Who put the “psycho” in psychopath? A malignant narcissist, that’s who. A malignant narcissist is like taking a psychopath, a narcissist, and a hostile, paranoid sadist, and rolling them all into one.

I never gave much thought to the term “malignant narcissist.” It’s not a term I’d come across very often, and when I did, it seemed just like another name for “psychopath.” Then several months ago I had a conversation with a psychopath named “R,” who said, “There is a lot of confusion between psychopathy and malignant narcissism. Malignant narcissists are in a permanent state of rage and are paranoid, emotionally unstable and dangerous. A lot of people wrongly considered psychopaths (Hitler and Ted Bundy, for example) were in reality malignant narcissists…. I believe that the psychology profession is deliberately led in certain directions, and part of that has been to avoid the subject of malignant narcissists. It moves the focus too close to home for a certain group of people… “

That piqued my interest a bit, although the source naturally left me skeptical.

But malignant narcissism (MN) really got my attention when I read this morning that psychologist John D. Gartner, PhD, a psychotherapist and an instructor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was willing to step out on an ethical limb in order to warn the public about a serious danger: our new president’s mental state.

This courageous psychologist has diagnosed Donald Trump with malignant narcissism. And he is warning us that Trump is dangerous. I think many of us have already come to that conclusion, especially now, after this first week of his presidency. His grandiosity, vengeance and lack of humanity seem to have no bounds.

“We’ve seen enough public behavior by Donald Trump now that we can make this diagnosis indisputably,” says Gartner, whose comments run afoul of the so-called Goldwater Rule, the informal term for part of the ethics code of the American Psychiatric Association saying it is wrong to provide a professional opinion of a public figure without examining that person and gaining consent to discuss the evaluation. But Gartner says the Trump case warrants breaking that ethical code. “Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president,” says Gartner. (US News and World Report, Jan. 28, 2017) 

I wanted this post to be a warning about malignant narcissists, not about Trump. But I realized all of us already have a malignant narcissist in our lives, and that happens to be the president. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a personal relationship. His behavior, words and actions have an effect on us.

It is my hope that this information will help you to better understand him and his daily shocking and ruinous actions (actions that have brought incredible shame upon our country and are rapidly plunging us into an age of darkness). I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning. I can barely keep up with it. And I resent having this insanity thrust into my life and onto the world—the disastrous, inhumane new policies; the many lies; the constant gaslighting; the impulsive, attention-grabbing outbursts; and the destructive, King-Kong-style ego trip, one that seeks to destroy everything and everyone in its path.

But here we are. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. Being subject to the senseless whims and daily pummeling of a malignant narcissist can be traumatizing, and we should take it seriously. It has the potential to affect our mental health. I give tips on how to deal with it at the end of this post.

If you’re dealing with personal trauma in addition to this, which is likely, my heart goes out to you.

What is Malignant Narcissism?

“Malignant narcissism is a syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, aggression, and sadism. Often grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate.” (Wikipedia)

Malignant Narcissists are “determined to gratify their wishes and furious if thwarted. Their desire can be so consuming that there is little comprehension of, respect for or ability to empathize with the other. They lack guilt or remorse and tend to feel or pronounce that it is they who have been mistreated,” notes an article on the Psychology Today website. “Malignant Narcissists will go to great lengths to achieve their aim… They may lie, falsely accuse, dramatize, smear, cheat, steal, manipulate, accuse, blame or twist to get what they want and feel justified in doing so. Because they are entitled, egocentric and desperate, they do not experience it as wrong.”

The traits of Malignant Narcissists are as follows:

  • Manipulative
  • Destructive
  • Egocentric
  • Uses projection as a defense mechanism
  • Lacks a conscience
  • Narcissistic
  • Exhibits anti-social behavior
  • Sadistic
  • Aggressive
  • Paranoid
  • Grandiose sense of self-worth
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Regression (a defense mechanism leading to the temporary or long-term reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development rather than handling unacceptable impulses in a more adaptive way.)

While it’s true MN has a lot in common with psychopathy and narcissism, it seems to be different and more extreme.

(the most severe pathology and the root of the most vicious destructiveness and inhumanity)

What is it, exactly, that makes a Malignant Narcissist especially dangerous?

The social psychologist Erich Fromm first coined the term “malignant narcissism” in 1964, describing it as a “severe mental sickness” representing “the quintessence of evil”. He characterized the condition as “the most severe pathology and the root of the most vicious destructiveness and inhumanity.” I think “R,” the psychopath I spoke with, was right about Bundy and Hitler. And now we have another name to add to that list. Unfortunately, this is not good news for anyone. Trump will not be stopped (at least not by the government) or he would have been a long time ago. Too many people in power are getting what they want. Not because they are strong, but because they are weak.

If you are feeling traumatized, how can you deal with it?

  • Remember to have boundaries. Boundaries protect you, often from yourself. Avoid staying glued to the news all day and risk falling into depression, anxiety attacks and despair. Stay informed, of course, but don’t make it your sole focus. It’s true that many of us are outraged, anxious and horrified, but we have to take measures to preserve our mental well-being. Be sure to do the things you love, or even take up some new hobby or activity. Get out in nature. Hike with friends or go to a park. Learn to play an instrument. Learn a foreign language. Read a good book. Knit. Try some new recipes. Learn to dance. This is the perfect time to start practicing yoga and/or meditation. Enjoy your life and take good care of yourself, despite what’s going on.
  • Realize what you’re dealing with.  The unvarnished truth will alleviate your confusion and help you stop wasting your time wondering why everyone doesn’t come to their senses. An article I highly recommend is  Orwell’s “1984” and Trump’s America | The New Yorker. Author Adam Gopnic writes,

“Starting this week, it’s vital that everyone who is trying to maintain sanity understand that this is so: that it is a myth that reason, as normally undertaken, is going to affect this process or that “consequences,” as they are normally understood, will, either. Whenever there is an authoritarian coup rooted in an irrational ideology, well-meaning people insist that it can’t persist because the results are going to be so obviously bad for the people who believe in it, whether it’s the theocratic revolution in Iran or the first truly autocratic Administration in America. Tragically, terribly, this is never the way it works. There is no political cost for Trump in being seen to be incompetent, impulsive, shallow, inconsistent, and contemptuous of truth and reason. Those are his politics. This is how he achieved power.”

Be sure to recognize and avoid useless, frustrating interviews and conversations with people who are gaslighting. Trust your own perceptions if something’s not making sense, and don’t waste your time with it. Bill Maher said it best in his monlogue, WTF is going on?:

“Here’s how Sean Spicer explained ‘alternative facts.’ He said, ‘it’s like the weather report. One weather report comes out and says it’s going to be cloudy, and another comes out and says there’s going to be light rain. No one lied to you.’ Yeah, sometimes weather men disagree on what the weather is going to be like tomorrow. BUT THEY DON’T DISAGREE ON WHAT IT WAS LIKE YESTERDAY.”

  • Be in community with like-minded people for support and TAKE ACTION. Taking action is empowering! Sitting and worrying won’t do any good. If you’re angry, remember that anger is energizing. You can channel that energy into something that makes a difference. Join in a protest (were any of you in the women’s march? I’d love to hear about it). Call Congress: 202-224-3121. Call every day. More often than not, you will speak to a staff person in the member’s office. This person keeps track of how many people called and their positions on issues, and provides a summary to the member. Your call does count, even if you are not able to speak directly to your senator or representative.

The following organizations will give you ideas for action, and connect you with groups in your area:

Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda 

COMMON CAUSE: Holding Power Accountable 

Sign petitions:

 Elect the president by national popular vote (777,000 signatures so far)

Sign the White House website’s petition calling for immediate release of Trump’s tax returns (407,000 signatures so far)

  • Do things that restore your faith in humanity. Look for ways to support those who are suffering. Volunteer to help the poor or hungry. Send books to a prison. Donate work-worthy clothing to a DV shelter that gets women back on their feet. Make a donation to a worthy cause, such as one that provides aid to Syrian refugees, which Trump has inhumanely and disgracefully banned from the US. You can find reputable charities here: CHARITY NAVIGATOR: Syrian Crisis

♥ Let’s all be sure to reach out for the support we need, and reach out to support others. These are trying times, and I wish us all well.

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71 thoughts on “MALIGNANT NARCISSISM: Even Worse Than It Sounds”

  1. Pamela

    Please give us some insight to Steve Bannon, who I believe to be the master puppeteer of Trump.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Sure, Pamela! Steve Bannon is definitely the psychopathic puppet master, the “brains” behind the whole operation. I wrote this in the post on mass manipulation:

      “For a clue to Trump’s agenda, we can look to Stephen Bannon, his chief strategist and senior counselor, ex-Goldman Sachs banker and former head of Breitbart news. Bannon has been searching for years for someone to carry out his own agenda, according to the New York Times article, “Combative, Populist Steve Bannon Found His Man in Donald Trump”:

      “More quietly, Mr. Bannon systematically courted a series of politicians, especially those who share his dark, populist worldview… Finally, in Mr. Trump, Mr. Bannon found his man. Mr. Bannon told a colleague in multiple conversations during the presidential campaign that he knew Mr. Trump was an “imperfect vessel” for the revolution he had in mind. But the upstart candidate and the media entrepreneur bonded anyway.”

      And what is Bannon’s agenda? In his own words:

      “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too . . . I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

      Former CIA officer Glenn Carle, a 23-year veteran, said “Look, in my professional assessment as an intelligence officer, Trump has a reflexive, defensive, monumentally narcissistic personality, for whom the facts and national interest are irrelevant, and the only thing that counts is whatever gives personal advantage and directs attention to himself. He is about the juiciest intelligence target an intelligence officer could imagine. He groans with vulnerabilities. He will only work with individuals or entities that agree with him and build him up, and he is a shockingly easy intelligence ‘target’ to manipulate.”

      ThinkProgress author Ned Resnikoff offers an explanation of Bannon’s manipulative strategy. An excerpt:

      “In [Trump’s] political universe, facts are unstable and ephemeral; events follow one after the other with no clear causal linkage; and danger is everywhere, although its source seems to change at random… President-elect Trump offers an ever-shifting phantasmagoria of sense impressions and unreliable information, barely held together by a fog of anxiety and bewilderment… It is tempting to suppose Trump built this phantasmagoria by accident — that it is the byproduct of an erratic, undisciplined, borderline pathological approach to dishonesty. But the president-elect should not be underestimated. His victories in both the Republican primary and the general election were stunning upsets, and he is now set to alter the course of world history. If he does not fully understand what he is doing, his advisers certainly do. Steve Bannon knows. In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bannon suggested that the key elements in his strategy are dissimulation and ‘darkness.’

      “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power,” he said. “It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”


      Bannon said the following in an interview with Vanity Fair last summer:

      “Trump is a blunt instrument for us. I don’t know whether he really gets it or not.”

      He knows how unshakable Trump’s delusions are, and he’s not worried at all about maintaining control over him. Trump is a tool that Bannon is using to push his own agenda.

      Trump is being used, badly—by Bannon, the GOP, the Russians, Rex Tillerson, all of them. No one has one bit of respect for him. They all know he’s sick, but they’re happy to take advantage of it for their own personal gain. Bannon gets to destroy the establishment, the kleptocracy they’ve set up gets all of them richer, and the rest of us pay the price.

      What are your thoughts on Bannon, Pamela?

        1. Adelyn Birch

          Hot off the presses..

          “Even before he was given a formal seat on the National Security Council’s “principals committee” this weekend by President Donald Trump, Bannon was calling the shots and doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff, according to an intelligence official who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution. ‘He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,’ the official said. He described a work environment where there is little appetite for dissenting opinions, shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings, and no guidance or encouragement so far from above about how the National Security Council staff should be organized.”

          Steve Bannon Is Making Sure There’s No White House Paper Trail, Says Intel Source

          “Bannon’s ascendancy was ratified with the release of an unprecedented presidential order appointing him to the National Security Council’s principals committee while kicking off the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence. Who needs to hear from intelligence or military professionals when you can hear from the publisher of Breitbart?”

          President Bannon’s Hugely Destructive First Week in Office| The puppet master is leading the Trump administration down a road of carnage

      1. Sarah

        Hi adelyn I am New to this site and it helped me tramendous in this short time i was browsing on your blog. But i am very interested in your experience with the psychopath that was supressing your life where can i read your story?

  2. Rose

    Thank you Adelyn for this much needed information. I hope you can get it out to a very wide audience.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      You’re welcome, Rose. Please share it if you can; that’s the best way to get it out there.

  3. Julia

    Within a week of Trump’s presidency his narcissism is being felt worldwide. In the UK (my country) our Prime Minister May is now being seen as weak by extolling his virtues. But I truly believe that she is a very clever woman and knows she is dealing with a psycopath.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I think you’re right; PM May knows exactly what she’s dealing with. I can’t imagine how relieved she was when it was over and the two countries still had a relationship! She’s in a tough spot, what with needing a trade deal. She told him the Queen had invited him for a visit next year, which was smart—that’ll keep him on good behavior for a while because it’s important to his ego. I’m sure the crowds outside Buckingham Palace will be massive—the biggest crowd ever for any visiting US president. Too bad he won’t notice the torches.

  4. Julia

    Please believe – this man will not last long. And there is one good thing that will come out of it. The whole world will come to understand psycopathy and will be able to protect themselves from it.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I believe that he’ll be stopped at some point, but something extreme will have to happen first. It will take a very hard lesson in order for people to learn, and before any good can come of it.

      1. Julia

        I don’t think that will take very long -given his first two weeks. He is getting more grandiose on a daily basis. His supreme ego will be his downfall. And , of course, he will blame that downfall on whoever he wishes. Typical psychopathy.
        America will breathe again …….

        1. Adelyn Birch

          I hope you’re right, Julia. I’m not as optimistic, to tell you the truth. Democracy has already been eroded. Checks and balances—which keep us free and operating under the rule of law, protecting us from tyranny—do no good if no one makes them work. I’m thinking of Agent Orange firing the acting attorney general after she questioned the legality of the “immigration ban.” She was doing her job! He doesn’t understand that he is NOT the highest authority of the land—the US Constitution is, and his job is to uphold it, not gut it.

          Another disturbing example of the failure of checks and balances is the fact that Congress has not demanded (and scrutinized) his tax returns. His decisions must be guided by the best interests of the country. Ethical transparency is critical to national security because it ensures that personal financial interests are not placed before the interests of the country. We have a right to know if Trump is acting unethically or on behalf of the country. Yet he’s being allowed to get away with it.

          He doesn’t tolerate any dissent, either from within (think of the fired judge) or from anyone—he threatens removing federal funds from cities and now colleges, and free speech is suffering as companies worry about expressing their views because if he calls them out on Twitter, their income and stock will suffer.

          He’s playing right out of the Dictator’s Playbook, and no one is stopping him. Now that all three branches of govt (and many state govts) are a one-party system, our democracy and way of life is in danger.

          All of the chaos he creates is to distract us from investigating the legitimacy of his presidency (which is in question because no one knows about his foreign influences and conflicts of interest), and while we’re distracted, he’s consolidating power. Things could get much worse than we could imagine, as he expands the Muslim ban and police are freed to use force to squash dissent and mass incarceration picks up. Jeff Sessions, his backward, racist, psychopathic attorney general, is a big proponent of mass incarceration and the death penalty (he even tried to pass a law to execute people after two drug dealing arrests), and he does not believe that excessive use of force by police, or prosecutorial misconduct, even exist!

          Add to all of this that even though he was completely unfit to be president, the GOP didn’t stop him even though they could have disqualified him. They’re not going to let go of him too easily. That would make them look very bad. They’re going to wait until things are so bad that every Democrat is calling for his impeachment and removal and enough Republicans are willing to go along with them. Then the Repubs, and Trump supporters, can blame the Dems.

  5. Janes/ Lady Vigilant 2

    Another very enlightening post!
    This is a great differentiator. What a rainbow colors of freaks.
    I did contact those numbers & websites.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      A rainbow, with a pot of ______ instead of a pot of gold. Glad you liked the post, Janes/LV 2

  6. Patrick

    What about Kellyanne Conway? She seems to fall into much of that pattern identified as MN herself.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Kellyanne Conway! She’s such a lying pathological assclown that I won’t waste one second of my time listening to anything she says. I’d recommend everyone do the same. She has nothing to offer other than obviously ridiculous gaslighting, and as such, she’s not worth anyone’s time. Whatever she is, she’s a lost cause.

  7. John

    Dr. Gartner took a principled stand and it needed to be taken by him and all others of conscience. I don’t see it as diagnosing from afar. That is what you do with someone who is vulnerable and in need of care. I see it as forensic profiling. That is what you do with someone who is dangerous and unpredictable. As always, keep up the good fight, Adelyn.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I agree, John. I only wish we had people of conscience in the GOP. They will pay the price for it, though:

      “Trump has, through the fights he has picked and the nominees he has named, sparked massive counter-protests against his presidency, and driven his approval numbers, depending on which poll you believe, into the low 40s or high 30s — unheard-of unpopularity for a new president. Trump, of course, will not face voters for another four years. But Ryan and his colleagues will face voters in 2018, and Trump is doing everything in his power to ensure the Democratic base is activated as never before for a midterm election.

      But the most grievous blow Trump has inflicted on his allies is on their potential place in history. Everything Trump is doing has been enabled by Ryan and his colleagues. He has not released his taxes because Congress has not forced him to. He has not reined in his conflicts of interest because Ryan and his colleagues thought their agenda more important than his ethics. He won the election, at least in part, because top Republicans like Ryan consolidated the party behind Trump. They are implicated in everything he does.”

      VOX|The Snake

      I’ve only begun the fight :-)

  8. Hannah Evans

    It is the regression that can give us hope. Push the narcissist long enough and hard enough he/she/it will have a psychotic break. Usually such individuals act in a very primitive and public fashion. We can hope for his running down fifth avenue naked.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I don’t know, Hannah… I seem to recall Trump saying he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Ave. and not lose his supporters, which now include Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. But the TrumpBannon presidency is crashing and burning as we speak, so it may not even be necessary for Trump to go stark raving mad (and that’s good because we won’t have to see him naked).

  9. mark

    I lived with a Narc for 4 years and almost died as a result of it. I KNOW it’s important not to focus on the diagnosis but instead actively RESIST and OPPOSE Trump’s fascism, but my heart goes out to fellow survivors out there. WE must defeat this evil regime TOGETHER.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      You’re right, Mark, it is an evil regime and we must defeat it. We have an authoritarian in power, and no one in govt is stopping him. Democracy is suffering already. We’re facing a crisis over whether the Constitution—the rule of law—is respected or not. Trump believes he’s above the rule of law. He’s not, but if he isn’t stopped, then he may as well be. Immigrants, women and minorities will lose many rights before this is over. Everyone will feel the effects when financial, labor and environmental regulations designed to protect the public are trashed. It’s good that we have an army of lawyers working on our behalf, but we still have to do our part.

      One of the things that’s getting lost is that the majority of Americans oppose Trump’s policies. We have a remarkably unpopular president with only a minority of people supporting him, and he’s trying hard to project an image that he has strong support.

      “It’s hard to stand up to an apparent majority. An unpopular regime that nonetheless attains power develops a persuasiveness that is outsize. People feel a strong pull to agree with what they believe most people think, and people fear speaking out against views they assume are held by a powerful majority.

      But unpopularity is the Trump regime’s — indeed every unpopular regime’s — greatest weakness. While the alienation many feel now can breed hopelessness and apathy, these feelings are misplaced. Recall the end of the Anderson fable, in which a child laughs at the naked emperor, triggering a cascade of nonconformity that undoes the spell. Unpopular regimes rest on a fragile foundation. Their legitimacy can be undermined if the true majority reveals itself. Above all else, in order to resist the tyranny of the minority, the majority must remember the strength of its numbers.”

      What psychology teaches us about opposing an unpopular president

  10. AudrieL

    I am one of the ones doubling up on trauma from all angles at this moment in time. Your site has been a gift. Your words and insights must lead the way. Quickly. All my love and spirit, wishing blessings and safety to you and yours.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m sorry you’re being doubly traumatized, Audrie, and I hope you have the support you need. Please take good care of yourself. Love, safety and blessings to you and yours, too xo

  11. AudrieL.

    Bannon follows the philosophies of Alexander Dugin– Reference AM Joy’s post on Jan 29 from MSNBC where she interviews MalcolmNance, veteran intelligence officer analyst where he calls the alarm to the Bannon Dugin connection. Read this summary on Duginism from the National Review and Adelyn, this is why I believe withmore than a dread and gut feeling based on my narc/path trauma that we are in trouble: NationalReview: “Dugins Evil Theology” by Robert Zubrin

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I hadn’t heard this yet, Audrie. Thanks for telling me. “Aleksandr Dugin is a Russian political scientist known for his fascist views who calls to hasten the ‘end of times’ with all out war.” Yep, that sounds like Bannon! I’m hoping Gen. McMaster throws him out of the NSC meetings, and that honest investigations into Trump’s treason get them all thrown out of the White House. The GOP is looking the other way because they’re getting to do what they want, but they’re going to be sorry. I believe the resistance will prevail, Audrie. We have the majority of the public on our side, along with the honest media, the CIA, and an army of lawyers.

  12. AudrieL

    Not sure about another method of writing to you– do you have an email or other means? Just a big thank you for your March 1st blog post. The moral injury of acting in a manner you wouldn’t otherwise and the outside oerseptions once they abuser smears you as a cheat, well… it’s reputationally devestating. Mine not only baited me away from my spouse (using the con of leaving his spouse) but proceeded to drug induced assault me once he finally got me alone. On top of everything else– the reputational attack has nearly finished me. Plus what’s happening in the world. I figured out what happened to me and why and made any sense of it and began hearing because of this site. I have no idea how I found it. I just wanted to remind you again. It’s a divine gift. Best, AudrieL

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Hi, Audrie. I’m so glad the blog post was helpful. It’s such a loaded subject, even though it shouldn’t be. I’m very sorry to hear of what happened to you. What a terrible thing to do! And then on top of that, having to deal with a reputational attack. The surreal insanity created by the crazy “president” is traumatic, too. It’s a lot, and I hope you have at least some support. Thank you for letting me know my work has been of help to you. I find it hard to put into words how much that means to me. xo

  13. Betty

    Hi Adelyn, I found your blog/website few days ago while searching for information about psychopaths and their gaze. I cannot post comments in the specific article, so I hope you don’t mind that I write here. Regarding Trump I really hope that he gets impeached soon, regardless who he really is – an MN or P. I also do not favor Obamas or Clintons. Ever since I was reading Cleckley, Hare and Babiak, I understand my impressions about them better. It is however not always like that. My gut feelings are not always activated (the way you discribed it in one of your articles). For example, I really got a paradigm shift when Dr. Babiak explained in one of his interviews with Dr. Shug, that Meryl Strip’s character from the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” is in fact a psychopath. He praised Meryl’s acting qualities and calls her performance one of the best interpretation of a psychopath. Unlike with Meryl, I have strong reactions when watching one of Ray Liotta’s movies. I think he was playing a cop who turns to be a bad guy. His gaze is so intense even on some off screen pictures and I cannot recall that I ever had such strong reaction with any other actor or real life person. He is said to be a very nice guy, so I cannot explain why do I have such strong reaction about him. I wonder what do you think about. Thank you for your reply.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Was the Ray Liotta film “Unlawful Entry”? I haven’t seen it, nor have I seen Devil Wears Prada, but now they’re both on my list! A strong gaze could be a sign of psychopathy, but don’t count on it. Never count on your gut feelings to warn you of danger, either. By all means listen if you get a bad feeling, but not having a gut reaction doesn’t mean everything’s OK. I wrote about that here: Never Trust Your Gut… Unless it Tells You to RUN Another blog post on this topic: “I Promise You, I’m No Gigolo” I just looked at some pics of Ray Liotta, and what struck me is that when he was younger, he looked like Ted Bundy! Maybe you noticed that subconsciously and are transferring your feelings from one to the other? Hard to say. Thank you for your comment, Betty!

      1. Betty

        Hi Adelyn,
        I appologize for the late reply. Yes Liotta’s movie is Unlawful Entry. I watched also Something Wild and Turbulence. He really scared the s*** out of me. I cannot tell that I was thinking on Ted Bundy when watching Unlawful Entry but I was thinking on Liotta when some experts were talking about psychopathic characters in the movies. Liotta has also one nice movie Corrina, Corrina with Whoopy Goldberg. I watched the movie because of Whoopy. When finding out that Liotta is in the movie too, I was rolling eyes like “oh, nooo, not him”. I really cannot tell why do I react so strong on him. :/

        1. Adelyn Birch

          There is definitely something unusual about Ray Liotta’s looks. I don’t know what it is about him that gives you such a strong aversion to him, though. We’ll never know for sure, unless shocking stories about his private life come out. I just skimmed a few articles about him, and saw him described as sometimes having a “menacing vibe” and a “taut alertness.” One of his interviews ends like this: “He grins again, and this time it’s the predatory one he’s famous for. ‘I’ve learned how to keep a distance from people when I need to,’ he says. ‘I’m serious about playing pretend.\'” Interesting…

          1. Betty

            I’m glad you’re noticing that. Have been reading some interviews & watching some on YouTube. He has a great sense for ambiguity and, next to that, he has made contradicting statements. He said recently that he likes to play bad guys while they are a fun to play. In the past he kept saying that he avoids playing bad guys out of fear of being typecast. btw, thank you for the articles. I’m familiar with those Gigolos. When I was in my late teens/early twenties one of them said to me “I’d never do anything/or ask you to do anything that you don’t like”. My reply was “Oh really? Otherwise you would?”. Another one (a psychopath and know criminal) stopped his car and started to chat with me offering to drive me home. When I refused his offer, he started to laugh saying “Are you afraid?” Regarding Ray, he is in fact a ladies man. He has a lot of charm. I’m glad I’m not one of his “ladies” or broads (his fave type of a woman) However, I’m of now to enjoy the weekend. Have a good weekend too :)

            1. Adelyn Birch

              I heard he was charming. We’ll keep our distance; Ray Liotta won’t have a chance with us!

  14. Anthony

    History just seems to be repeating itself. Or as someone said (I forget), “History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes”. But the difference now is we are more sure there is a mental state aspect to it. Yet people still ignore it! The definition of psychopathy and narcissism is becoming more precise. But people don’t know who they are!

    I took a look back and saw the definition was broader and broader. In the 70s, they seemed to classify it into 3 categories:
    Primary: No anxiety, fear, guilt, driven into anti social behaviour by sadism and desire for pleasure.
    Secondary (or neurotic psychopath): Usually from environment, higher levels of neuroticism, anxiety, fear. Driven into anti social behaviour by rage or emotional imbalance. (Hitler was diagnosed by Langer as this, you should read the OSS report on Hitler. Darth Vader is the perfect example too.)
    Dissocial: Learned behavior from culture or group. Group think like internet trolls.

    And then I dug deeper back to the 40s and before. Psychopathy as a term didn’t exist as we know it now. The term sociopath was used but based on behaviors for diagnosis. A “psychopath” was anyone who displayed enough of what they though at the time was mental deviation (such as being gay, schizoid, manic depressive, substance addicted, deluded, having manias, overly eccentric, being obsessive and compulsive towards bizarre behaviours, anything they defined as “perversion in mind”.)

    I found Hans Asperger’s 1944 paper about “Autistic Psychopathy” I first assumed from the title he believed it was a type of psychopathy due to the impairment in theory of mind and lack of empathy. But in the paper he said he chose the term over psychotic because the patients were not so unstable and detached from reality like his schizophrenic patients but were not fully in touch to be considered normally sound of mind. (The word was directly translated from German “psychopathieren”) What a very bizarre use I thought, so I dug deeper and discovered the earlier definition was different. There was also term “moral insanity” back then but they judged by behaviour, not intentions. So a drug addict or starving man who commited a crime for money was the same to them as a person who did it for pleasure. “Morally insane”

    Did they not know what a “psychopath” was? Were those the dark ages of psychiatry and psychology? And I think we still don’t know (or not enough people know). The renaissance hasn’t come yet (but we are closer).
    But people are still brushing off people with severe disorders as being quirky or strange. We cannot afford to go through this cycle again, otherwise we will have to wait even longer for the next window of better understanding to come. And if the USA get’s too messed up, we can only hope the rest of the world steps in. But they seem indifferent too even though this is also a problem for them!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      All very interesting ideas, Anthony. Thank you for sharing them. It seems we’re back in the “dark days of psychiatry” now, since the diagnosis of psychopathy has been lumped in with antisocial personality disorder, precisely for the reason of only being able to observe a person’s behavior, but not their intentions. Oh well. They’ll probably change it again in a few years, but at this time they’re going backward instead of forward.

      What’s happening now in the US is another tremendous step backward. It seems to me that we may be heading into that cycle again. I don’t know who will step in and stop it, but I believe it will have to come from within. It may come down to attacking it from different directions all at once, like what you see now but more intense. A lot of lawyers and lawsuits, the public resisting, and the press holding the government accountable. Democracy is being battered badly right now, that’s for sure.

      Some articles I’ve found especially interesting:

      At the root of Trump’s new fury: Total contempt for American democracy

      We have at most a year to defend American democracy, perhaps less

      Trial Balloon for a Coup?

      How nationalism has united religious bigots and white supremacists under Trump

      This Is How the Republican Party Plans to Destroy the Federal Government

      1. Anthony

        Thank you for the links. I want to share another opinion of part of why this is happening. The internet.
        In the past it was harder to bullshit, claims or ideas had to go through natural selection. They either stand up to scrutinization or they sunk. Like the birther movement during Obama’s administration. Every time they presented the claim, it got beat down after close analysis, but then they retreated into their corner of the internet where they regenerated from whatever little scraps they could hold onto that they had left. Ideas are not challenged, people gather together and agree with eachother in echo chambers only strengthening their numbers and spreading their ideas like a fire without anything to back them up. Donald Trump can keep spouting out as much as he wants and he KNOWS his words will achieve a kind of immortality no matter how full of crap they are. This is in a way worse than the 1930s! They just had newspapers.

        On a related note:
        I also think this is why neurodiversity could possibly ever exist now. There used to be anti-psychiatry movements in the 80s like Mad Pride where people with psychosis and other disorders denied their were sick, they believed they needed no help or medication. But then they got the inevitable beat down when it came time to show prove their legitimacy. Now the internet won’t let things die no matter how much you do. Just look at how vibrant MRA sites and Stormfront now are.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          There’s no doubt the internet contributes to “alternative reality” and can support any idea, whether it’s true or not. But TV and radio have contributed, too. Rush Limbaugh and Hannity and Alex Jones have been brainwashing people for years, and they paved the way to what we’re experiencing now. Apparently, if you tell a lie emphatically enough some will believe it. How people even listen to all that anger and yelling is beyond me. The most dangerous thing right now are the lies the Trump regime needs to invent to support their agenda (economic- and ethno-nationalism). The facts about crime, about immigrants, about terrorism, cannot support their bans, deportations, and the mass incarceration that’s coming, all of it under the guise of “national security.” Jeff Sessions, AG, will rubber-stamp Trump’s legal edicts and act like Hitler’s prosecutor, and they will use the DOJ against Americans. Never mind that he should have already been fired for perjury! Add to that what the GOP is doing to dismantle the regulations that protect our health, safety, finances, and the environment, and they’re planning to pass laws that make it impossible to sue corporations, because they know we’ll have many reasons to do so. All of this because people were manipulated into voting for a narcissistic blowhard who had no character or decency, and who openly ran on a platform of violating our civil rights! And he has the nuclear codes. This will not end well. I hope I’m wrong. What do you think, Anthony?

          1. Anthony

            Worst case scenario: Everything happens as you said. The USA is damaged and won’t recovery for ages. The world has a large war too, but will be like WW1 where little is accomplished, not WW2 where there was a cause.

            Best case: People step in and a crisis is averted. The USA continues to progress as we saw some signs of it.

            What I think may happen (I may be wrong): A lot of bad things will happen and people will step in too late but won’t remain 100% idle. It will be a gigantic setback but the world won’t end. I think there was a man who successfully predicted who will be elected for many administrations. He also said Trump will at some point be impeached. I hope if he is right about his predictions, he is right about this one. I also think the USA may become more isolationist to a degree like pre WW2, especially from the trauma the people will have suffered, they will be more afraid and more concerned with their own country’s needs. But non-interventionism and isolationism are not the same. The USA does need to not interfere so much and spend so much on the military but it can’t turn its back on the world and stop foreign aid for starving countries.

            1. Adelyn Birch

              We definitely can’t turn our back on the world and cut aid for starving countries. Have you seen that budget proposal? It’s ridiculous! I don’t think it has any chance of passing, but it’s a great insight into trump’s lack of empathy or a conscience. Mulvaney, too. “Budgets are moral documents, and Trump’s is a moral failure.” Trump and company are making a huge mistake by cutting “soft power” in favor of military might. Soft power, including diplomacy, is what prevents war in the first place, and what prevents radicalization. “Trump’s funding cuts to diplomacy and aid would mark retreat from soft power.” If he makes those cuts to the State Dept, we’ll be much more likely to end up in a war. He’s a typical totalitarian leader, wanting to cut everything in favor of “security.” You might like to read “America’s Mao Zedong.” Millions starved to death in China as he wasted money on ideological projects that had no benefit–just as Trump is now doing, wanting to cut services for the poor (even meals-on-wheels for the homebound elderly and school lunch programs) in favor of building a useless wall with Mexico, building up the force of deportation agents, and expanding the military budget (and of course all while cutting taxes for the wealthy). I think Trump will be impeached and removed within the next year, and although we’ll be stuck with Pence, he probably won’t be so anxious to get us into a war and won’t be the lunatic with the nuclear codes. Bannon will be gone, too. The whole thing is a mess, and there will be a lot of cleanup needed.

              1. Anthony

                (on topic) Maybe you are right, maybe it won’t turn out so bad. The problem though is that this cycle keeps happening with bad leaders followed by an averted crisis. It is a waste of our time when society should be moving forward.

                I haven’t read the budget proposals directly but I know what their plan is.

                I wonder if Trump’s spending proposals have an ulterior motive. Would it be easier to embezzle some money if he spent our cash on building a wall unlike giving food to the needy?

              2. Adelyn Birch

                Well I think it will turn out bad, but maybe not catastrophically bad, as in a nuclear Armageddon (although it is possible). There has already been so much damage done, just in terms of undermining the integrity of American democracy. We have a president with zero credibility, what with all of his outrageous lies, and who is the subject of a counter-intelligence investigation by the FBI. “Trump’s ruined credibility: What happens when the White House just can’t be trusted?” And right in the middle of this calamity, our sec of state, Rex Tillerson, will skip the NATO summit next month and go to Russia to visit with Putin instead. WTH? It’s surreal. All of it. As for the wall and embezzlement, he could award the contract to a business associate in exchange for part of the profits. Anything is possible with someone as corrupt as Trump.

          2. Anthony

            I also want to share a thought (it’s off topic, sorry it may be long and pedantic, but you will understand this better than most and maybe will enjoy it more)
            I was wondering why there is a lack of empathy in autistic disorders. So I looked at other conditions with similar deficits to find correlation. What I did find out was one thing they all shared was cognitive and executive dysfunctions. I also found out people with ADHD have a very very slight deficit in theory of mind compared to controls, and bipolar patients have a bit more deficit too that gets slightly larger during points in their mood cycles. Bipolar people also have some cognitive and executive dysfunctions but they are less severe, planning is still intact. I also noticed the greater the cognitive deficit, the greater the social dysfunction. You have just a few deficits with bipolar, then comes the milder end of autism and schizophrenia, then the greatest deficits are in people with late stage dementia, severe head injury, severe forms of the other disorders, or alzheimers whose deficits are so strong they require assisted living. People with classic intellectual disability don’t have the same deficits because cognitive dysfunction and IQ are not the same (but there can be some social problems). I also found out that the parts of the brain of the “empathy circuit” so often mentioned by people like Simon Baron Cohen actually are not solely used for social interaction, they are used for other purposes and from those available tools empathy arises. It is like human language, there is no single part of the brain that creates every single word or utterance for us to be made against our choice. Human languages is a combination of the ability to make sounds with our throats, to assign the sounds to objects or concepts, and to order them in recognizable sentences using our experience to impart meaning. It is a creation using available tools. Likewise I also found a study of highly empathetic people showing higher mirror neuron activation, but the study did find that the higher levels of empathy lead to more mirror neurons activating, it wasn’t the neurons somehow forcing the person to feel empathy against their own will. Another study showed that autistic people couldn’t feel the emotional significance of music, however when they performed the study under very controlled (and I stress very) conditions, the same parts of the brain in controls activated and they could feel the significance, but it also showed extra activity in a part of the front brain in addition, meaning their brain is working harder to decode it and only under controlled conditions was it allowed. You could we are normally blindfolded , and the world is one big uncontrolled state (hence mindblindness).

            To add, I observed my own cognitive deficits and looked to see if there were also correlations with where I was impaired. My testing when young showed poor cognitive inhibition but normal flexibility (usually flipped with other paitents). It also found my theory of mind was quite strong compared to other autistic people when observing other people, but was impaired normally when it came to my own interactions. Unsurprisingly people with autism have symptoms of depersonalization meaning we lack a strong sense of self, and people with some of the other conditions i mentioned have depersonalization/derealization as a key trait too. I tend to not feel much when someone tells me something has happened to a stranger, but I notice if I see someone who is displaying the signs of sadness sometimes I want to comfort them, and if I see a couple kissing on the street I can feel a warm feeling even though I have no interest in a relationship, but if someone reports events to me or tells me what they are feeling without showing obvious signs, there is no automatic reaction from me. (My depersonalization/derealization recently though has been weakening this further and my abilities change with my mental state and mood which can alter blood flow and other neurotransmitters, so it is not just psychological, I found it is not uncommon for flatter affect or an emptier feeling to occur even in neurotypicals who have dp or dr).

            It may be correlated to where i am impaired in my mental function, while with others the social impairments are different per individual. Examples of what may be impairing me include some literal mindedness, difficulty carrying patterns over to another situations, problems with planning planning, depersonalization, and filtering information all contribute to not being able to carry out the passive mental task of seeing someone else’s point of view. (Also interesting trivia, autistic people were shown to be slightly less impaired in emotional reaction to positive pictures, while scoring poorer on negative pictures, I wonder what that means? Is there another condition where it is flipped?) To add more evidence of empathy not being created from a single entity, consumption of alcohol causes a persons wits and abilities to be hampered, and heavily inebriated people show more impulsive action, less consideration for other people as a result, basically lack of empathy and TOM for a temporary period from the effects of alcohol. (And long term use of alcohol can cause TOM and empathy deficits, even when a person manages to quit)

            So why have I written this? What does all this information mean?
            What this means maybe is that empathy should not be viewed as a simple automatic physical reaction like the growling in one’s stomach, otherwise hunger would be an emotion. It isn’t even a basic emotion like fear, surprise, or anger. It is maybe even not like any basic emotion but something so much more complex and deep, something created from many numerous parts all coming together. Like the amazing complexity of human language. There is no one single part of the brain that creates empathy, and the parts that are responsible didn’t evolve solely for that purpose, it was only when these different mental abilities are put together that it comes alive.

            As for personality disorders, it could be argued that their lack of empathy isn’t medical or technical the way it is for the other disorders I mentioned. What they have is a severe and extreme type of character or personality that causes them to be unempathetic, (notice I use an adjective). That is why they have cognitive empathy since it is not from any executive dysfunction or impairment (but there are a few cognitive empathy deficits, sociopaths lack of anxiety and fear leads to impulsive actions that may not benefit them in the long term as they want, narcissism can cause a person to be unaware of other people’s thoughts to some degree since they are so in love with themselves every second that they choose to ignore them) But again these are coming from personality difference (and very extreme ones at that), they still for the most part are able to recognize another persons thoughts or emotions when they see or hear it. That is also why you can hear some people with neurological disorders not liking being that way. A sociopath loves being sociopathic, you will never hear a single one say they would rather be normal. I do want to have empathy and experience the joys of it. And many people with schizophrenia or alzheimers, even some autistic people who developed the conditon at the age of 3 (late) who have some memories of before do want to go back. The sociopath doesn’t care at all, it is directly from from who they are to the root . They are not a “person with sociopathy”, they are a sociopath.

            1. Adelyn Birch

              Anthony, you’ve put a great deal of time and effort into your study of empathy. Thank you for sharing the significant points of what you’ve learned. What strikes me is that your interest in empathy and your desire for more is actually itself empathy. I’m trying to explain what I mean by that, but can’t put it into words, so I’ll have to leave it there.

              “There is no one single part of the brain that creates empathy, and the parts that are responsible didn’t evolve solely for that purpose, it was only when these different mental abilities are put together that it comes alive.” Well said. Empathy is very complex, as is language, and from what I understand they rely on the connections between all the areas of the brain involved in the process. Our brains are complex, so much so that it seems we’re only at the beginning of our understanding how they work. I have a feeling the biggest breakthroughs are yet to come.

              True, psychopaths and sociopaths will never say they’d rather be normal. We are the only ones who suffer because of their disorder, not them. I’ve even heard it referred to as “the most pleasant mental disorder,” for that reason. They do not make a study of empathy because they lament not having more, like you do (and I think that explains what I meant in the first paragraph:)

              1. Anthony

                (Sorry the for another monologueish post, but you understand them quite well)
                Something a bit more on topic but not completely, are you familiar with the “horseshoe” theory?

                If you veer too far to one end you may resemble the other. I found out there is a left wing equivalent of a trump supporter, a “tankie”. They are neo-stalinist who deny his atrocities. They resemble their opponents more than they realize. For example: The far right believe being gay is bad because God says so. Tankies believe it’s a “corrupt bourgeois decadence”.

                Someone once wrote there is a cycle of getting too much of one extreme, then going to the other extreme. That person on the internet I remember said “If you are running away from a very bad idea, don’t run too far, or you will find people passing by you, running away from whatever it is on the other very far end.”

                But then I read there is a such a thing as a golden mean fallacy where one assumes whatever is in between two ideas must be correct. (Instead of not running over a person or running over 10, I will run over 5)

                Putting what I’ve heard together:
                What I’ve come up with as a better alternative (I almost always find that if I come up with an idea on my own, someone else has come up with the same one before me and expanded on it more, I like that many other people can have ideas I don’t have they can share with me) is that if you veer away from whatever is already a good idea, you find the extreme. (I will halt my car if the road isn’t clear and let cars crash into me, or I will drive recklessly when the road really is not clear enough and hit things. The answer of driving reasonably cautious is already established.)

                This would be worth considering if you’re a politician instead of trying to go down “the middle route” the old fashion way. But finding that “good idea” is impossible sometimes, if it even exists in some circumstances.

                What are your ideas of views that would help make politics better?

              2. Adelyn Birch

                I’d never heard of the “horseshoe” theory before! The example you used–attitudes about gayness–is hard for me to imagine coming from anyone on the left. I’m not saying it’s not true; I’ve just never heard or imagined such a thing. I’m going to have to do a little research.

                What are your ideas of views that would help make politics better?

                First and foremost, we need elected officials who are compassionate and who are actually working for us, and not for corporations (election financing would have to change). I read a fascinating piece this morning on what makes Paul Ryan and those like him so callous and cruel, and although the word “sociopath” was not in the article, it perfectly described sociopaths. There is no place for sociopaths or psychopaths in government. Ryan *truly believes* it’s fine and moral to let people die for lack of health care or from hunger, even in the “greatest” and “richest” country on earth. Unfathomable! Here’s the article: Why are Republicans so cruel to the poor? Paul Ryan’s profound hypocrisy stands for a deeper problem.

                In my ideal political fantasy, Trump would have been disqualified by his utter lack of decency and his hate. He should have been. I feel his voters were incredibly naive, or incredibly racist and xenophobic. We’re a society, not just a collection of individuals within borders, and every single person in our society needs to be considered a full member, no matter what. As such, every member of society should be provided with the basics: Health care. A good education. Opportunity. I could go on and on. There is no reason we can’t do this. Take health care, for example–there is no reason to have health insurance companies involved in health care. They have one purpose: to make a profit. Yet many of us have no access to health care unless we pay an insurance company exorbitant fees. Universal health care is the answer. Other developed countries that use this model have lower health care costs and better outcomes. There is no absolutely no reason we can’t have that, too.

              3. Anthony

                Good points, but we cannot screen politicians for personality defects one by one. It is maybe more worthwhile to work on the people who elect them by education and awareness. Which you may have implied. Paul Ryan sounds very narcissistic (and he surely has NPD). Of the cluster b conditions, NPD sounds the most environmental. I had an uncle who wasn’t narcissistic but became a complete one after becoming religious. The presence of excess wealth in our elected officials doesn’t work to our advantage, tests show that while thinking about money when performing a task, a person becomes less generous or considerate. We could live in a society where people are chosen based on their abilities to fulfill their jobs. Not an absolute technocracy, but closer to that than what we have now.

                About the gayness, communism has not had a good history with being gay. Lenin decriminalized it but then Stalin made it illegal again punishable by being sent for up to 5 years to a prison camp if you are male or forced into an asylum if you are female. Many communists parties outsides had in their statements that “when our revolution happens, we will no longer have disgusting inventions by our ruling class like homosexuality etc.” but then during the 90s they started erasing those statements and expressed sudden support for gay rights. Except for the tankies who still cling to Stalin. When Karl Marx was asked to give support to gay rights, he declined, he was indifferent, but Frederic Engels launched into a gigantic rant comparing being gay to being a pedophile.

                Sometimes the belief is the same, people just find different ways to justify it. Also we are talking about the authoritarian far left the same way we are talking about the authoritarian far right. There were conservative republicans like Eisenhower during who the USA had some of the lowest income inequality during the 50s and plenty of government support and benefits. He also warned us about the “military industrial complex” that was coming and didn’t pull us into any wars.

                Authoritarianism or extremism is the problem here. An extremist for almost any ideology will do whatever it takes to see things happen their way.

              4. Adelyn Birch

                We can’t screen them for personality defects except to go by their history and what positions they take. Their behavior should count. Trump was obviously abnormal, although many didn’t see it that way. I’m not sure educating people will work, because voters choose the candidate whose values match theirs. And their personality types will also match. Example: Trump is authoritarian… and so are his voters. Trump called for “law and order,” and that’s what his voters wanted, too, facts be damned. They saw his lack of decency and shame as a man who wasn’t afraid to “tell it like it is.” His lack of character was simply a “refreshing change.” He lied all the time, but they never thought that he might be lying about “better health coverage that costs less” or “draining the swamp,” because they BELIEVED IN HIM and so they expected him to take actions to make their lives better. Trump could not care less about his voters, except for the wealthy ones.

                Communism’s position on gayness was a good example–I didn’t go quite that far to the left when I was considering it. It makes sense for authoritarianism, too.

                Funny isn’t it that Trump voters and other conservative types have as their ideal the 1950’s, yet support policies that widen the wealth gap, support a huge military, and gut social programs! “Authoritarianism or extremism is the problem here. An extremist for almost any ideology will do whatever it takes to see things happen their way.” Good point. All good points!

              5. Anthony

                By the way, here is a link you might like. It is the speech lifted from the Graphic Novel “V for Vendetta”, the movie changed a lot to make it more appealing to mass audiences, the speech in that movies was different than the original.

                Google: “The Original V for Vendetta Speech (Graphic Novel)”
                Click the link for the “abovetopsecret” site. I am not an anarchist, I think they are too extreme, yes totalitarianism is bad but we cannot abandon any government or order.

                It really gets one thinking. That speech.

                Also the blog states the number of comments but when I click the link it doesn’t show the new comments sometimes. There may be a bug on your website.

              6. Adelyn Birch

                I’ll read it. Thanks. I’ll check for a problem with the comments; thanks for alerting me!

              7. Adelyn Birch

                The comments issue could be a matter of refreshing the page first. They won’t update without doing that.

              8. Anthony

                Also some off topic news that is relevant:
                Donald Trump has come out in support of autism research and finding new treatments/cures to symptoms/prevention/medicine.

                This is an example of the “Broken clock” which is right twice a day. But somebody as vile as him will be easily used in attacks. Like that “Hitler fallacy”: Hitler wore pants/ate sugar/didn’t smoke/has a mustache therefore if you do any of that you are like Hitler. So they (those dreaded people) will have a fun time using this recent news to attack and harm bystanders accusing them of being like Trump. And in return that other dreaded group (the Trump alt-right internet trolls) will attack and harm in return other bystanders, you see they never go after their direct rival, they just go for the easier target, attack by proxy.

                My opinion: Pol Pot could say 2+2=4 and still be right. Donald is still who he is, just expressing support for this shows he he may be a bad person but is not misinformed in this one area (though he was an anti vaxxer, he flip flops a lot). His travel bans from muslim countries will hamper medical research for all conditions, many bright scientists are from the middle east. He will also cut services and interventions too making people’s lives worse, and more. Donald Trump wears pants, I wear pants, doesn’t mean wearing pants is bad or he is not a bigot. We just wear pants.

              9. Adelyn Birch

                I couldn’t agree more. He declares support for autism research–how wonderful!–while at the same time taking actions that cut medical research, remove access to health care, and attacks science in general. You have a solid understanding of how Trump works, and what the consequences are. Everything he does makes lives worse. He’s a despicable man.

              10. Anthony

                I had another thought of why services are even more needed and more needs to be invested into the good of the people.

                I asked someone why if someone is driven to suicide by internet trolls or they completely raid and destroy important sites, the police and federal forces don’t do anything. They probably have access to some of the best hackers and experts who could easily track anyone down if they wanted to, probably 10x more skilled than any amateur operating from his bedroom. He said they can but they have limited resources, tracking down the 10,000 or even million people responsible for internet attacks would be too costly and they must conserve their resources. It’s a kind of twisted utilitarianism, let some fall victim so they have enough left for what is cost effective or else they wouldn’t be able to do anything.

                Also I looked at some parts of Maxine Aston’s book on the internet once and there was a part about an elderly couple where one got a diagnosis, all they did was give him a pamphlet and sent him off. His wife said that if he were schizophrenic or manic depressive, they would follow up with more. Someone said that with the other two conditions or with a form of autism with some psychosis or violence added, they would pose a more immediate threat to their own life or others. So I realized in this case, they are also rationing what resources they have to focus only the most immediate situations instead of the long term. There needs to be more resources for those who need them.

                Also I want to ask, what are your opinions on particular writers about ASD? Who do you prefer? What do you think of their personal ideas too? I think Maxine Aston is the most unbiased, practical, and realistic, she states things as they are from observation and her expertise and doesn’t treat her opinions as absolute fact. I don’t know much about Tony Attwood but he is with neurodiversity, but Pol Pot could say 2+2=4 and would still be correct, so Tony Attwood may be good at offering useful advice despite his beliefs. Simon Baron Cohen states things that are very factually correct from observation, good as a resource but also is with neurodiversity and he tries too hard to explain everything with psychological theories, he also seems to treat empathy and theory of mind as a single entity, something a person HAS when from scientific point of view, it may be something a person DOES.
                He wrote a paper about how the social dysfunction, poor executive dysfunction, and weak central coherence of autism are three distinct single traits rather than being interconnected or having a possible underlying biological and psychiatrical source(s), and then went on about his Systemizing-Empathizing ultra male brain theory. He gets a lot factually correct, but he tries to sell his own ideas often after he presenting them. Though he does offer a more reasonable (though not correct in my opinion) psychological theory that is less absurd in how it was formed, that an autistic individual cannot empathize because the outside world is unpredictable and not full of absolute truth (far too simplistic, but he is getting it right by implying that it is an action and not a single entity despite contradicting himself in his other works) but instead of explaining how this may be rooted in cognitive dysfunctions, biology, or other underlying impairments, he says it because they are “ultra-systemizers”. Ughhhh, book selling psychologists. I can’t stand them sometimes but other times they can be amazing, or a mixture. Some of these writers are what “Jamie Oliver” is to chefs. He is a good chef and opens good restaurants, but the actual guys like Joel Rubochon and the Pourcel brothers, people who don’t have tv shows on the food channel nor sell cookbooks or take part in ads for stock cubes. The ones who are the real deal, Michelin stars. They rarely sell cookbooks for the food they actually cook, it would require way too much intense training and experience to make those dishes. The subject matter of the non-“celebrity” psychologists and psychiatrists, the real deal who are out there in the field everyday, would probably be not accessable enough for a layman to understand, hence they cannot write a sell-able book for people. So I worry these “celebrity” psychologists like Simon Baron Cohen simplify things too much and spread their own wild theories to the masses. (But he DOES get a lot factually correct or the observable kind, its when he presents his theories).

                By the way, what did you think of the link to the V for Vendetta speech I shared? I admit it goes a bit too far in advocating a completely anarchist society, we need some order and law. I really wish they would make a version of the speech that was identical to the original, possibly in an animated form, and broadcast it all over the world and internet. Oh but people would misinterpret it, some people think Trump is the good guy and the opposition are the evil villians. They would have a make another movie of it, completely different and true to the source material for it to work.

              11. Adelyn Birch

                I’m sorry but I haven’t read the speech yet. My reading time is taken by trying to keep up with current events, and my brain is frazzled. It’s amazing how happens each day, and if you only check once you can never catch up, it seems. It’s important to take breaks from it, though, and I found a good source that lists everything that happens, on a weekly basis: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

                Things that happen on the internet still aren’t given the same weight as what happens in the “real world.” But it IS the real world. Many people who go to the police because they’ve received serious threats are told not to worry, and no action is taken. If those threats were made in person, or by snail mail or published in a newspaper, they’d be taken seriously. My question for law enforcement or anyone else who doesn’t take it seriously: “Did you ever order something online, and then have it show up at your doorstep?” Bullying and harassment need to be taken seriously, too, because the consequences are serious even if it’s confined to the online space.

                You’ve delved into ASD writing and research far more deeply than I have. I did it because I wanted to understand my experience in a relationship with a man who didn’t tell me he was affected. I didn’t know anything about it, so it was bewildering and frustrating. I had to re-invent the wheel, so to speak, when he could have prevented a lot of grief by being honest with me. I’ve learned enough to have a basic understanding of ASD and of how it can affect partners/relationships, but I’m no expert. My favorite sources, though are therapists who actually deal with this in their daily practice. One of them is Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC: “I specialize in working with individuals facing Asperger Syndrome/Autism Spectrum in their partners. This requires a unique understanding of the dilemmas and challenges encountered by the neurotypical partner, as well as the interior life of the partner on the spectrum. I teach skills for creating new means of interpersonal communication. I help individuals and couples discern whether to stay together or move apart, which includes supporting them through any necessary transitions, as we go go through the various stages of psychoeducation, understanding, grief, and rewards involved in this unique relationship.” You can find her writing here: Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC Let me know what you think about her ideas.

  15. Anthony

    Thank you for the link, am reading now. I’ll be busy so I won’t be able to reply for a while. Thanks so much for another good exchange.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Thank you, Anthony! Hope to see you soon. Take care.

      1. Anthony

        I am back, read the link, Swenson is great in offering what to do and how to approach it. No fancy schmancy theorizing or fame seeking. She offers real advice like Maxine Aston, I only have one criticism. Swenson said Autism in one of her articles isn’t a “mental disorder” and that it’s “how their brain is”.

        I have a question. I read your post on the difference between narcissism and psychopathy. I thought narcissists were truly deluded into feeling great about themselves and think everything is perfect like Trump. He doesn’t sound so complicated inside, he believes nothing is wrong and he believes he has no weakness, he doesn’t need to lie to himself to repress any truth deep down. There isn’t anything down there.

        What you explained I thought was histrionic. What I read said they are fragile. And I sort of understood they demand attention not because they expect it, but because they “get high” off it.

        What is the difference between a histrionic and narcissist?

        1. Adelyn Birch

          Sorry for the delay, Anthony! Your comment ended up in spam somehow. I’m glad to hear you like what Swenson has to say.

          Yes, narcissists are truly deluded and without awareness of their disorder. I’ll look at the article and change it to make sure that’s clear. I discovered recently that there is some debate about narcissists and the validity of that supposed subconscious struggle against feelings of inadequacy. Some say there isn’t any such struggle. Like you said about Trump, there isn’t anything deep down. He’s superficial and completely empty. He reminds me of a reactive blob, like an amoeba (but not quite that advanced).

          I think it would be extremely difficult to tell the difference between a narcissist and a histrionic because their behavior is so similar. From what I understand, both need attention and admiration, but histrionics don’t have the grandiosity a narcissist does (an outsized sense of their own self-worth). FWIW, here’s what S. Vaknin has to say about it:

          “Histrionics resemble narcissists: both seek attention compulsively and are markedly dysphoric and uncomfortable when not at the center of attention. They have to be the life of the party. If they fail in achieving this pivotal role, they act out, create hysterical scenes, or confabulate… Unlike narcissists, though, histrionics are genuinely enthusiastic, open, emotional, warm, and empathetic, up to the point of being maudlin and sentimental. They also strive to “fit in”, mingle, blend, and “become a part of” groups, collectives, and social institutions.”

          1. Anthony

            Ah, so for a summary , the histrionic person and narccisist are both egocentric, but the narcissist is also egotistical.

            1. Adelyn Birch


  16. AudrieL

    Adelyn, are you okay?

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Hi Audrie! I’m doing well, thank you for asking. I’ve been distracted lately, but I have a new blog post in the works, finally… I hope you’re doing well, too.

  17. AudrieL

    I also wanted to send you to a site I discovered where the content seems to be created and managed by a highly skilled narcissist who knows what he is and “his kind” :
    It’s a dark place but it may give you more insights. It did for me as I learned more about what happened to me and that such people exist. In my opinion, these are soulless demons on earth taking from those who have heart and soul: evil vs good, Satan vs God, a battle happening here. It’s the real deal and anyone who has had to fight it knows they faced evil in action.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Thank you, I will take a look at that site. Another good one is, and be warned, it is also quite dark.

      Yes, it’s an epic, time-worn battle between dark and light, and now we’re experiencing it on a much larger scale. Those of us who’ve been there before know what’s going on, and how much is at stake.

  18. Kristi R

    I stumbled upon your book on Boundaries through Amazon. I am a licensed therapist and have offered it to many people in the last week alone! Thank you for a cear, concise book with great information and not a lot of fluff!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Thank you for letting me know, Kristi! I appreciate that. May it help your clients! I’ve heard from a few DV organizations that use the book also, as well as a couple of divorce support groups. I’m happy to know it’s circulating out there and making a difference in people’s lives. Fluff is not my forte, thankfully, because I think things can get lost in it sometimes. Thanks again.

  19. Alice

    Dear Adelyn,

    How have you been lately? It seems that you stopped posting a while ago? Any specific reason, or just exploring new horizonts and enjoying life post-cpsd?

    In my weak moments, I often think of post you wrote which helped me tremendously, and I would like to thank you for having shared them with the world! One more thing I always wanted to tell you is: I love the images you pick to illustrate your posts. Every ,single one of them hits the nail and expresses the exact emotions you describe; emotions I have felt and gone through as well!

    After almost 3 years of recovery, I am over the narc but still not entirely cptsd-symptom free. But it´s getting better every day, with some backloops, but still – tendency: upwards and towards healing. The last time I exposed myself to the narc (in a safe environment, as a test), his presence did not trigger me at one. It was only afterwards that I had some sort of relapse into unclear states of anxiety, although he did not contact me again. But all in all, it´s getting better. The only thing I still have to work on is learning to trust men again. This, right now, is the challenge for me 3 years post-breakup.

    Hope you´re doing well and maybe to read a new post of you soon!

    x Alice

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Hi, Alice. I’m doing well, thank you for asking. I’ve been distracted for the past few months, but I am working on a new blog post! It’s slow going, but it will be published within the next couple of weeks.

      I’m so glad you found help here. Thank you for letting me know. And I’m happy to hear you enjoy the images! I must confess, I love picking the images; it’s been great fun for me to try and find just the right ones. I shudder to think of all the hours I spent doing that, but your words let me know it was worth the time.

      It’s really great that you’re symptom-free. Congratulations. Being exposed to the narc was quite a test, and I’m so glad you weren’t triggered. It’s not surprising you had a temporary relapse into that unclear state; the important thing is that you are still trending upwards toward healing.

      Trusting men again is a challenge, but it can be done. Remember that trust is also about trusting yourself, trusting that you’ll be able to notice if something isn’t right and not letting yourself explain those things away. And part of the challenge is accepting that there will always be some uncertainty and some risk involved in getting to know someone. Take it slow, stay aware, have your boundaries worked out–and stick to them. They are your best protection (self-protection is the purpose of boundaries). I don’t know if you’ve read this post: Never Get Involved with a Psychopath, Narcissist, Sociopath—Or Any Abuser—Ever Again. A lot of people find the Boundaries book helpful as well.

      Thanks for checking in, Alice. Nice to hear from you.

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