There’s a faith
in words that shows
us the hidden mirrors
we are here
from the heart
of our enemy
and write in
blood the immortal
story of our salvation.
Life was made to be broken
and leave potsherds behind
and the glint of gregarious glory
from a future excavation shined
and was forgotten
in a sudden gust of mind,
held hostage in the dank dungeon,
a buried voice asking for confetti masks and flags,
the curving hallways haunted by the troubles
that rumble in the pockets of the Minotaurus soul
an animal play about the world taking its toll,
(and servitude never went so well,
the company fell into the sea
the jetsam of millions of shells
with voices that spoke indecipherably
of a life they could have known)
the peasant king had chipped his brain
on the ashes of a stolen aeroplane
the “Phoenix” rides from the storied desolation
into the vast cloud labyrinth again…
The past was a poster on a city wall
posing for a million eyes waiting
to be covered by a million bills
it is barefaced now and kills,
with a blankness that seems misplaced
with all these refugee notions,
( a stick in the spokes )
the beginning of the everywhere panic,
freedom has no flavor for his feast
the “light of the world” becomes the beast
and the beast becomes her the tinfoil
hat police will think they’re always right,
and the future slips into black and white
what moves were told to avoid and choose
the king has switched sides and the queen can’t lose,
( a stick in the spokes, a wrench in the works )
the madness flows like lava out of the gaping mouth
waiting to be drowned in the rain of truth
dress this goose and take it on the road
with casual slaughter in anarchy arcades
the innocent assassins have all their lives to not recover
( a sudden calamitous cacophony with a million broken places )
this tragic flaw is our own with a million faces…
It turns out everything you thought you knew about Edward Snowden is a lie, including his name, which is actually Reginald-Regina-Edward Snowden-Blewmer.
“I grew up next door to Reggie,” said Maggie Tomlinson, of Newport, CE. “He used to rip off all the other boys on the block, selling them crayfish, snails, turtles, salamanders and frogs. The crayfish would die the next day. It was awful. Some of them developed PTSD for life. The salamanders, that is. Eventually, I called Animal Control. He was running a mill, breeding these creatures into exhaustion.”
Eventually, Domestic Animal Services officers confiscated some 459 creatures from a garage that Snowden-Blewmer was using for breeding employing microwaves, Monsanto products, complicated computerized amphibian dating permutation games, and attempts to graft body parts from one species onto another.
“He was a regular mad scientist,” Tomlinson exclaimed. “He also seduced me when I was seven, telling me he wanted me to be his princess and hide me in his dungeon away from the dragon.”
This was when Snowden-Blewmer was 4. He lowered Tomlinson into a well where she may have died if Snowden-Blewmer’s sister, Annabelle Blewmer hadn’t called the fire department.
“It was no big deal. She exaggerates. He was just a prankster wiseass,” said Annabelle Blewmer, speaking from her prison cell. “He was always doing things like that. Once, he blew off the fingers of Old Man Clarence Dormer with a mailbox bomb. Everyone thought he was an old weirdo. Once Clarence gave Da-Da the finger. He had it coming.”
Later, , Snowden-Blewmer’s best friend, Adrian Fitz, recalls other disturbing behaviors.
“Well, in high school he used to give girls wedgies,” Fitz recalled. “I remember he always parked in handicapped spaces. He said something very odd about it. He said, ‘The meek have already inherited the earth. Fuck the meek. It’s up to me to take the Earth back.’ I was like, whoa, dude, chill. We were smoking the kind bud, you know.”
Snowden-Blewmer also had a bumper sticker in 2004 that read “Kill a Queer–Just Because.” This was confirmed by a photo from a toll booth he ran right before being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and several drugs, one of which he was injecting while driving.
Later, that year, he became Regina Blewmer.
“When we were roommates, Regina ate all my peanut butter,” said Mariann Faithey. “She never admitted she used to be a guy named Reggie Blewmer, and not Edward Snowden. And I slept with her. Gross.”
Faithey said that subsequent therapy and medication costs ran her into bankruptcy and she was forced into a life of prostitution and meth addiction.
“He leaves a trail of havoc everywhere he goes,” said Dr. Martin Gayleash.
Gayleash was Snowden-Blewmer’s psychiatrist was 20 years. He explained Snowden-Blewmer’s motivations.
“Never have you seen evil so singularly personified as you have the eyes of Reggie-Reginald-Edward Snowden-Blewmer,” explained Dr. Gayleash, popping a pill. “You know why he likes Hong Kong so much? The unregulated capitalist exploitation opportunities. He is planning to start a human trafficking operation there. He’s been planning it for decades. He wants to take young children and graft animal parts onto them and turn them into the perfect vehicles of perverted pleasure. In fact, he is part animal. A theriomorph with the mind of a sociopathic, narcissistic genius hellbent on stopping Obamacare from saving the weak.”
“Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.”
— Adolf Hitler
(WARNING: YOU ARE REALLY IN TROUBLE IF YOU DON’T TAKE ACTION…MAYBE GET A NAP IN FIRST?)
Why do we call it natural gas? Shouldn’t it be “organic gas?”
Recently, I became aware of a group fighting to stop oil drilling in nearby Collier County, Florida. The possibility of future fracking was also tabled in the form of legislators rushing to look into it and speculation about future technologies, and the old “oh, fracking, here, in the Sunniland Shale? Pshaw!” routine. Anyway, it inspired me to watch Gasland which in turn made me wonder about the accuracy of the movie’s suggestions. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look into it some more, I mean, what do I know, living in my mom’s basement and all.
I start exploring the history of Frackers and came about well-known Aubrey McClendon. Until quite recently, I barely thought about fracking. The world is, after all, full of marvels, like that soap that turns into blood. I was directed to the interview by a geologist I made inquiry of . I saw it and mostly thought, “Oh, another lying capitalist.” A bit later there was a Rolling Stone’s article that explained he was perhaps a capitalist who lies to capitalists. Ah, directing capitalists to fool’s gold, what an excellent prospect. It reminded me of the writers who make a living writing about how other writers might make a living on writing that they never will. Oh, the many jests of life.
But yes, not only are the potential benefits of fracking perhaps wildly exaggerated, but the dangers are impossible to determine at this time because no one is allowed to know what they are.
Impossible, I say? If you can get past the paid Google slots, Viagra commercials, apathy of an understaffed and underfunded regulatory structure, scientific terminology, confidentiality agreements, semantic decoys, and engineered experts (expertly engineered?), you might find out something about the potential dangers of fracking. But it really doesn’t matter, because the odds are so stacked against you you may as well just lay down and die. Just surrender to the high powered deception rays being emitted from all quarters which will guarantee you the ability to more cheaply transport yourself all over the landscape of the world destroyed by the efforts to make sure you can transport yourself cheaply all over the world’s landscape. We’re not on a road to nowhere, we’re on a road to extinction. Viva la difference, etc.
You see, legally, you’re not allowed to know what the dangers could be. Probably your short term memory shorted out at around “emitted” in the above paragraph. Anyway, keep on reading. It just doesn’t matter.
You ever hear of The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (H.R. 2766, S. 1215), the “FRAC” act? Well, of course, not. It was to repeal the exemption to the Safe Water Drinking Act and regulate the Underwater Injection Control (UIC). Right now, Frackers can pump chemicals into the ground and, if regulators go looking for them, well, they wouldn’t even know they found them. So, the Frackers could be pumping ANYTHING into the Earth. They figure we shouldn’t know. Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton, arranged the regulation hole with the help President George W. Bush and there’s been little uproar in the White House about it that I’m aware of. However, one county in New Mexico has gone rogue.
You remember how Obi Wan Kenobi used the Jedi mind trick and told some Stormtroopers that they were looking for other droids? If not, please see a neurologist. Well, the Frackers have done him one better. They can legally just say, “Droids? What are droids? Hey, don’t drink Drano, asshole. By the way, I hear it’s not so great for keeping you regular.” In fact, this is about what Aubrey McClendon said in the above-referenced interview that you probably didn’t bother watching. Way to go.
The Frackers are also using psy ops, because the environmentalists are an “insurgency,” and Frackers can say pretty much whatever they want to trick people into compliance. In the regulation hole, your mind is game. Throw a shit tonne of money into the picture, lobbied politicians, a weakened middle class, and a country clearly avoidant of the serious pursuit of renewable resources and voila: flaming water.
Fracking put Dimock, Pennsylvania on the map. This is a town where several citizens noticed, soon after the Frackers went to work in their area, that they were feeling sick, having to adjust their palettes to oddly colored drinking water, and that it was flammable, but only if you put a flame to it. Well, investigations were launched and everything turned out to be fine in the eyes of the EPA and all the families that had been complaining received money and lived happily ever after. So, yes, it was a all a fairy tale. Nothing went awry with fracking. of that you can be sure. In fact, if a massive amount of chemicals should happen to leak through cement during a fracking operation, then, according to the industry, that isn’t a fracking problem, it’s a cement problem. So, if your groundwater is poisoned for eternity, don’t look at fracking. Consider the lilies of the field, they neither sow nor reap, lazy commie flowers.
Here’s a fun activity. Google “Gasland.” Is this the first thing that came up? So, the people who won’t tell us just what chemicals they are pumping into the ground are going to set us straight on the facts? I don’t know, there’s a disconnect in there somewhere, I just can’t place it.
Also, consider this wild coincidence. A Fracker is the sort of beast that doesn’t like to be harvesting natural gas in the midst of wells spontaneously methaneing on them.
Now up, this next item for consideration, You see, health concerns didn’t stop FDR from being a kick-ass President and they shouldn’t stop fracking either. Real men don’t have health concerns, and, if they do, they develop a severe dependence on oxycontin and lie about their health concerns and their addiction. Two lying fronts properly balance an individual, forming character and true grit.
There’s this saying that if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. Well, in this case, even if you’re paying attention, it’s pretty hard to know what the hell is going on, other than that it involves enough bullshit to fertilize the Sahara Desert, the Moon, and Mars. Like that’s a bad thing.
Oh, and probably coming to a town near you! And nobody cares. It just doesn’t matter. That’s why I make dumb jokes and amuse myself because I just don’t find the rest of the universe anything but disturbing anymore. Everyone could just donate some modicum of time and money to reversing these trends, but nooooo. And let’s face it, just oil drilling is bad enough. Do you understand that noise pollution isn’t something we are designed to just get used to? That truck driving is the most dangerous job ever? That you can’t get back groundwater poisoned with 750 unnamed chemicals! No, you don’t care. Just drive the blogger crazy why don’t you? Apparently, I must like it or something because I’ll end up writing even more about this. Sickness onto death, and all that.
Interviewed by Carl-John X Veraja
Many of these infringements on human and civil rights have been going on for decades now under several presidents. In this sense, pathological, psychopathic, institutional narcissism really characterizes the American political class, not any single individual. — Sam Vaknin
BIO: 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, as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, and international affairs.He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, 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.
A. According to the June 2011 text of the DSM V, the following criteria must be met to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder (in parentheses my comments):Significant impairments in personality functioning in either identity, or self-direction (should be: in both.)Identity
The narcissist keeps referring to others excessively in order to regulate his self-esteem (really, sense of self-worth) and for “self-definition” (to define his identity.) His self-appraisal is exaggerated, whether it is inflated, deflated, or fluctuating between these two poles and his emotional regulation reflects these vacillations. (Finally, the DSM V accepted what I have been saying for decades: that narcissists can have an “inferiority complex” and feel worthless and bad; that they go through cycles of ups and downs in their self-evaluation; and that this cycling influences their mood and affect.)
The narcissist sets goals in order to gain approval from others (narcissistic supply; the DSM V ignores the fact that the narcissist finds disapproval equally rewarding as long as it places him firmly in the limelight.) The narcissist lacks self-awareness as far as his motivation goes (and as far as everything else besides.) The narcissist’s personal standards and benchmarks are either too high (which supports his grandiosity), or too low (buttresses his sense of entitlement, which is incommensurate with his real-life performance.)
The narcissist finds it difficult to identify with the emotions and needs of others, but is very attuned to their reactions when they are relevant to himself (cold empathy.) Consequently, he overestimates the effect he has on others or underestimates it (the classic narcissist never underestimates the effect he has on others – but the inverted narcissist does.)
The narcissist’s relationships are self-serving and, therefore shallow and superficial. They are centred around and geared at the regulation of his self-esteem (obtaining narcissistic supply for the regulation of his labile sense of self-worth.) The narcissist is not “genuinely” interested in his intimate partner’s experiences (implying that he does fake such interest convincingly.) The narcissist emphasizes his need for personal gain (by using the word “need”, the DSM V acknowledges the compulsive and addictive nature of narcissistic supply). These twin fixtures of the narcissist’s relationships render them one-sided: no mutuality or reciprocity (no intimacy).
Pathological personality traits
Antagonism characterized by grandiosity and attention-seeking
The aforementioned feeling of entitlement. The DSM V adds that it can be either overt or covert (which corresponds to my taxonomy of classic and inverted narcissist.)
Grandiosity is characterized by self-centredness; a firmly-held conviction of superiority (arrogance or haughtiness); and condescending or patronizing attitudes.
The narcissist puts inordinate effort, time, and resources into attracting others (sources of narcissistic supply) and placing himself at the focus and centre of attention. He seeks admiration (the DSM V gets it completely wrong here: the narcissist does prefer to be admired and adulated, but, failing that, any kind of attention would do, even if it is negative.)
The diagnostic criteria end with disclaimers and differential diagnoses, which reflect years of accumulated research and newly-gained knowledge:
The above enumerated impairments should be “stable across time and consistent across situations … not better understood as normative for the individual’s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment … are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).”
Q. Several years ago you had concluded that President Obama was narcissistic and said you were “terrified.” In an interview with Brent Bedford you stated you believed Obama would create a constitutional crisis in order to make himself indispensable. Your views were not widely accepted. Do you feel vindicated now in the face of recent allegations and why?
A. To some extent. Many of these infringements on human and civil rights have been going on for decades now under several presidents. In this sense, pathological, psychopathic, institutional narcissism really characterizes the American political class, not any single individual.
Q. You have said narcissists are like junkies, needing ever increasing amounts of narcissistic supply in order to maintain. Do you see Obama following a downward spiral in his insistence on and defense of the surveillance state in America? What do you think he might attempt next?
A. Obama is a sophisticated, hi-tech, spin-doctored revision of Nixon. But, as opposed to Nixon, he enjoys the sanction of a big chunk of the adulating American people and the immunity afforded him by the self-censoring mainstream media. These exemptions empower him and buttress his delusional grandiose fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience. He is likely to grow increasingly contumacious and treat the other branches of the government as well as civil society contemptuously. Down the road, this may result in borderline-legal conduct and worse.
Q. Immediately after coming to light, Edward Snowden was widely accused of narcissism. Why specifically do you think this particular accusation and what does it tell us about the situation?
A. Only a qualified mental health diagnostician can determine whether someone suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and this, following lengthy tests and personal interviews. To reach the conclusion in July 2008 that Obama may be a narcissist, I had to wade through well over 1000 hours of video and hundreds of articles and books. “Narcissist” has become a cussword, a pejorative hurled at political opponents the world over. It is fast losing its clinical meaning as well as its potency.
Q. You have said narcissists are the outcome of “soul-snatching.” Please explain this for our readers.
A. Contrary to widely held views, Narcissists and Psychopaths may actually possess empathy. They may even be hyper-empathic, attuned to the minutest signals emitted by their victims and endowed with a penetrating “X-ray vision”. They tend to abuse their empathic skills by employing them exclusively for personal gain, the extraction of narcissistic supply, or in the pursuit of antisocial and sadistic goals. They regard their ability to empathize as another weapon in their arsenal.
I suggest to label the narcissistic psychopath’s version of empathy: “cold empathy“, akin to the “cold emotions” felt by psychopaths. The cognitive element of empathy is there, but not so its emotional correlate. It is, consequently, a barren, detached, and cerebral kind of intrusive gaze, devoid of compassion and a feeling of affinity with one’s fellow humans.
Narcissists and psychopaths also appear to be “empathizing” with their possessions: objects, pets, and their sources of narcissistic supply or material benefits (often their nearest and dearest, significant others, or “friends” and associates). But this is not real empathy: it is a mere projection of the narcissist’s or psychopath’s own insecurities and fears, needs and wishes, fantasies and priorities. This kind of displayed “empathy” usually vanishes the minute its subject ceases to play a role in the narcissist’s or psychopath’s life and his psychodynamic processes.
Cold Empathy evokes the concept of “Uncanny Valley”, coined in 1970 by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. Mori suggested that people react positively to androids (humanlike robots) for as long as they differ from real humans in meaningful and discernible ways. But the minute these contraptions come to resemble humans uncannily, though imperfectly, human observers tend to experience repulsion, revulsion, and other negative emotions, including fear.
The same applies to psychopathic narcissists: they are near-perfect imitations of humans, but, lacking empathy and emotions, they are not exactly there. Psychopaths and narcissists strike their interlocutors as being some kind of “alien life-forms” or “artificial intelligence”, in short: akin to humanoid robots, or androids. When people come across narcissists or psychopaths the Uncanny Valley reaction kicks in: people feel revolted, scared, and repelled. They can’t put the finger on what it is that provokes these negative reactions, but, after a few initial encounters, they tend to keep their distance.
Q. You’ve stated there is a discrepancy between Obama’s achievements and self-perception. Please explain how Obama’s public relations are a manifestation of this.
A. The actual achievements of the narcissist never measure up to his ever-receding, unrealistic, almost divine, fatuously grandiose self-image. Hence the “grandiosity gap”: the abyss between the narcissist’s self-perception and reality.
The disparity between the accomplishments of the narcissist and his grandiose fantasies and inflated self-image – the Grandiosity Gap – is staggering and, in the long run, insupportable. It imposes onerous exigencies on the narcissist’s grasp of reality and social skills. It pushes him either to seclusion or to a frenzy of “acquisitions”: cars, women, wealth, power.
Yet, no matter how successful the narcissist is – many of them end up being abject failures – the Grandiosity Gap can never be bridged. The narcissist’s False Self is so unrealistic and his Superego so sadistic that there is nothing the narcissist can do to extricate himself from the Kafkaesque trial that is his life.
The narcissist is a slave to his own inertia. Some narcissists are forever accelerating on the way to ever higher peaks and ever greener pastures. The narcissist’s life is out of control, at the mercy of merciless inner voices and internal forces. The over-achieving narcissist seeks challenges and risks, provokes competition, embellishes expectations, aggressively bids for responsibilities and authority and seems to be possessed with an eerie self-confidence. People tend to regard such specimen as “entrepreneurial”, “daring”, “visionary”, or “tyrannical”. Yet, these narcissists too are mortified by potential failure, driven by a strong conviction of entitlement, and strive to be unique and be perceived as such.
Their hyperactivity is merely the flip side of the under-achiever’s inactivity: it is as fallacious and as empty and as doomed to miscarriage and disgrace. It is often sterile or illusory, all smoke and mirrors rather than substance. The precarious “achievements” of such narcissists invariably unravel. They often act outside the law or social norms. Their industriousness, workaholism, ambition, and commitment are intended to disguise their essential inability to produce and build. Theirs is a whistle in the dark, a pretension, a Potemkin life, all make-belief and thunder.
Obama’s public relations serve as an externalized and projected False Self. The False Self replaces the narcissist’s True Self and is intended to shield him from hurt and narcissistic injury by self-imputing omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence (godlike attributes). The narcissist pretends that his False Self is real and demands that others affirm this confabulation. The False Self re-interprets information in a flattering or socially-acceptable light and also imitates and emulates normal emotions and empathy.
Both the True Self and the False Self depend on the gaze of others. The False Self relies on adulation and attention – narcissistic supply – for the maintenance of the precarious, confabulated, fantastic, grandiose, and counterfactual narrative that is the narcissist’s persona, his public face. Without a constant flow of such high-quality input and feedback, without the adulating gaze, the narcissist crumbles like a house of ephemeral cards and resorts to a variety of dysfunctional, self-destructive, and self-defeating behaviors and defense mechanisms.
Similarly and equally, the True Self needs a loving gaze to sustain itself. Another person’s love serves two purposes: it confirms the existence of the True Self as a lovable object and thus lays the groundwork and facilitates the necessary and sufficient conditions for self-love; and it allows the True Self to perceive the existence of a “safe”, loving, and holding other. Such insight is at the very foundation of empathy.
The False Self is concocted by the narcissist to fend off hurt. It is a perfect, impenetrable, impermeable shield, a cocoon; it rewards the narcissist by flooding him with warm, fuzzy, exhilarating feelings; and it sustains the narcissist’s delusions and fantasies. The False Self is the narcissist’s dreams come true. In other words: as far as the narcissist is concerned, the False Self is adaptive and functional. The narcissist is emotionally invested in the False Self and he despises the True Self for having failed to cope with the exigencies and vicissitudes of the narcissist’s life.
Q. Many Obama supporters have defended the President in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA. How can this be explained and what course do you recommend the American people take in response to the President’s disregard for civil liberties?
A. Obama is the leader of a widespread personality cult. Like other gurus, he demands complete obedience from his flock. 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.
Cult leaders are narcissists who had initially failed in their mission to “be someone”, to become famous, and to impress the world with their uniqueness, talents, traits, and skills. Such disgruntled narcissists withdraw into a “zone of comfort” (known as the “Pathological Narcissistic Space”) that assumes the hallmarks of a cult.
The –members of the narcissist’s cult inhabit a twilight zone of his own construction. He imposes on them an exclusionary or inclusionary shared psychosis, replete with persecutory delusions, “enemies”, mythical-grandiose narratives, and apocalyptic scenarios if he is flouted.
Exclusionary shared psychosis involves the physical and emotional isolation of the narcissist and his “flock” from the outside world in order to better shield them from imminent threats and hostile intentions. Inclusionary shared psychosis revolves around attempts to spread the narcissist’s message in a missionary fashion among friends, colleagues, co-workers, fans, churchgoers, and anyone else who comes across the cult.
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 behaviours. 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 require his permission. Gradually, he isolates everyone until they are fully dependent on him (and the government, his extension.)
He acts in a patronising and condescending manner and criticises often. He alternates between emphasising the minutest faults (devalues) and exaggerating the talents, traits, and skills (idealises) of the members of his cult. He is wildly unrealistic in his expectations – which legitimises his subsequent abusive conduct.
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 countenance 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.
The narcissist’s cult is “missionary” and “imperialistic”. He is always on the lookout for new recruits. 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 behaviour 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, willful, 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 stabilises 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 humour (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.
The narcissistic or psychopathic leader is the culmination and reification of his period, culture, and civilization. He is likely to rise to prominence in narcissistic societies. The leader’s mental health pathologies resonate with the anomies of his society and culture (“psychopathological resonance”.) The leader and the led form a self-enhancing and self-reinforcing feedback loop, a dyad of mirrored adoration and reflected love. By elevating and idealizing their “Fuehrer”, the mob actually elevates and idealizes itself and the leader’s harnessed ochlocracy; in the “Duce’s” ascendance they find hope, in his manifest illness – curative solace and a legitimation of their own collective insanity. The dictator himself equates being elected – however patently unfairly – with being chosen by the transcendental forces of the gods and history. His is a manifest destiny, his exceptionalism – the nation’s own.
The malignant narcissist invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and this is further exacerbated by the trappings of power. The narcissist’s grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience are supported by real life authority and the narcissist’s predilection to surround himself with obsequious sycophants.
The narcissist’s personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as “victims of persecution”.
The narcissistic leader fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, mythology. The leader is this religion’s ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.
The narcissistic leader is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people – or humanity at large – should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, the narcissistic leader became a distorted version of Nietzsche’s “superman“.
Many narcissistic and psychopathic leaders are the hostages of self-imposed rigid ideologies. They fancy themselves Platonic “philosopher-kings”. Lacking empathy, they regard their subjects as a manufacturer does his raw materials, or as the abstracted collateral damage in vast historical processes (to prepare an omelet, one must break eggs, as their favorite saying goes).
But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral.
In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things “natural” – or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to as “nature” is not natural at all.
The narcissistic leader invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial – though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols – not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.
In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the cultish leader demands the suspension of judgment, and the attainment of depersonalization and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.
Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism – and the cult’s leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.
Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the “old ways”: against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.
Minorities or “others” – often arbitrarily selected – constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is “wrong”. They are accused of being old, of being eerily disembodied, cosmopolitan, a part of the establishment, of being “decadent”. They are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, or origin. They are different, they are narcissistic (they feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenceless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure, a foil. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.
This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm – together with Stalin – as a malignant narcissist. He was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes.
Hitler provided us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil. He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.
The narcissistic leader prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substance, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions.
In the aftermath of his regime – the narcissistic leader having died, been deposed, or voted out of office – it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely-held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. “Earth shattering” and “revolutionary” scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.
As their end draws near, narcissistic-psychopathic leaders act out, lash out, erupt. They attack with equal virulence and ferocity compatriots, erstwhile allies, neighbors, and foreigners.
It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of the narcissist. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform with the narcissistic narrative.
All populist, charismatic leaders believe that they have a “special connection” with the “people”: a relationship that is direct, almost mystical, and transcends the normal channels of communication (such as the legislature or the media). Thus, a narcissist who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite, is highly unlikely to use violence at first.
The pacific mask crumbles when the narcissist has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, the prime sources of his narcissistic supply, have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, the narcissist strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. “The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)”, “they don’t really know what they are doing”, “following a rude awakening, they will revert to form”, etc.
When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail, the narcissist is injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized is now discarded with contempt and hatred.
This primitive defense mechanism is called “splitting”. To the narcissist, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. A narcissistic leader is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to assassinate him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, harm the nation or the country, etc.
The “small people”, the “rank and file”, the “loyal soldiers” of the narcissist – his flock, his nation, his employees – they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated – is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of the narcissist. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Four decades ago, the Polish-American-Jewish author, Jerzy Kosinski, wrote the book “Being There”. It describes the election to the presidency of the United States of a simpleton, a gardener, whose vapid and trite pronouncements are taken to be sagacious and penetrating insights into human affairs. The “Being There Syndrome” is now manifest throughout the world: from Russia (Putin) to the United States (Obama).
Given a high enough level of frustration, triggered by recurrent, endemic, and systemic failures in all spheres of policy, even the most resilient democracy develops a predilection to “strong men”, leaders whose self-confidence, sangfroid, and apparent omniscience all but “guarantee” a change of course for the better.
These are usually people with a thin resume, having accomplished little prior to their ascendance. They appear to have erupted on the scene from nowhere. They are received as providential messiahs precisely because they are unencumbered with a discernible past and, thus, are ostensibly unburdened by prior affiliations and commitments. Their only duty is to the future. They are a-historical: they have no history and they are above history.
Indeed, it is precisely this apparent lack of a biography that qualifies these leaders to represent and bring about a fantastic and grandiose future. They act as a blank screen upon which the multitudes project their own traits, wishes, personal biographies, needs, and yearnings.
The more these leaders deviate from their initial promises and the more they fail, the dearer they are to the hearts of their constituents: like them, their new-chosen leader is struggling, coping, trying, and failing and, like them, he has his shortcomings and vices. This affinity is endearing and captivating. It helps to form a shared psychosis (follies-a-plusieurs) between ruler and people and fosters the emergence of an hagiography.
The propensity to elevate narcissistic or even psychopathic personalities to power is most pronounced in countries that lack a democratic tradition (such as China, Russia, or the nations that inhabit the territories that once belonged to Byzantium or the Ottoman Empire).
Cultures and civilizations which frown upon individualism and have a collectivist tradition, prefer to install “strong collective leaderships” rather than “strong men”. Yet, all these polities maintain a theatre of democracy, or a theatre of “democratically-reached consensus” (Putin calls it: “sovereign democracy”). Such charades are devoid of essence and proper function and are replete and concurrent with a personality cult or the adoration of the party in power.
In most developing countries and nations in transition, “democracy” is an empty word. Granted, the hallmarks of democracy are there: candidate lists, parties, election propaganda, a plurality of media, and voting. But its quiddity is absent. The democratic principles are institutions are being consistently hollowed out and rendered mock by election fraud, exclusionary policies, cronyism, corruption, intimidation, and collusion with Western interests, both commercial and political.
The new “democracies” are thinly-disguised and criminalized plutocracies (recall the Russian oligarchs), authoritarian regimes (Central Asia and the Caucasus), or puppeteered heterarchies (Macedonia, Bosnia, and Iraq, to mention three recent examples).
The new “democracies” suffer from many of the same ills that afflict their veteran role models: murky campaign finances; venal revolving doors between state administration and private enterprise; endemic corruption, nepotism, and cronyism; self-censoring media; socially, economically, and politically excluded minorities; and so on. But while this malaise does not threaten the foundations of the United States and France – it does imperil the stability and future of the likes of Ukraine, Serbia, and Moldova, Indonesia, Mexico, and Bolivia.
Many nations have chosen prosperity over democracy. Yes, the denizens of these realms can’t speak their mind or protest or criticize or even joke lest they be arrested or worse – but, in exchange for giving up these trivial freedoms, they have food on the table, they are fully employed, they receive ample health care and proper education, they save and spend to their hearts’ content.
In return for all these worldly and intangible goods (popularity of the leadership which yields political stability; prosperity; security; prestige abroad; authority at home; a renewed sense of nationalism, collective and community), the citizens of these countries forgo the right to be able to criticize the regime or change it once every four years. Many insist that they have struck a good bargain – not a Faustian one.