitfulness as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others to personal profit or pleasure, impulsivity or failure to plan ahead... reckless disregard for safety of self or others... (and above all) lack of remorse." (From the criteria of the Antisocial Personality Disorder). But perhaps the most intriguing portraits are those of the victims. Marge insists, in the face of the most callous and abusive behavior, that there is something "tender" in Greenleaf Jr. When she confronts the beguiling monster, Ripley, she encounters the fate of all victims of psychopaths: disbelief, pity and ridicule. The truth is too horrible to contemplate, let alone comprehend. Psychopaths are inhuman in the most profound sense of this compounded word. Their emotions and conscience have been amputated and replaced by phantom imitations. But it is rare to pierce their meticulously crafted facade. They more often than not go on to great success and social acceptance while their detractors are relegated to the fringes of society. Both Meredith and Peter, who had the misfortune of falling in deep, unrequited love with Ripley, are punished. One by losing his life, the other by losing Ripley time and again, mysteriously, capriciously, cruelly. Thus, ultimately, the film is an intricate study of the pernicious ways of psychopathology. Mental disorder is a venom not confined to its source. It spreads and affects its environment in a myriad surreptitiously subtle forms. It is a hydra, growing one hundred heads where one was severed. Its victims writhe and as abuse is piled upon trauma - they turn to stone, the mute witnesses of horror, the stalactites and stalagmites of pain untold and unrecountable. For their tormentors are often as talented as Mr. Ripley is and they are as helpless and as clueless as his victims are. Narcissistic Immunity Possessed of magical thinking, the narcissist feels immune to the consequences of his actions for four reasons: (1) The narcissist’s False Self; (2) his dissociation; (3) his sense of entitlement; and (4) his past successes at evading justice. "We permit all things to ourselves and that which we call sin in others is experiment for us, for there is no crime to the intellect." (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Question: Aren't narcissists deterred by the consequences of their actions and behaviour? Answer: Narcissists, like children, have magical thinking. They feel omnipotent. They feel that there is nothing they couldn't do or achieve had they only really wanted to and applied themselves to it.

They feel omniscient – they rarely admit to ignorance in any field. They believe that they are in possession of all relevant and useful knowledge. They are haughtily convinced that introspection is a more important and more efficient (not to mention easier to accomplish) method of edification than the systematic study of outside sources of information in accordance with strict (read: tedious) curricula. To some extent, they believe that they are omnipresent because they are either famous or about to become famous. Deeply immersed in their delusions of grandeur, they are firmly convinced that their acts have – or will have – a great influence on Mankind, on their firm, on their country, on others. Having learned to manipulate their human environment, they believe that they will always "get away with it". Narcissistic immunity is the narcissist's (erroneous) feeling that he is immune to the consequences of his actions. That he will never be effected by the outcomes of his own decisions, opinions, beliefs, deeds and misdeeds, acts, inaction, or by being a member of certain groups. That he is above reproach and punishment (though not above being feared and notorious). That, magically, he is protected and will miraculously be saved at the last moment. What are the sources of this fantastic appraisal of situations and chains of events? The first and foremost source is, of course, the False Self. It is constructed as a childish response to abuse and trauma. It is possessed of everything that the child wishes he had in order to retaliate: power, wisdom, magic – all of them unlimited and instantaneously available. The False Self, this Superman, is indifferent to abuse and punishment. It shields the vulnerable True Self from the harsh realities experienced by the child. This artificial, maladaptive separation between a vulnerable (but not punishable) True Self and a punishable (but invulnerable) False Self is an effective mechanism. It isolates the child from a unjust, capricious, emotionally dangerous world. But, at the same time, it fosters a false sense of "nothing can happen to me, because I am not there, I cannot be punished because I am immune". The second source is the sense of entitlement possessed by every narcissist. In his grandiose delusions, the narcissist is sui generis (unique), a gift to humanity, a precious, fragile, object. Moreover, the narcissist is convinced both that this uniqueness is immediately discernible and that it gives him special rights. The narcissist feels that he is sheltered by some cosmological law pertaining to "endangered species". He is convinced that his future contribution to humanity should (and does) exempt him from the mundane: daily chores, boring jobs, recurrent tasks, personal exertion, orderly investment of resources and efforts, or even aging and death. The narcissist is entitled to "special treatment": high living standards, constant and immediate catering to his ever shifting needs, the avoidance of the mundane and the routine, an absolution of his sins, fast track privileges (to higher education, or in his encounters with the bureaucracy). Punishment is for ordinary people (where no great loss to humanity is involved). Narcissists feel that they are above the law.

The third source has to do with the narcissist's ability to manipulate his (human) environment. Narcissists develop their manipulative skills to the level of an art form because that is the only way they could have survived their poisoned and dangerous childhood. Yet, they use this "gift" long after its "expiry date". Narcissists are possessed of inordinate abilities to charm, to convince, to seduce and to persuade. They are gifted orators. In many cases, they are intellectually endowed. They put all this to the limited use of obtaining Narcissistic Supply with startling results. They become pillars of society and members of the upper class. They mostly do get exempted many times by virtue of their standing in society, their charisma, or their ability to find willing scapegoats. Having "got away with it" so many times – they develop a theory of personal immunity, which rests on some kind of societal and even cosmic "order of things". Some people are just above punishment, the "special ones", the "endowed or gifted ones". This is the "narcissistic hierarchy". But there is a fourth, simpler, explanation: The narcissist just does not know what he is doing. Divorced from his True Self, unable to empathise (to understand what it is like to be someone else), unwilling to act empathically (to constrain his actions in accordance with the feelings and needs of others) – the narcissist is in a constant dreamlike state. He experiences his life like a movie, autonomously unfolding, guided by a sublime (even divine) director. the narcissist is a mere spectator, mildly interested, greatly entertained at times. He does not feel that he owns his actions. He, therefore, emotionally, cannot understand why he should be punished and when he is, he feels grossly wronged. To be a narcissist is to be convinced of a great, inevitable personal destiny. The narcissist is preoccupied with ideal love, the construction of brilliant, revolutionary scientific theories, the composition or authoring or painting of the greatest work of art ever, the founding of a new school of thought, the attainment of fabulous wealth, the reshaping of the fate of a nation, becoming immortalised and so on. The narcissist never sets realistic goals to himself. He is forever floating amidst fantasies of uniqueness, record breaking, or breathtaking achievements. His speech is verbose and florid and reflects this grandiosity. So convinced is the narcissist that he is destined to great things, that he refuses to acknowledge setbacks, failures and punishments. He regards them as temporary, as someone else's errors, as part of the future mythology of his rise to power, brilliance, wealth, ideal love, etc. To accept punishment is to divert scarce energy and resources from the all-important task of fulfilling his mission in life. That the narcissist is destined to greatness is a divine certainty: a higher order or power has pre-ordained him to achieve something lasting, of substance, of import in this world, in this life. How could mere mortals interfere with the cosmic, the divine, scheme of things? Therefore, punishment is impossible and will not happen is the narcissist's conclusion. The narcissist is pathologically envious of people and projects his aggression unto them. He is always vigilant, ready to fend off an imminent attack. When inevitable punishment does

come, the narcissist is shocked and irritated by the nuisance. Being punished also proves to him and validates what he suspected all along: that he is being persecuted. Strong forces are poised against him. People are envious of his achievements, angry at him, out to get him. He constitutes a threat to the accepted order. When required to account for his (mis)deeds, the narcissist is always disdainful and bitter. He feels like Gulliver, a giant, chained to the ground by teeming dwarves while his soul soars to a future, in which people recognise his greatness and applaud it. The Cult of the Narcissist The narcissist is the guru at the centre of a cult. Like other gurus, he demands complete obedience from his flock: his spouse, his offspring, other family members, friends, and colleagues. He feels entitled to adulation and special treatment by his followers. He punishes the wayward and the straying lambs. He enforces discipline, adherence to his teachings, and common goals. The less accomplished he is in reality – the more stringent his mastery and the more pervasive the brainwashing. Cult leaders are narcissists who failed in their mission to "be someone", to become famous, and to impress the world with their uniqueness, talents, traits, and skills. Such disgruntled narcissists withdraw into a "zone of comfort" (known as the "Pathological Narcissistic Space") that assumes the hallmarks of a cult. The – often involuntary – members of the narcissist's mini-cult inhabit a twilight zone of his own construction. He imposes on them an exclusionary or inclusionary shared psychosis, replete with persecutory delusions, "enemies", mythical-grandiose narratives, and apocalyptic scenarios if he is flouted. Exclusionary shared psychosis involves the physical and emotional isolation of the narcissist and his “flock” (spouse, children, fans, friends) from the outside world in order to better shield them from imminent threats and hostile intentions. Inclusionary shared psychosis revolves around attempts to spread the narcissist’s message in a missionary fashion among friends, colleagues, co-workers, fans, churchgoers, and anyone else who comes across the mini-cult. The narcissist's control is based on ambiguity, unpredictability, fuzziness, and ambient abuse. His ever-shifting whims exclusively define right versus wrong, desirable and unwanted, what is to be pursued and what to be avoided. He alone determines the rights and obligations of his disciples and alters them at will. The narcissist is a micro-manager. He exerts control over the minutest details and behaviours. He punishes severely and abuses withholders of information and those who fail to conform to his wishes and goals. The narcissist does not respect the boundaries and privacy of his reluctant adherents. He ignores their wishes and treats them as objects or instruments of gratification. He seeks to control both situations and people compulsively. He strongly disapproves of others' personal autonomy and independence. Even innocuous activities, such as meeting a friend or visiting one's family require his permission. Gradually,

he isolates his nearest and dearest until they are fully dependent on him emotionally, sexually, financially, and socially. He acts in a patronising and condescending manner and criticises often. He alternates between emphasising the minutest faults (devalues) and exaggerating the talents, traits, and skills (idealises) of the members of his cult. He is wildly unrealistic in his expectations – which legitimises his subsequent abusive conduct. The narcissist claims to be infallible, superior, talented, skilful, omnipotent, and omniscient. He often lies and confabulates to support these unfounded claims. Within his cult, he expects awe, admiration, adulation, and constant attention commensurate with his outlandish stories and assertions. He reinterprets reality to fit his fantasies. His thinking is dogmatic, rigid, and doctrinaire. He does not countenance free thought, pluralism, or free speech and doesn't brook criticism and disagreement. He demands – and often gets – complete trust and the relegation to his capable hands of all decision-making. He forces the participants in his cult to be hostile to critics, the authorities, institutions, his personal enemies, or the media – if they try to uncover his actions and reveal the truth. He closely monitors and censors information from the outside, exposing his captive audience only to selective data and analyses. The narcissist's cult is "missionary" and "imperialistic". He is always on the lookout for new recruits – his spouse's friends, his daughter's girlfriends, his neighbours, new colleagues at work. He immediately attempts to "convert" them to his "creed" – to convince them how wonderful and admirable he is. In other words, he tries to render them Sources of Narcissistic Supply. Often, his behaviour on these "recruiting missions" is different to his conduct within the "cult". In the first phases of wooing new admirers and proselytising to potential "conscripts" – the narcissist is attentive, compassionate, empathic, flexible, self-effacing, and helpful. At home, among the "veterans" he is tyrannical, demanding, wilful, opinionated, aggressive, and exploitative. As the leader of his congregation, the narcissist feels entitled to special amenities and benefits not accorded the "rank and file". He expects to be waited on hand and foot, to make free use of everyone's money and dispose of their assets liberally, and to be cynically exempt from the rules that he himself established (if such violation is pleasurable or gainful). In extreme cases, the narcissist feels above the law – any kind of law. This grandiose and haughty conviction leads to criminal acts, incestuous or polygamous relationships, and recurrent friction with the authorities. Hence the narcissist's panicky and sometimes violent reactions to "dropouts" from his cult. There's a lot going on that the narcissist wants kept under wraps. Moreover, the narcissist stabilises his fluctuating sense of self-worth by deriving Narcissistic Supply from his victims. Abandonment threatens the narcissist's precariously balanced personality.

Add to that the narcissist's paranoid and schizoid tendencies, his lack of introspective selfawareness, and his stunted sense of humour (lack of self-deprecation) and the risks to the grudging members of his cult are clear. The narcissist sees enemies and conspiracies everywhere. He often casts himself as the heroic victim (martyr) of dark and stupendous forces. In every deviation from his tenets he espies malevolent and ominous subversion. He, therefore, is bent on disempowering his devotees. By any and all means. The narcissist is dangerous. Comment: The Narcissist’s Conflicted Relationship with His Fans, Followers, and Admirers Click HERE to Watch the Video The narcissist depends on his coterie for Narcissistic Supply. He resents this addictive dependence and himself for being so frail and impotent. It negates his self-delusional grandiose fantasy of omnipotence. To compensate for this shameful neediness, the narcissist holds his sycophantic acolytes in contempt. He finds his fans, admirers, and followers repulsive and holds them to be inferior. He sees himself reflected in their presumptuousness and sense of entitlement and takes exception to this constant and tawdry reminder. Fans often claim to possess inside information about their idol and to have special rights to privileged access simply by virtue of their unbridled adulation and time-tested loyalty. But, the narcissist, not being a mere mortal, believes himself to be beyond human comprehension and refuses to render anyone special by granting him or her concessions denied to others. Being special is his exclusive prerogative. His followers conduct implies a certain egalitarian camaraderie which the narcissist finds abhorrent, humiliating, and infuriating. Groupies and hangers-on somehow fancy themselves entitled to the narcissist’s favour and largesse, his time, attention, and other resources. They convince themselves that they are exempt from the narcissist’s rage and wrath and immune to his vagaries and abuse. This selfimputed and self-conferred status irritates the narcissist no end as it challenges and encroaches on his standing as the only source of preferential treatment and the sole decisionmaker when it comes to the allocation of his precious and cosmically significant wherewithal. In general the narcissist finds other people’s expectations of him distasteful because they imply that he is no longer a terra incognita and that he may be subject to influence. Only those who believe that they know him well can expect anything from him and only if they trust that their expressed wishes and prognoses are likely to affect his life and even shape it. This contrasts with the narcissist’s twin fantasies of uniqueness (read: unknowability) and omnipotence (read: imperviousness to external inputs.) The Narcissist as Eternal Child "Puer Aeternus" – the eternal adolescent, the sempiternal Peter Pan – is a phenomenon often associated with pathological narcissism. People who refuse to grow up strike others as selfcentred and aloof, petulant and brattish, haughty and demanding – in short: as childish or infantile.

Pathological narcissism is a reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. The source of the abuse or trauma is immaterial - the perpetrators could be parents, teachers, other adults, or peers. Pampering, smothering, spoiling, and "engulfing" the child are also forms of abuse. In an abusive environment, the child finds it difficult to assert his personal boundaries, to separate from his parents, and to individuate. Consequently, it chooses either of two solutions: to internalize and introject the abuser (to become a monster), thereby siding with the strong and winning party – or to remain a child forever, thus securing empathy, compassion, and pity in a heartless, hostile universe. The typical narcissist is unusual in that it chooses to adopt both solutions at once and is, therefore, simultaneously a monster and a child. The narcissist is a partial adult. He seeks to avoid adulthood. Infantilisation – the discrepancy between one's advanced chronological age and one's retarded behaviour, cognition, and emotional development – is the narcissist's preferred art form. Some narcissists even use a childish tone of voice occasionally and adopt a toddler's body language. But most narcissist resort to more subtle means. They reject or avoid adult chores and functions. They refrain from acquiring adult skills (such as driving) or an adult's formal education. They evade adult responsibilities towards others, including and especially towards their nearest and dearest. They hold no steady jobs, never get married, raise no family, cultivate no roots, maintain no real friendships or meaningful relationships. Many a narcissist remain attached to their families of origin. By clinging to his parents, the narcissist continues to act in the role of a child. He thus avoids the need to make adult decisions and (potentially painful) choices. He transfers all adult chores and responsibilities – from laundry to baby-sitting – to his parents, siblings, spouse, or other relatives. He feels unshackled, a free spirit, ready to take on the world (in other words omnipotent and omnipresent). This curious abdication may have to do with what I termed the “Inversion-Null Dynamic.” Briefly: the narcissist always seeks to fulfil the role of a child. His parents, his spouse, even his own kids usually compliantly respond to this hidden signal. This is the “inversion” part. Then, when another child enters the scene (the narcissist’s siblings, or his own newborn offspring), everyone react awkwardly, dismissively, or abusively towards the addition to the family because it is perceived as threatening to usurp the narcissist’s role and to upset the delicate dynamics and equilibrium that rule the narcissist’s intimate relationships. The newcomer is, thus, “annulled.” Such "delayed adulthood" is very common in many poor and developing countries, especially those with patriarchal societies. I wrote in "The Last Family": "To the alienated and schizoid ears of Westerners, the survival of family and community in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) sounds like an attractive proposition. A dual purpose safety net, both emotional and economic, the family in countries in transition provides its

members with unemployment benefits, accommodation, food and psychological advice to boot. Divorced daughters, saddled with little (and not so little) ones, the prodigal sons incapable of finding a job befitting their qualifications, the sick, the unhappy – all are absorbed by the compassionate bosom of the family and, by extension the community. The family, the neighbourhood, the community, the village, the tribe – are units of subversion as well as useful safety valves, releasing and regulating the pressures of contemporary life in the modern, materialistic, crime ridden state. The ancient blood feud laws of the kanoon were handed over through familial lineages in northern Albania, in defiance of the paranoiac Enver Hoxha regime. Criminals hide among their kin in the Balkans, thus effectively evading the long arm of the law (state). Jobs are granted, contracts signed and tenders won on an open and strict nepotistic basis and no one finds it odd or wrong. There is something atavistically heart-warming in all this. Historically, the rural units of socialisation and social organisation were the family and the village. As villagers migrated to the cities, these structural and functional patterns were imported by them, en masse. The shortage of urban apartments and the communist invention of the communal apartment (its tiny rooms allocated one per family with kitchen and bathroom common to all) only served to perpetuate these ancient modes of multigenerational huddling. At best, the few available apartments were shared by three generations: parents, married off-spring and their children. In many cases, the living space was also shared by sickly or no-good relatives and even by unrelated families. These living arrangements – more adapted to rustic open spaces than to high rises – led to severe social and psychological dysfunctions. To this very day, Balkan males are spoiled by the subservience and servitude of their in-house parents and incessantly and compulsively catered to by their submissive wives. Occupying someone else's home, they are not well acquainted with adult responsibilities. Stunted growth and stagnant immaturity are the hallmarks of an entire generation, stifled by the ominous proximity of suffocating, invasive love. Unable to lead a healthy sex life behind paper thin walls, unable to raise their children and as many children as they see fit, unable to develop emotionally under the anxiously watchful eye of their parents – this greenhouse generation is doomed to a zombie-like existence in the twilight nether land of their parents' caves. Many ever more eagerly await the demise of their caring captors and the promised land of their inherited apartments, free of their parents' presence. The daily pressures and exigencies of co-existence are enormous. The prying, the gossip, the criticism, the chastising, the small agitating mannerisms, the smells, the incompatible personal habits and preferences, the pusillanimous bookkeeping – all serve to erode the individual and to reduce him or her to the most primitive mode of survival. This is further exacerbated by the need to share expenses, to allocate labour and tasks, to plan ahead for contingencies, to see off threats, to hide information, to pretend and to fend off emotionally injurious behaviour. It is a sweltering tropic of affective cancer." Alternatively, by acting as surrogate caregiver to his siblings or parents, the narcissist displaces his adulthood into a fuzzier and less demanding territory. The social expectations

from a husband and a father are clear-cut. Not so from a substitute, mock, or ersatz parent. By investing his efforts, resources, and emotions in his family of origin, the narcissist avoids having to establish a new family and face the world as an adult. His is an "adulthood by proxy", a vicarious imitation of the real thing. The ultimate in dodging adulthood is finding God (long recognised as a father-substitute), or some other "higher cause". The believer allows the doctrine and the social institutions that enforce it to make decisions for him and thus relieve him of responsibility. He succumbs to the paternal power of the collective and surrenders his personal autonomy. In other words, he is a child once more. Hence the allure of faith and the lure of dogmas and ideologies, especially in troubled times, when everyone's narcissistic defences are out in full force. But why does the narcissist refuse to grow up? Why does he postpone the inevitable and regards adulthood as a painful experience to be avoided at a great cost to personal growth and self-realisation? Because remaining essentially a toddler caters to all his narcissistic needs and defences and nicely tallies with the narcissist's inner psychodynamic landscape. Pathological narcissism is an infantile defence against abuse and trauma, usually occurring in early childhood or early adolescence. Thus, narcissism is inextricably entwined with the abused child's or adolescent's emotional make-up, cognitive deficits, and worldview. To say "narcissist" is to say "thwarted, tortured child". It is important to remember that overweening, smothering, spoiling, overvaluing, and idolising the child – are all forms of parental abuse. There is nothing more narcissisticallygratifying than the admiration and adulation (Narcissistic Supply) garnered by precocious child-prodigies (Wunderkinder). Narcissists who are the sad outcomes of excessive pampering and sheltering become addicted to it. In a paper published in Quadrant in 1980 and titled "Puer Aeternus: The Narcissistic Relation to the Self", Jeffrey Satinover, a Jungian analyst, offers these astute observations: "The individual narcissistically bound to (the image or archetype of the divine child) for identity can experience satisfaction from a concrete achievement only if it matches the grandeur of this archetypal image. It must have the qualities of greatness, absolute uniqueness, of being the best and … prodigiously precocious. This latter quality explains the enormous fascination of child prodigies, and also explains why even a great success yields no permanent satisfaction for the puer: being an adult, no accomplishment is precocious unless he stays artificially young or equates his accomplishments with those of old age (hence the premature striving after the wisdom of those who are much older)." The simple truth is that children get away with narcissistic traits and behaviours. Narcissists know that. They envy children, hate them, try to emulate them and, thus, compete with them for scarce Narcissistic Supply. Children are forgiven for feeling grandiose and self-important or even encouraged to develop such emotions as part of "building up their self-esteem". Kids frequently exaggerate with impunity accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits – exactly the kind of conduct that narcissists are chastised for!

As part of a normal and healthy development trajectory, young children are as obsessed as narcissists are with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, and unequalled brilliance. Adolescent are expected to be preoccupied with bodily beauty or sexual performance (as is the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion. What is normal in the first 16 years of life is labelled a pathology later on. Children are firmly convinced that they are unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people. In time, through the process of socialisation, young adults learn the benefits of collaboration and acknowledge the innate value of each and every person. Narcissists never do. They remain fixated in the earlier stage. Preteens and teenagers require excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation. It is a transient phase that gives place to the self-regulation of one's sense of inner worth. Narcissists, however, remain dependent on others for their self-esteem and self-confidence. They are fragile and fragmented and thus very susceptible to criticism, even if it is merely implied or imagined. Well into pubescence, children feel entitled. As toddlers, they demand automatic and full compliance with their unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment. They grow out of it as they develop empathy and respect for the boundaries, needs, and wishes of other people. Again, narcissists never mature, in this sense. Children, like adult narcissists, are "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., use others to achieve their own ends. During the formative years (0-6 years old), children are devoid of empathy. They are unable to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others. Both adult narcissists and young children are envious of others and sometimes seek to hurt or destroy the causes of their frustration. Both groups behave arrogantly and haughtily, feel superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, "above the law", and omnipresent (magical thinking), and rage when frustrated, contradicted, challenged, or confronted. The narcissist seeks to legitimise his child-like conduct and his infantile mental world by actually remaining a child, by refusing to mature and to grow up, by avoiding the hallmarks of adulthood, and by forcing others to accept him as the Puer Aeternus, the Eternal Youth, a worry-free, unbounded, Peter Pan. The Narcissist's Confabulated Life Confabulations are an important part of life. They serve to heal emotional wounds or to prevent ones from being inflicted in the first place. They prop-up the confabulator's selfesteem, regulate his (or her) sense of self-worth, and buttress his (or her) self-image. They serve as organizing principles in social interactions. Father's wartime heroism, mother's youthful good looks, one's oft-recounted exploits, erstwhile alleged brilliance, and past purported sexual irresistibility - are typical examples of white, fuzzy, heart-warming lies wrapped around a shriveled kernel of truth.

But the distinction between reality and fantasy is rarely completely lost. Deep inside, the healthy confabulator knows where facts end and wishful thinking takes over. Father acknowledges he was no war hero, though he did his share of fighting. Mother understands she was no ravishing beauty, though she may have been attractive. The confabulator realizes that his recounted exploits are overblown, his brilliance exaggerated, and his sexual irresistibility a myth. Such distinctions never rise to the surface because everyone - the confabulator and his audience alike - have a common interest to maintain the confabulation. To challenge the integrity of the confabulator or the veracity of his confabulations is to threaten the very fabric of family and society. Human intercourse is built around such entertaining deviations from the truth. This is where the narcissist differs from others (from "normal" people). His very self is a piece of fiction concocted to fend off hurt and to nurture the narcissist's grandiosity. He fails in his "reality test" - the ability to distinguish the actual from the imagined. The narcissist fervently believes in his own infallibility, brilliance, omnipotence, heroism, and perfection. He doesn't dare confront the truth and admit it even to himself. Moreover, he imposes his personal mythology on his nearest and dearest. Spouse, children, colleagues, friends, neighbors - sometimes even perfect strangers - must abide by the narcissist's narrative or face his wrath. The narcissist countenances no disagreement, alternative points of view, or criticism. To him, confabulation IS reality. The coherence of the narcissist's dysfunctional and precariously-balanced personality depends on the plausibility of his stories and on their acceptance by his Sources of Narcissistic Supply. The narcissist invests an inordinate time in substantiating his tales, collecting "evidence", defending his version of events, and in re-interpreting reality to fit his scenario. As a result, most narcissists are self-delusional, obstinate, opinionated, and argumentative. The narcissist's lies are not goal-orientated. This is what makes his constant dishonesty both disconcerting and incomprehensible. The narcissist lies at the drop of a hat, needlessly, and almost ceaselessly. He lies in order to avoid the Grandiosity Gap - when the abyss between fact and (narcissistic) fiction becomes too gaping to ignore. The narcissist lies in order to preserve appearances, uphold fantasies, support the tall (and impossible) tales of his False Self and extract Narcissistic Supply from unsuspecting sources, who are not yet on to him. To the narcissist, confabulation is not merely a way of life - but life itself. We are all conditioned to let other indulge in pet delusions and get away with white, not too egregious, lies. The narcissist makes use of our socialization. We dare not confront or expose him, despite the outlandishness of his claims, the improbability of his stories, the implausibility of his alleged accomplishments and conquests. We simply turn the other cheek, or meekly avert our eyes, often embarrassed. Moreover, the narcissist makes clear, from the very beginning, that it is his way or the highway. His aggression - even violent streak - are close to the surface. He may be charming

in a first encounter - but even then there are telltale signs of pent-up abuse. His interlocutors sense this impending threat and avoid conflict by acquiescing with the narcissist's fairy tales. Thus he imposes his private universe and virtual reality on his milieu - sometimes with disastrous consequences. The Narcissist's Grandiose Fantasies The grandiose fantasies of the narcissist support his inflated sense of self, regulate his sense of self-worth, and buttress his False Self. The narcissist’s grandiosity is comprised of: omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence (fame and celebrity), and omnivorousness. Question: What happens to a narcissist who lacks even the basic potential and skills to realise some of his grandiose fantasies? Answer: Such a narcissist resorts to deferred Narcissistic Supply which generates an effect of deferred grandiosity. He forgoes his grandiose schemes and gives up on the present. He defers the fulfilment of his fantasies – which support his inflated Ego – to the (indefinite) future. Such narcissists engage in activities (or in daydreaming), which they fervently believe, will make them famous, powerful, influential, or superior in some unspecified future time. They keep their minds occupied and off their failures. Such frustrated and bitter narcissist's hold themselves answerable only to History, God, Eternity, Future Generations, Art, science, the Church, the Country, the Nation and so on. They entertain notions of grandeur which are dependent upon the judgement or assessment of a fuzzily defined collective in an ambiguous time frame. Thus, these narcissists find solace in the embrace of Chronos. Deferred grandiosity is an adaptive mechanism which ameliorates dysphorias and grandiosity gaps. It is healthy to daydream and fantasise. It is the antechamber of life and often anticipates its circumstances. It is a process of preparing for eventualities. But healthy daydreaming is different from grandiosity. Grandiosity has four components. Omnipotence The narcissist believes in his omnipotence. "Believe" in this context is a weak word. He knows. It is a cellular certainty, almost biological, it flows in his blood and permeates every niche of his being. The narcissist "knows" that he can do anything he chooses to do and excel in it. What the narcissist does, what he excels at, what he achieves, depends only on his volition. To his mind, there is no other determinant.

Hence his rage when confronted with disagreement or opposition – not only because of the audacity of his, evidently inferior, adversaries. But because it threatens his world view, it endangers his feeling of omnipotence. The narcissist is often fatuously daring, adventurous, experimentative and curious precisely due to this hidden assumption of "can-do". He is genuinely surprised and devastated when he fails, when the "universe" does not arrange itself, magically, to accommodate his unbounded fantasies, when it (and people in it) does not comply with his whims and wishes. He often denies away such discrepancies, deletes them from his memory. As a result, he remembers his life as a patchy quilt of unrelated events and people. Omniscience The narcissist often pretends to know everything, in every field of human knowledge and endeavour. He lies and prevaricates to avoid the exposure of his ignorance. He resorts to numerous subterfuges to support his God-like omniscience. Where his knowledge fails him – he feigns authority, fakes superiority, quotes from nonexistent sources, embeds threads of truth in a canvass of falsehoods. He transforms himself into an artist of intellectual prestidigitation. As he gets older, this invidious quality may recede, or, rather, metamorphose. He may now claim more confined expertise. He may no longer be ashamed to admit his ignorance and his need to learn things outside the fields of his real or self-proclaimed expertise. But this "improvement" is merely optical. Within his "territory", the narcissist is still as fiercely defensive and possessive as ever. Many narcissists are avowed autodidacts, unwilling to subject their knowledge and insights to peer scrutiny, or, for that matter, to any scrutiny. The narcissist keeps re-inventing himself, adding new fields of knowledge as he goes. This creeping intellectual annexation is a round about way of reverting to his erstwhile image as the erudite "Renaissance man". The narcissist believes that he does not need to refer to reality as the last arbiter: he only has to tap his own superior intelligence in order to derive universally-applicable and invariable rules. Regardless of the paucity of his own experience and knowledge, the narcissist holds himself to be a supreme authority on almost every issue and topic. Indeed, the narcissist is emotionally-invested (cathexed) in his self-imputed omniscience and infallibility and regards any challenge to them as a narcissistic injury which threatens to undermine the very foundations of his precariously-balanced personality. Omnipresence Even the narcissist cannot pretend to actually be everywhere at once in the PHYSICAL sense. Instead, he feels that he is the centre and the axis of his "universe", that all things and happenstances revolve around him and that cosmic disintegration would ensue if he were to disappear or to lose interest in someone or in something. He is convinced, for instance, that he is the main, if not the only, topic of discussion in his absence. He is often surprised and offended to learn that he was not even mentioned. When invited to a meeting with many participants, he assumes the position of the sage, the guru, or the teacher/guide whose words carry a special weight. His creations (books, articles, works of

art) are extensions of his presence and, in this restricted sense, he does seem to exist everywhere. In other words, he "stamps" his environment. He "leaves his mark" upon it. He "stigmatises" it. Narcissist the Omnivore (Perfectionism and Completeness) There is another "omni" component in grandiosity. The narcissist is an omnivore. He devours and digests experiences and people, sights and smells, bodies and words, books and films, sounds and achievements, his work and his leisure, his pleasure and his possessions. The narcissist is incapable of ENJOYING anything because he is in constant pursuit of perfection and completeness. Classic narcissists interact with the world as predators do with their prey. They want to own it all, be everywhere, experience everything. They cannot delay gratification. They do not take "no" for an answer. And they settle for nothing less than the ideal, the sublime, the perfect, the all-inclusive, the all-encompassing, the engulfing, the all-pervasive, the most beautiful, the cleverest, the richest, and the most brilliant. The narcissist is shattered when he discovers that a collection he possesses is incomplete, that his colleague's wife is more glamorous, that his son is better than he is in math, that his neighbour has a new, flashy car, that his roommate got promoted, that the "love of his life" signed a recording contract. It is not plain old jealousy, not even pathological envy (though it is definitely a part of the psychological make-up of the narcissist). It is the discovery that the narcissist is NOT perfect, or ideal, or complete that does him in. Ask anyone who shared a life with a narcissist, or knew one and they are likely to sigh: "What a waste". Waste of potential, waste of opportunities, waste of emotions, a wasteland of arid addiction and futile pursuit. Narcissists are as gifted as they come. The problem is to disentangle their tales of fantastic grandiosity from the reality of their talents and skills. They always either over-estimate or devalue their potency. They often emphasise the wrong traits and invest in their mediocre or less than average capacities at the expense of their true and promising potential. Thus, they squander their advantages and under-rate their natural gifts. The narcissist decides which aspects of his self to nurture and which to neglect. He gravitates towards activities commensurate with his pompous auto-portrait. He suppresses these tendencies and aptitudes in him which don't conform to his inflated view of his uniqueness, brilliance, might, sexual prowess, or standing in society. He cultivates these flairs and predilections which he regards as befitting his overweening self-image and ultimate grandeur. But, the narcissist, no matter how self-aware and well-meaning, is accursed. His grandiosity, his fantasies, the compelling, overriding urge to feel unique, invested with some cosmic significance, unprecedentedly bestowed – these thwart his best intentions. These structures of obsession and compulsion, these deposits of insecurity and pain, the stalactites and stalagmites of years of abuse and then abandonment – they all conspire to frustrate the gratification, however circumspect, of the narcissist's true nature. An utter lack of self-awareness is typical of the narcissist. He is intimate only with his False Self, constructed meticulously from years of lying and deceit. The narcissist's True Self is

stashed, dilapidated and dysfunctional, in the furthest recesses of his mind. The False Self is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, creative, ingenious, irresistible, and glowing. The narcissist often isn't. Add combustible paranoia to the narcissist's divorce from himself – and his constant and recurrent failure to assess reality fairly is more understandable. The narcissist overpowering sense of entitlement is rarely commensurate with his accomplishments in his real life or with his traits. When the world fails to comply with his demands and to support his grandiose fantasies, the narcissist suspects a plot against him by his inferiors. The narcissist rarely admits to a weakness, ignorance, or deficiency. He filters out information to the contrary – a cognitive impairment with serious consequences. Narcissistic are likely to unflinchingly make inflated and inane claims about their sexual prowess, wealth, connections, history, or achievements. All this is mighty embarrassing to the narcissist's nearest, dearest, colleagues, friends, neighbours, or even mere on-lookers. The narcissist's tales are so patently absurd that he often catches people off-guard. Behind his back, the narcissist is derided and mockingly imitated. He fast makes a nuisance and an imposition of himself in every company. But the narcissist's failure of the reality test can have more serious and irreversible consequences. Narcissists, unqualified to make life-and-death decisions often insist on rendering them. Narcissists pretend to be economists, engineers, or medical doctors – when they are not. But they are not con-artists in the classic, premeditated sense. They firmly believe that, though self-taught at best, they are more qualified than even the properly accredited sort. Narcissists believe in magic and in fantasy. They are no longer with us. Grandiosity Gap The narcissist often strikes people are "laid back" - or, less charitably: lazy, parasitic, spoiled, and self-indulgent. But, as usual with narcissists, appearances deceive. Narcissists are either compulsively driven over-achievers - or chronic under-achieving wastrels. Most of them fail to make full and productive use of their potential and capacities. Many avoid even the now standard path of an academic degree, a career, or family life. The disparity between the accomplishments of the narcissist and his grandiose fantasies and inflated self-image - the Grandiosity Gap - is staggering and, in the long run, insupportable. It imposes onerous exigencies on the narcissist's grasp of reality and social skills. It pushes him either to seclusion or to a frenzy of "acquisitions" - cars, women, wealth, power. Yet, no matter how successful the narcissist is - many of them end up being abject failures the Grandiosity Gap can never be bridged. The narcissist's False Self is so unrealistic and his Superego so sadistic that there is nothing the narcissist can do to extricate himself from the Kafkaesque trial that is his life. The narcissist is a slave to his own inertia. Some narcissists are forever accelerating on the way to ever higher peaks and ever greener pastures.

Others succumb to numbing routines, the expenditure of minimal energy, and to preying on the vulnerable. But either way, the narcissist's life is out of control, at the mercy of merciless inner voices and internal forces. Narcissists are one-state machines, programmed to extract Narcissistic Supply from others. To do so, they develop early on a set of immutable routines. This propensity for repetition, this inability to change and rigidity confine the narcissist, stunt his development, and limit his horizons. Add to this his overpowering sense of entitlement, his visceral fear of failure, and his invariable need to both feel unique and be perceived as such - and one often ends up with a recipe for inaction. The under-achieving narcissist dodges challenges, eludes tests, shirks competition, sidesteps expectations, ducks responsibilities, evades authority - because he is afraid to fail and because doing something everyone else does endangers his sense of uniqueness. Hence the narcissist's apparent 'laziness" and "parasitism". His sense of entitlement - with no commensurate accomplishments or investment - aggravates his milieu. People tend to regard such narcissists as "spoiled brats". In specious contrast, the over-achieving narcissist seeks challenges and risks, provokes competition, embellishes expectations, aggressively bids for responsibilities and authority and seems to be possessed with an eerie self-confidence. People tend to regard such specimen as "entrepreneurial", "daring", "visionary", or "tyrannical". Yet, these narcissists too are mortified by potential failure, driven by a strong conviction of entitlement, and strive to be unique and be perceived as such. Their hyperactivity is merely the flip side of the under-achiever's inactivity: it is as fallacious and as empty and as doomed to miscarriage and disgrace. It is often sterile or illusory, all smoke and mirrors rather than substance. The precarious "achievements" of such narcissists invariably unravel. They often act outside the law or social norms. Their industriousness, workaholism, ambition, and commitment are intended to disguise their essential inability to produce and build. Theirs is a whistle in the dark, a pretension, a Potemkin life, all makebelief and thunder. The Narcissist's False Modesty The narcissist affects and feigns modesty and self-deprecation for two reasons: (1) To insure against the possibility of being accused of lying if and when he is exposed as a fraud and (2) to extract narcissistic supply from his audience.

“(The courtier) should let it seem as if he himself thinks nothing of his accomplishments which, because of his excellence, he makes others think very highly of ... (The courtier participates in such activities as dancing and music performing) making it clear that he neither seeks nor expects any applause. Nor, even though his performance is outstanding, should he let it be thought that he has spent on it much time or trouble.” (Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier)

Question: I met many narcissists who are modest – even self-effacing. This seems to conflict with your observations. How do you reconcile the two? Answer: The "modesty" displayed by narcissists is false. It is mostly and merely verbal. It is couched in flourishing phrases, emphasised to absurdity, repeated unnecessarily – usually to the point of causing gross inconvenience to the listener. The real aim of such behaviour and its subtext are exactly the opposite of common modesty. It is intended to either aggrandise the narcissist or to protect his grandiosity from scrutiny and possible erosion. Such modest outbursts precede inflated, grandiosity-laden statements made by the narcissist and pertaining to fields of human knowledge and activity in which he is sorely lacking. Devoid of systematic and methodical education, the narcissist tries to make do with pompous, or aggressive mannerisms, bombastic announcements, and the unnecessary and wrong usage of professional jargon. He attempts to dazzle his surroundings with apparent "brilliance" and to put possible critics on the defence. Beneath all this he is shallow, ignorant, improvising, and fearful of being exposed as deceitful. The narcissist is a conjurer of verbosity, using sleight of mouth rather than sleight of hand. He is ever possessed by the fear that he is really a petty crook about to be unearthed and reviled by society. This is a horrible feeling to endure and a taxing, onerous way to live. The narcissist has to protect himself from his own premonitions, from his internal semipternal trial, his guilt, shame, and anxiety. One of the more efficacious defence mechanisms is false modesty. The narcissist publicly chastises himself for being unfit, unworthy, lacking, not trained and not (formally) schooled, not objective, cognisant of his own shortcomings and vain. This way, if (or, rather, when) exposed he could always say: "But I told you so in the first place, haven't I?" False modesty is, thus an insurance policy. The narcissist "hedges his bets" by placing a side bet on his own fallibility, weakness, deficiencies and proneness to err. Yet another function is to extract Narcissistic Supply from the listener. By contrasting his own self-deprecation with a brilliant, dazzling display of ingenuity, wit, intellect, knowledge, or beauty – the narcissist aims to secure an adoring, admiring, approving, or applauding protestation from the listener. The person to whom the falsely modest statement is addressed is expected to vehemently deny the narcissist's claims: "But, really, you are more of an expert than you say!", or "Why did you tell me that you are unable to do (this or that)? Truly, you are very gifted!" "Don't put yourself down so much - you are a generous man!" The narcissist then shrugs, smirks, blushes and moves uncomfortably from side to side. This was not his intention, he assures his interlocutor. He did not mean to fish for compliments (exactly what he did mean to do). He really does not deserve the praise. But the aim has, thus,

been achieved: the Narcissistic Supply has been doled out and avidly consumed. Despite the narcissist's protestations, he feels much better now. The narcissist is a dilettante and a charlatan. He glosses over complicated subjects and situations in life. He sails through them powered by shallow acquaintance with rapidly acquired verbal and behavioural vocabularies (which he then promptly proceeds to forget). False modesty is only one of a series of feigned behaviours. The narcissist is a pathological liar, either implicitly or explicitly. His whole existence is a derivative of a False Self, his deceitful invention and its reflections. With false modesty he seeks to involve others in his mind games, to co-opt them, to force them to collaborate while making ultimate use of social conventions of conduct. The narcissist, above all, is a shrewd manipulator, well-acquainted with human nature and its fault lines. No narcissist will ever admit to it. In this sense, narcissists are really modest. The Narcissist's Inappropriate Affect Narcissists lack empathy and imitate emotions and affect. Narcissists interact with people via the False Self which has deficient social skills and suffers from all-pervasive cognitive and emotional deficits. Question: Why is there no connection between the behaviour of the narcissist and his emotions? Answer: A better way of putting it would be that there is a weak correlation between the narcissist's behaviour and his professed or proclaimed emotions. The reason is that his emotions aremerely professed or proclaimed – but not felt. The narcissist fakes feelings and their outer expression in order to impress others, to gain their sympathy or to motivate them to act in a manner benefiting the narcissist and promoting his interests. In this – as in many other simulated behaviour patterns – the narcissist seeks to manipulate his human environment. Inside, he is barren, devoid of any inkling of true feeling, and disdainful of emotions and emotional people. He looks down upon those who succumb to the weakness of sentiment and holds them in contempt. He berates and debases them. This is the heartless mechanism of "simulated affect". It lies at the core of the narcissist's inability to empathise with his fellow human beings. The narcissist constantly lies to himself and to others. He defensively distorts facts and circumstances and provides consonant interpretations so as to preserve his delusions of grandeur and feelings of (unmerited) self-importance. This is the mechanism of the "sliding of meanings". This mechanism is part of the much larger set of Emotional Involvement Prevention Measures (EIPMs).

The EIPMs are intended to prevent the narcissist from getting emotionally involved or committed. This way he insures himself against getting hurt and abandoned, or so he erroneously believes. Actually, these mechanisms are self-defeating and lead directly to the results they were intended to forestall. They mostly operate through emotional denial. The narcissist is estranged from his own emotions as a means of self-defence. Another characteristic of the narcissistic personality is the use that it makes of "emotional delegation". The narcissist – despite appearances – is human and is possessed of emotions and of emotional content. But, in an effort to defend himself against a repetition of past hurts, he "delegates" his emotions to a fictitious self, the False Self. It is the False Self that interacts with the world. It is the False Self that suffers and enjoys, gets attached and detached, joins and separates, develops likes and dislikes, preferences and prejudices, loves and hates. Whatever happens to the narcissist, his experiences, the setbacks that he (inevitably) suffers, the humiliations, the adoration, the fears and the hopes – all these happen to one self removed, to the False Self. The narcissist is shielded by this construction. He lives in a padded cell of his own creation, an eternal observer, unharmed, embryo-like in the womb of his True Self. No wonder that this duality, so entrenched, so fundamental to the narcissistic personality – is also so evident, so discernible. This delegation of emotions is what unsettles those who interact with the narcissist: the feeling that his True Self is absent and that all the emoting is done by a false emanation. The narcissist himself experiences this dichotomy, this break between his False Self which is his interface with the true world – and his True Self which is forever dormant in a no-man's land. The narcissist lives in this warped reality, divorced from his own emotions, constantly feeling that he is an actor in a film featuring his life. Grandiosity and Intimacy: The Roots of Paranoia Paranoid ideation - the narcissist's deep-rooted conviction that he is being persecuted by his inferiors, detractors, or powerful ill-wishers - serves two psychodynamic purposes. It upholds the narcissist's grandiosity and it fends off intimacy. Grandiosity Enhancing Paranoia Being the target of relentless, ubiquitous, and unjust persecution proves to the paranoid narcissist how important and feared he is. Being hounded by the mighty and the privileged validates his pivotal role in the scheme of things. Only vital, weighty, crucial, essential principals are thus bullied and intimidated, followed and harassed, stalked and intruded upon - goes his unconscious inner dialog. The narcissist consistently baits authority figures into punishing him and thus into upholding his delusional self-image as worthy of their attention. This provocative behaviour is called Projective Identification. The paranoid delusions of the narcissist are always grandiose, "cosmic", or "historical". His pursuers are influential and formidable. They are after his unique possessions, out to exploit his expertise and special traits, or to force him to abstain and refrain from certain actions. The narcissist feels that he is at the centre of intrigues and conspiracies of colossal magnitudes.

Alternatively, the narcissist feels victimized by mediocre bureaucrats and intellectual dwarves who consistently fail to appreciate his outstanding - really, unparalleled - talents, skills, and accomplishments. Being haunted by his challenged inferiors substantiates the narcissist's comparative superiority. Driven by pathological envy, these pygmies collude to defraud him, badger him, deny him his due, denigrate, isolate, and ignore him. The narcissist projects onto this second class of lesser persecutors his own deleterious emotions and transformed aggression: hatred, rage, and seething jealousy. The narcissist's paranoid streak is likeliest to erupt when he lacks Narcissistic Supply. The regulation of his labile sense of self-worth is dependent upon external stimuli - adoration, adulation, affirmation, applause, notoriety, fame, infamy, and, in general, attention of any kind. When such attention is deficient, the narcissist compensates by confabulating. He constructs ungrounded narratives in which he is the protagonist and uses them to force his human environment into complicity. Put simply, he provokes people to pay attention to him by misbehaving or behaving oddly. Intimacy Retarding Paranoia Paranoia is use by the narcissist to ward off or reverse intimacy. The narcissist is threatened by intimacy because it reduces him to ordinariness by exposing his weaknesses and shortcomings and by causing him to act "normally". The narcissist also dreads the encounter with his deep buried emotions - hurt, envy, anger, aggression - likely to be foisted on him in an intimate relationship. The paranoid narrative legitimizes intimacy repelling behaviours such as keeping one's distance, secrecy, aloofness, reclusion, aggression, intrusion on privacy, lying, desultoriness, itinerancy, unpredictability, and idiosyncratic or eccentric reactions. Gradually, the narcissist succeeds to alienate and wear down all his friends, colleagues, well-wishers, and mates. Even his closest, nearest, and dearest, his family - feel emotionally detached and "burnt out". The paranoid narcissist ends life as an oddball recluse - derided, feared, and loathed in equal measures. His paranoia - exacerbated by repeated rejections and ageing - pervades his entire life and diminishes his creativity, adaptability, and functioning. The narcissist personality, buffeted by paranoia, turns ossified and brittle. Finally, atomized and useless, it succumbs and gives way to a great void. The narcissist is consumed. From "The Delusional Way Out": "The narcissist then resorts to self-delusion. Unable to completely ignore contrarian opinion and data - he transmutes them. Unable to face the dismal failure that he is, the narcissist partially withdraws from reality. To soothe and salve the pain of disillusionment, he administers to his aching soul a mixture of lies, distortions, half-truths and outlandish interpretations of events around him. These solutions can be classified thus: The Delusional Narrative Solutions

The narcissist constructs a narrative in which he figures as the hero - brilliant, perfect, irresistibly handsome, destined for great things, entitled, powerful, wealthy, the centre of attention, etc. The bigger the strain on this delusional charade - the greater the gap between fantasy and reality - the more the delusion coalesces and solidifies. Finally, if it is sufficiently protracted, it replaces reality and the narcissist's reality test deteriorates. He withdraws his bridges and may become Schizotypal, catatonic, or schizoid. The Reality Renouncing Solutions The narcissist renounces reality. To his mind, those who pusillanimously fail to recognize his unbound talents, innate superiority, overarching brilliance, benevolent nature, entitlement, cosmically important mission, perfection, etc. - do not deserve consideration. The narcissist's natural affinity with the criminal - his lack of empathy and compassion, his deficient social skills, his disregard for social laws and morals - now erupts and blossoms. He becomes a full fledged antisocial (sociopath or psychopath). He ignores the wishes and needs of others, he breaks the law, he violates all rights - natural and legal, he hold people in contempt and disdain, he derides society and its codes, he punishes the ignorant ingrates - that, to his mind, drove him to this state - by acting criminally and by jeopardizing their safety, lives, or property. The Paranoid Schizoid Solution The narcissist develops persecutory delusions. He perceives slights and insults where none were intended. He becomes subject to ideas of reference (people are gossiping about him, mocking him, prying into his affairs, cracking his e-mail, etc.). He is convinced that he is the centre of malign and mal-intentioned attention. People are conspiring to humiliate him, punish him, abscond with his property, delude him, impoverish him, confine him physically or intellectually, censor him, impose on his time, force him to action (or to inaction), frighten him, coerce him, surround and besiege him, change his mind, part with his values, even murder him, and so on. Some narcissists withdraw completely from a world populated with such minacious and ominous objects (really projections of internal objects and processes). They avoid all social contact, except the most necessary. They refrain from meeting people, falling in love, having sex, talking to others, or even corresponding with them. In short: they become schizoids - not out of social shyness, but out of what they feel to be their choice. 'The world does not deserve me' - goes the inner refrain - 'and I shall waste none of my time and resources on it.' The Paranoid Aggressive (Explosive) Solution Other narcissists who develop persecutory delusions, resort to an aggressive stance, a more violent resolution of their internal conflict. They become verbally, psychologically, situationally (and, very rarely, physically) abusive. They insult, castigate, chastise, berate, demean, and deride their nearest and dearest (often well wishers and loved ones). They explode in unprovoked displays of indignation, righteousness, condemnation, and blame.

Theirs is an exegetic Bedlam. They interpret everything - even the most innocuous, inadvertent, and innocent - as designed to provoke and humiliate them. They sow fear, revulsion, hate, and malignant envy. They flail against the windmills of reality - a pathetic, forlorn, sight. But often they cause real and lasting damage - fortunately, mainly to themselves." The Masochistic Avoidant Solution The narcissist is angered by the lack of narcissistic supply. He directs some of this fury inwards, punishing himself for his "failure". This masochistic behavior has the added "benefit" of forcing the narcissist's closest to assume the roles of dismayed spectators or of persecutors and thus, either way, to pay him the attention that he craves. Self-administered punishment often manifests as self-handicapping masochism - a narcissistic cop-out. By undermining his work, his relationships, and his efforts, the increasingly fragile narcissist avoids additional criticism and censure (negative supply). Selfinflicted failure is the narcissist's doing and thus proves that he is the master of his own fate. Masochistic narcissists keep finding themselves in self-defeating circumstances which render success impossible - and "an objective assessment of their performance improbable" (Millon, 2000). They act carelessly, withdraw in mid-effort, are constantly fatigued, bored, or disaffected and thus passive-aggressively sabotage their lives. Their suffering is defiant and by "deciding to abort" they reassert their omnipotence. The narcissist's pronounced and public misery and self-pity are compensatory and "reinforce self-esteem against overwhelming convictions of worthlessness" (Millon, 2000). His tribulations and anguish render him, in his eyes, unique, saintly, virtuous, righteous, resilient, and significant. They are, in other words, self-generated narcissistic supply. Additional Reading Millon, Theodore and Davis, Roger - Personality Disorders in Modern Life, 2nd Edition New York, John Wiley and Sons, 2000 The Narcissist's Reality Substitutes Pathological narcissism is a defense mechanism intended to isolate the narcissist from his environment and to shield him from hurt and injury, both real and imagined. Hence the False Self - an all-pervasive psychological construct which gradually displaces the narcissist's True Self. It is a work of fiction intended to elicit praise and deflect criticism. The unintended consequence of this fictitious existence is a diminishing ability to grasp reality correctly and to cope with it effectively. Narcissistic Supply replaces genuine, veritable, and tested feedback. Analysis, disagreement, and uncomfortable facts are screened out. Layers of bias and prejudice distort the narcissist's experience. Yet, deep inside, the narcissist is aware that his life is an artifact, a confabulated sham, a vulnerable cocoon. The world inexorably and repeatedly intrudes upon these ramshackle battlements, reminding the narcissist of the fantastic and feeble nature of his grandiosity. This is the much-dreaded Grandiosity Gap.

To avoid the agonizing realization of his failed, defeat-strewn, biography, the narcissist resorts to reality-substitutes. The dynamics are simple: as the narcissist grows older, his Sources of Supply become scarcer, and his Grandiosity Gap yawns wider. Mortified by the prospect of facing his actuality, the narcissist withdraws ever deeper into a dreamland of concocted accomplishments, feigned omnipotence and omniscience, and brattish entitlement. The narcissist's reality substitutes fulfill two functions. They help him "rationally" ignore painful realities with impunity - and they proffer an alternative universe in which he reigns supreme and emerges triumphant. The most common form of denial involves persecutory delusions. I described these elsewhere: "(The narcissist) perceives slights and insults where none were intended. He becomes subject to ideas of reference (people are gossiping about him, mocking him, prying into his affairs, cracking his e-mail, etc.). He is convinced that he is the centre of malign and mal-intentioned attention. People are conspiring to humiliate him, punish him, abscond with his property, delude him, impoverish him, confine him physically or intellectually, censor him, impose on his time, force him to action (or to inaction), frighten him, coerce him, surround and besiege him, change his mind, part with his values, even murder him, and so on." The narcissist's paranoid narrative serves as an organizing principle. It structures his here and now and gives meaning to his life. It aggrandizes him as worthy of being persecuted. The mere battle with his demons is an achievement not to be sniggered at. By overcoming his "enemies", the narcissist emerges victorious and powerful. The narcissist's self-inflicted paranoia - projections of threatening internal objects and processes - legitimizes, justifies, and "explains" his abrupt, comprehensive, and rude withdrawal from an ominous and unappreciative world . The narcissist's pronounced misanthropy - fortified by these oppressive thoughts - renders him a schizoid, devoid of all social contact, except the most necessary. But even as the narcissist divorces his environment, he remains aggressive, or even violent. The final phase of narcissism involves verbal, psychological, situational (and, mercifully, more rarely, physical) abuse directed at his "foes" and "inferiors". It is the culmination of a creeping mode of psychosis, the sad and unavoidable outcome of a choice made long ago to forego the real in favor of the surreal. The Narcissist's Warped Reality and Retroactive Emotional Content Question: How does a narcissist experience his own life? Answer: As a prolonged, incomprehensible, unpredictable, frequently terrifying and deeply saddening nightmare. This is a result of the functional dichotomy – fostered by the narcissist himself – between his False Self and his True Self. The latter – the fossilised ashes of the original, immature, personality – is the one that does the experiencing.

The False Self is nothing but a concoction, a figment of the narcissist's disorder, a reflection in the narcissist's hall of mirrors. It is incapable of feeling, or experiencing. Yet, it is fully the master of the psychodynamic processes which rage within the narcissist's psyche. This inner battle is so fierce that the True Self experiences it as a diffuse, though imminent and eminently ominous, threat. Anxiety ensues and the narcissist finds himself constantly ready for the next blow. He does things and he knows not why or wherefrom. He says things, acts and behaves in ways, which, he knows, endanger him and put him in line for punishment. The narcissist hurts people around him, or breaks the law, or violates accepted morality. He knows that he is in the wrong and feels ill at ease on the rare moments that he does feel. He wants to stop but knows not how. Gradually, he is estranged from himself, possessed by some kind of demon, a puppet on invisible, mental strings. He resents this feeling, he wants to rebel, he is repelled by this part in him with which he is not acquainted. In his efforts to exorcise this devil from his soul, he dissociates. An eerie sensation sets in and pervades the psyche of the narcissist. At times of crisis, of danger, of depression, of failure, and of narcissistic injury – the narcissist feels that he is watching himself from the outside. This is not an out-of-body experience. The narcissist does not really "exit" his body. It is just that he assumes, involuntarily, the position of a spectator, a polite observer mildly interested in the whereabouts of one, Mr. Narcissist. It is akin to watching a movie, the illusion is not complete, neither is it precise. This detachment continues for as long as the narcissist's ego-dystonic behaviour persists, for as long as the crisis goes on, for as long as the narcissist cannot face who he is, what he is doing and the consequences of his actions. Since this is the case most of the time, the narcissist gets used to seeing himself in the role of the protagonist (usually the hero) of a motion picture or of a novel. It also sits well with his grandiosity and fantasies. Sometimes, he talks about himself in the third person singular. Sometimes he calls his "other", narcissistic, self by a different name. He describes his life, its events, ups and downs, pains, elation and disappointments in the most remote, "professional" and coldly analytical voice, as though describing (though with a modicum of involvement) the life of some exotic insect (echoes of Kafka's "Metamorphosis"). The metaphor of "life as a movie", gaining control by "writing a scenario" or by "inventing a narrative" is, therefore, not a modern invention. Cavemen narcissists have, probably, done the same. But this is only the external, superficial, facet of the disorder. The crux of the problem is that the narcissist really FEELS this way. He actually experiences his life as belonging to someone else, his body as dead weight (or as an instrument in the service of some entity), his deeds as a-moral and not immoral (he cannot be judged for something he didn't do now, can he?). As time passes, the narcissist accumulates a mountain of mishaps, conflicts unresolved, pains well hidden, abrupt separations and bitter disappointments. He is subjected to a constant

barrage of social criticism and condemnation. He is ashamed and fearful. He knows that something is wrong but there is no correlation between his cognition and his emotions. He prefers to run away and hide, as he did when he was a child. Only this time he hides behind another self, a false one. People reflect to him this mask of his creation, until even he believes its very existence and acknowledges its dominance, until he forgets the truth and knows no better. The narcissist is only dimly aware of the decisive battle, which rages inside him. He feels threatened, very sad, suicidal – but there seems to be no outside cause of all this and it makes it even more mysteriously menacing. This dissonance, these negative emotions, these nagging anxieties, transform the narcissist's "motion picture" solution into a permanent one. It becomes a feature of the narcissist's life. Whenever confronted by an emotional threat or by an existential one – he retreats into this haven, this mode of coping. He relegates responsibility, submissively assuming a passive role. He who is not responsible cannot be punished – runs the subtext of this capitulation. The narcissist is thus conditioned to annihilate himself – both in order to avoid (emotional) pain and to bask in the glow of his impossibly grandiose fasntasies. This he does with fanatic zeal and with efficacy. Prospectively, he assigns his very life (decisions to be made, judgements to be passed, agreements to be reached) to the False Self. Retroactively, he re-interprets his past life in a manner consistent with the current needs of the False Self. It is no wonder that there is no connection between what the narcissist did feel in a given period in his life, or in relation to a specific event – and the way he sees or remembers these later on. He may describe certain occurrences or phases in his life as "tedious, painful, sad, burdening" – even though he experienced them entirely differently at the time. The same retroactive colouring occurs with regards to people. The narcissist completely distorts the way he regarded certain people and felt about them. This re-writing of his personal history is aimed to directly and fully accommodate the requirements of his False Self. In sum, the narcissist does not occupy his own soul, nor does he inhabit his own body. He is the servant of an apparition, of a reflection, of an Ego function. To please and appease his Master, the narcissist sacrifices to it his very life. From that moment onwards, the narcissist lives vicariously, through the good offices of the False Self. Throughout, the narcissist feels detached, alienated and estranged from his (False) Self. He constantly harbours the sensation that he is watching a movie with a plot over which he has little control. It is with a certain interest – even fascination – that he does the watching. Still, it is mere, passive observation. Thus, not only does the narcissist relinquish control of his future life (the movie) – he gradually loses ground to the False Self in the battle to preserve the integrity and genuineness of his past experiences. Eroded by these two processes, the narcissist gradually disappears and is replaced by his disorder to the fullest extent.

Pathological Narcissism, Psychosis, and Delusions One of the most important symptoms of pathological narcissism (the Narcissistic Personality Disorder) is grandiosity. Grandiose fantasies (megalomaniac delusions of grandeur) permeate every aspect of the narcissist's personality. They are the reason that the narcissist feels entitled to special treatment which is typically incommensurate with his real accomplishments. The Grandiosity Gap is the abyss between the narcissist's self-image (as reified by his False Self) and reality. When Narcissistic Supply is deficient, the narcissist de-compensates and acts out in a variety of ways. Narcissists often experience psychotic micro-episodes during therapy and when they suffer narcissistic injuries in a life crisis. But can the narcissist "go over the edge"? Do narcissists ever become psychotic? Some terminology first: The narrowest definition of psychosis, according to the DSM-IV-TR, is "restricted to delusions or prominent hallucinations, with the hallucinations occurring in the absence of insight into their pathological nature". And what are delusions and hallucinations? A delusion is "a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary". A hallucination is a "sensory perception that has the compelling sense of reality of a true perception but that occurs without external stimulation of the relevant sensory organ". Granted, the narcissist's hold on reality is tenuous (narcissists sometimes fail the reality test). Admittedly, narcissists often seem to believe in their own confabulations. They are unaware of the pathological nature and origin of their self-delusions and are, thus, technically delusional (though they rarely suffer from hallucinations, disorganised speech, or disorganised or catatonic behaviour). In the strictest sense of the word, narcissists appear to be psychotic. But, actually, they are not. There is a qualitative difference between benign (though wellentrenched) self-deception or even malignant con-artistry – and "losing it". Pathological narcissism should not be construed as a form of psychosis because: 1. The narcissists is usually fully aware of the difference between true and false, real and make-belief, the invented and the extant, right and wrong. The narcissist consciously chooses to adopt one version of the events, an aggrandising narrative, a fairy-tale existence, a "what-if" counterfactual life. He is emotionally invested in his personal myth. The narcissist feels better as fiction than as fact – but he never loses sight of the fact that it is all just fiction. 2. Throughout, the narcissist is in full control of his faculties, cognisant of his choices, and goal-orientated. His behaviour is intentional and directional. He is a manipulator







and his delusions are in the service of his stratagems. Hence his chameleon-like ability to change guises, his conduct, and his convictions on a dime. Narcissistic delusions rarely persist in the face of blanket opposition and reams of evidence to the contrary. The narcissist usually tries to convert his social milieu to his point of view. He attempts to condition his nearest and dearest to positively reinforce his delusional False Self. But, if he fails, he modifies his profile on the fly. He "plays it by ear". His False Self is extemporaneous – a perpetual work of art, permanently reconstructed in a reiterative process designed around intricate and complex feedback loops. Though the narcissistic personality is rigid – its content is always in flux. Narcissists forever re-invent themselves, adapt their consumption of Narcissistic Supply to the "marketplace", attuned to the needs of their "suppliers". Like the performers that they are, they resonate with their "audience", giving it what it expects and wants. They are efficient instruments for the extraction and consumption of human reactions. As a result of this interminable process of fine tuning, narcissists have no loyalties, no values, no doctrines, no beliefs, no affiliations, and no convictions. Their only constraint is their addiction to human attention, positive or negative. Psychotics, by comparison, are fixated on a certain view of the world and of their place in it. They ignore any and all information that might challenge their delusions. Gradually, they retreat into the inner recesses of their tormented mind and become dysfunctional. Narcissists can't afford to shut out the world because they so heavily depend on it for the regulation of their labile sense of self-worth. Owing to this dependence, they are hypersensitive and hypervigilant, alert to every bit of new data. They are continuously busy rearranging their self-delusions to incorporate new information in an egosyntonic manner. This is why the Narcissistic Personality Disorder is insufficient grounds for claiming a "diminished capacity" (insanity) defence. Narcissists are never divorced from reality – they crave it, and need it, and consume it in order to maintain the precarious balance of their disorganised, borderline-psychotic personality. All narcissists, even the freakiest ones, can tell right from wrong, act with intent, and are in full control of their faculties and actions.

The Delusional Way Out: The Narcissist's Reactions to Deficient Narcissistic Supply "A surprising ... fact in the process of self-splitting is the sudden change of the object relation that has become intolerable, into narcissism. The man abandoned by all gods escapes completely from reality and creates for himself another world in which he ... can achieve everything that he wants. as been unloved, even tormented, he now splits off from himself a part which in the form of a helpful, loving, often motherly minder commiserates with the tormented remainder of the self, nurses him and decides for him ... with the deepest wisdom and most penetrating intelligence. He is ... a guardian angel (that) sees the suffering or murdered child from the outside, he wanders through the whole universe seeking help, invents phantasies for the child that cannot be saved in any other way ... But in the moment of a very strong, repeated trauma even this guardian angel must confess his own helplessness and well-meaning deceptive swindles ... and then nothing else remains but suicide ..." [Ferenczi and Sandor - "Notes and Fragments" - International Journal of Psychoanalysis - Vol XXX (1949), p. 234]

The study of narcissism is a century old and the two scholarly debates central to its conception are still undecided. Is there such a thing as HEALTHY adult narcissism (Kohut) or are all the manifestations of narcissism in adulthood pathological (Freud, Kernberg)? Moreover, is pathological narcissism the outcome of verbal, sexual, physical, or psychological abuse (the overwhelming view) - or, on the contrary, the sad result of spoiling the child and idolizing it (Millon, the late Freud)? The second debate is easier to resolve if one agrees to adopt a more comprehensive definition of "abuse". Overweening, smothering, spoiling, overvaluing, and idolizing the child - are all forms of parental abuse. This is because, as Horney pointed out, the child is dehumanized and instrumentalized. His parents love him not for what he really is - but for what they wish and imagine him to be: the fulfillment of their dreams and frustrated wishes. The child becomes the vessel of his parents' discontented lives, a tool, the magic brush with which they can transform their failures into successes, their humiliation into victory, their frustrations into happiness. The child is taught to ignore reality and to occupy the parental fantastic space. Such an unfortunate child feels omnipotent and omniscient, perfect and brilliant, worthy of adoration and entitled to special treatment. The faculties that are honed by constantly brushing against bruising reality empathy, compassion, a realistic assessment of one's abilities and limitations, realistic expectations of oneself and of others, personal boundaries, team work, social skills, perseverance and goal-orientation, not to mention the ability to postpone gratification and to work hard to achieve it - are all lacking or missing altogether. The child turned adult sees no reason to invest in his skills and education, convinced that his inherent genius should suffice. He feels entitled for merely being, rather than for actually doing (rather as the nobility in days gone by felt entitled not by virtue of its merit but as the inevitable, foreordained outcome of its birth right). In other words, he is not meritocratic - but aristocratic. In short: a narcissist is born. But such a mental structure is brittle, susceptible to criticism and disagreement, vulnerable to the incessant encounter with a harsh and intolerant world. Deep inside, narcissists of both kinds (those wrought by "classic" abuse and those yielded by being idolized) - feel inadequate, phony, fake, inferior, and deserving of punishment. This is Millon's mistake. He makes a distinction between several types of narcissists. He wrongly assumes that the "classic" narcissist is the outcome of overvaluation, idolization, and spoiling and, thus, is possessed of supreme, unchallenged, self-confidence, and is devoid of all self-doubt. According to Millon, it is the "compensatory" narcissist that falls prey to nagging self-doubts, feelings of inferiority, and a masochistic desire for self-punishment. Yet, the distinction is both wrong and unnecessary. There is only ONE type of narcissist - though there are TWO developmental paths to it. And ALL narcissists are besieged by deeply ingrained (though at times not conscious) feelings of inadequacy, fears of failure, masochistic desires to be penalized, a fluctuating sense of self-worth (regulated by Narcissistic Supply), and an overwhelming sensation of fakeness. The Grandiosity Gap (between a fantastically grandiose - and unlimited - self-image and actual - limited - accomplishments and achievements) is grating. Its recurrence threatens the precariously balanced house of cards that is the narcissistic personality. The narcissist finds, to his chagrin, that people out there are much less admiring, accommodating and accepting than his parents. As he grows old, the narcissist often become the target of constant derision

and mockery, a sorry sight indeed. His claims for superiority appear less plausible and substantial the more and the longer he makes them. Pathological narcissism - originally a defense mechanism intended to shield the narcissist from an injurious world - becomes the main source of hurt, a generator of injuries, counterproductive and dangerous. Overwhelmed by negative or absent Narcissistic Supply, the narcissist is forced to let go of it. The narcissist then resorts to self-delusion. Unable to completely ignore contrarian opinion and data - he transmutes them. Unable to face the dismal failure that he is, the narcissist partially withdraws from reality. To soothe and salve the pain of disillusionment, he administers to his aching soul a mixture of lies, distortions, half-truths and outlandish interpretations of events around him. These solutions can be classified thus: The Delusional Narrative Solution The narcissist constructs a narrative in which he figures as the hero - brilliant, perfect, irresistibly handsome, destined for great things, entitled, powerful, wealthy, the centre of attention, etc. The bigger the strain on this delusional charade - the greater the gap between fantasy and reality - the more the delusion coalesces and solidifies. Finally, if it is sufficiently protracted, it replaces reality and the narcissist's reality test deteriorates. He withdraws his bridges and may become schizotypal, catatonic, or schizoid. The Antisocial Solution The narcissist renounces reality. To his mind, those who pusillanimously fail to recognize his unbound talents, innate superiority, overarching brilliance, benevolent nature, entitlement, cosmically important mission, perfection, etc. - do not deserve consideration. The narcissist's natural affinity with the criminal - his lack of empathy and compassion, his deficient social skills, his disregard for social laws and morals - now erupt and blossom. He becomes a full fledged antisocial (sociopath or psychopath). He ignores the wishes and needs of others, he breaks the law, he violates all rights - natural and legal, he holds people in contempt and disdain, he derides society and its codes, he punishes the ignorant ingrates - that, to his mind, drove him to this state - by acting criminally and by jeopardizing their safety, lives, or property. The Paranoid Schizoid Solution When narcissism fails as a defense mechanism, the narcissist develops paranoid narratives: self-directed confabulations which place him at the center of others' allegedly malign attention. The narcissist becomes his own audience and self-sufficient as his own, sometimes exclusive, source of narcissistic supply. The narcissist develops persecutory delusions. He perceives slights and insults where none were intended. He becomes subject to ideas of reference (people are gossiping about him, mocking him, prying into his affairs, cracking his e-mail, etc.). He is convinced that he is the centre of malign and mal-intentioned attention. People are conspiring to humiliate him, punish him, abscond with his property, delude him, impoverish him, confine him physically or intellectually, censor him, impose on his time, force him to action (or to inaction), frighten

him, coerce him, surround and besiege him, change his mind, part with his values, victimize or even murder him, and so on. Some narcissists withdraw completely from a world populated with such minacious and ominous objects (really projections of internal objects and processes). They avoid all social contact, except the most necessary. They refrain from meeting people, falling in love, having sex, talking to others, or even corresponding with them. In short: they become schizoids - not out of social shyness, but out of what they feel to be their choice. "This evil, hopeless world does not deserve me" - goes the inner refrain - "and I shall waste none of my time and resources on it." The Paranoid Aggressive (Explosive) Solution Other narcissists who develop persecutory delusions, resort to an aggressive stance, a more violent resolution of their internal conflict. They become verbally, psychologically, situationally (and, very rarely, physically) abusive. They insult, castigate, chastise, berate, demean, and deride their nearest and dearest (often well wishers and loved ones). They explode in unprovoked displays of indignation, righteousness, condemnation, and blame. Theirs is an exegetic Bedlam. They interpret everything - even the most innocuous, inadvertent, and innocent comment - as designed to provoke and humiliate them. They sow fear, revulsion, hate, and malignant envy. They flail against the windmills of reality - a pathetic, forlorn, sight. But often they cause real and lasting damage - fortunately, mainly to themselves. The Masochistic Avoidant Solution The narcissist is angered by the lack of narcissistic supply. He directs some of this fury inwards, punishing himself for his "failure". This masochistic behavior has the added "benefit" of forcing the narcissist's closest to assume the roles of dismayed spectators or of persecutors and thus, either way, to pay him the attention that he craves. Self-administered punishment often manifests as self-handicapping masochism - a narcissistic cop-out. By undermining his work, his relationships, and his efforts, the increasingly fragile narcissist avoids additional criticism and censure (negative supply). Selfinflicted failure is the narcissist's doing and thus proves that he is the master of his own fate. Masochistic narcissists keep finding themselves in self-defeating circumstances which render success impossible - and "an objective assessment of their performance improbable"(Millon, 2000). They act carelessly, withdraw in mid-effort, are constantly fatigued, bored, or disaffected and thus passive-aggressively sabotage their lives. Their suffering is defiant and by "deciding to abort" they reassert their omnipotence. The narcissist's pronounced and public misery and self-pity are compensatory and "reinforce (his) self-esteem against overwhelming convictions of worthlessness" (Millon, 2000). His tribulations and anguish render him, in his eyes, unique, saintly, virtuous, righteous, resilient, and significant. They are, in other words, self-generated narcissistic supply. Thus, paradoxically, the worst his anguish and unhappiness, the more relieved and elated such a narcissist feels!

Additional Reading Millon, Theodore and Davis, Roger - Personality Disorders in Modern Life, 2nd Edition New York, John Wiley and Sons, 2000 Grandiosity Bubbles As one Source of Narcissistic Supply dwindles, the narcissist finds himself trapped in a frantic (though, at times, unconscious) effort to secure alternatives. As one Pathological Narcissistic Space (the narcissist's stomping grounds) is rendered "uninhabitable" (too many people "see through" the narcissist's manipulation and machinations) – the narcissist wanders off to find another. These hysterical endeavours sometimes lead to boom-bust cycles which involve, in the first stage, the formation of a Grandiosity Bubble. A Grandiosity Bubble is an imagined, self-aggrandising, narrative involving the narcissist and elements from his real life – people around him, places he frequents, or conversations he is having. The narcissist weaves a story incorporating these facts, inflating them in the process and endowing them with bogus internal meaning and consistency. In other words: he confabulates – but, this time, his confabulation is loosely based on reality. In the process, the narcissist re-invents himself and his life to fit the new-fangled tale. He recasts himself in newly adopted roles. He suddenly fancies himself an actor, a guru, a political activist, an entrepreneur, or an irresistible hunk. He modifies his behaviour to conform to these new functions. He gradually morphs into the fabricated character and "becomes" the fictitious protagonist he has created. All the mechanisms of pathological narcissism are at work during the bubble phase. The narcissist idealises the situation, the other "actors", and the environment. He tries to control and manipulate his milieu into buttressing his false notions and perceptions. Faced with an inevitable Grandiosity Gap, he becomes disillusioned and bitter and devalues and discards the people, places, and circumstances involved in the bubble. Still, Grandiosity Bubbles are not part of the normal narcissistic mini-cycle (see the resources in the section titled "Also Read" below). They are rare events, much like trying on a new outfit for size and comfort. They fizzle out rapidly and the narcissist reverts to his regular pattern: idealising new Sources of Supply, devaluing and discarding them, pursuing the next victims to be drained. Actually, the deflation of a grandiosity bubble is met with relief by the narcissist. It does not involve a narcissistic injury. The narcissist views the bubble as merely an experiment at being someone else for a while. It is a safety valve, allowing the narcissist to effectively cope with negative emotions and frustration. Thus cleansed, the narcissist can go back to doing what he does best – projecting a False Self and garnering attention from others. The Adrenaline Junkie Narcissistic Supply is exciting. When it is available, the narcissist feels elated, omnipotent, omniscient, handsome, sexy, adventurous, invincible, and irresistible. When it is missing, the

narcissist first enters a manic phase of trying to replenish his supply and, if he fails, the narcissist shrivels, withdraws and is reduced to a zombie-like state of numbness. Some people – and all narcissists – are addicted to excitement, to the adrenaline rush, to the danger inevitably and invariably involved. They are the adrenaline junkies. All narcissists are adrenaline junkies – but not all adrenaline junkies are narcissists. Narcissistic Supply is the narcissist's particular sort of thrill. Deficient Narcissistic Supply is tantamount to the absence of excitement and thrills in non-narcissistic adrenaline junkies. Originally, in early childhood, Narcissistic Supply is meant to help the narcissist regulate his volatile sense of self-worth and self-esteem. But Narcissistic Supply, regardless of its psychodynamic functions, also simply feels good. The narcissist grows addicted to the gratifying effects of Narcissistic Supply. He reacts with anxiety when constant, reliable provision is absent or threatened. Thus, Narcissistic Supply always comes with excitement, on the one hand and with anxiety on the other hand. When unable to secure "normal" Narcissistic Supply – adulation, recognition, fame, celebrity, notoriety, infamy, affirmation, or mere attention – the narcissist resorts to "abnormal" Narcissistic Supply. He tries to obtain his drug – the thrills, the good feeling that comes with Narcissistic Supply – by behaving recklessly, by succumbing to substance abuse, or by living dangerously. Such narcissists – faced with a chronic state of deficient Narcissistic Supply – become criminals, or race drivers, or gamblers, or soldiers, or investigative journalists. They defy authority. They avoid safety, routine and boredom – no safe sex, no financial prudence, no stable marriage or career. They become peripatetic, change jobs, or lovers, or vocations, or avocations, or residences, or friendships often. But sometimes even these extreme and demonstrative steps are not enough. When confronted with a boring, routine existence – with a chronic and permanent inability to secure Narcissistic Supply and excitement – these people compensate by inventing thrills where there are none. They become paranoid, full of delusional persecutory notions and ideas of reference. Or they develop phobias – fear of flying, of heights, of enclosed or open spaces, of cats or spiders. Fear is a good substitute to the excitement they so crave and that eludes them. Anxiety leads to the frenetic search for Narcissistic Supply. Obtaining the supply causes a general – albeit transient – sense of wellbeing, relief and release as the anxiety is alleviated. This cycle is addictive. But what generates the anxiety in the first place? Are people born adrenaline junkies or do they become ones? No one knows for sure. It may be genetically determined. We may discover one day that adrenaline junkies, conditioned by defective genes, develop special neural and biochemical paths, an unusual sensitivity to adrenaline. Or, it may indeed be the sad outcome of abuse and

trauma during the formative years. The brain is plastic and easily influenced by recurrent bouts of capricious and malicious treatment. The adrenaline junkie’s point of view is that the only real things in life are memories. When at 98, one is likely to be bed-bound, in a hospice, all one's friends long gone; one's "family" thrice removed and distant; and one's "accomplishments" and fights so derisive and meaningless in hindsight. What's left? That movie in the private screening room we call the brain: memories, fleeting images, sound bites - the shredded remains of one's existence. The Compulsive Acts of a Narcissist The narcissist is compulsive and prone to ritualistic behaviour. His False Self demands devotion and tenacity. The re-enactment of past traumas sustains the narcissist’s grandiosity and reinforce rewardpenalty cycles and his self-image as a “bad object”. Question: Are there compulsive acts unique to the narcissist? Answer: The short and the long of it is: no. In general, there is a strong compulsive strand in the narcissist's behaviour. He is driven to exorcise internal demons by means of ritualistic acts. The narcissist's very pursuit of Narcissistic Supply is compulsive. The narcissist seeks to recreate and reenact old traumas, ancient, unresolved conflicts with figures of (primary) importance in his life. The narcissist feels that he is "bad" and diffusely guilty and that, therefore, he should be punished. So, he makes sure that he is disciplined. These cycles possess the tint and hue of compulsion. In many respects, narcissism can be defined as an all-pervasive obsessivecompulsive disorder. The narcissist is faced with difficult conditions in his childhood: either neglect, abandonment, capriciousness, arbitrariness, strictness, sadistic behaviour, abuse (physical, psychological, or verbal) - or doting, "annexation" and "appropriation" by a narcissistic and frustrated parent. The narcissist develops a unique defence mechanism: a story, a narrative, another self. This False Self is possessed of all the qualities that can insulate the child from an ominous and hostile world. It is perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. In short: it is divine. The narcissist develops a private religion with the False Self at its centre. It is replete with rites, mantras, scriptures, and spiritual and physical exercises. The child worships this new deity. He succumbs to what he perceives to be its wishes and its needs. He makes sacrifices of Narcissistic Supply to it. He is awed by it because it possesses many of the traits of the hallowed tormentors, the parents.

The child reduces his True Self, minimises it. He is looking to appease the new Divinity – not to incur its wrath. He does so by adhering to strict schedules, ceremonies, by reciting texts, by self-imposition of self-discipline. Hitherto, the child is transformed into the servant of his False Self. Daily, he caters to its needs and offers to it Narcissistic Supply. And he is rewarded for his efforts: he feels elated when in compliance with the creed, he emulates the characteristics of this entity. Suffused with Narcissistic Supply, his False Self content, the child feels omnipotent, untouchable, invulnerable, immune to threats and insults and omniscient. On the other hand, when Narcissistic Supply is lacking – the child feels guilty, miserable, and unworthy. The Superego then takes over: sadistic, ominous, cruel, suicidal – it chastises the child for having failed, for having sinned, for being guilty. It demands a self-inflicted penalty to cleanse, to atone, to let go. Caught between these two deities – the False Self and the Superego - the child is compulsively forced to seek Narcissistic Supply. Success in this pursuit holds both promises: an emotional reward and protection from the murderous Superego. Throughout, the child maintains the rhythms of regenerating his conflicts and traumas in order to try and resolve them. Such resolution can be either in the form of punishment or in the form of healing. But since healing means letting go of his system of beliefs and deities – the child is more likely to choose punishment. The narcissist strives to reenact old traumas and open old wounds. For instance, he behaves in ways that make people abandon him. Or he becomes rebellious in order to be chastised by figures of authority. Or he engages in criminal or antisocial activities. These types of selfdefeating and self-destructive behaviours are in permanent interaction with the False Self. The False Self breeds compulsive acts. The narcissist seeks for his Narcissistic Supply compulsively. He wants to be punished compulsively. He generates resentment or hatred, switches sexual partners, becomes eccentric, writes articles and makes scientific discoveries – all compulsively. There is no joy in his life or in his actions. Just relieved anxiety, the moment of liberation and soothing protection that he enjoys following a compulsive act. As pressure builds inside the narcissist, threatening the precarious balance of his personality, something inside warns him that danger is imminent. He reacts by developing an acute anxiety, which can be alleviated only with a compulsive act. If this act fails to materialise, the emotional outcome can be anything from absolute terror to deep-set depression. The narcissist knows that his very life is at stake, that in his Superego lurks a mortal enemy. He knows that only his False Self stands between him and his Superego (the True Self is warped, depleted, immature and dilapidated). The Narcissistic Personality Disorder is an obsessive-compulsive disorder writ large. Narcissists are characterized by reckless and impulsive behaviours: binge eating, compulsive shopping, pathological gambling, drinking, reckless driving. But what sets them apart from non-narcissistic compulsives is twofold: 1. With the narcissist, the compulsive acts constitute a part of a larger "grandiose" picture. If a narcissist shops – it is in order to build up a unique collection. If he

gambles – it is to prove right a method that he has developed or to demonstrate his amazing mental or psychic powers. If he climbs mountains or races cars – it is to establish new records and if he binges – it is part of constructing a universal diet or bodybuilding and so on. The narcissist never does simple, straightforward things – these are too mundane, not sufficiently grandiose. He invents a contextual narrative in order to lend outstanding proportions, perspectives, and purpose to his most common acts, including the compulsive ones. Where the regular compulsive patient feels that the compulsive act restores his control over himself and over his life – the narcissist feels that the compulsive act restores his control over his environment and secures his future Narcissistic Supply. 2. With the narcissist, the compulsive acts enhance the reward–penalty cycle. At their inception and for as long as they are committed – they reward the narcissist emotionally in the ways described above. But they also provide him with fresh ammunition against himself. His Sins of indulgence lead the narcissist down the path of yet another self-inflicted punishment. Finally, "normal" compulsions are usually effectively treatable. The (behaviourist or cognitive-behavioural) therapist reconditions the patient and helps him get rid of his constricting rituals. This works only partly with the narcissist. His compulsive acts are merely an element in his complicated personality. They are the sick tips of very abnormal icebergs. Shaving them off does nothing to ameliorate the narcissist's titanic inner struggle. Projection We all have an image of how we "should be". Freud called it the "Ego Ideal". But sometimes we experience emotions and drives or have personal qualities which don't sit well with this idealized construct. Projection is when we attribute to others these unacceptable, discomfiting, and ill-fitting feelings and traits that we possess. This way we disown these discordant features and secure the right to criticize and chastise others for having or displaying them. When entire collectives (nations, groups, organizations, firms) project, Freud calls it the Narcissism of Small Differences. Projective Identification Projection is unconscious. People are rarely aware that they are projecting onto others their own ego-dystonic and unpleasant characteristics and feelings. But, sometimes, the projected content is retained in the subject's awareness. This creates a conflict. On the one hand, the patient cannot admit that the emotions, traits, reactions, and behaviors that he so condemns in others are really his. On the other hand, he can't help but being self-aware. He fails to erase from his consciousness the painful realization that he is merely projecting. So, instead of denying it, the subject explains unpleasant emotions and unacceptable conduct as reactions to the recipient's behavior. "She made me do it!" is the battle cry of projective identification. We all have expectations regarding the world and its denizens. Some people expect to be loved and appreciated - others to be feared and abused. The latter behave obnoxiously and thus force their nearest and dearest to hate, fear, and "abuse" them. Thus vindicated, their expectations fulfilled, they calm down. The world is rendered once more familiar by making

other people behave the way they expect them to. "I knew you would cheat on me! It was clear I couldn't trust you!". The Abuser in Denial Abusers regularly deny the abuse ever took place – or rationalize their abusive behaviors. Denial is an integral part of the abuser's ability to "look at himself/herself in the mirror". There are many types of denial. When confronted by his victims, most abusers tend to shift blame or avoid the topic altogether. Total Denial 1. Outright Denial Typical retorts by the abuser: "It never happened, or it was not abuse, you are just imagining it, or you want to hurt my (the abuser's) feelings." 2. Alloplastic Defense Common sentences when challenged: "It was your fault, you, or your behavior, or the circumstances, provoked me into such behavior." In other words: abusers blame the world - circumstances, other people - for their defeats, misfortune, misconduct, and failures (alloplastic defenses). The abuser firmly believes that his life is fully controlled by currents and persons over which and whom he has no influence whatsoever (external locus of control.) Sometimes, the abuser would say: "I made a mistake because I am stupid", implying that his deficiencies and inadequacy are things he has no control over and cannot change. This is also an alloplastic defence because it abrogates responsibility. Many abusers exclaim: "I misbehaved because I lost my temper." On the surface, this appears to be an autoplastic defence with the abuser assuming responsibility for his misconduct. But, it could be interpreted as an alloplastic defence, depending on whether the abuser believes that he can control his temper. An individual's alloplastic and autoplastic defences should not be confused with blame and guilt which are social constructs for social control. 3. Altruistic Defense Usual convoluted explanations: "I did it for you, in your best interests." 4. Transformative Defense Recurring themes: "What I did to you was not abuse – it was common and accepted behavior (at the time, or in the context of the prevailing culture or in accordance with social norms), it was not meant as abuse."

Abusers frequently have narcissistic traits. As such, they are more concerned with appearance than with substance. Dependent for Narcissistic Supply on the community –neighbors, colleagues, co-workers, bosses, friends, extended family – they cultivate an unblemished reputation for honesty, industriousness, religiosity, reliability, and conformity. Forms of Denial in Public 1. Family Honor Stricture Characteristic admonitions: "We don't do dirty laundry publicly, the family's honor and repute must be preserved, what will the neighbors say?" 2. Family Functioning Stricture Dire and ominous scenarios: "If you snitch and inform the authorities, they will take me (the abusive parent) away and the whole family will disintegrate." Confronting the abuser with incontrovertible proof of his abusive behavior is one way of minimizing contact with him. Abusers – like the narcissists that they often are – cannot tolerate criticism or disagreement (more about it here). The Weapon of Language "A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use." (Rip van Winkle by Washington Irving) In the narcissist's surrealistic world, even language is pathologized. It mutates into a weapon of self-defence, a verbal fortification, a medium without a message, replacing words with duplicitous and ambiguous vocables. Narcissists (and, often, by contagion, their unfortunate victims) don't talk, or communicate. They fend off. They hide and evade and avoid and disguise. They lecture and hector and preach. In their planet of capricious and arbitrary unpredictability, of shifting semiotic and semantic dunes they perfect the ability to say nothing in lengthy, Castro-like speeches. Their speech is impregnated and dense with first person pronouns ("I", "me", "my", "mine"). The ensuing convoluted sentences are arabesques of meaninglessness, acrobatics of evasion, a lack of commitment elevated to an ideology. The narcissist prefers to wait and see what waiting brings. It is the postponement of the inevitable that leads to the inevitability of postponement as a strategy of survival. It is often impossible to really understand a narcissist. The evasive syntax fast deteriorates into ever more labyrinthine structures. The grammar tortured to produce the verbal Doppler shifts essential to disguise the source of the information, its distance from reality, the speed of its degeneration into rigid "official" versions. Buried under the lush flora and fauna of idioms without an end, the language erupts, like some exotic rash, an autoimmune reaction to its infection and contamination. Like vile weeds it spread throughout, strangling with absent minded persistence the ability to understand, to

feel, to agree, to disagree and to debate, to present arguments, to compare notes, to learn and to teach. Narcissists, therefore, never talk to others - rather, they talk at others. They exchange subtexts, camouflage-wrapped by elaborate, florid, texts. They read between the lines, spawning a multitude of private languages, prejudices, superstitions, conspiracy theories, rumours, phobias and hysterias. Theirs is a solipsistic world - where communication is permitted only with oneself and the aim of language is to throw others off the scent or to obtain Narcissistic Supply. The narcissist's inability to listen and pay genuine attention stems from his overriding need to sustain his grandiosity and to rehearse his next lines, retort, or clever response while his interlocutor - really merely his audience - is talking. After all: why should the narcissist waste his precious time on listening when he is omniscient? This has profound implications. Communication through unequivocal, unambiguous, information-rich symbol systems is such an integral and crucial part of our world - that its absence is not postulated even in the remotest galaxies which grace the skies of science fiction. In this sense, narcissists are nothing short of aliens. It is not that they employ a different language, a code to be deciphered by a new Freud. It is also not the outcome of upbringing or socio-cultural background. It is the fact that language is put by narcissists to a different use: not to communicate but to obscure, not to share but to abstain, not to learn but to defend and resist, not to teach but to preserve ever less tenable monopolies, to disagree without incurring wrath, to criticize without commitment, to agree without appearing to do so. Thus, an "agreement" with a narcissist is a vague expression of intent at a given moment - rather than the clear listing of long term, iron-cast and mutual commitments. When the narcissist speaks, there is an undercurrent, a stream of occult and dual messages that permeate the overt text. A narcissistic mother may say “I love you” and mean: “I am dependent on you, don’t leave.”, or “Look how much I have sacrificed for you. You are mine now, guilt-ridden and blameworthy!” She may exclaim: “All I want is for you to be happy” and actually mean: “I hope you remain a miserable failure. That way I get to maintain my superiority over you and have you running errands for the rest of your life.” The rules that govern the narcissist's universe are loopholed incomprehensibles, open to an exegesis so wide and so self-contradictory that it renders them meaningless. The narcissist often hangs himself by his own verbose Gordic knots, having stumbled through a minefield of logical fallacies and endured self inflicted inconsistencies. Unfinished sentences hover in the air, like vapour above a semantic swamp. In the case of the inverted narcissist, who was suppressed and abused by overbearing caregivers, there is the strong urge not to offend. Intimacy and inter-dependence are great. Parental or peer pressures are irresistible and result in conformity and self-deprecation. Aggressive tendencies, strongly repressed in the social pressure cooker, teem under the veneer of forced civility and violent politeness. Constructive ambiguity, a non-committal "everyone is good and right", an atavistic variant of moral relativism and tolerance bred of fear and of contempt - are all at the service of this eternal vigilance against aggressive drives, at the disposal of a never ending peacekeeping mission.

With the classic narcissist, language is used cruelly and ruthlessly to ensnare one's enemies, to saw confusion and panic, to move others to emulate the narcissist ("projective identification"), to leave the listeners in doubt, in hesitation, in paralysis, to gain control, or to punish. Language is enslaved and forced to lie. The language is appropriated and expropriated. It is considered to be a weapon, an asset, a piece of lethal property, a traitorous mistress to be gang raped into submission. With cerebral narcissists, language is a lover. The infatuation with its very sound leads to a pyrotechnic type of speech which sacrifices its meaning to its music. Its speakers pay more attention to the composition than to the content. They are swept by it, intoxicated by its perfection, inebriated by the spiralling complexity of its forms. Here, language is an inflammatory process. It attacks the very tissues of the narcissist's relationships with artistic fierceness. It invades the healthy cells of reason and logic, of cool headed argumentation and level headed debate. Language is a leading indicator of the psychological and institutional health of social units, such as the family, or the workplace. Social capital can often be measured in cognitive (hence, verbal-lingual) terms. To monitor the level of comprehensibility and lucidity of texts is to study the degree of sanity of family members, co-workers, friends, spouses, mates, and colleagues. There can exist no hale society without unambiguous speech, without clear communications, without the traffic of idioms and content that is an inseparable part of every social contract. Our language determines how we perceive our world. It IS our mind and our consciousness. The narcissist, in this respect, is a great social menace. The Narcissist in Court It is very easy to "break" a narcissist in court by revealing facts that contradict his inflated perception of his grandiose (false) self; by criticising and disagreeing with him; by exposing his fake achievements, belittling his self-imputed and fantasized "talents and skills"; by hinting that he is subordinated, subjugated, controlled, owned or dependent upon a third party; by describing the narcissist as average, common, indistinguishable from others; by implying that the narcissist is weak, needy, dependent, deficient, slow, not intelligent, naive, gullible, susceptible, not in the know, manipulated, a victim, an average person of mediocre accomplishments. Question: How can I expose the lies of the narcissist in a court of law? He acts so convincing! Answer: You should distinguish the factual pillar from the psychological pillar of any crossexamination of a narcissist or deposition made by him. It is essential to be equipped with absolutely unequivocal, first rate, thoroughly authenticated and vouched for information. The reason is that narcissists are superhuman in their capacity to distort reality by offering highly "plausible" alternative scenarios, which fit most of the facts. It is very easy to "break" a narcissist – even a well-trained and well-prepared one.

Here are a few of the things the narcissist finds devastating: Any statement or fact, which seems to contradict his inflated perception of his grandiose self. Any criticism, disagreement, exposure of fake achievements, belittling of "talents and skills" which the narcissist fantasises that he possesses. Any hint that he is subordinated, subjugated, controlled, owned or dependent upon a third party. Any description of the narcissist as average and common, indistinguishable from many others. Any hint that the narcissist is weak, needy, dependent, deficient, slow, not intelligent, naive, gullible, susceptible, not in the know, manipulated, a victim, an average person of mediocre accomplishments. The narcissist is likely to react with rage to all these and, in an effort to re-establish his fantastic grandiosity, he is likely to expose facts and stratagems he had no conscious intention of exposing. The narcissist reacts indignantly, with wrath, hatred, aggression, or even overt violence to any infringement of what he perceives to be his natural entitlement. Narcissists believe that they are so unique and that their lives are of such cosmic significance that others should defer to their needs and cater to their every whim without ado. The narcissist feels entitled to interact or be treated (or questioned) only by unique individuals. He resents being doubted and "ridiculed". Any insinuation, hint, intimation, or direct declaration that the narcissist is not special at all, that he is average, common, not even sufficiently idiosyncratic to warrant a fleeting interest inflame the narcissist. He holds himself to be omnipotent and omniscient. Tell the narcissist that he does not deserve the best treatment, that his desires are not everyone's priority, that he is boring or ignorant, that his needs can be catered to by any common practitioner (medical doctor, accountant, lawyer, psychiatrist), that he and his motives are transparent and can be easily gauged, that he will do what he is told, that his temper tantrums will not be tolerated, that no special concessions will be made to accommodate his inflated sense of self, that he is subject to court procedures, etc. – and the narcissist will likely lose control. The narcissist believes that he is the cleverest, far above the madding crowd. Contradict him often, disagree with him and criticize his judgement, expose his shortcomings, humiliate and berate him ("You are not as intelligent as you think you are", "Who is really behind all this? It takes sophistication which you don't seem to posses ", "So, you have no formal education", "You are (mistake his age, make him much older)", "What did you do in your life? Did you study? Do you have a degree? Did you ever establish or run a business? Would you define yourself as a success?", "Would your children share your view

that you are a good father?", "You were last seen with a certain Ms. … who is (suppressed grin) a stripper (in demeaning disbelief)". I know that many of these questions cannot be asked outright in a court of law. But you can insinuate them or hurl these sentences at him during the breaks, inadvertently during the examination or deposition phase, etc. Narcissists hate innuendos even more than they detest direct attacks. Abusing the Gullible Narcissist "Such a one (the narcissist - SV) is encased, is he not, in an armor - such an armor! The armor of the crusaders was nothing to it - an armor of arrogance, of pride, of complete self-esteem. This armor, it is in some ways a protection, the arrows, the everyday arrows of life glance off it. But there is this danger; Sometimes a man in armor might not even know he was being attacked. He will be slow to see, slow to hear - slower still to feel." ["Dead Man's Mirror" by Agatha Christie in "Hercule Poirot - The Complete Short Stories", Great Britain, HarperCollins Publishers, 1999] The irony is that narcissists, who consider themselves worldly, discerning, knowledgeable, shrewd, erudite, and astute - are actually more gullible than the average person. This is because they are fake. Their self is false, their life a confabulation, their reality test gone. They live in a fantasy land all their own in which they are the center of the universe, admired, feared, held in awe, and respected for their omnipotence and omniscience. Narcissists are prone to magical thinking. They hold themselves immune to the consequences of their actions (or inaction) and, therefore, beyond punishment and the laws of Man. Narcissists are easily persuaded to assume unreasonable risks and expect miracles to happen. They often find themselves on the receiving end of investment scams, for instance. Narcissists feel entitled to money, power, and honors incommensurate with their accomplishments or toil. The world, or God, or the nation, or society, or their families, coworkers, employers, even neighbors owe them a trouble-free, exalted, and luxurious existence. They are rudely shocked when they are penalized for their misconduct or when their fantasies remain just that. The narcissist believes that he is destined to greatness - or at least the easy life. He wakes up every morning fully ready for a fortuitous stroke of luck. That explains the narcissist's reckless behaviors and his lazed lack of self-discipline. It also explains why is so easily duped. By playing on the narcissist's grandiosity and paranoia, it is possible to deceive and manipulate him effortlessly. Just offer him Narcissistic Supply - admiration, affirmation, adulation - and he is yours. Harp on his insecurities and his persecutory delusions - and he is likely to trust only you and cling to you for dear life. Both paranoia and grandiosity impair the narcissist’s reality test and lead to the erection of complex and wasteful defences against non-existent threats. Narcissists attract abuse. Haughty, exploitative, demanding, insensitive, and quarrelsome – they tend to draw opprobrium and provoke anger and even hatred. Sorely lacking in

interpersonal skills, devoid of empathy, and steeped in irksome grandiose fantasies – they invariably fail to mitigate the irritation and revolt that they induce in others. Successful narcissists are frequently targeted by stalkers and erotomaniacs – usually mentally ill people who develop a fixation of a sexual and emotional nature on the narcissist. When inevitably rebuffed, they become vindictive and even violent. Less prominent narcissists end up sharing life with co-dependents and inverted narcissists. The narcissist's situation is exacerbated by the fact that, often, the narcissist himself is an abuser. Like the boy who cried "wolf", people do not believe that the perpetrator of egregious deeds can himself fall prey to maltreatment. They tend to ignore and discard the narcissist's cries for help and disbelieve his protestations. The narcissist reacts to abuse as would any other victim. Traumatized, he goes through the phases of denial, helplessness, rage, depression, and acceptance. But, the narcissist's reactions are amplified by his shattered sense of omnipotence. Abuse breeds humiliation. To the narcissist, helplessness is a novel experience. The narcissistic defence mechanisms and their behavioural manifestations – diffuse rage, idealization and devaluation, exploitation – are useless when confronted with a determined, vindictive, or delusional stalker. That the narcissist is flattered by the attention he receives from the abuser, renders him more vulnerable to the former's manipulation. Nor can the narcissist come to terms with his need for help or acknowledge that wrongful behaviour on his part may have contributed somehow to the situation. His self-image as an infallible, mighty, all-knowing person, far superior to others, won't let him admit to shortfalls or mistakes. As the abuse progresses, the narcissist feels increasingly cornered. His conflicting emotional needs – to preserve the integrity of his grandiose False Self even as he seeks much needed support – place an unbearable strain on the precarious balance of his immature personality. Decompensation (the disintegration of the narcissist's defence mechanisms) leads to acting out and, if the abuse is protracted, to withdrawal and even to psychotic micro-episodes. Abusive acts in themselves are rarely dangerous. Not so the reactions to abuse – above all, the overwhelming sense of violation and humiliation. When asked how is the narcissist likely to react to continued mistreatment, I wrote this in one of my Pathological Narcissism FAQs: "The initial reaction of the narcissist to a perceived humiliation is a conscious rejection of the humiliating input. The narcissist tries to ignore it, talk it out of existence, or belittle its importance. If this crude mechanism of cognitive dissonance fails, the narcissist resorts to denial and repression of the humiliating material. He "forgets" all about it, gets it out of his mind and, when reminded of it, denies it. But these are usually merely stopgap measures. The disturbing data is bound to impinge on the narcissist's tormented consciousness. Once aware of its re-emergence, the narcissist uses fantasy to counteract and counterbalance it. He imagines all the horrible things that he would have done (or will do) to the sources of his frustration.

It is through fantasy that the narcissist seeks to redeem his pride and dignity and to reestablish his damaged sense of uniqueness and grandiosity. Paradoxically, the narcissist does not mind being humiliated if this were to make him more unique or to draw more attention to his person. For instance: if the injustice involved in the process of humiliation is unprecedented, or if the humiliating acts or words place the narcissist in a unique position, or if they transform him into a public figure – the narcissist tries to encourage such behaviours and to elicit them from others. In this case, he fantasises how he defiantly demeans and debases his opponents by forcing them to behave even more barbarously than before, so that their unjust conduct is universally recognised as such and condemned and the narcissist is publicly vindicated and his self-respect restored. In short: martyrdom is as good a method of obtaining Narcissist Supply as any. Fantasy, though, has its limits and once reached, the narcissist is likely to experience waves of self-hatred and self-loathing, the outcomes of helplessness and of realising the depths of his dependence on Narcissistic Supply. These feelings culminate in severe selfdirected aggression: depression, destructive, self-defeating behaviours or suicidal ideation. These self-negating reactions, inevitably and naturally, terrify the narcissist. He tries to project them on to his environment. He may decompensate by developing obsessivecompulsive traits or by going through a psychotic microepisode. At this stage, the narcissist is suddenly besieged by disturbing, uncontrollable violent thoughts. He develops ritualistic reactions to them: a sequence of motions, an act, or obsessive counter-thoughts. Or he might visualise his aggression, or experience auditory hallucinations. Humiliation affects the narcissist this deeply. Luckily, the process is entirely reversible once Narcissistic Supply is resumed. Almost immediately, the narcissist swings from one pole to another, from being humiliated to being elated, from being put down to being reinstated, from being at the bottom of his own, imagined, pit to occupying the top of his own, imagined, hill." Corporate Narcissism: Narcissism in the Boardroom The perpetrators of the recent spate of financial frauds in the USA acted with callous disregard for both their employees and shareholders - not to mention other stakeholders. Psychologists have often remote-diagnosed them as "malignant, pathological narcissists". Narcissists are driven by the need to uphold and maintain a false self - a concocted, grandiose, and demanding psychological construct typical of the narcissistic personality disorder. The false self is projected to the world in order to garner "narcissistic supply" adulation, admiration, or even notoriety and infamy. Any kind of attention is usually deemed by narcissists to be preferable to obscurity. The false self is suffused with fantasies of perfection, grandeur, brilliance, infallibility, immunity, significance, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. To be a narcissist is to be convinced of a great, inevitable personal destiny. The narcissist is preoccupied with ideal

love, the construction of brilliant, revolutionary scientific theories, the composition or authoring or painting of the greatest work of art, the founding of a new school of thought, the attainment of fabulous wealth, the reshaping of a nation or a conglomerate, and so on. The narcissist never sets realistic goals to himself. He is forever preoccupied with fantasies of uniqueness, record breaking, or breathtaking achievements. His verbosity reflects this propensity. Reality is, naturally, quite different and this gives rise to a "grandiosity gap". The demands of the false self are never satisfied by the narcissist's accomplishments, standing, wealth, clout, sexual prowess, or knowledge. The narcissist's grandiosity and sense of entitlement are equally incommensurate with his achievements. To bridge the grandiosity gap, the malignant (pathological) narcissist resorts to shortcuts. These very often lead to fraud. The narcissist cares only about appearances. What matters to him are the facade of wealth and its attendant social status and narcissistic supply. Witness the travestied extravagance of Tyco's Denis Kozlowski. Media attention only exacerbates the narcissist's addiction and makes it incumbent on him to go to ever-wilder extremes to secure uninterrupted supply from this source. The narcissist lacks empathy - the ability to put himself in other people's shoes. He does not recognize boundaries - personal, corporate, or legal. Everything and everyone are to him mere instruments, extensions, objects unconditionally and uncomplainingly available in his pursuit of narcissistic gratification. This makes the narcissist perniciously exploitative. He uses, abuses, devalues, and discards even his nearest and dearest in the most chilling manner. The narcissist is utility- driven, obsessed with his overwhelming need to reduce his anxiety and regulate his labile sense of self-worth by securing a constant supply of his drug - attention. American executives acted without compunction when they raided their employees' pension funds - as did Robert Maxwell a generation earlier in Britain. The narcissist is convinced of his superiority - cerebral or physical. To his mind, he is a Gulliver hamstrung by a horde of narrow-minded and envious Lilliputians. The dotcom "new economy" was infested with "visionaries" with a contemptuous attitude towards the mundane: profits, business cycles, conservative economists, doubtful journalists, and cautious analysts. Yet, deep inside, the narcissist is painfully aware of his addiction to others - their attention, admiration, applause, and affirmation. He despises himself for being thus dependent. He hates people the same way a drug addict hates his pusher. He wishes to "put them in their place", humiliate them, demonstrate to them how inadequate and imperfect they are in comparison to his regal self and how little he craves or needs them. The narcissist regards himself as one would an expensive present, a gift to his company, to his family, to his neighbours, to his colleagues, to his country. This firm conviction of his inflated importance makes him feel entitled to special treatment, special favors, special outcomes, concessions, subservience, immediate gratification, obsequiousness, and lenience.

It also makes him feel immune to mortal laws and somehow divinely protected and insulated from the inevitable consequences of his deeds and misdeeds. The self-destructive narcissist plays the role of the "bad guy" (or "bad girl"). But even this is within the traditional social roles cartoonishly exaggerated by the narcissist to attract attention. Men are likely to emphasise intellect, power, aggression, money, or social status. Narcissistic women are likely to emphasise body, looks, charm, sexuality, feminine "traits", homemaking, children and childrearing. Punishing the wayward narcissist is a veritable catch-22. A jail term is useless as a deterrent if it only serves to focus attention on the narcissist. Being infamous is second best to being famous - and far preferable to being ignored. The only way to effectively punish a narcissist is to withhold narcissistic supply from him and thus to prevent him from becoming a notorious celebrity. Given a sufficient amount of media exposure, book contracts, talk shows, lectures, and public attention - the narcissist may even consider the whole grisly affair to be emotionally rewarding. To the narcissist, freedom, wealth, social status, family, vocation - are all means to an end. And the end is attention. If he can secure attention by being the big bad wolf - the narcissist unhesitatingly transforms himself into one. Lord Archer, for instance, seems to be positively basking in the media circus provoked by his prison diaries. The narcissist does not victimise, plunder, terrorise and abuse others in a cold, calculating manner. He does so offhandedly, as a manifestation of his genuine character. To be truly "guilty" one needs to intend, to deliberate, to contemplate one's choices and then to choose one's acts. The narcissist does none of these. Thus, punishment breeds in him surprise, hurt and seething anger. The narcissist is stunned by society's insistence that he should be held accountable for his deeds and penalized accordingly. He feels wronged, baffled, injured, the victim of bias, discrimination and injustice. He rebels and rages. Depending upon the pervasiveness of his magical thinking, the narcissist may feel besieged by overwhelming powers, forces cosmic and intrinsically ominous. He may develop compulsive rites to fend off this "bad", unwarranted, persecutory influences. The narcissist, very much the infantile outcome of stunted personal development, engages in magical thinking. He feels omnipotent, that there is nothing he couldn't do or achieve if only he sets his mind to it. He feels omniscient - he rarely admits to ignorance and regards his intuitions and intellect as founts of objective data. Thus, narcissists are haughtily convinced that introspection is a more important and more efficient (not to mention easier to accomplish) method of obtaining knowledge than the systematic study of outside sources of information in accordance with strict and tedious curricula. Narcissists are "inspired" and they despise hamstrung technocrats. To some extent, they feel omnipresent because they are either famous or about to become famous or because their product is selling or is being manufactured globally. Deeply immersed in their delusions of grandeur, they firmly believe that their acts have - or will have

- a great influence not only on their firm, but on their country, or even on Mankind. Having mastered the manipulation of their human environment - they are convinced that they will always "get away with it". They develop hubris and a false sense of immunity. Narcissistic immunity is the (erroneous) feeling, harboured by the narcissist, that he is impervious to the consequences of his actions, that he will never be effected by the results of his own decisions, opinions, beliefs, deeds and misdeeds, acts, inaction, or membership of certain groups, that he is above reproach and punishment, that, magically, he is protected and will miraculously be saved at the last moment. Hence the audacity, simplicity, and transparency of some of the fraud and corporate looting in the 1990's. Narcissists rarely bother to cover their traces, so great is their disdain and conviction that they are above mortal laws and wherewithal. What are the sources of this unrealistic appraisal of situations and events? The false self is a childish response to abuse and trauma. Abuse is not limited to sexual molestation or beatings. Smothering, doting, pampering, over-indulgence, treating the child as an extension of the parent, not respecting the child's boundaries, and burdening the child with excessive expectations are also forms of abuse. The child reacts by constructing false self that is possessed of everything it needs in order to prevail: unlimited and instantaneously available Harry Potter-like powers and wisdom. The false self, this Superman, is indifferent to abuse and punishment. This way, the child's true self is shielded from the toddler's harsh reality. This artificial, maladaptive separation between a vulnerable (but not punishable) true self and a punishable (but invulnerable) false self is an effective mechanism. It isolates the child from the unjust, capricious, emotionally dangerous world that he occupies. But, at the same time, it fosters in him a false sense of "nothing can happen to me, because I am not here, I am not available to be punished, hence I am immune to punishment". The comfort of false immunity is also yielded by the narcissist's sense of entitlement. In his grandiose delusions, the narcissist is sui generis, a gift to humanity, a precious, fragile, object. Moreover, the narcissist is convinced both that this uniqueness is immediately discernible and that it gives him special rights. The narcissist feels that he is protected by some cosmological law pertaining to "endangered species". He is convinced that his future contribution to others - his firm, his country, humanity should and does exempt him from the mundane: daily chores, boring jobs, recurrent tasks, personal exertion, orderly investment of resources and efforts, laws and regulations, social conventions, and so on. The narcissist is entitled to a "special treatment": high living standards, constant and immediate catering to his needs, the eradication of any friction with the humdrum and the routine, an all-engulfing absolution of his sins, fast track privileges (to higher education, or in his encounters with bureaucracies, for instance). Punishment, trusts the narcissist, is for ordinary people, where no great loss to humanity is involved. Narcissists are possessed of inordinate abilities to charm, to convince, to seduce, and to persuade. Many of them are gifted orators and intellectually endowed. Many of them work in

in politics, the media, fashion, show business, the arts, medicine, or business, and serve as religious leaders. By virtue of their standing in the community, their charisma, or their ability to find the willing scapegoats, they do get exempted many times. Having recurrently "got away with it" they develop a theory of personal immunity, founded upon some kind of societal and even cosmic "order" in which certain people are above punishment. But there is a fourth, simpler, explanation. The narcissist lacks self-awareness. Divorced from his true self, unable to empathise (to understand what it is like to be someone else), unwilling to constrain his actions to cater to the feelings and needs of others - the narcissist is in a constant dreamlike state. To the narcissist, his life is unreal, like watching an autonomously unfolding movie. The narcissist is a mere spectator, mildly interested, greatly entertained at times. He does not "own" his actions. He, therefore, cannot understand why he should be punished and when he is, he feels grossly wronged. So convinced is the narcissist that he is destined to great things - that he refuses to accept setbacks, failures and punishments. He regards them as temporary, as the outcomes of someone else's errors, as part of the future mythology of his rise to power/brilliance/wealth/ideal love, etc. Being punished is a diversion of his precious energy and resources from the all-important task of fulfilling his mission in life. The narcissist is pathologically envious of people and believes that they are equally envious of him. He is paranoid, on guard, ready to fend off an imminent attack. A punishment to the narcissist is a major surprise and a nuisance but it also validates his suspicion that he is being persecuted. It proves to him that strong forces are arrayed against him. He tells himself that people, envious of his achievements and humiliated by them, are out to get him. He constitutes a threat to the accepted order. When required to pay for his misdeeds, the narcissist is always disdainful and bitter and feels misunderstood by his inferiors. Cooked books, corporate fraud, bending the (GAAP or other) rules, sweeping problems under the carpet, over-promising, making grandiose claims (the "vision thing") - are hallmarks of a narcissist in action. When social cues and norms encourage such behaviour rather than inhibit it - in other words, when such behaviour elicits abundant narcissistic supply - the pattern is reinforced and become entrenched and rigid. Even when circumstances change, the narcissist finds it difficult to adapt, shed his routines, and replace them with new ones. He is trapped in his past success. He becomes a swindler. But pathological narcissism is not an isolated phenomenon. It is embedded in our contemporary culture. The West's is a narcissistic civilization. It upholds narcissistic values and penalizes alternative value-systems. From an early age, children are taught to avoid selfcriticism, to deceive themselves regarding their capacities and attainments, to feel entitled, and to exploit others. As Lilian Katz observed in her important paper, "Distinctions between Self-Esteem and Narcissism: Implications for Practice", published by the Educational Resources Information

Center, the line between enhancing self-esteem and fostering narcissism is often blurred by educators and parents. Both Christopher Lasch in "The Culture of Narcissism" and Theodore Millon in his books about personality disorders, singled out American society as narcissistic. Litigiousness may be the flip side of an inane sense of entitlement. Consumerism is built on this common and communal lie of "I can do anything I want and possess everything I desire if I only apply myself to it" and on the pathological envy it fosters. Not surprisingly, narcissistic disorders are more common among men than among women. This may be because narcissism conforms to masculine social mores and to the prevailing ethos of capitalism. Ambition, achievements, hierarchy, ruthlessness, drive - are both social values and narcissistic male traits. Social thinkers like the aforementioned Lasch speculated that modern American culture - a self-centred one - increases the rate of incidence of the narcissistic personality disorder. Otto Kernberg, a notable scholar of personality disorders, confirmed Lasch's intuition: "Society can make serious psychological abnormalities, which already exist in some percentage of the population, seem to be at least superficially appropriate." In their book "Personality Disorders in Modern Life", Theodore Millon and Roger Davis state, as a matter of fact, that pathological narcissism was once the preserve of "the royal and the wealthy" and that it "seems to have gained prominence only in the late twentieth century". Narcissism, according to them, may be associated with "higher levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs ... Individuals in less advantaged nations .. are too busy trying (to survive) ... to be arrogant and grandiose". They - like Lasch before them - attribute pathological narcissism to "a society that stresses individualism and self-gratification at the expense of community, namely the United States." They assert that the disorder is more prevalent among certain professions with "star power" or respect. "In an individualistic culture, the narcissist is 'God's gift to the world'. In a collectivist society, the narcissist is 'God's gift to the collective." Millon quotes Warren and Caponi's "The Role of Culture in the Development of Narcissistic Personality Disorders in America, Japan and Denmark": "Individualistic narcissistic structures of self-regard (in individualistic societies) ... are rather self-contained and independent ... (In collectivist cultures) narcissistic configurations of the we-self ... denote self-esteem derived from strong identification with the reputation and honor of the family, groups, and others in hierarchical relationships." Still, there are malignant narcissists among subsistence farmers in Africa, nomads in the Sinai desert, day laborers in east Europe, and intellectuals and socialites in Manhattan. Malignant narcissism is all-pervasive and independent of culture and society. It is true, though, that the way pathological narcissism manifests and is experienced is dependent on the particulars of societies and cultures. In some cultures, it is encouraged, in others suppressed. In some societies it is channeled against minorities - in others it is tainted with paranoia. In collectivist societies, it may be projected onto the collective, in individualistic societies, it is an individual's trait.

Yet, can families, organizations, ethnic groups, churches, and even whole nations be safely described as "narcissistic" or "pathologically self-absorbed"? Can we talk about a "corporate culture of narcissism"? Human collectives - states, firms, households, institutions, political parties, cliques, bands acquire a life and a character all their own. The longer the association or affiliation of the members, the more cohesive and conformist the inner dynamics of the group, the more persecutory or numerous its enemies, competitors, or adversaries, the more intensive the physical and emotional experiences of the individuals it is comprised of, the stronger the bonds of locale, language, and history - the more rigorous might an assertion of a common pathology be. Such an all-pervasive and extensive pathology manifests itself in the behavior of each and every member. It is a defining - though often implicit or underlying - mental structure. It has explanatory and predictive powers. It is recurrent and invariable - a pattern of conduct melding distorted cognition and stunted emotions. And it is often vehemently denied. The Fabric of Economic Trust Economics acquired its dismal reputation by pretending to be an exact science rather than a branch of mass psychology. In truth it is a narrative struggling to describe the aggregate behavior of humans. It seeks to cloak its uncertainties and shifting fashions with mathematical formulae and elaborate econometric computerized models. So much is certain, though - that people operate within markets, free or regulated, patchy or organized. They attach numerical (and emotional) values to their inputs (work, capital) and to their possessions (assets, natural endowments). They communicate these values to each other by sending out signals known as prices. Yet, this entire edifice - the market and its price mechanism - critically depends on trust. If people do not trust each other, or the economic "envelope" within which they interact (“preemptive mistrust”), economic activity gradually grinds to a halt. There is a strong correlation between the general level of trust and the extent and intensity of economic activity. Francis Fukuyama, the political scientist, distinguishes between high-trust and prosperous societies and low-trust and, therefore, impoverished collectives. Trust underlies economic success, he argued in a 1995 tome. Trust is not a monolithic quantity. There are a few categories of economic trust. Some forms of trust are akin to a public good and are closely related to governmental action or inaction, the reputation of the state and its institutions, and its pronounced agenda. Other types of trust are the outcomes of kinship, ethnic origin, personal standing and goodwill, corporate brands and other data generated by individuals, households, and firms. Such information creates two types of output: reinforced trust (where behaviour matches expectations) and “inductive distrust” (where behaviour frustrates expectations). I. Trust in the playing field To transact, people have to maintain faith in a relevant economic horizon and in the immutability of the economic playing field or "envelope". Put less obscurely, a few hidden assumptions underlie the continued economic activity of market players.

They assume, for instance, that the market will continue to exist for the foreseeable future in its current form. That it will remain inert - unhindered by externalities like government intervention, geopolitical upheavals, crises, abrupt changes in accounting policies and tax laws, hyperinflation, institutional and structural reform and other market-deflecting events and processes. They further assume that their price signals will not be distorted or thwarted constantly, thus skewing the efficient and rational allocation of risks and rewards. Insider trading, stock manipulation, monopolies, cartels, informal economic activities (“black market”), and hoarding all tend to consistently but unpredictably distort price signals and, thus, deter market participation. Market players take for granted the existence and continuous operation of institutions: financial intermediaries, law enforcement agencies, courts, the civil service, educational institutions, and so on. It is important to note that market players prefer continuity and certainty to evolution, however gradual and ultimately beneficial. A venal bureaucrat is a known quantity and can be tackled effectively. A period of transition to good and equitable governance can be more stifling than any level of corruption and malfeasance. This is why economic activity drops sharply whenever institutions are reformed. II. Trust in other players Market players assume that other players are (generally) rational, that they have intentions, that they intend to maximize their benefits and that they are likely to act on their intentions in a legal (or rule-based), rational manner. III. Trust in market liquidity Market players assume that other players possess or have access to the liquid means they need in order to act on their intentions and obligations. They know, from personal experience, that idle capital tends to dwindle and that the only way to, perhaps, maintain or increase it is to transact with others, directly or through intermediaries, such as banks. IV. Trust in others' knowledge and ability Market players assume that other players possess or have access to the intellectual property, technology, and knowledge they need in order to realize their intentions and obligations. This implicitly presupposes that all other market players are physically, mentally, legally and financially able and willing to act their parts as stipulated, for instance, in contracts they sign. The emotional dimensions of contracting are often neglected in economics. Players assume that their counterparts maintain a realistic and stable sense of self-worth based on intimate knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses. Market participants are presumed to harbor realistic expectations, commensurate with their skills and accomplishments. Allowance is made for exaggeration, disinformation, even outright deception - but these are supposed to be marginal phenomena. When trust breaks down - often the result of an external or internal systemic shock - people react expectedly. The number of voluntary interactions and transactions decreases sharply. With a collapsed investment horizon, individuals and firms become corrupt in an effort to

shortcut their way into economic benefits, not knowing how long will the system survive. Criminal activity increases. People compensate with fantasies and grandiose delusions for their growing sense of uncertainty, helplessness, and fears. This is a self-reinforcing mechanism, a vicious cycle which results in under-confidence and a fluctuating self esteem. They develop psychological defence mechanisms. Cognitive dissonance ("I really choose to be poor rather than heartless"), pathological envy (seeks to deprive others and thus gain emotional reward), rigidity ("I am like that, my family or ethnic group has been like that for generations, there is nothing I can do"), passiveaggressive behavior (obstructing the work flow, absenteeism, stealing from the employer, adhering strictly to arcane regulations) - are all reactions to a breakdown in one or more of the four aforementioned types of trust. Furthermore, people in a trust crisis are unable to postpone gratification. They often become frustrated, aggressive, and deceitful if denied. They resort to reckless behavior and stopgap economic activities. In economic environments with compromised and impaired trust, loyalty decreases and mobility increases. People switch jobs, renege on obligations, fail to repay debts, relocate often. Concepts like exclusivity, the sanctity of contracts, workplace loyalty, or a career path - all get eroded. As a result, little is invested in the future, in the acquisition of skills, in long term savings. Short-termism and bottom line mentality rule. The outcomes of a crisis of trust are, usually, catastrophic: Economic activity is much reduced, human capital is corroded and wasted, brain drain increases, illegal and extra-legal activities rise, society is polarized between haves and havesnot, interethnic and inter-racial tensions increase. To rebuild trust in such circumstances is a daunting task. The loss of trust is contagious and, finally, it infects every institution and profession in the land. It is the stuff revolutions are made of. V. Trust and Distrust Indices I suggest a simple index of economic trust with the following variables, all of which are scored on a scale of 1 to 10: T (i) = P+L+C+I+S+M+V+F+R+W The index can thus range from 0 to 100, with 100 signifying total, absolute, unreserved, allpervasive, and enduring economic trust and 0 represents the complete absence of any form of trust between and among economic agents and actors. 1 divided by the index (1/T(i)) would be the index of economic mistrust. Population size (P): the bigger the population, the easier it is to cheat and deceive because information is disseminated more slowly and peer pressure is limited; Law enforcement (L): efficient law enforcement and a functional judiciary enhance trust;

Corruption (C), surprisingly, has a neutral effect: on the one hand, it encourages preemptive mistrust by upsetting the level playing field; on the other hand, corruption and venality increase certainty in otherwise uncertain economic environments by providing a tried-andtrue “price list” for services; Connectivity (I): the more connected individuals are and the faster the dissemination of accurate, transparent information, the higher the level of trust. Technologies such as the Internet serve to enhance economic trust; Stability and Predictability (S) are the cornerstones of economic trust: government intervention, geopolitical upheavals, crises, abrupt changes in accounting policies and tax laws, hyperinflation, institutional and structural reform and other market-deflecting events and processes all tend to reduce the average level of trust; Available and reliable price signals (M), not distorted by insider trading, stock manipulation, hoarding, informal economic activities (“black market”), monopolies, and cartels; Reliable store of value (V): currency or goods and services can as means of exchange and generate trust only when they represent real long-term value; Functioning institutions (F) are crucial to the establishment and maintenance of trust: financial intermediaries, law enforcement agencies, courts, the civil service, educational institutions, and so on; Cultural-social rationality (R): in all cultures and societies there are times when the optimization of profits and benefits, the ethics of contracting, and otherwise rational economic behaviour are subordinated to often self-defeating and self-destructive irrational beliefs, prejudices, stereotypes, and biases, spurred on by capricious and arbitrary leaders, ethos, and mores. Such surrealism is not conducive to economic trust; Wherewithal (W): when all the economic actors and agents possess the liquidity and knowledge necessary to complete their transactions and honour their obligations, this creates and sustains an atmosphere of trust. The Shadowy World of International Finance Strange, penumbral, characters roam the boardrooms of banks in the countries in transition. Some of them pop apparently from nowhere, others are very well connected and equipped with the most excellent introductions. They all peddle financial transactions which are too good to be true and often are. In the unctuously perfumed propinquity of their Mercedesed, Rolex waving entourage - the polydipsic natives dissolve in their irresistible charm and the temptations of the cash: mountainous returns on capital, effulgent profits, no collaterals, track record, or business plan required. Total security is cloyingly assured. These Fausts roughly belong to four tribes: The Shoppers

These are the shabby operators of the marginal shadows of the world of finance. They broker financial deals with meretricious sweat only to be rewarded their meagre, humiliated fees. Most of their deals do not materialize. The principle is very simple: They approach a bank, a financial institution, or a borrower and say: "We are connected to banks or financial institutions in the West. We can bring you money in the form of credits. But to do that - you must first express interest in getting this money. You must furnish us with a bank guarantee / promissory note / letter of intent that indicates that you desire the credit and that you are willing to provide a liquid financial instrument to back it up.". Having obtained such instruments, the shoppers begin to "shop around". They approach banks and financial institutions (usually, in the West). This time, they reverse their text: "We have an excellent client, a good borrower. Are you willing to lend to it?" An informal process of tendering ensues. Sometimes it ends in a transaction and the shopper collects a small commission (between one quarter of a percentage point and two percentage points depending on the amount). Mostly it doesn't -and the Flying Dutchman resumes his wanderings looking for more venal gulosity and less legal probity. The Con-Men These are crooks who set up elaborate schemes ("sting operations") to extract money from unsuspecting people and financial institutions. They establish "front" or "phantom" firms and offices throughout the world. They tempt the gullible by offering them enormous, immediate, tax-free, effort-free, profits. They let the victims profit in the first round or two of the scam. Then, they sting: the victims invest money and it evaporates together with the dishonest operators. The "offices" are deserted, the fake identities, the forged bank references, the falsified guarantees are all exposed (often with the help of an inside informant). Probably the most famous and enduring scam is the "Nigerian-type Connection". Letters allegedly composed by very influential and highly placed officials - are sent out to unsuspecting businessmen. The latter are asked to make their bank accounts available to the former, who profess to need the third party bank accounts through which to funnel the sweet fruits of corruption. The account owners are promised huge financial rewards if they collaborate and if they bear some minor-by-comparison upfront costs. The con-men pocket these "expenses" and vanish. Sometimes, they even empty the accounts of their entire balance as they evaporate. The Launderers A lot of cash goes undeclared to tax authorities in countries in transition. The informal economy (the daughter of both criminal and legitimate parents) comprises between 15% (Slovenia) and 50% (Russia, Macedonia) of the official one. Some say these figures are a deliberate and ferocious understatement. These are mind boggling amounts, which circulate between financial centres and off shore havens in the world: Cyprus, the Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein (Vaduz), Panama and dozens of aspiring laundrettes. The money thus smuggled is kept in low-yielding cash deposits. To escape the cruel fate of inflationary corrosion, it has to be reinvested. It is stealthily re-introduced to the very economy that it so sought to evade, in the form of investment capital or other financial assets (loans and credits). Its anxious owners are preoccupied with legitimising their stillborn cash through the conduit of tax-fearing enterprises, or with lending it to same. The emphasis is on

the word: "legitimate". The money surges in through mysterious and anonymous foreign corporations, via off-shore banking centres, even through respectable financial institutions (the Bank of New York we mentioned?). It is easy to recognize a laundering operation. Its hallmark is a pronounced lack of selectivity. The money is invested in anything and everything, as long as it appears legitimate. Diversification is not sought by these nouveau tycoons and they have no core investment strategy. They spread their illicit funds among dozens of disparate economic activities and show not the slightest interest in the putative yields on their investments, the maturity of their assets, the quality of their newly acquired businesses, their history, or real value. Never the sedulous, they pay exorbitantly for all manner of prestidigital endeavours. The future prospects and other normal investment criteria are beyond them. All they are after is a mirage of lapidarity. The Investors This is the most intriguing group. Normative, law abiding, businessmen, who stumbled across methods to secure excessive yields on their capital and are looking to borrow their way into increasing it. By cleverly participating in bond tenders, by devising ingenious option strategies, or by arbitraging - yields of up to 300% can be collected in the immature markets of transition without the normally associated risks. This sub-species can be found mainly in Russia and in the Balkans. Its members often buy sovereign bonds and notes at discounts of up to 80% of their face value. Russian obligations could be had for less in August 1998 and Macedonian ones during the Kosovo crisis. In cahoots with the issuing country's central bank, they then convert the obligations to local currency at par (for 100% of their face value). The difference makes, needless to add, for an immediate and hefty profit, yet it is in (often worthless and vicissitudinal) local currency. The latter is then hurriedly disposed of (at a discount) and sold to multinationals with operations in the country of issue, which are in need of local tender. This fast becomes an almost addictive avocation. Intoxicated by this pecuniary nectar, the fortunate, those privy to the secret, try to raise more capital by hunting for financial instruments they can convert to cash in Western banks. A bank guarantee, a promissory note, a confirmed letter of credit, a note or a bond guaranteed by the Central Bank - all will do as deposited collateral against which a credit line is established and cash is drawn. The cash is then invested in a new cycle of inebriation to yield fantastic profits. It is easy to identify these "investors". They eagerly seek financial instruments from almost any local bank, no matter how suspect. They offer to pay for these coveted documents (bank guarantees, bankers' acceptances, letters of credit) either in cash or by lending to the bank's clients and this within a month or more from the date of their issuance. They agree to "cancel" the locally issued financial instruments by offering a "counter-financial-instrument" (safe keeping receipt, contra-guarantee, counter promissory note, etc.). This "counterinstrument" is issued by the very Prime World or European Bank in which the locally issued financial instruments are deposited as collateral. The Investors invariably confidently claim that the financial instrument issued by the local bank will never be presented or used (which is true) and that this is a risk free transaction (which is not entirely so). If they are forced to lend to the bank's clients, they often ignore the

quality of the credit takers, the yields, the maturities and other considerations which normally tend to interest lenders very much. Whether a financial instrument cancelled by another is still valid, presentable and should be honoured by its issuer is still debated. In some cases it is clearly so. If something goes horribly (and rarely, admittedly) wrong with these transactions - the local bank stands to suffer, too. It all boils down to a terrible hunger, the kind of thirst that can be quelled only by the denominated liquidity of lucre. In the post nuclear landscape of this part of the world, a fantasy is shared by both predators and prey. Circling each other in marble temples, they switch their roles in dizzying progression. Tycoons and politicians, industrialists and bureaucrats all vie for the attention of Mammon. The shifting coalitions of well groomed man in back stabbed suits, an hallucinatory carousel of avarice and guile. But every circus folds and every Luna park is destined to shut down. The dying music, the frozen accounts of the deceived, the bankrupt banks, the Jurassic Park of skeletal industrial beasts - a muted testimony to a wild age of mutual assured destruction and self deceit. The future of Eastern and South Europe. The present of Russia, Albania and Yugoslavia. The Typology of Financial Scandals and Ponzi (Pyramid) Schemes Tulipmania - this is the name coined for the first pyramid investment scheme in history. In 1634, tulip bulbs were traded in a special exchange in Amsterdam. People used these bulbs as means of exchange and value store. They traded them and speculated in them. The rare black tulip bulbs were as valuable as a big mansion house. The craze lasted four years and it seemed that it would last forever. But this was not to be. The bubble burst in 1637. In a matter of a few days, the price of tulip bulbs was slashed by 96%! This specific pyramid investment scheme (also known as "Ponzi scheme", after a notorious swindler) was somewhat different from the ones which were to follow it in human financial history elsewhere in the world. It had no "organizing committee", no identifiable group of movers and shakers, which controlled and directed it. Also, no explicit promises were ever made concerning the profits which the investors could expect from participating in the scheme - or even that profits were forthcoming to them. Since then, pyramid (Ponzi) schemes have evolved into intricate psychological ploys. Modern ones have a few characteristics in common: First, they involve ever growing numbers of people. They mushroom exponentially into proportions that usually threaten the national economy and the very fabric of society. All of them have grave political and social implications. Hundreds of thousands of investors (in a population of less than 3.5 million souls) were deeply enmeshed in the 1983 banking crisis in Israel.

This was a classic pyramid scheme: the banks offered their own shares for sale, promising investors that the price of the shares will only go up (sometimes by 2% daily). The banks used depositors' money, their capital, their profits and money that they borrowed abroad to keep this impossible and unhealthy promise. Everyone knew what was going on and everyone was involved. The Ministers of Finance, the Governors of the Central Bank assisted the banks in these criminal pursuits. This specific pyramid scheme - arguably, the longest in history - lasted 7 years. On one day in October 1983, ALL the banks in Israel collapsed. The government faced such civil unrest that it was forced to compensate shareholders through an elaborate share buyback plan which lasted 9 years. The total indirect damage is hard to evaluate, but the direct damage amounted to 6 billion USD. This specific incident highlights another important attribute of pyramid schemes: investors are promised impossibly high yields, either by way of profits or by way of interest paid. Such yields cannot be derived from the proper investment of the funds - so, the organizers resort to dirty tricks. They use new money, invested by new investors - to pay off the old investors. The religion of Islam forbids lenders to charge interest on the credits that they provide. This prohibition is problematic in modern day life and could bring modern finance to a complete halt. It was against this backdrop, that a few entrepreneurs and religious figures in Egypt and in Pakistan established what they called: "Islamic banks". These banks refrained from either paying interest to depositors - or from charging their clients interest on the loans that they doled out. Instead, they have made their depositors partners in fictitious profits - and have charged their clients for fictitious losses. All would have been well had the Islamic banks stuck to healthier business practices. But they offer impossibly high "profits" and ended the way every pyramid ends: they collapsed and dragged economies and political establishments with them. The latest example of the price paid by whole nations due to failed pyramid schemes is, of course, Albania 1997. One third of the population was heavily involved in a series of heavily leveraged investment plans which collapsed almost simultaneously. Inept political and financial crisis management led Albania to the verge of disintegration into civil war. But why must pyramid schemes fail? Why can't they continue forever, riding on the back of new money and keeping every investor happy, new and old? The reason is that the number of new investors - and, therefore, the amount of new money available to the pyramid's organizers - is limited. There are just so many risk takers. The day of judgement is heralded by an ominous mismatch between overblown obligations and the trickling down of new money. When there is no more money available to pay off the old investors, panic ensues. Everyone wants to draw money at the same time. This, evidently, is never possible - some of the money is usually invested in real estate or was provided as a

loan. Even the most stable and healthiest financial institutions never put aside more than 10% of the money deposited with them. Thus, pyramids are doomed to collapse. But, then, most of the investors in pyramids know that pyramids are scams, not schemes. They stand warned by the collapse of other pyramid schemes, sometimes in the same place and at the same time. Still, they are attracted again and again as butterflies are to the fire and with the same results. The reason is as old as human psychology: greed, avarice. The organizers promise the investors two things: 1. That they could draw their money anytime that they want to, and 2. That in the meantime, they will be able to continue to receive high returns on their money. People know that this is highly improbable and that the likelihood that they will lose all or part of their money grows with time. But they convince themselves that the high profits or interest payments that they will be able to collect before the pyramid collapses - will more than amply compensate them for the loss of their money. Some of them, hope to succeed in drawing the money before the imminent collapse, based on "warning signs". In other words, the investors believe that they can outwit the organizers of the pyramid. The investors collaborate with the organizers on the psychological level: cheated and deceiver engage in a delicate ballet leading to their mutual downfall. This is undeniably the most dangerous of all types of financial scandals. It insidiously pervades the very fabric of human interactions. It distorts economic decisions and it ends in misery on a national scale. It is the scourge of societies in transition. The second type of financial scandals is normally connected to the laundering of money generated in the "black economy", namely: the income not reported to the tax authorities. Such capital passes through banking channels, changes ownership a few times, so that its track is covered and the identities of the owners of the money are concealed. Money generated by drug dealings, illicit arm trade and the less exotic form of tax evasion is thus "laundered". The financial institutions which participate in laundering operations, maintain double accounting books. One book is for the purposes of the official authorities. Those agencies and authorities that deal with taxation, bank supervision, deposit insurance and financial liquidity are given access to this set of "engineered" books. The true record is kept hidden in another set of books. These accounts reflect the real situation of the financial institution: who deposited how much, when and under which conditions - and who borrowed what, when and under which conditions. This double standard blurs the true situation of the institution to the point of no return. Even the owners of the institution begin to lose track of its activities and misapprehend its real standing.

Is it stable? Is it liquid? Is the asset portfolio diversified enough? No one knows. The fog enshrouds even those who created it in the first place. No proper financial control and audit is possible under such circumstances. Less scrupulous members of the management and the staff of such financial bodies usually take advantage of the situation. Embezzlements are very widespread, abuse of authority, misuse or misplacement of funds. Where no light shines, a lot of creepy creatures tend to develop. The most famous - and biggest - financial scandal of this type in human history was the collapse of the Bank for Credit and Commerce International LTD. (BCCI) in London in 1991. For almost a decade, the management and employees of this shady bank engaged in stealing and misappropriating 10 billion (!!!) USD. The supervision department of the Bank of England, under whose scrutinizing eyes this bank was supposed to have been - was proven to be impotent and incompetent. The owners of the bank - some Arab Sheikhs - had to invest billions of dollars in compensating its depositors. The combination of black money, shoddy financial controls, shady bank accounts and shredded documents proves to be quite elusive. It is impossible to evaluate the total damage in such cases. The third type is the most elusive, the hardest to discover. It is very common and scandal may erupt - or never occur, depending on chance, cash flows and the intellects of those involved. Financial institutions are subject to political pressures, forcing them to give credits to the unworthy - or to forgo diversification (to give too much credit to a single borrower). Only lately in South Korea, such politically motivated loans were discovered to have been given to the failing Hanbo conglomerate by virtually every bank in the country. The same may safely be said about banks in Japan and almost everywhere else. Very few banks would dare to refuse the Finance Minister's cronies, for instance. Some banks would subject the review of credit applications to social considerations. They would lend to certain sectors of the economy, regardless of their financial viability. They would lend to the needy, to the affluent, to urban renewal programs, to small businesses - and all in the name of social causes which, however justified - cannot justify giving loans. This is a private case in a more widespread phenomenon: the assets (=loan portfolios) of many a financial institution are not diversified enough. Their loans are concentrated in a single sector of the economy (agriculture, industry, construction), in a given country, or geographical region. Such exposure is detrimental to the financial health of the lending institution. Economic trends tend to develop in unison in the same sector, country, or region. When real estate in the West Coast of the USA plummets - it does so indiscriminately. A bank whose total portfolio is composed of mortgages to West Coast Realtors, would be demolished. In 1982, Mexico defaulted on the interest payments of its international debts. Its arrears grew enormously and threatened the stability of the entire Western financial system. USA banks which were the most exposed to the Latin American debt crisis - had to foot the bulk of the bill which amounted to tens of billions of USD. They had almost all their capital tied up in loans to Latin American countries. Financial institutions bow to fads and fashions. They are

amenable to "lending trends" and display a herd-like mentality. They tend to concentrate their assets where they believe that they could get the highest yields in the shortest possible periods of time. In this sense, they are not very different from investors in pyramid investment schemes. Financial mismanagement can also be the result of lax or flawed financial controls. The internal audit department in every financing institution - and the external audit exercised by the appropriate supervision authorities are responsible to counter the natural human propensity for gambling. The must help the financial organization re-orient itself in accordance with objective and objectively analysed data. If they fail to do this - the financial institution would tend to behave like a ship without navigation tools. Financial audit regulations (the most famous of which are the American FASBs) trail way behind the development of the modern financial marketplace. Still, their judicious and careful implementation could be of invaluable assistance in steering away from financial scandals. Taking human psychology into account - coupled with the complexity of the modern world of finances - it is nothing less than a miracle that financial scandals are as few and far between as they are. About the Author Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, and international affairs. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101. Visit Sam's Web site at Work on Narcissism Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited. (number 1 bestseller in its category in Barnes and Noble). His work is quoted in well over 1000 scholarly publications and in over 5000 books (full list here). His Web site "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" was, for many years, an Open Directory Cool Site and is a Psych-UK recommended Site. Sam Vaknin is not a mental health professional though he is certified in psychological counseling techniques by Brainbench. Sam Vaknin served as the editor of Mental Health Disorders categories in the Open Directory Project and on He maintains his own Websites about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and about relationships with abusive narcissists and psychopaths here and in HealthyPlace.

You can find his work on many other Web sites: Mental Health Matters, Mental Health Sanctuary, Mental Health Today, Kathi's Mental Health Review and others. Sam Vaknin wrote a column for Bellaonline on Narcissism and Abusive Relationships and is a frequent contributor to Websites such as and Bizymoms (as an expert on personality disorders). Sam Vaknin served as the author of the Personality Disorders topic, Narcissistic Personality Disorder topic, the Verbal and Emotional Abuse topic, and the Spousal Abuse and Domestic Violence topic, all four on Suite101. He is the moderator of the Narcissistic Abuse Study List , the Toxic Relationships Study List, and other mailing lists with a total of c. 20,000 members. He also publishes a bi-weekly Abusive Relationships Newsletter. You can view Sam Vaknin’s biography here.