7 April 2009 • Comments are now closed. Unfortunately, they were devolving into a steady stream of people who didn’t bother to read to narrative thus far and added no value at all.

You’ll pardon my bluntness in the title, but I find it concise and to the point.

My entry “Sam Vaknin’s Self-Love” remains one of my most popular entries, and continues to attract a dialog/argument between refugees from various fora and user groups pertaining to narcissism and NPD. From commenter Derek comes word that Vaknin has seen fit to throw his hat into America’s current political ring by penning an amazingly obtuse and ridiculous article about Barack Obama.

Narcissism, not politics

I should pause here to point out that Vaknin’s article isn’t necessarily the usual political scree offered by such sites as TownHall, where one is likely to find the hysterical, obnoxious bloviating of a range of the Right’s rabble1. He doesn’t persist in the sinister rumors of Obama’s Muslim faith, or throw about the canard of Obama qua socialist, or really delve into many of the G.O.P. talking points/whisper campaigns at all.

But he (I’m talking about Vaknin again) does try to frame Obama in a context he understands: Narcissism. Namely, he thinks that Obama is a narcissist (it’s the first line of his article).

Vaknin’s mess of an article begins by enumerating some of the qualities that may indicate NPD: these are, you may realize as you read them, so very general that anyone with confidence or a dominant personality may be labeled as such. The all-important consideration in diagnosing mental illness is whether such characteristics interfere with the subject’s life. I, for instance, maybe exhibit some signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; I do not have it, however, because I prefer things neat and tidy, and messiness does arouse in me some level of distress, I am perfectly capable of having a messy apartment, or passing a crooked picture without straightening it, or ignoring any such impulses which I feel are destructive or harmful to myself. Vaknin himself not only realizes this, but states as much in his article, going on to explain—badly—why he thinks Obama falls in such a category.

In this, we may consider Vaknin’s article farcical on its face, then, since it seeks to indict Obama for qualities which he is clearly not only not suffering from, but in which he is in fact thriving. And, as I will illustrate momentarily, are common characteristics of politicians—this, if you even recognize that Obama has these characteristics, which of course he likely does not.

Newsflash: politicians are egotistical!

Here are the charges that Vaknin levels against Obama (which I’ve reformatted to be somewhat readable):

Obama displays the following behaviors, which are among the hallmarks of pathological narcissism:

  • Subtly misrepresents facts and expediently and opportunistically shifts positions, views, opinions, and “ideals” (e.g., about campaign finance, re-districting). These flip-flops do not cause him overt distress and are ego-syntonic (he feels justified in acting this way). Alternatively, reuses to commit to a standpoint and, in the process, evidences a lack of empathy.
  • Ignores data that conflict with his fantasy world, or with his inflated and grandiose self-image. This has to do with magical thinking. Obama already sees himself as president because he is firmly convinced that his dreams, thoughts, and wishes affect reality. Additionally, he denies the gap between his fantasies and his modest or limited real-life achievements (for instance, in 12 years of academic career, he hasn’t published a single scholarly paper or book).
  • Feels that he is above the law, incl. and especially his own laws.
  • Talks about himself in the 3rd person singluar or uses the regal “we” and craves to be the exclsuive center of attention, even adulation
  • Have a messianic-cosmic vision of himself and his life and his “mission”.
  • Sets ever more complex rules in a convoluted world of grandiose fantasies with its own language (jargon)
  • Displays false modesty and unctuous “folksiness” but unable to sustain these behaviors (the persona, or mask) for long. It slips and the true Obama is revealed: haughty, aloof, distant, and disdainful of simple folk and their lives.
  • Sublimates aggression and holds grudges.
  • Behaves as an eternal adolescent (e.g., his choice of language, youthful image he projects, demands indulgence and feels entitled to special treatment, even though his objective accomplishments do not justify it).

I think it unnecessary for me to explain to my readers how very generic this complaints are2, and will simply rebut them as they relate specifically to Obama. It would be far to easy to point out that Vaknin, as an obvious narcissist himself, is naturally prone to finding such a condition in others. Politicians, who in some ways survive on an inflated sense of their own self-importance3, are easy but misleading targets to an obviously disturbed man who leaps at the opportunity to find his own disorder in others.

Subtly misrepresents facts and expediently and opportunistically shifts positions, views, opinions, and “ideals[.]” Assuming for a moment that Obama does opportunistically shift positions for political expediency4, and that he feels no obvious distress over these. Does that not make him a politician running for office? And what exactly does “Alternatively, reuses to commit to a standpoint and, in the process, evidences a lack of empathy” even mean? It seems to me a nonsense phrase.

“Obama already sees himself as president because he is firmly convinced that his dreams, thoughts, and wishes affect reality[.]” Is Vaknin accusing Obama of some sort of solipsism, wherein his reality, controlled by himself, is the only confirmable one? Perhaps Obama sees himself as president because (1) the polls show him likely to become as much, and (2), he really wants to be president. Unless Obama has a secret condition, hidden from me, wherein he truly does believe himself to be sitting in the Oval Office, surrounded by his willing subordinates, then I’m afraid Vaknin has mistaken narcissism with ambition. But my favorite part of this criticism of Vaknin’s is this: “Additionally, he denies the gap between his fantasies and his modest or limited real-life achievements (for instance, in 12 years of academic career, he hasn’t published a single scholarly paper or book).”

This, I think, is perhaps one of the most telling lines in Vaknin’s article. Take a person like Obama, who aspires to be the President of the United States. Granted, you may take issue with his relative inexperience in politics5, but Obama’s professional career as a lawyer and politician has been a storied and productive one6. What Vaknin takes issue with is the fact that Obama (a lawyer) has never published a scholarly article or book. Obama has published books, mind you, and was editor of the Harvard Law Review, but what Sam Vaknin the Narcissist would like you to realize, please, is that Obama has never published an awful, pseudo-scholarly book about NPD like Sam Vaknin has.

Let me see if I can sum this up for you in a phrase:

Sam Vaknin wants to be more important than Barack Obama (but he never, ever will).

Have a messianic-cosmic vision of himself and his life and his “mission.” I’m sure that Obama campaign likes to cultivate the image of Obama as a Jesus/Che/rockstar, but whether or not Obama actually views himself as a messiah is hard to pin down. Likely not, given his ability to make fun of just such a characterization (see Obama’s speech at the 2008 Alfred Smith dinner).

Displays false modesty and unctuous “folksiness” but […] the true Obama is revealed: haughty, aloof, distant, and disdainful of simple folk and their lives. Wait, what? I don’t think Obama’s the one you have to worry about cultivating “folksiness.” In fact, before Sam Vaknin opened his stupid mouth, I’d never heard such a word spoken with respect to the Obama campaign. If what Vaknin means is that Obama really doesn’t so much care for [insert local delicacy, e.g. cheese-steak] but eats it anyway within [location], then yes, there’s probably plenty of that in any political campaign. Let’s immediately disabuse ourselves of the notion that politicians are proletariat: on the national level especially, politicians tend to be well-educated, rich, and not a little snobbish. They may share your predilection for school prayer or play “folksy” when they have to talk to blue-collar workers, but let’s not have any illusions that politicians, regardless of alignment, are generally cut from the same cloth. That being said, there’s no reason to believe that Obama, more than any other, is “disdainful” of the lives of ordinary Americans. This line of thinking would lead one to believe that his entire political career, even back when he was a lowly community organizer, was little more than him putting up with the common rabble until such time as he could become president and exert the full measure of his narcissistic control over the country.

Sublimates aggression and holds grudges. What?

Behaves as an eternal adolescent (e.g., his choice of language, youthful image he projects). It’s no surprise that Obama, as one of the younger candidates for presidency, would emphasis his youth, at least when talking to a younger generation of voters. Every politician aspires to play the youthful, inspiring populist, McCain included, but Obama has the relative benefit of actually being relatively young and populist; that he would use some of this (tempered to allay associations with inexperience) is no surprise whatsoever.

Conclusion: Sam Vaknin is an idiot

Perhaps the title of this article (and section) are misleading: Sam Vaknin is not, in all likelihood, an idiot. Were he a mere simpleton submitting his wrongheaded drivel to the latest blogging service, I’d pay him no heed; after all, the internet has a surplus of very stupid people, and one more is hardly a notable figure. No, when I say that Sam Vaknin is stupid, I mean that he’s clearly a narcissist himself, and he goes to any length to spread his nonsensical writing, like a virus, to any site that will take it. What’s more, his writing is awful in every imaginable sense, and perhaps he even knows it. My guess would be that, were Vakin to read this entry, it would only fuel the fire in his sick little head: he could imagine himself a True Intellectual™, henpecked by illiterate rabble such as myself, who clearly don’t understand his genius (he published a “scholarly book,” donncha know…).

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to take the typical Republican talking points about coastal elitists sipping soy cappuccini and focus them into a singular obsession with a particular disorder, you’ve essentially understood the latest work of Sam Vaknin—replete with zero credibility, politically or academically. Part of me wants to be sorry for this pathetic little creature, but then I remember how truly obnoxious he is, and I don’t necessarily feel guilty for wishing upon him all the scorn and scrotum-ablating contempt that stupidity of his magnitude may engender.

  1. And occasionally one of its more thoughtful commentators, but this is rare. I find much of the more thoughtful conservative commentary to be found at such places as the National Review, which, though I think it no less wrong, involves much less of the hysterical flailing and rending of garments that so much marginal conservative writing does[]
  2. You mean a politician “[s]ubtly misrepresents facts and expediently and opportunistically shifts positions”? Say it ain’t so![]
  3. Forgive my banal political cynicism here; I realize that talking about Washington “fatcats” is about as productive as spitting into a hole all day, but let us for a moment labor under the assumption that politicians are in fact piglets at the teat of government largess, speaking from both sides of their mouth in order to crassly manipulate the sympathies of voters.[]
  4. Those right-leaning readers are nodding your heads vigorously now, I know.[]
  5. Despite his 11(?)+ years as a senator on state and national levels, Obama does admittedly have little executive experience.[]
  6. It’s possible you’re so petty as to deny importance to Obama’s entire career; I’ve seen it so debased in chain e-mails from ridiculous conservatives. What I’d like here is agreement in any case that Obama is an intelligent and successful man, if nothing else.[]
§2990 · October 27, 2008 · Tags: , , ·

85 Comments to “Sam Vaknin is still an idiot”

  1. Anita says:

    You argue that Vaknin projects his own narcissism onto Obama; I suggest you may do the same when you call Vaknin him an idiot. I read his article – at least he signs his writing – and he distinguishes between narcistic tendendies exhibited by politicians – he named Clinton, for one – and pathological narcissism exhibited by Hitler, Jones and others and enumerates the events in Obama’s background which could account for his NPD. In any event, I don’t remember his resorting to name calling; re-read your blog; it’s sophomoric at best; unprofessional at worst.

  2. Ben says:
    1. There is a reason I have a colophon.
    2. This is not a professional blog; therefore, I am not obligated to act professionally if I do not feel like it; therefore, Sam Vaknin is an idiot.
    3. “Sam Vaknin is an idiot” is only a headline anyway, which I believe is clearly indicated in the last paragraph.
    4. Events in Obama’s background which could explain NPD are only of worth if you believe that Obama has NPD in the first place. Which I don’t. Because there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for it beyond Vaknin’s desire for it to be so.
    5. Are you excusing me of projecting my own hypothetical narcissism onto Vaknin by calling him a narcissist? Have you considered that my calling Vaknin a narcissist may have something to do with Vaknin calling himself a narcissist?
    6. I can throw stones at Vaknin all I want; this is, after all, a vanity blog. But if you want to diagnose someone with a disorder, you need to have the medical or academic authority to do so. Let me give you a hint: Vaknin doesn’t.
  3. Sid of Id says:

    As a long-time Vaknin reader (of both his online and published works), I don’t think he’s an idiot, but I completely agree that he suffers from everything he purports as an obstacle for NPD’rs to be even the least bit subjective about their place in the world and the world around them. Sadly for his sad, sick mind, his gift of explaining things ends with himself and his disease. Anyone who has read him and understand NPD can see this. The funny thing is, he pretty much says as much in his works, but then "narcissistically" proceeds beyond his own self-proclaimed handicaps.

  4. bilbo says:

    I have a very good friend whose husband was diagnosed with NPD. Based on her up close and personal experience with it, her observations of Obama have led her to believe that Obama also has NPD. She actually feels sorry for Michelle. She said if you had to live with someone with NPD, you’d be bitter and angry too.

  5. bilbo says:

    Vaknin isn’t the only claiming this. Do a search. You’ll come up with a lot of links.

  6. Ben says:

    1. Folk diagnoses from narcissists do not make a compelling case. Just like liars are more likely to think that everyone else is a liar too, I get a feeling that narcissists are likely to think everyone else a narcissist too.

    2. The fact that you think Michelle is “bitter and angry” means you’re probably clinging to sound bites spun by idiots at FNC.

    3. Doing a search comes up with a lot of links…. and not a one of them appears to have any sort of intellectual weight. Much of it is dominated by repostings of Vaknin’s initial work.

  7. Faith says:

    Who are you to lambast what someone else has to say. I understand Vankin is an expert in respect to narcissism….you don’t even say your name, so we can find out who you are. I think your full of hot air.

  8. Ben says:

    Someone clearly hasn’t been following the conversation so far.

  9. Bob says:

    Glorious Article the man clearly feels intimidated by Obama. On a side note if you do a search on Sam Vaknin and wikipedia you will get a collection of seven articles he has written on the website. His hatred of wikipedia in general and teenagers having a say in its running is quite scary.

  10. Ben says:

    No surprise there. The man’s an admitted narcissist, and clearly believes himself a scholar and intellectual authority.

    The fact that more people care about Wikipedia than him must be intolerable.

  11. JMH says:

    I’ve been reading your sentiments on Vaknin and you bring up many interesting points well worth considering. But you’re so obviously partisan in this post that it weakens your logic. Everything seems geared toward disproving that Obama is Narcissistic.

  12. Ben says:

    There’s no need to disprove the “Obama as Narcissist” idea because it isn’t a priori knowledge. It’s up to Vaknin to prove the idea, which he didn’t manage to do.

    Attacking Vaknin’s argument is not defending Obama.

  13. Grogan says:

    Well, since you absolve yourself of any responsibility because "this is just a blog", I can’t afford to give your words any weight. I guess I will "pay you no head".

    Vaknin doesn’t need to prove anything. Most people interested in what he says about Obama are interested because it validates what they have already sensed about the man. The rest have fallen under his spell and have "tingley feelings" at the mention of his name.

    You seem to love to throw out language like "a priori’ yet you dismiss any mention of Michelle’s obvious bitterness as if these FNC soundbites make her no be bitter. Look to the woman’s past and history, it seems filled with bitterness to me.

    I can not prove an opinion, yet it is my right to have and formulate my own unique opinions.

  14. Gaius C says:

    Nobody seems to be questioning Sam’s qualifications to make such claims. He’s not a mental health professional in any shape or form.

  15. Ben says:

    Grogan, your points, in order:

    1. Actually, Vaknin does need to prove something. He makes an extraordinary claim (the diagnosis of a psychological disorder), but provides little or no evidence to back up that claim other than broad proclamations and false arguments from authority.

    2. Again, “obvious” is a dangerous word to use when many (most?) wouldn’t share it. I see no obvious bitterness in Michelle, and after all, why would we? The previous commenter’s claim of “bitterness” is predicated upon Obama being a diagnosable narcissist…. which he is not. Can you provide actual examples, or just wave your hand dismissively at her “past and history”?

    3. In fact, you are right: you have the right to form your own opinions. But that doesn’t make them interesting, worthwhile, or factually correct.

  16. bill gates says:

    You drank the Obama Kool-Aid. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. You are a Fool.

  17. Ben says:

    This has nothing to do with Obama’s qualities as a leader or a politician; it’s about whether he suffers from NPD.

    Unless your claim is that George W. Bush was also a clinically-diagnosable narcissist, you’ve clearly not bothered to read the article. Way to fail at life.

  18. Harry says:

    I don’t know if Michelle is angry or bitter but I can say that she has the backside of a Horse! I don’t have to prove it, you just have to look. LOL! The mainstream media keeps telling us that she is "stunning" and "beautiful". The truth is, she walks with her legs apart like a backwoods hillbilly and her clothes are awful! She needs to fire her assistant and get some help in the personal image department. I can’t image why she hasn’t. Yeah, I think her husband is rather full of himself, but most poiticians are. I just wonder when he will stop using the speach cadence of a backwoods revival preacher from the south. After all that education, I’d think he could speak to the public without sounding like a babtist preacher banging the pulpit. What a goofball.

  19. Gaius C says:

    Life must be tough if Obama’s opponents have to slag off his wife’s looks to make something stick.

  20. Ben says:

    Harry apparently thinks that the top priority for Michelle should be to look good for his personal pleasure. Also, he apparently seems to think that “beautiful” only describes a small subset of idealized women in size 0 jeans.

    He also apparently seems to think that the hints of Baptist preacher in Obama’s cadence are indistinguishable from drawling, caricatured preachers from the Deep South.

    In other words, he’s an idiot and a troll. I considered deleting his comment for being a waste of bytes, but I do hate to disrupt the narrative flow.

  21. ItsOverBen says:

    It takes somebody with NPD to know somebody with NPD.

  22. Ben says:

    Actually, it takes a mental health professional to know somebody with NPD.

  23. JMH says:

    Dut to time constraints I haven’t read your blog in its entirety; what makes you, Ben, an expert? I am in agreement with Anita that the name-calling is sophmoric and that ItsOverBen may also have a valid point: it may take someone with NPD to know one. This is the case with many mental health issues.

  24. Ben says:

    Perhaps you should read the entry in its entirety; then you might not make comments about issues I’ve already dealt with.

  25. JMH says:

    Perhaps you should read what I wrote: I don’t have time! Get a life.

  26. Ben says:

    And yet you have time to post comments? And followup comments reaffirming your lack of time? Curious.

    Let me give you a piece of advice which may be of use to you: saying “I don’t know what’s being talked about, but here’s my opinion anyway” is not a good way to gain either friends or respect.

  27. Luc says:

    This is fascinating: You post on Sam Vaknin’s crusade against Wikipedia in July of ’06, and receive a rather steady stream of interested, varied, well considered responses (well…most of them). That’s not to say they aren’t heated or argumentative, but the authors seem to have read your post (and more particularly, be capable of reading in a general sense).

    But then, when you post this blog in response to a nonsensical, barely coherent article in townhall/the conservative voice, something kind of weird happens: the comments get surprisingly dense, and conversation devolves into name calling ("get a life!"). My very favorite comment above is the "takes one to know one" argument (ItsoverBen), which if extended, would make our legal justice system a very scary zoo. Just imagine: "He ain’t a murderer, he can’t judge me!".

    As to the article itself, it’s hardly worth the bytes and minutes wasted on it. Prof. Dr. Vaknin is in such poor command of the written word, he can hardly write a sentence from Capital letter at the beginning to period at the end without stepping in a logical fallacy (hmm, let’s see…non causa pro causa, ad hominem, syllogisms galore…I stopped counting there. They must not’ve taught that there logic at that fancy pants youniversity where Dr. Vaknin got his dergree.)

    All right, you get the point…but Ben, don’t pick any more fights with the trolls, or they may git you.

  28. Ben says:

    Well, you see the difference, don’t you? The people who are defending Vaknin’s “diagnosis” are probably the same ones who believe articles asserting his Muslim faith or his ties to Communism. This article by Vaknin suddenly intrudes into the political sphere, and the whole game changes.

  29. Co-dependent no more says:

    If you have lived with a malignant, pathological narcissist ..you know one when you see one. You can tell by his demeanor, his speech patterns and much more. You do not have to be a medical professional to know one.

    You can also tell by his wife’s demeanor, her dress, her children’s demeanor whether they are living with a narcissist or not.

    How do I know? I lived with one for 16 years!

    Vaknin is a narcissist and at least he admits it. If he knows himself…he knows others when he observes them.

    IMHO Obama is everything Vaknin says he is! Look how the media is taken in by him! Look how he threatens and blackmails the Congress. Look how he reacted when he thought things would not go his way with the stimulus bill. All that fear mongering!

    IMHO I figured a long time ago that Obama is a malignant narcissist. And woe to the world…especially the USA…we will be brought down to our knees and begging for mercy by the time he gets through with us! In the future he will be seen as the worst President the USA ever had..and probably the last. Tyranny and socialism are here already!

  30. Norma says:

    I have no idea if he is a narcissist, or Vaknin, or you. But since Obama came on the national scene about 4 years ago and I listened to his speeches, paid attention to who he hangs out with, and observed him when cornered by the truth, I did conclude he is "an empty suit," a good mimic, and a marxist. Lots of smart people love and adore him and ignore the evidence. I have no idea why. But I think you are smart to remain anonymous.

  31. sparafucile says:

    Maybe this can shed some light. Appears his article may have been edited somewhat. http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/vaknin.asp

    • Ben says:

      The Snopes article you link to is concerning what appears to be a summary of Vaknin’s article. The original text that I linked to (but which is now apparently gone) was his ostensibly unedited work.

  32. sparafucile says:

    Well then I guess you right. Of course anyone that would say anything negative about Obama must be an idiot ;-) Thanks for the clarification.

    • Ben says:

      The tone of the article isn’t at issue; it’s that the article’s claim is specious and unsubstantiated. The author makes diagnoses he does not have the authority (so far as we can discern) to make.

  33. Dick says:

    Ben, you make a pitiful little argument in defense of The Chosen One. I suppose it could be attributed to Kool-Aid intoxication. You simply disregard other people’s opinions and refute any argument that you can’t logically discuss with simple name calling. This all makes your pathetic little blog especially insignificant.

    • Ben says:

      If I simply disregarded other people’s opinions, there wouldn’t be any use for that text up there, would there? Did you actually read the entry? Or did you assume that my argument against Vaknin is necessarily an argument for Obama?

      I realize that it’s popular now to dredge up the “cult of personality” accusation against anyone not calling Obama a baby-killing Marxist Muslim, but for that to be of any use to you, we’d have to be discussing Obama’s merits. But we’re not—or at least I’m not. What you’re doing, well, I really have no idea.

  34. Dick says:

    Right, you’re clueless.

  35. David says:

    At first, I agreed with you. But now, after watching Obama as President, I’m not so sure. Lashing out at Limbaugh, lying about earmarks (come on … that’s a lie), increasing spending on programs despite the crashing economy … I voted for the guy and I’m very worried we’ve elected a crazy person.

  36. John says:

    I noticed this personality trait in him last summer during the primaries. I watched Obama during the debates and have you seen his eyes when he does not like a question or does not like what someone says. Why did he kick reporters off his campaign plane that worked for papers that said something negative about him. Why did he threaten and force radio stations in St Louis and Chicago with lawsuits and have his people picket them for having opposition guests. Did you see what he told the republicans when they voted against his bill (after he had them to the white house for a super bowl party – how dare they) – get used to it because I won (paraphrased). Yesterday he invited allies and skeptics to the healh summit and said "every idea must be considered…There are no sacred cows" then proceded with a warning "Those who seek to block any reform at all at any cost, will not prevail this time around". Did you notice that he put his number one Democtatic opponent – Hillary in a post that is close to him – keep your enemies close is the way of paranoid dictators. Plus she can take the blame when things in the middle east go wrong. He is amazing at lying – even during the dabates and convincing the people he does not believe in something that history shows he does and now that he is president, how he is 100% in agreement with his past stand on issues – he is supper convincing. He immediately turned the stimulus bill over to Pelosi and Reid – now they can take the blame. He uses bad times to get what he wants, became senator in Illinois by pushing out his opponent and running un-apposed. Just like Hitler and Stalin and Castro – he used bad economic times to get the masses on his band wagon and he has not stopped spreading doom messages yet. Etc – I could go on for pages, but the bottom line is this guy may turn out to be our worst president ever – never had we had anyone like him. He claims the constitution should be positive law instead of the negative law it is – psoitve law means the government can use the law to "help the people". The constitution was set up to prevent the government from having control. well people, we have been losing it for years, but have now taken a quantum leap.

  37. Wowy Zowy says:

    Wow, I stumbled across this site by accident. I probably won’t be back. It was good for a giggle though. Ben (if that is your real name) makes a very interesting argument. It goes like this; I ain’t supporting president Obama, I am just critiquing someone’s thought process and writing. Here is my question. Why this article? It seems quite obscure. You could have picked any article from nude fly fishing to automatic transmission overhaul to analyze. But you picked this one, Why? The choice in and of itself say’s a lot but your replies to the comments really fleshed it out for me. Here it is. Ben you are a Marxist, a narcissist, and quite afraid of the world. I suspect that you know it. Oh yeah, the fact that you have admitted the possibility of editing/deleting replies to your Blog says that anyone can make a judgement about how you think in that they are a perfect reflection of you.

    Have a nice life hiding in your little room with your little computer

    • Ben says:

      If you’d bothered to read it, you’d know that I bust Vaknin’s balls because I think he’s a fraud. That’s why this article.

      I don’t see anything in your vomitus of a reply that even resemble a coherent point. At least you have the courtesy to (probably) never return.

  38. David says:

    I think he did read it — his tone was a bit arrogant, but he made a good point. Specifically, I think he picked up on something I should have — an apparent political agenda in your effort to discredit Vaknin. Frankly, I voted for Obama, and probably didn’t engage in a heck of a lot of thinking about the narcissist angle. I should have. I kept scratching my head, thinking that Obama was too good to be true. Too confident, so certain about his answers. A larger than life figure. I never once connected this to the people that I know that have these attributes. To a one, they are narcissistic with inappropriately exaggerated senses of their self worth. Watching what Obama has done in the last month or so has led me to believe, subject to correction of course, that he may well be a narcissist. His extreme lack of experience is showing on the economy — he can’t even articulate why spending another trillion in addition to the stimulus is a good thing — and his appointments (including a tax cheat as head of the IRS) are downright crazy.

    • Ben says:

      My problem with Vaknin predates Obama as president; Vaknin’s “Obama with NPD” article aroused my ire not because it criticized Dear Leader, but because it was a particularly transparent attempt on his part to garner popularity (which he craves) by turning his pop psychology on a celebrity. Not that you’d believe it, but I’d have written the same piece if he’d chosen to “diagnose” McCain.

      I think, too, that we’re veering away from the point here. You say Obama may be a narcissist-with-a-lowercase-n, by which you mean he may be arrogant and somewhat vain. That’s certainly possible; in fact, I think it’s downright likely. But the article was not calling Obama narcissistic; it was diagnosing him with NPD, an honest-to-god psychological disorder. Vaknin is neither qualified to make that diagnosis, nor does the “evidence” (read: anecdotes and generalizations) he offers do anything more than characterize Obama as arrogant and/or vain.

  39. David says:

    I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but I happen to think that the evidence is pointing to narcissism with a "N," not just garden variety arrogance or egomania. It appears to me that Obama may be crazy given the things he’s doing and the way he’s behaving. (Defending the stimulus bill as creating jobs by attending the graduation of 25 police cadets whose jobs will vanish when the federal funding runs out in one year. C.R.A.Z.Y.)

  40. David says:

    So you can tell what I think (or don’t think) Narcissism is without even hearing my definition? You are truly an arrogant ass, it appears. I’m out of here, too.

  41. BAR says:

    "I can throw stones at Vaknin all I want; this is, after all, a vanity blog. But if you want to diagnose someone with a disorder, you need to have the medical or academic authority to do so. Let me give you a hint: Vaknin doesn’t."

    I just got done reading the list on http://samvak.tripod.com/cv.html. WOW but then I bet it reads alot like your list of things you’ve done in life.

    Maybe you think he does not have the authority to diagnose Obama but you certainly show no authority to diagnose Valnin.

    If I had you, Obama, and Valnin to vote for President you and Obama would loose. Sorry

    Good long running blog.

    Signed by a South Dakota voter who voted for McCain because I though Obama was to much like my Brother, who is a Doctor ceritfied Narcissist. Who by the way has made our family, and community Hell on Earth most of my life.

  42. gaiusc says:

    Your vote for "Valnin" won’t pass muster BAR as the guy’s name is "Vaknin".

  43. BAR says:

    Nothing like the truth…"since Obama came on the national scene about 4 years ago and I listened to his speeches, paid attention to who he hangs out with, and observed him when cornered by the truth, I did conclude he is "an empty suit," a good mimic, and a marxist. Lots of smart people love and adore him and ignore the evidence. I have no idea why…" Nothing like the truth.

    If it walks like a duck, sounds like…but then you have to know what a duck walks and sounds like…I could see long before any of these news links or blogs were calling him a Narcissist. But then I lived with a Narcissist and have spent a lot of my life, trying to protect my parents, his children, brother and sisters…from him. I have read Valnin’s article and this entire blog and Valinin’s points are all very well placed. Ben you said they are vage and could discribe any political figure…now you know that’s not true or you don’t really know any political figures.

    Obama’s Presidency will be interesting to watch…painfull maybe…but at least interesting.

    "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money."

  44. BAR says:

    Valnin AKA Vaknin

    "Just looked down at the key board, seems that the L & K are real close together. Kant spel anyway. Cus I got no higher learnin.

    • gaiusc says:

      "Kant spel anyway. Cus I got no higher learnin."

      With people like you leading political discourse, the US has a very bright future indeed.

  45. gaiusc says:

    "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money."

    You are of course aware that the US ran an enormous trade deficit during the Bush years, i.e. ran the country on "other peoples’ money"?

    P.S. If you’re going to spell Vaknin’s name wrong, would you at least be consistent in your misspelling please?

  46. BAR says:

    Never said Busch didnt spend other peoples money! The tone of your reply is that you think I am a Busch fan? I thought this was a discussion about Valknin, Obaman and Been.

    very bright future indeed…best country on the planet…except maybe Canada (easy to spel all A’s except that C,N, and D.) Their socialistict health care is so great that the sick people from Canada come to the US to see the Docktor.

    Gosh this is fun…all this talkin with out any knowin

  47. Gaius C says:

    It’s a proud day when a real life version of Stuart Smalley is the best the republicans can come up with in their efforts to smear Barry O’Bama in any way they can.

  48. BAR says:

    …was a jolt of political reality for Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Obama, signaling that the solidarity of the stimulus debate is fading as Democratic lawmakers are starting to read the fine print of the bills they will wrestle with in the coming weeks and months, and not always liking what they see.

    Obama’s Presidency will be interesting to watch…painfull maybe…but at least interesting.

    Dear Gaius C or is that gaiusc, my canidate never made it to the presidential election he didn’t quite get enough votes in the primary.

  49. Not_So_Gullible says:

    Sam Vaknin: Outlaw Expert, Fraud

    All you have to do is Google Sam Vaknin’s name and take a look at a few
    top results. According to what is purported to be Vankin’s own website,
    http://samvak.tripod.com/cv.html, his only degree is a "Ph.D. in
    Philosophy (major: Philosophy of Physics)" from "Pacific Western

    Vaknin’s glorious Ph.D. degree, his curious “major” notwithstanding,
    turns out to be from a world-class diploma mill that was one of several
    investigated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in 2004.

    See: "Diploma Mills Are Easily Created and Some Have Issued Bogus Degrees
    to Federal Employees at Government Expense." Here’s the link to
    download the report: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d041096t.pdf.

    Pacific Western University apparently changed its name after the CBO
    investigation. Even Wikipedia has a special entry about it. The new
    name, if your are interested, is “California Miramar University.” So
    well known is this diploma mill that the Texas Higher Education
    Coordinating Board has Vaknin’s school listed on a webpage titled
    "Institutions Whose Degrees Are Illegal To Use In Texas" for example.

    Don’t believe it, here’s the link:


  50. Frank Johnson says:

    And you’re who?

    • Ben says:

      I’m going to assume from your comment that you intend it as a “What gives you the right to criticize ‘Dr.’ Vakin, Random-Guy-with-a-Blog?”

      Here’s the difference: Vaknin is making an argument from authority—trust my diagnosis because I have a [worthless] doctorate and am ostensibly an expert on NPD. I’m making the argument that since Vaknin’s article consists of nothing more than these arguments from authority, coupled with shoddy anecdotal evidence, the argument is in fact worthless. You see the difference? I need no particular authority in this case because I’m not making an argument from authority.

  51. Frank Johnson says:

    That would be the difference to you.

    • Ben says:

      Thank you for your intelligent and reasoned contributions to this discussion.

      • Frank says:

        You’re welcome, regardless of your unwillingness to answer my question. (Stay tuned for another compelling episode of "Hypervigilance Made Easy…")

      • Ben says:

        If by “my question” you mean your glib attempt to undermine the authority I’m not invoking, then you’re welcome to have a look at the Colophon. Since your question was, in fact, rhetorical, and asking not who I am but why I suppose a validity to my argument, I will refer to directly back to my initial response, which addresses the core of your question.

        Since you are apparently incapable of understanding the concept or even attempting to refute it, my response this time will once again be inadequate for you. Needless to say, since you are neither contributing to this discussion in a meaningful fashion, nor do you seem to be gaining any knowledge as a result, it would be best for all involved if you took your trolling elsewhere.

  52. Been There says:

    I’m sorry, I just have to comment. I lived with one (an NPD afflicted individual) for 19 years, and am still dealing with custody and money issues for the last 9 years. My life was a living hell then, and still is at times, as well as and especially for my children, no matter how much I try to protect them. I started to see the signs in Obama during his campaign, and all of the ‘god-like" qualities his supporters were attributing to him. Living in the chicago area, I also khow how he got where he is (knocking others out of races, etc) and that disturbed me. I think Vaknin is right on the money, and his book describes my ex and our relationship (and the ones with his children)in detail. He knows what he’s talking about.

  53. Gene says:

    Been There … anything can be made to "fit" after the fact … that’s how astrology works … your comment is as meaningless and as baseless as Vaknins. Oh & I live in Australia … no political or religious bias in my point of view.

    • Nancy says:

      Obviously you have never lived with a narcissist. How dare you tell her that her comment is meaningless. You don’t know what you are talking about. Like she said. She’s been there and seen it. If it looks like a NPD, smells like a NPD, acts like a NPD, talks like a NPD, lives like a NPD…..could it just maybe be a person with NPD? Some times it takes knowing one….to know one.

      • Ben says:

        Nancy, you’re making a classic mistake. Anecdotal evidence (i.e. “I know a narcissist, and this is just like that”) does not equate to much of anything. The very fact you have have known a narcissist means that you may be more likely to see the trait where it doesn’t exist. This is why diagnosis is left to mental health professionals with credentials.

        This is why neither Vaknin nor you are qualified to diagnose anyone.

      • Nancy says:

        Sorry, you are painting with way too broad a stroke. What qualifies you to tell me that I am making a classic mistake.?….You are so funny! Having known a narcissist may also mean that I recognize what IS there not what ISN’T!!! There is a difference in diagnosing someone and observing obvious behaviors. If Obama is not a narcissist, pass him an Oscar for best portrayal!!

      • Gene says:

        Nancy, I obviously didn’t make myself clear enough (or maybe you over-reacted)to my pointing out that "Been There’s" assesment of Obama is meaningless as she doesn’t even know the guy, never even spoken to him. The fact that she lived with an NPD in no way makes her an expert in psychology, and most likely makes her see "REDS UNDER THE BED" more often than a person that never had her unfortunate experience. Professional shrinks wouldn’t dare to assume to make judgments on the psychological state of mind of someone they had never spoken to or observed at length. If you wish to leap to conclusions how about the possibility that Been There’s partner was "normal" (she never states he was professionally diagnosed as such)and that it was her that had the problem, and thus saw him as a NPD???

        I once ,on a first & last date, opened the driver’s car door for a "lady" as she was about to enter her own car. She went off her brain about how my action was one of "trying to control her". Apparently her X boyfriend had been very controlling, but she was now so damaged, that she construed every act as an attempt to control her. I couldn’t believe anyone could get so twisted .. about a common courtesy.. But she was. I would not recommend her point of view in an assesment of controlling behaviour in others, as having experienced it, she believed she could see it everywhere in everyone.

      • Nancy says:

        Just read the above comment to Ben….too much time spent on you guys already…and Gene, you were clear as a bell,…wrong…but clear.

      • Gene says:

        I think it’s a sad day in this world when housewives and a self confessed mentally disturbed writer can judge & condemn someone they don’t even know a fraction about, as having some form of mental disorder Even if they believe they have had some kind of "personal" experience. Geees it’s as bad & sad as a religious belief based on "personal experience".

        Talk about judgmental …. you sound like my X …. is that you Marg?????

      • Been There says:

        First, I am not Marg, second I’m not a housewife…I’m a doctor, and that makes me probably a whole lot more qualified than you to comment. This is all going nowhere…I am confused as to why this continues…I was just expressing an opinion. So if you have to have the last word, then say it and so be it.

      • Nancy says:

        Gene….never mind…it is obviously beyond your understanding. But I will say this. Poor Marg..I’m guessing she is pretty happy to be your X. BTW? Who said I was a housewife? I am a teacher with a degree in psychology. Hmmmmm… You do sound a bit judgmental and condemning…

      • Gene says:

        For both of you…

        Yeah .. and I’m the blue fairy… don’t you know.

      • Nancy says:

        Haha [snip]!…finally…you’ve said something that makes sense!! Haha[snip]!

        Edited by webmaster: fewer pointless string of “haha” please

  54. Derek says:

    Ben –

    You’re right on the money. It baffles me how mindless and motivated by fear most of the responses were to your post. When people are afraid they call it narcissism, Fascism, Communism, Socialism, etc. When they embrace it, they call it charisma. Of course the guy has some degree of an ego; otherwise, he wouldn’t be in that arena. My guess is most of these people would have called Christ a narcissist, according to the assessments they used to respond to you.

    One of the points that you hit on the head for me throughout your responses is the fact that many of the conservative leaning supporters don’t use logic or facts to substantiate their arguments. Rather, they draw upon anecdotal information or even rumors that they take to be true.

    In light of an extraordinarily dark time in our history, what’s been troubling to me since Obama took office is that the Republican elected officials haven’t offered anything intelligent or constructive to the process. Other than screaming Socialism or Communism, their only contributions have been to dig their heels in and spew the tired, worn out quips about the perils of higher taxes and bigger government (even though the government grew in size and power over the previous eight years and even though they didn’t raise taxes, they deferred important investments in energy, education, healthcare, infrastructure, etc. that we will have to pay for later, not to mention the "generational theft" they bestowed upon us through the last 7 1/2 years of a war that was not justified). And, their other contributions have been to sling mud at what’s being done and to have created a sense of fear that has been effective in perpetuating an already dismal economic situation.

    What could the elected Republican officials be doing? Well, since the Democrats control congress, they know they will not get radical changes to some of the major proposals; however, they could be offering reasonable changes that would tweak the current proposals and potentially make them better for the whole. They appear not to be as concerned about helping the current situation as they are about trying to position their party for the next election. If the public’s reaction to how they gambled with Palin and McCain’s smear strategy is any barometer for public sentiment, I think they are risking a lot with this current strategy.

    Despite what the comments to your post might suggest, I think there are a lot of Americans out there that see through the scare tactics and the ridiculous distortions of reality.

    It was refreshing to read your post and corresponding responses.

  55. Nancy says:

    To ever wrote this article….you obviously have never lived with a person with NPD. There is a major difference in being egotistical and being narcissistic. But ya know what? I think if Michelle Obama had written this article herself from her personal experience you would still defend Obama. Do you perhaps have a problem with the Jewish writer? Because what ever you can say and try to wax so "eloquently" about him…he nailed Obama on NPD.

  56. Been There says:

    Thanks Nancy. it seems you may have some experience also. Ben, I guess you are right in one aspect…I am a bit fearful. But the key is that I was not afraid first, and then started looking for things wrong with Obama. I am fearful BECAUSE of what I’ve seen with him and more so with his ardent supporters. It’s the blind loyalty to him and an unwillingness to see any faults, no matter how obvious, that I see with so many people NO MATTER WHAT that makes me afraid for our country. With no one questioning him, he could get away with too much and put our country in danger. It’s happened before in history with charming and charismatic people, and it will happen again. I just hope it doesn’t happen to us.

  57. Been There says:

    I Agree Nancy. And how can anyone say we don’t "know " him because we haven’t had a personal conversation with him? He has been on TV now just about every day for over two years, and if you paid attention to the news, as we all should have been while electing a president, I think we have gotten to know him very well.

    • Gene says:

      OK … so you ladies believe that the persona you see portrayed by any "celebrity" in the media … or, ESPECIALLY a candidate for the presidency of the USA, is the way they really are. The are really "being themselves" .. and wouldn’t for a moment be consider or possibly be putting on an act to convey an air of leadership and self assurance in support of furthering their wish to be SEEN as THE candidate that can do the job???

      How naive and gullible.

      I expect that with your past experiences, you must consider most stage and screen actors … let alone celebrities of any sort, to be NPD’s. I’m sure most could be made to fit the profile. It’s reds under the bed again … we’ve learnt nothing have we ladies???

      PS: Loved you witty retort to my previous post Nancy …. very clever. I can see exactly why you’re OBVIOUSLY a teacher with a degree in psychology ……. or not.

      • late commenter says:

        Gene, "putting on an act to convey an air of ladership and self assurance in support of furthering their wish to be SEEN as THE candidate" is, itself, narcissistic. Is this not precisely what the blog author is accusing Vaknin of? The creation and fostering of an elaborate false persona or pseudo-self which one hides behind to absorb attention and adoration from others is core narcissistic behaviour. And yes, celebrities are far more narcissistic than the general population.

        Not only that, but most celebrities are heavily narcissistic before even finding fame – public attention and media distortion do not create narcissists. Rather, the opposite is true. Narcississts become celebrities, politicians and other public figures because those fields are tailor-made for narcissistic individuals to thrive in. This is outlined well in a study of celebrity and narcissism published in the Journal of Research in Personality in 2006.

        As we can see from this article and the resulting comments, narcissistic behaviour has become so commonly portrayed in the media, many people are beginning to view it as normal, healthy, even enviable and desirable. While I’m no fan of Vaknin as an individual, the importance of recognizing these pathological traits in our public figures and "leaders" should not be easily dismissed.

  58. Nancy says:

    Ok. Gene..last try here. Yes, I have a B.S. in Psychology and teaching degrees for teach Early Childhood and Special Ed. K-12. Does that mean I can’t have a sense of humor too?? I think it would serve you well to look up the difference between someone who has NPD and someone who is just egotistical. There is a difference. I think most screen and stage actors may have big egos but that hardly makes them Narcissistic. Someone with NPD has a true character flaw or defect, not just an annoying or overbearing personality. Someone with NPD can be the most charming, smooth, and charismatic person in the world. That is what is so frightening about them. And I would hardly leave it up to the media to help me form my opinions of anybody. If that were the case I would think Obama was even greater than sliced bread and that George Bush was a total idiot. I don’t believe either of those things. At any rate.. I am finished with you and this topic. It’s been "fun" but I really have more to do than this. So I am done. Knock yourself out should you decide to respond. I won’t be reading it or responding. But, ya know what?? Time will tell. Just don’t afraid to admit you could be wrong or that a woman taught you something.

  59. not taken in says:

    Friday, March 13, 2009
    William A. Jacobson
    Associate Clinical Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, Ithaca, NY

    Will Krugman Call Obama Narcissist-in-Chief?

    In August 2007, Paul Krugman, in an op-ed titled "It’s All About Them" famously labeled Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, the then-leading Republican candidates for President, "narcissists" because they allegedly viewed real problems from the perspective of how they were viewed:

    What’s now clear is that the two men most likely to end up as the G.O.P. presidential nominee are cut from the same cloth.

    This probably isn’t a coincidence. Arguably, the current state of the Republican Party is such that only extreme narcissists have a chance of getting nominated….

    All of which leaves us with a political question. Most voters are thoroughly fed up with the current narcissist in chief. Are they really ready to elect another?

    Krugman’s clarion call, like so many other NY Times sirens, reverberated throughout the left wing blogosphere.

    I wonder what Krugman thinks of this Obama statement regarding the crushing stock market swings (most down swings) since Obama took office:
    “A smidgen of good news and suddenly everything is doing great. A little bit of bad news and ooohh , we’re down on the dumps,” Obama said. “And I am obviously an object of this constantly varying assessment. I am the object in chief of this varying assessment.”
    So Obama screams that the sky is falling so he can pass his stimulus plan, then swings to the positive so that he can pass his budget, and the nation’s financial fortunes swing with Obama’s rhetoric. Trillions of market value lost, retirements in jeopardy because of Obama’s political games, but it’s not about us.

    No, it’s all about Obama. He is the victim. He is the object in chief of every one’s assessment.

    He who writes autobiographies but not biographies, who gives speeches which he declares to be historic, who recognizes his place in history long before he has created history. He who views this nation as but a stage upon which he creates his life story. He who expressed his love for this country because nowhere else could his story be possible. It’s all about him.

    Krugman’s columns appear under the banner "The Conscience of a Liberal." Will Krugman’s conscience lead him to give Obama the same assessment Krugman gave Romney, Giuliani and Bush. Will Krugman label Obama the "Narcissist-in-Chief"?

    Don’t hold your breath, since we are talking about "the conscience of a liberal."

    Source is here. —Ed.

  60. ColorMeRed says:

    You are the idiot. Obama is arrogant, over-confident, deceitful, uncaring, and fully intends to destroy America.