Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fallen judge speaks

Fallen judge speaks at Sage College

By: Robert Cristo, The Record


Wachtler, 77, who served 13 months in federal prison in 1993 on harassment charges, makes no bones about how his successful career came crashing down like a ton of bricks the day FBI agents hauled him away in handcuffs for stalking and harassing his former mistress and her then 14-year-old daughter.

Instead of blaming his crimes on being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Wachtler faults his own political ambitions and narcissism for acts that caused him to resign from the bar and never again be allowed to practice law.

"This was my own ego, ambitions, narcissism ... I was responsible and I paid a price," said Wachtler. "I was aware of what was going on, but I played mind games with myself and I thought I was being very clever."

On Tuesday, Wachtler spoke to a packed crowd inside Sage College's Bush Memorial Hall on mental illness, recovery and redemption.

The event, sponsored by Unity House, served as a perfect setting for Wachtler to tell his story considering many of the people in the audience struggle with mental issues similar to his.

"My whole purpose here is to say if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone," said Wachtler, who before his problems was being touted as the next governor of New York. "We have to get mental illness out of the closet and get rid of the stigma - that stigma kept me from seeking help. So, the message is there shouldn't be shame in mental illness and getting treatment for it," he added.

During his address, Wachtler recounted painful memories in prison when he was placed in solitary confinement for 40 days for his own safety after he was stabbed by another inmate.

He was shackled from head-to-toe, placed in a small cell and fed a potato based bread meal every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wachtler contends such deplorable treatment only forced him further into a mental malaise.

Even the one hour a day he got for exercise was a nightmare.

"They put you in this birdcage where the other prisoners can see you and they torture you saying 'look at the nut,"' said Wachtler, who is calling on the state to ban some of the treatment he and many others have endured.

"So that's the wonderful hour you get ... if you're not mentally ill before, you will be after you get out," he added.

Wachtler recounts these horrible memories not to get the audience feeling sorry for him, but to drive home the point that he was actually one of the lucky ones considering his wealth, privilege and abundance of family support around him.

"I'm not telling you this for pity," said Wachtler. "I'm out, but think of the person who doesn't have family, friends, money - they will end up back in prison."

Before Wachtler's plunge into bipolar madness, he made many notable accomplishments on the bench, which include playing a key role in making rape in the context of a marriage a criminal offense.

He also led the charge that led to broadening of protections for disabled and racial minorities.

Wachtler was also quite famous for such repeated phrases as: "Prosecutors have so much control over grand juries they could convince them to indict a ham sandwich," a phrase that is still used in by attorneys, both real and the ones who play them on TV.

These days, Wachtler is urging legislators to create a mental health ward in Queens, which would have housing, medical evaluation and court system for the mentally ill all on the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center site.

Those who attended the event, who suffer from mental illnesses and wished to remain anonymous, called Wachtler's story an inspiration and felt they could have no better or more powerful voice to speak on their behalf.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A particularly intelligent malignant narcissist

Peter Braunstein: Guilty.

New York City’s fake firefighter rapist has been found guilty of his crimes. Peter Braunstein, a former fashion writer and playwright, was convicted on May 23, 2007 of kidnapping, burglary, robbery, and sexual abuse. Ten charges in all. To Braunstein’s mental illness defense, the jury said, “sure, dude, whatever. Guilty.”

Braunstein was wearing FDNY garb acquired via the Internet when he entered an apartment building the night of October 31, 2005. Braunstein set off a smoke bomb and covered his face with a visor, talked his way into the apartment of a former female co-worker. Once inside, he knocked the woman out and tied her up. For the next 13 hours, Peter Braunstein made his victim’s life a living hell.
Then he vanished, for a while.

At my original crime blog,, I had an entire archive of entries about Peter Braunstein, most of them written while the man was on the lam. The first link takes you to an capture of the original category. Those entries were also carried over when I created Huff’s Crime Blog.

The notice received by my blog entries and an article I wrote for the Crime Library ended up seeing me me on a plane to New York for a guest appearance on Dateline NBC, where I discussed what I’d uncovered. That appearance also earned me the sobriquet “the Singing Journalist.” I objected to the label at first, then I decided to embrace it.

I didn’t follow the Braunstein saga too closely after his arrest. For one thing, it was quite a while before Peter went to trial. For another, I realized that Peter Braunstein had achieved the recognition he obviously craved. His course was consciously chosen. He’d set out to become something of a legendary psycho, a la Andrew Cunanan, and he’d very nearly succeeded. I didn’t like the idea that I might add any more to that bizarre need he had for infamy.

Court TV has published excerpts from a diary Braunstein wrote while he was on the run from the law in late 2005. There you can get an interesting look inside the mind of a particularly intelligent malignant narcissist, his peculiar obsessions and motivations.

What’s most interesting to note, though, is how the overall gestalt of Peter Braunstein’s writing did not really change.

Braunstein was obsessed with Andy Warhol and the relationship Warhol had with heiress Edie Sedgwick. He wrote a play about the pair, titled Andy and Edie. To promote the play, Braunstein created*/

For no reason other than further his obsession with an ex, Peter Braunstein created blog-like pages attached to the site, and some of what he wrote there seems to foreshadow what was written in the excerpts published by Court TV.

Here’s an excerpt from “Startling Revelation: How I Became Edie Sedgwick As a Result of My Two Years of Emotional Starvation with the Dreaded ‘BioHazard’,” written and posted online by Peter Braunstein in 2004:

"It’s almost unbearably paradoxical, but the sad fact of the matter is that pleasant relationships are not always a balm for creativity. For most of the Nineties I was cozily ensconced in a loving, emotionally nourishing relationship with a ravishingly beautiful woman, and I was semi-productive on a literary level: that’s when I first got into journalism, began writing for the Voice, started making a name for myself. But it took the hard breakup of that union after 9 years, when I left that woman for a really bad relationship, that my creative life went full-throttle-over-the-edge-magnificent. It’s the nasty truth of how art is created: through a crucible of pain, suffocating neglect, paranoia, and malice that wrecks some spirits - but propels others to astounding heights…"

While on the run in December, 2005, Braunstein was working the same territory in his mind:

"Some days i want to call it quits, never by giving up but by doing something so heedless that it will trigger the massive gunfight w/cops & my immediate death, but then i read something like new york mag cover story and i’m just filled with resolve & determination all over again. That has been the most ambitious attempt so for to retrofit my entire pre-biohazard life into some deterministic countdown to depravity. Forget the fact that for 9 years with debra, a supportive girl with a soul, i sort of thrived and never considered even considered criminality while one i met larkworthy my whole life became about cops and mental institutions…"

As a writer, I wanted to find something interesting in Braunstein’s own words. I have a feeling a lot of people with similar professions felt that way when they read about the man.

But he was, in the end, a perpetually angry sociopath who was bent on blaming others for his problems.

Peter Braunstein may have been able to do some decent writing, muster some wit here and there — but that was all that distinguished him from a million other violent, sexually aggressive men.

Braunstein’s state-mandated punishment is about to begin. The media, and society, could add a rider to his sentence if they decided he just wasn’t worth talking about anymore.

Obscurity, for an ego as huge as Braunstein’s, would sting just as much as confinement.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Individuation and Narcissism

Individuation and Narcissism: The Psychology of Self in Jung and Kohut

by Mario Jacoby

ISBN: 0415064643
ISBN-13: 9780415064644

From the Publisher

Recent developments in Freudian psychoanalysis, particularly the work of Kohut and Winnicott, have led to a convergence with the Jungian position. Individuation and Narcissism attempts to overcome the doctrinal differences between the different schools of depth psychology, while taking into account the characteristic approaches of each. Through a close examination of the actual experience of self, the process of individuation, narcissism, and narcissistic personality disorder, Mario Jacoby demonstrates the benefits of a cross-fertilization of ideas and techniques for the professional analyst. He also provides a comprehensive discussion of the Freud/Jung controversy and the more recent research on the self for the student of analytical psychology.

Customer Reviews

Kohut and Jung, April 21, 2004
By Sam Vaknin "author of Malignant Self Love - N... (Skopje, Macedonia)
No other concept in depth psychology provoked so much controversy and spawned so many schools of thought as the Self. This book is a magnificent tour d'horizon, spanning the crucial decades from Freud to Jung and therefrom to Kohut.

The book demonstrates that, in a way, Heinz Kohut merely took Jung a step further and invented a new vocabulary to rephrase some of Jung's insights. He said that pathological narcissism is not the result of excessive narcissism, libido or aggression.

It is the result of defective, deformed or incomplete narcissistic (self) structures. Kohut postulated the existence of core constructs which he named: the Grandiose Exhibitionistic Self and the Idealized Parent Imago (see below). Children entertain notions of greatness (primitive or naive grandiosity) mingled with magical thinking, feelings of omnipotence and omniscience and a belief in their immunity to the consequences of their actions. These elements and the child's feelings regarding its parents (which are also painted by it with a brush of omnipotence and grandiosity) - coagulate and form these constructs.

The child's feelings towards its parents are reactions to their responses (affirmation, buffering, modulation or disapproval, punisment, even abuse).

These responses help maintain the self-structures. Without the appropriate responses, grandiosity, for instance, cannot be transformed into adult ambitions and ideals.

To Kohut, grandiosity and idealization were positive childhood development mechanisms. Even their reappearance in transference should not be considered a pathological narcissistic regression. am Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited".

A Wonderful Cross-Fertilization, March 2, 2002
By Andrew Fieleke (Lexington, MA USA)
This clearly written book offers sensitive and empathic reflections on the narcissistic condition. It does so by frequent references to the ideas formulated by Heinz Kohut and his school of thought ("Self Psychology"). Kohut had many compelling insights into narcissism and his theories marked a paradigm shift in psychoanalysis. Jacoby compares Kohut's formulations to Jungian thought, often translating Kohut's ideas or insights into Jungian language and constructs. I found this to be extremely helpful in fleshing out some of the high-level, intuitive abstractions of the Jungian school. For example, I don't think I've ever come across a clearer presentation of the Jungian conception of individuation.

I believe this book will appeal to anyone wishing to learn more about narcissistic wounding and character structures. As Jacoby points out, narcissistic disturbances affect one's sense of identity and self-esteem and are thus implicated in almost all forms of psychic disorders. In other words, narcissism is relevant.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Controllers, Manipulators, Manipulation and Surviving

Some are manipulated, controlled, harassed, or assaulted in some way and can't figure out how they got there or how to get out. What is confusing is that the perpetrator tries to make them feel as if they deserved to be treated this way. However, these actions are never right, and they must stop.

What are some of these actions?

They include put downs, outbursts, humiliating remarks, lies, "gaslighting", rages, assaults, yelling, intimidation, threats, belittling, betrayals, judging and criticizing. The reaction can be a mixture of rage, fear, timidity or confusion.

Quite often the person controlling or manipulating is trying to define the victim so his actions are validated. If lies are told about the victim, making her appear in a negative light, the abuser then feels justified in his actions. At this point, he may enjoin others in his betrayal and manipulation by telling them lies about her, and by portraying himself as the victim he is rewarded with their sympathy.

One situation where we see this happen a lot is divorce. There is much to be gained by controlling the spouse you are divorcing and manipulating the situation to your advantage. Perhaps one spouse wants a divorce and begins attacking and criticizing the other to put them in a vulnerable position. Now, he can say, "look, you can't do anything right, you don't know what to do." She is frightened and intimidated and cowers. He tells her how the divorce will work, what "belongs" to him, what he will take and what she can have. Or, he begins the popular "she" statements to make the victim look bad with attorneys, judges, evaluators and anyone else he wants to have on his side. "She can't do anything." "She can't understand numbers" "She harasses me." "She won't stop communicating." "She's too emotional." "She can't cook." "She can't drive." "She's only after money."

Lack of Preparation
After many years of marriage and taking care of children, many women are not prepared to fight back against the lies and abuse. They become emotional and this is just what the abuser wants. It makes him look calm and in control, and the judge sees an emotionally fragile person in the woman . A victim IS emotional. It is the normal reaction to being abused. But in a divorce a controller will work very hard to convince others he is the normal one. Briefs and declarations will be written with lies and it can be very destructive. The more the manipulator convinces others of his lies, the more justified he feels and the more "alive."

One perceptive controller can engage an entire family in his "separate reality" and turn them against a family member who becomes the bewildered outcast. Or the neighbors can be "warned" of someone and the person will never know why they have been targeted. What the abusers do not realize is that their own lives will become increasingly horrific and chaotic from their abuse. They are shocked to find themselves in endless battles, litigation and paying enormous attorney fees to disentangle the escalating chaos they have created.

What can you do?
There are many things , depending on the situation. It is helpful to find a validator who can help you regain a sense of self to fight back. In conjunction with that, we speak the truth, we do not respond to nonsense as if it were reality, we escape, we help others, we protect our children, we look the abuser in the eye and say, "What are you talking about?" We make sure we are safe. We recognize our boundaries and do not let others cross them. We connect with others, and we wake up to our own strengths. Trauma can expand us and help us grow, it does not have to destroy. And we know that change is a reality, for ourselves and for the controllers. Sometimes, they wake up and see the chaos and the destruction and they stop. But we can't count on that and we have to save ourselves. If this is being used against you in a divorce, document the lies, the nonsense and the many ways he manipulates. Remain calm and the lies become obvious as the manipulator loses control. Read books and websites on narcissism, verbal abuse, and learn to recognize the signs.

You are not alone, you can define yourself, and you can survive and thrive.

If your controller is physically abusive, do not do any of the above if you sense it will harm you. Physical abusers need to be left. Contact a therapist or someone who can help you make a plan to leave. Being confrontational with a physical abuser is not the best way to take charge of the situation. Take it slow, set aside money, have a support system and be sure you have a safe place to go. Warn the police or a domestic violence shelter if you want others to knw you are afraid and might need help.

Ann Bradley

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Who is the narcissist?

Letters to the Editor
The Washington Times
26 August 2003

Parker, Colo.

Who is the narcissist?

Frederick Grab's column "Malignant narcissism" (Op-Ed, Aug. 15) left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach — but not for the reasons he intended. It began by describing Silicon Valley and its accompanying monsters and masters, then wandered through video games and how our society has become obsessed by them and accompanying volatile movies and thus has perhaps evolved many in our society into malignant narcissists, taking pleasure in causing pain or destruction to others. Up to that point I was following him, but then he made a light-year jump to Colorado and the Kobe Bryant case. (I think even his high school English teacher would have had a hard time with his train of thought on that one.)

Reading between the lines, I assume that he is accusing the 19-year-old accuser in the case of being a malignant narcissist — "causing pain and destruction to others through the use of exploitation of love or confidence." He then makes the statement that "Little Miss 19 didn't go up to see Kobe to get his autograph, did she folks?" And, "In her Star Search mind she got exactly what she came for." As a former California deputy attorney general, I think you should be ashamed of yourself, for passing judgment in the press, and certainly not in a non-accusatory manner, but with name-calling and perhaps psychic powers that none of the rest of us have. Were you there that night? Do you, unlike any of the rest of us, have direct, eyewitness accounts? Do you believe you are entitled to be judge and jury here?

Sex is not always about love, Mr. Grab, as your article would so like us to believe. It is frequently about power. In most cases, men have it and women do not. Do women have the power to tease, to look sensual, to flirt? You bet. Just as men do. Are women (and men) supposed to be able to change their minds at any time in the sexual act? I believe so.

Whatever happened between Miss 19 and Kobe Bryant may never be known by anyone but the two of them. However, malignant narcissism could have occurred just as easily on the side of Mr. Bryant. Celebrities in our society are so revered by many that it appears that some actually think they walk on water. Sports figures who break laws but are allowed to play in important games despite their offenses, movie stars who get off with slaps on the wrist for infractions of the law — these "punishments" all have the potential to lead these icons to feeling invincible. Now, add extreme body size to the picture, as in the case of Kobe Bryant, and what additional superhuman feelings might this type of celebrity have?

I am not here to say who is right and who is wrong. Perhaps Miss 19 did not use good judgment in going to Mr. Bryant's room. (Do you know many 19-year-olds who have developed good judgment yet?) Mr. Bryant, a married man, admits to not having used great judgment himself. As an accuser of abuse, do you think any 19-year-old wants to have her situation dragged through the media, with columns like yours basically accusing her of asking for what she got? It wouldn't be my choice.

Do you know that in the United States, one in three girls and one in six boys are molested by the age of 18? Do you wonder how many come forward compared to those who keep quiet out of shame and guilt and fear of being called one of many names under the sun? Of having their reputations tainted forever? I am a survivor myself. The pain and lifelong scars left by someone in a position of trust took me years to uncover and address. Had I spoken up at the time it happened, perhaps I would have dealt with it better then and throughout my life. Yet, I was too afraid to tell anyone. Now, at this point in my life, I tell everyone about my past and speak on the issue because I hope it will help others let go of their secrets and talk about their experiences, for healing comes when you can let the secret out and not let it eat at you for a lifetime.

I do not know the real story of Kobe Bryant and Miss 19. I am not here to judge. That is for the court and jury to decide. Not me. Not you. Not the media. But when people like you write columns like yours, it only makes me wonder.

Mary Jo Fay, RN, MSN, author of 'When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong.'

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Warning signs for a woman



There are so many stories about break-ups and violence and even kidnapping of female spouses or partners in the news that it made me think: What are the warning signs that should alert a woman?

There are so many stories about break-ups and violence and even kidnapping of female spouses or partners in the news that it made me think: What are the warning signs that should alert a woman? DO NOT MARRY, LIVE IN OR EVEN CONTINUE DATING a particular man. You can add to the list, OK? Here goes:

1. He tells you when he first meets you that he has found his dream-woman: Hello? How would he know that? Obviously, that statement is based only on what you look like. He doesn't know who or what you are. That statement may also have been based on where and what the two of you were doing at that time: were you at a rave party and you had both downed some Ecstasy? Were you at a scuba-diving resort and you got caught in a rip-tide? Were you both in a coffee place drinking the same kind of cappuccino? Get real. This is not a compliment. He wants to get into your pants. Period. And should you end up (God forbid) married to him, you will not be allowed to gain weight, you will be required to stay home with the children, you will be required to give up whatever it was you were both doing when you first met and, you will be forced to give up whatever it was you were doing when you first met. You are his trophy wife.

2. He can't take "NO" for an answer: You have already told him you are not interested in having lunch, dinner, coffee or tea with him. But he thinks he is better-looking than even Pierce Brosnan, so he can't believe that you would actually reject him. So, he calls you constantly. He texts you constantly. He is everywhere you are, "coincidentally." He calls and texts your friends constantly. Your friends tell you, for God's sake, just go out with him once. BEWARE. He is a narcissist, he will not stop. And should you (God forbid) decide to marry him, be aware that he will expect you to adore him, throw yourself at his feet, beg for forgiveness should you in any way put him down in public. He has no sense of humor about himself because he thinks he is the bee's knees.

3. He wants to know where you are very minute of the day: Girls, this is not love. This is the first sign of an abusive personality. Does he text you every hour? Does he call you every hour? Does he ask you where you are, or are you required to tell him where you are every hour? Does he tell you that your friends don't like you as much as he does? Does he cause you to break dates with your friends because he needs you? Does he tell you that he loves you more than your parents or siblings love you? Have you woken up one morning to discover that you are no longer called or invited by your friends to parties, out-of-town trips, and gimmicks? Is your family asking you why you no longer go to their little dinners and celebrations? Should you (God forbid) decide to marry him, be aware that you will be abused. There is no exception to this.

4. He tells you he is "in a meeting" and so could not answer your calls: OK, once in a while, he will be in a meeting and will not be able to take your calls, or return your texts promptly. But "meetings" are great excuses for liars. Coupled with lying about the existence of a love-child from a previous relationship, or whether or not he ever dated a particular woman, or what kind of job he has, or fill in the blanks - this man will deceive you forever. Should you (God forbid) decide to marry him, be aware that you will become paranoid and be an emotional wreck. You will never know what the truth is and what a lie is. You will become a nag: where were you? Why are you home so late? Where did you go for the weekend? Questions which bug men no end, but questions to which you will demand answers.

5. Finally, he shouts at you, calls you stupid, hits you and you are only dating: Break off with him NOW. He will not change, marriage makes him worse. You are his chattel, his possession, his trophy. You are a battered girlfriend, and trust me: you will be a battered wife. You may even die.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Winning the Game

One thing I know for sure: If you need a narcissist, or if they can even just delude themselves into thinking you need them for anything, you aren't going to win.

I think this mainly applies to a primary source of narcissistic supply in the narcissist's life. That would be someone close to him or her, someone the narcissist regularly gets a step up on.

If they think they can deny you anything you want, look out. They will play Keep Away.

If they do anything for you, look out: they will make you pay by making you feel like two cents waiting for change. As though some negligible thing they do to accommodate you were a big deal. That's because in their Magical Thinking Machine it is a big deal for God Almighty to interrupt the management of the universe for the sake of accommodating the insignificant needs of a bug like you.

They will act as though it is really putting them out. This is a hard one. For, if God Almighty is so mighty, it should be easy for her to move heaven and earth for you. Therefore, why all the whining and catastrophizing?

So, to understand a narcissist, don't think rationally like that. Think backwards instead. If you think backwards, like a narcissist does, you see it quite the other way around. It seems that a bug like you is expecting way too much to ask anything - ANYTHING, however small - of God Almighty!

To "pretend" that, she must ACT like it's terrible that you ask this of her. It's her way of letting you know that you are crud (= she is God Almighty by comparisson), so that you deserve nothing from her.

As though you are the one with the "problems," narcissists will trump up some ridiculous little thing (like not getting to feed Kitty at precisely 6 PM) that accommodating you interferes with as though it had earth-shaking ramifications in their life

Remember, you are dealing with a three-year-old in an adult's body, and this is how a three-year-old thinks. Their every mere whim, their every mere breath of a desire, is of cosmic importance to a three-year-old, right? Much more imporant than even a matter of life or death concerning a mere bug like you.

And, at the last moment - count on it - they will throw a temper tantrum on schedule as the pretext to change their mind and refuse to keep their promise to do this for you. That's how they stick it to you to feel grand about themselves.

So, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER need a narcissist for anything. Did I mention to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER need a narcissist for anything?

But that isn't enough. For, narcissists delude themselves into thinking that you need them even when you don't.

This doesn't mean that you can never get them to do what they should, but it does make it hard sometimes and it does require some thought on how to go about it.

First, let them know you have other ways of getting it done and that you want them to do this thing just because it's easier. Message: if they don't come through, it's no big deal.

Next, when they don't come through, act like you don't notice or care. Never, never, never ask them where they are or when they plan on getting the job done, or whatever. They are sitting there waiting for you to do that. Don't do it. At the 11th hour, they will come through.

You see, narcissists pay attention for different reasons than normal people do. We pay attention to others (and their needs) as their due. When a narcissist pays attention, he or she is just BUYING something.

And narcissists are always out to get the most bang for their buck.

Kathleen Krajco

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Profile of a Killer and His Double Life

How could Altemio Sanchez have hidden his dark secrets from his family and neighbors for so many years? News 4's Jodi Hovenden takes a closer look at the profile of a killer and his double life.

It was a secret life Altemio Sanchez lived for decades.

Andrew Lotempio, Sanchez's attorney, said, "If you talked to any neighbor, co-worker, person who grew up with him, played sports with him at the Butler Mitchell Club when he was a kid, this is a guy that nobody ever, ever would have believed he did this."

Apparently, even his own wife didn't have any idea he was the Bike Path Rapist and Killer.

Lotempio said, "There is no indication she had any idea any of this was going on."

But how could he have fooled so many people for so long?

Gregg McCrary said, "It's kind of difficult to understand, but I've seen it time and again."

Retired FBI profiler Gregg McCrary, who worked on the Bike Path Rapist case in the '80s, says killers like Sanchez compartmentalize their lives so well they're able to hide their dark side.

McCrary said, "It's certainly possible that there were no clues at all, that he gave no indication at all. As a matter of fact, he may have, in a way, almost overcompensated for this, and worked to appear extra-nice, extra-good, extra-loving as a family man, as a husband, as a father, as a neighbor."

And McCrary believes eluding police for decades fueled Sanchez's ego.

McCrary said, "Every day, that narcissism and that sense of superiority was confirmed and reinforced. Now, it's come crashing down around him, and it's difficult to deal with at that point."

Sanchez's attorney, who described his client as deflated, says Sanchez confessed to spare his wife and two sons from hearing the details of his crimes at trial, but McCrary believes the confession was more self-serving than that.

McCrary said, "If he went to trial, he would be forced to face all of his failures, and he would be humiliated in court."

May 18, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Pandemic of Narcissism?

I have just been reading an essay titled "The Pandemic of Narcissism" by Paul Toscano from his book The Sanctity of Dissent. It was originally a speech he made at the annual Honors Program Banquet at BYU in 1979. He makes an interesting point that narcissism breeds sentimentality in an effort to avoid genuine love and emotion.

The issue of sentimentality in the church has fascinated me for quite some time. How does one recognize it? Is one's sentimentality another one's true emotion? What's so bad about being sentimental anyhow? In Toscano's essay he makes some well made points. I usually don't like to make long quotations, but I thought it would be important for discussion.

"Another narcissistic symptom in Mormonism is sentimentality. As G.K. Chesterton observed seventy years ago, when truth quits the field, sentimentality, not error, takes over. Sentimentality was defined by Hugh Nibley as a 'tenacious clinging to pleasantries.' It is a state of mental torpor characterized by a craving for meaningless but pleasant stories and sayings. It is a craving for emotional experiences without regard to their source, their truth, or their value. The best example I can give of this is a short movie marketed by BYU called "The Sacrifice." The storyline is this: A little boy is hit by a train while walking over a trestle to be with his father, the switchman. The conflict in the story comes when the father must decide whether to let go of the switch and save his little son at the cost of the passenger train or whether to sacrifice his son and save the train. He decides to save the train. At the end of the movie, a caption overlays the closing scene, proclaiming, 'And God so loved . . . ' Obviously, the film is intended as an atonement analogy. Although well-intentioned (and sentimentality is well-intentioned), it succeeds only in being maudlin. It tugs as the heart-strings but does not edify the spirit. Why? Because the analogy is false. Jesus in not a mindless or disobedient child who wandered onto the train trestle of the universe to be accidentally flattened by a blind, indifferent cosmos. God the Father was not a powerless technocrat caught in the press of circumstances beyond his control. The relationship between them was not that of an infant son and a youthful father. The emotions the movie calls forth are nothing like the emotions the real participants felt, as reported by those who knew them best. It is false from top to bottom. Its net effect is to take our attention off truth and fix it upon our own emotions. It seeks only to induce a pleasant sense of spiritual euphoria - the kind of feeling we get when we hear about poor people being helped in far away places, but not like the feeling we get when we actually go to far away places to help the poor. The movie does nothing to further anyone's understanding of the nature of the Father and the Son, or of the Atonement, or of the love of God, or of anything that is spiritually significant."

His analysis of the movie seems solid. Reminds me of other popular stories used to explain the Atonement, primarily the parable of the bicycle by Stephen Robinson. I never really like that story, and never recounted it to anyone. But for a time in the early to mid-90s, that story spread like wildfire across church pulpits. Does that story hold up? or is that also sentimental hogwash?

I think the trap one can face in recognizing narcissistic sentimentality is that you could be viewed as a cynic, who likes to tear down people's beliefs. So where does one go from here? If sentimentality serves one's own emotions, at the avoidance of true spiritual understanding and sacrifice, how do we go about changing it, without offending the person we may be trying to reach? I guess the best answer is to change ourselves, since of course we can't change anyone else. (To think that we can change someone else would be narcissistic.)

What do you all think? Is there a pandemic of narcissism in the church? Has sentimentality overtaken doctrine and genuine charity? Can the tide be reversed?

June 26, 2005

This Morman Life

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Complex character draws Woods to new waters

Saturday, May 19, 2007
Washington Post

James Woods has portrayed a mayor of New York, a serial killer, a journalist, a rocket scientist and Watergate conspirator H.R. Haldeman.

Now he's a brassy Los Angeles lawyer in "Shark," CBS' legal drama that has drawn critical praise and respectable ratings.

The show revolves around Sebastian Stark, a former defense lawyer for Hollywood's biggest names who switched sides and now prosecutes crimes. The show's cast includes Sophina Brown, Sarah Carter, Alexis Cruz and Sam Page as ambitious lawyers looking to the ego-driven Stark for leadership that's often a lesson in street justice.

"I am the hero and people disabuse me of my narcissism - and in the end, we get the bad guy," said Woods, whose character's tactics usually include "some very clever manipulation, a slight ethical compromise for a greater moral good."

Stark navigates legal labyrinths, working for former nemesis Jessica Devlin (Jeri Ryan) while trying to earn the respect of his teenage daughter, Julie (Danielle Panabaker). Julie's choice to live with him instead of her mother creates mixed emotions. Their relationship is sometimes stormy and complex, much like the cases Stark handles.

For Woods, 60, appearing in a TV series initially held no appeal. But in 2005, reflecting on available film roles, Woods saw that there was "not a lot being offered in the world of features except as the head of evil oil corporations - and that [story] can be told in 4.5 seconds."

When he read the script for "Shark," Woods likened it to "the old days when I got to play this morally complex, witty hero who does the right thing - a tarnished, slightly anti-heroic hero."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Figure Out If Someone Is A Narcissist Before You Get Serious

He is charming, good looking, intelligent, generous, and social.

Not so fast Cinderella things are not always what they seem.

Laura is a smart and attractive young professional, who thought she found the same in Nick.

He talked a big game, but after his start-up company failed, he convinced her to pay for everything, the last two years of their relationship.

Later, she found out he was lying and cheating on her.

Doctor Keith Campbell PhD, University of Georgia, spent years researching narcissism, which is defined as excessive admiration or love of oneself, and found they are warning signs.

Narcissists often talk about themselves and are materialistic.

They are charming, extroverted, and believe they are entitled to more than anyone else.

What separates them from someone who is just cocky?

Narcissists care only for themselves.

After having four kids with her husband, Amy realized her husband was never going to change.

“We would go to church as the perfect family, but then we would leave church and he would go off with one of his women friends to go play tennis or go hiking to do something. And you know, and it's my fault for being jealous,” said Amy Miler, married to a narcissist.

Dr. Campbell says, “They are very good at starting relationships, but they have problems keeping them.”

He says it is important to know what to look for.

Narcissism can range from mild to moderate, which may be tolerable, but it can also be a full blown personality disorder that can be hazardous.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why lying to you makes narcissists feel smart

People make light of things in order to minimize how bad they are. I think I know why narcissists and other pathological liars think lying is funny and means that they are smart and you are stupid.

On my first trip to Europe, first trip to Rome, we hadn't been in Italy five minutes before the first time we got ripped off. When thousands of lira are less than a dollar, a fresh American can easily not notice a couple extra zeroes.

I got so sick of being viewed as prey, that I was in no mood to buy anything from any Italian that day we were resting in St. Peter's Square and a guy approached us with some 35 mm slides of the Vatican to sell us.

And I should have been interested in those photos, because our camera was on the blink.

I didn't mean to be a jerk: I just felt it would be rude to tell him to get lost, so I let him make his pitch. (Now I know that hawkers and telemarketers hate it when you waste their time like that and that they would rather you hang up or tell them to buzz off.) I just kept shaking my head and saying no I didn't want them. My sister saw me as the perfect bargaining tool, so she let this go on. (She may have even encouraged him for all I know.)

Maybe he and his fellow crooks had been surveying the herd for easy-looking prey (= stupid young American babes in polyester) and he had bet them that he would take us for a lot. Or maybe it was just that, having targeted us and having given us his whole spiel, he was too personally invested in the effort. Whatever, his ego wouldn't let him take no for an answer.

He pestered me to the point that I got up and started walking away. He followed! He just HAD to make the sale. My sister later told me that she kept listening for his price to get low enough as he was rushing after me, bidding lower and lower and lower with me adamantly not interested in buying what he was selling.

"We'll take it!" she suddenly blurted.

You should have seen the look on that poor man's face. He had apparently gotten so carried away he went below cost. He told us he shouldn't be selling the package to us for that price. "That's the price you quoted," I snapped.

As if he needed justification - this I can hardly believe - he said, well, he wouldn't feel so bad if at least these photos of the Vatican were going to a Catholic. So, he asked me if I was one, and I was (then), so I told him so.

He acted like he didn't believe me.

You can imagine how that struck me. Why did he ask such a stupid question that gave a non-Catholic reason to lie and put a Catholic in the position of sounding like a liar if she tells the truth?

Here was this crook, setting me up with that question and then acting like he didn't believe me.

Something - some switch inside me just clicked. I told the biggest whopper I could think of fast enough. "I sure am a Catholic I think," I said snorting. "Uh my brother's a priest and my uncle's a bishop."

That was before I learned how dishonest other people are - back when I NEVER lied, no matter what. So my sister's jaw dropped as she gaped at me, totally stunned to hear me say that.

Guess what? Now he believed me!

Lying to him was a blast. I thought it was hilarious. I thought he was stupid for believing my lie = I thought I was much smarter than him.

Which is what pathological liars think when they lie to you. But they conveniently unknow that they are no stranger that you shouldn't trust. That hawker had no reason to believe me because I was a stranger. But if I had been his friend, I would have been betraying a trust in lying to him. So, when people we have close or intimate relationship with lie to us, that is a far different matter.

We have every good reason to trust them, and they are betraying that (sacred) trust. We have every good reason to assume that they truly have the friendly relationship with us that they pretend to have. Unless we have reason to doubt them, it would be wrong for us to doubt everything our wife, husband, child, friend, or co-worker says. When we are fooled by a narcissist's lies, that's because we're innocent and honest, not because we're stupid. And it's because the lying narcissist is a creep.

Kathleen Krajco

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Bullies: From The Playground to the Boardroom

Bullies: From The Playground to the Boardroom

by Jane Middelton-Moz, Mary Lee Zawadski

ISBN: 1558749861
ISBN-13: 9781558749863

From the Publisher

From the boardrooms of corporate America to the bedrooms of middle America, bullying is occurring everywhere and is becoming more prevalent and increasingly dangerous.
With in-depth case studies of bullies and those they bullied, this groundbreaking book is emotionally disturbing yet cathartic. It provides a true look at the problem of bullying and what can be done to stop it.
Focusing on the three main environments where bullying occurs-on the playground, in relationships, and in the workplace-the authors provide concrete ways to diffuse bullying situations. They identify six bullying strategies with ways to counter each one and point out climates that encourage bullying behavior, as well as the factors that allow bullying to continue.
Most importantly, the authors explain how to reach out to bullies, since without appropriate guidance and support, bullies will only continue to create fear and anxiety in others. Finally, the authors explore the innovative anti-bullying programs in place around the country, and offer advice to parents and educators about which programs are working-and which are not.

From The Critics

Publishers Weekly
The kid who steals lunch money, the overdemanding spouse, the boss who publicly berates an employee: no matter the age or the environment, if the cruelty they express is "frequent and systematic," they're bullies, say Jane Middelton-Moz and Mary Lee Zawadski. In Bullies: From the Playground to the Boardroom, the authors present interviews with the bullies and with the people they've abused; strategies to cope with (and avoid altogether) bullying situations; and analysis of playground, relationship and workplace bullies.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Ugly Bystander

I think the misplaced sympathy out there for narcissists comes from people wishing to push unpleasant stuff out of their minds so that they have but selective awareness of an event like narcissistic abuse.

When we say that narcissists lack empathy, we mean exactly that. In plainer language, they are brutal, treating those they abuse subhumanly. Their callousness is something one must see to believe. Often the victim cannot get his or her mind around it and goes into a state of shocked disbelief of their own eyes and ears.

When narcissists see that they are drawing blood, they get sadistic.

This behavior makes no sense till you remember why narcissists do this. They are stomping you down to elevate themselves. It's the Teeter Totter Game I give many examples of in the eBook.

In doing this, they are morally trampling you to have something to thump their chests about and give a Tarzan yell.

They get HIGH on treating others like dirt.

So, keep a tight grip on that fact: they don't do it because it's evil; they do it because it makes them feel good. They are sick in the head. They have unbearable pain/shame inside that keeps trying to surface to consciousness on them. This pretending to be grand by stomping you is just their way of killing that pain by keeping it repressed.

Abuse is an addiction with narcissists. The more they degrade you, the bigger dose of this high they get. Which is why they are sadistic.

So, here you have them abusing their victim in cold blood sadistically. Then, when the victim complains, they turn around with their little Wouldn't-Hurt-a-Fly mask on for the bystanders, whining about their need to "heal."

Yes, THEIR need to heal.

Some folks don't know a joke even when it slaps them in the face like that.

Right out of the bystander's mind goes what's on the other side of that coin - what that angel-faced narcissist just did to that victim. In other words, they take this "Poor-Little-Me" act out of context.

More important, the bystanders thus avoid having to know what they know about such phony face changes = that the narcissist is diabolical and laughing up his sleeve.

All they let themselves see is whiny angel-face before them right now. Because it's warm and cuddly and doesn't rattle their cage or require them to do anything about anything.

Or cross this guy they are suddenly afraid of.

Ah, that whiny little angel-face he has, upon whom they misplace their wretched sympathy.

Then they go off and correct the VICTIM for wrongdoing. Yes, that's right: some folks don't even know a joke when they tell it.

The victim has sinned by feeling angry or wanting a divorce or wanting to retaliate so as to make the abuser stop it. THAT'S the only sin the ugly bystander sees. Nothing the narcissist did gets a peep out of him or her about it.

Kathleen Krajco

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Take the Bully by the Horns

Take the Bully by the Horns: Stop Unethical, Uncooperative, or Unpleasant People from Running and Ruining Your Life

by Sam Horn

ISBN: 0312320221
ISBN-13: 9780312320225

From the Publisher
How often have you wished you knew how to defuse the difficult people who wreak havoc on your life? Whether it's a neighbor who keeps disturbing your peace, an employer who manipulates you into unpaid overtime, a spouse who criticizes and controls your every move, a colleague who uses scare tactics to intimidate you, or a student who teases your child without mercy, Take the Bully by the Horns will give you real-life strategies stop people from taking advantage of you, including how to:

* Adopt a "don't you dare" attitude

* Refuse to play The Blame-Shame Game

* Beat em to the punch...line

* Stop paying the price of nice

* Put all kidding aside

* Act on your anger instead of suffering in silence

* Savior Self from martyrs and guilt-mongers

* Not be victimized by crazy-making Jekyll/Hyde personalities

* Adopt the Clarity Rules and Rights

With these tools, you can take back your peace of mind and your sanity. The bold suggestions in Take the Bully by the Horns will show you once and for all how to convince unfair or unkind relatives, co-workers, customers, or strangers to either behave cooperatively or leave you alone.

From The Critics

Publishers Weekly
The subtitle of Horn's treatise indicates just how much psychological ground he manages to cover in this encouraging how-to. Not just for kids on the playground anymore, bullying can have serious consequences for adults: violence, lawsuits, abuse and even death. Many of the "28 Ways to Lose Your Bully" strategies Horn (Tongue Fu) outlines are common sense, the same advice parents might give children after a rough recess: "Put Up a Brave Front," "Get Out of My Space," "Screw Up Your Courage." The number of mini-quizzes and aphoristic sayings make the book read like a large-scale PowerPoint presentation (not surprising, as Horn is a veteran of the corporate seminar circuit). Yet there's a realism here that is convincing: Horn's example situations include spouses who hit or cheat, spouses' bosses who grope, coaches who berate, false friends who cajole confidences, business partners who steal, neighbors who instill fear and people who chronically hit up family members for bail money (or "deja moo"). Role playing "Action Plans" for conversation help firm up psychic independence and avoid pointless, draining argument. (Sept.)

Customer Reviews

A reviewer, KJ, 07/01/2003 Customer Rating for this product is 5 out of 5
Eureka! I am being bullied and I don't have to take it any more!
The interview and book about 'Taking the Bully by the Horn' was excellent! In the few minutes that she spoke during her interview about the characteristics of being a bully, I realized that I have been subjecting myself and my children to being bullied. Sam Horn's interview and book described my life for the past 10 years, and she has never set eyes on me! Since I have allowed myself to be bullied, I notice that my son also allows himself to be bullied. Now I can change that. Thank you Sam Horn!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Narcissist: A Piece of Work

One thing that most people don't realize about narcissists is that their fits aren't the product of a short fuse and the inability to control themselves.

To the contrary, their fits are a device to manipulate you. And before you say, "Naw, they aren't smart enough to do that," consider the average three-year-old.

Uh-huh. See? If the average three-year-old is smart enough to notice that her bawling, screaming, and antics get on your nerves like a finger nail screeching on a blackboard, a grown narcissist is able to see when his actions have the same effect on you. That three-year-old has been learning since she was an infant that her screaming really bothers you and that you'll do anything to make it stop.

That's control power. And even a three-year-old knows how to use it.

She knows just how to make your whole world a living hell by doing nothing but being as obnoxious as she can be. She knows you'll do anything to get her to stop that uproar.

Many, if not most, children will try throwing temper tantrums to get their way. If you give in to this tactic, you soon have a little monster on your hands. The same is true with a narcissist. Every time you give in to it, you reward his bad behavior.

Think back and recall the first time you noticed that a spoiled brat isn't expressing true emotion but is just putting on an act to manipulate you. I often use the example of the kid in the grocery store. He points at a candy bar and looks at Mom, his sweet bright eyes gleaming. She is reaching for some other product and says, "No, you-"

She never gets the second word out before the whole store is filled with his screaming uproar. In other words, he was one step ahead of her and ready to do that.

Everyone in the store stops dead in their tracks, wondering who is killing that kid. In fact, some do probably think someone is beating that child.

Mid-"WAAAAAAAH!" the brat's mother has already taken a quick glance around to see who's staring at her and grabs that candy bar, handing it to him.

So, mid-"WAAAAH!" the brat has switched masks again, his sweet little bright eyes gleaming over his candy bar.

That's all your narcissist is doing when he gets obnoxious. He knows he's being obnoxious. He's trying to be as obnoxious as he can be.

Because he knows that, rather than fight with that obnoxious foghorn in his face, you'll just let the brat have his way.

He isn't above that. He isn't above acting crazy. He isn't above such extreme childishness. He is shameless.He has no self respect. So, he can stoop to tactics that would make you or I disgust ourselves.

Because he is still a mental child. So, he has a one-track mind: he must have what he wants and right now.

He thinks like a child, simplistically, that power and grandeur consist in having your way with people.

Think of the irony. He he debases and disgraces himself in the very act of this grandiosity! Acting crazy is anti-grand. Acting-obnoxious and childish is anti-grand. And if you have no control over yourself, you are impotent, so how can you imagine that you control anyone else?

The narcissist is shameless and yet so proud!

Whew, what piece of work.

Kathleen Krajco

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tame a tyrant boss

Tyrants tend to be explosive and demeaning, hardnosed and demanding, and unfortunately, there are plenty of tyrant bosses still hanging around.

In fact, Harvey Hornstein, Ph.D., author of Brutal Bosses and Their Prey, estimates that 90 percent of us have worked for a tyrant. His conclusions are based on a survey of nearly 1,000 workers over eight years.

These bosses are typically manipulative and mean-spirited. They can even be verbally abusive, as many derive a sense of power and importance by publicly humiliating others. Listen in to a handful of victims' tales.

-- My boss has a short fuse and gets a kick out of berating me in front of everyone. At staff meetings, he often puts me down with comments like, "Can't you do anything right?" or "I can't believe you made that mistake again.” Once, he even brought a dunce cap for me to wear.

- In my last job, the new ad manager made it clear she didn't like me. This was probably because I was really good at my job. I was the top seller in my office for three years straight and I had strong relationships with my colleagues. Once, when I asked for a raise, she laughed at me. Personally, I think she was jealous of my popularity in the office and felt threatened by me be¬cause she thought I wanted her job.

-- My boss is a workaholic who plays favorites, ignores suggestions and tries to pit coworkers against one another thinking that will make us all work harder. It doesn't.

-- When I defended a colleague my boss was yelling at in the hallway outside her office, I became the next target for abuse. Immediately, my boss started refusing to share critical information with me on deadlines and productivity goals. He also started giving me and my subordinates conflicting instructions on major projects.

The number of bully bosses in today's workplace appears to be on the rise. Why? Hornstein attributes much of this to the pressures bosses are under because of rampant restructurings and downsizings.

"Feeling powerless, bosses enforce their power over others; feeling small, they belittle others in the futile hope that it will make them appear big." In other words, as organizations get leaner, more and more bosses get meaner.

But it's not so difficult to avoid power struggles with a tyrant and succeed in spite of their nasty behavior. If you work for a tyrant, next week’s column will give you tips on how to erect a bully barrier.

Connie Glaser

Monday, May 14, 2007

How Lawyers Lose Their Way

How Lawyers Lose Their Way:
A Profession Fails Its Creative Minds

by Jean Stefancic, Richard Delgado, Richard Delgado

ISBN: 0822335638
ISBN-13: 9780822335634

Editorial Reviews

"Part I makes an original and engaging move, a dual biography about the interwoven lives of Archibald MacLeish and Ezra Pound. . . . I would not be surprised to find this book in many undergraduate and law school courses. For a course on legal practice its value is easy. For an undergraduate judicial process course, it has the advantages of brevity, affordability, and a human interest. If you teach 'black letter' formalism as a competing theory to behavioral and institutional models of judicial decision-making, and if you also include a unit on the legal profession in your course, this book neatly bridges those topics in intriguing ways. The problems of lawyers are laid out in depressing detail, and this critical perspective will generate much thought."
--Patrick Schmidt, The Law and Politics Book Review

"[How Lawyers Lose Their Way] is particularly well and entertainingly written: the narrative of Pound’s and MacLeish’s relationship is as fascinating as the discussion of formalism is enlightening. The book certainly belongs on all legal academic library shelves, and quite honestly, belongs on the shelves of most attorneys I know."
--Brian Flaherty, Bimonthly Review of Law Books

"This is a highly worthwhile and creative book, one that goes well beyond the usual analysis of what has gone
wrong with the legal profession."
--Steven Keeva, ABAJournal

"[P]rovocative. . . . Recommended."
--M.W. Bowers, CHOICE

"This small book . . . is important because it treats one subject that is vital to all readers of this journal."
--Ronald Goldfarb, Washington Lawyer

"[E]xcellent, nuanced accounts of the conflicted lives of high level lawyers. . . . [It does] much to advance our understanding of the stress and ethical conflicts confronting successful corporate lawyers."
--Michael Rustad, University of Illinois Law Review

Book Description

In this penetrating book, Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado use historical investigation and critical analysis to diagnose the cause of the pervasive unhappiness among practicing lawyers. Most previous writers have blamed the high rate of burnout, depression, divorce, and drug and alcohol dependency among these highly paid professionals on the narrow specialization, long hours, and intense pressures of modern legal practice. Stefancic and Delgado argue that these professional demands are only symptoms of a deeper problem: the way lawyers are taught to think and reason. They show how legal education and practice have been rendered arid and dull by formalism, a way of thinking that values precedent and doctrine above all, exalting consistency over ambiguity, rationality over emotion, and rules over social context and narrative.

Stefancic and Delgado dramatize the plight of modern lawyers by exploring the unlikely friendship between Archibald MacLeish, who gave up a successful but unsatisfying law career to pursue his literary yearnings, and Ezra Pound. Reading the forty-year correspondence between MacLeish and Pound, Stefancic and Delgado draw lessons about the difficulties of attorneys trapped in worlds that give them power, prestige, and affluence but not personal satisfaction, much less creative fulfillment. Long after Pound had embraced fascism, descended into lunacy, and been institutionalized, MacLeish took up his old mentor’s cause, turning his own lack of fulfillment with the law into a meaningful crusade and ultimately securing Pound’s release from St. Elizabeths Hospital. Drawing on MacLeish’s story, Stefancic and Delgado contend that literature, public interest work, and critical legal theory offer tools to contemporary attorneys for finding meaning and overcoming professional dissatisfaction.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Alcoholism, Narcissism, and Psychopathology

Alcoholism, Narcissism, and Psychopathology

by Gary Forrest

ISBN-10: 1568213778
ISBN-13: 978-1568213774

Customer Reviews

Sam Vaknin author of Malignant Self Love, 06/27/2003
The Addicted Narcissist
To attribute alcoholism to narcissistic regression is both commonplace and controversial. But there a less convoluted clinical 'handle': Pathological narcissism is an addiction to narcissistic supply, the narcissist's drug of choice. It is, therefore, not surprising that other addictive and reckless behaviors - workaholism, alcoholism, drug abuse, pathological gambling, compulsory shopping, or reckless driving - piggyback on this primary dependence. The narcissist - like other types of addicts - derives pleasure from these exploits. But they also sustain and enhance his grandiose fantasies as 'unique', 'superior', 'entitled', and 'chosen'. They place him above the laws and pressures of the mundane and away from the humiliating and sobering demands of reality. They render him the center of attention - but also place him in 'splendid isolation' from the madding and inferior crowd. Such compulsory and wild pursuits provide a psychological exoskeleton. They are a substitute to quotidian existence. They afford the narcissist with an agenda, with timetables, goals, and faux achievements. The narcissist's addictive behaviors take his mind off his inherent limitations, inevitable failures, painful and much-feared rejections, and the grandiosity gap - the abyss between the image he projects (the False Self) and the injurious truth. They relieve his anxiety and resolve the tension between his unrealistic expectations and inflated self-image - and his incommensurate achievements, position, status, recognition, intelligence, wealth, and physique. Thus, there is no point in treating the dependence and recklessness of the narcissist without first treating the underlying personality disorder. The narcissist's addictions serve deeply ingrained emotional needs. They intermesh seamlessly with the pathological structure of his disorganized personality, with his character faults, and primitive defense mechanisms. Hence the importance of this book: it unflinchingly exposes the roots of alcoholism and attributes it to an identity disturbance, paranoia, sadomasochism and obsessive- compulsive disorders. The author's rich experience is evident in each and every page. A documentary treasure trove - if not a theoretical masterpiece. Sam Vaknin, author of 'Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited'.

Narcissistic Need and Entitlement Deprivation, July 2, 2001
Reviewer: Douglas Wayne (Wise, Virginia United States)
At age fifty-two, I am absolutely in awe of this book which hit me like a sledge hammer; it is holographic in its presentation, and speaks to me very deeply, personally, and professionally.

Each chapter is a multi-faceted reflection of the whole, and it pretty much sums up my personal experiences in growing up in a constantly relocating military family within a global environment during the post-World War II and Cold War period. If I had to write a personal byline on this text I would catagorize it in this generational fashion: Paint Your Wagon; The Unforgiven; and, Apocalypse Now; i.e., The American Experience of Conquest!

This text made me realize that my own life-long personal quest as the young captain, the trained assassin sent upriver on a covert mission to terminate the colonel, was really a personal paradox to be reconsidered: the young questing captain, in my personal interpretation of a time paradox, was realistically and symbolically the son of the colonel he was seaching out to terminate. The captain was the son that the remote, alienated, and estranged colonel-father, who had become distraught by the deeper woundings of a continuing warfare and conquest, wanted his son to know and understand him personally at the rivers end! This text allowed me to do this personally.

In conclusion, it is necessary for one to understand that "The Destructive Narcissitic Pattern" (described by Nina W. Brown) of the generational circumstance, the handing down, does not reguire drinking at this level. One can be quite numbed by The Great Depression, World War II, and Vietnam and, by one's sense and mission of self-importance through...Narcissitic Need and Entitlement Deprivation.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Shame: The Underside of Narcissism

Shame: The Underside of Narcissism

by Andrew P. Morrison

ISBN: 0881632805
ISBN-13: 9780881632804

Book Description

Offers a thorough and critically-minded review of the literature on shame, integrating major concepts from object-relations and self psychology to arrive at a new understanding of the phenomena.

Customer Reviews

Sam Vaknin, the author of 'Malignant Self Love', 08/15/2001
Shame on You
Shame and guilt - often experienced during childhood and early adolescence - are the two relentless drivers of the veering car of pathological narcissism. Narcissistic Shame is the experience of a humiliating Grandiosity Gap (the tormenting abyss between the narcissist's reality and his grandiose fantasies). Subjectively it is experienced as a pervasive feeling of worthlessness (the regulation of self-worth lies at the crux of pathological narcissism), 'invisibleness' and ridiculousness. The patient feels pathetic and foolish, deserving of mockery and humiliation. Narcissists adopt all kinds of defences to counter Narcissistic Shame. They develop addictive or impulsive behaviours. They deny, withdraw, rage, engage in the compulsive pursuit of some kind of (unattainable, of course) perfection. They display haughtiness and exhibitionism and so on. All these defences are employed primitively (or are primitive, like splitting) and involve projective identification. This book is the best study there is of the incestuous relationship of narcissism and pernicious shame. Sam Vaknin, author of 'Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited'.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Inside the Mind of Milosevic

What Moves Milosevic?

What moves Milosevic? Warren Zimmermann, U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1989 to 1992, offers an insightful first-hand account of Milosevic in a 1995 article in the journal Foreign Affairs. In it, three central character traits emerge in the political personality of Slobodan Milosevic: cynicism about democratic principles and institutions, mendacity, and avoidance of personal responsibility for aggressive actions.

Zimmermann’s characterization points to the syndrome of malignant narcissism, originated by psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg and widely embraced by political psychologists to take the measure of leaders who pose a threat to regional stability and world order. The core components of the syndrome are pathological narcissism, antisocial features, paranoid traits, and unconstrained aggression.

* Pathological narcissism

Milosevic exhibits extreme grandiosity, self-confidence, and self-absorption to a degree that renders him quite incapable of empathizing with the pain and suffering of others. Zimmermann writes that he has never seen Milosevic "moved by an individual case of human suffering," nor heard him "say a charitable or generous word about any human being, not even a Serb." That lack of empathy makes it possible, in Zimmerman’s view, for Milosevic to condone, encourage, and even organize unspeakable atrocities.

* Antisocial features

Although malignant narcissists are not as unscrupulous as full-blown psychopathic deviants, their tenuous social conscience is governed primarily by self-interest. Zimmermann writes that Milosevic is "driven by power rather than nationalism," but that he "made a Faustian pact with nationalism as a way to gain and hold power." And, Zimmermann observes, "Milosevic-style nationalism has proven singularly resistant to economic inducement, penalties, or any other pressures short of force." Lacking a consistent, stable set of core beliefs or deeply held convictions, Milosevic’s appeals to Serbian nationalist sentiments serve merely as a cynical, self-promoting ruse to rally the troops.

* A paranoid outlook

Behind a grandiose facade, malignant narcissists harbor a siege mentality. They fail to recognize their own role in creating foes and invoke real or imagined enemies to justify aggressive acts. In October 1991, when the Yugoslav army shelled the medieval Croatian town of Dubrovnik -- an action with no apparent military objective -- Milosevic disingenuously told Zimmermann that foreign mercenaries had been hiding in the city. Milosevic will likely conjure up new threats to national security in his face-off with Kostunica.

* Unconstrained aggression

Behind the public mask of civility and idealistic concern, malignant narcissists are cold, ruthless, cynically calculating, ambitious self-promoters. Zimmermann was astounded by Milosevic’s affable manner, noting that his "cherubic cheeks do not fit the strongman image." Milosevic, he says, "makes a stunning first impression," yet is "ambitious and ruthless," an opportunist who rose to the leadership of the Serbian Communist Party by betraying his mentor, Ivan Stambolic. Zimmermann notes that in the late 1980s Milosevic first tried to consolidate his power by preserving Yugoslav unity, but "became the major wrecker of Yugoslavia" when he realized that the strength of the Slovenian and Croatian independence movements could not be checked by military force.

In the latest power struggle in the Balkans, the bottom line is this: Personal self-interest is the guiding force that drives Milosevic. In this light, there is no plausible scenario in which Milosevic will willingly relinquish political power. His personality profile suggest that, rather than go quietly in the face of defeat, Milosevic will use all means at his disposal to hang on to power. If cornered, he may take his own life rather than surrender.

By Aubrey Immelman
September 26, 2000

Thursday, May 10, 2007

No Visible Wounds

No Visible Wounds: Identifying Nonphysical Abuse of Women by Their Men

by Mary Susan Miller Ph.D.

ISBN: 0449910792
ISBN-13: 9780449910795

From the Publisher

* have sudden outbursts of anger or rage?
* become jealous without reason?
* prevent you from seeing friends and family?
* deny you access to family assets such as bank accounts, credit cards, or the car?
* control all finances and force you to account for what you spend?
* insult you or call you derogatory names?
* humiliate you in front of your children?
* turn minor incidents into major arguments?

If you or someone you know can answer "yes" to the questions above, chances are you are suffering from nonphysical battering—controlling, tyrannical behavior that is just as damaging to a woman's self-esteem as a broken bone or a black eye. An experienced counselor who works with abused women, Mary Susan Miller breaks the silence that surrounds this devastating form of domestic violence. She identifies the many types of nonphysical abuse verbal, emotional, psychological, social, and economic—and explores why this outrageous treatment of women continues unabated in our society.

Dr. Miller also shares the stories of many survivors who have escaped their abusive relationships. Their experiences—with law enforcement, the legal system, and the community itself—can help prepare any woman for the decision of whether to stay or leave the relationship. And if she decides to go, Dr. Miller offers sound guidelines on how to protect herself and her children, since a woman's decision to leave is usually the time she is in the most danger from her abuser.

Finally, Dr. Miller inspires hope: You can break free of the nightmare of nonphysical battering and heal, once again engaging in a life of integrity, dignity, andpeace.

Spotlight Reviews

Powerful, illuminating, and validating , March 7, 2005
Carolyn Rampone (Plantation, FL USA)

"Stalking the Soul" will illuminate emotional abuse in a way that will shake you to the core.
Marie-France Hirigoyen has insight that is usually reserved for those who have walked the path. I was impressed with the depth of her knowledge of narcissism and the insidious and covert nature of the disorder.
Emotional abuse is a double-edged sword because it is so hard to prove. You'll go crazy just trying. The abuser is careful to reveal himself only to his victim while showing his false self, the one that hooked you, to everyone else. Manipulation is second nature to the emotional abuser, allowing him to slowly and methodically erode your sense of self and to murder your soul. The latter being their goal. You have become their prey, some'thing' to conquer.
I immensely appreciated and respected Marie-France Hirigoyen careful avoidance and rejection of blaming the victim. She shows in compassionate detail how it is your very strengths and talents that make you perfect prey to a narcissist, not your weakness, as so many other books on the subject will have you believe. Blaming the victim is just another layer of abuse and this author discredits that theory with a few strokes of her mighty pen. She appears to have an intimate understanding of the inner workings of a mental abuser and her knowledge flows freely from the pages directly to you. Where it is the abuser's goal to destabilize, Marie-France Hirigoyen is the friend who lovingly shakes your shoulders and shouts "It's not YOU," leading you back to sanity.
As a reminder, this book was originally written in French and the small translation difficulties should not deter you in any way.

Pulls no punches
Ellen C. Falkenberry (Birmingham, AL USA)

Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my.
I could only read bits of this book at a sitting. Dr. Hirigoyen equates emotional abuse with trauma. That explains my intrusive thoughts and flashbacks while reading it. This is SO satisfying to one who has experienced the lasting effects of emotional abuse. At last! Someone understands!
This book is not for the timid. It is a clear-eyed, and unabashedly biased (toward the victim) look at the abusive process in varied aspects of life - the family, in business, and in the intimate relationship. Grit your teeth and read this one. It's a keeper.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Malignant Leadership

A. The Mastermind: Malignant Narcissism

The syndrome of malignant narcissism, originated by psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg, has been widely used by political psychologists to characterize leaders who pose a threat to civil society, political stability, and world order.

It is plausible that the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 acts of terrorism at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC -- be it Osama bin Laden or someone else -- fits this profile.

The core components of the syndrome are pathological narcissism, antisocial features, paranoid traits, and unconstrained aggression.

1. Pathological narcissism

* extraordinary self-confidence
* self-absorption
* grandiosity
* lack of capacity to empathize with others' pain and suffering

2. Antisocial features

* lack of social conscience
* motivated by self-interest
* lack of a stable set of core beliefs or deeply held convictions

3. Paranoid outlook

* siege mentality
* tendency to create foes and antagonism
* invoke real or imagined enemies to justify aggressive acts

4. Unconstrained aggression

* cold
* cynically calculating
* ruthless (often behind a public mask of civility and idealistic concern)

B. The Medium: Puritanical Compulsion

The syndrome of puritanical (i.e., fundamentalist) compulsiveness, described by personality theorist Theodore Millon, is less well known among political psychologists. These individuals are “austere, self-righteous, [and] highly controlled.” Their “intense anger and resentment . . . is given sanction, at least as they see it, by virtue of their being on the side of righteousness and morality.” (Theodore Millon, Disorders of Personality, 1996, p. 520)

The world of puritanical compulsives is dichotomized into good and evil, saints and sinners—and they arrogate for themselves the role of savior. They seek out common enemies in their relentless pursuit of mission. Puritanical compulsives are prone to vent their hostility through “sadistic displacements” and their “puritanical’s wrath becomes the vengeful sword of righteousness, descended from heaven to lay waste to sin and iniquity.” Of greater concern in politics, puritanicals instinctively seek ever-greater degrees of fundamentalism, “because literalism makes it much easier to find someone who deserves not only to be punished but to be punished absolutely.” (Theodore Millon and Roger Davis, Personality Disorders in Modern Life, 2000, p. 178)

This kind of flaming righteousness is often rooted in a caring but controlling, virtuous but moralistic upbringing. Such child-rearing practices can breed adults who “displace anger and insecurity by seeking out some position of power that allows them to become a socially sanctioned superego for others,” whose “swift judgment . . . conceals a sadistic and self-righteous joy.” (Millon and Davis, cited above, p. 184)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In Sheep's Clothing

In Sheep's Clothing:
Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People

by George K. Simon

ISBN: 096516960X
ISBN-13: 9780965169608

From the Publisher

Whether it's your mate or child who knows how to push your buttons, the coworker who quietly undermines your efforts while professing to be helpful, or the boss who preys on your weaknesses, manipulative people have two goals: to win and to look good doing it. Often those they abuse are ignorant of, or only vaguely aware of, what is happening to them.

In Sheep's Clothing casts aside the cloak of secrecy these "wolves" use. Each chapter highlights a specific characteristic using vignettes taken from actual case histories. Then Dr. Simon takes you behind the scenes and between the lines. What on the surface may sound to you like perfectly logical behavior turns out to be cloaked in the most insidious, subtle mantle of manipulation.

In Sheep's Clothing also takes a probing look at the important difference between self-respect and self-esteem -- and, in a profound epilogue -- the ways our society now encourages the wrong kind of aggressive behavior. Read this book and have the wool lifted from your eyes.


From the Introduction: Perhaps the following scenarios will sound familiar. A wife tries to sort out her feelings. She's mad at her husband for insisting their daughter make all "A"s. But she doubts she has the right to be mad. When she told him she thought he was being too demanding, his comeback "Shouldn't any good parent want their child to do well and succeed in life?" made her feel like the insensitive one. In fact, whenever she confronts him, she somehow ends up feeling like the bad guy herself. When she suggested there might be more to her daughter's problems than there appeared at first glance, and that the family should seek counseling, his retort "Are you saying I'm psychiatrically disturbed?" made her feel ashamed for asking. She often tries to assert her point of view, but always ends up giving in to his. Sometimes, she thinks the problem really is him, believing him to be selfish, ruthless and controlling. But this is a loyal husband, good provider and a respected member of the community. By all rights she shouldn't resent him. Yet, she does. So she constantly wonders if there isn't something wrong with her. A mother tries desperately to understand her daughter's behavior. No young girl, she thought, would threaten to leave home, say things like "Everybody hates me" and "I wish I were never born," unless she were very insecure, afraid, and probably depressed. Part of her thinks her daughter is still the same child who used to hold her breath until she turned blue or threw tantrums whenever she didn't get her way. After all, it seems she only says and does those things when she's facing discipline or is trying to get her way. But a part of her is afraid to believe that. "What if she really believes what she's saying?," she wonders. "What if I've really done something to hurt her and I just don't realize it?," she worries. She hates to be "bullied" by all the threats and emotional displays her daughter exhibits whenever she doesn't get what she wants. But she can't take the chance her daughter might really be hurting, can she? Besides, children don't bully unless underneath it all they really feel insecure or threatened in some way, do they? When you're being manipulated, chances are that someone is fighting with you for something but in a way that's difficult to see. Covert-aggression is the heart of manipulation.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spotting psychopaths at work

How do you spot the psychopath among your work colleagues?

Professor Robert Hare, of the University of British Columbia, is a world expert on the "snakes in suits" who scale corporate ladders with consummate ease.

He delivered a public lecture on psychopaths at work in Belfast on Wednesday, in the run-up to a two-day conference organised by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

"Corporate psychopaths" use arrogance and superficial charm to scale the top of the ladder, knocking off whoever gets in their way, Prof Hare explained.

"White collar psychopaths will defraud people of their life savings, then quite happily go to the Mediterranean, have a villa and never give it a thought."

He estimates that one in 100 people in North America are psychopaths. You do not have to be Hannibal Lecter to fit into the profile.

"People might say he or she is charismatic, high profile or 'gets things done'. We have a whole series of euphemisms for the individual who may be self centred, grandiose, lacking in empathy and does not give a damn about everybody else," he added.


"Think of Robert Maxwell who destroyed thousands of lives," he said.

Such people are social predators who do not get bothered by ordinary social anxieties. They are self serving individuals, he explained.

Their only concern is food. They see the world as one large watering hole. Their resources are sex, power and money.

With New York psychologist Dr Paul Babiak, Prof Hare has developed a new 107-point questionnaire to identify which desks those smooth-talking "snakes in suits" might be hiding behind.

BBC News
Wednesday, 1 December, 2004

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Psychological Profile of Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein’s
psychology can be
described in terms
of the syndrome of
malignant narcissism.
The core components
of this syndrome are
pathological narcissism,
antisocial features,
paranoid traits, and unconstrained aggression.

1. Pathological narcissism

Saddam exhibits extreme grandiosity, overconfidence, and self-absorption to a degree that renders him incapable of empathizing with the pain and suffering of others. He is devoid of empathy and unmoved by human suffering, which permits him to commit atrocities against his own people as readily as he is willing to brutalize his enemies.

2. Antisocial features

The tenuous social conscience of malignant narcissists is governed primarily by self-interest. Malignantly narcissistic leaders like Saddam Hussein are driven by power motives and self-aggrandizement; however, their amorality permits them to exploit the principled beliefs and deeply held convictions of others (e.g., religious values or nationalistic fervor) to consolidate their own power. They are undeterred by the threat of punishment, which makes them singularly resistant to economic inducement, sanctions, or any other pressures short of force.

3. A paranoid outlook

Behind a grandiose facade, malignant narcissists harbor a siege mentality. They are insular, project their own hostilities onto others, and fail to recognize their own role in creating foes. These real or imagined enemies, in turn, are used to justify their own aggression against others.

4. Unconstrained aggression

Malignant narcissists are cold, ruthless, sadistic, and cynically calculating, yet skilled at concealing their aggressive intent behind a public mask of civility or idealistic concern.

Political implications

Because self-aggrandizement is the guiding force that drives Saddam, the only plausible scenario under which he would voluntarily relinquish political power would be the conviction that it would give him a “second lease on life” and permit him to survive the current crisis, ultimately to return to power. His personality profile suggests that Saddam Hussein will use all means at his disposal to cling to power. If backed into a corner, there is an elevated risk that he will take his own life rather than surrender.

Aubrey Immelman
March 2003