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Jan 202014

Sam Vaknin

Psychopaths… we usually only know them from Hollywood movies. We never expect them to enter our real life. But, the psychopath is closer than you think. Experts believe their number to be as high as one in a hundred. Most of them function incognito in high-powered professions…all the way to the very top.

But… it takes one to truly know one. In this intriguing documentary, Sam Vaknin, a self-proclaimed psychopath, goes in search of a diagnosis. In a scientific first, he allows himself to undergo testing to find out if he was born without a conscience. He knows he’s narcissistic and cannot empathize with others. By his own admission, he’s pompous, grandiose, repulsive and contradictory, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable… but he believes, he’s not a bad person. What he is is indifferent…he couldn’t care less. Unless, of course, the topic is himself.

Vaknin and his long-suffering but ever-loyal wife, Lidija, embark on a diagnostic road trip. But, it’s uncharted territory… deep into the mind and life of a psychopath. The 47-year-old convicted corporate criminal has agreed to take part in the pursuit of his own diagnosis… meeting the world’s experts in psychopathy in the hope that science will provide some answers for why he is like he is. These experts put Vaknin (and his wife) through a battery of rigorous psychological tests and neuro-scientific experiments.

You can read more about the movie, I Psychopath, about Vaknin’s testing and watch the movie.

I first came across the name “Dr. Sam Vaknin, who styled himself as “narcissistic” and had multiple sites for “support” for victims of psychopaths and narcissistic people. At the time, I was literally living in hiding from the man I believed my son Patrick, a convicted killer,  had sent to kill me. I was an emotional basket case and looking for support on the Internet. I found a site owned by “Dr. Vaknin” which seemed to be more about aggrandizing his expertise and selling his books than “support.” It also wasn’t long before I began to feel persecuted by the moderators of the site if I even mentioned that I was a Christian. I left the site, and sought other online communities. Many of which were helpful in giving me insight into the emotional turmoil I was in from the effects of having a psychopath in my family.

Though I was a mental health professional, and had already read Dr. Robert Hare’s books and other legitimate researchers on psychopathy I was still dumbfounded and wounded, still in denial about what a monster my son was. Slowly I started to heal, to recover from the worst of the stress, and I started to offer support to others via articles on various sites. Eventually I formed this site for the purpose of supporting and helping those who have offenders (criminal and non criminal) within their families. Support for those people who have been physically, financially and/or emotionally abused by psychopaths.

Of course not all psychopaths are killers, or serial killers, or sadists, engaging in torture of their victims, many are simply like angry two year olds who “want what they want and they want it now” and they do not care what you think about it or how it hurts you.

I Psychopath gives a good description of a lower level criminal psychopath who is so narcissistic that he thinks the world revolves around him. His long suffering wife is apparently a typical victim of domestic abuse.
The growing knowledge of the emotional and genetic components to psychopathy  are being researched and the knowledge of these people is growing in research circles, but the “general public” still equates “serial killers’ with psychopathy, but many more are like Sam Vaknin, just moderately obnoxious and low level criminals who make the lives of those around them truly miserable.

The “bottom line” and the “take home lessons” though are that there is no cure for this disorder, “it is what it is.” The only thing we can do is to get those people out of our lives completely. Continued interaction with them will only give them more opportunity to hurt and use us.

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  9 Responses to “I, Psychopath, the movie The testing of "Doctor" Sam Vaknin

  1. New Article up–Sam Vaknin

  2. “…many more are like Sam Vaknin, just moderately obnoxious and low level criminals who make the lives of those around them truly miserable.”

    This! Mine absolutely THRIVED on disruption. If things were going smoothly, he had to do s.o.m.e.t.h.i.n.g. to stir the pot. He had to press the issue, stir things up, make the kids cry and in general- undermine me every chance he got. He was a daily lesson in contradiction, hypocracy, deception, narcissism and I’m sure there is more descriptive words to cover it.

    It is so much more peaceful now that he is not in the picture. The kids have structure in their lives, a schedule, routines, boundaries and are really thriving. Complete turnaround and polar opposite of life before. It’s peaceful now.

  3. Yea, Phoenix, you are so right, when we eliminate the psychopaths, even the “psychopath lites” (as Dr. james Fallon calls himself) from our lives life does get peaceful.

    I thought in his book it was interesting how he devalued some really ROTTEN things he had done as “kid pranks” things like STEALING CARS FOR JOY RIDES, fighting, picking fights, going to “titty bars” instead of fulfilling his responsibilities, getting on dating sites and hurting his wife (though he denies ever having sex with these women, I’m not sure I believe him)

    Yea, much of the time some of them actually THRIVE on creating chaos, and others just create the chaos because they do NOT care what they do to you, they want what they want, and the hurt they do to others is no big deal to them.

    Others seem to have that “duping delight” in that THEY ENJOY CHAOS AND HURTING OTHERS…they want to hurt you and worse yet, the more you cry the more enjoyment they seem to get. Or it is a challenge of CONTROL. They MUST control you or they feel that you win, and they can NOT have anyone else “win.” at anything.

    Dr. James Fallon, who is a diagnosed psychopath, he claims to be “psychopath lite” because he hasn’t killed anyone or gone to prison (though he has broken laws of the land and moral laws) admitted that even when his kids were little, he NEVER LET THEM WIN a game of anything against him. How nasty is that? LOL Yea, he is a psychopath, but I doubt he is “lite” his descriptions of his behavior, and then his dismissive tone about the damage they did makes him sound like Psychopath NORMAL to me.

  4. Sure he devalued the ‘pranks’ as he couldn’t possibly take responsibility for his actions and be accountable for what he had done. Sounds exactly like someone else I know…

    I’m not sure if mine thrived on the chaos itself, the duping delight of doing it to get a reaction or if it was a challenge for or of control. Truth be told, for all anyone knows, it could have been a cocktail mixture of all three. Would not surprise me a bit at this point!

  5. No, Phoenix, I don’t know what is the most motivating factor(s) in any particular psychopath, but there are some patterns, and devaluing the effects of what they have done is definitely a symptom of psychopathy.

    I think in the end we can’t know just exactly what they are thinking/feeling any more than they can know what empathy or caring feels like. I mean I can look at a snake, see the patterns of its coat, see how it behaves and know it is a poison or non poisonous snake but I can’t ever know who it FEELS to be a snake or how it “thinks”—I can just see the signs that it is or might be dangerous or may be harmless.

    The best book I have ever read as a Psychopathic play book, is one called “The 48 Laws of Power” and the same guy wrote one on how to seduce women…it proports to bell you in the 48 laws how to be successful in life/business but it is in effect a “play book” for psychopaths with every “law” a way to mislead, manipulate or control others.

    When I was a kid there was a very popular book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and it was touted as a book to help you learn to get along and just BTW how to be a GREAT salesman b y how you made people do what you wanted them to do….buy their product.

    I look at that book now as similar to the 48 Laws book….

  6. I get what you’re saying about us not being able to see, feel or understand their thought process, as much as they cannot understand ours. Their brains and ours don’t function the same way. Hasn’t this been proven with CT scans? We are genuine, we have empathy, we care and they simply don’t. The only thing that matters to them? Is them. Their wants, their needs, just simply Them.

    I wonder if the author of the “48 Laws” books has ever been studied as a spath? The findings may be interesting to say the least.

  7. Phoenix, as far as I know, he has not had an fMRI…but like a lot of “functional” psychopaths such as Dr. James Fallon, they are doctors, lawyers, researchers, teachers, coaches, etc in all walks of life…but you are right, their brains ARE different than “typical” people in several areas.

    Now, which came first…the chicken or the egg? Did their brains become like this because of DNA and they were incapable of empathy because the part of the brain that codes for empathy is much smaller…or is there something in the environment that made them lack empathy and so that part of the brain shrunk? We know though that children of psychopaths who are not raised around the psychopath still have a much higher chance of psychopathy even if they are raised in a “good home.” This was first noticed in adoptive children who were adopted at birth…but at the time the doctors thought that it was KNOWING that they were adopted was the cause of their “acting out”—of course now we realize a child is a product of his DNA as well as his environment.

    It took me a LONG TIME to read 48 Laws, because the book is 1) very very large and 2) it is INTENSE and was triggering to read. I realized though as I read it that it IS INDEED THE “PSYCHOPATH’S PLAY BOOK” from which they all play, some more successful than others, some more violent than others, but all in all, the P’s play book on how to treat others and gain control and power.

  8. A person doesn’t have to be a serial killer to be a psychopath or sociopath. In fact, the majority of those disordered people are living “normal” lives, have never been charged with a crime, and will never experience legal consequences for their actions (civil OR criminal).

    What any given intent or motivation that a spath or ppath has behind their actions can never really be determined because, even under intense scrutiny, these people are not truthful, honest, or forthcoming. We can surmise, by observing their behaviors, what their motivations probably are, but we’ll never truly “know.” Judging by the exspath’s behaviors throughout my second marriage, it was strictly to gain access to my investments and have a “cloak” of respectability to hide what he actually was. Did he plan this, from the beginning? Possibly. But, I’ll never know, and it doesn’t matter, at this point.

    Joyce, as you mentioned, there is a very clear pattern of behaviors amongst the disordered. How and when they implement their tactics vary, from person to person, but they ALL do the same things, at some point, using the same techniques.

    Divide and conquer, pity-ploys, passive/aggressive behaviors, blame-games, gaslighting, and shaming their targets are all part and parcel of their behaviors. They may gaslight, FIRST, and employ the divide/conquer technique, next, but it doesn’t really matter what order their tactics take. What matters is the wake of damages that are left behind.

    I used to be obsessed as to why the second exspath targeted me, and it doesn’t matter, anymore. I can’t alter what he is, what he did, or what he’s going to do to someone else. Today, I’m very concerned about my personal issues that made me such an attractive target, at all. Sorting all of that out is no easy task and often painful. BUT, unpeeling my personal layers of trauma and exposing those experiences are helping me to replace those experiences with strong bricks for my personal boundaries.

  9. Way to go Truthy, and yes, one of my favorite sayings is first we learn about them, then we learn about us in order to heal.

    It isn’t so much what they have done to us that matters…it is how we take what cards we are dealt and live our lives with them. We can be bitter, hateful, vengeful, or we can grow and learn and let go of the bitterness, it is our choice. I refuse to turn my face to the wall and die, and I don’t like feeling bitter and vengeful, I want to heal and grow until the day I die.

    I choose life.

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