How to Manipulate the Narcissist (as told by a Narcissist)

All told, there are three ways to manipulate the narcissist:

  1. To withhold narcissistic supply from him until he comes, hat in hand, begging for more and then you can name your price and dictate terms;
  2. To constitute yourself as a reliable source of high-grade supply and thereby foster in the narcissist dependence and adherence to your minutest needs and wishes;
  3. To take active part in buttressing and upholding the narcissist’s grandiose fantasies, to collude in a shared psychosis and thus render him amenable to your wishes and priorities as long as they seamlessly conform to his delusional narrative.

(From the book “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited” by Sam Vaknin – Click on this link to purchase the print book, or 16 e-books, or 3 DVDs with 16 hours of video lectures on narcissists, psychopaths, and abuse in relationships: http://samvak.tripod.com/thebook.html.)

Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein

The Dire Dangers of Narcissism

Though I’m professionally distant from today’s media luminaries, I have a particular personal interest in the current narcissistic spectacle du jour: I went to college and was friends with Harvey Weinstein nearly a half a century ago.

With an admixture of feelings, I watch the scandal unfold. I’m horrified and angry at what Weinstein is charged with perpetrating. I’m confused and saddened by my former friend’s behavior. Yet, I’m not surprised, given what I remember about Harvey when we were students. That’s not to say I could have predicted this. I don’t identify with interviewees solicited by journalists to tell what they knew of ignominious scoundrels before they committed their heinous acts. Harvey Weinstein—from first impression of him being grandiose, sycophantic, and magnanimously generous to the progression of his unstable and rampant ambitionwas intense, needy, insecure, ingratiating, and over-the-top in his endeavors.

I’m not invested in justifying or scourging Harvey. He’ll get whatever the consequences of his actions bring—spiritually and legally. I feel sorry for him, but ever more sorry for, and indignant about, the victims he is accused of abusing, exploiting, bullying, and oppressing. Such injustice must be vindicated—but that is not up to me. As a psychologist, my goal is to unravel and shed light upon the inner forces that develop into disastrous behavior. Since I consorted with Harvey and knew him well decades ago, I want to lay bare the seminal roots of an accused tyrant before he became one.

As a psychologist, I have something to contribute by explaining the wily dangers of narcissism, thus allowing potential victims to be informed and better protected. As an American citizen, I am alarmed and wary about the course and future of our country, our people and our principles. As a father, husband, and person with strengths and weaknesses who is desirous of healthy relationships, I, too, am vulnerable. Narcissism is an insidious monster, born of a needy and unstable ego that lurks for years, nursing its perceived wounds, until it explodes in aggressive and blind perpetrations. A healthy self-image must be nurtured. It can be achieved by hard work that includes the basis for self-respect and the practice of respect for others. Though the development of narcissism is neither predictable nor clearly delineated, certain factors may contribute to a self-aggrandizing ego and overbearing sense of entitlement:

  • a “silver-spoon” upbringing, where material things and excessively indulgent opportunities became integral elements in the family culture;
  • exposure to a series of traumas and humiliations;
  • use of embarrassment to modify childhood misbehavior;
  • employing self-flagellation to cope with insecurity; or simply
  • relying on an escapist fantasy and the transformative illusion of becoming a legend and hero in one’s mirror.

Though we may recoil from the exaggerated hubris of the narcissist, we should also be respectful and thankful for not traveling along such an isolating and destructive path. As my mother often said: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” To live a life of worthiness and honor, one must embrace gratitude and humility.

What Happened to You, Harvey Weinstein?
Do you remember me, Harvey? I know you’ve got a lot on your mind these days; but I’ll bet that if you heard my name, you’d say, “Mark… how the hell are you doing?” We go back a long way, Harvey, to some wild days at the University of Buffalo.

Remember the crowd? Janis Siegel (affectionately called Pumpkin), who went on to acclaim as a singer with Manhattan Transfer. And the creative and iconic Jay Beckenstein, jazz saxophonist with Spyrogyra.

Remember those all-nighters, the 4:00 AM greasy burgers at Your Host Restaurant? The anguished, drugged-out rants and discussions about the universe, who we were, and where we were going?

We grew up and went out in the world to different places. You were amazing, Harvey: intense, sycophantic, driven, disturbed, and needy. I identified with you—Jewish kids from New York, arrived in a blue collar city, ready to take over and show how much we knew and how things should be done.

You floundered, and then soared. It wasn’t long before you traded academics for an entrepreneurial path, on your way to becoming a juggernaut. You founded Harvey & Corky Productions, bringing big-name musical talent to downtown Buffalo. You soon rubbed shoulders with the top names and icons of our generation. It must have been intoxicating, far beyond the drugs that most used to reach for peace and imagined self-importance.

Throughout the years, I watched your movies and cheered you on. There goes Harvey Weinstein—I knew him in college; we were friends. I envied your success. From my intimate knowledge of your personality, I suspected that you were not happy or fulfilled. How could you be, never filling the immense void within you with something other than riches and accolades? Not to diminish your sweeping achievements. But you were so needy and insecure. How could anything the world had to offer be enough?

I wrote to you fifteen years ago, hoping to reconnect. But I never got a response.

Apparently, you tried to fill your deep inner void with surreptitious trysts, using your money and influence to sway and dominate young women—impressionable and aspiring beauties you used for your lustful and egotistical purposes. You used your money, power, and influence to lord it over people, to take advantage of them, and to coerce their silence. The chickens have come home to roost; the truth will not be hidden; you are exposed and in trouble.

It’s not for me to judge you Harvey. I just want to tell you something about women and men and power and accountability.

Females are not immune from deceit, hypocrisy, and the fleshly litany of sins. But females are to be protected and respected. They are “weaker” in some sense, but immensely more powerful than men in many respects. Our society inherently imposes on women mixed messages, psychological traumas, economic discrimination, and often the raw end of many deals. Our culture exalts and worships physical appeal, but quickly disregards and discards worthwhile human beings when their outward beauty fades. Ironically, we exalt and worship physical beauty, and yet we exploit it. The fleeting blooms of pulchritude and stardom leave women vulnerable and with undeserved dismissal or ostracism. Too many men strut their machismo, stricken with envy (and with the fantasy) that a woman can have sex any time she wants (whereas many men have to feel they must lure or seduce). Unfortunately, some men act out of this context to take advantage and force or exploit women. When the playing field becomes overly imbalanced, many women either withdraw into resentful passive aggressiveness—avoiding or manipulating intimacy—or act out with hostile projection—rejecting men or typecasting them as insensitive and only interested in exploitative sex. Though there’s plenty of blame to spread around, men bear the burden—historically, we have been at fault by dominating women and isolating them from full and equal participation in society.

With your overarching success, Harvey, you now have trouble (tsouris, in Yiddish) on a grand scale. My heart aches for you, and I pray for you.

I have some advice for you, Harvey, my dear old friend: it’s time for you to make amends, to acknowledge your wrongdoing, to seek forgiveness, and to make restitution—no holds barred. I know you must now resort to posturing for strategic legal reasons, but you are going to sacrifice a lot of money to pay for your mistakes. You can no longer “buy” people (and certainly not their silence). You will feel alone, and will be alone. You will have to give up the pretenses you have long abused to fill the abyss and mollify the gargantuan ego that hides the empty Harvey Weinstein.

Yet, there is someone valuable, tender, sensitive, worthwhile inside the blustering and offensive Harvey. This is an opportunity to find out who you really are, to change the offensiveness, and to develop into an honorable person.

God has used you, Harvey, and he is not done yet. Through these scandals, he is using you writ large to teach others; and he is bringing you to your knees in the hope that you will stay there and begin to acknowledge and worship him.

Truer riches await you, my friend, if you will only repent and ask for divine forgiveness and guidance. You must also seek forgiveness from the people you hurt, so many of them. It’s time to be open, sincere, and humble. You must unequivocally repent.

Years ago, you founded a big company—Miramax—named after your parents, Max and Miriam Weinstein. What would they think of their son now? I never knew Max or Miriam, but I am sure they always loved you. Why, Harvey, has it been so difficult for you to feel love?

The Harvey Weinstein I knew nearly half a century ago could never relax. He always had to prove something, to get more and show more. You were an intense and difficult person. But you were likable, Harvey, and you didn’t have to try so hard.

Narcissism Exposed

The term narcissism is taken from Greek mythology. Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. He was drawn to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it (himself), not realizing it was merely an image.

Today, narcissism is a psychiatric diagnosis and considered a mental disorder. It is also often used disparagingly in common parlance and description. Narcissism involves extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, and has come to characterize a personality type. Narcissists think extremely highly of themselves and are often driven to seek validation of their worthiness and inflated self-opinion by soliciting and even demanding the approval of others. They delude themselves that their boorish machinations and manipulations of others testify to their own self-worth. Though they may be capable of compassion and empathy, narcissists are so preoccupied with their own selfish interests and with validating themselves that they typically ignore or do not consider or recognize others’ needs, even the people closest to them.

Narcissists’ classic “me-first” posture often leads them to resort to aggressive acts that allow them to dominate or “win,” regardless of the costs. They love and need to be the center of attention, often usurping the limelight, dominating conversations, and controlling situations and people to serve their own ends.

It is when they are challenged or confronted with reality that the true pathological character of narcissists flagrantly emerges. Narcissists’ fragile self-image and ego structure do not allow them to acknowledge the egregious nature of their self-importance. Thus, is it is rare for them to apologize or admit wrongdoing. Remorse and repentance for their offensive actions almost never occurs (think Trump).

Thus, narcissists often have a problem with reality-testing; that is, they can only perceive events and circumstances from the same perspective as others when such “reality” supports and buttresses themselves in a positive and flattering light. Unfortunately, this infrequently happens. Instead narcissists twist and distort reality to suit their own views, inevitably causing confusion, alienation, and damage to relationships and the integrity and well-being of others. They constantly use people in devious ways, and invariably deny their motives and the unpleasant effects upon others. Narcissists have confounding and appalling obsession to blame others for what they themselves have done. A psychological term for this is projection. This is denial at its craftiest, and it is infuriating (again, think Trump).

When dealing with and referring to people who thought too highly of themselves, a dear friend of mine use to quip. “I’d like to buy you for what you’re really worth, and sell you for what you think you’re worth.

We can shake our heads in disbelief or disgust at narcissism, and we can mock this condition with humor. However, don’t underestimate the dire danger of narcissism as the disorder affects all those who come into contact with the narcissist. Narcissists cannot have good relationships because they view others as opportunities to validate and gratify themselves. In psychoanalytic terms, they have poorly developed object relations. In plain language, this means that they cannot separate and distinguish between themselves and the legitimate perceptions, opinions, values, desires, and needs of others. What others experience (including hurt or neglect perpetrated by the narcissist) is blocked by the arrogant, center-stage prominence of the narcissist’s own needs.

Dealing With Narcissists

Because narcissists live in a bubble of self-absorption and denial, it’s very hard to break through their manipulations and defenses. Normal people (allowing for differences among individuals) have varying abilities to admit mistakes, acknowledge wrongdoing, apologize with sincerity, recognize their flaws and trespasses along with the negative impact upon others, and modify their behaviors to minimize the negative effects of selfishness. Not so with narcissists, as this is the core of their personality disorder.

It may be helpful to review the following guidelines in dealing with people you suspect of narcissism:

Expect self-centeredness and reality distortion

Because narcissists’ self-absorbed attitudes and responses are often provocative, it’s tempting to react with consternation, indignation, umbrage, and the like. However, if you keep your dismay and outrage to yourself, you’ll be in a better position to question the behaviors with a strategy of setting limits. Instead of expressing your emotional reactions to narcissistic self-centeredness, practice the strategies listed below.

Refrain from demonstrative emotional reactions

Tie responses to facts, evidence, and questions

When faced with narcissists’ bold claims, quietly question the bases for such statements. Or, just ignore them. For example, someone may proudly announce, “These people don’t know how to drive. I happen to be one of the best drivers on the road.” You could say, “ I guess so. But there is the issue of your three moving violations and numerous parking tickets.” Or, you could just let it go, and smirk to yourself.

Sometimes, simply questioning the basis for outrageous statements is enough to slow down the narcissist’s bluster. Remember Trump’s tirades about how he “knows more about Isis than any general in the military,” and his defiant complaint that he is “the victim of the greatest witch hunt in history”? There is no shutting down such an ego. However, one might ask, “Where did you acquire your military knowledge, and why were you not consulted and solicited before you became president?”

Please give us some details about the other witch hunts against which you compare your own alleged persecution.”

And don’t expect an intelligent and coherent response to your questions!

Preface accountability and confrontations with acknowledgment and legitimate praise

Narcissists perceive questions, challenges, and alternate opinions—even facts—as threats to and defamation of their integrity. Therefore, it’s helpful to preface and intersperse your messages of accountability with reasonable and relevant praise toward the person whom you’re trying to get to really listen to you. Even appealing to their putative sense of discernment and justice may get you farther along on your attempts to bring reality into the conversation.

When I deal with pie-in-the sky people who live inside dreams inflated by their own sense of self-worth and entitlement, I find it prudent to ask, “I understand that, given your abilities and track record (?!), you expect this to work out as you’ve favorably planned…, but because you are smart, have you formulated an alternative scenario and plan?”

Set boundaries and repeat if-then consequences as they pertain to the narcissist’s behaviors

Inevitably, narcissists repeatedly step on the toes of others. Their transgressions may be verbal and/or they may take vindictive actions (hello again, Mr. Trump). Their self-aggrandizement can make it hard to keep a straight face; or, their attitude of entitlement may carry implicit threats for noncompliance or resistance. (Harvey Weinstein got away with his egregious behavior in large part due to his political and economic influence, much of which he wielded against much less powerful women. When he ultimately confronted a woman who was formidable and courageous, she pulled the plug, and the dirty slimy water that had accumulated in the bathtub over the decades slurped down the drain. Harvey was left sitting naked and shivering in his own filth.)

Granted, it’s not for individuals to take on the President of the United States. But the collective violations and outrage are propelling Trump to his comeuppance. Kudos to the brave people who have spoken the truth and challenged Trump, even at risk to their own reputations and careers! That takes integrity, confidence, and courage!

And Harvey? My old friend, your bullying and predation have ironically transformed the zeitgeist. Your secret life of lust, aggression, and intimidation now exposed has caused trauma and harm—shame on you! However, the notoriety has caused a groundswell of indignation, objection, and cries for justice. You have become the agent of change, long overdue.

The message is clear: If you abuse or intimidate women, it will come to light and you will pay.

Solicit commitments, promises, and contracts in writing

Remember that, as part of their sense of entitlement, narcissists do not hesitate to change the rules—including their agreements, commitments, promises, and respect for others’ needs—when it suits their purposes. Therefore, it’s wise to make a habit of solidifying commitments and promises in writing, with dates and signatures if possible. Though the self-entitled may scoff and sneer at such requests, pretend you are prone to mistaking the details, since your memory might not be as good as theirs (!) and remind them of the pithy saying, Black and white on paper is a lot clearer than the gray matter of the brain.

In other words, play dumb, like a fox. The narcissist may pity you and indulge you.

At the very least, keep your own meticulous records with details of words, actions, and dates. E-mails and texts establish a continual, accessible, and practical audit trail, useful for holding the narcissist accountable, especially when deception and conflict arise.

Be prepared for breaches of trust, intimacy, and fidelity

Precautions and attentiveness notwithstanding, you cannot change the basic flawed character of the narcissist. That’s not to say that people don’t change. Life experience, traumas, pain, and consequences are all great teachers. They even teach to the seemingly robust and impregnable bravado of narcissists (and, at best, it takes awhile). In his own way and with his own timing, God chips away at the lives and consciences of the foolish and hurtful. At his own discretion, he causes miracles to happen.

But the very nature of narcissism attacks trust, empathy, and consideration. Don’t be surprised when the narcissist (repeatedly) violates boundaries, flaunts rules, and sabotages trust, intimacy, and even your own faith. Remain loving, but be cautious and be prepared. Your sensitivity and good intentions are no match for the power of narcissism. Engaging in an argument or a major adversarial battle with a narcissist can be akin to stepping into the ring with a mixed martial arts fighter. No holds are bared. Be prepared for the unexpected. Be on guard. Protect yourself at all times. Expect hyperbole, manipulated facts, concocted falsehoods, inconsistencies, and outrageous lies. It’s all part of the package.

Narcissism’s Dire Consequences

Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein are but two notorious narcissistic icons—caricatures writ large in a field of opportunism. Their transgressions leave us aghast, wondering how such egregious behavior could have escalated and continued.

Surely, someone like Weinstein, if indicted and convicted of a crime or crimes in a court of law, must be thwarted and punished. Trump is a much more complex matter involving political and constitutional issues that are still in the process of unfolding. However, the important take-home message is that there are many like them—young, old, male, female, prominent, less significant—who foist their attitudes and perpetrations upon the unsuspecting and vulnerable, the psychologically and experientially less sophisticated, and those with fewer defenses and resources.

Narcissists may be overtly offensive, or they may be furtive and wily—sheep in wolves’ clothing. In a culture that has inveterately promoted self-centeredness and a “me-first” value system, narcissists may seem to embody the cultural virtues, to blend in and prevail over the competition. But you will recognize them by their intransigence and lack of compassion for the basic welfare and psychological well-being of others. As legends in their own mirrors (or pools, as with the Greek Narcissus), they deem themselves the only ones who matter.

As a society, we should focus attention on identifying, dissuading, and modifying the development of narcissistic character. Respect for women—pervasive societal, legal, accommodating respect—is surely a good place to start. We are beginning to painfully learn those lessons.

But the battle against misogyny is not enough. Parents must teach their children that the world does not “owe” them. The government should provide more than minimal education and health care—service, schooling, and training that focuses on character development and resources for the ravages of character failure, including disorders of emotional bonding, anxiety, depression, trauma, and the depredations of addiction.

We need to return to God, individually and collectively. Each of us determines our own personal relationship with or abandonment of our Creator. Religion should not be forced. But spiritual living should be foundational and institutionally encouraged. The development of the soul and its conscience and compassion is incompatible with the “me-first” ethos that culturally reinforces narcissism.

When tragedy strikes, we become voracious Monday morning quarterbacks. We scrutinize the history of assassins and predators, looking for clues that should have exposed them earlier. However, social autopsies on misfits will not relieve us of the larger problem, nor will those efforts alone avert the perverse development of unhealthy, megalomaniac egos.

We must become a society, through and through, that values humility and teaches people, rank and file, to put others first. Against such a social norm, the Trumps and Weinsteins will identify themselves early as faulty people who need discipline, correction, and guidance to develop true and healthy self-love.

Narcissism may never be eliminated, for we are a prideful and sinful species. With regard to selfish insensitivity, some are given to robust excess, even to the point of outright cruelty. Recoil as we might from Trump and Weinstein, we should learn that we need to expose them earlier in order to prevent the devastating potential of narcissism from exerting its will.

Farewell to the Harvey I Knew

We can’t live in the past. The Harvey Weinstein I knew nearly a half century ago has gone his own way, as have I.

In college, you looked up to me, Harvey. In your desperate neediness, you couldn’t see through my pretense, my needing to appear hip and avant-garde. If I’d had your talents, Harvey, perhaps I would have gone much farther astray than I did. Money and fame eluded me, but I guess I was luckier than you. And life did not let me get away with what, in my insouciant arrogance and ambition, I secretly wanted to.

If we could have coffee, I’d share with you some of the ordeals that happened in my life, what I’ve learned and about the people who taught me. Despite many setbacks and traumas, I’ve been fortunate. I have loved and been loved. Women have been great teachers to me, some intimate, some maternal, and many have been platonic, wonderful influences. I have learned to respect women and to not take advantage of them. Except for my wife, I regard them as sisters, mothers, and daughters. I treat them with biblically directed protection, respect, and deference. I joke (respectfully) about the differences between men and women. I note with professional acumen the stereotypes that frequently characterize the brains and demeanors of the two sexes. I’ve written a book about this, too, aimed at improving harmony and satisfaction in marriage relationships.

With maturity, I have more confidence and less need to prove myself or be the center of attention. I’m more able to appreciate the difficulties women have in a male-dominated world. I’m grounded enough to speak up and to model for males how to respect, value, protect, and share equally with females.

With God’s help and the stringent sanctions of many people who knocked me off my self-constructed pedestal and put me in a proper place, I’ve tamed most of my narcissistic tendencies.

The Harvey Weinstein I knew has grown and devolved. Farewell naïve and callow college buddy. I still recognize you, Harvey; beneath the atrocities, there is a boy, now a man, desperate for satisfying love. I hope this is God’s way of teaching you how to find it.

— Mark Steinberg, Ph.D.

Trump Has Made Us All Stupid

The decline of discourse in the anti-Trump echo chamber.

Donald Trump is impulse-driven, ignorant, narcissistic and intellectually dishonest. So you’d think that those of us in the anti-Trump camp would go out of our way to show we’re not like him — that we are judicious, informed, mature and reasonable.

But the events of the past week have shown that the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself — overwrought, uncalibrated and incapable of having an intelligent conversation about any complex policy problem.

For example, there’s a complex policy problem at the heart of this week’s Iran episode. Iran is not powerful because it has a strong economy or military. It is powerful because it sponsors militias across the Middle East, destabilizing regimes and spreading genocide and sectarian cleansing. Over the past few years those militias, orchestrated by Qassim Suleimani, have felt free to operate more in the open with greater destructive effect.

We’re not going to go in and destroy the militias. So how can we keep them in check so they don’t destabilize the region? That’s the hard problem — one that stymied past administrations.

In the Middle East, and wherever there are protracted conflicts, nations have a way to address this problem. They use violence as a form of communication. A nation trying to maintain order will assassinate a terrorism leader or destroy a terrorism facility. The attack says: “Hey, we know we’re in a long-term conflict, but let’s not let it get out of hand. That’s not in either of our interests.”

The attack is a way to seize control of the escalation process and set a boundary marker.

These sorts of operations have risks and rewards. A risk is that it won’t cease the escalation, just accelerate it. The radicals on the other side will get enraged and take to the streets. Their leaders will have to appease that rage.

A reward is that maybe you do halt the escalation. The other side implicitly says: “Message received. We’ll do some face-saving things to appease the streets, but we don’t want this to get out of hand, either.” Another reward is that you’ve managed to eliminate an effective terrorist like Soleimani. Talent doesn’t grow on trees.

The decision to undertake this sort of operation is a matter of weighing risk and reward. And after the Soleimani killing, you saw American security professionals talk in the language of balancing risk and reward. Stanley McChrystal, a retired general, and Michael Mullen, a retired admiral, thought it was worth the risk. Susan Rice, a former national security adviser, thought it wasn’t.

But in the anti-Trump echo chamber, that’s not how most people were thinking. Led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, they avoided the hard, complex problem of how to set boundaries around militias. Instead, they pontificated on the easy question not actually on the table: Should we have a massive invasion of Iran?

A great cry went up from the echo chamber. We’re on the brink of war! Trump is leading us to more endless wars in the Middle East! We’re on the precipice of total chaos! This was not the calibrated language of risk and reward. It was fear-stoking apocalyptic language. By being so overwrought and exaggerated, the echo chamber drowned out any practical conversation about how to stabilize the Middle East so we could have another righteous chorus of “Donald Trump is a monster!”

This is Trump’s ultimate victory. Every argument on every topic is now all about him. Hating Trump together has become the ultimate bonding, attention-grabbing and profit-maximization mechanism for those of us in anti-Trump world. So you get a series of exaggerated fervors

  • the Mueller report!
  • Impeachment!
  • The Steele dossier!

that lead ultimately nowhere.

Most of this week’s argument about the Middle East wasn’t really about the Middle East. It was all narcissistically about ourselves! Democrats defend terrorists! Republicans are warmongers! Actual Iranians are just bit players in our imperialistic soap opera, the passive recipients of our greatness or perfidy.

The world is more complicated than this cartoon. Love or hate him, Trump has used military force less than any other president since Jimmy Carter. When it comes to foreign policy, he is not like recent Republicans. He is, as my colleague Ross Douthat put it, a Jacksonian figure, wanting to get America out of foreign entanglements while lobbing a few long-distance attacks to ensure the crazy foreigners stick to killing one another and not us.

And this is the final paradox. For all the Sturm und Drang that surrounds Trump, populist Republicans and Democrats are gravitating toward the same foreign policy: We’re in the middle of a clash of civilizations; the Middle East is so screwed up, we should just get out; we’re too stupid/ineffective/racist/imperialistic to do any good there anyway.

We fight viciously about Trump, but underneath, a populist left-right curtain is descending around America, separating us from the Mideast, China, even Europe. The real high-risk move is the one both parties are making together: that if we ignore the world it will ignore us. (It won’t.)

Maybe once the Inflammatory One is finally gone from the scene we can have an intelligent conversation about that.

Unmasking Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Their Abuse with RUTH JACOBS in CAMBRIDGE, UK (In the Booth)

Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited (http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com), shares his knowledge and personal experience of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

“In the Booth with Ruth – Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited” Filmed by Paul Henley (www.scarylion.co.uk) & Produced by Matthew Lynch (www.jlfilmandmedia.com)

The Global Narcissism Pandemic | Meredith Miller & Dr. George Simon


In this video, I’m speaking with Dr. George Simon about the global narcissism pandemic we are facing nowadays. We talked about why it seems like they all read the same book, a common question that I frequently see from viewers. I asked Dr. Simon where he thinks this pandemic is coming from and where he sees society going from here. We also share some ideas for solutions to the global pandemic of narcissism.

08:20
understanding what we call the
narcissism spectrum and I’m not so sure
frankly meredith which which variety i
think is the more insidious because you
know some narcissists are very very
charming and they make a very positive
impression and you don’t really know
what they’re capable of
in the way of
use of use and exploitation until it’s
already happened
you know it’s slow and steady and you
you can barely believe what’s happening
to you until you’ve been done in so I’m
not so sure which kind of narcissism is
the more insidious right now we’re
witnessing and at least one major on the
world stage case a very vulgar brash
kind of narcissism that that’s kind of
in-your-face and if you dare say
anything if you dare in any way impugn
me I will just I would just beat the tar
out of you
in one way or another I want
the mean you degrade you throw you under
the bus whatever the game that’s pretty
vulgar pretty banal pretty so sophomore
but not all forms of narcissism are like
that so you know we we may be a little
revolt by that kind of narcissism but
you know if you can’t if if you’re not
forewarned on the front end when you
witness that then and I think you really
have to take a serious look at your own
perspective the other forms of
narcissism
you can’t blame anybody from being quit
worked because charmers know just what
to say just what to do to seduce
and I
mentioned in many in many of my online
articles my blog articles I mentioned
that at the front end of these
relationships with these charmers
victims mistake interest for regard
alright
a person can be really really really
interested in you for a lot of reasons
and that interest itself is very
flattering right you know so you you can
be easily swept off your feet when you
think this person really really really
wants me that’s really eco building now
the question
why they want you and what they intend
to do with you that’s a whole different
matter a whole different matter and many
times you don’t know that until you’ve
been pretty well used and abused and
even then I think it’s very hard to get
actual proof something to put your
finger on you’re always left with that
plausible deniability because they’re so
good at hiding their tracks and I think
that if I if I if I’m to look at this
overt display of narcissism that you’re
describing now in the world stage that’s
the blessing that I see is that we
finally have an overt transparent type
who wakes up every day and gets on
Twitter and reveals himself and so
people can finally see like the word
narcissism is becoming more of a
household term
but I think we’re moving
in the right direction I see I see
positives to that and I see also some
things that make me concern and the
positive is that people are learning
what this is they’re starting to
understand that it’s more than just
selfies and looking in the mirror that’s
a very superficial form of narcissism
that really isn’t hurting a lot of
people it’s much bigger than that my
concern though is that now there’s so
much of the media attention on this is
the face of narcissism and that how are
people going to recognize the covert
12:30
type so my fear is that we’re going to
12:33
go back to the covert types just like
12:35
the ones that are in the background and
12:37
then people will go back to sleep all of
12:39
those who are awake now and calling it
12:42
out are probably going to go back to
12:44
sleep because it’s much easier when you
12:46
know when it’s when it’s so much more
12:48
sophisticated and eloquent and
12:50
diplomatic I think it’s easier to kind
12:52
of forgive that then when it’s so
12:54
in-your-face and so impossible to deny
12:57
that’s my concern about about what’s
13:00
coming after this yeah you know in my
13:05
workshops I really have to chastise the
13:09
attendees sometimes about their
13:12
reluctance to judge the number one
13:15
predictor of future
13:18
irresponsible or abusive behavior past
13:22
behavior you know most clinicians even
13:29
though they received the training most
13:32
clinicians just do not like the
13:34
behavioral perspective we’re always
13:38
wanting to look underneath for those
13:40
unconscious hidden inner conflicts that
13:45
drive behavior as opposed to judging
13:48
behavior so you know this kind of
13:53
mentality is really has really
13:56
encroached into the general public as
13:59
well and I can tell you without any
14:02
question as a matter of fact I have a
14:04
vignette that I do in my workshops about
14:07
this about an abuse victim who did
14:11
everything to try and understand you
14:14
know if I could only figure out why he
14:19
or she feels so sensitive about this
14:22
whenever whenever I try and address an
14:25
issue why why they get so quote-unquote
14:29
defensive what’s driving what what
14:32
underlying fear must there be what
14:35
underlying insecurity if I could just
14:37
figure that out then maybe they wouldn’t
14:41
do this or maybe I could modify my own
14:44
behavior in such a way as to not set
14:47
them off you know like they’re
14:50
responsible for somebody else’s behavior
14:52
well I think that’s what codependence
14:55
feel and it’s it’s along that line of
14:57
well if I just love them more then maybe
15:00
they won’t do that anymore and that’s
15:02
not reality
15:03
and I think you’re right there’s so
15:06
maybe it’s in the profession of
15:07
psychology but I see it in society in
15:09
general right now it’s like maybe it’s
15:11
also coming out of like the spiritual
15:13
circles and stuff is like there’s no
15:14
judgement thing and there is some truth
15:17
to that we don’t want to be judgemental
15:19
jerks but there is the thing about
15:21
having good judgment and labeling
15:24
behavior for what it is
15:25
that was the huge blessing I found in
15:28
your book and she’s clothing as you list
15:30
those tactics like there are name
15:32
for those things that happen and after
15:35
reading that book a few years ago I was
15:37
able then to watch human interactions
15:39
like you know the weather broadcast
15:41
comes across it’s like Peabody baby yeah
15:43
and it’s like gaslighting incoming
15:46
guilt-tripping you know and all of those
15:48
things would just come across the screen
15:49
and it made it so much easier to see it
15:52
what for what it is without falling into
15:54
it you know into those behaviors of
15:56
people pleasing or accommodating or
15:58
fawning or freezing or whatever so I
16:01
think it’s very important that we’re not
16:03
afraid to label the behavior in fact I
16:06
see that as a very important step in the
16:09
early stage of recovery is putting those
16:11
labels on the behavior and being able to
16:14
label the abuser you know whether you
16:16
want to call them an abuser or a
16:17
manipulator or whatever so that you can
16:19
start to break down the cognitive
16:21
dissonance where part of you really
16:23
wants to believe they’re a good person
16:24
right and you know this plays out so
16:28
many times at the beginning of a
16:30
relationship that’s going to end up
16:32
toxic you know you in meeting the person
16:36
for the first time you might learn that
16:37
they have had maybe a couple of failed
16:41
marriages maybe a whole list a whole
16:46
history a failed relationship and of
16:49
course it’s always that they got
16:51
together with the wrong person or they
16:54
were misunderstood or they were
16:56
disrespected or whatever there’s always
16:59
a plausible explanation but the mere
17:03
fact of the history tell story
17:08
okay already at this age whatever it is
17:13
30 or something or you know whatever it
17:16
is seven failed relationships the person
17:20
has to ask this had to happen somehow
17:22
and it can’t be everybody else’s fault
17:26
you know past behavior is a huge
17:29
predictor of future behavior so you know
17:33
it’s time to beware and it’s time to
17:35
scrutinize more carefully unfortunately
17:38
a lot of folks don’t they buy into
17:41
whatever the storyline is especially
17:44
whatever the storyline is about what was
17:47
underneath all that which is really I
17:53
hate to say it’s irrelevant because it
17:56
isn’t irrelevant but in the big picture
17:59
these days in our day of fairly
18:04
widespread character dysfunction it’s
18:07
relatively unimportant behavior tells
18:11
the bigger story right it’s the bigger
18:14
story I think it’s confusing to four
18:18
victims because there are some
18:20
manipulators like that who will be in
18:22
decades-long relationships because that
18:25
gives them the good cover they get to
18:27
play you know the good husband the good
18:28
mother the good spouse whatever and I
18:32
also think on the flip side it can be
18:34
confusing for victims who’ve been
18:35
codependent all their life and they’ve
18:37
also had a series of unsuccessful
18:40
relationships for different reasons than
18:43
the character disordered person but it’s
18:45
because they keep getting into the same
18:46
patterns and the victim also needs to
18:50
accept self responsibility you know not
18:52
that the abuse was our fault it never
18:53
was but the self responsibility for our
18:56
own choices and actions and needing to
18:58
look at the things in ourselves that we
19:00
need to shift so that we stopped
19:01
matching up and choosing those people
19:04
yeah you know if you don’t mind because
19:09
there’s a lot of talk about these
19:12
co-dependent relationships and there’s
19:14
two words in psychology that have been
19:17
so horribly abused over the past several
19:20
decades
19:21
decades I feel
19:22
almost obliged to say something about
19:24
that
19:26
the term codependency when melody Beatty
19:30
first coined that term she was referring
19:36
to the phenomenon in in a in a truly
19:40
substance addicted family system where
19:43
somebody is physically psychologically
19:47
hopelessly addicted to a substance their
19:51
whole life their whole life is governed
19:54
by that substance in such family systems
19:58
the enablers in the family the people
20:02
who try to pick up the pieces who try to
20:04
make everything work well the perfectly
20:06
dysfunctional person person is making
20:10
everything uh nuts all the other people
20:12
in the system have their lives
20:16
equally governed by that same substance
20:18
man and that’s the that is the basis of
20:22
what we call codependency in other words
20:25
in a strange way both the physically
20:29
addicted person and everybody else is
20:33
trying to pick up the pieces both seem
20:37
to be equally dependent upon the
20:39
substance of choice that’s the true
20:42
meaning of codependency emotional
20:47
dependency in other words needing the
20:50
external validation of somebody else so
20:54
badly
20:58
unwise choices in even in the face of
21:05
obvious behavior that says runaway
21:09
emotional dependency has absolutely
21:12
nothing to do with codependency but we
21:15
use that term I kind of see about
21:20
substance in the narcissistic
21:22
relationship because the narcissistic
21:24
supply sometimes it’s money it’s sex
21:28
it’s emotions and people’s lives really
21:32
are governed because the whole exchange
21:34
between the character disordered person
21:37
and the victim or the target is that
21:39
supply source yeah but I mean you can
21:43
look at it that way but what traps the
21:48
other person in the relationship is the
21:51
is the tactic that the narcissist uses
21:55
in other words on those occasions when
21:58
they will flatter when they will seduce
22:03
on those occasions when they will build
22:06
you up for their own purposes that need
22:09
in you speaks something else in other
22:12
words when you don’t know solidly where
22:15
your own worth comes from right and that
22:20
nobody else can really purchase it for
22:22
you or afford it to you when you don’t
22:26
know that you’re vulnerable
22:27
not just to narcissus but to a lot of
22:30
other no-goodniks out there so I’m a
22:33
real stickler for not just for accurate
22:43
assessment but for the terms that we use
22:45
there’s another term to acting out it’s
22:49
become synonymous with misbehavior Freud
22:52
would roll over in his grave if he knew
22:57
that we had defined acting out as
23:00
misbehavior
23:02
it has a specific meaning but you’d
23:05
never know it these days what is the
23:08
meaning of the Freud meaning
23:11
acting out has to do with an unconscious
23:14
battle unconscious mind you going on in
23:17
someone that is so remote to their
23:20
conscious awareness that the only way
23:22
that conch the conflict is visible is
23:25
through action so I give an example at
23:28
one of my workshops I give an example of
23:31
the guy who’s worked all night on some
23:34
project at work and he finally gets it
23:37
together the eleventh hour he hasn’t
23:39
slept a wink he gets it right at the
23:42
eleventh hour right on time nine o’clock
23:44
in the morning puts it on the boss’s
23:46
desk and the boss just says well it’s
23:49
about time and then the guy in leaving
23:53
the office is really upset that he he
23:58
didn’t get any more recognition than
24:00
that and he mutters under his breath
24:03
that SOB but then he goes into the
24:09
restroom and he starts washing his hands
24:13
and he compulsively washes and washes
24:17
and washes until he blisters and he has
24:21
no idea absolutely no idea that that
24:26
little utterance of that SOB so offended
24:30
his really oppressive conscience
24:36
that he felt dirty for even thinking
24:39
that that SOB boss was an sob and so
24:44
he’s taking it out on himself and
24:46
washing his hands trying to cleanse
24:48
himself from the dirty thing that he
24:51
just thought you know he has no idea so
24:55
he acts out this is what Freud would say
24:58
he is acting out a trauma that’s going
25:01
on inside that he’s completely unaware
25:03
of now just smacking your partner is not
25:07
acting out we have become loose
25:19
terms they’ve made that their way into
25:22
the public parlance but they actually
25:25
have meaning and one of the reasons why
25:30
I like to say that work with character
25:34
impaired people is particularly delicate
25:36
work and with their relationship
25:38
survivors we don’t have room for loose
25:41
listlessness anymore
25:44
and we also need to be very careful when
25:48
we start working with folks how we
25:51
intervene many counselors think all you
25:55
have to really do is just talk with
25:57
somebody
26:00
well that might be nice and everybody
26:04
could use a good friend but if you don’t
26:08
really know what needs attention
26:15
how it needs attending to then you’re
26:19
not going to really be of help and
26:23
that’s why so many people every week
26:27
email me with a saint plane you know
26:31
what for help didn’t get it why do you
26:34
think they’re not teaching this form of
26:37
abuse in the training programs I’ve
26:39
heard from several therapists who said
26:41
we didn’t learn this I got into this
26:42
because I didn’t have a clue yeah well
26:45
because all of our all of our
26:48
traditional theories
26:50
rose out of the study of this phenomenon
26:53
we call neurosis that’s what I in all my
26:55
trainings that’s what I talk about Matt
26:58
in fact I spend the first half of the
27:00
day explaining the difference between
27:03
the phenomenon of neurosis and the
27:05
phenomenon of character dysfunction and
27:08
what the differences have to be in the
27:10
approach I spend the whole half of a day
27:14
just doing that because what I want for
27:18
the clinician to happiness for that
27:20
light bulb to go off you know and and
27:23
for them to say oh you know I’ll just
27:27
give I give you one example in in
27:31
traditional therapy what we call insight
27:34
oriented psychotherapy that’s the the
27:38
traditional kind of grew out of Freud’s
27:41
work and Yume’s work and some of the
27:43
others in traditional insight oriented
27:46
therapy we assume that a fairly
27:49
conscientious person who is making them
27:52
sick with onset making themselves sick
27:54
with unnecessary worry excessive guilt
27:58
shame for one thing or another
28:01
unresolved has these inner conflicts and
28:04
fears going on that they’re totally
28:06
unaware of so all they really need to do
28:08
is talk and written in a supportive
28:12
environment and things will come out and
28:15
they will have this kind of AHA
28:17
experience and see what’s really
28:21
bothering them and as soon as they see
28:24
what’s really bothering them they’ll
28:26
start to get better that’s
28:29
traditional approach this was the case
28:32
for most people who came to see mental
28:37
health professionals and for a long time
28:42
it’s not the case these days
28:44
more and more people are having problems
28:47
in their lives not so much because of
28:49
unresolved inner conflicts but because
28:53
of the really dysfunctional ways they
28:56
look at things and the dysfunctional
28:57
ways they act in their relationships
29:01
with other people they haven’t grown up
29:05
basically at a moral level really and so
29:13
the whole approach has to be different
29:16
and we’re just now getting it that we
29:19
need to approach things differently I
29:24
with the therapists and my trainings
29:28
i-i-i talked about the fact that we
29:30
therapist many times we get almost
29:34
delusional the I’ve done this I’ve done
29:38
this with character impaired clients we
29:42
think that we’re going to be that one
29:44
person who is gonna put their whole life
29:47
in their circumstances in front of them
29:49
lay things out for them in such a
29:52
beautifully poetic way that they will
29:55
look at us and they will say oh my god
29:58
no one has ever explained it to me like
30:01
that before I finally see it now thanks
30:05
to you oh my whole life is gonna be
30:08
different that never happens it never
30:12
happens but you know what it doesn’t
30:14
stop us from thinking that’s what we
30:16
need to do it’s it’s pretty crazy when
30:21
you think about it and it’s a little bit
30:23
delusional to think that we’re gonna be
30:25
so poetic that that we will tell them
30:29
for the umpteenth time something that
30:31
they’ve heard a thousand times over and
30:35
it made no difference
30:38
because it’s not so much that I use
30:41
these little rhyming phrases it’s not so
30:43
much that they don’t see the problem is
30:47
that what they see they disagree with
30:52
it’s not so much that they don’t see
30:54
it’s that they disagree you know you
30:58
tell them it’s not okay to do this or
31:00
that they see that other people say that
31:04
they know that other people think that
31:06
way but they don’t think that’s right
31:09
right the problem is not in the singing
31:14
it’s in the disagreeing which is a
31:16
behavior which can be modified so as
31:22
soon as clinicians start thinking
31:24
differently it’s amazing what can happen
31:27
but we’re so trained you’re absolutely
31:30
right we’ve been so trained for years
31:32
with an approach that is meant for
31:35
something else entirely that we just
31:38
it’s truly it’s not it sounds maybe a
31:42
little harsh
31:43
but we we truly just don’t know what
31:46
we’re doing when it comes to dealing
31:49
with character disturbance many times I
31:51
think that’s because the typical rules
31:53
don’t apply like the rules of human
31:56
engagement are out the window because
31:58
these people don’t play by the rules
32:00
that’s right yeah yeah they’ve got a
32:03
different set of rules and so what I
32:05
developed over the course and yeah you
32:09
know I’m sorry the blurb I gave you said
32:11
I’ve been doing this for over 25 years
32:13
has been closer to 40 nope but what I
32:17
developed over the course of that 40
32:19
years is this art of what I call benign
32:22
confrontation it’s a more sophisticated
32:25
kind of tough love where basically you
32:29
don’t hesitate to call out the twisted
32:34
ways of thinking about things
32:37
and the dysfunctional behavior but you
32:42
call it out in a way that is both
32:47
inescapable yet loving in other words
32:52
the person has to know that what you
32:55
want more than anything else is for
32:57
things to be better
33:00
for them and for everybody else but in
33:04
order for that to happen they have to
33:06
change and when that message comes
33:10
through you you would not believe how
33:12
powerful it is it’s really powerful
33:16
that’s why I’ve been able to do this
33:19
work for this long and not burn out I’ve
33:23
actually enjoyed it because I’ve had the
33:26
pleasure of seeing countless numbers of
33:30
toxic relationship and abuse survivors
33:35
empower themselves and move on to
33:38
stronger more fulfilling lives but I’ve
33:43
also seen people who I thought we’re
33:46
only gonna maybe end up in prison or
33:52
cause nothing but trouble in the lives
33:55
of other people for a long long time
33:57
I’ve witnessed them change too so I
34:01
don’t know how you get a career more
34:03
rewarding than that but the first thing
34:07
I had to do was I had to change my
34:09
perspective because just as you just
34:11
said the same rules don’t apply and as
34:14
soon as I got that soon as the lightbulb
34:17
went off for me that I just have to do
34:20
it differently it actually became much
34:25
easier I’m not saying the work is easy
34:27
it’s not easy but it sure became a lot
34:29
easier what happens when you do the
34:33
benign confrontation and like that hits
34:36
the firewall of no self responsibility
34:39
of the person and then they start using
34:42
all the tactics in your book yeah yeah
34:44
you need to expect resistance and you
34:46
will get it that’s just that’s part of
34:50
the deal
34:50
but I have one vignette where it goes on
34:55
for about 40 minutes in a session and
34:57
the whole therapy is in regardless of
35:03
the tactics that this person throws and
35:06
we regardless of the resistance
35:08
you just don’t budge
35:12
because the this in this particular
35:14
vignette this is a person who’s like the
35:17
bulldozer the the bulldozer in person at
35:20
work who just keeps on and on and on
35:22
until people relent and they’d you know
35:24
they just get tired of fighting you know
35:26
and they just throw in the towel and
35:28
then you know he guess what he wants and
35:31
and that reinforces in behavioral terms
35:35
that reinforces the style so really the
35:40
whole therapy was in just me not budging
35:45
even though it was nothing but
35:48
resistance solid resistance for forty
35:51
minutes you know I expect that I expect
that I expect that if somebody’s been
doing something a certain way or
thinking about things a certain way for
much of their life and to them it
appears to be largely working maybe
they’ve made hundreds of thousands of
dollars
maybe they’ve you know the head
and thrown away many relationships but
exploited them just just as they wanted
to you know so if somebody’s been doing
that all their life and it appears to be
working why shouldn’t they resist

why shouldn’t they and many times it’s
baby steps many times they have to kind
of try out some of the things that I’m
suggesting and see basically hey you
know that person I thought there was an
idiot maybe he has a point
because I tried out this new way of
doing things today and something
unexpected happened and I thought I had
it all figured out hmm you know that’s
how it goes
why do you think that around the world
these patterns are almost exactly the
same no matter what culture raised
countries socioeconomic status gender
37:08
etc it’s like they all read the same
37:10
book
37:11
yeah it’s called zeitgeist it’s called
37:15
the zeitgeist the Germans have a name
37:17
for it
37:17
zeitgeist it has to do with the cultural
37:21
climate and I tell my folks in the
37:26
workshops in Freud’s time the reason
37:31
there were so many of these folks that
37:34
were truly neurotic pathologically
37:38
neurotic had really bizarre symptoms
37:40
like paralysis that weren’t real and
37:44
numbness –is that weren’t
37:47
physiologically based and even blindness
37:49
that wasn’t physiologically based I used
37:52
that example in my opening remarks in my
37:55
workshop but the social climate of the
37:59
time was horrendously repressive it was
38:03
the Victorian era III say that if there
38:07
were a model or a slogan that would
38:09
would describe the zeitgeist of the time
38:12
it would be don’t even think about it
38:16
so people were nervous Rex
38:18
Wow okay and they were literally making
38:24
themselves sick with anxiety related
38:27
symptoms the cultural climate has
38:30
changed all over the world and if there
38:34
were a model or a slogan that could be
38:37
used to describe
38:38
the change in zeitgeist I would I say
38:42
it’s kind of like the old Nike
38:43
commercial just do it huh so instead of
38:48
having people who are overly hung up as
38:52
we children of the 60s used to say
38:56
instead of having people who are overly
38:58
hung up and making themselves sick with
39:01
unnecessary worry and hang-ups we have
39:06
folks among us today unfortunately
39:08
aren’t quite hung up enough about the
39:12
things that they let themselves do and
39:14
that’s because of the the permissive and
39:17
relativistic nature of culture and it’s
39:21
not just here it’s everywhere
39:22
you know I my in sheep’s clothing is now
39:24
in 27 foreign languages and it’s been a
39:29
steady growth because as countries where
39:33
there was what’s more repression and
39:36
they weren’t having these kinds of
39:39
problems as their society is loosened up
39:43
oh wow
39:44
and they got more freedom and there was
39:47
more moral relativism etc etcetera as
39:49
that happened in these other countries
39:52
guess what they started experiencing the
39:54
same problems that we have been
39:56
experiencing for a long time and so
39:59
that’s why over the years more and more
40:03
countries have asking for the rights to
40:07
my work because they’re clinicians in
40:09
those countries are seeing the same
40:10
kinds of things they’re increasingly
40:13
having to work with people with
40:15
character disturbances and for the same
40:19
reasons so it’s culture based its
40:23
culture based and the fact that we are
40:25
we are our animals to start with i i’d
40:29
like to say in several articles that
40:32
i’ve written and i make the point
40:33
hugely in for my books that you know
40:38
socialization is a process it’s a
40:43
process and it takes a whole village it
40:46
takes a sound foundation within the home
40:48
and all too often unfortunately that’s
40:51
not there
40:52
right and then it takes a lot of
40:55
reinforcement within the greater society
40:59
and many times that’s not there so you
41:05
know we’re kind of heathens to start and
41:09
I’m glad you asked that question because
41:11
this is another thing that I tell my
41:13
clinicians and that I think awareness
41:16
about this will really change things in
41:19
the future as far as our ability to help
41:24
we have for a long time assumed that the
41:28
only thing that messes people up is
41:30
trauma and that if people didn’t have
41:34
trauma in their life they would all grow
41:36
up to be just wonderful kind beautiful
41:39
loving people I wish that were true we
41:45
are animals and we have to learn to be
41:50
civil and the great the more insidious
41:55
characteristic of our cultural problems
42:02
is not necessarily the trauma that
42:06
happens trauma does happen and when
42:09
trauma happens it does arrest character
42:12
development but the more insidious thing
42:16
is all the lessons that aren’t being
42:19
learned that need to be learned for us
42:23
to be transformed from your animals into
42:26
civilized human beings and I’m guessing
42:30
that has to take place really young
42:32
right in the past yeah and it has to
42:36
take place within the right kind of
42:38
environment and it has to be backed up
42:41
it has to be backed up you know we’re
42:44
not we’re not idiots we figure out how
42:46
it works and we figure out how to
42:48
survive and prosper and we have now the
42:54
the American Psychiatric Association is
42:57
in the is in the what the weird position
43:01
to have to completely redefine what
43:05
constitutes a personality disorder why
43:09
because even this horribly brash vulgar
43:16
display of narcissism we see in a
43:20
central character on the world stage is
43:24
functional has made hundreds of millions
43:27
of dollars has made it to high office
43:33
we got a we got to completely rework our
43:37
definitions because we had it in our
43:39
mind that nobody could be like this and
43:42
succeed in life oh yes oh yes you can so
43:50
not how are we gonna so now how are we
43:52
going to define what makes it a disorder
43:56
you see the dilemma yeah I talk about
43:59
that in my workshops too I see there
44:02
being like two different forms I mean
44:04
there’s many different archetypes right
44:05
but the two forms of like there’s a
44:07
bottom-feeder type you know and they’re
44:09
just like basically a parasite like you
44:12
know going from person to person using
44:14
all their resources and then there’s
44:15
like the top echelon and so it seems
44:19
like you know there’s there’s ones
44:20
in-between too but it seems like these
44:21
are two very clear different types
44:23
that’s not accounted for in the DSM but
44:26
what’s really not accounted for is the
44:29
covert type and I see again different
44:32
types among that one being that victim
44:36
vulnerable so called vulnerable type who
44:39
like needs other people to rescue them
44:41
and they’re always the victim and then
44:43
there is this very stealth super
44:45
sophisticated type that plays the victim
44:48
but in a very different way from a way
44:51
of you know having a lot of power and I
44:54
think that being that the book doesn’t
44:57
really represent that I think that’s
44:59
another struggle for clinicians to
45:01
recognize it in real life because if you
45:03
read the book you don’t have any idea
45:05
what that looks like in real life right
45:07
right you know when I when I first wrote
45:11
in sheep’s clothing
45:12
you know it’s gonna be yeah it’s release
45:16
its wide release its first release was
45:19
in 1995 and its first Y wide release was
45:23
1996 so here we are in 2019 it’s hard
45:29
for me to believe that a book has
45:32
maintained its bestsellers death status
45:35
that long lonely road less traveled by
45:39
Scott Peck came close to that as far as
45:44
longevity with
45:46
with with the kinds of market
45:50
penetration and I think there’s one
45:52
reason for that because you talked about
45:55
the DSM not getting it with respect to
45:58
the covert stuff I recognized early on
46:02
before we had this term gaslighting
46:05
before we even before it was a term I
46:09
was seeing the effect of it I witness it
46:13
I thought there’s a phenomenon here
46:16
these people think they’re crazy but
46:19
they’re not crazy somebody’s making them
46:22
think they’re crazy I just figured out
46:25
how they’re doing it and that’s what it
46:27
inspired me to write the book so in the
46:31
opening lines with the introduction of
46:33
the book I get hundreds of emails about
46:35
this as soon as people pick it up and
46:39
they read that part you know because
46:40
they’re looking for something they’re
46:42
only gonna pick up my book if they’re
46:43
you know they’re in a situation or
46:46
they’re trying to figure out what’s
46:47
making me feel so bad as soon as they
46:51
read those introductory words and I say
46:55
you’re not crazy this is why you feel
46:58
this way this is how they’re doing it
47:01
it’s slick it’s subtle your gut tells
47:04
you one thing but you can’t verify but
47:07
that doesn’t mean you’re crazy it just
47:08
means they’re slick as soon as somebody
47:11
with a PhD tells them that it’s like you
47:17
know it’s like relief and so we have
47:23
this effect that we now call the
47:25
gaslighting effect and I know I kind of
47:30
lost where I was going with that III
47:35
guess what I wanted to say is that with
47:38
respect to some of the other things that
47:40
I’m writing about now I think that the
47:43
same thing will be true I think the same
47:46
thing will be true
47:47
once that aha kind of experience happens
47:50
with somebody once they say yeah you
47:52
know this this makes sense this resolves
47:56
all that cognitive dissonance that I’ve
47:58
had you know because this
48:00
is what I have sensed all along and now
48:02
I finally feel validated I think that’s
48:06
what’s going to make the difference in
48:08
in all the other work that I have coming
48:12
up where do you see us going as society
48:16
you know being that you’re talking about
48:18
this cultural thing that’s creating this
48:21
permissiveness which is allowing space
48:23
for this to really take off and become
48:25
the pandemic that it is today where do
48:27
you see us going as a global society
48:30
yeah birthing pains are very painful I
48:35
see us on the cusp of a new age I really
48:39
do I know I may sound custom istic I’m
48:43
not but it’s going to be really rough
48:45
yeah yeah you know for you to really
48:51
find your values for you to really claim
48:57
basic human values
49:01
there has to be suffering first and you
49:04
have to sit with the sufferer yeah after
49:06
you have to in honest and humble defeat
49:09
you know in the in the 12-step programs
49:12
they call us hitting bottom in honest
49:15
and humble defeat you have to say okay
49:17
so why why is everything falling down
49:22
why is everything a mess why is my life
49:25
a shipwreck or as they say in the first
49:30
step in a a why have things become
49:33
unmanageable and as soon as you honestly
49:37
reckon with that it’s the beginning
49:40
that’s why they call it the first step
49:43
it’s a hope you know isn’t that strange
49:45
it’s the first step to what recovery
49:48
right which is the most beautiful thing
49:51
and it starts with what a crash a
49:54
hitting absolute bottom where there’s no
49:57
lower to go and that’s what I see
50:00
happening right now but we will I do
50:04
believe in the end claim some core
50:08
values about what it means to be a human
50:10
being
50:11
what it means to help one another
50:16
guarantee our survival our prosperity
50:21
one thing we like it or not or whether
50:24
we realize it or not we’re all connected
50:26
right well up you and me we’re connect
50:30
look at what we’re doing right now and
50:32
we’re doing it because we know we have
50:35
to do it and the rest is not in our
50:39
hands that’s in the universe’s hands but
50:42
we feel the obligation we take on the
50:45
obligation to do it and you know there’s
50:47
a psychologist who did all the work with
50:50
criminal personalities stanton seminar
50:52
he said the one variable he found with
50:55
people with severe character dysfunction
50:59
is they never felt any kind of a sense
51:01
of obligation because they could not
51:04
even recognize let alone serve a higher
51:07
power so you know when we feel that
51:11
inner obligation
51:14
to bring something to this universe to
51:18
make our existence matter to do our part
51:23
to bring the much-needed healing we
51:27
can’t control the outcome but we sure
51:29
can we sure can do the behavior you know
51:35
so we’re all doing our own small little
51:39
part the you and I are doing our own
51:42
small little part your videos I can’t
51:46
tell you the number of people who have
51:48
told me because yeah you and I have to
51:51
have a conversation some time about how
51:53
savvy you you become with with web
51:57
marketing but I I have 20 some videos on
52:01
the net and altogether they they’re
52:07
about what one of the videos that we did
52:09
in views has so you you’ve locked on to
52:15
something and I can’t tell you how many
52:19
people have said that just coming across
52:22
the material made a change made a change
52:26
in their life same thing is happening
52:28
now with the consultations I do I do
52:30
them all over the world people contact
52:32
me through the blog or otherwise they’ll
52:35
find me and I network via Skype or
52:39
FaceTime or zoom or any of the platforms
52:42
and what they’re looking for is the same
52:47
thing that people who initially picked
52:50
up in sheep’s clothing and wanted to
52:53
understand that gaslighting effect we’re
52:55
looking for they just want to know what
52:58
the heck is going on they want that
52:59
perspective that will illuminate them
53:02
that will set them on the path they
53:04
don’t want somebody to nursemaid them
53:06
through can’t walk their path for them
53:09
they just they just want to get reground
53:11
‘add and so we’ll have a little chat and
53:16
as soon as they see it they’re on their
53:20
way
53:20
okay and I can’t think of anything in
53:24
the world more fulfilling is just do
53:26
your little part
53:28
you just do you just get back to the
53:31
universe with the universe somehow gave
53:33
you and it starts to get better we’re on
53:40
the cusp of it I just know it but it’s
53:42
gonna be really it’s gonna be really
53:45
testy I’m afraid the world is a powder
53:48
keg right now I have the same feeling I
53:51
think that whole global power system it
53:54
has to collapse in order for something
53:56
better to be reborn because there’s no
53:58
fixing it
53:59
there’s no electing the right person
54:01
because it’s so much bigger than the
54:03
puppet that’s in power yes you’re
54:06
absolutely right yeah and that’s sad in
54:10
a way but if we’re gonna make it at all
54:13
right right that’s just the way it has
54:17
to be first and that’s why we can’t lose
54:20
faith and besides which you know species
54:23
come and go if we’re meant to make it
54:26
that if the universe means for the
54:28
species to me you know we’ll have to get
54:32
it together right yeah yeah I’m not
54:37
gonna think about the alternative yeah I
54:43
think you’re right through that you know
54:44
there’s something about when a
54:46
collective tragedy happens that there’s
54:49
like an opportunity for people to come
54:51
together to have an awakening of a
54:54
perspective I saw that after the
54:56
earthquake here a couple years ago like
54:58
everybody got together and they just
55:00
started helping people in organizing you
55:03
know not counting on the government not
55:05
waiting for anybody to save us like
55:07
everybody got together and made it
55:09
happen and I hope I believed in the
55:12
humanity that we can do the same sort of
55:15
thing you know if there’s were to happen
55:16
as like a collective global crisis yeah
55:23
you know well we have a few minutes and
55:28
I want to make sure that we cover
55:30
everything that you wanted to cover
55:31
today is there anything you can think of
55:33
that we haven’t covered that
55:36
your listeners might really want to know
55:39
about that haven’t spoken enough about
55:43
so I think we hit all the main questions
55:47
that I wanted to ask I guess just to
55:50
clarify one final thing is you know what
55:52
do you see as like the solution to this
55:55
global pandemic in terms of like very
55:58
specific things that individuals could
56:00
do to make a difference in this pandemic
56:04
mm-hmm
56:05
the first step of all the 12-step
56:09
programs the very first step is
56:12
acknowledging what the issue is when we
56:16
make character the issue again when we
56:20
recognize that it is the issue when we
56:23
admit that it’s the issue and we make it
56:26
matter things will start to get better
56:29
this is a you know I quote a great
56:34
researcher in here Martin EP Seligman is
56:41
the he’s the originator of the learned
56:44
helplessness paradigm that I talked a
56:46
lot about in my work because it really
56:49
is a feature of many kinds of depression
56:53
and he was one of those researchers in
56:58
the lab that thought that there wasn’t
57:00
anything that you couldn’t demonstrate
57:03
about human behavior that you couldn’t
57:06
demonstrate with a rat in a laboratory
57:08
experiment and such researchers
57:14
poo-pooed the notion of character you
57:17
know even regarded it as a false kind of
57:20
construct yeah this is what he had to
57:24
say in a book that he wrote with
57:26
somebody else fairly recently and I I
57:28
quote him on the opening pages of
57:30
character disturbance after a detour
57:33
through the hedonism of the 60s the
57:36
narcissism of the 70s the materialism of
57:40
the 80s and the apathy of the 90s most
57:45
everyone today seemed seems to have come
57:48
to the realization that care
57:49
character is indeed important after all
57:51
and that the United States is facing a
57:56
character crisis not just the United
57:58
States and on many fronts from the
58:01
playground to the classroom to the
58:04
Sports Arena to the Hollywood screen to
58:08
Business Corporations to politics you
58:12
know I am old I’m going to be 72 here
58:16
very soon so I know I’m old but I could
58:20
still be I’m not that old and I can
58:21
still remember I can remember when
58:26
somebody could have all the talent in
58:29
the world but if there was a chance that
58:32
they could disgrace a team
58:36
with their behavior or their attitude
58:39
but their manner of relating to other
58:41
people in other words if their character
58:44
was going to bring disgrace they were
58:48
not going to be hired I don’t care how
58:50
talented they were that’s what’s changed
58:55
and that’s what needs to change
58:58
but things to get better you make
59:00
character matter it will matter it will
59:04
matter here in the United States it
59:10
didn’t seem to matter
59:11
hey yeah but you’re right it is a global
59:15
phenomenon it’s not just in the USA oh
59:17
yeah yeah
59:20
yes people have been so conditioned to
59:23
believe that if they can just put some
59:25
puppet in there to give them what who
59:27
says that they’ll give them what they
59:29
want right that things will be all right
59:32
no it’s up to us whether we realize it
59:39
or not appreciated or not accept it or
59:43
not we’re all connected we’re all in
59:45
this together and it’s up to us to fix
59:48
it for me that’s the most important part
59:52
is the self responsibility I think if
59:54
each one of us took responsibility for
59:57
ourselves and part of that is the
59:58
awareness of the problem because you
60:00
can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s
60:02
wrong but taking that self
60:04
responsibility you know each individual
60:06
working on that what a different world
60:08
would be living in right so we’re doing
60:12
our part and that’s why I wanted to
60:15
reconnect with you I I was just I was
60:18
really kind of stunned the the one video
60:22
that we did three years ago has six
60:27
hundred thousand views I thought oh my
60:29
goodness Wow but
60:33
also telling you how hungry people are
60:35
right people need the information that’s
60:39
for sure right so you and I need to have
60:42
a conversation about how you’re doing
60:45
you developed a savvy they’re an
60:47
internet savvy that would would be
60:51
helpful to me as I as I branch out into
60:53
new areas I’m building a new studio in
60:56
my new home we’re cleaning out this
60:59
place here that’s why there’s no drapes
61:02
on the wall and I’ll be doing new
61:06
podcasts from there and finishing this
61:12
book that where I introduced interior
61:16
disturbance the ten commandments of
61:18
character it’s going to be from a more
61:20
spiritual holistic health kind of
61:25
perspective as opposed to just pure
61:28
moralism and psychology and it’s about
61:31
those those major
61:38
most major principles
61:43
living on this planet with everybody
61:45
else that we have to eventually embrace
61:52
if we’re going to make it and if we’re
61:55
going to be the kind of people who build
61:57
healthy lasting intimate relationships
62:04
dr. Simon tell my viewers please where
62:07
they can find you dr. George Simon calm
62:10
that’s dr g EO r GE Simon calm or
62:14
manipulative – people calm that’s the
62:20
easiest way I’ll even give my my email
62:24
address is George K Simon at SBC global
62:28
net the reason I’m giving that out
62:31
lately is because I’m inundated with
62:33
requests for consultations and I can
62:38
only answer so many emails a day but if
62:41
somebody writes me directly and they put
62:44
consultation request in the subject line
62:48
I know to prioritize it and I’ll get
62:51
back sooner that doesn’t mean quickly
62:54
but but sooner than I otherwise would
62:58
because like I said it it takes me a
63:01
long time to sift through the email and
63:03
I I don’t have an assistant just yet
63:05
doing that but maybe I should so on your
63:10
website you also have the links like to
63:12
your YouTube channel your podcasts and
63:14
all those things as well yes and the new
63:17
podcast will start right around
63:19
Christmas time thanks yeah we’ll start
63:23
the new year off with a bang
63:25
I think dr. Simon equation on that
63:28
please do thank you so much for your
63:31
time today this has been a pleasure and
63:33
I’m sure there’s a lot of valuable
63:34
content in here to continue helping
63:36
people who are looking for help in this
63:38
arena thank you well all the best to you
63:41
and I hope we connect again soon me too
63:44
thank you okay bye dr. Simon