Do you ever wonder what happens to our military vets when they return home? For many, life is very difficult.
Tonight (Tuesday), we're going to be focusing on "Soldiers and the Hidden Battle: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder." Our guest is a vet who will be sharing his experiences with PTSD and what he’s doing to recover. We'll also have the executive producer of "In Their Boots," a series of web documentaries featuring soldiers and their battle with PTSD. Plus HealthyPlace Medical Director and Board-Certified Psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Croft, will be discussing the latest research on PTSD and the most effective methods of treatment. Over the past 8 years, Dr. Croft has evaluated over 4,000 vets for PTSD.
As always, you'll be able to ask our guests your questions too. The show starts at 5:30p PT, 7:30 CT, 8:30 ET and airs live on our website.
That's it for now. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this newsletter or the HealthyPlace.com site, I hope you'll pass this onto them. You can also share the newsletter on any social network (like facebook or digg) you belong to by clicking the links below.
Community Partner Team HealthyPlace.com - Mental Health Communities "When you're at HealthyPlace.com, you're never alone." http://www.healthyplace.com
This message was sent from HealthyPlace.com to samvaknin@.... It was sent from: HealthyPlace.com, 12951 Huebner Rd No. 780063, San Antonio, TX 78278. You can modify/update your subscription via the link below.
Ali Sina is a Canadian of Iranian descent. He is the founder of faithfreedom.org a site created to spread the truth about Islam and help Muslimst to leave it. Since its inception in 2001 Faith Freedom International has been transformed into a grassroots movement of ex-Muslims and is bringing about a silent revolution and a reawakening of Muslims all over the world.
Ali Sina has written numerous articles that have been published on his site and many other sites. He is famous mainly for his many debates with Muslims among whom several reputable scholars such as Ayatollah Montazeri, the man who was appointed to succeed Ayatollah Khomeini, Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a reformist Pakistani scholar and an advisor to the Pakistani Government, and Maulana Ajmal Qadri, a Senior religious scholar of the Deobandi school and the president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (The Society of Islamic Scholars).
Ali Sina is a Secular Humanist, a World Federalist and a vegan.
Muhammad’s Personality Profile
here are literally tens of thousands of short stories about Muhammad.Many of them are forgeries, others are weak and dubious in nature, but some are believed to be Sahih (authentic, true) hadith (oral traditions).By reading these Sahih hadith, a fairly consistent picture of Muhammad emerges and it is possible to make an approximate evaluation of his character and psychological make-up.
The picture that emerges is that of a narcissist.In this chapter I will quote authoritative sources on narcissism and then will try to show how Muhammad fits that profile hand in glove.
Scholarship and research on the matter is limited precisely because Muslims have not and will not permit objective inquiry into the Qur’an or the life of Muhammad.However, what is written about him is not only consistent with the definition of narcissism, but also can be seen in many similar bizarre acts being committed today by Muslims themselves the world over.Thus, the personality disorder of one man has been bequeathed like an inheritance upon his followers, where one man’s psychosis, spectacular in its depth of self-absorption, has been spreading to millions of his followers, rendering them, in the same way, self-absorbed, irrational, and dangerous.
It is through understanding the psychology of Muhammad, the ruthlessness and situational ethics so essential to his character, that we begin to understand why Muslims are so intolerant, so violent, so paranoid, and why they see themselves as victims, when they are the aggressors and the victimizers.
What is Narcissism?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissism as a personality disorder that “revolve around a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and sense of entitlement. Often individuals feel overly important and will exaggerate achievements and will accept, and often demand, praise and admiration despite worthy achievements.”
The third and fourth editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of 1980 and 1994 and the European ICD-10 describe NPD in similar language:
An all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts.Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:
Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion
Is firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special,unique, or high-status people (or institutions)
Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation, or failing that, wishes to be feared and notorious (narcissistic supply)
Feels entitled.Expects unreasonable or special and favorable priority treatment.Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations
Is “interpersonally exploitative” i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends
Is devoid of empathy.Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others
Is constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her
Is arrogant, has haughty behaviors or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted
All these traits were confirmed in Muhammad.Apart from thinking he was the anointed messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets (Q.33:40), Muhammad regarded himself as Khayru-l-Khalq (the Best of Creation), an “excellent example” (Q.33:21), and explicitly or implicitly hinted to be “exalted above other prophets in degrees” (Q.2:253). He claimed to be “the preferred one” (Q.17:55), to have been sent as a “Mercy to the worlds” (Q.21:107), to have been risen “to a praised estate” (Q.17:79) – a station which he said none but he would receive – and this is the Station of Intercession at the right hand of the Almighty next to his Glorious Throne.In other words, he would be the person who would advise God as to who should be sent to Helland who should be admitted to Heaven.These are just some of Muhammad’s megalomaniac claims about his own lofty station that are reported in the Qur’an.
The following two verses express vividly Muhammad’s sense of self importance and grandiosity.
Truly, Allâh and His angels send praise and blessings [forever] upon the Prophet. O you who believe! Praise and bless the Prophet with utmost laud and blessing. (Q.33:56)
In order that you (O men) may believe in Allâh and His Messenger, that you may assist and honor Him, and celebrate His praise morning and evening. (Q.48:9)
Muhammad was so impressed with himself, that he put the following words in the mouth of his sock puppet deity:
Among all the people of the world God chose the Arabs.From among the Arabs he chose the Qinana.From Qinana he chose the Quraish(the tribe of Muhammad).From the Quraish he chose Bani Hashim(his clan).And from Bani Hashim he chose me.
The following are some of the claims Muhammad made about himself in the hadith.
·The very first thing that Allâh Almighty ever created was my soul.
·First of all things, the Lord created my mind.
·I am from Allâh, and the believers are from me.
·Just as Allâh created me noble, he also gave me noble character.
·Were it not for you, [O Muhammad] I would not have created the universe.
Compare that to the words of Jesus, who when someone called him “good master,” objected and said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone.” Only a pathological narcissist can be so cut off from reality as to claim the universe was created because of him.
Narcissists, typically feign humility even when they brag about themselves. Abu Sa`id al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet said: “I am the leader of human beings and I say this without pride.”
“The Prophet said: I heard your words, and everything you said is indeed true, and I myself am the Beloved of Allâh (habibullah) and I say this without pride, and I carry the flag of glory (liwa ul-hamd) on the Day of Judgment, and am the first intercessor and the first whose intercession is accepted, and the first to stir the circles of Paradiseso that Allâh will open it for me and I shall enter it together with the poor among my Community, and I say this without pride. I am the most honored of the First and the Last, and I say this without pride.”
A narcissist may seem to be self-confident and even accomplished.In reality he (pathological narcissists are predominantly male) or she suffers from a great deficit of self-esteem and needs an outside supply of adulation, constantly seeking dmiration.
Dr. Sam Vakninis the author of Malignant Self-Love. He is regarded as an authority on the subject. He understands and describes the mind of the narcissist like few do. Vaknin explains:
Everyone is a narcissist, to varying degrees. Narcissism is a healthy phenomenon.It helps survival.The difference between healthy and pathological narcissism is, indeed, in measure.Pathological narcissism… is characterized by extreme lack of empathy.The narcissist regards and treats other people as objects to be exploited.He uses them to obtain narcissistic supply.He believes that he is entitled to special treatment because he harbors these grandiose fantasies about himself.The narcissist is NOT self-aware.His cognition and emotions are distorted…The narcissist lies to himself and to others, projecting ‘untouchability,’ emotional immunity and invincibility...For a narcissist everything is bigger than life.If he is polite, then he is aggressively so.His promises are outlandish, his criticism violent and ominous, his generosity inane. …The narcissist is a master of disguise. He is a charmer, a talented actor, a magician and a director of both himself and his milieu.It is very difficult to expose him as such in the first encounter.
The Cultof the Narcissist
The narcissist needs admirers.He draws an imaginary circle around himself, where he is the center.He gathers his fans and followers in that circle, rewards them and encourages their sycophantism.Those who fall outside the circle are viewed as his enemies. Vaknin explains:
The narcissist is the guru at the centre of a cult.Like other gurus, he demands complete obedience from his flock: his spouse, his offspring, other family members, friends, and colleagues.He feels entitled to adulation and special treatment by his followers.He punishes the wayward and the straying lambs.He enforces discipline, adherence to his teachings, and common goals.The less accomplished he is in reality – the more stringent his mastery and the more pervasive the brainwashing…
The narcissist's control is based on ambiguity, unpredictability, fuzziness, and ambient abuse.His ever-shifting whims exclusively define right versus wrong, desirable and unwanted, what is to be pursued and what to be avoided.He alone determines the rights and obligations of his disciples and alters them at will.
The narcissist is a micro-manager.He exerts control over the minutest details and behaviors.He punishes severely and abuses withholders of information and those who fail to conform to his wishes and goals.
The narcissist does not respect the boundaries and privacy of his reluctant adherents.He ignores their wishes and treats them as objects or instruments of gratification.He seeks to control both situations and people compulsively.
He strongly disapproves of others' personal autonomy and independence. Even innocuous activities, such as meeting a friend or visiting one's family require his permission.Gradually, he isolates his nearest and dearest until they are fully dependent on him emotionally, sexually, financially, and socially.
He acts in a patronising and condescending manner and criticizes often.He alternates between emphasizing the minutest faults (devalues) and exaggerating the talents, traits, and skills (idealizes) of the members of his cult.He is wildly unrealistic in his expectations, which legitimizes his subsequent abusive conduct…
Muhammad invented a big lie that his adherents believe to be the absolute truth.The danger is that they, like the believers of Hitler’s lies, are willing participants.
In the previous chapter, where we read the introduction to Muhammad, we saw how he separated his followers from their families and the level of control he exerted over their private lives.Sadly the situation has not changed much after 1,400 years.I have received many heartbreaking stories from parents who told me their daughter or son converted to Islam and is now surrounded by Muslims who have persuaded them not to visit their parents.
The Cause of the Narcissist
The Narcissist knows that direct self-promotion will be seen as repulsive and will be rejected.Instead, he presents himself as a modest, almost self-effacing person, one in the service of God, nation of humanity, whatever the case may be.Behind this facade is however, a clear stratagem.The narcissist “bestows” on his followers a cause, one so great, so august they cannot do without it.He is a revolutionary leader, promoting change and giving hope. Through hype and manipulation, this cause becomes more important than the lives of the people who would be believers.So brainwashed do they become, they are willing to die, and, of course, to kill for it.The narcissist encourages sacrifice – the more, the better.Then he presents himself as the axis of that cause.The cause revolves around him.It’s he alone who can make it happen and lead the followers to that Promised Land.This colossal cause cannot exist without him. He therefore becomes the most important person in the world - the only person who holds the key to their salvation and glory.
That is how the narcissist cult leader manipulates his followers.The cause is a means to their personal end.It could be anything.For Jim Jones, the man who led over 900 people to their mass suicide in Guyana, “social justice” was the cause, and he was the messiah of that cause.
Hitlerchose Aryanismas his cause.He did not openly glorify himself, but rather the cause, and the superiority of Germany.He, of course, was the indispensable inspirer and fuehrer of that cause.
For Stalinthe cause was communism.Anyone who disagreed with him was against the proletariat and had to be killed.
Muhammad did not ask his followers to worship him.In fact he claimed to be “only a messenger.”Instead he demanded obedience by adroitly calling his followers to obey “Allâh and his messenger.”In one Qur’anic verse, he puts the following words into the mouth of his Allâh:
They ask you about the windfall (spoils of war).Say: The windfalls are for Allâh and the Messenger.So be careful of (your duty to) Allâh and set aright matters of your difference, and obey Allâh and His Messenger if you are believers. (Q.8:1)
Since Allâh had no use for things stolen from a bunch of Arabs, all those spoils automatically had to go to his proxy, i.e. Muhammad.Since no one could see or hear Allâh, all the obedience was to Muhammad.It was he who had to be feared because he was the only intermediary of this most fearsome god.Allâh was necessary for Muhammad to dominate.Without the belief in Allâh, would his followers have sacrificed their lives, killed people, including their own relatives, looted their belongings and handed everything over to him?This imaginary Allâh was his tool of domination.Allâh was Muhammad’s alter ego.Ironically Muhammad preached against associating partners with God, when, in fact, himself as the partner Allâh in a manner which made them logically and practically inseparable.
Narcissists need a cause to harness their followers.The Germans did not start the war for Hitler’s sake.They did it for the cause that he sold them.
Dr. Sam Vakninwrites: “Narcissists use anything they can lay their hands on in the pursuit of narcissistic supply.If God, creed, church, faith, and institutionalized religion can provide them with narcissistic supply, they will become devout.They will abandon religion if it can't.”
Islam was an instrument of domination.After Muhammad, others used it for the very same purpose.Muslims become like putty in the hands of those leaders who invoke Islam.
Mirza Malkam Khan(1831-1908), an Armenian who became Muslim and together with Jamaleddin Afghani launched the “Islamic Renaissance” (An-Nahda), had a slogan of unrivaled cynicism: “Tell the Muslims something is in the Qur’an, and they will die for you.”
The Legacy of the Narcissist
On his deathbed, Muhammad urged his followers to push on and continue their jihad. Genghis Khangave a similar command to his sons on his deathbed.He told them he desired to conquer the world, but since he could no longer do it, they should fulfill his dream.The Mongols, like Muslims, were terrorizors.For the narcissist, all that matters is to win.They have no conscience.For them, lives of others are cheap.
At the age of 51, Hitlerbecame aware of a tremor in his left hand.He usually hid it and as the disease advanced, he stayed away from the public.He realized his death was approaching.He became more resolute, launching his attacks with a renewed sense of urgency, knowing he was in a race against time.The narcissist wants to leave a legacy.
It is a mistake to think of Islam as just a religion.The mystical aspect of Islam was created later by Muslim scholars and philosophers and who gave esoteric interpretations to Muhammad’s asinine words.His followers molded the religion according to their penchant, and with the passage of time, those interpretations inherited the seal of antiquity and thus credibility.
If Islam is a religion, then so were Nazism, communism, Satanism, Heaven’s Gate, People’s Temple, Branch Davidian, etc.If we think of religion as a philosophy of life to educate, to bring forth human potential, to elevate the soul, to stimulate spirituality, to unite hearts and to enlighten mankind, then Islam surely fails that litmus test completely. Therefore, by this measure, Islam should not and cannot be regarded as a religion.
Narcissist wants to be God
For the narcissist, what ultimately matters is power.He wants to be respected, noted, and not neglected.Narcissists are lonely and insecure By projecting themselves as revolutionary leaders, harbingers of hope and ambassadors of great causes, they hope to attract votaries.The cause is a pretext. Narcissists invent fictitious gods and spurious causes. The more they elevate their false deities and glorify their causes the more power they can garner for themselves.
Allâh was for Muhammad a convenient tool. Through him he could wield unlimited authority over his followers and became the master of their lives.There was only one God, fearsome as well as generous and forgiving, and he, Muhammad, was his one and only representative.This made him God by proxy.Though obedience was supposed to flow from Allâh down to him, in actuality it was always Muhammad and his every whim that they were expected to satisfy. Vaknin explains this dynamism in his article “For the Love of God – Narcissists and Religion”
God is everything the narcissist ever wants to be: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, admired, much discussed, and awe-inspiring. God is the narcissist's wet dream, his ultimate grandiose fantasy. But God comes handy in other ways as well. The narcissist alternately idealizes and devalues figures of authority.
In the idealization phase, he strives to emulate them, he admires them, imitates them (often ludicrously), and defends them. They cannot go wrong, or be wrong. The narcissist regards them as bigger than life, infallible, perfect, whole, and brilliant. But as the narcissist's unrealistic and inflated expectations are inevitably frustrated, he begins to devalue his former idols.
Now they are "human" (to the narcissist, a derogatory term). They are small, fragile, error-prone, pusillanimous, mean, dumb, and mediocre. The narcissist goes through the same cycle in his relationship with God, the quintessential authority figure.
But often, even when disillusionment and iconoclastic despair have set in - the narcissist continues to pretend to love God and follow Him.The narcissist maintains this deception because his continued proximity to God confers on him authority.Priests, leaders of the congregation, preachers, evangelists, cultists, politicians, intellectuals - all derive authority from their allegedly privileged relationship with God.
Religious authority allows the narcissist to indulge his sadistic urges and to exercise his misogyny freely and openly.…The narcissist whose source of authority is religious is looking for obedient and unquestioning slaves upon whom to exercise his capricious and wicked mastery.The narcissist transforms even the most innocuous and pure religious sentiments into a cultish ritual and a virulent hierarchy.He preys on the gullible.His flock becomes his hostages.
Religious authority also secures the narcissist's Narcissistic Supply.His coreligionists, members of his congregation, his parish, his constituency, his audience - are transformed into loyal and stable Sources of Narcissistic Supply.They obey his commands, heed his admonitions, follow his creed, admire his personality, applaud his personal traits, satisfy his needs (sometimes even his carnal desires), revere and idolize him.
Moreover, being a part of a "bigger thing" is very gratifying narcissistically. Being a particle of God, being immersed in His grandeur, experiencing His power and blessings first hand, communing with him - are all Sources of unending Narcissistic Supply.The narcissist becomes God by observing His commandments, following His instructions, loving Him, obeying Him, succumbing to Him, merging with Him, communicating with Him - or even by defying him (the bigger the narcissist's enemy - the more grandiosely important the narcissist feels).
Like everything else in the narcissist's life, he mutates God into a kind of inverted narcissist.God becomes his dominant Source of Supply.He forms a personal relationship with this overwhelming and overpowering entity - in order to overwhelm and overpower others.He becomes God vicariously, by the proxy of his relationship with Him.He idealizes God, then devalues Him, then abuses Him.This is the classic narcissistic pattern and even God himself cannot escape it.
Narcissists do not directly promote themselves.They hide behind the veneer of modesty, while they elevate their god, ideology, cause or religion, which in reality is their own alter ego.They may present themselves as mere messengers, simple, humble, self-effacing heralds of this or that mighty and all-powerful deity, or all-encompassing cause, but they make it clear that they are the only ones who know the cause and are extremely intolerant and unforgiving of dissenters and recalcitrants.
Narcissists are ruthless, but not stupid.They are very much aware of the hurt they cause.They enjoy the sensation of power they get from hurting others.They enjoy being gods – deciding whom to reward and whom to punish – who should live and who should die.Pathological narcissism explains everything that Muhammad was – his ruthlessness, his outlandish claims of grandiosity, his acts of generosity devised to impress those who submitted to him and to establish his superiority, and his self-assurance, as well as his manic and charismatic personality.
What Causes Narcissism?
A child who feels inferior, due to real or perceived social rejection, will try to compensate his feeling of inferiority by a subconscious neurotic mechanism, which the pioneering psychiatrist Alfred Adler coined "Superiority Complex.” This involves exaggerating one’s own achievements and putting down anyone the narcissist perceives as a threat.
Faulty parenting is the major contributing cause of narcissistic personality disorder.For example, permissive parents who give excessive praise, overindulge, spoil, fail to impose adequate discipline, and idealize the child are just as abusive to the child’s character formation as those who beat them, ignore them or commit incest. As a result, the child feels unprepared for adulthood. He grows up with an unrealistic view of life.Conversely, a child who does not receive enough support and encouragement may also develop a narcissistic personality.
We know that Muhammad was given away in infancy to be raised by a stranger.Did his mother lack interest in him?Why did he not pray at her grave even when he was over sixty years old?Was he still resentful toward her?
Halimadid not want to take baby Muhammad because he was an orphan of a poor widow and the pay was not great.Did this affect the way she or her family treated him?Children can be cruel.Being an orphan in those days was a stigma, as it still is in many Islamic countries.Muhammad’s childhood condition was not conducive to building a healthy self esteem.
Jon Mardi Horowitz, the author of Stress Response Syndromes, explains: “When the habitual narcissistic gratifications that come from being adored, given special treatment, and admiring the self are threatened, the results may be depression, hypochondria, anxiety, shame, self destructiveness, or rage directed toward any other person who can be blamed for the troubled situation.The child can learn to avoid these painful emotional states by acquiring a narcissistic mode of information processing.”
Muhammad, indeed, had a difficult childhood.In Sura 93 verses 3-8 (quoted at the beginning of chapter one of this book) he tenderly calls to mind his lonesome orphanhood and reassures himself that Allâh will be kind to him and will not forsake him.This shows how much the memory of his lonesome childhood pained him.The fact that he created an imaginary world to escape from reality, so vivid that it scared his foster parents, is another clue that his early childhood was anything but pleasant. Muhammad may not have remembered the details of what happened during his first years of life, but obviously he bore the psychological scars for the rest of his life.To him, the imaginary world he created was real. It was a safe refuge, a pleasant place to retreat and escape from reality.In this imaginary world, he could be loved, respected, admired, powerful, important, and even feared.He could be anything he wanted to be and compensate for the lack of attention he was getting from the world outside.
According to Vaknin, “the true cause of Narcissism is not fully understood but it does start in early childhood (before the age of five).It is believed it is caused by serious and repetitive failures on the part of the child's Primary Object (parents or other caregiver).Adult Narcissists often come from homes where one or both parents severely neglected (ignored) or abused the child… ALL children (healthy and otherwise) when they are not allowed to do something by their parents will sometimes enter into a narcissistic state where they see themselves and act as if they are all powerful.This is healthy and natural as it gives the child the confidence needed to rebound from the parental rejection with self-confidence.”
Neglected children internalize a feeling of inadequacy.They come to believe they are undeserving of love and attention.In reaction to that, they tend to defend their egos by puffing themselves up.They see their own weakness and they feel that if others come to see it, they will not be loved, admired and respected.So they lie and invent fantastic stories bragging about their self-importance.Their imaginary power often originates from an external source. It could be their daddy or a strong friend.This kind of narcissism in children is normal, but if they retain these thoughts into adulthood, it develops into narcissistic personality disorder.Muhammad was used to having imaginary friend. Later in life he replace them with Allâh, the most powerful of all gods. By associating himself with Allâh and presenting himself as his sole intermediary, he incarnated all of God’s power.
After the death of his mother, when Muhammad was six years old, he went under the tutelage of his aging grandfather, who spoiled him.As various ahadith show, Abdul Muttalibwas too permissive. He overindulged his orphaned grandchild. He would let Muhammad sit on his mat while his sons sat reverentially around them.
Muhammad’s claim that Abdul Muttalibhad foreseen his greatness is obviously his wishful thinking and a figment of his imagination. It is a lie that he may have concocted and possibly believed. In one place he recounted that when his uncles whated to remove him from the mat Abdul Muttalib told them, “Let him alone for he has a great destiny, and will be the inheritor of a kingdom” In another place he bragged to hear the old patriarch telling his nurse, “Beware lest you let him fall into the hands of the Jewsand Christians, for they are looking out for him, and would injure him!” These are typical fantasies of narcissists, who think of themselves as so important they believe everyone is after them to harm them out of jealousy. Nonetheless, it is clear that Abdul Mutalib made Muhammad feel special.He pampered and loved his orphaned grandchild.The old man spoiled him out of pity.However, Muhammad interpreted that extra attention as the confirmation of his grandeur.The image he cast about himself in his fantasy world during his childhood was thus bolstered by his grandfather’s overindulgence of him.He was reconfirmed as unique, special, and exceptional.
After the death of Abdul Muttalib, his kind-hearted uncle, Abu Talib, also treated him differently from other children.His status as an orphan, with no siblings, evoked compassion. Both his grandfather and uncle overindulged failed to impose adequate discipline on him.All these extremes contributed to him developing a narcissistic personality.Psychologists J. D. Levine and Rona H. Weiss write:
Just as we know, from the point of view of the physiologist, that a child needs to be given certain foods, that he needs to be protected against extreme temperatures, and that the atmosphere he breathes has to contain sufficient oxygen, if his body is to become strong and resilient, so do we also know, from the point of view of the depth-psychologist, that he requires an empathic environment, specifically, an environment that responds (a) to his need to have his presence confirmed by the glow of parental pleasure and (b) to his need to merge into the reassuring calmness of the powerful adult, if he is to acquire a firm and resilient self.
Muhammad experienced neglect and abandonment during early years of his life, and permissiveness after that.His circumstances were therefore ripe and conducive for him to become a narcissist.
There is no record that Muhammad ever spoke of his mother. He visited her tomb after he conquered Mecca, but he refused to pray for her.What was the point of that visit?Perhaps this was his vindication, a way to prove to her that despite her, he had made it.On the other hand, he remembered his grandfather, who had showered him with love and provided for him plenty of narcissistic gratifications, fondly.
Psychologists tell us that the first five years of a child’s life are the years that either make him or break him.Muhammad’s emotional needs during the first five years of his life were not met.He carried the painful memories of those lonesome years of abandonment and neglect into his adulthood and old age.He grew up insecure and had a fluctuating sense of self-worth, a weakness he tried to hide with overwhelming haughtiness by growing a sense of entitlement, grandiosity, and an illusion of superiority.
Muhammad positioned himself as the only partner of God and to make sure that no one would ever usurp his position, he claimed to be the last messenger.His power thus was absolute and everlasting.
Khadijah’s Influence on Muhammad
Khadijah’s role in Islam has not yet been fully appreciated.Her influence on Muhammad cannot be overemphasized.Khadijah should be regarded as Muhammad’s partner in giving birth to Islam.Without her, perhaps, Islam would not exist.
We know that Khadijahadored her young husband.There is no report that Muhammad ever worked after marrying Khadijah.After the marriage, Khadijah’s business seems to have gone down the tubes. By her death, the family had become empoverished.
Dejected by the world, he spent most of his time recluse retreating to his pleasant imaginary world of contemplation.
In vaknin’s words, "To avoid such intolerable pain, some patients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) socially withdraw and feign false modesty and humility to mask their underlying grandiosity. Dysthymic and depressive disorders are common reactions to isolation and feelings of shame and inadequacy."
At times Muhammad would take food for several days, returning only when it was finished to procure more provisions and go back to his cave.
Khadijahremained at home. Not only she took care of her nine children, but also of her husband who acted like an irresponsible child. She did not seem to complain. She was happy to sacrifice.Why?
That is an important question.This suggests that Khadijahmay have had her own personality disorder.She was what we today would call a codependent or a reversed narcissist. This crucial piece of puzzle will help us understand why she stood by her husband and when he told her of his bizarre hallucination, instead of calling an exorcist she encouraged him to launch his prophetic career.
The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) defines codependency as “A learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another.It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.It is also known as ‘relationship addiction’ because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.The disorder was first identified about ten years ago as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics.Codependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.”
Khadijahwas a dainty accomplished woman.She was the favorite daughter of her father Khuwaylid.In fact Khuwaylid relied on her, more than he did on his sons.She was a “daddy’s girl.”She had rejected the hands of the powerful men of Mecca.But when she saw the youthful but dispossessed and needy Muhammad, she fell in love with him on the spot and sent a maid to him to propose marriage.
On the surface it seems that Muhammad had such a magnetic personality that he mesmerized this powerful woman.This, however, is a superficial understanding of a complex dynamism.
Tabariwrites: “Khadijahsent a message to Muhammad inviting him to take her.She called her father to her house, plied him with wine until he was drunk, anointed him with perfume, clothed him in a striped robe and slaughtered a cow.Then she sent for Muhammad and his uncles. When they came in, her father married him to her.When he recovered from his intoxication, he said, ‘What is this meat, this perfume, and this garment?’ She replied, ‘You have married me to Muhammad bin Abdullah.’ ‘I have not done so,’ he said. ‘Would I do this when the greatest men of Meccahave asked for you and I have not agreed, why would I give you to a bum?’”
The party of Muhammad replied indignantly that the alliance had been arranged by his own daughter.The old man drew his sword in anger and the relatives of Muhammad drew theirs.Blood was about to be shed when Khadijahintervened and made her love for Muhammad known and confessed to having masterminded the whole proceeding.Khuwaylidwas then pacified, resigned to the fait accompli and reconciliation ensued.
How can one explain a seemingly levelheaded and successful woman suddenly falling in love with an indigent youth 15 years her junior?This erratic behavior belies a certain personality disorder in Khadijah.
Evidence suggests that Khadijah’s father was an alcoholic.Khadijah must have known her father’s weakness for alcohol to devise such an audacious plan. Non-alcoholic people often drink in moderation and hardly alone. Khuwaylidbecame drunk before the arrival of the guests. He was not just a social drinker but an alcoholic.
Now, why this should matter at all?Because it is another piece of puzzle in support of the theory that Khadijahwas a codependent.Children of alcoholics often develop co-dependency.
Khadijah’s father was overly protective of her and had high expectations for her.From his reaction to the marriage of his 40-year-old daughter to an ordinary man and his words saying “the greatest men of Meccahave asked for you and I have not agreed,” it is clear that Khadijah was the apple of his eye.Khuwaylidhad other children too, including a few sons, but it is clear that this daughter was his pride and joy.She was his only accomplished offspring.
Children who are adored and placed on a pedestal by their needy parents grow in their shadow.They often develop codependency personality disorder.They become obsessed with their father (or mother) and see their function as making their parents look good in the eyes of the outsiders.They are expected to be the “wunderkin.” and they strive to live upto that expectation and not disappoint their parents.
Under the constant demand for better performance, the child becomes unable to develop her own independent personality.She seeks her fulfillment in satisfying the needs of her perfectionist and narcissistic parent.She does not feel loved for WHO she is, but rather for HOW she performs.The alcoholic parent unloads his own emotional baggage on his children, especially on the one with more potential.He expects her to excel in everything and to make up for his own failures.
Codependents cannot find fulfillment and happiness in normal and emotionally healthy relationships that can happen only among equals. Only in the capacity of caregivers and pleasers can codependents find their happiness. The “perfect” match for the codependent is a needy narcissist.
Khadijahrejected her successful and mature suitors, falling in love with a poor young man who was both emotionally and financially needy. Codependents confuse love and pity.They have the tendency to “love” people they should pity and rescue.
Vaknin uses the term “inverted narcissism” instead of codependency.Here is what he says about the co-dependent-narcissist relationship: “The inverted narcissist can only truly FEEL anything when he is in relationship with another narcissist.The inverted narcissist is conditioned and programmed from the very beginning to be the perfect companion to the narcissist - to feed their Ego, to be purely their extension, to seek only praise and adulation if it brings greater praise and adulation to the narcissist.”
This explains why a successful and beautiful woman like Khadijahwould become interested in a needy man like Muhammad.Although inverted narcissists tend to be successful in their businesses, their relationships are often unhealthy. Vaknin further explains: “In a primary relationship, the inverted narcissist attempts to re-create the parent-child relationship.The invert thrives on mirroring to the narcissist his own grandiosity and in so doing the invert obtains his OWN Narcissistic Supply (the dependence of the narcissist upon the invert for their Secondary Narcissistic Supply).The invert must have this form of relationship with a narcissist in order to feel complete and whole.The invert will go as far as he needs to ensure that the narcissist is happy, cared for, properly adored, as he feels is the narcissist's right.The invert glorifies his narcissist, places him on a pedestal, endures any and all narcissistic devaluation with calm equanimity, impervious to the overt slights of the narcissist.
It seems that the marriage of Muhammad and Khadijahwas made in heaven (no pun intended). Muhammad was a narcissist who craved constant praise, attention and adulation.He was poor and emotionally needy.He was an adult, but his inner child was still yearning for attention.He was in need of someone to take care of him and provide for him, someone to exploit and abuse, the way an infant exploits and abuses his mother.
The relationship between a mother and her infant is narcissistic-codependent relationship. A mother is emotionally codependent on her child. She endures all his abuses joyfully. This is healthy. But it is not healthy when this dynamism exists between two adults.
The emotional maturity of the narcissist is frozen in childhood.His infantile needs have never been satisfied.He is constantly trying to satisfy those childish needs.All babies are narcissists and that is a necessary part of their growth.But if their narcissistic needs are not satisfied in childhood, their emotional maturity will freeze at that stage.They seek the attention they missed during their childhood in their relationships with their mates and others, including their children.
Muhammad’s craving for love was expressed by him on many occasions.Ibn Sa'd quotes him saying, the families of Quraishare all related to me and even if they do not love me for the message I am bringing them, they should love me because of my kinship to them.In the Qur’an Muhammad says: “No reward do I ask of you for this except the love of those near of kin.”These words are indeed desperate cries of one craving love and attention.
Khadijah, on the other hand, was an inverted narcissist who needed someone to fulfill her own fantasies as a caregiver.Not only does the codependent not mind being taken advantage of, she actually enjoys it.
Vaknin writes: “The inverted narcissist feeds on the primary narcissist and this is his narcissistic supply.So these two typologies can, in essence become a self-supporting, symbiotic system.In reality though, both the narcissist and the inverted narcissist need to be well aware of the dynamics of this relationship in order to make this work as a successful long-term arrangement.”
Psychologist Dr. Florence W. Kaslow, explaining this symbiosis says that both parties have personality disorders (PDs) – but on opposite ends of the spectrum.“They seem to have a fatal attraction for each other in that their personality patterns are complementary and reciprocal – which is one reason why, if they get divorced, they are likely to be attracted over and over to someone similar to their former partner.”
The symbiotic relationship between the narcissist Muhammad and the inverted narcissist Khadijahworked to perfection.Muhammad no longer needed to be preoccupied with work or money. He spent his days wandering in the caves and wilderness of his fertile fantasies, the delightful and affable realm where he was loved, admired, respected and feared.Khadijah became so engulfed in this self-absorbed narcissist and in attending to his needs that she neglected her commerce.Her thriving business dwindled and her wealth evaporated.She must have been around fifty years old when her youngest child was born.She stayed home while her husband was away most of the time, a recluse in his mental and physical caves.
According to Vaknin, “the inverted narcissist is extinguishingly selfless, sacrificial, even unctuous in his interpersonal relationships and will avoid the assistance of others at all costs.He can only interact with others when he can be seen to be giving, supportive, and expending an unusual effort to assist.”
He also defines codependents as “people who depend on other people for their emotional gratification and the performance of Ego or daily functions.”He says “they are needy, demanding, submissive.They fear abandonment, cling and display immature behaviours in their effort to maintain the ‘relationship’ with their companion or mate upon whom they depend.”
Melody Beattie, the author of Codependent No More explains that codependents unconsciously pick troubled partners in order to have purpose, be needed and feel fulfilled.
Any sensible person would have interpreted Muhammad’s bizarre experience as psychosis or “demon possession,” as they used to call it in those days.Even Muhammad himself thought he had become a kahin (sorcerer) or demon-possessed.As we read in the Qur’an, the reasonable people of Meccathought Muhammad had become a majnoon, which literally means possessed by jinns and is understood as insane.But such a thought was too much to bear for Khadijah, who sought her fulfillment and happiness in fulfilling the needs of her husband.She had to cling to her narcissist at any cost.As a codependent, Khadijah felt the urge to step in, be helpful, give advice and salvage her own source of narcissistic supply.
The narcissist often demands sacrifices from people around him and expects them to become his codependents.They also live above the moral code.They feel too important to abide by any morality or rule.
John de Ruiteris a self-proclaimed messiah from Alberta, Canada. His followers worship him like God.“One day we were sitting around the kitchen smoking cigarettes,” said Joyce, de Ruiter's estranged wife of 18 years, in an interview. “He was talking about my 'death.'He acknowledged that I had gone through a lot of dying, which was a good thing.I had let go of ninety-five percent of the life that I had to let go of. But he said I wasn't letting myself go completely.He suggested that my ultimate death would be if he took on two more wives.”Joyce said she thought he was joking.He wasn't.He brought up the matter a second time, and asked Joyce if she thought his three wives could live in the same house.
Fortunately Joyce was not codependent enough to agree to this much humiliation, and left her degenerate narcissist husband. A true codependent would do anything to appease her narcissist.The relationship of a codependent and her narcissist is that of sadomasochism.
Unfortunately for mankind, Khadijahwas a real codependent, who was willing to sacrifice everything for her adored narcissist.It was she who encouraged Muhammad to pursue his prophetic ambitions and spurred him in that direction.When Muhammad no longer had epileptic seizures or saw any angels, Khadijah was disappointed.Ibn Ishaq writes: “After this, Gabrieldid not come to him for a while and Khadijah said, ‘I think that your Lord must hate you.’”This demonstrates how eager she was for her narcissist to become a prophet.
Why did Muhammad not take other wives when Khadijahwas still alive? Because he was living off her money and in her house. Furthermore, the majority of the people of Meccaderided him.He was called a lunatic.No one would have married him even if he had had money of his own and Khadijah had not been an issue. In Mecca, his followers were a handful of teenagers and slaves with only a few women among them – and none was eligible for him to marry.Had Khadijah survived to see Muhammad's rise to power, she probably would have had to put up with her husband’s vagaries and the humiliation of sharing him with younger and prettier women.
After the death of Khadijah, Muhammad never found another codependent to take care of his emotional needs like she had.Instead, he sought fulfillment by becoming a sexual butterfly.Only a month after his wife’s death, Muhammad convinced his loyal friend and follower, Abu Bakr, to betroth to him his six-year-old daughter, Aisha.Abu Bakr was shocked.He tried to dissuade him, saying, “But we are brothers.” Muhammad reassured him they were only brothers in faith and that his marriage to that little child was not haram.
He further told him that she had been shown to him twice in dreams in which he saw an angel carrying the little Aishain a silken piece of cloth.“I said (to myself), ‘If this is from Allâh, then it must happen.’”Now Abu Bakrwas left with the options: Leaving Muhammad, for whom he had made so many sacrifices, denouncing him, calling him a liar and going back to his people, acknowledging he had been a fool; or doing whatever Muhammad asked of him. This is often the difficult choice cultists must make. Abu Bakr even built a mosque in the backyard of his house for Muslims to pray. He would often cry when reciting Muhammad’s allegedly revealed verses. Denoucing him at this stage, was not easy.Cultitsts are trapped. They have often sacrificed so much for the cult that going back is more painful than submitting.
Bob Larson writes: “Cultleaders know that once an initiate has been reconditioned to accept their particular worldview and as soon as he feels a sense of meaningful belonging, his mind will be ready to accept any teaching, including a belief that the leader represents God.”
Abu Bakrpleaded with Muhammad to wait three more years before consummating the marriage. Muhammad agreed, but meanwhile, he married Sauda, the widowed wife of one of his followers, a few days later.
Muhammad created a harem with more than a score of women.He tried to compensate the loss of his sugar mommy with an abundance of younger women.He kept adding to the collection of his wives and concubines but none could meet his childish needs the way Khadijahhad. He needed a mother to take care of his inner child, something his teenage wives could hardly do for a man who could be their grandfather.
Muhammad’s Belief in His Own Cause
From his early youth, Muhammad attended the annual fair in Okaz, where people from everywhere met for commerce and fun.There, Christianpreachers read stories of Biblical prophets to their captivated audiences.Muhammad was fascinated by those stories.Being loved and respected were the only thoughts that had occupied his young mind.“How great it would be to be a prophet, to be loved and feared by everyone,” he must have thought while listening to those stories.Now, his wife was reassuring him he had become a prophet and that his fantasy had become a reality.It seemed that God had finally looked upon him mercifully, had chosen him from amongst all the people and had raised him to invite people to submit.
Muhammad’s thoughts were grand.In fact it was these grandiose ideas and his unwavering faith in unlimited success that kindled his followers to rise and to champion his cause, to assassinate, loot and kill, even their own fathers, for his cause.Thanks to these grandiose ideas, he always felt entitled to having special privileges.
Muhammad was extremely manipulative and exploitative.He built his empire without ever having to fight a single battle personally.By promising otherworldly rewards and a paradise of infinite orgies, he managed to make his followers wage wars for him, spend their wealth for his cause, sacrifice their lives, loot to make him rich and catapult him to the acme of power.
Narcissists are masters of lies. They themselves are, inevitably, the first victims of their own deception.They unconsciously deny their intolerably poor self-images by inflating their egos with grandiosity. They turn themselves into glittering images of immense grandeur surrounded by walls of denial.The goal of this self-deception is to be impervious to external criticism and to their roiling sea of doubts. Narcissists are pathological liars, while they genuinely believe in their own lies, and are extremely offended if contradicted.
Vaknin says, “The narcissist is ever in the pursuit of excitement and drama intended to alleviate his all-pervasive boredom and melancholy. Needless to say, both the pursuit itself and its goals must conform to the grandiose vision that the narcissist has of his (False) Self.They must be commensurate with his vision of his uniqueness and entitlement.”
This explains Muhammad’s constant warfare.The drama, the rush of adrenaline and excitement were his narcissistic supplies.However, the narcissist is the first to believe in his own malarkey.
Dr. Vaknin explains: “Granted, the narcissist's hold on reality is tenuous (narcissists sometimes fail the reality test).Admittedly, narcissists often seem to believe in their own confabulations.They are unaware of the pathological nature and origin of their self-delusions and are, thus, technically delusional (though they rarely suffer from hallucinations, disorganized speech, or disorganized or catatonic behaviour).In the strictest sense of the word, narcissists appear to be psychotic.”
Vaknin says however, that narcissists, while masters of self-deception or even malignant con-artistry, “are usually fully aware of the difference between true and false, real and make-believe, the invented and the extant, right and wrong.The narcissist consciously chooses to adopt one version of the events, an aggrandizing narrative, a fairy-tale existence, a ‘what-if’ counterfactual life.He is emotionally invested in his personal myth.The narcissist feels better as fiction than as fact – but he never loses sight of the fact that it is all just fiction.The narcissist is in full control of his faculties, cognizant of his choices, and goal-oriented. His behavior is intentional and directional.He is a manipulator, and his delusions are in the service of his stratagems.Hence his chameleon-like ability to change guises, his conduct, and his convictions on a dime…The narcissist attempts to condition his nearest and dearest to positively reinforce his delusional False Self.”In the case of Muhammad, that role was played by Khadijah.
This is somewhat difficult to understand.On the one hand, Vaknin says the narcissist never loses sight of the fact that it is all his fiction, and on the other hand he says that the narcissist’s hold on reality is tenuous and that often he believes in his confabulations.Although this presents a logical dilemma for normal people, it is no problem for the narcissist who lies and then goes on to convince himself of those lies as if they were absolute truth, and will also change his story whenever it suits him.
We tend to believe that either a person is insane or he is a liar and that the two are mutually exclusive.This is not true.Often criminals plead insanity to escape punishment. Society, including mental health professionals, fall for this fraud.This stupidity has reached the absurd.James Pacenza, a 58-year-old man who was fired for spending his time visiting adult internet chatrooms at work, sued his employer (IBM) for wrongful dismissal, claiming that he was addicted to online chat rooms and IBM should have offered him sympathy and treatment instead of firing him.He was awarded $5,000,000 compensation.
The truth is that narcissists are fully aware of their actions.New York serial killer David Berkowitz, who called himself “Son of Sam,” escaped capital punishment because his crimes were so senseless that everyone thought by reason of insanity he was not responsible for his actions.Actually he knew what he was doing was wrong.As a narcissist he craved attention and left clues to be found. The exhilaration of reclaiming all the celebrity that surrounded the case was more impelling to him than his freedom.He simply could not pass on basking in the glory of fame.What Berkowitz did was consistent with narcissistic personality disorder.When he was caught and locked in prison, he decided to become a born-again Christian.Why did he not do this before?Did he undergo a mental surgery in prison?No!He simply decided to change tactics to gain the attention that he so intensely craved.In prison, the only way to do that was to feign becoming a holy man. The narcissist is a chameleon.He carefully monitors others to see what elicits more attention and then acts accordingly.
Narcissists are aware of their actions.They know the difference between right and wrong.They seek attention and wil do anything to get it. If they can get it by becoming serial killers, they become serial killers; and if they can get it by becoming religious, that is what they become.
To a great extent, we can compare a serial killer to a smoker.Both of them know that what they do is wrong.Yet their urges are stronger than their willpower and they give in to their urges.A smoker kills himself slowly, one cigarette at a time, and the serial killer kills others. Why does a smoker not stop when he knows that nicotine kills him?It is because he is addicted to it.Likewise, narcissist psychopaths are addicted to the adrenaline rush and the excitement of playing God.The urge to receive attention is so strong they willingly risk their freedom and lives for it.
Narcissists are aware of their own evil action and they do is wrong is that they do not like to be on the receiving end of it.Muhammad raided villages; and after massacring unarmed civilians, he looted their belongings.Yet, he tortured to death those who killed one of his shepherds and stole his stolen camels. He raped women captured in his raids, even if they were married; yet he was intolerant of anyone looking at his own wives and he ordered them to cover themselves. He prohibited killing and stealing, but he justified his own killing and robbing.As a narcissist, he believed to be entitled to special rights and at liberty to do anything his whims dictated.Muhammad was both insane and a liar.This is possible only if you are a psychopathic narcissist.
Did the Meccans call Muhammad Honest?
Muslims claim that Muhammad was known to be an honest man as the Meccans called him Amin(trustee). This is simply not true. Amin was the title of those who sold and bought merchandise on behalf of others.One is called school trustee, or city trustee because of his profession.The title "Amin" is a label for every sort of profession.Here are some examples: Amin El-Makataba (Trustee of the library); Amin El-Shortaa (Police Trustee); and Majlass El-Omnaa (Counsil of Trustees.)
In fact, Abul Aas, husband of Zeinaband son-in-law of Muhammad was also called Aminbecause of his profession.He did not accept Islam until he was forced to, because Muhammad ordered Zeinab to leave him unless he converted.
Muhammad acted as the trustee of Khadijahonce, when he took her merchandise to Damascus and sold it on her behalf. Had the Meccans believed Muhammad to be trustworthy they would not have derided him when he told them that he had received a message from God.According to Muhammad’s own admission made in the Quran, those who knew him best called him a liar and a madman, (Q.15:6) a charge that he tried to deny by making his Allâh testify: “Therefore continue to remind, for by the grace of your Lord, you are not a soothsayer, or a madman.” (Q.52:29)
More on the Policy of Divide and Rule
As stated in the previous chapter, Muhammad severed his followers’ ties to their families in order to secure his absolute dominance over them.He ordered his Meccan followers, who had immigrated to Medina, not to contact their relatives back home.Despite his warnings, some of them did, probably because they needed money for their sustenance.To stop this, he dictated the following verse from his Allâh.
O you who believe!Take not my enemies and yours as friends (or protectors), - offering them (your) love, even though they have rejected the Truth that has come to you, and have (on the contrary) driven out the Prophet and yourselves (from your homes), (simply) because you believe in Allâh your Lord!If you have come out to strive in My Way and to seek My Good Pleasure, (take them not as friends), holding secret converse of love (and friendship) with them: for I know full well all that you conceal and all that you reveal.And any of you that do this has strayed from the Straight Path.
We see this urge to alienate in a later verse too:
O you who believe!Take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love infidelity above Faith: if any of you do so, they do wrong. (Q. 9:23)
Why was Muhammad so keen to isolate his followers?Vaknin explains: “The narcissist is the guru at the centre of a cult.Like other gurus, he demands complete obedience from his flock: his spouse, his offspring, other family members, friends, and colleagues.He feels entitled to adulation and special treatment by his followers.He punishes the wayward and the straying lambs.He enforces discipline, adherence to his teachings, and common goals.The less accomplished he is in reality – the more stringent his mastery and the more pervasive the brainwashing.”
This was something Muhammad could not accomplish while his followers still lived in Mecca, where they could, if things got tough, return to their families. To isolate his followers, the cult leader often encloses them in compounds where he can brainwash them to exert total control over them.At first Muhammad sent the early believers to Abyssinia, but later, when he made a pact with the Arabs of Yathrib, he chose that town as his compound.He even changed the name of Yathrib and called it Medina (which is short for Medinatul Nabi, the Prophet’s Town).
Vaknin says: “The – often involuntary – members of the narcissist's mini-cult inhabit a twilight zone of his own construction.He imposes on them a shared psychosis, replete with persecutory delusions, ‘enemies,’ mythical narratives, and apocalyptic scenarios if he is flouted.”
Note how accurate is this description about Muhammad and Muslims who up to this day have persecutory delusions and see enemies everywhere.They believe in mythical narratives such as angels and fairy tales like Jinns, Mi’raj(ascension of Muhammad to heaven), Doomsday, etc.
According to Vaknin, “the narcissist's deep-rooted conviction that he is being persecuted by his inferiors, detractors, or powerful ill-wishers, serves two psychodynamic purposes.It upholds the narcissist's grandiosity and it fends off intimacy.”
Vaknin writes: “The narcissist claims to be infallible, superior, talented, skilful, omnipotent, and omniscient.He often lies and confabulates to support these unfounded claims.Within his cult, he expects awe, admiration, adulation, and constant attention commensurate with his outlandish stories and assertions.He reinterprets reality to fit his fantasies.His thinking is dogmatic, rigid, and doctrinaire.He does not welcome free thought, pluralism, or free speech, and doesn't brook criticism and disagreement.He demands – and often gets – complete trust and the relegation to his capable hands of all decision-making.He forces the participants in his cult to be hostile to critics, the authorities, institutions, his personal enemies, or the media – if they try to uncover his actions and reveal the truth.He closely monitors and censors information from the outside, exposing his captive audience only to selective data and analyses.”
By elucidating the characteristics of the narcissist, Vaknin unintentionally and with astounding accuracy describes Muhammad’s mind and the Muslim mindset.Muslims are narcissists to the extent that they emulate their prophet.
A Comparison between Islam and the Cultof the Narcissist
The following is a description of the cult of the narcissist.First let us see what Vaknin says about the cult of the narcissist and then I will quote episodes from Muhammad’s life and leave the reader to decide whether they coincide.
The narcissist's cult is “missionary” and “imperialistic.”He is always on the lookout for new recruits – his spouse's friends, his daughter's girlfriends, his neighbors, new colleagues at work.He immediately attempts to ‘convert’ them to his ‘creed’ – to convince them how wonderful and admirable he is.In other words, he tries to render them Sources of Narcissistic Supply.
Often, his behavior on these ‘recruiting missions’ is different to his conduct within the ‘cult’. In the first phases of wooing new admirers and proselytising to potential ‘conscripts’ – the narcissist is attentive, compassionate, empathic, flexible, self-effacing, and helpful.At home, among the “veterans” he is tyrannical, demanding, wilful, opinionated, aggressive, and exploitative.
As the leader of his congregation, the narcissist feels entitled to special amenities and benefits not accorded the “rank and file.”He expects to be waited on hand and foot, to make free use of everyone's money and dispose of their assets liberally, and to be cynically exempt from the rules that he himself established (if such violation is pleasurable or gainful).
In extreme cases, the narcissist feels above the law – any kind of law.This grandiose and haughty conviction leads to criminal acts, incestuous or polygamous relationships, and recurrent friction with the authorities.
Hence the narcissist's panicky and sometimes violent reactions to “dropouts” from his cult. There's a lot going on that the narcissist wants kept under wraps.Moreover, the narcissist stabilizes his fluctuating sense of self-worth by deriving Narcissistic Supply from his victims. Abandonment threatens the narcissist's precariously balanced personality.
Add to that the narcissist's paranoid and schizoid tendencies, his lack of introspective self-awareness, and his stunted sense of humor (lack of self-deprecation) and the risks to the grudging members of his cult are clear.
The narcissist sees enemies and conspiracies everywhere.He often casts himself as the heroic victim (martyr) of dark and stupendous forces.In every deviation from his tenets he espies malevolent and ominous subversion.He, therefore, is bent on disempowering his devotees – by any and all means.
Now let us see if there are similarities between this description and what we know about Muhammad and his religion.
Islam is both missionary and imperialistic.Muhammad’s main objective was to conquer and dominate.He tried to force everyone to convert to his cult, starting with his family and relatives.He asked Abu Talib, his uncle and guardian to convert to Islam on the patriarch’s deathbed.When the old man declined, Muhammad refused praying for him and said he will go to hell. In consideration for what Abu Talib had done for him, he conceded to place him in a shallow hell where fire would reach only to his anckles. However, he managed to convert his uncle’s children and his wife.
When Muhammad was still weak and had few followers, he was courteous, attentive, compassionate, flexible, helpful and even feigned humility. There is a sharp contrast between the Qur’anic verses written during this period and those written in Medina when he became powerful and did not need to wear a mask to woo new converts with kindness. In Medina, he became demanding, tyrannical, willful, aggressive and exploitative. There he raided villages and towns and after killing unarmed men men and looting them, demanded survivors submit to him, pay jizyah, or face death.
The following are examples Meccan verses:
1.Be patient with what they say, and part from them courteously. (Q.73:10)
2.To you be your religion, and to me my religion. (Q. 109:6)
3.Therefore be patient with what they say, and celebrate (constantly) the praises of your Lord. (Q.20:103)
4.Speak well to men. (Q.2:83)
5.We well know what the infidels say: but you are not to compel them. (Q.50:45)
6.Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant. (Q.7:119)
7.Pardon thou, with a gracious pardoning. (Q.15:85)
8.Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allâh. (Q.45:14)
9.Those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians- any who believe in Allâh and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Q.2:62)
10.And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best. (Q.29:46)
Compare them to those written later in Medina when Muhammad became powerful.
1.Oh you who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers and let them find harshness in you. (Q.9:123)
2.I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off. (Q.8:12)
3.Whoso desires another religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him. (Q.3:85)
4.Slay the idolaters wherever you find them. (Q.9:5)
5.Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from wherever they drove you out. (Q.2:191)
6.Fight them on until there is no more dissension and religion becomes that of Allâh. (Q.9:193)
7.Fight them, and Allâh will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame. (Q.9:14)
8.Make no excuses: you have rejected Faith after you had accepted it. If we pardon some of you, we will punish others amongst you, for that they are in sin. (Q.9:66)
9.You who believe! Verily, the Mushrikűn (unbelievers) are Najasun (impure). So let them not come near Al-Masjid-al-Harâm (the grand mosque at Mecca) after this year. (Q.9:28)
10.Fight those who do not believe in Allâh and the last day... and fight People of the Book, who do not accept the religion of truth (Islam) until they pay tribute by hand, being inferior. (Q.9:29)
This much should suffice as evidence that Muhammad changed drastically after he came to power.The gentle, attentive, compassionate and empathic preacher was transformed into a demanding, tyrannical, ruthless, and willful despot.
It was after the battle of Badrthat the cruel and vindictive spirit of Muhammad began to display itself.Muir narrates:
The prisoners were brought up before him. As he scrutinized each, his eye fell fiercely on Nadhr, the son of Harith (Muhammad’s own cousin who was a poet and critical of him).‘There was death in that glance,’ whispered Nadhr, trembling, to a bystander.‘Not so,’ replied the other; ‘it is but your own imagination.’
The unfortunate prisoner thought otherwise, and besought Musab (a friend of him who had converted to Islam) to intercede for him.Musab reminded him that he had denied the faith and ridiculed Muhammad.‘Ah!’ said Nadhr, ‘had the Quraishmade you a prisoner, they would never have put you to death!’‘Even were it so,’ Musab scornfully replied, ‘I am not as you are; Islam has rent all bonds asunder.’ (Emphasis added) Musad, the captor, seeing that the captive, and with him the chance of a rich ransom, was about to slip from his hands, cried out, ‘The prisoner is mine!’At this moment, the command to “strike off his head!’ was interposed by Muhammad, who had been watching all that passed.‘And, O Lord!’ he added, ‘do thou of thy bounty grant unto Musab better prey than this?’Nadhr was forthwith beheaded by Ali.
Two days afterwards, about half-way to Medina, Oqba, another prisoner, was ordered out for execution.He ventured to expostulate, and demand why he should be treated more vigorously than the other captives.‘Because of your enmity to God and to his Prophet,’ replied Muhammad. ‘And my little girl!’ cried Oqba, in the bitterness of his soul, ‘Who will take care of her?’ – ‘Hellfire!’ exclaimed the heartless conqueror; and on the instant his victim was hewn to the ground.‘Wretch that he was!’ continued Muhammad, ‘and persecutor!Unbeliever in God, in his Prophet, and in his Book!I give thanks unto the Lord that has slain you, and comforted mine eyes thereby.’
There is a tender love story in all this that highlights even more the ruthlessness of Muhammad.After some of the prisoners captured in the battle of Badrwere put to death because they had insulted Muhammad years earlier, when he was in Mecca, an offence a narcissist is incapable of forgiving, the rest were kept for ransom. Among them was Abul Aas, the above mentioned husband of Muhammad’s daughter, Zeinab.The families of the prisoners procured what the bandit demanded to rescue their loved ones from death. Zeinab sent a gold necklace, which she had received from her mother Khadijahat her wedding. Upon seeing that necklace and recognizing it as once worn by Khadijah, Muhammad was moved. He agreed to release Abul Aas without ransom provided that Zeinab abandon him and come to Medina.
This man was incapable of any act of kindness or of giving anything up without demanding something in exchange. Even his largesse was designed to impress the recipients and win them over to his side. Abul Aascould not bear the separation from his wife. In order to with her he converted to Islam and joined her in Medina, only to lose her to death shortly afterwards.
Muslims present Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, and will assume a smiling countenance to proselytize potential recruits.They are extremely helpful, humble, and charming to those whom they want to woo and in front of the media.Among themselves, however, they act very differently.They are tyrannical and demanding.Once you convert to Islam and the honeymoon period is over, Muslims will drop the smiling mask and become high-handed, aggressive and abusive.They expect the convert’s questioning of Islam to end, and after conversion any possibility of going back is also considered terminated.This is consistent with the guidelines Muhammad himself laid down through his own conductthat has been encoded in Islamic law.
Muhammad felt entitled to special benefits and treatments not accorded to others. He not only did things that were against ethical principles, even by the society in which he lived, he also went against his own stated rules.He did whatever he pleased and when that shocked his followers, he brought a verse from Allâh to justify his actions and silence the critics.With a verse from Allâh under his belt, anyone whispering a word against his indecency was denying God and, the punishment of such person was death.What he said was faslul-khitab (the end of discussion).Examples abound.Here are a few:
The Qur’an limits believers to four wives. However, Muhammad thought that he should not be restricted by his own rules and therefore made his Allâh reveal verses 33:49-50 telling him he was exempt and could have any number of women he pleases, as wives, concubines or sex slaves. Then he added “This only for you, [O Muhammad] and not for the BelieversĽin order that there should be no difficulty for you.And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
What difficulty?The difficulty of having to control his lustfulness, of being a decent human being, faithful to one woman!Are we to believe in a man who found it difficult to control his basest animal instincts as the best of creation?Don’t actions speak louder than words?On one hand, he lived like the vilest beasts, and on the other he spoke of himself so loftily, putting words in the mouth of the Almighty to praise him. Remember that while still in Mecca, living off the wealth of his wife Muhammad did not dare to bring another woman to her house.All his vagaries started when he came to power.Are we to believe that as a young and virile man he did not have difficulty sleeping with an older woman and that his difficulties appeared in the last ten years of his life when he was old and beset by all sorts of ailments?Or shall we interpret this as another sign of an aging man gone wild with his newfound liberties who, like a child left unchecked in a candy store, was unable to set limits for himself?
One day Muhammad visited his wife Hafsa, daughter of Omarand upon meeting her maid Mariyah, lusted for her.Mariyah was a very beautiful Coptic girl sent as a gift by Maqaqis (Patriarch) of Egypt to Muhammad.He sent Hafsa on an errand, lying that her father wanted to see her.No sooner had she left, than he took Mariyah to Hafsa’s bed and had sex with her.Upon learning her father had not sent for her, Hafsa returned to discover what was going on and why Muhammad wanted to get rid of her.She became upset and started to make a scene. (Ah, women will be always women!) To pacify her, Muhammad promised to prohibit Mariyah to himself. However, he still lusted after the pretty young slave girl.How could he now break his oath?Well, that is easy when you have God up your sleeve.The maker of the universe revealed the sura Tahrim and told him it is okay to break his oath and have sex with that slave girl because she was his “right hand possession.”Actually the almighty God, now acting as a pimp for his favorite prophet, was even angry at him, and rebuked him for denying himself carnal pleasures and for promising to be decent just to please his wives! (Hence the name of the sura given for this incident Tahrim, Prohibition.)
O Prophet! Why do you ban (for yourself) that which Allâh has made lawful to you, seeking to please your wives?And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.Allâh has already ordained for you (O men), the dissolution of your oaths.And Allâh is your Maula (Lord, or Master, or Protector, etc.) and He is the All-Knower, the All-Wise. (Q.66:1-5)
Ibn Sa’d writes: “Abu Bakrhas narrated that the messenger of Allâh (PBUH) had sexual intercourse with Mariyahin the house of Hafsa.When the messenger came out of the house, Hafsa was sitting at the gate (behind the locked door).She told the prophet, ‘O Messenger of Allâh, do you do this in my house and during my turn?The Prophet said, control yourself and let me go for I make her haram to me.Hafsa said, I do not accept, unless you swear for me.The Prophet said, by Allâh I will not touch her again.’”
As usual, Muslims have justified Muhammad for the breach of his oath.No matter what Muhammad did, Muslims will always justify his actions.They have submitted their intelligence to him and have stopped thinking rationally.Ibn Sa’d continues: “Qasim ibn Muhammad has said that this promise of the Prophet that had forbidden Mariyahto himself is invalid – it does not become a violation (hormat).
The question is, if that oath was invalid, why did he make it; and if it was valid, why he did he break it?There are countless other examples of Muhammad breaking his own promises.Here he had sworn to God and not even that was an impediment to him.His god was a figment of his own imagination and he was not ao stupid as to let his imagination stop him from having sex with the beautiful Mariyah. The whole idea of inventing that god was to approve whatever he desired without restrictions. A god putting restrictions on him would have defeated the whole purpose of becoming a prophet.
My copy of the Qur’an contains the following tafseer (interpretation) side by side with the Sura Tahrim:
Also it is reported that the Prophet had divided his days among his wives. And when it was the turn of Hafsa, he sent her for an errand to the house of her father OmarKhattab.When she took this order and went, the prophet called his slave girl Mariyahthe Coptwho (later) bore his son Ibrahim, and who was a gift from Najashi, and had sexual intercourse with her.When Hafsa returned, she found the door locked from inside.She sat there behind the locked door until the prophet finished the business and came out of the house while sweat was dripping from his face.When Hafsa found him in that condition she rebuked him saying, you did not respect my honor; you sent me out of my house with an excuse so you could sleep with the slave girl.And in the day that was my turn you had intercourse with someone else.Then the Prophet said, be quiet for although she is my slave and halal to me, for your contentment I, at this moment, make her haram to myself. But Hafsa did not do this and when the Prophet went out of her house she knocked at the wall that separated her quarter from that of Aishaand told her everything.
For Muslims oaths have no meaning. They promise something and then renege if they so choose. Bukhari reports a hadith where Muhammad says: “By Allâh, and Allâh willing, if I take an oath and later find something better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath." And he advised his followers to do the same: "If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then you should expiate your oath and do what is better."
Muslims should never be trusted. Their words mean nothing, their promises are not binding and even their oaths are worthless. This is consistant with NPD. Narcissists believe they are entitled to anything they desire and that their promises and obligations are not binding on them.
One day Muhammad went to see his adopted son Zeidand there he saw his wife Zeinab, in her revealing home clothing.He was aroused by her beauty and could not control his desire. “Praised be Allâh, the best of all creators, who transformes the hearts,” he murmured lustfully and left the house. When Zeid learned this, he felt obliged to divorce his wife for Muhammad to have her.The interesting thing is that a few years earlier, when Muhammad had claimed to have ascended to heaven, he said that there he had met a woman.He inquired about her, and they said she was Zeinab, the wife of Zeid.Later he told this anachronistic story to Zeid who, thinking that his marriage had been arranged in heaven, married her.However, when Muhammad saw Zeinab semi-nude, he forgot all about his own heavenly fable.Of course, no one knew better than he that the whole story of Mi’raj(ascension) was his own fabrication.
When Zeidtold Muhammad that he will divorce his wife, he said, "Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allâh." (Q.33:37) Soon after Zeid left, the rememberance of Zeinab’s lips, her thighs and her breast awoke his Allâh residing under his tunic who revealed a verse admonishing him for fearing the criticism of the people instead of givig in to his desires.
You did hide in yourself that which Allâh will make manifest, you did fear the people whereas Allâh had a better right that you should fear Him. So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them. And Allâh's Command must be fulfilled. (Q.33: 37)
His marriage to his own daughter-in-law confounded even his followers.But who could argue with Allâh? To silence them again, his Allâh came out of his sleeve with a verse saying that Muhammad is not the father of anyone but the messenger and the Seal of the prophets. (Q.33:40)He claimed that his marriage to Zeinabwas arranged by God to show people that adoption was a bad thing and should be annulled.As you can see, just because he could not control his lust, he made his bogus deity tell people that adoption was wrong, depriving countless orphans of a second chance at life.Doesn’t this alone disqualify him as a messenger of God?How can the almighty God be offended by adoption?
There is an interesting story in connection with this topic. After Muhammad annulled the institution of adoption, Abu Hudhaifaand his wife Sahla, who had an adopted son called Salim, came to Muhammad for advice. “Messenger of Allâh, Salim (the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa) is living with us in our house,” said Sahla. “He has attained (puberty) as men attain it and has acquired knowledge (of the sex problems) as men acquire.” In response to her Muhammad improvised an ingenious solution. “Suckle him,” he told her. “How can I suckle him as he is a grown-up man?” She asked perplexed. Muhammad smiled and said: “I know that he is a young man.” In fact Salim was old enough to have participated in the Battleof Badr. Another tradition says that Muhammad laughed. I wonder what he would have said if some astute guy told him, please allow us scuckle the nipples of your wives so they don’t have to cover themselves from us.
According to Muhammad, breast-feeding establishes a degree of maternal relation, even if a woman nurses a child who is not biologically hers. Inspired by these traditions, Dr. Izzat Atiya of Egypt’s al-Azhar University, one of Islam’s most prestigious institutions offered a way around segregation of the sexes at work. He issued a fatwa (religious ruling) allowing women to feed a male colleague "directly from her breast" at least five times to establish a family bond and thus be allowed to be alone together at work. "Breast feeding an adult puts an end to the problem of the private meeting, and does not ban marriage," he ruled. "A woman at work can take off the veil or reveal her hair in front of someone whom she breastfed." 
Even though some Muslims had no problem with this fatwa, since it was based on authentic hadith, the legal ruling sparked outrage throughout Egypt and the Arab world and Dr. Atiya was forced to retract his fatwa.
Muhammad’s Sacred Secretions
On June 13, 2007, MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute) published the following article:
In his book Religion and Life - Modern Everyday Fatwas, Egyptian MuftiDr. Ali Gum'a wrote that the companions of the Prophet Muhammad would bless themselves by drinking his urine, and described an incident of urine-drinking from a hadith: "Umm Ayman drank the urine of the Prophet, and the prophet told her: 'This stomach will not be dragged through the fire of Hell, because it contains something of our Lord the Messenger of Allâh...' 
‘This blessing,’ Al-Gum'a added, ‘[can also] be done with the honorable saliva, sweat, hair, urine or blood of the Prophet. This is because anyone who knows the love of the Messenger of Allâh is not repulsed [by these]; just as a mother is not repulsed by the feces of her son, this is even more so [in the case of] our Lord the Messenger of Allâh, whom we love more than our fathers, sons, and wives. Anyone who was or is repulsed by the Messenger of Allâh must recant his faith.’
Following the ensuing uproar, Gum'a came to the defense of his fatwa, saying: ‘The entire body of the Prophet, whether exposed or hidden, is pure, and there is nothing in it- including his secretions - that [can] repulse anyone. His sweat smelled better than perfume. Umm Haramwould collect this sweat and distribute it to the people of Al-Madina.’
Dr. Gum'a added: ‘The hadith of Suhail bin Omarat Al-Hudaybiya says: 'Oh Lord, I was with Kisra [the ruler of Persia] and with Kaisar[the ruler of Byzantium] and I saw no instance in which the leader was glorified like the Companions of the Prophet glorified Muhammad. The second Muhammad spat, one of them would immediately hasten [to grab his saliva] and smear it upon his face.' Hence, the ulema, including Ibn Hajar Al-Askalani, Al-Baihaqi, Al-Daraqutni and Al-Haythami, determined that the Prophet's entire body was pure.’
Egyptian Religious Endowments Minister Dr. Muhammad HamdiZaqzouq was extremely critical of Gum'a's statements. He said: ‘Fatwas such as these do damage to Islam, serve its enemies, and push the people towards backwardness and ignorance.’ Writing in the government daily Al-Ahram, Zaqzouq explained further: ‘Tragic fatwas such as [Gum'a's] have harmed Islam and the Prophet more than the Danish cartoons did, because this time the harm comes not from Islam's enemies but from some Muslim ulema who present their opinions on Islam to the public...’
‘The books of the hadiths contain both wheat and chaff. They contain the acceptable and the unacceptable, and it is not for the good of Islam or the Muslims if we repeatedly disseminate the pollution that they contain... Those of us who speak in the name of the religion must understand that... the world has changed, circumstances have changed, and it is no longer acceptable or logical to fill the heads of the Muslim masses with the defiled sayings, sick thoughts, and groundless suppositions whose correctness is completely unproven...
The Academy for Islamic Research, headed by Al-AzharSheikh Dr. Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, expressed vehement objections to the fatwa issued by Gum'a, who is an academy member. According to the academy, the fatwa was not appropriate for today's circumstances...
There were many other protests from Islamic scholars and the public. Attorney Nabih Al-Wahsh filed a complaint against Gum'a with the prosecutor general, claiming that Gum'a's fatwa threatened social stability and also reviled and defamed the Prophet and his companions.
Al-Ahram editor Osama Saraya argued that Gum'a's fatwa was not relevant to Muslim life today, even if it did draw on religious sources: ‘The books of religious law contain many questions and issues, some of which have descended into oblivion. They have nothing to do with the reality of the lives of Muslims today, and they have become theoretical, philosophical or polemic [issues]. In the past, clerics said that one does not have to reveal everything one knows. The accepted opinion is that that many issues that preoccupied the Muslim clerics in the past are no longer worthy of discussion - either because they belong to the ancient period and are too loosely linked to public life, or because they are likely to cause confusion and public pandemonium. This is a fact well-known to students of religious law..." 
Gala GabAllâh, columnist for the government daily Al-Gumhouriyya, wrote: ‘Whether the story of Umm Ayman is true or not, it should not be retold by the mufti. [If asked about it], the mufti should respond: 'What use is it to you to know this? The Prophet, with his honorable past, his honorable blood and his honorable urine, is no longer among us. There is no place at all for talking about such pointless matters, which are likely to harm people and start talk that will damage Islam and the religion...’
Al-Akhbar columnist Ahmad Ragab mocked Gum'a's statements, writing: ‘[With regard] to the fatwa of the honorable mufti... How is it possible to actually drink urine when this need is always met in a secluded place specially designated for this [purpose]? Did the Companions of the Prophet stand around and wait [there], with containers in their hands? Can any reasonable person imagine that the Prophet [actually] let them collect his urine?’ 
There is a glimmer of hope in this. These episodes show that there is a limit to which Muslims are willing to be fooled and beyond which they will not go. Therein lies my conviction that once the naked truth about Islam is exposed and its asininity becomes manifest, a great number of Muslims will see the light and will abandon it.
Muhammad reintroduced the pagan tradition of fasting. However, he found it difficult to abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk, so he ate whenever he pleased. Ibn Sa’d writes: “The Messenger of Allâh used to say ‘We the prophets are required to eat our morning food later than others and hurry in breaking our fast in the evening.'”
These are just a few examples of how Muhammad did as he pleased and made his Allâh approve whatever he did. The young and perceptive Aishanoticed this and, perhaps sarcastically, or innocently, said to him “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.” She uttered the above when Muhammad made his Allâh order him to take his daughter in law Zeinab, as a bride.
In none of the wars that Muhammad waged did he put his own life in danger.He stood behind his troops wearing often two coats of chain-link mail, one on top of the other.The double armoring would make him so heavy that his movements became cumbersome and he needed assistance to stand or to walk. While in that state he would shout toward the front and loudly encourage his men to be valiant and not fear death, promising them high-bosomed virgins and celestial food in the other world.Sometimes he would grab a handful of sand and throw it in the air in the direction of the enemy while cursing them.
To finance his military expeditions, the Prophet of Allâh exhorted his followers to contribute their wealth.He urged them to serve him and wait upon him.He encouraged their adulation of him and strongly frowned on dissent.Orwa, the negotiator of the Quraish, who visited Muhammad among his men in Hudaibiyyah witnessed that Muhammad’s followers “rushed to save the water in which he had performed his ablutions, to catch up his spittle, or seize a hair of his if it chanced to fall.”This should not be interpreted or dismissed as an exaggeration of later years, as the historian Sir Willam Muir believed.Muhammad, like all other cult leaders, had created a personality cult around himself.We can see this kind of personality worship in modern cults even today.This is how the narcissist wants to be treated.
Muhammad thought himself to be above the law.He broke moral and ethical codes whenever it suited him, and then made his Allâh reveal a verse to confirm that what he had done was all right.
Arabs were simple people of the desert, but they had dignity and prided themselves on their chivalry.During the year there were a few months when they did not fight.These were known as the sacred months, when people traveled freely on pilgrimage.In one such month, Muhammad sent an expedition to Nakhlah, a place known for its palm trees, to lay siege and ambush a caravan carrying raisins, butter, wine, and other goods from Taifto Mecca.Fighting and killing at such a time of the year was a sacrilege.He sent eight men towards Nakhlah without telling them about their mission.He gave a sealed letter to the leader of the expedition instructing the men to open it only after reaching the destination.When they opened the letter, they realized Muhammad was asking them to raid a caravan during the sacred months.Two of the men conveniently lost their camels in the desert, went out to find them, and did not take part in the raid.The other six discussed the situation and finally convinced themselves that the orders of the prophet should be obeyed even if they went against their consciences and seemed immoral and unethical.To set up the ambush, they shaved their heads and pretended to be preparing themselves for pilgrimage, and when the men of the caravan lowered their guard, they leapt upon them, killing one and taking two as hostages.The fourth person escaped. This was the first bloodshed chargeable to Islam.The first blood spilled in the history of Islam was the blood of a non-Muslim by Muslims.Muslims started the hostilities.They persecuted their detractors, not the other way around.The killing sent a shockwave through the Quraish, who realized that their opponent, in his quest for power, would not respect any law.
There are countless cases in which Muhammad broke the laws of the land and disregarded the codes of ethics, decency, and morality.Laying siege to merchant caravans or raiding villages and seizing their wealth is theft and is against the law in any society.Muhammad ambushed unarmed groups when they were least prepared to fight, killed as many of their unarmed men as he could, enslaved their women and children, and made his Allâh approve whatever he did.He also okayed having sex with women captured in war, even if the women were still married. (Q.4:24)
From incest to polygamy, from rape to pedophilia, from assassination to genocide, the Prophet of Allâh did them all and encouraged his followers to do the same.He was disdainful of authorities, and so are his followers.
The word “Islam” means “submission.”The Qur’an says: “No believing man and no believing woman has a choice in their own affairs when Allâh and His Messenger have decided on an issue.”(Q.33:36)The truth is that even non-believing people have no choice.They must submit or be killed.Muhammad interpreted dissent as betrayal.For narcissists, dissent is intolerable.In response they panic and feel threatened.Painful memories of being abandoned as a child rise up to shake their precariously balanced personalities.They feel deeply hurt and seek revenge.
Muhammad viewed as enemies any who were not his supporters and followers.He was paranoid and saw conspiracies everywhere. He cast himself as the heroic victim of the malicious forces of his enemies. These “enemies,” of course, existed nowhere except in his fertile imagination.
One of the main factors driving Muhammad’s success was that he had spies everywhere who posed as his detractors and brought news from places he wanted to ambush.So paranoid was he that he even encouraged his believers to spy on each other.Muslims do the same to this day.
Like their prophet, Muslims have victim mentality, and therefore justify their acts of terrorism. They think dark stupendous forces are at work to destroy Islam and that there is a world conspiracy against Muslims led by the Jews.They are convinced Jews control the world, particularly the United States of America, who are doing their bidding and waging proxy wars against the Muslims at the order of this mysterious and omnipotent Jewish cabal.
Muslims are vigilant toward each other’s words and actions. Eeach Muslim spies on others to ensure that the laws of Islam are properly observed.An ambience of terror is created in all Islamic countries, where hardly anyone dares raise the slightest question of the tenets of Islam.Your own kin could report your infidelity, which, of course, would mean certain death to you.
Pathological narcissists believe they are special and therefore entitled to gratuitous favors. Muhammad did not thank those who he did his bidding. Instead, he told them they should be grateful for being given the privilege of serving Allâh.
O you who believe! Do not make your charity worthless by reproach and injury, like him who spends his property to be seen of men and does not believe in Allâh and the last day. (Q. 2:263)
Muhammad tried to compensate for his craving for love with power.He yearned for love because he did not receive enough of it from his primary caregivers.A loveless childhood is the root cause of narcissism, despotism and psychopathic behavior.His grandfather’s and uncle’s permissiveness, and their failure to set limits, further aggravated his narcissistic trait.Muhammad cried bitterly at the tomb of his mother, but those tears were not for her. They were for himself. Narcissists have no feelings for others.They are only aware, in fact too aware, of their own feelings, their own pain and their own emotional needs.
 International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th edition, World Health Organization (1992)
 The language in the criteria above is based on or summarized from:
American Psychiatric Association. (1994).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Sam Vaknin. (1999). Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited, first edition. Prague and Skopje: Narcissus Publication. ("Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" http://www.geocities.com/vaksam/faq1.html )
 Ambient abuse is the stealth, subtle, underground currents of maltreatment that sometimes go unnoticed even by the victims themselves, until it is too late.Ambient abuse penetrates and permeates everything – but is difficult to pinpoint and identify.It is ambiguous, atmospheric, and diffuse.Hence it has insidious and pernicious effects.It is by far the most dangerous kind of abuse there is.It is the outcome of fear – fear of violence, fear of the unknown, fear of the unpredictable, the capricious, and the arbitrary.It is perpetrated by dropping subtle hints, by disorienting, by constant – and unnecessary – lying, by persistent doubting and demeaning, and by inspiring an air of unmitigated gloom and doom ("gaslighting"). This definition is given by Dr. Sam Vakninin his article “Ambient Abuse, first published in “Verbal and Emotional Abuse on Suite 101,” also published in Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited, Ibid. and at http://samvak.tripod.com/abuse10.html (date not given), (accessed June 22, 2007).
 “For Love of God – Narcissists and Religion”, by Dr. Sam Vaknin, at http://samvak.tripod.com/journal45.html (no date given) (accessed June 22, 2007), first published in “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” Topic Page on Suite 101, also appearing in Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited, Ibid.
 “For Love of God – Narcissists and Religion”,by Dr. Sam Vaknin, Ibid.
 Jon Mardi Horowitz – Stress Response Syndromes: PTSD, Grief, and Adjustment Disorder” New Jersey:Jason Aronson Inc., Third Edition, 1997, ISBN-10: 0765700255, ISBN-13: 978-0765700254.
 Sahih Bukhari 7.62.18 Narrated 'Ursa: The Prophet asked Abu Bakrfor 'Aisha's hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said "But I am your brother." The Prophet said, "You are my brother in Allâh's religion and His Book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry."
The Qur’an can be tedious, and that is mainly why few Muslims have read it.However, at the risk of boring my readers, in this chapter I will have to quote several Qur’anic verses as evidence to support my portrait of Muhammad.
Aims The aims of the present study were to examine the rate of nightmare disorder (ND) and to determine the levels of dream anxiety and subjective sleep quality in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Another aim was to determine whether dream anxiety was associated with childhood trauma, dissociative experiences, and subjective sleep disturbance in BPD patients. Finally, the hypothesis as to whether BPD patients with ND exhibited a more severe clinical profile than those without ND, was also tested. Methods A total of 88 borderline patients and 100 age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects were assessed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R Personality Disorders, Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders, Van Dream Anxiety Scale, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Dissociative Experiences Scale, and Traumatic Experiences Checklist. Subjects with codiagnoses that could affect sleep were not included. Results BPD patients suffered a significantly greater rate of nightmares, elevated levels of dream anxiety, and disturbed sleep quality than did controls. In the borderline group, heightened dream anxiety was correlated with higher rates of early traumatic experiences and dissociative symptoms, and impaired sleep quality. Furthermore, borderline patients with ND exhibited greater psychopathology as compared to those without ND in terms of several clinical characteristics. Conclusions The present study provides support for a strong association between BPD, distressing nightmares, and subjective sleep quality. Recognition and management of dream and sleep disturbances in BPD patients might lead to improvements in their global clinical picture.
PATIENTS DIAGNOSED WITH borderline personality disorder (BPD) usually meet criteria for other comorbid psychiatric conditions. One important but underrepresented commonality among these psychiatric conditions is sleep and dream disturbances. Nightmares and sleep problems are frequently encountered in patients with BPD.1,2 Empirical data suggest that borderline patients are different from normal controls in some aspects of sleep architecture: they have reduced REM latency, less total sleep, more stage 1 sleep, and less stage 4 sleep.3
Although childhood trauma is commonly encountered in BPD4 and often presumed to be associated with sleep disruption and nightmares, it was not explored as a possible confounding factor in most studies. Adults as well as children with a history of early trauma frequently report persistent disruptions in sleep that may be relatively refractory to treatment.5,6 Research on adult sexual assault survivors has shown that upward of 77% of survivors report insomnia, nightmares, sleep-disordered breathing, and/or sleep-related movement disorders and that suffering from sleep problems likely persists for manyyears after the initial trauma.7 Dissociative experiences have also been strongly linked to the childhood traumatization and BPD pathology.8 In a large group of adolescents, Agargun et al. recently demonstrated an association between dream anxiety, nightmares and dissociative states and the causal role of childhood traumatic events in this relationship.9
Despite the growing concern about both sleep and nightmare research, patients with BPD are rarely evaluated with validated sleep scales to assess nightmares and sleep disturbances as primary variables of interest. To our knowledge, an investigation of nightmare disorder (ND) along with subjective measure of dream anxiety and sleep quality in BPD patients has yet to be reported. Previous polysomnographic studies in BPD usually did not provide data on questionnaires validated to indicate the presence of sleep disturbances. Although the gold standard measure of sleep is polysomnography, it also has several disadvantages, such as expensiveness, first-night effect, and need of skilled technical staff. Subjective reports on sleep quantity and quality are also important measures. Several questionnaires, filled out immediately on waking, have been validated to index the presence of sleep disturbance and to be highly correlated with objective estimates of sleep.10 Besides poor sleep quality, a significant proportion of nightmare sufferers also report waking distress and dream anxiety in relation to their nightmares.11 It has been suggested that nightmare distress may itself be, at least partially, a trait factor.11 As such, dream anxiety might be more a function of personality than of nightmare content, and nightmare frequency more a function of acute stress.12 Therefore, it seems reasonable also to measure the dream anxiety when conducting a nightmare study in subjects with a particular personality disorder.
The aim of the present study was to determine the rate of ND and subjective ratings of dream anxiety and sleep disturbances among patients with BPD in comparison to healthy controls. Another aim was to assess whether the level of dream anxiety was associated with measures of childhood traumatic experiences, dissociative symptoms, and subjective sleep complaints in BPD patients. Finally, the present study also examined the hypothesis that the presence of comorbid ND diagnosis would be related to a more severe clinical profile in BPD patients.
Of 163 BPD patients, who were consecutively admitted to Personality Disorders Research Program at GATA Haydarpasa Training Hospital Psychiatric Clinic during a 24-month study period, 112 were willing and suitable to participate in the study. However, 14 patients refused to participate during data gathering and another 10 left the study because of insufficient hospital stay to administer all instruments. Thus, a total of 88 (48 male, 40 female) borderline subjects were involved in the trial. Diagnosis of BPD was confirmed on the Turkish version of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R Personality Disorders13 and subjects with other Axis II codiagnoses were not included. In addition, all subjects were assessed using Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders.14 Because nightmares may also be related to recent events and present mental status, subjects who had been diagnosed with any psychotic or mood disorder, acute and post-traumatic stress disorder, or an organic condition that could cause psychiatric symptoms and who had experienced a similar event during the past 1 year were excluded.
BPD patients were compared with a healthy control group that included 100 age- and gender-matched subjects. All patients and control subjects were free of any substance or psychotropic medication for at least 4 weeks prior to investigation. Protocol for this research project was approved by the local ethics committee. Written informed consent was obtained from BPD and healthy subjects prior to study participation.
The subjects were interviewed with a semi-structured interview for sociodemographic characteristics. The interview also contained a clinician-rated questionnaire to assess the diagnosis and some clinical characteristics of ND according to the DSM-IV criteria. All subjects were informed of the difference between nightmares and night terrors, and were given a brief description of what to consider as a nightmare. This procedure was similar to two recent studies.9,15
The Van Dream Anxiety Scale (VDAS) provides a longitudinal assessment of dream anxiety and treatment response in subjects with nightmares.16 It has a good level of internal consistency (Cronbach's α = 0.87). There are 17 self-rated questions in the scale. Thirteen questions are concerned with nightmare frequency; difficulty in falling asleep; fear of sleeping; trouble sleeping; autonomic hyperactivity; dream recall frequency; daytime sleepiness; daytime anxiety; occupational distress; familial distress; social distress; psychological problems; and memory/concentration problems. The items are weighted equally on a 0-4 scale and summed to yield a global VDAS score, which has a range of 0-42.
The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) is a self-rated questionnaire that assesses sleep quality and disturbances over a 1-month interval.17 Nineteen individual items weighted equally on a 0-3 scale generate seven component scores: subjective sleep quality; sleep latency; sleep duration; habitual sleep efficiency; sleep disturbances; use of sleeping medications; and daytime dysfunction. The sum of scores for these seven components yields one global score, which has a range of 0-21, with higher scores indicating worse sleep quality. A global PSQI score >5 is considered to be a sensitive and specific measure of poor sleep quality. The PSQI has been shown to be valid and reliable in Turkish population studies.18
To assess childhood trauma history, the Traumatic Experiences Checklist (TEC) was used. The TEC is a self-report questionnaire covering 29 types of potentially traumatizing events with good psychometric characteristics in clinical samples.19 TEC total score presents the number of reported potentially traumatizing experiences (range 0-29). A previous study demonstrated that the scalability, reliability, and validity of the Turkish version of this instrument were satisfactory.20
The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) is a 28-item self-report scale that requires the individual to indicate on a scale ranging from 0 to 100 to what extent presented statements of dissociative experiences apply to them.21 The statements include experiences such as having done something without knowing when and how or finding oneself at a place without being able to recollect how one got there. The overall DES score is obtained by adding up the 28 item scores and dividing by 28; this yields an overall score ranging from 0 to 100. The Turkish version of the scale22 has a reliability and validity as high as its original form.
Clinical data were expressed as percentages or means ± SD. Differences between variables were tested for significance using χ2 test or two-tailed t-test when appropriate. Bivariate Pearson's correlations were used to determine the relationships between the scale scores. Statistical significance was set at 0.05 (two-tailed test). All analyses were carried out using SPSS for Windows version 10.0 (SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA).
Table 1 shows the sociodemographic factors of both BPD and healthy control groups. Among BPD subjects, a few more men (n = 48, 54.5%) than women (n = 40, 45.5%) participated in the study. Subjects were relatively young; they ranged in age from 18 to 34 years. Groups were similar with respect to gender, age, marital status, education levels, and economic status. The two groups differed concerning occupational status; more than one-third (36.4%) of BPD patients were unemployed. A diagnosis of ND was found in nearly half (n = 43, 49%) of the BPD subjects while only seven subjects (7%) in the control group were diagnosed as ND.
Table 2 shows that the BPD patients displayed significantly higher VDAS global and components scores and PSQI global and item scores than the controls. Eighty-four out of the 88 BPD patients (95.5%) reported themselves to be poor sleepers, that is, to have a PSQI >5. In the control group only 12 subjects (12%) were determined as poor sleepers. The individualized analysis of the different items scored in the PSQI indicated that patients with BPD have higher scores of subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, habitual sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances, use of sleeping medication, and daytime dysfunction as compared to the matched controls.
Table 3 presents Pearson's correlation coefficients, which determine the relationships between scores on the VDAS and the severity of traumatic experiences on the TEC, dissociative symptoms on the DES, and sleep troubles on the PSQI in BPD group. When controlled for VDAS global score, significant and positive correlations were found for traumatic events, dissociative experiences, and subjective sleep complaints. In particular, most of the item scores of VDAS were also positively correlated with the TEC, DES, and global PSQI scores.
As shown in Table 4, the patients with BPD and comorbid ND presented a clinically more severe profile than those without comorbid ND. Patients with BPD and comorbid ND were more likely to be unemployed and to have achieved a lower level degree than borderline patients without ND. They also suffered a significantly grater rate of childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect. With respect to deliberate self-injury, BPD patients with ND reported significantly more various methods and longer duration of self-mutilating behavior than those without ND, although presence of any self-mutilating act did not differ between these groups. Furthermore, borderline patients with ND had a significantly greater rate of substance abuse and repeated suicide attempts, more severe general traumatic experiences, and dissociative symptoms than those without ND.
The principal aim was to investigate the rate of ND and to determine the extent of self-reported dream anxiety and sleep complaints among BPD patients. This is the first study, to our knowledge, in which the VDAS and PSQI have been used in patients with BPD. The present result indicate that BPD patients suffered a significantly greater rate of nightmares (49%), higher levels of dream anxiety, and more disturbed sleep than did normal individuals. Importantly we found that 95.5% of the BPD subjects endorsed sleep difficulties.
The present results corroborate previous studies of trauma-related sleep disturbances that depend on subjective evaluations and involve numerous reports of sleep difficulties.5,23 Poor sleep among the present borderline subjects was evidenced by lower subjective sleep quality, longer sleep latency, shorter sleep duration, lower habitual sleep efficiency, more sleep disturbances, higher use of sleeping medication, and a higher daytime dysfunction as measured on the PSQI. In a previous study both systematic inquiry and objective assessment with polysomnography did show that patients with BPD slept poorly in comparison to healthy controls.2 However, it has also been suggested that sleep quality is an inherently subjective measure and could be related to factors not measurable on polysomnography.24 In addition, PSQI scores reflect sleep quality over the past month, while polysomnography looks only at the particular night/s studied. A recent sleep study found a strong discrepancy between objective and subjective sleep measurements with regard to sleep quality in non-depressed BPD patients.25 Subjective ratings (including also the PSQI) indicated impaired sleep quality while electrophysiologic sleep parameters only indicated tendencies for depression-like REM sleep abnormalities. Taken together, one may conclude that the sleep quality of patients suffering from BPD is significantly decreased as indicating dissatisfaction with sleep. The reason for this reduction in sleep quality could be found in the altered perception of sleep in BPD.
The high prevalence of ND and sleep difficulties in patients with BPD in the present study adds to the suspicion that they are more common than realized in this patient group. One can speculate that ND, sleep disturbances, and BPD may share a common diathesis. Pharmacological enhancement of serotonin activity with selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors results in a clinical benefit for both behavioral BPD symptoms26 and trauma-related sleep complaints.27 Thus, altered serotonergic neurotransmission might be a possible and common explanation for sleep disturbances and nightmares in BPD.
The present findings also showed that higher dream anxiety was significantly correlated with higher rates of childhood trauma history, higher levels of dissociation, and poorer sleep quality. Several lines of evidence also suggest that there is a triad of relationships between borderline personality structure, early adverse life events, and susceptibility to nightmares. In the study by Claridge et al. highly borderline subjects were found to report more childhood trauma and distressing nightmares.28 Consistent with the present results, nightmare distress in that study was best predicted by a combination of borderline personality and childhood victimization of sexual abuse and neglect. It has also been suggested that dreams may be necessary to emotional adaptation in childhood traumatic events, and it is possible that nightmares have an adaptive function in this process.9
Supporting the present finding of a correlation between dream anxiety and dissociative symptoms, dreams have been considered as a possible dissociative phenomenon that reflect a monitoring of and reaction to internal and external conditions within the dreamer.29 Moreover, neuroanatomic correlates of underlying mechanisms of nightmares and dissociative phenomena in traumatic events have been suggested to be similar to traumatic dreams, particularly amigdala and fronto-orbital structures.9 There is also a well-established connection between BPD and dissociative disorders. In a recent study reporting a high prevalence of ND among patients with dissociative disorders, ND has been found to be associated with BPD codiagnosis.30
In the present study BPD patients with ND displayed a more severe clinical picture than those without ND in terms of several clinical features. The present results emphasize the importance of nightmare comorbidity as a factor contributing to the level of psychopathology associated with BPD. It is suggested that the number of nightmares that produce high levels of distress may function as an indicator of pathological risk/severity.31 Nightmare sufferers have been shown to constitute a particular high-risk group for psychosis-proneness.32 In relation to major depression, nightmares have been demonstrated to be strongly associated with suicidal behavior.15 Thus, the prognostic significance of ND should not be neglected in the diagnosis of BPD. One may speculate that having nightmares is a poor prognostic factor in this patient population.
Limitations of the present study include exclusion of all borderline patients with one or more coexisting axis I disorders, the possibility of recall bias from use of questionnaires, and the fact that we did not use polysomnography to quantify sleep parameters. Less rigorous exclusion of comorbid axis I disorders and inclusion of them as a covariate in the statistical analysis, and objective assessment using actigraphy or polysomnography might yield different findings.
The present study extends previous research and provides further support for an association between BPD, distressing nightmares, and poor sleep quality. ND is robustly related to a more severe clinical profile in BPD patients. Furthermore, the present study identifies dream anxiety as a clinical correlate of childhood trauma, current dissociative symptoms, and subjective sleep quality in patients with BPD. Effective strategies to improve sleep in this patient group might lead to vast improvements in their clinical picture.
1 Hartmann E, Russ D, Van der Kolk R, Falke R, Oldfield M. A preliminary study of the personality of the nightmare sufferer: Relationship to schizophrenia and creativity? Am. J. Psychiatry 1981; 138: 794-797. 2 Asaad T, Okasha T, Okasha A. Sleep EEG findings in ICD-10 borderline personality disorder in Egypt. J. Affect. Disord. 2002; 71: 11-18. 3 Benson KL, King R, Gordon D, Silva JA, Zarcone VP Jr. Sleep patterns in borderline personality disorder. J. Affect. Disord. 1990; 18: 267-273. 4 Zanarini MC, Williams AA, Lewis RE et al. Reported pathological childhood experiences associated with the development of borderline personality disorder. Am. J. Psychiatry 1997; 154: 1101-1106. 5 Noll JG, Trickett PK, Susman EJ, Putnam FW. Sleep Disturbances and Childhood Sexual Abuse. J. Pediatr. Psychol. 2006; 31: 469-480. 6 Glod CA, Teicher MH, Hartman CR, Harakal TBS. Increased nocturnal activity and impaired sleep maintenance in abused children. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry 1997; 36: 1236-1243. 7 Krakow B, Melendrez D, Johnston L et al. Sleep-disordered breathing, psychiatric distress, and quality of life impairment in sexual assault survivors. J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 2002; 190: 442-452. 8 Watson S, Chilton R, Fairchild H, Whewell P. Association between childhood trauma and dissociation among patients with borderline personality disorder. Aust. N. Z. J. Psychiatry 2006; 40: 478-481. 9 Agargun MY, Kara H, Ozer OA, Selvi Y, Kiran U, Kiran S. Nightmares and dissociative experiences. The key role of childhood traumatic events. Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 2003; 57: 139-145. 10 Espie CA, Lindsay WR, Espie LC. Use of the sleep assessment device (Kelley and Lichstein, 1980) to validate insomniacs. Self-report of sleep pattern. J. Psychopathol. Behav. Assess. 1989; 11: 71-79. 11 Levin R, Fireman G. Nightmare prevalence, nightmare distress, and self-reported psychological disturbance. Sleep 2002; 25: 205-212. 12 Schredl M. Effects of state and traits factors on nightmare frequency. Eur. Arch. Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 2003; 253: 241-247. 13 Coskunol H, Bagdiken I, Sorias S, Saygili R. The reliability and validity of the SCID-II Turkish Version. Turk. J. Psychology 1994; 9: 26-29 (in Turkish). 14 Corapcioglu A, Aydemir O, Yildiz M, Esen A, Koroglu E. Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID), Turkish Version. Hekimler Yayin Birligi, Ankara, 1999 (in Turkish). 15 Agargun MY, Cilli AS, Kara H, Tarhan N, Kincir F, Öz H. Repetitive and frightening dreams and suicidal behavior in patients with major depression. Compr. Psychiatry 1998; 39: 98-102. 16 Agargun MY, Kara H, Bilici M et al. The Van Dream Anxiety Scale: a subjective measure of dream anxiety in nightmare sufferers. Sleep Hypn. 1999; 4: 204-211. 17 Buysse DJ, Reynolds CF, Monk TH, Berman SR, Kupfer DJ. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index: A new instrument for psychiatric practice and research. Psychiatry Res. 1989; 28: 193-213. 18 Agargun MY, Kara H, Anlar O. Validity and reliability of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index in a Turkish sample. Turk. Psikiyatri Derg. 1996; 7: 107-111 (in Turkish). 19 Nijenhuis ERS, Van der Hart O, Kruger K. The psychometric characteristics of the Traumatic Experiences Questionnaire (TEC): First findings among psychiatric outpatients. Clin. Psychol. Psychother. 2002; 9: 200-210. 20 Semiz UB, Basoglu C, Ebrinc C et al. Body dysmorphic disorder, trauma, and dissociation in patients with borderline personality disorder: A preliminary study. Bull. Clin. Psychopharmacol. 2005; 15: 65-70 (in Turkish). 21 Bernstein EM, Putnam FW. Development, reliability, and validity, of a dissociation scale. J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 1986; 174: 727-735. 22 Yargic LI, Tutkun H, Sar V. The reliability and validity of The Turkish version of the Dissociative Experiences Scale. Dissociation 1995; 8: 10-13. 23 Neylan TC, Marmar CR, Metzler TJ et al. Sleep disturbances in the Vietnam generation: Findings from a nationally representative sample of male Vietnam veterans. Am. J. Psychiatry 1998; 155: 929-933. 24 Engdahl BE, Eberly RE, Hurwitz TD, Mahowald MW, Blake J. Sleep in a community sample of elderly war veterans with and without posttraumatic stress disorder. Biol. Psychiatry 2000; 47: 520-525. 25 Philipsen A, Feige B, Al-Shajlawi A et al. Increased delta power and discrepancies in objective and subjective sleep measurements in borderline personality disorder. J. Psychiatr. Res. 2005; 39: 489-498. 26 Rinne T, van den Brink W, Wouters L, van Dyck R. SSRI treatment of borderline personality disorder: A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial for female patients with borderline personality disorder. Am. J. Psychiatry 2002; 159: 2048-2054. 27 Neylan TC, Metzler TJ, Schoenfeld FB et al. Fluvoxamine and sleep disturbances in posttraumatic stress disorder. J. Trauma. Stress 2001; 14: 461-467. 28 Claridge G, Davis C, Bellhouse M, Kaptein S. Borderline personality, nightmares, and adverse life events in the risk for eating disorders. Pers. Indiv. Differ. 1998; 25: 339-351. 29 Gabel S. Dreams as a possible reflection of a dissociated self-monitoring system. J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 1989; 177: 560-568. 30 Agargun MY, Kara H, Ozer OA, Selvi Y, Kiran U, Ozer B. Clinical importance of nightmare disorder in patients with dissociative disorders. Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 2003; 57: 575-579. 31 Martínez MP, Miró E, Arriaza R. Evaluation of the distress and effects caused by nightmares: A study of the psychometric properties of the nightmare distress questionnaire and the nightmare effects survey. Sleep Hypn. 2005; 7: 29-42. 32 Levin R, Raulin ML. Preliminary evidence for the proposed relationship between frequent nightmares and schizotypal symptomatology. J. Personal. Disord. 1991; 5: 8-14.
Schizophrenia linked to deficit in all components of empathy
Study findings suggest emotional dysfunctions in patients with schizophrenia extend beyond emotional recognition.
MedWire News: Schizophrenia patients have significant deficits in all core components of empathy, investigators have shown.
There are three core components of empathy: the ability to recognize emotions in oneself and others via facial expressions, speech, or behavior; the ability to share other people’s emotions by “putting one’s self in their shoes” (affective responsiveness); and the ability to infer a person’s emotional state based on their behavior and the social context (emotional perspective taking).
Birgit Derntl (Aachen University, Germany) and colleagues note that the fact that all domains of empathy are affected in schizophrenia patients has a significant impact on their social ability.
They therefore suggest that, to improve the socio-occupational life of schizophrenia patients, behavioral therapies should address each empathy domain independently.
The researchers measured emotion recognition, perspective taking, and affective responsiveness in 24 schizophrenia patients and 24 mentally healthy individuals. The participants also completed a self-report empathy questionnaire.
The schizophrenia patients were less able to recognize emotion when shown faces depicting five basic emotions than controls, with a significant emotion effect as shown by faster reaction times and greater accuracy for happiness than for sadness.
They also showed emotional perspective taking deficits compared with controls, by being less able to correctly choose the emotional expression hidden behind a masked face when shown scenes of two people involved in social interaction.
Finally, schizophrenia patients found it difficult to imagine how they would feel when given a real situation described in 150 short written sentences – as a measure of affective responsiveness – compared with controls.
“Our results fully support the assumption… that schizophrenia patients are impaired in their capacity to spontaneously simulate another person’s subjective world, ie, they cannot empathetically appreciate the likely content of another person’s mind in order to take appropriate account of that other person’s feelings,” the team explains.
“A remediation of these emotional dysfunctions might improve patient’s everyday life, social interactions, and increase their opportunities for a better socio-occupational life, especially as social impairments in schizophrenia frequently worsen over the course of the disorder and probably contribute to the rate of relapse.”
Borderline personality disorder risk raised in early-onset bipolar disorder
Study findings suggest that early onset of bipolar disorder may be important in the pathogenesis of comorbid borderline personality features.
MedWire News: Regardless of severe childhood trauma/abuse, the risk for developing comorbid borderline personality is increased in early-onset bipolar disorder, say US scientists who warn the prevalence may be underestimated.
Early-onset bipolar disorder is increasingly seen as an important prognostic factor, as adults who have had adolescent or preadolescent affective symptoms appear to have increased familiality, substance abuse, and other comorbidities, mixed episodes and depressive symptoms, rapid cycling, and suicide attempts, and fewer days well.
To determine the relationship between bipolar disorder onset and the development of comorbid borderline personality disorder, a team led by Joseph Goldberg, from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, studied 100 bipolar disorder patients attending a clinic.
Illness onset was before 19 years of age in 55% of participants, and the median age of onset was 18.5 years. The polarity of the first episode was depressed in 56% and manic or hypomanic in the remaining 44%, and there was no significant difference in age of onset between first-episode polarity groups.
The team reports in the journal Bipolar Disorders that 16 patients had comorbid borderline personality disorder. These patients had a significantly earlier age of onset than other patients, at 12.7 years versus 19.7 years.
While patients with comorbid borderline personality disorder had higher summed Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) scores than other patients, at 61.8 versus 50.6, the difference in the prevalence of severe childhood sexual abuse, at 31% versus 19%, was not significant.
Taking into account age, gender, ethnicity, polarity of the initial lifetime episode, a history of severe childhood sexual abuse, or a history of any severe childhood abuse, the team found that, with every 1-year delay in the onset of bipolar disorder, the risk for developing comorbid borderline personality disorder reduced by 9%.
They conclude: “It is conceivable that severe childhood abuse could precipitate the expression of bipolar disorder in genetically vulnerable youth. At the same time, severe abuse coupled with affective symptoms during childhood or adolescence could also lead to synergistic neurotoxicity, as suggested by structural neuroimaging data.
“The current findings suggest that psychopathology features could result from the confluence of both childhood trauma and early-onset depression, particularly the latter.”
Welcome to Psychopath and Narcissist Survivors Support Group.
You are currently viewing our boards as a guest, which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our free community, you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content, and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple, and absolutely free, so please, join our community today!
Posted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:36 pm Post subject: WEEKLY CASE STUDY Jenna
i my name is Jenna, and I have been removed from my relationship for about two weeks now. I broke up with him on February 21, being removed from this relationship and a lot of research has made me come to the conclusion that my ex boyfriend was a Narcissist. There was a huge age difference between him and I, I am 19 and he is 33. The reason that I believe I am attracted to older men is because when I was four my dad died of drug induced psychosis; suicide from allergies to too many medications due to his cluster headaches. We met when I was just 17; 20 months ago. I was not attracted to him what so ever in the beginning but his charm came on stronger one thing led to another and we ended up hooking up the third or fourth time I met him. According to a lot of people I was a lot better looking than Chris and I could do way better than him. But I did not see it this way; I thought that he was the most perfect man in the world. From there a relationship bloomed, the only problem was that he was married. He said that their relationship was miserable, that they barely had sex and he just masturbated and was addicted to Internet porn. Everyone said that their marriage was miserable, so I knew he was not lying about that. According to him this was his first affair, and I am strongly convicted that this is true. That summer we had an amazing time, over three months I fell deeply in love with him. Our relationship was full of laughter and joy, I was happy; my first time being in love. That summer I was still a virgin so the only thing was oral sex and I did that about every day. That October; he broke up with me because he said he was going to go back to his wife and try to work things out but at this point he already asked for a divorce. An hour later he came back and said that he was sorry and that he wanted to be with me for the rest of my life. The next weekend I knew that I wanted to make love with him, I was madly in love and knew that this was the right time to lose my virginity. I was not 18 yet but in NH the age of consent it 16. But anyways so in the beginning all I wanted to do was have sex. I went to the gynecologist just to get checked out and my gynecologist told me that even though I was on birth control, he should still wear a condom. When I told Chris this, he said "you do not care about my needs." he started flipping out saying that he was going to call my doctor up. After like 20 minutes of listening to him rant, he finally said that he would wear one. But I had to try my hardest to convince him. But he never did wear one. The next week my mom came upstairs in my room, I was crying because I was sick of lying to her about going to see him. She said "Jenna, I know that there is something up." She asked me if I was dating an older man, I told her yes. She was not upset; she knew it was bound to happen because I always liked older men. But time went on and the whole family ended up finding out and that was hell. My mom met him for the first time in December, he was really nice and polite and my mom loved him; so I got her full approval and she would be my cheerleader for at least some of the relationship.
Another time I was on the phone with him this was a couple months after going out, he asked me if I would ever try anal sex and I said "no, maybe when I am in my forties." He flipped out again saying that is my favorite thing and you will not do that for me. I was flabbergasted by his reaction. I should have seen signs in the beginning but I was naive and he could see that; which is exactly why he knew that I would be the perfect candidate for dating him so he could have complete and utter control over me. When we started having sex I wanted it all the time and he could barely catch up to me. Sex was really good. He had a very large penis which I always complemented him like everyday stroking his ego even more. We had sex every day until around May or June.
His wife moved out in January which is when I started to go over to his house everyday because before we used to just stay at his office. I was practically moved in, I started sleeping over. And every time I wanted to go home, he would ask me a whole bunch of questions. Like "why" or he would look like he was really upset. That Easter I went down to my aunts and I spent the first half with him. He could not go because my family was not comfortable with him yet. The next day he was like are our holidays always going to look like this me not being able to spend them with you? I expect you to pick holidays with me over holidays with your family because in a relationship your partner comes first. He said to me “I would pick you over anything”, and he would that was the problem, any time I needed him. It is almost as though I got addicted to the fact that he would give me a lot of attention. At that time this was March, I wanted to leave him but I was too scared. I was like I won't have anyone, I won't be able to have the luxuries I had with him, I will be lonely so I stayed.
Chris had a thing with SD, submissive and dominance in sexual activity. We would do role-plays like I was the school girl and he was the teacher. Or he would call me degrading names, but I kind of liked it, it felt carnal but I mostly did it for him. Then I had anal sex with him because he asked me too. He had an obsession with enemas too; which I heard is a power thing but I never did that. He was also into, going to all my doctors’ appointments. I told him that I thought that was weird. He said “I want to know everything about you and I should be there to listen to what they have to say.” I said I was not comfortable with that. He would say things like "I have licked your ass and I cannot go to your doctor’s appointment. He also was like "fine I am never going to bring you to your doctor’s appointments and I do not even want to hear what happened." But again I started to let him come in but it was just too uncomfortable for me to do that. I was always so scared to make him mad; I am a people pleaser and do not like anyone to be mad at me. So I would do anything Chris wanted me to do. At that time I was applying to colleges, and I heard back from UNH, Keene, Emmanuel, and Merrimack which was all the schools I applied too. I really fell in love with Keene and the atmosphere. But Chris was like you should go to UNH and commute so we can spend a lot of time together because it is not going to work if you are far away or in the dorm. So I listened to him and went to UNH.
We also had conversations about him and I wanting kids and I said I do not want to have kids until I get my doctorate at around 28. He flips out and is like “I will be too old by then we need to have them within the next three years. He did not care if it would ruin my dream of becoming a doctor. But again I said okay just to please him. That happened a lot through the relationship.
That April we went to Florida, I told him that I would have sex with him on the plane. He was very excited and said that he has always wanted to do that. But when I was on the plane I got motion sick and had to take Dramamine, so I fell asleep. When I woke up he was furious with me, he could barely look at me. I was stunned. He said that I promised and he was not going to trust me anymore. So I said on the way back I will and then I fell asleep on the way home and he flipped out again and did not talk to me for hours. That week I had the worst headache of my life after we had a fight. And he just left me there screaming in bed and suggesting that I was faking it. Another incident that happened was in Florida was that I would try to have sex with him on the beach. I was too nervous so I did not do it. So he left me at the beach for like a half an hour alone at night. He was like I can never trust you. I was so confused that I flipped out at him; I finally had it with his attitude. A lot off the times he would make little sarcastic comments that referred to things he was feeling like he was hinting them. He also when we were having sex would say "you like this big thing." Referring to his penis, I also felt that was about power too.
Throughout the relationship, he would always say that I did not think that he was important and that I always excluded him with everything I did. Like he was not invited to holidays, so he would say that I needed to chose between them or him. And that if I really loved him that I would punish my family and not talk to them. And show them that it is very important to show them how important Chris is and that he is most important. He said if I did not spend more than half of Christmas with him then he was going to break up with me. He said that a couple times through the relationship and he said this to my therapist and she said he was so dead set about this, it was scary. He also said things like that about birthday parties and hanging out with my friends that he was excluded from my life and he would always threaten to leave me. I did not put a picture of him on Facebook; he said that he was going to break up with me.
My senior year of high school was not so good. I missed out on so many things because of him, he was so jealous that I could not go anywhere. I could not drink alcohol unless I was in front of him. He said if I partied in school, he would also break up with me. I started flipping out, crying please don't leave me. I was petrified of abandonment. He would also use things if I started complaining, “I have sacrificed so much for you.” He would also say everything that he did to me to make me feel guilty or something or that he was entitled to anything he wanted because he did those things for me.
That summer I had surgery on my ankle and I was bedridden for eight weeks. I was going out of my mind. Four days before I had my surgery; I had a graduation party and everyone came. Chris came too; he brought his grill over, helped set up, helped cook. He looked upset the whole day like he was angry. I went out to dance in my garage with my family and I came back in to get him and he said "I do not want to see you dancing all sexual." So I stood at the door way with him watching my family dance, they said "Jenna come out and dance." And I sighed "No, I am all set." They were so confused they saw his controlling nature and were put back by it. He also wanted me to leave my own party because he felt excluded.
During that summer when I was in bed, I was miserable with the pain. Chris was the only one who went to the hospital with me that night and he used this against me numerous times, like "I was there when you needed someone and your parents were not." I was allergic to narcotics and became a little crazy. I hit Chris for the first time that summer. It soon after became a habit because I did not know how to cope. It was almost like I would throw temper tantrums as if I was four years old. During the surgery I was on a lot of antibiotics for infections and this caused yeast infections so I could not have sex with him. He tortured me to call my doctor over and over again. I did and they said I could take other medications but it wasn't working. So Chris flipped out and said I expect sex four times a day. And he was dead set on it, it was unbelievable. He punished me that summer, he would not come over till 10 o'clock at night, and he would barely call me.
I thought my ankle would be better for when I went to college because I had to drive a half an hour to school every day and it was my right ankle. It was not, so I put my name on the waiting list and got a call back that day asking if I wanted to stay in a dorm. Without even thinking I replied yes and would be ready to move in, in about a week or so. I called Chris and told him that I would be dorming this year. He was like “you’re a liar; you told me you would stay in Hampton.” Then he broke up with me. He came to my house and got all of his stuff out of my bedroom. So I ignored his calls for the rest of the day and did not pick up. I was miserable, I missed him so much. I craved him. So he apologized to me and really wanted to go back out with me. I said no. But those couple of weeks all I did was call him and we ended up going back out. So I barely stayed at my dorm because he always wanted me to stay at his house. Chris was so mad that he had to come pick me up all the time because it was so inconvenient for him but he still did it. The next semester I decided to move back home because my roommate ended up smelling and I was never there anyways. And I felt bad because my mom was paying 11,000 dollars a year. So when I would say that to him, he would use reverse psychology like fine go stay there and make me feel guilty.
It was around the holidays by this time and Chris kept pushing..."how are we going to do thanksgiving or Christmas?" I am not even going to get to see you, he would say. My family did not want him there so the only thing I could do was go there and let him be mad. But he would be furious with me and always find a way to punish me. I always felt like he was trying to isolate from my family but when I would try to address it, it would become a moot point because Chris never understood things like this. He continuously put me in the middle and wanted me to choose between him or my family. He was always jealous of my mom because I would say she was my favorite person in the world. He would say awful things about my family to try and make me not like them.
Our relationship was getting really bad, I was constantly hitting him, swearing at him, calling him whatever name in the book. I also started self-mutilating because I really did not know what to and it made me feel better. I was so scared of losing him that every time we would have these huge fights and then after we would have sex. It was the most euphoric feeling. After I did this I knew that I would not lose him that he would not abandon like my dad to me. I started accusing Chris of sleeping with other woman and a whole bunch of ridiculous accusations; I had no idea where they were coming from. I regressed to the age of a little girl. My psychiatrist and therapist diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder.
As soon as I told Chris this that, it is all he focused on. Constantly asking what I was going to do about this but a lot of the times he was supportive. But when we went back to fighting he really had no empathy what so ever; he was just so nonchalant about everything. One time I hit Chris and he grabbed my throat and pushed me; I smacked my head of the wooden floor. I was rocking back and forth in pain. Chris just stood there and told me to stop crying, he told me that I was being dramatic. He also said that I slipped. This happened a couple of times where he pushed me but he never hit me.
Winter break was happening and New England got hit with a huge ice storm so we had to stay in hotels for a couple nights. I stayed with him to keep him company. One night before I had to take my final exams for my first semester, we got into a huge fight. We both started a big brawl, with wrestling, hitting, bloody noses, and bruises. I ended up overdosing on my medication; it was for his attention because he was being incredibly mean to me. When I did it he called his friend to ask what he should do, "Should I bring her to the hospital or should I just fucking leave her here?" He was not empathetic what so ever and that is the reason I did that. So I missed my exams because I had to go in the hospital for a week. I broke up with him in there. And a couple days after I got out, I went right back with him.
Chris always knew how to get me back. He would write me cute letters and leave me nice voice mails. I thought he was being so nice and that I could go back with him. He would always say that he was going to change and that he was really trying hard. What I would do, was mirror him. Every time he wanted something I would say I would do but with my lack of impulse control I would always mess up. He said that if I ever tried marijuana, he would break up with me. I think subconsciously I knew this in my brain so I rebelled. I did it for the first time the day before New Years Eve, the year would be 2009. Chris found out that I smoked weed and said that he could never trust me ever again and even little things I would say he would be like I do not know if I can trust you. I promised him the night before that I would not smoke but I knew I was going to. That night I was at my friend’s house with her boyfriend, and her. We smoked and drank. And on the back patio her boyfriend and I kissed but then he took it too far and raped me. I went upstairs and called Chris saying "I think I was raped." And he did not even believe me so he says I am calling the police. That was at 6 that morning he did not come to about noon to be there for me because he said he was upset with me. He apologized and I was so happy that he did. When we got home he told me if I ever smoke or have a sip of alcohol we are going to break up.
I tried having sex with Chris but I just would end up crying because of the flashbacks from the rape. My therapists said that I would need intensive therapy and that I should not have sex until these flashbacks disappear. I told Chris this and he flipped out he said "You should have sex until you get over it." He had no empathy in his eyes what so ever. I went to the door crying in utter disbelief, thinking that what he said was a dream. I was so stunned and numb. He called me back and he said he was sorry and said that he loved me and never wanted to lose me. Since he said those words I thought he was being kind and thoughtful. We ended up having sex and afterwards, he had all the empathy in the world.
He also recently told me that we were abstinent since I have had my surgery. But doesn't the definition of abstinent mean never having sex. I have sex with him three or more times a week, But he says that is not enough I need it every day because it invigorates me and makes me feel better. The reason he did not masturbate because I told him not to and I believe that he did not masturbate. But I called him a sex addict. And he replied “well I am not an addict per se because I don't sleep with other people but I am addicted to having sex and you are my drug of choice.” He would always use this against me, how I wanted to have sex all the time in the beginning and he would always give me what I wanted. So I should do that for him, he said it is my turn now. And he always complained that I did not give him oral sex anymore.
One night we got into a fight because I told him that his mother had messed him up psychologically and he said “I do not want you saying this anymore” (but he could say it about my mom; he always had double standards) But then when I thought I was losing him I started hugging him and trying to make him happy again. He said “Can we make love?” I said “My therapist thinks it’s a bad idea if I have sex after a fight because of my BPD; that it would cause a vicious cycle. He told me to get the hell out of his house. The next morning we got into a fight again about what I said the night before. I had a very low sex drive due to my major depression or maybe in the back of my head I knew that I did not want to sleep with him. That same morning he was complaining, "Why don't you do something about it. Look online, read, do whatever you can." He said "your low sex drive has gone on way too long. I cannot deal with it anymore!” So I replied "Go get it somewhere else! We are over!" and hung up the phone. He texted me so many times to come pick up my shit and so on but one I am going to quote; it goes like this, "So, is it official. Now, I can move on? Or did I miss understand you, commanding to fuck other woman." And that was it, I have not talked to him since nor do I want to. That was a very abusive relationship, what do you think?
A little background about Chris, when he was 9 years old his mother left her family for another woman. Chris would always say, I really think my mother is a narcissist. And I am thinking the apple does not fall far from the tree. He was also molested at the age of 14 by his cousin who was 21 and his boss at work who was 26 when he was 16. He always felt entitled to everything and he always felt excluded. He would always say, "You do not compliment me much. I need affirmation too, Jenna." and so on. He was always good at telling me I was beautiful and that he loved who I was as a person. Chris was also very meticulous about his appearance; he wore nice sweaters and nice shoes. He had a huge wardrobe. He spent a really long time in the shower and cleans very thoroughly. When we got a year into our relationship, he started working out real hard. Now he almost has a six pack and he works out five times a week. His speech is very formal and he cannot laugh at himself what so ever. He is so sensitive about that which we got into thousands of fights about it. He would always try to play a rich guy with his fancy BMW and his fancy suits. And he also came a part of a Greek group (he is not even Greek) because he wanted to meet well to do people.
Chris also was very feminine and everyone thought he was gay but I did not think so but at times I did. I swore all gay people were attracted to him. But any way I knew for a long time that I did not like him and that I needed to let go but I could not. I was addicted to the attention he gave me because he was always with me whenever I needed him to be. He focused so much energy on me. I realized what I needed to focus on my own self. Chris and I have literally broken up like 17 times but we always had sex and got back together.
Some other things that got me thinking he may be a Narcissist is that he never had kids and he said he did not want them because he wanted to retire at a young age and do what he wanted. He also always had to work for himself because he could not be controlled by a boss. One time he told me that his boss said he was taking lunches that were too long. He told him to “fuck off”. He had OCD on how clean his house was or his car.
Through out our relationship my family has told me to leave which there are 8 people. My therapist, my Psychiatrist, and my friends; I just could not do it. I felt stuck like if I left him I would be totally lost. I would not know what to do like a child in a world alone. I lost my sense of self. I did not do things I loved to do anymore. I just sat around and did what Chris was doing. I always felt an obligation to be by his side like I was his slave. I got the strength to leave him one day and even though it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life; it was the best thing. I can now find my sense of self and bloom into the woman I want to be not into the woman that Chris wants me to be.
Would like to know:
1. Was this an abusive relationship?
2. Was I a victim of Narcissism?
3. Why did this happen?
4. I heard BPD and NPD couples are common, is this true?
5. How did he become a Narcissist if he is one? _________________ Encyclopedia of Narcissism and Psychopathy:
I don't know him well enough to give you an intelligent answer.
Pathological narcissism is a reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. The source of the abuse or trauma is immaterial - the perpetrators could be parents, teachers, other adults, or peers. Pampering, smothering, spoiling, and "engulfing" the child are also forms of abuse - see these:
Doctors used to have poetic names for diseases. A physician would speak of consumption because the illness seemed to eat you from within. Now we just use the name of the bacterium that causes the illness: tuberculosis. Psychology, though, remains a profession practiced partly as science and partly as linguistic art.
Because our knowledge of the mind's afflictions remains so limited, psychologists--even when writing in academic publications--still deploy metaphors to understand difficult disorders. And possibly the most difficult of all to fathom--and thus one of the most creatively named--is the mysterious-sounding borderline personality disorder (BPD). University of Washington psychologist Marsha Linehan, one of the world's leading experts on BPD, describes it this way: "Borderline individuals are the psychological equivalent of third-degree-burn patients. They simply have, so to speak, no emotional skin. Even the slightest touch or movement can create immense suffering."
Borderlines are the patients psychologists fear most. As many as 75% hurt themselves, and approximately 10% commit suicide--an extraordinarily high suicide rate (by comparison, the suicide rate for mood disorders is about 6%). Borderline patients seem to have no internal governor; they are capable of deep love and profound rage almost simultaneously. They are powerfully connected to the people close to them and terrified by the possibility of losing them--yet attack those people so unexpectedly that they often ensure the very abandonment they fear. When they want to hold, they claw instead. Many therapists have no clue how to treat borderlines. And yet diagnosis of the condition appears to be on the rise.
A 2008 study of nearly 35,000 adults in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that 5.9%--which would translate into 18 million Americans--had been given a BPD diagnosis. As recently as 2000, the American Psychiatric Association believed that only 2% had BPD. (In contrast, clinicians diagnose bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in about 1% of the population.) BPD has long been regarded as an illness disproportionately affecting women, but the latest research shows no difference in prevalence rates for men and women. Regardless of gender, people in their 20s are at higher risk for BPD than those older or younger.
What defines borderline personality disorder--and makes it so explosive--is the sufferers' inability to calibrate their feelings and behavior. When faced with an event that makes them depressed or angry, they often become inconsolable or enraged. Such problems may be exacerbated by impulsive behaviors: overeating or substance abuse; suicide attempts; intentional self-injury. (The methods of self-harm that borderlines choose can be gruesomely creative. One psychologist told me of a woman who used fingernail clippers to pull off slivers of her skin."
No one knows exactly what causes BPD, but the familiar nature-nurture combination of genetic and environmental misfortune is the likely culprit. Linehan has found that some borderline individuals come from homes where they were abused, some from stifling families in which children were told to go to their room if they had to cry, and some from normal families that buckled under the stress of an economic or health-care crisis and failed to provide kids with adequate validation and emotional coaching. "The child does not learn how to understand, label, regulate or tolerate emotional responses, and instead learns to oscillate between emotional inhibition and extreme emotional lability," Linehan and her colleagues write in a paper to be published in a leading journal, Psychological Bulletin.
Those with borderline disorder usually appear as criminals in the media. In the past decade, hundreds of stories in major newspapers have recounted violent crimes committed by those said to have the disorder. A typical example from last year was the lurid tale of an Ontario man labeled borderline who used a screwdriver to gouge out his wife's right eye. (She lived; he got 14 years."
There are several theories about why the number of borderline diagnoses may be rising. A parsimonious explanation is that because of advances in treating common mood problems like short-term depression, more health-care resources are available to identify difficult disorders like BPD. Another explanation is hopeful: BPD treatment has improved dramatically in the past few years. Until recently, a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder was seen as a "death sentence," as Dr. Kenneth Silk of the University of Michigan wrote in the April 2008 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Clinicians often avoided naming the illness and instead told patients they had a less stigmatizing disorder.
Therapeutic advances have changed the landscape. Since 1991, as Dr. Joel Paris points out in his 2008 book, Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, researchers have conducted at least 17 randomized trials of various psychotherapies for borderline illness, and most have shown encouraging results. According to a big Harvard project called the McLean Study of Adult Development, 88% of those who received a diagnosis of BPD no longer meet the criteria for the disorder a decade after starting treatment. Most show some improvement within a year.
Still, the rise in borderline diagnoses may illustrate something about our particular historical moment. Culturally speaking, every age has its signature crack-up illness. In the 1950s, an era of postwar trauma, nuclear fear and the self-medicating three-martini lunch, it was anxiety. (In 1956, 1 in 50 Americans was regularly taking mood-numbing tranquilizers like Miltown--a chemical blunderbuss compared with today's sleep aids and antianxiety meds.) During the '60s and '70s, an age of suspicion and Watergate, schizophrenics of the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest sort captured the imagination--mental patients as paranoid heroes. Many mental institutions were emptied at the end of this period. In the '90s, after serotonin-manipulating drugs were released and so many patients were listening to Prozac, thousands of news stories suggested, incorrectly, that the problem of chronic depression had been finally solved. Whether driven by scary headlines, popular movies or just pharmacological faddishness, the decade and the disorder do tend to find each other.
So, is borderline the illness of our age? When so many of us are clawing to keep homes and paychecks, might we have become more sensitized to other kinds of desperation? In a world so uncertain, maybe it's natural to lose one's emotional skin. It's too soon to tell if that's the case, but BPD does have at least one thing in common with the recession. As Dr. Allen Frances, a former chair of the Duke psychiatry department, has written, "Everyone talks about [BPD], but it usually seems that no one knows quite what to do about it."
Inside the Mind
To have coffee with Lily (a pseudonym), you wouldn't get much sense of how she has suffered. She is 40 but could pass for 30. She has blue eyes and long blond hair that falls across her shoulders in slightly curly tendrils. On the December day we met at a diner outside Seattle, she wore a pink wool cap pulled down tight and an Adidas jumper zipped all the way. She was friendly but not terribly expressive, and she carried an aura of self-protection.
At one point in the late '90s, Lily was taking five drugs that doctors had prescribed: three antidepressants, an antianxiety medication and a sleeping pill. Borderline patients are often overmedicated--partly because therapists see them as difficult--but for Lily, as for most borderlines, the meds did little. "Drug treatment for BPD is much less impressive than most people think," Paris writes in Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder.
As a teenager, Lily felt little self-confidence. "Junior high and high school just sucks, right?" she said, laughing. "But I had a propensity to take it a little more seriously." With the help of therapy, she made it through high school and college, but in her late 20s, she became dissatisfied with her job selling specialty equipment. One October day, as she headed out for a mountain-biking trip, she looked at the dun sky and had the feeling that something was wrong. Bleakness massed around her quickly, much faster than it had when she was younger. Soon, nothing gave Lily much joy.
She recalled a talk show in which girls had discussed cutting themselves as a release, a way to relieve depression. "I was so numb," she said. "I just wanted to feel something--anything." So she took a knife from the kitchen and cut deeply into her left arm.
If Lily had a hard time figuring out what was behind such dark emotions, she was in good company. When a psychoanalyst named Adolph Stern coined the term borderline in the 1930s, borderline patients were said to be those between Freud's two big clusters: psychosis and neurosis. Borderlines, Stern wrote rather poetically, exhibit "psychic bleeding--paralysis in the face of crises." Later, in the 1940s, Dr. Helene Deutsch said borderlines experience "inner emptiness, which the patient seeks to remedy by attaching himself or herself to one after another social or religious group." By 1968, when Basic Books published the groundbreaking monograph The Borderline Syndrome, the No. 1 characteristic of borderline patients was said to be, simply, anger.
Eventually, borderlines became pretty much anything a therapist said they were. Says Dr. Kenneth Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness: "If you hated the patient--if the patient was pissing you off--you would bandy this term about: 'Oh, you're just a borderline.' It was a diagnosis that was a wastebasket of hostility."
It was Linehan who changed all that. In the early 1990s, she became the first researcher to conduct a randomized study on the treatment of borderline personality disorder. The trial--which showed that a treatment she created called "dialectical behavior therapy" significantly reduced borderlines' tendency to hurt themselves as well as the number of days they spent as inpatients--astonished a field that had come to see borderlines as hopeless.
Dialectical behavior therapy is so named because at its heart lies the requirement that both patients and therapists find synthesis in various contradictions, or dialectics. For instance, therapists must accept patients just as they are (angry, confrontational, hurting) within the context of trying to teach them how to change. Patients must end the borderline propensity for black-and-white thinking, while realizing that some behaviors are right and some are simply wrong. "The patient's first dilemma," Linehan wrote in her 558-page masterwork, 1993's Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, "has to do with whom to blame for her predicament. Is she evil, the cause of her own troubles? Or, are other people in the environment or fate to blame? ... Is the patient really vulnerable and unable to control her own behavior ...? Or is she bad, able to control her reactions but unwilling to do so ...? What the borderline individual seems unable to do is to hold both of these contradictory positions in mind."
Linehan's achievement was to realize that borderlines are, in fact, on the border between various dualities--dualities that they have to learn to accept and reconcile in order to change their lives. That's easy to say but seems impossible to do--until you see it work.
A Life Redeemed
After she cut herself, Lily was horrified. In a panic, she called her father, who took her to the hospital. When she was released, she and her parents redoubled their efforts to find her good psychiatric treatment. Through a friend at the University of Washington, they heard about Linehan and contacted her Behavioral Research & Therapy Clinics, which are housed in a homey little annex on the UW campus, where you might find little foil-wrapped chocolates next to the coffee and tea.
Linehan, who grew up in Tulsa, Okla., and spent several years as a nun before becoming a psychologist, embodies several dialectical contradictions: a nun who has never lived in a convent; a careful scientist whose most engaging feature is her wry irreverence; a 65-year-old who has a maternal steeliness but was never a mother. It doesn't pay to underestimate Marsha Linehan. In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder, she writes, "If the patient says, 'I am going to kill myself,' the therapist might reply, 'I thought you agreed not to drop out of therapy.'"
In one intense session a few years ago, a patient told Linehan that her work stress was going to lead her to suicide. The patient said Linehan could never understand this stress because she was a successful psychologist. Suicidal borderline patients often confront and alienate therapists in this fashion; for many years, this kind of confrontation was seen as a defining characteristic of the disorder. Linehan believes that borderlines are hurting, not manipulating, but that doesn't mean she indulges them. In this particular confrontation, Linehan responded, "I do understand. I live with a similar amount of stress ... You can just imagine how stressful it is for me to have a patient constantly threatening to kill herself. Both of us have to worry about being fired!"
Such in-your-face tactics were highly controversial when Linehan started out. Other mental-health professionals accused her in public meetings of being heartless, even unethical. But her therapy has saved so many lives and worked so well in randomized trials that few criticize her today. For Lily, who calls Linehan's therapy "Zen philosophy meets tough love," Linehan was the first therapist to understand that managing Lily's illness would require Lily to take a new kind of responsibility--a willingness to grow the emotional skin she never had.
In the beginning, Lily resisted Linehan's assistance. She felt no one could truly understand the depths of her pain. But Linehan was the first therapist who responded to Lily with more than just endless psychoanalysis and pills. Instead, Linehan taught her practical methods of getting by day-to-day. Once, just after she started with Linehan, Lily locked herself in her parents' bathroom and swallowed six or seven antidepressants in a half-hearted suicide attempt. Her father broke the door down; her mother called the police. Lily never lost consciousness, but the cops said she had to go to the hospital anyway. Linehan advised Lily's parents not to accompany her. She also told them they needed to get Lily to work the next day. Lily learned that she wouldn't be cosseted.
Linehan also taught Lily various skills to regulate her emotions. Among the most important is one Linehan calls the "wise mind"--a kind of calm, Zen state that Linehan insists even the most debilitated patients can achieve. "Generally," she writes, "I have patients follow their breath ... and try to let their focus settle into their physical center, at the bottom of their inhalation. That very centered point is wise mind." Lily remembers this sensation clearly; she came to feel that her dark moods had a physical location in her body--her solar plexus--and when she focused on it, she could deactivate a destructive emotion.
Another skill Linehan taught Lily (and many others, via a popular DVD called Opposite Action) was an anti-anger technique for social situations: "Don't make the situation worse," Linehan counsels on the DVD. "And if possible, be a little tiny bit on the kind side. O.K.?"
If some of this sounds like advice you heard in kindergarten, it should. Remember that borderlines have never learned to regulate their emotions. It's important to note that Linehan doesn't just practice tough love with her patients; she also tells them she knows they are hurting and doing the best they can. She emphasizes that she believes in them even though many therapists have tossed them aside. "Clients cannot fail," she says. "But both treatment and a therapist can fail." Both compassion and irreverence, both validation and tough love--these are the dialectics at the heart of Linehan's approach.
One criticism of Linehan's Zen-derived method is that for some patients, it seems too foreign, too removed from Western experience. Linehan knows her therapy works for most people, but that doesn't mean she's unwilling to list its faults. "It takes too long. There are too many components. It takes too much training for therapists," she says.
Such shortcomings have not dissuaded other therapists from learning Linehan's techniques. Some 10,000 of them have been trained in dialectical behavior therapy, and Linehan, to her dismay, has become something of a cult figure. "Cults in psychology hurt patients," she says. "People should try whatever works, not my therapy because it has my name on it."
Lily, for one, is glad that it's the therapy she did try. One of her favorite films used to be James Mangold's 1999 adaptation of Girl, Interrupted, in which Winona Ryder plays a real-life borderline author. When Ryder's character learns she has received a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, she indignantly asks, "Borderline between what and what?" It's a question that weighed on Lily for years and one that many of us may start asking if borderline diagnoses continue to increase. But today Lily is able to laugh about the film because she knows, finally, that the answer doesn't really matter. The key is not defining that uncertain borderline but learning to be happy there.
It's not news that people occasionally get married for reasons other than love. But this still has to be a little unusual.
The story is that Mukhtar Mai, the Pakistani woman who was gang-raped a few years ago by order of her village council, has gotten married. After her attack, Mukhtar refused to remain silent, successfully challenged her rapists in court, and has become a crusader for women's rights. She deserves to find love, right?
It's not that simple, it turns out. In getting married, she becomes the second wife of her husband, who has begged/stalked her to marry him for years, tried to kill himself four months ago to convince her, and threatened to throw out his first wife if Mukhtar didn't marry him. Sounds like a prince.
Mukhtar finally agreed to marry him with a few unusual conditions. As the New York Times reports, "It was her concern about [the first wife], Ms. Mukhtar said, that moved her to relent." So Mukhtar has required her husband to take steps to provide some financial security and independence for his first wife, transferring ownership of his home to the woman, and giving her both land and a monthly stipend.
As for Mukhtar, she's staying in her village and says her husband can come visit her. Not exactly the stuff of fairy tales. And yet, just as Mukhtar's decision to speak out against her attackers helped lessen somewhat the stigma of being a rape victim, her husband's courtship--however unhinged--further erases the cultural belief that rape renders a woman damaged and unwanted for life. So congrats, you two. I think.
(OPRAH.com) -- It's the story that has brought dating violence into the national spotlight. Police responded to a 911 call alleging domestic violence between singers Chris Brown and Rihanna last month.
Tyra Banks tells Oprah Winfrey about how abuse affected her.
Later that day, both pulled out of planned appearances at the Grammy Awards, and Brown turned himself into police. He was arrested on the suspicion of making criminal threats and was released on bail.
Weeks later, rumors of their reconciliation were reported.
On March 5, 2009, Brown appeared in court, charged with two counts of felony assault. His arraignment has been postponed until April 2009 while he remains free on bail.
Statistics say about one in three high school students have been -- or will be -- involved in an abusive relationship. "The message this story sends to teen girls and boys everywhere is disturbing, and it is also dangerous," Oprah Winfrey says. "We need to try to evolve from this moment ... use this as a moment to allow our society to begin to grow."
Over the past few years, talk show host Tyra Banks has interviewed both Brown and Rihanna. "Rihanna told me her parents used to argue so intensely, she used to get these headaches, these migraines that were almost not even treatable with medicine," Banks says. "The moment her parents separated, her migraines went away."
In his appearance on The Tyra Banks Show, Brown said he watched his mother suffer abuse from the time he was 7 years old until he was 13. The abuser was not his biological father. "I treat [women] differently because I know I never want to go through the same thing or put a woman through the same thing that the person put my mom through," Brown told Banks.
When Banks first heard about the alleged incident, she says she didn't believe it -- until the police report was released. "I went back to that interview and I said, 'Oh my God, he's repeating [the cycle of abuse].'"
Tyra cautions against judging Rihanna for going back to Brown. "Sometimes we hold these celebrities up to a higher standard, but we have to look at her as a human being and understand that she is no better or no different than any other girl," Banks says. "She is just as easily pulled into the cycle of abuse of going back."
Banks says she knows the cycle of abuse all too well. While in her 20s, Banks says she was emotionally abused. "He never hit me, but I would say there were blows to my spirit, blows to my emotional well-being every day," she says.
On the outside, Banks says no one could see the signs. But behind closed doors, she says he was jealous and blamed her for his bad moods. "He was a master at being able to be happy and nice to everybody else but whispering these negative things to me," she says. "I'd start complaining to my friends, and they're like: 'Well, he's fine, girl. He's fine with us. Everything's fine.'"
Although she was one of the top 10 models in the world at the time, she says her self-esteem sunk lower and lower. "I stayed because I felt like if I left and he didn't change and didn't treat me how I felt I deserved to be treated, I was a failure," she says.
One day, Banks says she finally confronted herself. "I walked to the mirror in his bathroom. He wasn't there," she says. "Out loud I looked in that mirror and I said: 'Tyra, who are you? What the hell are you doing? Get out of here.'"
Although Banks says she tried to leave her boyfriend many times, she managed to get sucked back into the relationship. At one point, she says she turned to her mother for help. "I said: 'Mama, please, just take me. Pull me out of this relationship. Tell me to leave him. Hole me up in your house. Unplug the phones. Protect me from him.'"
Her mother refused. "[She said:] 'You have to do this on your own. I will be here as somebody to support you in this. But I will not tell you to leave, and I will not cut you off from him, because you'll just run out in the middle of the night and go straight back.'" Oprah.com: How to make an exit plan
Dating violence doesn't just happen in Hollywood. It can take place in any neighborhood -- including yours.
Friends say high school senior and cheerleader Charney Watt was one-of-a-kind.
"She was very intelligent. She made good grades. She had a spunky attitude and was very energetic," says Charli, a friend. "She was also a leader in her community, and being a cheerleader, you have to influence other people. She influenced people at school and also in her neighborhood. You know, if she [had] seen you looking sad, she would come ask you what's wrong and make sure you're okay."
On March 1, 2009, police say the 18-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, was gunned down by her ex-boyfriend.
Charney's ex-boyfriend Gary Daniel has been charged with her murder and has not yet entered a plea.
Her friends say they saw no signs that she was in an abusive relationship. "When she came to [cheerleading] practice, her personality overcame all of that," Charli says. "She was just herself."
Keisha, Watt''s friend since the eighth grade, says Watt's boyfriend used to come to all of her games. "He used to come and see her cheer and come with her mom," she says. "We always thought he was a supporter, and he was a sweet person to her."
"When and Where to Get Help for Mental Health Issues" On HealthyPlace TV
Not a day goes by where we don't get at least a half dozen emails that start something like this: "I think I have a problem, but I'm not sure. But if I do, where do I get help?"
This Tuesday night, we're going to be answering those questions with help from our guest from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). And if you have experienced difficulty in obtaining mental health treatment (whether from financial or other reasons), please consider being a guest on the show. All you need is a webcam and a fast internet connection (cable/dsl). Sharing your story can be helpful to many others.
As always, you'll be able to ask our guests your questions too. The show starts at 5:30p PT, 7:30 CT, 8:30 ET and airs live on our website.
In the second half of the show, you get to ask Dr. Harry Croft, your personal mental health questions.
You can watch last week's show on "Soldiers and PTSD" by clicking the "on-demand" button on the video player on the HealthyPlace TV Show homepage.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks
A lot of people think it's depression, but anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness - affecting nearly 40 million American adults. Are you one of them?
If you're looking for anxiety self-help information or detailed info on any of the anxiety disorders, you have to visit Dr. Reid Wilson's "Anxieties Site" on HealthyPlace.com. Dr. Wilson is a licensed psychologist who directs the Anxiety Disorders Treatment Program in Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina. He is also Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Proposed bill would recognize postpartum psychosis as a defense
Keep children away from violent computer games
What Do Dreams Mean? Whatever Your Bias Says
Four Paths to a Happier You
Reduced functioning observed in antisocial schizophrenics
That's it for now. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this newsletter or the HealthyPlace.com site, I hope you'll pass this onto them. You can also share the newsletter on any social network (like facebook or digg) you belong to by clicking the links below.
Community Partner Team HealthyPlace.com - America's Mental Health Channel "When you're at HealthyPlace.com, you're never alone." http://www.healthyplace.com
This message was sent from HealthyPlace.com to samvaknin@.... It was sent from: HealthyPlace.com, 12951 Huebner Rd No. 780063, San Antonio, TX 78278. You can modify/update your subscription via the link below.
In Pain and Joy of Envy, the Brain May Play a Role
Published: February 16, 2009
Most human vices have enough sense to be very, very tempting. Lust, gluttony, sloth, hurling powerful if unimaginative expletives at a member of the political opposition, buying a pair of Thierry Rabotin snakeskin printed shoes at 25 percent off even though you just bought a pair of cherry-red slingbacks last week — all these things feel awfully good to indulge in, which is why people must be repeatedly abjured not to.
One vice, however, dispenses with any hedonic trappings and instead feels so painful you would think it was a virtue, except that there’s no gain in lean muscle mass at the end: envy. Skulking at sixth place on traditional lists of the seven deadly sins, right between wrath and pride, envy is the deep, often hostile resentment you feel toward somebody who has something you want, like wealth, beauty, a promotion or the admiration of peers. It is a vice few can avoid yet nobody craves, for to experience envy is to feel small and inferior, a loser shrink-wrapped in spite.
“Envy is corrosive and ugly, and it can ruin your life,” said Richard H. Smith, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky who has written about envy. “If you’re an envious person, you have a hard time appreciating a lot of the good things that are out there, because you’re too busy worrying about how they reflect on the self.”
Now researchers are gleaning insights into the neural and evolutionary underpinnings of envy, and why it can feel like a bodily illness or a physical blow. They’re also tracing the pathway of envy’s equally petty foil, the sensation of schadenfreude — taking pleasure when those whom you envied are themselves brought down low.
Reporting in the current issue of the journal Science, researchers at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan and their colleagues described brain-scanning studies of subjects who were told to imagine themselves as protagonists in social dramas with characters of greater or lesser status or achievement. When confronting characters that the participants admitted to envying, brain regions involved in registering physical pain were aroused: the higher the subjects rated their envy, the more vigorously flared the pain nodes in the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and related areas.
Conversely, the researchers said, when subjects were given a chance to imagine the golden one’s downfall, the brain’s reward circuits were activated, again in proportion to the strength of envy’s sting: the subjects who felt the greatest envy the first time around reacted to news of their rival’s misfortune with a comparatively livelier response in the dopamine-rich pleasure centers of, for example, the ventral striatum. “We have a saying in Japanese, ‘The misfortunes of others are the taste of honey,’ ” said Hidehiko Takahashi, the first author on the report. “The ventral striatum is processing that ‘honey.’ ”
Matthew D. Lieberman of the psychology department at the University of California, Los Angeles, who co-wrote a commentary that accompanies the report, said he was impressed by how the neural correlates of envy and schadenfreude were tied together, with the magnitude of one predicting the strength of the other. “This is the way other needs-processing systems like hunger and thirst work,” he said. “The hungrier or thirstier that you feel, the more pleasurable it is when you finally eat or drink.”
The new findings are preliminary, and some scientists have expressed reservations about what they or other scanning results from the fast-moving field of behavioral neuroscience really mean. Nevertheless, the research throws a spotlight on a potent emotion that we deny or deride but ignore at our peril. Much of the recent economic crisis, Dr. Smith suggested, may well have been fueled by runaway envy, as financiers competed to avoid the shame of being a “mere” millionaire.
Envy can be seen in other social animals with personal reputations to defend. Frans de Waal of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta noted that monkeys were perfectly happy to work for cucumber slices until a person started giving one monkey a preferred treat like grapes. Then the others stopped working for cucumbers and started nursing a grudge. “The underlying emotion is likely envy or resentment,” Dr. de Waal said.
When children realize they have siblings, their lives become dominated by the calipers of envy. Why does she always get to sit by the window? His cupcake has more sprinkles! No siblings? No problem: you can envy the cat.
Researchers often distinguish between envy and the jealousy you feel by, say, seeing a loved one flirt at a party. Jealousy is a triangle, Dr. Smith said, in which you fear losing a loved one to the embrace of another. Envy is a two-bodied affair, an arrow proceeding from your covetous breast to the heart of the well-endowed Other. Yet envy is restless and gregarious and can embrace popular cliques, honor rolls and entire nation-states. “It’s a fact of life that we pay close attention to status, to who’s doing well and who isn’t and how we stand in comparison to others,” said Colin W. Leach, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, who studies envy.
As a rule, we envy those who are like us in most ways — in sex, age, class and curriculum vitae. Potters envy potters, Aristotle observed.
Paradoxically, this most socially driven of emotions is among the least socially acceptable to confess to. Jealous hostility toward a romantic rival is an acceptable topic for conversation. Envious hostility toward a professional rival is more like an embarrassing body function: please do not share. When asked by researchers about their envy, study participants have said, “I’m privately ashamed of myself.”
As evolutionary scientists see it, envy’s salient features — its persistence and universality, its fixation with social status and the fact that it cohabits with shame — suggest that it serves a deep social role. They propose that our invidious impulses may help explain why humans are comparatively less hierarchical than many primate species, more prone to a rough egalitarianism and to rebelling against kings and tycoons who hog more than their fair share.
Envy may also help keep us in line, making us so desperate to look good that we take the high road and start to act good, too. We struggle with our private envy, our longing for more esteem than we command, and the struggle only sharpens the painful contrast between the imagined perfection of the envied adversary that we have enshrined on an imaginary throne, and the defective merchandise that is ourselves.
“If you desire glory, you may envy Napoleon,” Bertrand Russell said. “But Napoleon envied Caesar, Caesar envied Alexander, and Alexander, I daresay, envied Hercules, who never existed.” If envy is a tax levied by civilization, it is one that everyone must pay.
(CNN) -- After his appearance on ABC's "Wife Swap," a reality television show in which wives from two different families switch places for two weeks, Stephen Fowler seems to have become the most hated man in America.
Stephen Fowler, left, with his children and Gayla Long, right, on ABC's "Wife Swap."
The wealthy, British-born environmental entrepreneur played husband to Gayla Long, a mother of four from a rural Missouri town and, during her stay, called her, among other things, "undereducated," a "dumb redneck" and made rude remarks about her weight.
Fowler's attitude on the show has made him television's newest reality show villain.
"The way he beat down on this woman on 'Wife Swap,' obviously it struck a chord with America," said the TV Guide Network's Chris Harrison. "You talk about your 15 minutes of fame. I don't think this is exactly what he probably wanted out of this, but, you know, hopefully he'll learn a little something about himself." Watch the outcry Fowler has caused »
Shortly after the episode aired on January 30, Fowler allegedly received death threats. His remarks inspired a hate Web site, StephenFowlerSucks.com, a derisive entry on UrbanDictionary.com, and dozens of YouTube postings from the show as well as response videos from angry viewers.
Fowler later apologized. Writing on his wife Renee Stephens' blog, Fowler said he acted "like a complete jerk" and that he has since stepped down from the board of two non-profit organizations.
Asked for comment, ABC referred CNN to "Wife Swap's" production company, which did not respond. However, Fowler's wife, Renee Stephens, had publicly criticized his behavior on her blog.
"I did not know he had been aggressively cruel and insulting on so many levels," she wrote. "This has been impossible for me to comprehend."
Fowler is not alone in his infamy. In fact, he joins a long line of reality show bad guys, from "Survivor's" Richard Hatch, whose notorious arrogance led him to win the show's first season, to Puck from "The Real World," who was kicked off for his aggressive behavior toward his roommates. All are real-life characters who America simply loves to hate.
"The camera doesn't make you a better person, it doesn't even change the person that you are, it just magnifies who you are," said Harrison. "If you're a tool, you come off like a gigantic tool. ... This guy [is] probably your garden-variety tool. But you put him on 'Wife Swap' in front of America and he looks like the biggest ass in the history of mankind."
Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, who was made out to be the villain on the first season of NBC's "The Apprentice," said she understood what Fowler must be going through.
"I can completely relate to his experience," she said. "I feel bad for him, because a lot of people get into that situation and receive a lot of criticism and don't know how to respond to it."
Omarosa -- famous enough to be recognized by her first name -- said Fowler's situation has a lot to do with the nature of reality television.
"When America looks at reality TV, they want entertainment," she said. "Once you enter the world of reality, and the cameras go off, unfortunately, America's expectation of you doesn't stop -- their expectation is for you to continue to entertain them."
In the six years since her appearance on "The Apprentice," Omarosa has made her mark on the television business, capitalizing on her persona on the show by appearing on several reality shows, including NBC's "Fear Factor" and VH1's "The Surreal Life."
"I think my longevity came from my work ethic. There is a ton of reality shows that I do, lots of work that I do, people are aware of how much work I do," she said.
Harrison said Fowler would do well to change.
"Hopefully this guy has realized his character flaw and he's going to change," he said. "Whether it's good or bad, depending on how the experience goes, I think you do learn a little about yourself and a lot of people change."
The name calling. The judgmental attitude. Besides entertainment, is there a point?
By Jon Caramanica March 8, 2009
"Wife Swap" (ABC, 8 p.m. Friday) relies on a belief in the power of domestic diplomacy, an acknowledgment on the part of parents committed to their household customs that there may in fact be other options and that dialogue is better than resistance.
But like all negotiations between sovereign nations with competing ideals, goodwill is not always the prime motivator or the most effective one.
Take Myra Chi, martial arts mini-magnate, who on last week's "Wife Swap" embedded with the Edwards family, which runs a community theater group on a shoestring and which probably should have applied to be on "Clean House" too. After Myra pokes around in the Edwardses' refrigerator, she immediately runs to the sink and vomits.
Later, confronted with the stubbornness and lethargy of Phil, the Edwards paterfamilias, she boils over. "You are a failure, you lousy fat pig!" she tells him. "You're 44 years old, you don't own a home, you don't have a car!"
Hopefully Phil would receive consolation from the fact that, while he is being chewed out by Myra, his wife, Jackie, otherwise happy-go-lucky and uncontrolling, is informing Myra's husband, Charles, of his shortcomings as well. "Do you ever once give your children what they need?" she asks, screaming, purging. "They get food, and they get money thrown at them. Where is the love?"
Choosing to participate in "Wife Swap" must, initially, be rooted in deep narcissism, a faith that one's family strategy is the ideal one and a need to proselytize. Beneath that hubris, though, must reside a layer of doubt -- why else would you serve your family up for a filleting otherwise, if not to assuage deep-seated concerns?
Shrewdly, "Wife Swap" picks no favorites, preaches no strategies. Unlike most shows about the home, it is not proscriptive, believing more in the powers of moderation and in picking the most useful bits from several approaches -- a sort of home-life polytheism -- than in any dogma. Here, even though families are paired because of opposing traits -- working moms versus homemakers, rowdy kids versus well-trained bots, free spirits versus neat freaks -- any family can be sensible, and in turn, all families are.
The show's subtext, generally unspoken, is about transmission -- how we parent will affect how our children will eventually do the job and is reflective of how it was done to us. Our behavior is molded by accreted calluses and scars.
But given its unspoken pessimism about dysfunction across generations, "Wife Swap" believes that people can be malleable, that who you have been need not dictate who you become. It turns out that Charles, the work-focused martial arts instructor, is capable of dressing up like a pirate and encouraging his son's fertile imagination and that Phil is capable of putting his acting skills to work helping corporations train workers in public speaking. Call it "Extreme Makeover: Husband Edition."
Except when it's not. This week, for its 100th swap, two families that have already participated in the show were chosen by fan vote to have another go, presumably for reasons of entertainment, not charity -- after all, if last time was such a success, why would they need to try again?
The Heene family, with its three rowdy boys, is anchored by father Richard, whose anger arrives in sudden bolts between his fringe science projects. The Silvers, who have two quirky, artistically inclined sons, revolve around the mother, Sheree, who is a psychic and who initially fails to impress Richard. "Sheree's like a clogged drain, OK? Things aren't happening," he barks. "I'll bet you the heaviest thing she lifts is the fork to her mouth."
But deep down, these two are more alike than they pretend. It's their spouses who struggle most. Richard's wife, Mayumi, finding Sheree's "househusband," Sam Castiglia,to be "a very feminine husband" and finds it tough to even tolerate the quirks of the Silver children, who are so unlike her own, seeming less like a parent than a conspirator against the alien family. So much for learning.
At the end of each episode of "Wife Swap," the reunited couples face off to discuss the experience, encounters that over the years have ranged from catharsis to outright hostility. This week, in a gratuitous twist, the families' children face off as well. But distressingly, it's clear they haven't learned a thing.
This letter constitutes a permission to reprint or mirror any and all of the materials mentioned or linked to herein subject to appropriate credit and linkback. Every article published MUST include the author bio, including the link to the author's Web site (at the bottom of this message).
=============================================================== Twitter: Narcissism or Innocuous Communication? By Sam Vaknin Author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"
It has become fashionable to castigate Twitter - the microblogging service - as an expression of rampant narcissism. Yet, narcissists are verbose and they do not take kindly to limitations imposed on them by third parties. They feel entitled to special treatment and are rebellious. They are enamored with their own voice. Thus, rather than gratify the average narcissist and provide him or her with narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, affirmation), Twitter is actually liable to cause narcissistic injury.
From the dawn of civilization, when writing was the province of the few and esoteric, people have been memorizing information and communicating it using truncated, mnemonic bursts. Sizable swathes of the Bible resemble Twitter-like prose. Poetry, especially blank verse one, is Twitterish. To this very day, newspaper headlines seek to convey information in digestible, resounding bits and bites. By comparison, the novel - an avalanche of text - is a newfangled phenomenon.
Twitter is telegraphic, but this need not impinge on the language skills of its users. On the contrary, coerced into its Procrustean dialog box, many interlocutors become inventive and creativity reigns as bloggers go atwitter.
Indeed, Twitter is the digital reincarnation of the telegraph, the telegram, the telex, the text message (SMS, as we Europeans call it), and other forms of business-like, data-rich, direct communication. Like them, it forces its recipients to use their own imagination and creativity to decipher the code and flesh it out with rich and vivid details. It is unlikely to vanish, though it may well be supplanted by even more pecuniary modes of online discourse.
Not so other pernicious phenomena brought on by the Internet's resurgence.
Whenever I put forth on the Internet's numerous newsgroups, discussion fora and Websites a controversial view, an iconoclastic opinion, or a much-disputed thesis, the winning argument against my propositions starts with "everyone knows that ...". For a self-styled nonconformist medium, the Internet is the reification of herd mentality.
Actually, it is founded on the rather explicit belief in the implicit wisdom of the masses. This particularly pernicious strong version of egalitarianism postulates that veracity, accuracy, and truth are emergent phenomena, the inevitable and, therefore, guaranteed outcome of multiple interactions between users.
But the population of Internet users is not comprised of representative samples of experts in every discipline. Quite the contrary. The barriers to entry are so low that the Internet attracts those less gifted intellectually. It is a filter that lets in the stupid, the mentally ill, the charlatan and scammer, the very young, the bored, and the unqualified. It is far easier to publish a blog, for instance, than to write for the New York Times. Putting up a Website with all manner of spurious claims for knowledge or experience is easy compared to the peer review process that vets and culls scientific papers.
One can ever "contribute" to an online "encyclopedia", the Wikipedia, without the slightest acquaintance the topic one is "editing". Consequently, the other day, I discovered, to my utter shock, that Eichmann changed his name, posthumously, to Otto. It used to be Karl Adolf, at least until he was executed in 1962.
Granted, there are on the Internet isolated islands of academic merit, intellectually challenging and invigorating discourse, and true erudition or even scholarship. But they are mere islets in the tsunami of falsities, fatuity, and inanities that constitutes the bulk of User Generated Content (UGC).
Which leads me to the second myth: that access is progress.
Oceans of information are today at the fingertips of one and sundry. This is undisputed. The Internet is a vast storehouse of texts, images, audio recordings, and databases. But what matters is whether people make good use of this serendipitous cornucopia. A savage who finds himself amidst the collections of the Library of Congress is unlikely to benefit much.
Alas, most people today are cultural savages, Internet users the more so. They are lost among the dazzling riches that surround them. Rather than admit to their inferiority and accept their need to learn and improve, they claim "equal status". It is a form of rampant pathological narcissism, a defense mechanism that is aimed to fend off the injury of admitting to one's inadequacies and limitations.
Internet users have developed an ethos of anti-elitism. There are no experts, only opinions, there are no hard data, only poll results. Everyone is equally suited to contribute to any subject. Learning and scholarship are frowned on or even actively discouraged. The public's taste has completely substituted for good taste. Yardsticks, classics, science - have all been discarded.
Study after study have demonstrated clearly the decline of functional literacy (the ability to read and understand labels, simple instructions, and very basic texts) even as literacy (in other words, repeated exposure to the alphabet) has increased dramatically all over the world.
In other words: most people know how to read but precious few understand what they are reading. Yet, even the most illiterate, bolstered by the Internet's mob-rule, insist that their interpretation of the texts they do not comprehend is as potent and valid as anyone else's.
Web 2.0 - Hoarding, Not Erudition
When I was growing up in a slum in Israel, I devoutly believed that knowledge and education will set me free and catapult me from my miserable circumstances into a glamorous world of happy learning. But now, as an adult, I find myself in an alien universe where functional literacy is non-existent even in developed countries, where "culture" means merely sports and music, where science is decried as evil and feared by increasingly hostile and aggressive masses, and where irrationality in all its forms (religiosity, the occult, conspiracy theories) flourishes.
The few real scholars and intellectuals left are on the retreat, back into the ivory towers of a century ago. Increasingly, their place is taken by self-taught "experts", narcissistic bloggers, wannabe "authors" and "auteurs", and partisan promoters of (often self-beneficial) "causes". The mob thus empowered and complimented feels vindicated and triumphant. But history cautions us that mobs have never produced enlightenment - only concentration camps and bloodied revolutions. the Internet can and will be used against us if we don't regulate it.
Dismal results ensue:
The Wikipedia "encyclopedia" - a repository of millions of factoids, interspersed with juvenile trivia, plagiarism, bigotry, and malice - is "edited" by anonymous users with unlimited access to its contents and absent or fake credentials.
Hoarding has replaced erudition everywhere. People hoard e-books, mp3 tracks, and photos. They memorize numerous fact and "facts" but can't tell the difference between them or connect the dots. The synoptic view of knowledge, the interconnectivity of data, the emergence of insight from treasure-troves of information are all lost arts.
In an interview in early 2007, the publisher of the New-York Times said that he wouldn't mourn the death of the print edition of the venerable paper and its replacement by a digital one. This nonchalant utterance betrays unfathomable ignorance. Online readers are vastly different to consumers of printed matter: they are younger, their attention span is far shorter, their interests far more restricted and frivolous. The New-York Times online will be forced into becoming a tabloid - or perish altogether.
Fads like environmentalism and alternative "medicine" spread malignantly and seek to silence dissidents, sometimes by violent means.
The fare served by the electronic media everywhere now consists largely of soap operas, interminable sports events, and reality TV shows. True, niche cable channels cater to the preferences of special audiences. But, as a result of this inauspicious fragmentation, far fewer viewers are exposed to programs and features on science, literature, arts, or international affairs.
Reading is on terminal decline. People spend far more in front of screens - both television's and computer - than leafing through pages. Granted, they read online: jokes, anecdotes, puzzles, porn, and e-mail or IM chit-chat. Those who try to tackle longer bits of text, tire soon and revert to images or sounds.
With few exceptions, the "new media" are a hodgepodge of sectarian views and fabricated "news". The few credible sources of reliable information have long been drowned in a cacophony of fakes and phonies or gone out of business.
It is a sad mockery of the idea of progress. The more texts we make available online, the more research is published, the more books are written - the less educated people are, the more they rely on visuals and soundbites rather than the written word, the more they seek to escape reality and be anesthetized rather than be challenged and provoked.
Even the ever-slimming minority who do wish to be enlightened are inundated by a suffocating and unmanageable avalanche of indiscriminate data, comprised of both real and pseudo-science. There is no way to tell the two apart, so a "democracy of knowledge" reigns where everyone is equally qualified and everything goes and is equally merited. This relativism is dooming the twenty-first century to become the beginning of a new "Dark Age", hopefully a mere interregnum between two periods of genuine enlightenment.
The Demise of the Expert and the Ascendance of the Layman
In the age of Web 2.0, authoritative expertise is slowly waning. The layman reasserts herself as a fount of collective mob "wisdom". Information - unsorted, raw, sometimes wrong - substitutes for structured, meaningful knowledge. Gatekeepers - intellectuals, academics, scientists, and editors, publishers, record companies, studios - are summarily and rudely dispensed with. Crowdsourcing (user-generated content, aggregated for commercial ends by online providers) replaces single authorship.
A confluence of trends conspired to bring about these ominous developments:
2. The emergence of technologies that remove all barriers to entry and allow equal rights and powers to all users, regardless of their qualifications, knowledge, or skills: wikis (the most egregious manifestation of which is the Wikipedia), search engines (Google), blogging (that is rapidly supplanting professionally-written media), and mobiles (cell) phones equipped with cameras for ersatz documentation and photojournalism. Disintermediation rendered redundant all brokers, intermediaries, and gatekeepers of knowledge and quality of content.
3. A series of species-threatening debacles by scientists and experts who collaborated with the darkest, vilest, and most evil regimes humanity has ever produced. This sell-out compromised their moral authority and standing. The common folk began not only to question their ethical credentials and claim to intellectual leadership, but also to paranoidally suspect their motives and actions, supervise, and restrict them. Spates of scandals by scientists who falsified lab reports and intellectuals who plagiarized earlier works did nothing to improve the image of academe and its denizens.
4. By its very nature, science as a discipline and, more particularly, scientific theories, aspire to discover the "true" and "real", but are doomed to never get there. Indeed, unlike religion, for instance, science claims no absolutes and proudly confesses to being merely asymptotic to the Truth. In medicine, physics, and biology, today's knowledge is tomorrow's refuse. Yet, in this day and age of maximal uncertainty, minimal personal safety, raging epidemics, culture shocks and kaleidoscopic technological change, people need assurances and seek immutables.
Inevitably, this gave rise to a host of occult and esoteric "sciences", branches of "knowledge", and practices, including the fervid observance of religious fundamentalist rites and edicts. These offered alternative models of the Universe, replete with parent-figures, predictability, and primitive rituals of self-defense in an essentially hostile world. As functional literacy crumbled and people's intellectual diet shifted from books to reality TV, sitcoms, and soap operas, the old-new disciplines offer instant gratification that requires little by way of cerebral exertion and critical faculties.
Moreover, scientific theories are now considered as mere "opinions" to be either "believed" or "disbelieved", but no longer proved, or, rather falsified. In his novel, "Exit Ghost", Philip Roth puts this telling exclamation in the mouth of the protagonist, Richard Kliman: "(T)hese are people who don't believe in knowledge".
The Internet tapped into this need to "plug and play" with little or no training and preparation. Its architecture is open, its technologies basic and "user-friendly", its users largely anonymous, its code of conduct (Netiquette) flexible and tolerant, and the "freedoms" it espouses are anarchic and indiscriminate.
The first half of the 20th century was widely thought to be the terrible culmination of Enlightenment rationalism. Hence its recent worrisome retreat . Moral and knowledge relativism (e.g., deconstruction) took over. Technology obliged and hordes of "users" applied it to gnaw at the edifice of three centuries of Western civilization as we know it.
The Decline of Text and the Re-emergence of the Visual
YouTube has already replaced Yahoo and will shortly overtake Google as the primary Web search destination among children and teenagers. Its repository of videos - hitherto mere entertainment - is now beginning to also serve as a reference library and a news source. This development seals the fate of text. It is being dethroned as the main vehicle for the delivery of information, insight, and opinion.
This is only the latest manifestation in a plague of intellectual turpitude that is threatening to undermine not only the foundations of our civilization, but also our survival as a species. People have forgotten how to calculate because they now use calculators; they don't bother to memorize facts or poetry because it is all available online; they read less, much less, because they are inundated with sounds and sights, precious few of which convey any useful information or foster personal development.
A picture is worth 1000 words. But, words have succeeded pictograms and ideograms and hieroglyphs for good reasons. The need to combine the symbols of the alphabet so as to render intelligible and communicable one's inner states of mind is conducive to abstract thought. It is also economical; imposes mental discipline; develops the imagination; engenders synoptic thinking; and preserves the idiosyncrasies and the uniqueness of both the author and its cultural-social milieu. Visual are a poor substitute as far as these functions go.
In a YouTube world, literacy will have vanished and with it knowledge. Visuals and graphics can convey information, but they rarely proffer organizing principles and theories. They are explicit and thus shallow and provide no true insight. They demand little of the passive viewer and, therefore, are anti-intellectual. In this last characteristic, they are true to the Internet and its anti-elitist, anti-expert, mob-wisdom-driven spirit. Visuals encourage us to outsource our "a-ha" moments and the formation of our worldview and to entrust them to the editorial predilections of faceless crowds of often ignorant strangers.
Moreover, the sheer quantity of material out there makes it impossible to tell apart true and false and to distinguish between trash and quality. Inundated by "user-generated-content" and disoriented, future generations will lose their ability to discriminate. YouTube is only the logical culmination of processes started by the Web. The end result will be an entropy of information, with bits isotropically distributed across vast farms of servers and consumed by intellectual zombies who can't tell the difference and don't care to.
============================================================== AUTHOR BIO (must be included with the article)
Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Global Politician, Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Normal people use a variety of abstract concepts and psychological constructs to relate to other persons. Emotions are such modes of inter-relatedness. Narcissists and psychopaths are different. Their "equipment" is lacking. They understand only one language: self-interest. Their inner dialog and private language revolve around the constant measurement of utility. They regard others as mere objects, instruments of gratification, and representations of functions.
This deficiency renders the narcissist and psychopath rigid and socially dysfunctional. They don't bond - they become dependent (on narcissistic supply, on drugs, on adrenaline rushes). They seek pleasure by manipulating their dearest and nearest or even by destroying them, the way a child interacts with his toys. Like autists, they fail to grasp cues: their interlocutor's body language, the subtleties of speech, or social etiquette.
Narcissists and psychopaths lack empathy. It is safe to say that the same applies to patients with other personality disorders, notably the Schizoid, Paranoid, Borderline, Avoidant, and Schizotypal.
Empathy lubricates the wheels of interpersonal relationships. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1999 edition)defines empathy as:
"The ability to imagine oneself in anther's place and understand the other's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. It is a term coined in the early 20th century, equivalent to the German Einfühlung and modelled on "sympathy." The term is used with special (but not exclusive) reference to aesthetic experience. The most obvious example, perhaps, is that of the actor or singer who genuinely feels the part he is performing. With other works of art, a spectator may, by a kind of introjection, feel himself involved in what he observes or contemplates. The use of empathy is an important part of the counselling technique developed by the American psychologist Carl Rogers."
This is how empathy is defined in "Psychology - An Introduction" (Ninth Edition) by Charles G. Morris, Prentice Hall, 1996:
"Closely related to the ability to read other people's emotions is empathy - the arousal of an emotion in an observer that is a vicarious response to the other person's situation... Empathy depends not only on one's ability to identify someone else's emotions but also on one's capacity to put oneself in the other person's place and to experience an appropriate emotional response. Just as sensitivity to non-verbal cues increases with age, so does empathy: The cognitive and perceptual abilities required for empathy develop only as a child matures... (page 442)
In empathy training, for example, each member of the couple is taught to share inner feelings and to listen to and understand the partner's feelings before responding to them. The empathy technique focuses the couple's attention on feelings and requires that they spend more time listening and less time in rebuttal." (page 576).
Empathy is the cornerstone of morality.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1999 Edition:
"Empathy and other forms of social awareness are important in the development of a moral sense. Morality embraces a person's beliefs about the appropriateness or goodness of what he does, thinks, or feels... Childhood is ... the time at which moral standards begin to develop in a process that often extends well into adulthood. The American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg hypothesized that people's development of moral standards passes through stages that can be grouped into three moral levels...
At the third level, that of postconventional moral reasoning, the adult bases his moral standards on principles that he himself has evaluated and that he accepts as inherently valid, regardless of society's opinion. He is aware of the arbitrary, subjective nature of social standards and rules, which he regards as relative rather than absolute in authority.
Thus the bases for justifying moral standards pass from avoidance of punishment to avoidance of adult disapproval and rejection to avoidance of internal guilt and self-recrimination. The person's moral reasoning also moves toward increasingly greater social scope (i.e., including more people and institutions) and greater abstraction (i.e., from reasoning about physical events such as pain or pleasure to reasoning about values, rights, and implicit contracts)."
"... Others have argued that because even rather young children are capable of showing empathy with the pain of others, the inhibition of aggressive behaviour arises from this moral affect rather than from the mere anticipation of punishment. Some scientists have found that children differ in their individual capacity for empathy, and, therefore, some children are more sensitive to moral prohibitions than others.
Young children's growing awareness of their own emotional states, characteristics, and abilities leads to empathy--i.e., the ability to appreciate the feelings and perspectives of others. Empathy and other forms of social awareness are in turn important in the development of a moral sense... Another important aspect of children's emotional development is the formation of their self-concept, or identity--i.e., their sense of who they are and what their relation to other people is.
According to Lipps's concept of empathy, a person appreciates another person's reaction by a projection of the self into the other. In his Ästhetik, 2 vol. (1903-06; 'Aesthetics'), he made all appreciation of art dependent upon a similar self-projection into the object."
Empathy - Social Conditioning or Instinct?
This may well be the key. Empathy has little to do with the person with whom we empathize (the empathee). It may simply be the result of conditioning and socialization. In other words, when we hurt someone, we don't experience his or her pain. We experience OUR pain. Hurting somebody - hurts US. The reaction of pain is provoked in US by OUR own actions. We have been taught a learned response: to feel pain when we hurt someone.
We attribute feelings, sensations and experiences to the object of our actions. It is the psychological defence mechanism of projection. Unable to conceive of inflicting pain upon ourselves - we displace the source. It is the other's pain that we are feeling, we keep telling ourselves, not our own.
Additionally, we have been taught to feel responsible for our fellow beings (guilt). So, we also experience pain whenever another person claims to be anguished. We feel guilty owing to his or her condition, we feel somehow accountable even if we had nothing to do with the whole affair.
In sum, to use the example of pain:
When we see someone hurting, we experience pain for two reasons:
1. Because we feel guilty or somehow responsible for his or her condition
2. It is a learned response: we experience our own pain and project it on the empathee.
We communicate our reaction to the other person and agree that we both share the same feeling (of being hurt, of being in pain, in our example). This unwritten and unspoken agreement is what we call empathy.
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, Global Politician, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
In preparation of a Journal article, this question was posed to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds "What does love mean?"
The answers were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.
"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That's love." Rebecca- age 8
"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4
"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 5
"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." Chrissy - age 6
"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri - age 4
"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." Danny - age 7
"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss." Emily - age 8
"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." Bobby - age 7
"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate," Nikka - age 6
"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." Noelle - age 7
"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy - age 6
"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore." Cindy - age 8
"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - age 6
"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine-age 5
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt." Chris - age 7
"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." Mary Ann - age 4
"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren - age 4
"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." Karen - age 7
"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget." Jessica - age 8
Mental and behavioural disorders (F00-F99)
Disorders of adult personality and behaviour (F60-F69)
This block includes a variety of conditions and behaviour patterns of clinical significance which tend to be persistent and appear to be the expression of the individual's characteristic lifestyle and mode of relating to himself or herself and others. Some of these conditions and patterns of behaviour emerge early in the course of individual development, as a result of both constitutional factors and social experience, while others are acquired later in life. Specific personality disorders (F60.-), mixed and other personality disorders (F61.-), and enduring personality changes (F62.-) are deeply ingrained and enduring behaviour patterns, manifesting as inflexible responses to a broad range of personal and social situations. They represent extreme or significant deviations from the way in which the average individual in a given culture perceives, thinks, feels and, particularly, relates to others. Such behaviour patterns tend to be stable and to encompass multiple domains of behaviour and psychological functioning. They are frequently, but not always, associated with various degrees of subjective distress and problems of social performance.
Specific personality disorders
These are severe disturbances in the personality and behavioural tendencies of the individual; not directly resulting from disease, damage, or other insult to the brain, or from another psychiatric disorder; usually involving several areas of the personality; nearly always associated with considerable personal distress and social disruption; and usually manifest since childhood or adolescence and continuing throughout adulthood.
Paranoid personality disorder
Personality disorder characterized by excessive sensitivity to setbacks, unforgiveness of insults; suspiciousness and a tendency to distort experience by misconstruing the neutral or friendly actions of others as hostile or contemptuous; recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding the sexual fidelity of the spouse or sexual partner; and a combative and tenacious sense of personal rights. There may be excessive self-importance, and there is often excessive self-reference.
Personality disorder characterized by withdrawal from affectional, social and other contacts with preference for fantasy, solitary activities, and introspection. There is a limited capacity to express feelings and to experience pleasure.
Personality disorder characterized by disregard for social obligations, and callous unconcern for the feelings of others. There is gross disparity between behaviour and the prevailing social norms. Behaviour is not readily modifiable by adverse experience, including punishment. There is a low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence; there is a tendency to blame others, or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behaviour bringing the patient into conflict with society.
Personality disorder characterized by a definite tendency to act impulsively and without consideration of the consequences; the mood is unpredictable and capricious. There is a liability to outbursts of emotion and an incapacity to control the behavioural explosions. There is a tendency to quarrelsome behaviour and to conflicts with others, especially when impulsive acts are thwarted or censored. Two types may be distinguished: the impulsive type, characterized predominantly by emotional instability and lack of impulse control, and the borderline type, characterized in addition by disturbances in self-image, aims, and internal preferences, by chronic feelings of emptiness, by intense and unstable interpersonal relationships, and by a tendency to self-destructive behaviour, including suicide gestures and attempts.
Personality disorder characterized by shallow and labile affectivity, self-dramatization, theatricality, exaggerated expression of emotions, suggestibility, egocentricity, self-indulgence, lack of consideration for others, easily hurt feelings, and continuous seeking for appreciation, excitement and attention.
Personality disorder characterized by feelings of doubt, perfectionism, excessive conscientiousness, checking and preoccupation with details, stubbornness, caution, and rigidity. There may be insistent and unwelcome thoughts or impulses that do not attain the severity of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Personality disorder characterized by feelings of tension and apprehension, insecurity and inferiority. There is a continuous yearning to be liked and accepted, a hypersensitivity to rejection and criticism with restricted personal attachments, and a tendency to avoid certain activities by habitual exaggeration of the potential dangers or risks in everyday situations.
Dependent personality disorder
Personality disorder characterized by pervasive passive reliance on other people to make one's major and minor life decisions, great fear of abandonment, feelings of helplessness and incompetence, passive compliance with the wishes of elders and others, and a weak response to the demands of daily life. Lack of vigour may show itself in the intellectual or emotional spheres; there is often a tendency to transfer responsibility to others.
Character neurosis NOS Pathological personality NOS
Mixed and other personality disorders
This category is intended for personality disorders that are often troublesome but do not demonstrate the specific pattern of symptoms that characterize the disorders described in F60.-. As a result they are often more difficult to diagnose than the disorders in F60.-. Examples include:
mixed personality disorders with features of several of the disorders in F60.- but without a predominant set of symptoms that would allow a more specific diagnosis
troublesome personality changes, not classifiable to F60.- or F62.-, and regarded as secondary to a main diagnosis of a coexisting affective or anxiety disorder.
Enduring personality changes, not attributable to brain damage and disease
Disorders of adult personality and behaviour that have developed in persons with no previous personality disorder following exposure to catastrophic or excessive prolonged stress, or following a severe psychiatric illness. These diagnoses should be made only when there is evidence of a definite and enduring change in a person's pattern of perceiving, relating to, or thinking about the environment and himself or herself. The personality change should be significant and be associated with inflexible and maladaptive behaviour not present before the pathogenic experience. The change should not be a direct manifestation of another mental disorder or a residual symptom of any antecedent mental disorder.
personality and behavioural disorder due to brain disease, damage and dysfunction ( F07.- )
Enduring personality change after catastrophic experience
Enduring personality change, present for at least two years, following exposure to catastrophic stress. The stress must be so extreme that it is not necessary to consider personal vulnerability in order to explain its profound effect on the personality. The disorder is characterized by a hostile or distrustful attitude toward the world, social withdrawal, feelings of emptiness or hopelessness, a chronic feeling of "being on edge" as if constantly threatened, and estrangement. Post-traumatic stress disorder (F43.1) may precede this type of personality change.
Personality change after: · concentration camp experiences · disasters · prolonged: · captivity with an imminent possibility of being killed · exposure to life-threatening situations such as being a victim of terrorism · torture
Enduring personality change after psychiatric illness
Personality change, persisting for at least two years, attributable to the traumatic experience of suffering from a severe psychiatric illness. The change cannot be explained by a previous personality disorder and should be differentiated from residual schizophrenia and other states of incomplete recovery from an antecedent mental disorder. This disorder is characterized by an excessive dependence on and a demanding attitude towards others; conviction of being changed or stigmatized by the illness, leading to an inability to form and maintain close and confiding personal relationships and to social iso-lation; passivity, reduced interests, and diminished involvement in leisure activities; persistent complaints of being ill, which may be associated with hypochondriacal claims and illness behaviour; dysphoric or labile mood, not due to the presence of a current mental disorder or antecedent mental disorder with residual affective symptoms; and longstanding problems in social and occupational functioning.
Other enduring personality changes
Chronic pain personality syndrome
Enduring personality change, unspecified
Habit and impulse disorders
This category includes certain disorders of behaviour that are not classifiable under other categories. They are characterized by repeated acts that have no clear rational motivation, cannot be controlled, and generally harm the patient's own interests and those of other people. The patient reports that the behaviour is associated with impulses to action. The cause of these disorders is not understood and they are grouped together because of broad descriptive similarities, not because they are known to share any other important features.
habitual excessive use of alcohol or psychoactive substances ( F10-F19 ) impulse and habit disorders involving sexual behaviour ( F65.- )
The disorder consists of frequent, repeated episodes of gambling that dominate the patient's life to the detriment of social, occupational, material, and family values and commitments.
excessive gambling by manic patients ( F30.- ) gambling and betting NOS ( Z72.6 ) gambling in dissocial personality disorder ( F60.2 )
Pathological fire-setting [pyromania]
Disorder characterized by multiple acts of, or attempts at, setting fire to property or other objects, without apparent motive, and by a persistent preoccupation with subjects related to fire and burning. This behaviour is often associated with feelings of increasing tension before the act, and intense excitement immediately afterwards.
fire-setting (by)(in): · adult with dissocial personality disorder ( F60.2 ) · alcohol or psychoactive substance intoxication ( F10-F19 , with common fourth character .0) · as the reason for observation for suspected mental disorder ( Z03.2 ) · conduct disorders ( F91.- ) · organic mental disorders ( F00-F09 ) · schizophrenia ( F20.- )
Pathological stealing [kleptomania]
Disorder characterized by repeated failure to resist impulses to steal objects that are not acquired for personal use or monetary gain. The objects may instead be discarded, given away, or hoarded. This behaviour is usually accompanied by an increasing sense of tension before, and a sense of gratification during and immediately after, the act.
depressive disorder with stealing ( F31-F33 ) organic mental disorders ( F00-F09 ) shoplifting as the reason for observation for suspected mental disorder ( Z03.2 )
A disorder characterized by noticeable hair-loss due to a recurrent failure to resist impulses to pull out hairs. The hair-pulling is usually preceded by mounting tension and is followed by a sense of relief or gratification. This diagnosis should not be made if there is a pre-existing inflammation of the skin, or if the hair-pulling is in response to a delusion or a hallucination.
stereotyped movement disorder with hair-plucking ( F98.4 )
Other habit and impulse disorders
Other kinds of persistently repeated maladaptive behaviour that are not secondary to a recognized psychiatric syndrome, and in which it appears that the patient is repeatedly failing to resist impulses to carry out the behaviour. There is a prodromal period of tension with a feeling of release at the time of the act.
Intermittent explosive disorder
Habit and impulse disorder, unspecified
Gender identity disorders
A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one's anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one's body as congruent as possible with one's preferred sex.
The wearing of clothes of the opposite sex for part of the individual's existence in order to enjoy the temporary experience of membership of the opposite sex, but without any desire for a more permanent sex change or associated surgical reassignment, and without sexual excitement accompanying the cross-dressing.
Gender identity disorder of adolescence or adulthood, nontranssexual type
A disorder, usually first manifest during early childhood (and always well before puberty), characterized by a persistent and intense distress about assigned sex, together with a desire to be (or insistence that one is) of the other sex. There is a persistent preoccupation with the dress and activities of the opposite sex and repudiation of the individual's own sex. The diagnosis requires a profound disturbance of the normal gender identity; mere tomboyishness in girls or girlish behaviour in boys is not sufficient. Gender identity disorders in individuals who have reached or are entering puberty should not be classified here but in F66.-.
egodystonic sexual orientation ( F66.1 ) sexual maturation disorder ( F66.0 )
Other gender identity disorders
Gender identity disorder, unspecified
Gender-role disorder NOS
Disorders of sexual preference
Reliance on some non-living object as a stimulus for sexual arousal and sexual gratification. Many fetishes are extensions of the human body, such as articles of clothing or footwear. Other common examples are characterized by some particular texture such as rubber, plastic or leather. Fetish objects vary in their importance to the individual. In some cases they simply serve to enhance sexual excitement achieved in ordinary ways (e.g. having the partner wear a particular garment).
The wearing of clothes of the opposite sex principally to obtain sexual excitement and to create the appearance of a person of the opposite sex. Fetishistic transvestism is distinguished from transsexual transvestism by its clear association with sexual arousal and the strong desire to remove the clothing once orgasm occurs and sexual arousal declines. It can occur as an earlier phase in the development of transsexualism.
A recurrent or persistent tendency to expose the genitalia to strangers (usually of the opposite sex) or to people in public places, without inviting or intending closer contact. There is usually, but not invariably, sexual excitement at the time of the exposure and the act is commonly followed by masturbation.
A recurrent or persistent tendency to look at people engaging in sexual or intimate behaviour such as undressing. This is carried out without the observed people being aware, and usually leads to sexual excitement and masturbation.
A sexual preference for children, boys or girls or both, usually of prepubertal or early pubertal age.
A preference for sexual activity which involves the infliction of pain or humiliation, or bondage. If the subject prefers to be the recipient of such stimulation this is called masochism; if the provider, sadism. Often an individual obtains sexual excitement from both sadistic and masochistic activities.
Multiple disorders of sexual preference
Sometimes more than one abnormal sexual preference occurs in one person and there is none of first rank. The most common combination is fetishism, transvestism and sadomasochism.
Other disorders of sexual preference
A variety of other patterns of sexual preference and activity, including making obscene telephone calls, rubbing up against people for sexual stimulation in crowded public places, sexual activity with animals, and use of strangulation or anoxia for intensifying sexual excitement.
Disorder of sexual preference, unspecified
Sexual deviation NOS
Psychological and behavioural disorders associated with sexual development and orientation
Sexual orientation by itself is not to be regarded as a disorder.
Sexual maturation disorder
The patient suffers from uncertainty about his or her gender identity or sexual orientation, which causes anxiety or depression. Most commonly this occurs in adolescents who are not certain whether they are homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual in orientation, or in individuals who, after a period of apparently stable sexual orientation (often within a longstanding relationship), find that their sexual orientation is changing.
Egodystonic sexual orientation
The gender identity or sexual preference (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or prepubertal) is not in doubt, but the individual wishes it were different because of associated psychological and behavioural disorders, and may seek treatment in order to change it.
Sexual relationship disorder
The gender identity or sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual) is responsible for difficulties in forming or maintaining a relationship with a sexual partner.
Other psychosexual development disorders
Psychosexual development disorder, unspecified
Other disorders of adult personality and behaviour
Elaboration of physical symptoms for psychological reasons
Physical symptoms compatible with and originally due to a confirmed physical disorder, disease or disability become exaggerated or prolonged due to the psychological state of the patient. The patient is commonly distressed by this pain or disability, and is often preoccupied with worries, which may be justified, of the possibility of prolonged or progressive disability or pain.
Intentional production or feigning of symptoms or disabilities, either physical or psychological [factitious disorder]
The patient feigns symptoms repeatedly for no obvious reason and may even inflict self-harm in order to produce symptoms or signs. The motivation is obscure and presumably internal with the aim of adopting the sick role. The disorder is often combined with marked disorders of personality and relationships.
ICD-10 was endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly in May 1990 and
came into use in WHO Member States as from 1994. The classification is the
latest in a series which has its origins in the 1850s. The first edition,
known as the International List of Causes of Death, was adopted by the
International Statistical Institute in 1893. WHO took over the
responsibility for the ICD at its creation in 1948 when the Sixth Revision,
which included causes of morbidity for the first time, was published. The
World Health Assembly adopted in 1967 the WHO Nomenclature Regulations that
stipulate use of ICD in its most current revision for mortality and
morbidity statistics by all Member States.
The ICD is the international standard diagnostic classification for all
general epidemiological, many health management purposes and clinical use.
These include the analysis of the general health situation of population
groups and monitoring of the incidence and prevalence of diseases and other
health problems in relation to other variables such as the characteristics
and circumstances of the individuals affected, reimbursement, resource
allocation, quality and guidelines.
It is used to classify diseases and other health problems recorded on many
types of health and vital records including death certificates and health
records. In addition to enabling the storage and retrieval of diagnostic
information for clinical, epidemiological and quality purposes, these
records also provide the basis for the compilation of national mortality and
morbidity statistics by WHO Member States.
Also read these - click on the links:
There are many fascinating links and factoids in the archive - click on this
link and then click on "previous" or "next" to view additional messages.
Cyclopedia of Factoids
More than 500 free and full text articles and essays - click on these links:
Download FREE, FULL TEXT, E-BOOKS - click on this link:
"Impact of Addiction on Family Members" On HealthyPlace TV
If you have a family member with a drug or alcohol addiction, you know they can wreck havoc within the family. Learn what happens when families cope with a drug or alcohol problem and what family members can do to help themselves.
Preventing Mental, Emotional, And Behavioral Disorders Among Young People
Acquiring the Good Traits of a Neat Freak
Debate Over Drugs for ADHD Reignites
Autistic Child's Arrest Fuels Debate
Improving Impulse Control Within Young Children
Is your child having difficulty keeping his hands to himself? Or maybe she makes inappropriate statements or gets over-exuberant around other people? This week, the parent coach, Dr. Steven Richfield, writes about: Improving Impulse Control Within Young Children
That's it for now. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this newsletter or the HealthyPlace.com site, I hope you'll pass this onto them. You can also share the newsletter on any social network (like facebook or digg) you belong to by clicking the links below.
Community Partner Team HealthyPlace.com - America's Mental Health Channel "When you're at HealthyPlace.com, you're never alone." http://www.healthyplace.com
This message was sent from HealthyPlace.com to samvaknin@.... It was sent from: HealthyPlace.com, 12951 Huebner Rd No. 780063, San Antonio, TX 78278. You can modify/update your subscription via the link below.
Just listening to Christian Bale berate director of photography Shane Hurlbut on the set of Terminator Salvation makes you shrink in your seat. Hurlbut, who had apparently entered the shot while trying to attend to a wayward light, gets a severe tongue lashing from Bale (a hilarious YouTube musical remix has already appeared). At one point it even sounds as if he is going to physically attack Hurlbut, scuffling around and screaming, "I'm gonna f---ing kick your f---ing a--!"
While most people decried Bale's behavior as ridiculous, actors such as Whoopi Goldberg came to his defense. On The View she explained that long hours and prior instances where crew members lacked professionalism could have spurred the Dark Knight's rage. Or maybe his demonstrated history of anger management issues (see assault on sister and mom, alleged) had something to do with it. Bale does in fact call Hulbert's professionalism into question, saying, "You don't f--kin' understand what it's like working with actors." I guess he does now.
"We'll Do it Live!!!!!"
Warning: Video contains explicit language
It's no secret that Bill O'Reilly has a bit of a temper. He has cut down the son of a 9/11 victim ("I've done more for the 9/11 families by their own admission — I've done more for them than you will ever hope to do, so you keep your mouth shut ... Shut up. Shut up!") and pushed and berated an Obama campaign worker he felt was blocking his camera shot. But years before any of his Fox News antics, O'Reilly lost it on his staff at Inside Edition. It's not clear exactly what set O'Reilly off — either his teleprompter wasn't working properly or some bad newscast writing got him rankled — but go off he did.
Arms flailing, O'Reilly got progressively louder and more agitated until he was cursing out a director off camera and screaming. The most jarring part of the tape, though, is watching O'Reilly lose it in one breath and calmly sign off the episode of Inside Edition in the next. It's as if he flipped off the crazy switch. Watch closely, though, and you can see O'Reilly's not done. He practically rips off his suit jacket as the show fades out.
Michael Richards Goes There
Warning: Video contains explicit language
Not even the worst jokes could clear a comedy club full of people who had paid cash money to see a show. But Michael Richards, Seinfeld's character Kramer, figured out a way. He scared an entire audience away in 2006 when he began to shout the N word at a heckler and continued for five minutes until said heckler returned the favor with a "cracker" comment. Richards later apologized on the The David Letterman Show via satellite on Jerry Seinfeld's request. Unable to discern if the whole thing was a stunt, the audience laughs awkwardly. Now that we know it wasn't, we cringe uncomfortably.
I Hate Huckabees
Warning: Video contains explicit language
Behind the scenes of 2004's I Heart Huckabees, it seems, was as chaotic as the finished product. Consider this: two videos of meltdowns between Lily Tomlin and director David O. Russell. The one above features Tomlin laying it down on Russell while shooting a car scene (Check out Dustin Hoffman, calm and collected). F-bombs abound and in a second video, Russell even knocks a stack of papers off a table in frustration with Tomlin's inability to take direction. Tomlin later laughed off the fallout, saying "I love David. There was a lot of pressure in making the movie — even the way it came out, you could see it was a very free-associative, crazy movie, and David was under a tremendous amount of pressure." Riiight.
Where's Hallmark When You Need It?
Warning: Video contains explicit language
Actors Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger have waged one of the longest and most bitter custody battles in Hollywood history, but their vitriol for one another went viral in April 2007 when TMZ.com released a particularly disturbing voicemail that Baldwin left his daughter, Ireland, in April 2007. The message's highlights include calling his own daughter a "rude, thoughtless pig" and threatening to fly to L.A. from New York to "straighten her ass out." Perhaps the most damning part, though, is when he admits that he's not quite sure how old she is: "I don't give a damn that you are 12 years old or 11 years old, or that you are a child. Or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass." (Way to change the topic there).
After issuing a public apology, the 30 Rock star accused his ex-wife of leaking the audio to smear his character, jeopardize his custodial rights and turn his daughter against him. In September 2008, during a publicity tour for his newly published book about life as a divorced dad, Baldwin told TIME of the telephoned rant, "Obviously, as most people can deduce, I was really speaking to someone else on that voice mail."
Casey Kasem, Not So Uptempo
Warning: Video contains explicit language
As part of his American Top 40 radio broadcast, legendary radio personality Casey Kasem would give listeners what they wanted by playing songs in dedication to the person of their choice. But sometimes the dedication would be for a dead dog. And it would almost always come on the heels of an awkwardly inappropriate uptempo pop song. Hence Kasem's meltdown. Producers, come on! If you know a dead dog dedication is coming up, at least place it after a sad song. We're on Casey's side with this one. And where are those photos from last week?!
Alex Trebek's Got Tourette's
Warning: Video contains explicit language
In this lovely video montage of the Jeopardy! host's bloopers, Alex Trebek tells it like he's never told it before. The usually straight-laced, composed game show host appears to swig a can of beer (or perhaps Fresca, but who's counting) in one clip, barks at the crew, appears to call himself a "dumb son of a bitch" for flubbing a line and sometimes repeats things over and over like a crazed broken record. Though, in retrospect, that may have been the work of the person editing the video.
Umbrella, 'Ella, Smash
Warning: Video contains explicit language
America now seems to be on the Britney's-back, let's-get-off-her-case kick, but let us not forget one of the most melted of meltdowns. Spears had just left ex Kevin Federline's home in a huff one evening in 2008, following a reported discussion about custody of their two sons. After being trailed by paparazzi, the then-recently-shorn Britney jumps out of the car with an umbrella and bashes a car window (seen here in a creepy, shadowy camera flash). Watch. Done? Now leave Britney alone!
Warning: Video contains explicit language
"Give a black man a chance, man!" So goes the start to Kanye West's backstage rant at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. The rapper and avid blogger prone to public outbursts has never shied from sharing his unending displeasure with everything ("George Bush doesn't care about black people," "Yoooo, why won't you let me be great!!!"). When West failed to win in any of the five categories in which he was nominated and watched Justin Timberlake perform on the show's main stage while he performed from a hotel villa, West vowed never to return to MTV. He was back the following year.
Tyra Banks, Model and Mentor
Warning: Video contains explicit language
In a moment of rarely seen genuineness from Tyra Banks, the former supermodel scolds a dismissed contestant on her reality show America's Next Top Model. The shocked woman, Tiffany, tries to ease the pain of defeat with some light-heartedness, but Tyra will have no such thing. She tells Tiffany that she's made a joke of the very-serious competition and proceeds to take the gloves off telling her, "You don't know where the hell I've come from!" Tyra, everybody knows where the hell you came from; you say so on every one of your shows.
Jan. 23, 2009 Courtesy Massachusetts Institute of Technology and World Science staff
Schizophrenia may blur the boundary between internal and external realities by overactivating a brain system involved in self-reflection, causing an exaggerated focus on self, a study has found.
The traditional view of schizophrenia is that the disturbed thoughts, perceptions and emotions characterizing the mental illness result from disconnections among the brain regions that control these different functions.
But the new study found that schizophrenia also involves excess connectivity between brain regions involved in self-reflection which become active when we think of nothing in particular, or of ourselves.
“People normally suppress this ‘default’ system when they perform challenging tasks. But we found that patients with schizophrenia don’t,” said John D. Gabrieli of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of 13 authors of the study, published Jan. 19 in the advance online issue of the research journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The findings “may reflect an inability of people with schizophrenia to direct mental resources away from internal thoughts and feelings and toward the external world,” said MIT’s Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli, also a co-author.
John Gabrieli added that he hopes the research might lead to ways of predicting or monitoring individual patients’ response to treatments for the illness, which occurs in about one percent of people.
Schizophrenia is largely genetic. First-degree relatives of patients (their parents, brothers, sisters, or children) are 10 times more likely to develop the disease than the general population. Which genes are responsible are largely unknown.
The researchers studied three matched groups of 13 subjects each: schizophrenia patients, nonpsychotic first-degree relatives of patients and healthy nonrelatives. They chose recently diagnosed patients, so that differences in prior treatment or psychotic episodes wouldn’t bias the results.
The participants were brain-scanned using a widely used technique known as functional magnetic resonance imaging, while resting and while performing easy or hard memory tasks.
The researchers focused on the “default” system, a network of brain regions whose activity drops when people perform hard mental tasks. This network includes areas of the outer brain known as the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex, associated with self-reflection and memories about the self. The network appears to become linked together and active when the mind wanders.
The scientists found that in the schizophrenia patients, the default system was both hyperactive and hyperconnected during rest, and it remained so as they performed the memory tasks. In other words, the patients were less able than healthy subjects to suppress the network’s activity during the task. Interestingly, the less the suppression and the greater the connectivity, the worse they performed on the hard memory task, and the worse their symptoms.
The hyperactive default system could also help to explain hallucinations and paranoia by making neutral external stimuli seem inappropriately self-relevant, the investigators said. For instance, if brain regions whose activity normally signifies self-focus are active while listening to a voice on television, the person may perceive that the voice is speaking directly to them.
The default system was also overactive, though less so, in first-degree relatives of schizophrenia patients who didn’t themselves have the disease, the researchers said. This suggests overactivation of the default system may be linked to the genetic cause of the disease rather than to its consequences, they added. The default system is a hot topic in brain imaging, said John Gabrieli, partly because it’s easy to measure and is affected in different ways by different disorders.
Recidivism rates increased in prisoners with mental health disorders
Investigating whether mental illness is a risk factor for multiple episodes of incarceration.
MedWire News: Prisoners with mental health disorders, particularly those with bipolar disorder, are more likely to re-offend than their mentally healthy counterparts, US researchers report in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
“Although numerous investigations have reported substantially elevated rates of psychiatric disorders among prison inmates compared with the general population, it is unclear whether mental illness is a risk factor for multiple episodes of incarceration,” Jacques Baillargeon (University of Texas Medical Branch in Galverston, USA) and colleagues explain.
To investigate, the researchers studied data on 79,211 Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates who began a prison sentence between 2006 and 2007. They used state-wide information systems to gather data on each inmate’s demographic characteristics, history of incarceration for the preceding 6-year period, and history of psychiatric disorders.
In total, 7878 inmates had been diagnosed with major psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychotic disorders.
Analysis revealed that inmates with major psychiatric disorders were significantly more likely to have been incarcerated on more than one occasion than those without a psychiatric condition. The risk of multiple incarcerations was greatest among inmates with bipolar disorder, who were 3.3 times more likely to have been incarcerated several times than their mentally healthy counterparts.
“Our finding that inmates with psychiatric disorders have an increased risk of having multiple incarcerations has important policy implications,” write Baillargeon and team.
They add: “Addressing this public health crisis adequately will require the continued development of novel and integrated interventions, such as mental health courts, continuity of care programs, and the development of specialised correctional mental health facilities.
“Given the scale and complexity of this problem, it is likely that a coordinated effort among criminal justice, mental health, and public health systems will be necessary to reduce the widespread criminalization of the mentally ill in America.”
Leadership is “one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth”, wrote one man in a position to know. In business, interest has focused on three aspects of the phenomenon:
• the nature and behaviour of leaders;
• the nature and behaviour of those who are led;
• the structure of the organisation in which the leading takes place.
Most is written about the first of these. There is a visceral fascination with leaders and their character, and with the great issue that surrounds them: can they be made or are they only ever born?
There is no general agreement about the qualities of a leader. Field Marshal Montgomery thought that a leader “must have infectious optimism, and the determination to persevere in the face of difficulties. He must also radiate confidence, even when he himself is not too certain of the outcome”. Henri Fayol, an early French writer on management, said that the leader’s task is “thinking out a plan and ensuring its success”. It is, he added, “one of the keenest satisfactions for an intelligent man to experience”.
David Ogilvy, founder of an advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, and himself a leader of some quality, said: Great leaders almost always exude self-confidence. They are never petty. They are never buck-passers. They pick themselves up after defeat … They do not suffer from the crippling need to be universally loved … The great leaders I have known have been curiously complicated men.
This view of the leader as complicated is supported by the personality of some undeniably great leaders, such as Napoleon and Winston Churchill. It may also lie behind the fact that up to 60% of past presidents of the United States and prime ministers of Britain had lost their fathers before they were 14.
The leadership of people like Alfred P. Sloan (see article), the legendary boss of General Motors, however, owed more to the structure and systems that they put in place in their organisations than it did on the individual’s personality. Henry Ford II’s success in revitalising his family’s firm after the second world war depended largely on his reorganisation of the company. The man himself was a jet-setting playboy who rarely met the David Ogilvy standards of a great leader.
The leading management thinker on leadership in recent years has been Warren Bennis (see article), a professor at the University of Southern California. He has said that successful leaders follow an almost universal principle of management “as true for orchestra conductors, army generals, football coaches, and school superintendents as for corporate executives”. When they came to head an organisation, successful leaders “paid attention to what was going on, determined what part of the events at hand would be important for the future of the organisation, set a new direction, and concentrated the attention of everyone in the organisation on it”. He also found that the vast majority of successful leaders were white males who remained married to the same person all their lives.
Abraham Zaleznik, in an influential article in Harvard Business Review, argued that “because leaders and managers are basically different, the conditions favourable to one may be inimical to the growth of the other”. In other words, a long career as a manager may not be the best training for a leader. Yet this is the training that most business leaders get.
The nature of leadership has been discussed since time immemorial. In perhaps the most famous book on the subject, “The Prince”, written in Florence in the 1520s, Niccolň Machiavelli set out his ideas about what a prince must do to survive and prosper, surrounded as he inevitably will be by general human malevolence. Dedicated to Lorenzo de Medici, the book draws on examples from history, of Alexander the Great and of the German city states, to teach its readers some eternal lessons. Many a corporate chief has a copy near his bedside.
Bennis, W. and Nanus, B., “Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge”, Harper & Row, 1985; 2nd edn, HarperBusiness, 1997
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. and McKee, A., “Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence”, Harvard Business School Press, 2003
Jay, A., “Management and Machiavelli”, Penguin, 1970
Kotter, J.P., “The Leadership Factor”, Free Press, 1988
McAlpine, A., “The New Machiavelli”, John Wiley & Sons, 1998
Zaleznik, A., “Managers and Leaders: Are they Different?”, Harvard Business Review, May–June, 1977
More management ideas
This article is adapted from “The Economist Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus”, by Tim Hindle (Profile Books; 322 pages; Ł20). The guide has the low-down on over 100 of the most influential business-management ideas and more than 50 of the world’s most influential management thinkers. To buy this book, please visit our online shop.
James W. Pennebaker’s interest in word counting began more than 20 years ago, when he did several studies suggesting that people who talked about traumatic experiences tended to be physically healthier than those who kept such experiences secret. He wondered how much could be learned by looking at every single word people used — even the tiny ones, the I’s and you’s, a’s and the’s.
That led Dr. Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, down a winding path that has taken him from Beatles lyrics (John Lennon’s songs have more “negative emotion” words than Paul McCartney’s) all the way to terrorist communications. By counting the different kinds of words a person says, he is breaking new linguistic ground and leading a resurgent interest in text analysis.
Take Dr. Pennebaker’s recent study of Al Qaeda communications — videotapes, interviews, letters. At the request of the F.B.I., he tallied the number of words in various categories — pronouns, articles and adjectives, among others.
He found, for example, that Osama bin Laden’s use of first-person pronouns (I, me, my, mine) remained fairly constant over several years. By contrast, his second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, used such words more and more often.
“This dramatic increase suggests greater insecurity, feelings of threat, and perhaps a shift in his relationship with bin Laden,” Dr. Pennebaker wrote in his report , which was published in The Content Analysis Reader (Sage Publications, July 2008).
Kimberly A. Neuendorf, a professor of communications at Cleveland State University who has extensively studied content analysis, agreed with that assessment. Mr. Zawahri, she said, “is clearly repositioning himself to provide a singular platform for his opinion” and “reaffirming his status as an important individual in the dynamic.”
Because it is hard for the human brain to count and compare all the I’s, a’s and the’s in a sample of speech or writing, Dr. Pennebaker had to invent a software program to do it. The program, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC, pronounced luke), contains a vast dictionary, with each word assigned to one or more categories.
There are social words (talk, they), biological words (cheek, hands, spit), “insight” words (think, know, consider) and dozens of other groupings. LIWC compares a text sample to its dictionary and, within seconds, provides a readout of how many words appear in each category.
To test-drive the program, Dr. Pennebaker, a pioneer in the field of therapeutic writing, asked a group of people recovering from serious illness or other trauma to engage in a series of writing exercises. The word tallies showed that those whose health was improving tended to decrease their use of first-person pronouns through the course of the study.
Health improvements were also seen among people whose use of causal words — because, cause, effect — increased. Simply ruminating about an experience without trying to understand the causes is less likely to lead to psychological growth, he explained; the subjects who used causal words “were changing the way they were thinking about things.”
Dr. Pennebaker, 58, has conducted numerous studies since then, all of them demonstrating that it’s not just what we say that matters but how we say it. Where traditional linguistics “is really more interested in context, how sentences are put together and what a meaningful phrase is,” he said, “our approach is simply counting words.”
In study after study, the articles and pronouns, which text analysts often call “junk words,” have proved crucial.
For example, Dr. Pennebaker has found that men tend to use more articles (a, the) and women tend to use more pronouns (he, she, they). The difference, he says, may suggest that men are more prone to concrete thinking and women are more likely to see things from other perspectives.
Jeffrey T. Hancock, an associate professor of communication at Cornell, uses word counting to study language and deception, particularly on the Internet.
Liars, he says, use more “negative emotion” words (hurt, ugly, nasty) and fewer first-person singulars. “These very simple dimensions have emerged again and again,” he said, “despite the fact that there were 40 years of research before this.”
Dr. Pennebaker says that because speech patterns are akin to a personal signature, his software might be used to identify authors of anonymous blogs and e-mail messages, and as supporting evidence in legal testimony. But he acknowledges that it cannot be definitive; too much depends on probability.
“In the language world, everything is probability,” Dr. Pennebaker said. “But in our legal system, we have real problems with understanding probability. Everyone has problems with probability.”
Still, the technique is drawing attention from a variety of sectors. Dr. Pennebaker has received a grant from the Army Research Institute to study the language of social dynamics, particularly how leaders use language. Joseph Psotka, a research psychologist at the institute, said that over time, this kind of study “could be very helpful for training and leadership development, but precisely how we don’t know yet.”
Dr. Pennebaker’s program has been translated into several languages, with an Arabic version in the works; Dr. Pennebaker notes that his Qaeda analysis was constrained by its reliance on English translations.
“Function words vary between one language and another and reveal a lot about another culture,” he said.
Dr. Psotka said counting and categorizing the words used by a foreign speaker could provide clues about “the subtle attitudes, not just the meaning of the words — to get a sense of whether or not negotiation or discussion is going smoothly.”
Dr. Pennebaker has also turned his word-counting machinery toward the presidential campaign (at wordwatchers.wordpress.com), and he likes to look at age-old questions like whether Shakespeare had a co-playwright, who wrote the Federalist Papers and even whether a couple will stay together.
“The more similar they are in terms of language,” Dr. Pennebaker said, “the more likely they are to be together several months later.”
Back in 1959 the philosopher Eric Hoffer had this to say about Americans and America:
For those who want to be left alone to realize their capacities and talents, this is an ideal country.
That was then. This is now. Flash forward fifty years to the election of Barack Obama and a hard-left-leaning Democrat Congress. What Americans want today, apparently, is a government that has no intention of leaving any of us alone.
How could Hoffer have been so wrong about America? Why did America change so quickly? Can a free people willingly choose servitude? Is it possible for democracies to become tyrannies? How?
The answers to these questions were famously addressed in a few pages tucked within the greatest masterpiece of the classical world: Plato's Republic. On the surface, and to most reviewers of Plato's writings, the Republic is a dialogue on justice and on what constitutes the just society. But to careful readers the deeper theme of the Republic is the nature of education and the relationship between education and the survival of the state. In fact, the Republic is essentially the story of how a man (Socrates) condemned to death for "corrupting" the youth of Athens gives to posterity the most precious gift of all: the love of wisdom.
In the Republic, two young men, Glaucon and Adeimantus, accompany the much older Socrates on a journey of discovery into the nature of the individual soul and its connection to the harmony of the state. During the course of their adventure, as the two disciples demonstrate greater maturity and self-control, they are gradually exposed to deeper and more complex teachings regarding the relationship between virtue, self-sufficiency, and happiness. In short, the boys begin to realize that justice and happiness in a community rests upon the moral condition of its citizens. This is what Socrates meant when he said: "The state is man writ large."
Near the end of the Republic Socrates decides to drive this point home by showing Adeimantus what happens to a regime when its parents and educators neglect the proper moral education of its children. In the course of this chilling illustration Adeimantus comes to discover a dark and ominous secret: without proper moral conditioning a regime's "defining principle" will be the source of its ultimate destruction. For democracy, that defining principle is freedom. According to Socrates, freedom makes a democracy but freedom also eventually breaks a democracy.
For Socrates, democracy's "insatiable desire for freedom and neglect of other things" end up putting it "in need of a dictatorship." The short version of his theory is that the combination of freedom and poor education in a democracy render the citizens incapable of mastering their impulses and deferring gratification. The reckless pursuit of freedom leads the citizens to raze moral barriers, deny traditional authority, and abandon established methods of education. Eventually, this uninhibited quest for personal freedom forces the public to welcome the tyrant. Says Socrates: "Extreme freedom can't be expected to lead to anything but a change to extreme slavery, whether for a private individual or for a city."
Adeimantus wants Socrates to explain what kind of man resembles the democratic city. In other words, he wants to know how "democratic man" comes to be and what happens to make this freedom-loving man eventually beg for a tyrant. Socrates clarifies that the democratic man starts out as the son of an "oligarchic" father -- a father who is thrifty and self-disciplined. The father's generation is more concerned with wealth than freedom. This first generation saves, invests, and rarely goes in for conspicuous consumption.[i]
The father's pursuit of wealth leaves him unwilling and unable to give attention to his son's moral development. The father focuses on business and finance and ignores the business of family. The son then begins to associate with "wild and dangerous creatures who can provide every variety of multicolored pleasure in every sort of way." These Athenian precursors of the hippies begin to transform the son's oligarchic nature into a democratic one. Because the young man has had no moral guidance, his excessive desire for "unnecessary pleasures" undermines "the citadel" of his soul. Because the "guardians" of the son's inner citadel -- truth, restraint, wisdom -- are absent, there is nothing within him to defend against the "false and boastful words and beliefs that rush up and occupy this part of him."
A 1960s revolution in the son's soul purges the last remaining guardians of moderation and supplants new meanings to old virtues: "anarchy" replaces freedom, "extravagance" replaces magnificence, and "shamelessness" replaces courage. The young man surrenders rule over himself "to whichever desire comes along, as if it were chosen by lot." Here Socrates notes the essential problem when a free society becomes detached from any notions of moral virtue or truth: desires are chosen by "lot" instead of by "merit" or "priority."
For the son the democratic revolution in his soul is complete. In this stage "there is neither order nor necessity in his life, but he calls it pleasant, free, blessedly happy, and he follows it for as long as he lives." Socrates gives a brief illustration of the young man's new democratic life:
Sometimes he drinks heavily while listening to the flute; at other times he drinks only water and is on a diet; sometimes he goes in for physical training; at other times, he's idle and neglects everything; and sometimes he even occupies himself with what he takes to be philosophy. He often engages in politics, leaping up from his seat and saying and doing whatever comes into his mind. If he happens to admire soldiers, he's carried in that direction, if money-makers, in that one.
In short, the young man has no anchor, no set of guiding principles or convictions other than his thirst for freedom. His life is aimless, superficial, and gratuitous. The spoiled lotus-eaters of his generation have defined themselves simply by mocking all forms of propriety and prudence. What's worse, as these Athenian baby-boomers exercise their right to vote, they elect "bad cupbearers" as their leaders. The new cupbearers want to stay in office so they give the voters whatever they desire. The public, according to Socrates, "gets drunk by drinking more than it should of the unmixed wine of freedom." Conservative politicians who attempt to mix the wine of freedom with calls for self-restraint "are punished by the city and accused of being accursed oligarchs."
As conservative politicians court suspicion so do conservative teachers and academics who stubbornly hold on to objective measurements of performance: "A teacher in such a community is afraid of his students and flatters them, while the students despise their teachers or tutors." Conservatism becomes unpopular just about everywhere, to a point at which even the elderly "stoop to the level of the young and are full of play and pleasantry, imitating the young for fear of appearing disagreeable and authoritarian."
The explosion of boundaries and limits extends even to national identity itself, so that resident aliens and foreigners "are made equal to a citizen."
The citizens' souls become so infected with freedom that they become excessively paranoid about any hint of slavery. But slavery comes to mean being under any kind of master or limit including the law itself. Says Socrates: "They take no notice of the laws, whether written or unwritten, in order to avoid having any master at all." That is, any kind of "hierarchy" in a democracy is rejected as "authoritarian." But this extreme freedom, according to Socrates, eventually enslaves democracy.
As the progressive politicians and intellectuals come to dominate the democratic city, its "fiercest members do all the talking and acting, while the rest settle near the speakers platform and buzz and refuse to tolerate the opposition of another speaker." There are "impeachments, judgments and trials on both sides." The politicians heat up the crowds by vilifying business and wealth and by promising to spread the wealth around. The people then "set up one man as their special champion" and begin "nurturing him and making him great."
The people's "special champion" however transforms from leader to tyrant. He "drops hints about the cancellation of debts and the redistribution of land" and continues to "stir up civil wars against the rich." All who have reached this stage, says Socrates, "soon discover the famous request of a tyrant, namely, that the people give him a bodyguard to keep their defender safe for them." The people give him this new national security force, "because they are afraid for his safety but aren't worried at all about their own."
Socrates describes the early weeks of the new leader's reign:
"Won't he smile in welcome at anyone he meets, saying that he's no tyrant, making all sorts of promises both in public and in private, freeing the people from debt, redistributing land to them, and to his followers, and pretending to be gracious and gentle to all?"
After a series of unpopular actions, including stirring up a war in order to generate popular support, the leader begins to alienate some of his closest and most ardent advisers who begin to voice their misgivings in private. Following a purge of these advisors the tyrant attracts some of the worst elements of the city to help him rule. As the citizens grow weary of his tenure the tyrant chooses to attract foreigners to resupply his dwindling national bodyguard. The citizens finally decide they've had enough and begin to discuss rebellion.
At this point in the dialogue Adeimantus asks Socrates incredulously: "What do you mean? Will the tyrant dare to use violence against [the people] or to hit [them] if [they] don't obey? Socrates answers:
"Yes - once he's taken away [the people's] weapons."
Thus ends Book VIII of Plato's Republic. I won't spoil the marvelous ending (Books IX and X) but I would like to spend a few moments drawing some conclusions about the overall message of this fascinating text and its relevance for 21st century Americans.
First, those of us who are incapable of self-mastery will always shamefully prostrate ourselves before messianic political leaders. The progressive left in America has spent countless generations destroying the guardians of our inner citadel: religion, family, parents, and tradition - in short, conservatism and limits. When we exhaust the financial and moral capital of previous generations (and future ones, as with the current stimulus bill) we will dutifully line up at the public trough, on our knees. Citizens capable of self-mastery will always choose to be left alone. In other words, they'll always choose limited government.
Second, freedom without limits paves the way to tyranny by undermining respect for the law. When politicians play fast and loose with the law it becomes easier for them and for the people to see special champions as alternative sources of rule. Today in America the objective basis for law is being attacked on campuses and even in law schools as too authoritarian and too insensitive to the subjective experiences and personal narratives of criminals. The SAT exam has also been under assault for the same reasons. As Socrates warned: extreme freedom will instill a paranoia about any kind of "master" including objective measurements of right and wrong, and of merit based forms of achievement. But when the citizens become enslaved to their vices they'll dutifully cry out for another kind of master.
Third, is the crucial role of education, which is the underlying theme of Plato's Republic. The ethos of American education has been for many decades saturated with a simple mantra: choice. What's worse, those few remaining educators who chant the old, Socratic mantra of "judgment" are vilified and harassed by the modern day lotus-eaters as hateful conservatives. Socrates predicted that all of this would happen in a democracy. But it is judgment not choice that enables a young person to erect a citadel in the soul. This eliminates the need for tyrants, and for bailouts too.
Finally, there is a question on the minds of many conservatives today: How does one convince the younger generations of Americans to distrust the growth of the State? Is it possible for Americans to recover the desire to be left alone in order "to realize our capacities and talents" as Eric Hoffer says?
I've read that in Iran, many young people chafe at the pervasive despotism there, but when the burning desire for freedom threatens to boil over, the government in Tehran eases its restrictions on the use of personal satellite dishes. Electronic Soma for the digital age.
Hat tip: Larrey Anderson
[i] As Max Weber noted in his classic work, The Protestant Ethicand the Spirit of Capitalism, the men who built America were guided by deferred gratification and a sense of limits, not by reckless notions of vanity, pride, and display.
More about narcissistic collectives, cultures, and societies - click on these links:
15th Annual Child Sexual Abuse Awareness conference in Sacramento April 24 and Davis April 25
APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION and SEXUAL ABUSE AWARENESS MONTH
CA Protective Parents Associationand Incest Survivors Speakers' Bureau
The Fifteenth Annual Northern California
Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Conference
in Sacramento and Davis, CA
Friday April 24, 2009
Sierra Health Foundation
1321 Garden Hwy, Sacramento, CA
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Cost: $75 preregistration ($100 on site)
Up to 7 CE credits offered
Symptoms, Substances, and Axis IV
The Mental Health Services Act was passed by California voters in 2004 to transform public mental health treatment by providing funds to respond to the needs of people with mental health symptoms. The Act mandates effective, innovative programs that lead to wellness and recovery.
Steve Mayberg MD, Director of the CA Department of Mental Health, and CA Michael Cunningham, Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, will participate in a panel presentation on effective treatment for people with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse symptoms.
Ann Jennings Ph.D., Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)-National Center for Trauma-Informed Care, Susan Curry MFT, clinician and EMDR specialist, and Randy Noblitt Ph.D., Alliant International University professor and author will present evidence-based innovative approaches to treatment that can lead to improved outcomes, wellness, and recovery while providing social and cost savings.
Luncheon speaker: Robin Sax, author and Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney who specializes in prosecuting of sex crimes against children.
Please send a check for $75 made out to CPPA to POB 1903, Davis, CA 95617
Saturday April 25, 2009
Veteransâ€™ Memorial Center
203 East 14th Street, Davis, CA
9:30 am to 5:00 pm
No cost, no registration
U p to 5.5 CE credits offered
RITUAL ABUSE in the 21st CENTURY
What is ritual abuse?
How does it happen?
What is the evidence?
How do survivors heal?
Randy Noblitt, Ph.D.
Ritual Abuse in the 21st Century, edited by clinical psychologist Randy Noblitt Ph.D. and Pamela Perskin Noblitt, is a sweeping overview of the subject of ritual abuse by an international, multi-disciplinary team of writers, researchers, therapists and survivors.
Dr. Noblitt will discuss the evidence of ritual abuse, international research data from over 1,500 survivors, efforts to discredit allegations made by survivors, and the psychological, behavi oral and physical devastation left by such abuse.
Pamela Noblitt, co-author with Dr. Noblitt of Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America/ I>, Jeanne Adams, author ofDrawn Swords,Anne A. Johnson Davis, author of Hell Minus One (who has signed confessions from her perpetrators), and survivors of ritual abuse will discuss pathways to wellness and recovery.
This conference is co-sponsored by The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) at Alliant International University.
IVAT is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists.
IVAT maintains responsibility for this continuing education program and its contents.
IVAT is recognized by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) to offer continuing education for National Certif ied Counselors (Provider #5659).
IVAT adheres to NBCC Continuing Education Guidelines.
IVAT is approved by the CA Board of Behavioral Sciences (PCE #33) to offer continuing education for LCSWs and MFTs. IVAT is approved by the California Board of R egistered Nurses to offer continuing education for nurses (CEP #13737).
IVAT is approved by the State Bar of California to offer Minimum Continuing Legal Education for attorneys (#11600).
IVAT is approved by the California Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to offer continuing education for certified alcohol and drug counselors (Provider# 1S-03-499-0109).
CE credits approved by California agencies are accepted in most states. The conference is approved for up to 12.5 hours. Fees for CE credits are $30 in advance and $40 at the door.
Conference coordinator can be reached at cppa001@... or 916-233-8381.Please let us know if you need accommodations.
Research by Dr. Todd C. Sacktor, above, and André A. Fenton has demonstrated a chemical’s effect on memory with potential implications for treatment of trauma, addiction and other conditions.
Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory, like emotional associations, spatial knowledge or motor skills.
The drug blocks the activity of a substance that the brain apparently needs to retain much of its learned information. And if enhanced, the substance could help ward off dementias and other memory problems.
So far, the research has been done only on animals. But scientists say this memory system is likely to work almost identically in people.
The discovery of such an apparently critical memory molecule, and its many potential uses, are part of the buzz surrounding a field that, in just the past few years, has made the seemingly impossible suddenly probable: neuroscience, the study of the brain.
“If this molecule is as important as it appears to be, you can see the possible implications,” said Dr. Todd C. Sacktor, a 52-year-old neuroscientist who leads the team at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn, which demonstrated its effect on memory. “For trauma. For addiction, which is a learned behavior. Ultimately for improving memory and learning.”
Artists and writers have led the exploration of identity, consciousness and memory for centuries. Yet even as scientists sent men to the moon and spacecraft to Saturn and submarines to the ocean floor, the instrument responsible for such feats, the human mind, remained almost entirely dark, a vast and mostly uncharted universe as mysterious as the New World was to explorers of the past.
Now neuroscience, a field that barely existed a generation ago, is racing ahead, attracting billions of dollars in new financing and throngs of researchers. The National Institutes of Health last year spent $5.2 billion, nearly 20 percent of its total budget, on brain-related projects, according to the Society for Neuroscience.
Endowments like the Wellcome Trust and the Kavli Foundation have poured in hundreds of millions of dollars more, establishing institutes at universities around the world, including Columbia and Yale.
The influx of money, talent and technology means that scientists are at last finding real answers about the brain — and raising questions, both scientific and ethical, more quickly than anyone can answer them.
Millions of people might be tempted to erase a severely painful memory, for instance — but what if, in the process, they lost other, personally important memories that were somehow related? Would a treatment that “cleared” the learned habits of addiction only tempt people to experiment more widely?
And perhaps even more important, when scientists find a drug to strengthen memory, will everyone feel compelled to use it?
The stakes, and the wide-open opportunities possible in brain science, will only accelerate the pace of discovery.
“In this field we are merely at the foothills of an enormous mountain range,” said Dr. Eric R. Kandel, a neuroscientist at Columbia, “and unlike in other areas of science, it is still possible for an individual or small group to make important contributions, without any great expenditure or some enormous lab.”
Dr. Sacktor is one of hundreds of researchers trying to answer a question that has dumbfounded thinkers since the beginning of modern inquiry: How on earth can a clump of tissue possibly capture and store everything — poems, emotional reactions, locations of favorite bars, distant childhood scenes? The idea that experience leaves some trace in the brain goes back at least to Plato’s Theaetetus metaphor of a stamp on wax, and in 1904 the German scholar Richard Semon gave that ghostly trace a name: the engram.
What could that engram actually be?
The answer, previous research suggests, is that brain cells activated by an experience keep one another on biological speed-dial, like a group of people joined in common witness of some striking event. Call on one and word quickly goes out to the larger network of cells, each apparently adding some detail, sight, sound, smell. The brain appears to retain a memory by growing thicker, or more efficient, communication lines between these cells.
The billion-dollar question is how?
In the decades since this process was described in the 1960s and 1970s, scientists have found scores of molecules that play some role in the process. But for years the field struggled to pinpoint the purpose each one serves. The problem was not that such substances were so hard to find — on the contrary.
In a 1999 paper in the journal Nature Neuroscience, two of the most prominent researchers in brain science, Dr. Jeff W. Lichtman and Joshua R. Sanes of Harvard, listed 117 molecules that were somehow involved when one cell creates a lasting speed-dial connection with a neighbor, a process known as “long-term potentiation.”
They did not see that these findings were necessarily clarifying the picture of how memories are formed. But an oddball substance right there on their own list, it turned out, had unusual properties.
A Helpful Nudge
“You know, my dad was the one who told me to look at this molecule — he was a scientist too, my dad, he’s dead now but he had these instincts — so anyway that’s how it all started,” Dr. Sacktor was saying. He was driving from his home in Yonkers to his laboratory in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, with three quiches and bag of bagels bouncing in the back seat. Lunch for the lab.
The father’s advice led the son, eventually, to a substance called PKMzeta. In a series of studies, Dr. Sacktor’s lab found that this molecule was present and activated in cells precisely when they were put on speed-dial by a neighboring neuron.
In fact, the PKMzeta molecules appeared to herd themselves, like Army Rangers occupying a small peninsula, into precisely the fingerlike connections among brain cells that were strengthened. And they stayed there, indefinitely, like biological sentries.
In short: PKMzeta, a wallflower in the great swimming party of chemicals that erupts when one cell stimulates another, looked as if it might be the one that kept the speed-dial function turned on.
“After that,” Dr. Sacktor said, “we began to focus solely on PKMzeta to see how critical it really was to behavior.”
Running a lab is something like fielding a weekend soccer team. Players come and go, from Europe, India, Asia, Grand Rapids. You move players around, depending on their skills. And you bring lunch, because doctoral students logging 12-hour days in a yellowing shotgun lab in East Flatbush need to eat.
“People think that state schools like ours are low-key, laid back, and they’re right, we are,” said Robert K. S. Wong, chairman of the physiology and pharmacology department at SUNY Downstate, who brought Dr. Sacktor with him from Columbia. “You have less pressure to apply for grants, and you can take more time, I think, to work out your ideas.”
To find out what, if anything, PKMzeta meant for living, breathing animals, Dr. Sacktor walked a flight downstairs to the lab of André A. Fenton, also of SUNY Downstate, who studies spatial memory in mice and rats.
Dr. Fenton had already devised a clever way to teach animals strong memories for where things are located. He teaches them to move around a small chamber to avoid a mild electric shock to their feet. Once the animals learn, they do not forget. Placed back in the chamber a day later, even a month later, they quickly remember how to avoid the shock and do so.
But when injected — directly into their brain — with a drug called ZIP that interferes with PKMzeta, they are back to square one, almost immediately. “When we first saw this happen, I had grad students throwing their hands up in the air, yelling,” Dr. Fenton said. “Well, we needed a lot more than that” one study.
They now have it. Dr. Fenton’s lab repeated the experiment, in various ways; so has a consortium of memory researchers, each using a different method. Researchers led by Yadin Dudai at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel found that one dose of ZIP even made rats forget a strong disgust they had developed for a taste that had made them sick — three months earlier.
A Conscience Blocker?
“This possibility of memory editing has enormous possibilities and raises huge ethical issues,” said Dr. Steven E. Hyman, a neurobiologist at Harvard. “On the one hand, you can imagine a scenario in which a person enters a setting which elicits traumatic memories, but now has a drug that weakens those memories as they come up. Or, in the case of addiction, a drug that weakens the associations that stir craving.”
Researchers have already tried to blunt painful memories and addictive urges using existing drugs; blocking PKMzeta could potentially be far more effective.
Yet any such drug, Dr. Hyman and others argue, could be misused to erase or block memories of bad behavior, even of crimes. If traumatic memories are like malicious stalkers, then troubling memories — and a healthy dread of them — form the foundation of a moral conscience.
For those studying the biology of memory, the properties of PKMzeta promise something grander still: the prospect of retooling the engram factory itself. By 2050 more than 100 million people worldwide will have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, scientists estimate, and far more will struggle with age-related memory decline.
“This is really the biggest target, and we have some ideas of how you might try to do it, for instance to get cells to make more PKMzeta,” Dr. Sacktor said. “But these are only ideas at this stage.”
A substance that improved memory would immediately raise larger social concerns, as well. “We know that people already use smart drugs and performance enhancers of all kinds, so a substance that actually improved memory could lead to an arms race,” Dr. Hyman said.
Many questions in the science remain. For instance, can PKMzeta really link a network of neurons for a lifetime? If so, how? Most molecules live for no more than weeks at a time.
And how does it work with the many other substances that appear to be important in creating a memory?
“There is not going to be one, single memory molecule, the system is just not that simple,” said Thomas J. Carew, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, and president of the Society for Neuroscience. “There are going to be many molecules involved, in different kinds of memories, all along the process of learning, storage and retrieval.”
Yet as scientists begin to climb out of the dark foothills and into the dim light, they are now poised to alter the understanding of human nature in ways artists and writers have not.
Here's what's happening on the HealthyPlace site this week:
A 'Dear Dad' Letter
We receive many letters each week from people who have faced all sorts of horrible abuse in their lives. Those who want their letters published are usually motivated by the thought of letting other abuse victims know they are not alone in their experiences and pain.
This week, we have a letter from author Roberta Hart. She writes it 13 years after her father's death and describes the torment of suffering from all types of abuse; from emotional to physical to sexual abuse. "I am sharing my life and the process that I have been through in the hopes that more can feel peace. When we carry pain and take inside of ourselves the torment of others, we die inside. I refuse to die, and if this is revenge, then revenge can heal. You decide. I find that revenge is a dish best served heaping and warm. Welcome to dinner." Her compelling story and accompanying letter are here.
Additional Information on All Abuse Issues
If you have been abused or if you support someone who has, you'll find comprehensive information on all types of abuse (plus videos) in the HealthyPlace Abuse Issues Community. That includes:
Bob G., a longtime HealthyPlace member, wrote me last week and said: "how about some lighter reading?"
Alright! Here's a fun site. Drop by Larry James' site - "Celebrate Love". Larry worked with Men Are From Mars author, Dr. John Gray, for many years. His welcome message on the homepage says "Great Relationships Begin Here." I like that.
Patients Hospitalized For Mental Illness In Ontario See Decrease In Signs Of Depression, Aggression
Folic Acid May Benefit Bipolar Disorder Patients
That's it for now. If you know of anyone who can benefit from this newsletter or the HealthyPlace.com site, I hope you'll pass this onto them. You can also share the newsletter on any social network (like facebook or digg) you belong to by clicking the links below.
Community Partner Team HealthyPlace.com - America's Mental Health Channel "When you're at HealthyPlace.com, you're never alone." http://www.healthyplace.com