Narcissism on the Internet:
Sites and Essays
It is natural to want to support victims, but supporting victims is not identical to arming a lynch mob with lack of knowledge and misrepresentation. ~ Anonymous
NEW: // Sam Vaknin: Diagnosed Psychopath (New)
Over the time spent on the internet trying to make sense of what happened with my encounter with an online psychopath  I came to realise that there was a load of misinformation out there, on sites and in essays I encountered. I had garnered information, ostensibly pertaining to those with narcissistic personality disorder, only to come to the realisation, in time, that the inner life of disordered narcissism described, was more indicative of a psychopath, a slippery term in itself,  rather than the other.
What to do?
When I joined support groups I was overwhelmed with new and old theories about how it was my fault, and actually very little that had to do with online psychopaths, even while a lot of the psychodynamics were relevant as in NPD, though more severely so.
I endured a Narcissistic Personality Disorder support group where I should have known better but was so desperate for a place to feel less alone. I made the mistake of trusting someone disordered who I thought was earnest in helping survivors to recover, not realising this person is probably a psychopath. The capricious deletions should have been a hint. Moreover, I found that site in particular to be a breeding ground for all sorts of disturbed and mendacious people, for opportunists who now have gone on to breed more disturbance and misinformation on their own sites.
The following are my considered opinions and a warning about some sites and essays and "research" I have encountered; I consider them significant for spreading misinformation and deserving of a caveat. I have a solid background in psychology and I am also the survivor of an encounter with an emotionally sadistic psychopath. I was also trained for rigorous thought and research (thank you McMaster University, and my grad school ), so it's not like I fell into this making up theories as I go along.
I admit this bias: Most support groups and theories blame the victim/survivor, however unconsciously which, IMO, is anathema to survivors of encounters with psychopathic types. IMO and in my experience, there is nothing in the life of the survivor that caused the encounter with, or the behaviour of, someone disordered.
I have seen sites that create hypervigilance about psychopaths and NPD or any other disorder, even the mentally ill. Sites that load up on supposed symptoms that might trumpet a psychopath or "malignant narcissism", taken to the Nth degree of absurdity. Assertions that any less than a harmonious relationship may be founded upon verbal abuse and emotional abuse as the "victim" perceives it to be; and there are many to happily support that view. As if the DSM, the legal definitions and the clinical definitions weren't confusing enough, someone comes along on the net and decides there are way more psychopaths and "N"s than we ever imagined! And far more ways to identify their peculiarities, symptoms, traits, behaviour, than the governing psychiatric bodies ever imagined.
I think not.
Moreover, my major disagreement with a lot of what I've read on the net is the role of the target/victim/survivor. Call it "co-dependence", call it "hysteria" or "histrionic or borderline personality type", call it "echo personality disorder", all pathologize the victim. Who blames us? Those who have not been through it. Nor is some bigtime pathological narcissist or psychopath going to be the one to tell me about the dynamics and my psyche OR even begin to describe to me what the aftermath is like for survivors; for one thing, consider the source.
Disordered narcissists are not taking over the planet. Selfish, self-centred, egotistical people exist, and we have dealt with this from the beginning of creation, it is not new. "Narcissists" are not lurking around every corner (ok, perhaps in LA :)) to do us in. Nor are there psychopaths slinking behind every bush and in every office (though there are a preponderance of them on the internet and they are known to be statistically overrepresented in mental health areas and law ). Even the abusive are not necessarily without hope for redemption. The net has pathologised us all. And, hungry for information, we bit.
I think that misinformation is taking over the internet particularly in the newly "glamorous" area of narcissism. Listed here are sites and essays which I think promulgate victimisation- that is, indiscriminately pathologise us, the survivors; some, also, in effect, attempt to quantify our experience and bind our thoughts and feelings to the author's biases. And, on the Internet, there are other sites that incite hypervigilance and create a world bereft of kindness, where "N"s lurk in the shadows, in nooks and crannies, and we have to remain in "defence" mode....ever the potential or defective victim.....
........And then there are sites which mitigate the above...........
Narcissism/Psychopath Support and Healing Resources
Echo No Longer; The Recovery Process of the Partner of the Person Suffering from a Narcissistically Impaired Personality. Mary Ann Borg Cunen, M.A.
Unprofessional and unethical use of subjects who were not consulted regarding permission to use said quotes for research. Lack of ethics includes the people who supplied/agreed to using the quotes for submission to a conference and later to dissemination of paper on the Internet. Unscientific; "echo" is conceptualised as a predisposition to pathological dependency, exemplified by the term, "Echo Dependent Personality"; finds the victim of narcissistic abuse as defective and blameworthy.
This is a site that purports to make narcissism/Narcissistic Personality Disorder easy to understand. Lack of cohesion, cobbled together from largely speculative and unreliable and untraceable sources it seems. Narcissism is not easy to understand, and this confuses and misleads further. The more pages are added, the more it becomes clear that this "Traci Spencer, MMFT, CACII" has never written an academic paper in her life, nor is willing to fully make an accounting of both, seemingly spurious sources, and some possibly legitimate resources- this, amidst material recycled once again from a single predominant "authority" who already saturates the Internet.
I have read a lot of this site. Who is this Robert Burney? No credentials, only a lot of psychobabble on "co-dependency". IMO, there is not a single line of writing that I would take seriously. The purported "book" is self-published. What's worse, though, is that it is promoted on some support sites without question.
(Update 2009: MSN groups has closed, but the NPD and Psychopath groups, respectively, live on on Yahoo and other bulletin boards, run by femfree and saturated with S. Vaknin spam/misinformation. More to follow.)
Exemplify the quote above by 'Anonymous'. Though there are some good links, and some supportive people, it's the gateway to misinformation. The links are rife with trivialities, so that one has to wade through a morass of irrelevancy. Anyone can use a search engine and the managers surely have, uncritically. There is also significant crossover and cross-posting to both sites [and now, to another site that has been co-opted]and blurring of distinctions between narcissism, NPD, sociopathy, psychopathy. Also, these sites promote the work of a self-described NPD everywhere and especially on their sites as well as the work of authors cited above. The groups and, many of their links, tend to implicitly pathologize the victims/survivors of narcissistic abuse. To reiterate, they exemplify the quote above, and trivialise all aspects of mental health and mental disorder- that is, both the pathological narcissist/psychopath and survivors of their abuse, alike. These groups are managed by 'femfree', who deletes any challenges to the party line. (Addendum: still quoted is: The Psychopathic Style" A Documentary by Marion Trent and John McCormick ~Funnily, this "documentary" has never seen the light of day). Currently, a portal to the main site, and little more. It's deader than Kenny.
Once run by the steady hand of a knowledgeable person, has recently been co-opted by femfree and the other managers of the aforementioned MSN groups. Now merely a mirror site of the above, the original theses and information on which the site was based having been removed, and replaced with advertising for the usual support sites, and promoting SV's works [more Spam]. It definitely has been emptied of all "soul".
NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER - PRIVATE FORUM
More of the same, by the same above. "N-Partners", another MSN group is slowly morphing into more of the same above.
Group discussion about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of multitudinous sites on the Internet belonging to Sam Vaknin. He is a self-proclaimed "malignant narcissist". Though his writings purport to be the inner life of one disordered individual, unfortunately they distort too much about NPD to be credible. This is a recent quote: "NPD is the epidemic of our time - stealthy, pernicious, ubiquitous, unrecognized." [Unrecognized? How convenient for such an assertion with nothing to back it up except one self-described NPDer's opinion].
(Update 2009: Groups have closed on Suite 101 but Vaknin's spam continues.)
Moreover, Mr. Vaknin's Ph.D. is not in psychology; and, in fact, it is from a diploma mill. His certification in counseling is from an online "school". .There is nothing in Mr Vaknin's CV that suggests a BA or MA in anything, never mind psychology. Mr Vaknin's emphasis in his CV seems to be/have been on economics.
This is what he has to say about his "credentials": I am not a mental health professional, as I state very prominently on my Web site. The content of this Web site [SV's] is based on correspondence since 1996 with hundreds of people suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (narcissists) and with thousands of their family members, friends, therapists, and colleagues.[That does not make this scientific research- it merely consists of anecdotal evidence, which has no authority in the scientific community. See: Narcissism and Grandiosity]
I passed a "Counselling Techniques" exam, provided online by Brainbench.
Here are the results:
Results Without A Name or Description
Take care there. Sam
[Counselling techniques without practice? Huh? I spent many many many hours with clients and with supervisors to assess my techniques and skills and abilities. And doesn't Brainbench use "open book" exams? This is so basic, to ask such questions.]
Also the pathological narcissist's worldview is aligned with his disorder. IMO, SV pathologises the target/victim/survivor as may his followers by proxy ("followers by proxy" are defined as those who maintain BBs and Support Groups whose posted quotes by SV dominate their sites and other sites where they post). IMO, zero credibility, even if they know the difference between bipolar and major depression.
S Vaknin has recently moved on to become editor of emotional/verbal abuse topics on Suite 101. I find this to be the ultimate irony. That the abuser gets to tell us, the survivors of abuse what we are about. And what we go through. The man is self-described disordered. Can anyone doubt his lack of empathy and inability to understand the point of view of the victim? And he is writing about the trauma that we suffer from narcissistic abuse? He is now writing a book using posts by abuse survivors on the Internet, that is, from anecdotal evidence, where anyone can make up anything, and without prior consent.
When announced that he was becoming editor, this is what his ardent follower, femfree, wrote: This is wonderful news!! Congratulations. Your unparalleled resources, assistance and knowledge to survivors is exemplary. This is an exciting and innovative resource that will be most highly recommended everywhere!![It's called 'Spam' ~I]
NO. His advice to survivors and anyone else, imo, is far less than exemplary. And so is his continuing manipulation of the Internet and the discussion group 
Pathologizing the Victim by SV (2004)[sic]
This essay is a example of dangerous distortion, not a point of view one may see in a thoughtful, responsible essay on therapy and therapists- this essay in effect says to trust no one, and pathologises therapists, portraying many as potentially abusive. The writer has no idea of what is best for the abused, no idea of the dynamics of a therapeutic relationship. And the advice given in the final paragraph, is so harmful, and so out-to-lunch, that it can seriously damage a survivor's desire/efforts to find help by instilling doubt,lack of confidence or belief and trust in the helping professions. The writer asserts:
Thus, an abuse victim who declines to have any further contact with her batterer - is bound to be chastised by her therapist for obstinately refusing to constructively communicate with her violent spouse.
Better to play ball and adopt the sleek mannerisms of your abuser. Sadly, sometimes the only way to convince your therapist that it is not all in your head and that you are a victim - is by being insincere and by staging a well-calibrated performance, replete with the correct vocabulary. Therapists have Pavlovian reactions to certain phrases and theories and to certain "presenting signs and symptoms" (behaviors during the first few sessions). Learn these - and use them to your advantage. It is your only chance.
Not only is there a narcissist or psychopath under every bush and beside every 'couch', but there are also inferior robotic 'Pavlovian' types in the helping professions, and the world is hostile and unkind- a breeding bed of paranoia and persecution. The author has no understanding whatsoever of the dynamics of abuse. Just a glib surface rendering. Such advice is unconscionable, to suggest manipulating the therapist just like a psychopath might- to hold therapists in contempt, just like a psychopath would- to assert that therapists are prone to a conditioned response, reducing their responses to the likes of rats and pigeons and all other animals. Yet this too is supported by the groups mentioned above. And on the internet, neither he nor they will be held to account. All he has to do is say "he is not a mental health professional" [but I play one on the Internet]. Caveat emptor! Consider the source. This is all opinion, and a misuse of psychology as we know it.
The Cyber Narcissist, by SV
...."' ever the intimidating bully" - is not accustomed to such resistance'" [by others on the net, in groups, I presume]. This rather sounds like you can show no opposition , must play "nice", or be labelled a narcissist. The author also suggests that therapeutic dyamics are at play in groups where cyberpaths play, which in my view is just plain silly, not to mention a distortion of the concept and actuality of therapy. With the really disordered in the mix, the environment becomes toxic and illusory.
Compare the above with Wendy Koeningsmann's brilliant analysis of Psychopathic Types At Play on the Internet (reflects my experience to an uncanny degree); and The FBI Profile Of the Mental Rapist
Both these assessments do not profile a cyber narcissist as essentially an argumentative, belligerent, obnoxious bully. No, these types are far subtler than that and that is why people can be manipulated and fooled. And to make psychopathic play in groups akin to therapy is to distort the meaning of true therapy. Again, it seems that the author has little conception of what really happens in groups where cyber narcissists play. Or perhaps he is trying to deflect from the true psychopathic types/narcissists that do populate the internet (but hey, I guess that would place me then, in the paranoid category! :)) - the ones that on the surface display true narcissism in action, as Dr. Bruce Gregory so nicely articulates:
When the narcissistic defense is operating in an interpersonal or group setting, the grandiose part does not show its face in public. In public it presents a front of patience, congeniality, and confident reasonableness.
For stories, hear one side- the story of a survivor, me, who not only had an encounter with my own personal sociopath, but a guru wannabe, Sam Vaknin, and his followers. An excerpt:
"The book was never intended to help anyone. Above all, it was meant to attract attention and adulation (narcissistic supply) to its author, myself. Being in a guru-like status is the ultimate narcissistic experience."
Follow the FACTS here: Malignant Self-Love/Narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Sam Vaknin Revisited
NEW: Sam Vaknin: Diagnosed Psychopath
// A Soul With No Footprints //
Do not believe anything on the mere authority of teachers or priests. Accept as true and as the guide to your life only that which accords with your own reason and experience, after thorough investigation. Accept only that which contributes to the well-being of yourself and others. ~ The Buddha
Anatomy of Malignant Narcissism // Sam Vaknin: Diagnosed Psychopath (New)
// A Soul With No Footprints // Ten Ways to Freedom from Narcissists // a href="http://narcissism-support.blogspot.com/2009/01/pathologizing-victim-codependency-facts.html">Pathologizing the Victim:Codependency Facts // Healing From Narcissism Abuse // Letting Go // Healing: Leaving the Net
Can Pathological Narcissists Get Better? // Is "Mr Hyde" A Fake? // "Projection" Made Easy
Psychopath Symptoms Checklist // Conscience Continuum: Paranoid Narcissism Spectrum // Antisocial Sociopath Psychopath // Narcissistic Grandiosity: Real Life Examples // InnerLandscape of the Socialized Psychopath // Socialized Psychopath: Social Suicide; Is It Genetic? // CaseStudy: The Physician // CaseStudy: The Psychiatrist
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