Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Fallen World and the World to Come; Or, Techno-Utopians Give 'Em That New-Fangled Religion

Reader FrF in the Moot directed my attention to an editorial I would not otherwise have read, from the Superlative Techno-Immortalist (and also, rather predictably, market libertarian) blog Fight Aging!

In it, the editorialist, "Reason" (of course) declares that "[w]e are all doomed unless we dig ourselves out of the hole of aging via the future of medical technology."

By "doomed" the author means to point out (for those of you not paying attention in the back row) that all human beings now living, like all human beings who have ever lived, are, indeed, mortal.

While there is of course an enormous literature spanning millennia devoted to the ways in which human beings individually and human societies collectively have struggled to work through (or not) the existential dilemmas introduced by the inescapable fact of human mortality, it does seem to me that there is something more than usually alienated happening in the conjuration of doom in this piece and in comparable pieces by Superlative Techno-Immortalists.

The proximate inspiration for this editorial was the recent spate of studies and articles like a recent New York Times piece noting "disparities in life expectancy for richer and poorer Americans, paralleling the growth of income inequality in the last two decades," as well as other recent studies pointing to the impact of diet and exercise on healthy lifespan also correlated in complicated ways to socioeconomic status, access to information, lifeway precarity and stress, and so on.

About all this, "Reason," The Techno-Immortalist wants to know: "What does it matter that some of us are a handful of percentage points more or less doomed than others…? It's still doom, and we'll all be just as rescued by technologies capable of repairing the damage that is aging."

There are a couple of things I want to direct your attention to in this extraordinary statement. First of all, in this formulation wealth disparities, differences in access to knowledge, distinctions of status, actual exhibitions of lifeway diversity are regarded as a matter of an utterly negligible "handful of percentage points more or less doomed than others."

That is to say, seen against the backdrop of the epic conflict of "Immortalism" Versus "Deathism" on which the Superlative Techno-Warrior imagines himself to be fighting, almost every difference that makes a difference in the actually existing texture of pleasure, danger, suffering, opportunity, awareness, exploitation, resistance of all the actually-existing people who have ever lived or are now living on earth is handwaved away as a near irrelevance.

Of course, I don't doubt that these textures assume their more proper importance in "Reason's" actual everyday life. I don't mean to suggest that just because he seems indifferent to and even dismissive of most of the actual differences that make a difference to the overabundant majority of human beings on earth the overabundant majority of the time they spend on earth in the context of contemplating the stakes of a particularly urgent problem, that this means he feels this way all the time or in some more fundamental way. But it still bears scrutiny to think just what it means to think this way under any circumstances, even if in strictly delimited contexts, especially if these are the contexts to which one devotes considerable public attention.

The fact is, I personally believe that there is something brutally obliterative that happens to anyone who would assume such a vantage, even if only selectively. And just so readers don't think I am merely seeking to demonize and so trivialize a perspective with which I disagree, let me say that I think there is something about the harsh worldly indifference "Reason" exhibits when he is thinking about his "doom" here that is deeply akin to the occupational hazards of theorists and philosophers to assume bloodless abstract vantages from which to survey the dynamic befuddling and too often threatening complexities of history and culture, a temperamental tendency to consoling abstraction to which I no doubt am no less deeply prone myself than other philosophically-inclined people are.

I think that one's arrival at such perspectives risks a derangement of one's inhabitation of the world in a way that skews both perceptions and priorities more generally. But also, and more to the point for the partisans of alienated techno-utopian perspectives in particular, surely this calls into question the ability of such people to assume the role of architects for the glorious futures they presumably disdain the present world for in the first place?

To what weird and alienated preoccupations would such coming futures presumably be most or even exclusively answerable?

Who, to be blunt, really wants to live forever in a future articulated by people who seem to disdain, in their thinking of that devoutly longed-for future, everything and everybody and every way of life and every actually wanted merely mortal pleasure and meaning and struggle playing out in the world as it is?

After all, isn't there something just plain worrisome about someone who wants to say of mortality that it is not just something that, well, sucks rather and something it can be difficult to come to terms with, but actually something from which we need urgently to be "rescued," something that means we are all of us now in some "hole" we must dig our way out of?

Again, my point is not to pretend that illness, vulnerability, and death are particularly thrilling prospects for me.

But I will admit that I feel a certain responsibility to the demands of basic legibility in the world of which I am a part to speak of meaning and dignity and human value in ways that don't manage deeply to disrespect the actual gorgeous beauty and genius and courage and significance of every human life that has happened always to be mortal so far and remains always mortal here and now by insisting of these mortal lives that somehow they were and are only utterly doomed or disastrous or insignificant just for the fact of their mortality.

To lose sight of the value of lives as they are actually lived is not the courageous affirmation of life the Techno-Immortalist sometimes try to sell it as -- often in the hyperbolic tonalities of salesmen sharking around some ignorant mark -- but to affirm what amounts to a falsifying idealization of a "life" that actually denigrates those lives actually lived in the world. And while I definitely do not mean to attribute this particular attitude to the editorialist "Reason," I will say that part of what makes me nervous in reading arguments like his is that I know how often the assumption of a vantage of indifference to worldly complexities coupled with a pining for personal transcendence and an evangelical fervor to be part of a movement that "sweeps the world" is to embark on a puritanical rampage of revenge against the vulnerability and variety of life as it is lived in its diversity, a frankly infantile and finally doomed (but no less dangerous for that) existential revolt against the perceived threat of too uncontrollably delicate and too unpredictably diverse worldly human lifeways in what amounts to a hostile and hysterical authoritarian rage for control and for order.

It is no surprise at all that the editorialist -- who goes by the moniker "Reason" because, you know, that is what he has more of than you do, which is why no doubt he keeps saying all these awful curious things so incessantly presumably -- disdains the very notion of paying attention to "the general pattern of wealth, use of medical resources, good health practices, and all that other fun stuff that fits in with 'socio-economic status,'" saying all this amounts in the end to what he calls "playing the game called 'who has more.'" As is usually the case with right wing market libertarians the question "who has more" does indeed feel like a "game" to those who are or would be situated closer to what George W. Bush once admitted to be his real political "base," that is to say, "the haves and the have-mores" than it does to other people.

The editorialist is certainly not averse to playing his own games in this area, taking pains to frame these disparities as mostly a matter of "exercise habits and excess body fat... all sorts of ways in which we can choose to damage ourselves, or let damage continue at a greater rate due to circumstances we can control." (Emphases added by me.) That is to say, once we disdain the idea of taking the palpable impact of lived socioeconomic disparities into account we then are perfectly predictably encouraged to hyper-inflate the role of individual responsibility for both personal success or misfortune, absolving the privileged from attending to their actual dependency for their success on majorities who fail to benefit from their own contribution to the outcomes enjoyed by privileged minorities while adding insult to injury, endlessly harassing the vulnerable for their suffering which is largely a consequence of public decisions in which they have little real say.

But it seems to me that the socially alienated perspective that "Reason" exhibits in his indifference to social injustice and individual suffering is less interesting than the deeper alienation of his perspective on the "doom" of mortality, what is palpably for him an incomparably deeper form of injustice and suffering, one that is actually underwriting in its depth and intensity his socially alienated perspective otherwise.

Of those who are preoccupied with actually-existing worldly lifeway differences and their impacts on actually-existing suffering, opportunity, health, and so on, "Reason" admonishes that "[t]hey are the voice of the shiny trinkets of the now…." Against these voices from the Fallen World, he counterposes the voices of those who see the World to Come: "All of this is irrelevant and unimportant, however, when compared to the speed with which medical technologies for the repair of aging are developed."

Understand this clearly: Techno-Immortalists like "Reason" demand we disdain the address here and now of actually-existing disparities that contribute to actually-addressable suffering in the world, the better to invest our energies in the programmatic faith in non-existing "medical technologies" that would presumably deliver us from this despised world unto salvation in techno-utopian Heaven.

It does not seem to me the least bit accidental that this disdain of worldly concerns is couched in terms of a repudiation of "shiny trinkets," the same hostility to the present world of flesh and diversity and desire that reappears in every generation's would-be ascetic priests and cult gurus and Dear Leaders.

"Reason" offers up this consummating juxtaposition: "If we can make that happen rapidly enough, we're all rescued. If not, we're all doomed."

But what if we fail to feel doomed in our lives just because we are finite and vulnerable and error-prone and mortal?

What if we are eager to contribute to the collaborative solution of shared problems (including problems of disease and avoidable suffering) and to the sum of lifeway multiculture, but see this as an embrace of the finitude and plurality of a humanity forever in reformation? What if we are altogether unmoved by denialist repudiations of that finitude and plurality, what if we abhor the insistence that this open humanity must instead be junked to make way for some parochial fantasy of a "post-human" species soliciting the identification here and now of a handful of privileged sociopaths who are scared of death and contingency?

I will be as happy to contribute my support to a technoscientifically and socially progressive democracy devoted to the funding, regulation, and fair distribution of expanding medical knowledge and techniques to expand thereby the scene of informed consensual prosthetic self-determination, including championing non-normalizing modifications and interventions into hitherto customary capacities, morphologies, and so on.

But I don't see this as a need for rescue so much as an embrace of the collective genius and diverse beauty of an ever-more consensual sustainable democratic human planetary multiculture.

The world doesn't need saving or leading or controlling or rescue from your Robot Cult, thanks very much.

Worldliness is contribution to the collaborative solution of shared problems and contribution to the sum of creative expressivity, peer-to-peer.

Finite, mortal, vulnerable, this-worldly, but open, consensual, critical, fair, and free.

Peer-to-peer.

23 comments:

giulio said...

Here, you said it: "disrespect the actual gorgeous beauty and genius and courage and significance of every human life that has happened always to be mortal"

I respect the actual gorgeous beauty and genius and courage and significance of every human life, mortal or not.

But I do not respect it _because_ it is mortal.

Dale Carrico said...

You think I respect human life as lived only because it is mortal? That would be puzzling, indeed, since life exhibits so many traits other than the blank fact of its mortality. And are you saying you have no respect for the way this beauty and genius and courage and significance has been articulated in the face of and through the exactions of finitude and mortality? If not, why not? And when you claim to present-tense "respect" every human life, mortal or not, am I to take this to mean you know some respectable non-mortal humans I don't? Just trying to see how deep the crazy goes, is all.

chr15 said...

I am reminded of "Reason" in Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash. If I recall correctly, Reason is a nuclear powered machine gun spouting out radioactive bullets that obliterate everything in their path... can you here it? all those people dying? LISTEN TO REASON!!

(just to be clear, I agree with Dale here, "Reason's" dismissal about how socioeconomic inequality effects lifespan is freaking scary... hella eugenicist)

Michael Anissimov said...

*puts on his shark fins*

Seen any marks around here?

Really, though, you talk about p2p a lot -- interestingly enough, note that Wikipedia was founded by a libertarian, and at least some of the staff at Creative Commons are libertarians.

Do you actually participate in p2p efforts? For instance, do you know what the latest and greatest incarnation of p2p action on the net is? Sometimes I get the Ivory Tower flavor from you, that you don't even participate in the things you support (except for writing papers about it), but hey, I could be wrong.

Dale Carrico said...

Sometimes you get an Ivory Tower flavor from me? How perceptive!

Nato Welch said...

Thank you, Dale.

Internet Protocol - "the net" - IS the "greatest incarnation of p2p action on the net". Blogging is a good example, too. The former happens to enable most all of the other examples one might propose. Go figure, we happen to be using both here.

giulio said...

"You think I respect human life as lived only because it is mortal? That would be puzzling, indeed, since life exhibits so many traits other than the blank fact of its mortality. And are you saying you have no respect for the way this beauty and genius and courage and significance has been articulated in the face of and through the exactions of finitude and mortality? If not, why not?"

But I do. I also respect people who demonstrate heroism in war, but this does not mean that war is a good thing. I have a great respect for the suffering of those who have died in concentration camps. This does not mean that a concentration camps is a good thing. Trying to eliminate concentration camps is NOT showing disrespect for the people who have died there. Quite the contrary.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that trying to cure cancer is showing disrespect for the way the beauty and genius and courage and significance of the lives of cancer patients has been articulated in the face of and through the exactions of their struggle against cancer?

I am hoping you will answer NO. Can you tell me the difference then? If possible, in English instead of Academish.

Dale Carrico said...

Show me where I have ever said anything that would ever lead anybody with half a brain to imagine I think curing cancer disrespects anybody. Show me that claim.

Come on, Giulio, show us all. Since you seem to feel you have to "ask" that question and can only "hope" I'll answer that cancer research is positive... as if I haven't indicated that very thing hundreds of times on this blog for those who have senses and brains to read with.

Indeed, one of my most incessantly reiterated critiques is that techno-immortalist handwaving deranges our thinking, distracts us from urgent sociopolitical contexts of healthcare, skews general expectations about outcomes, undermines sensible policy deliberation, distorts funding priorities, and confuses efforts at education to ensure things like actually-useful cancer research are supported and equitably distributed... but don't let that stop you from pretending otherwise.

If you can't see the difference between Techno-Immortalist handwaving and cancer research, if you can't see the difference between pining for perpetual motion warp drive anti-gravity boots and actually working to end war in the world, I really don't know what to say to you.

I will say that I don't think the problem here is my "Academish" expression, though I am always well pleased to hear such anti-intellectual sentiments expressed in the mouths of would-be intellectuals. Very nice, indeed.

All I can say is, there he is: Giulio Prisco, ladies and gentlemen, luminary of the techno-utopian transhumanist movement, officer and board member of many transhumanist organizations, widely read transhumanist public figure. Draw your own conclusions about transhumanism from there.

giulio said...

Dale Carrico, ladies and gentlemen, PhD, MMM (Master of Mental Masturbation).

Note that, once again, you evade my question. Perhaps I should repeat it. What is the fundamental difference between radical life extension research and cancer research? Note that you are the only one talking of immortality, we are talking of indefinite lifespans and using "immortality" as a shorthand as jamais pointed out a few days ago.

Would be MMM intellectual? No thanks, I have more useful things to do.

De Thezier said...

In light of some people's belief that mortality is a the consequence of the lack of enough "can-do" transhumanist techno-utopian high spiritedness in the world, and Giulo's mention of cancer in this debate, I found revelant this passage in the Christine Wenc's AlterNet article The Health Industry's Secret History of Delaying the Fight Against Cancer:

"One [cultural element that has contributed to the problem for those who want to change course in how we think about cancer] is the powerful public belief in the existence of "magic bullets" for diseases and the inevitability of medical progress. Another is what Davis calls our Judeo-Christian, moralistic approach to sickness -- the idea that your disease is somehow your punishment for sin. (New Agers say disease is caused by suppressed anger or an inability to achieve oneness with the universe, but it's the same idea.) Ideas about genetic susceptibility to disease have in some ways replaced this moralistic approach, but the result is the same: Disease is primarily the fault of the individual. Industry has long taken advantage of this philosophy. Research into the genetic causes of cancer has been a welcome pastime in their laboratories, even though, Davis writes, genetics might contribute to only 10 percent of cancers at most."

Dale Carrico said...

Note that, once again, you evade my question.

Which is it Giulio? Are you just lying, are you just indulging some panic-stricken PR effort at damage control hoping mere bulldozing force of will is enough to bamboozle the rubes, or are you really too careless a reader to grasp that all I'm doing is answering your questions, over and over and over and over again?

As I have endlessly reiterated, every successful remediative act of healthcare expands the healthy lifespan of its subject. As I have also endlessly reiterated, emerging genetic, prosthetic, and cognitive techniques do indeed introduce new perplexities into hitherto customary human capacities, morphologies, expectations, and lifeways.

My point has always been that it is wrong to respond to these perplexities through Superlative discourses that activate very old and always delusive and usually authoritarian and often otherwise irrational theological and techno-utopian expectations and rhetoric. The transformation of the terms in which we navigate human finitude (of which mortality seem to be the key dimension on which these discussions seem endlessly to fixate). Many of the texts in which I have made these claims are now collected here (prosthetic self-determination and lifeway diversity pieces) and here if you care to refresh your memory.

Perhaps I should repeat it.

Please do. Every time you repeat questions I have answered to the satisfaction of everybody who is not already a techno-immortalist and transhumanist True Believer you expose the bankruptcy of your outlook. This is a very positive outcome for me, since I believe that Superlative, transhumanist, singularitarian, techno-immortalist, techno-utopian viewpoints are dangerous distractions and even derangements to anybody who would contribute to democratizing technodevelopmental social struggle as I think we must.

What is the fundamental difference between radical life extension research and cancer research?

That's easy. You have to join a Robot Cult to think you are engaging in what is radical in what you are calling "radical life extension research," but you don't have to -- and almost nobody in the world has done or ever will -- join a Robot Cult to grasp and affirm the value of healthcare.

Note that you are the only one talking of immortality, we are talking of indefinite lifespans and using "immortality" as a shorthand as jamais pointed out a few days ago.

All righty, then. Although you guys talk about living forever and superlongevity and indefinite lifespan and digging yourselves out of the "mortality hole," although the words Immortality and Immortalism are themselves actually everywhere in your discourse, including in the names of organizations with which you are personally associated, somehow these overabundantly conspicuous facts make my assertion of them as facts the opposite of true in topsy-turvy True Believer land.

You seem especially pleased that some techno-immortalists, confronted with the frank self-marginalizing absurdity of their Superlative discourse, now substitute for the actual term "immortality" the weasel-worded "indefinite lifespan" and comparable phrases that dog-whistle the substantial content of immortality -- orders of magnitude incomparably greater control over the terms of lifespan and sufficiently negligible statistical incidence of mortality that immortalists scared of contingency and death can feel reassured -- without having to sound quite so much like lunatics in mainstream society. This isn't a gambit that is that hard to see through, frankly, because it becomes clear the moment you get past the pseudo-technical expedient terminology and your actual conversations are underway that you really honestly think you (or lucky post-human successors with whom you fervently identify) are going to live forever as data or in shiny robot bodies or eternally young bodies stewing in the broth of a pharmacological Fountain of Youth.

Immortality, same as it ever was. Fraud, hype, infantile narcissism, and hysterical hokum.

Dale Carrico said...

Oopsie:

The transformation of the terms in which we navigate human finitude (of which mortality seem to be the key dimension on which these discussions seem endlessly to fixate).

That sentence actually continues:

fixate), is not the transcension of finitude itself.

giulio said...

"hysterical"

You said hysterical?

Anonymous said...

You probably already know this, but just to make sure... when transhumanists decide not to use the shorthand term "immortal" they have a very specific reason: current physics theories say the universe will eventually wind down and eventually dynamic optimism will not be enough to overcome the finality of entropy. Therefore, immortality is, strictly speaking, impossible.

See, it would harm credibility to use the word "immortality" in a context where that aspect of its shorthand was not mutually understood, therefore "indefinite lifespan."

I think it's rather charming for that to be the point where credibility about transhumanist projections supposedly breaks down (getting caught in a lie about immortality in a trillion years when the last star winks out).

Beyond those who attach their worldly status to memetic warfare on these themes (that is, excluding the pretty blogosphere cheerleaders and guys trying to sell stuff), it's mostly goofy fun that explodes in to heated debate equivalent to the way people get emotionally attached to discussions about who should play shortstop for the Yankees.

Dale Carrico said...

I think it's rather charming for that to be the point where credibility about transhumanist projections supposedly breaks down (getting caught in a lie about immortality in a trillion years when the last star winks out).

I know, it is rather flabbergasting isn't it?

Beyond those who attach their worldly status to memetic warfare on these themes (that is, excluding the pretty blogosphere cheerleaders and guys trying to sell stuff), it's mostly goofy fun that explodes in to heated debate equivalent to the way people get emotionally attached to discussions about who should play shortstop for the Yankees.

There's a lot in what you say here, but there are two things that give me pause.

First, however goofy and marginal Superlative Technocentrics seem (and, crucially, are, so far) in their cul-de-sac sub(cult)ures, it is also true that they crystallize tendencies to techno-utopian hyperbole (and also, if it gets more asses in the seats techno-dystopian hyperbole), technocratic elitism, scientistic reductionism, glib "Enlightened" eugenicism, and wild-eyed military spending that also characterize global neoliberal developmental assumptions and rhetoric, but with the benefit that in the transhumanist version the bloodyminded bat-shit craziness of this constellation is plainer to see for most people, and hence a better way of trying to drive home the critique.

Second, it is also true that the transhumanists and singularitarians and other Superlatives make good copy and, frankly, from the perspective of lots of corporate-militarist incumbent interests, they make good sense -- in moderation, of course! -- and so they manage to make a lot of noise and hence a lot of mischief in terms of public discourse on technodevelopmental issues in my view, however small their numbers persist in being.

It's true that there is something rather sad about all these privileged white boys who think they're the smartest guys in the room plotting their revenge fantasies while calculating the Robot God odds and contemplating imperishable robot bodies, and nanobot genie-in-a-bottle wealth, and so on...

But then I think how silly the Neocons once must have seemed in their forlorn whiteboy clubhouses, plotting and planning for the future... Then I find myself thinking it's a good thing indeed for a few folks who know enough to know better here and now to try to nip this thing in the bud via exposure, analysis, ridicule, and the proposal of more progressive alternatives.

jfehlinger said...

Dale asked (in re "Reason"'s article on the Fight Aging! blog):

> To what weird and alienated preoccupations would such coming
> futures presumably be most or even exclusively answerable?
>
> Who, to be blunt, really wants to live forever in a future
> articulated by people who seem to disdain, in their thinking
> of that devoutly longed-for future, everything and everybody
> and every way of life and every actually wanted merely
> mortal pleasure and meaning and struggle playing out in the
> world as it is?

My best guess -- based on my encounter with the book
_Personality Disorders in Modern Life_ by Theodore Millon
six years ago -- is that that sort of future is
uniquely pitched to appeal to exactly this sort of person:


---------------------------------

"Grandiosity Deconstructed"
"I believe that I will live forever... It is a cellular
certainty, almost biological, it flows with my blood
and permeates every niche of my being. I can do
anything I choose to do and excel in it. What I
do, what I excel at, what I achieve depends only
on my volition. There is no other determinant."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal9.html

"A Great Admiration"
"I always wanted to be a genius... Ever since my fifth
year I pretended to be thoroughly acquainted with issues
I had no clue about. This streak of con-artistry reached
a crescendo in my puberty, when I convinced a whole
township (and later, my country, by co-opting the media)
that I was a new Einstein. While unable to solve even the
most basic mathematical equations, I was regarded by many -
including world class physicists - as somewhat of an
epiphanous miracle."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal14.html

"Portrait of the Narcissist as a Young Man"
"Abuse has many forms. Expropriating someone's childhood
in favour of adult pursuits is one of the subtlest varieties of
soul murder.

I never was a child. I was a 'wunderkind', the
answer to my mother's prayers and intellectual
frustration. A human computing machine, a
walking-talking encyclopedia, a curiosity,
a circus freak. I was observed by developmental
psychologists, interviewed by the media, endured
the envy of my peers and their pushy mothers."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal22.html

"The Disappearance of the Witnesses"
"I was a precocious child. Always the wunderkind
with oversized spectacles, the freak. I befriended only
men many years my senior. At the age of 20, the
youngest of my best friends - among which I counted
a mafia don, a political scientist, businessmen, authors,
and journalists - was 40... They fed me, hosted me
in their homes, bought me reference books, introduced
me to each other, interviewed me, and took me on
expensive trips to foreign lands. I was their darling,
the subject of much awe and adulation.

Now, twenty years and some later, these are old
people and they are dying... And when they die,
their memories of me die with them."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal30.html

"The Magic of my Thinking"
"[A]nother feature of narcissism: magical thinking. Narcissists
are like children in this sense. I, for instance, fully believe in
two things: that whatever happens - I will prevail and that good
things will happen to me. It is not a belief, really. There is no
cognitive component in it. I just KNOW it, the same way I know
gravity - in a direct and immediate and secure way...

I have lived in fairy tales come true all my life. I was adopted
by a billionaire, an admiring student of mine became Minister of
Finance and summoned me to his side, I was given millions to
invest and have been the subject of many other miracles - but
I was and am intent on bringing myself to biblical destitution
and devastation.

Perhaps in this - in the belief that I have the omnipotence to
conspire against a universe that constantly smiles upon me -
lies the real magic of my thinking."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal6.html

"Wasted Lives"
"Narcissists are as gifted as they come. The problem is to
disentangle their tales of fantastic grandiosity from the reality
of their talents and skills.

They always tend either to over-estimate or to devalue
their potency. They often emphasize the wrong traits
and invest in their mediocre or (dare I say) less than
average capacities. Concomitantly, they ignore their real
potential, squander their advantage and under-rate their gifts.

The narcissist decides which aspects of his self to nurture
and which to neglect. He gravitates towards activities
commensurate with his pompous auto-portrait. He suppresses
these tendencies and aptitudes in him which don't conform
to his inflated view of his uniqueness, brilliance, might,
sexual prowess, or standing in society. He cultivates these
flairs and predilections which he regards as befitting his
overweening self-image and ultimate grandeur."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal11.html

"The Green-Eyed Narcissist"
"And then, of course, there is my favourite solution:
avoidance. To witness the success and joy of others is
too painful, too high a price to pay. So, I stay home,
alone and incommunicado."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal19.html

"Narcissist, the Machine"
"When N. left me, I discovered the hollowness of
it all. It was the first time that I experienced my true
self consciously. It was a void,  annulment, a gaping
abyss, almost audible, an hellish iron fist gripping, tearing
my chest apart. It was horror. A transubstantiation of my
blood and flesh into something primordial and screaming.

It was then that I came to realized that my childhood
was difficult. At the time, it seemed to me to be as natural
as sunrise and as inevitable as pain.

But in hindsight, it was devoid of emotional expression
and abusive to the extreme. I was not sexually abused -
but I was physically, verbally and psychologically tormented
for 16 years without one minute of respite."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal4.html

"The Weapon of Language"
"Narcissists... never talk to others - rather, they
talk at others, or lecture them. They exchange subtexts,
camouflage-wrapped by elaborate, florid, texts. They
read between the lines, spawning a multitude of private
languages, prejudices, superstitions, conspiracy theories,
rumours, phobias and hysterias. Theirs is a solipsistic
world - where communication is permitted only with
oneself and the aim of language is to throw others off
the scent..."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal34.html

"Wasted Lives"
"I am blind to the fact that my prolix and babblative
prose inspires more ridicule than awe. I ignore my
incomprehensibility and the irritation I provoke with my
moribund vocabulary, convoluted syntax and tortured
grammar.

I present my half-baked ideas, based on a shaky and
fragmented foundation of knowledge haphazardly gleaned,
with the certitude of confidence of an authority - or a trickster."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal11.html

"The Narcissist in Love"
"[T]he narcissist is incapable of admitting that something is
wrong with HIM.

But that is not to say that the narcissist does not experience
his disorder.

He does. But he re-interprets this experience. He regards
his dysfunctional behaviours - social, sexual, emotional,
mental - as conclusive and irrefutable proof of his superiority,
brilliance, distinction, prowess, might, or success. Rudeness
to others is reinterpreted as efficiency.

Abusive behaviours are cast as educational. Sexual absence
as proof of preoccupation with higher functions. His rage is
always just and a reaction to injustice or being misunderstood
by intellectual dwarves."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal15.html

"My Woman and I"
"I am heterosexual, so I am attracted to women. But I am
simultaneously repelled, horrified, bewitched and provoked
by them. I seek to frustrate and humiliate them...

Most narcissists I know - myself included - are misogynists.
Their sexual and emotional lives are perturbed and chaotic. They
are unable to love in any true sense of the word - nor are they
capable of developing any measure of intimacy. Lacking empathy,
they are incapable of offering to the partner emotional sustenance...

I never loved. I do not know what is it that I am missing.
Observing it from the outside, love seems to me to be a risible
pathology. But I am only guessing.

I am not angry for being unable to love. I equate love with weakness.
I hate being weak and I hate and despise weak people (and, by
implication, the very old and the very young). I do not tolerate
stupidity, disease and dependence - and love seems to encompass
all three. These are not sour grapes. I really feel this way.

I am an angry man... I am angry because I am not as powerful,
awe inspiring and successful as I wish to be and as I deserve to
be. Because my daydreams refuse so stubbornly to come true.
Because I am my worst enemy. And because, in my unmitigated
paranoia, I see adversaries plotting everywhere and feel discriminated
against and contemptuously ignored. I am angry because I know
that I am sick and that my sickness prevents me from realizing
even a small fraction of my potential."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal3.html

"Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide"
"I hate my body and neglect it. It is a nuisance, a burden,
a derided appendix, an inconvenience, a punishment.
Needless to add that I rarely have sex (often years apart).
I masturbate regularly, very mechanically, as one would
change water in an aquarium. I stay away from women because
I perceive them to be ruthless predators who are out to consume
me and mine.

I have had quite a few major life crises. I got divorced, lost
millions a few times, did time in one of the worst prisons in the
world, fled countries as a political refugee, was threatened, harassed
and stalked by powerful people and groups. I have been devalued,
betrayed, denigrated and insulted.

Invariably, following every life crisis, the somatic narcissist
in me took over. I became a lascivious lecher. When this happened,
I had a few relationships - replete with abundant and addictive sex -
going simultaneously. I participated in and initiated group sex and
mass orgies. I exercised, lost weight and honed my body into an
irresistible proposition.

This outburst of unrestrained, primordial lust waned in a few
months and I settled back into my cerebral ways. No sex, no women,
no body.

These total reversals of character stun my mates. My girlfriends
and spouse found it impossible to digest this eerie transformation
from the gregarious, darkly handsome, well-built and sexually
insatiable person that swept them off their feet - to the bodiless,
bookwormish hermit with not an inkling of interest in either
sex or other carnal pleasures."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal21.html

"The Music of my Emotions"
"To all of you who talk about change - there is nothing
I can do about myself. And there is nothing you can do
about yourself. And there is nothing anyone can do for you,
either. Psychotherapy and medications are concerned with
behaviour modification - not with healing. They are concerned
with proper adaptation because maladaptation is socially costly.
Society defends itself against misfits by lying to them. The lie is
that change and healing are possible. They are not. You are
what you are. Period. Go live with it...

We shall never meet amicably because I am a predator and
you are the prey. Because I do not know what it is like to
be you and I do not particularly care to know...

And all the love in this world, and all the crusading women
who think that they can "fix" me by doling out their saccharine
compassion and revolting "understanding" and all the support
and the holding environments and the textbooks - cannot change
one iota in this maddening, self-imposed verdict meted out by
the most insanely, obtusely, sadistically harsh judge:

By me."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal7.html

"Studying My Death"
"I used I find my body sexually arousing - its pearly whiteness,
its effeminate contours, the pleasure it yielded once stimulated.
I no longer do. All self-eroticism was buried under the gellous,
translucent, fat that is my constitution now. I hate my sweat -
this salty adhesive that clings to me relentlessly. At least my
scents are virile. Thus, I am not very attached to the vessel
that contains me. I wouldn't mind to see it go. But I resent
the farewell price - those protracted, bilious, and bloody
agonies we call 'passing away'. Afflicted by death - I wish
it only to be inflicted as painlessly and swiftly as possible.
I wish to die as I have lived - detached, oblivious, absent
minded, apathetic, and on my terms."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal35.html

"Conspicuous Existence"
"Narcissists appear to be unpleasantly deliberate. They
are somehow 'wrong', like automata gone awry. They
are too human, or too inhuman, or too modest, or too
haughty, or too loving, or too cold, or too empathic,
or too stony, or too industrious, or too casual, or too
enthusiastic, or too indifferent, or too courteous, or
too abrasive.

They are excess embodied. They act their part and their
acting shows. Their show invariably unravels at the seams
under the slightest stress. Their enthusiasm is always manic,
their emotional expression unnatural, their body language
defies their statements, their statements belie their intentions,
their intentions are focused on the one and only drug - securing
narcissistic supply from other people."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal38.html

"It Is My World"
"Look around you. Self absorption. Greed. Frivolity.
Social anxiety. Lack of empathy. Exploitation. Abuse.
These are not marginal phenomena. These are the defining
traits of the West and its denizens. The West's is a
narcissistic civilization. It upholds narcissistic values and
penalizes the alternative value-systems. From an early age,
children are taught to avoid self-criticism, to deceive
themselves regarding their capacities and achievements,
to feel entitled, to exploit others. Litigiousness is
the flip side of this inane sense of entitlement. The
disintegration of the very fabric of society is its outcome.
It is a culture of self-delusion. People adopt grandiose
fantasies, often incommensurate with their real, dreary,
lives. Consumerism is built on this common and
communal lie of 'I can do anything I want and possess
everything I desire if I only apply myself to it'."
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal37.html


"The narcissist develops circular, ad-hoc, circumstantial,
and fantastic narratives... Their role is to avoid confrontation
with (the often disappointing and disillusioning) reality...

The narcissist pays a heavy price for accommodating
his dysfunctional narratives:

Emptiness, existential loneliness (he shares no common
psychic ground with other humans), sadness, drifting,
emotional absence, emotional platitude,
mechanisation/robotisation..., meaninglessness. This fuels
his envy and the resulting rage...

The narcissist develop a "Zu Leicht – Zu Schwer"
("Too Easy – Too difficult") syndrome:

On the one hand, life is unbearably difficult. The narcissist
does have achievements which would have been judged
by anyone to be very real (not fantastic) and which could
have mitigated the perceived harshness of life. But he has
to "downgrade" them as "too easy" to achieve. The
narcissist cannot admit that he has toiled to achieve
something – this will shatter his Grandiose False Self.
He must belittle every achievement of his and make it a
matter of course, nothing special, quite routine. This is
intended to support the dreamland quality of his fragmented
personality. But it also prevents him from deriving the
psychological benefits, which usually accrue to goal attainment:
an enhancement of self-confidence, a more realistic self-assessment
of one's capabilities and abilities, a strengthening sense of self-worth.

The narcissist is doomed to roam a circular labyrinth.
When he does achieve something – he degrades it to
enhance his own sense of omnipotence. When he fails,
he dares not face reality... The narcissist whiles his life away."
( http://www.geocities.com/samvaknin/faq01.html )

"The narcissist is haunted by the feeling that he is
possessed of a mission, of a destiny, that he is part of fate,
of history. He is convinced that his uniqueness is purposeful,
that he is meant to lead, to chart new ways, to innovate,
to modernise, to reform, to set precedents, to create.
Every act of his is significant, every writing of momentous
consequences, every thought of revolutionary calibre.
He feels part of a grand design, a world plan and the frame
of affiliation, the group, of which he is a member, must
be commensurately grand. Its proportions and properties
must resonate with his. Its characteristics must justify his
and its ideology must conform to his pre-conceived opinions
and prejudices. In short: the group must magnify the narcissist,
echo and amplify his life, his views, his knowledge, his history.
This intertwining, this enmeshing of individual and group –
is what makes the narcissist the most devout and loyal of
all members. The narcissist is always the most fanatical,
the most extreme, the most dangerous. At stake is never
the preservation of his group – but his very own survival.
As with other Narcissistic Supply Sources, once the group
is no longer instrumental – the narcissist loses all interest in it,
devalues it and ignores it. In extreme cases, he might even
wish to destroy it (as a punishment or revenge for its
incompetence at securing his Narcissistic Supply).
Narcissists switch groups and ideologies with the ease
with which they change partners, spouses and value systems.
In this respect, narcissists are narcissists first and members
of their groups only in the second place."
( http://www.geocities.com/samvaknin/faq47.html )

"Ask anyone who shared a life with a narcissist, or
knew one and they are likely to sigh: "What a waste".
Waste of potential, waste of opportunities, waste
of emotions, a wasteland of arid addiction and futile pursuit.
Narcissists are as gifted as they come. The problem is
to disentangle their tales of fantastic grandiosity from
the reality of their talents and skills. They always tend
either to over-estimate or to devalue their potency.
They often emphasize the wrong traits and invest in
their mediocre or less than average capacities.
Concomitantly, they ignore their real potential,
squander their advantage and under-rate their gifts.

The narcissist decides which aspects of his self to
nurture and which to neglect. He gravitates towards
activities commensurate with his pompous auto-portrait.
He suppresses these tendencies and aptitudes in him
which don't conform to his inflated view of his uniqueness,
brilliance, might, sexual prowess, or standing in society.
He cultivates these flairs and predilections which he
regards as befitting his overweening self-image and
ultimate grandeur."
( http://www.geocities.com/samvaknin/faq3.html )

"It is no wonder that narcissists – both men
and women – are chauvinistically conservative.
They depend to such an extent on the opinions
of people around them – that, with time, they
are transformed into ultra-sensitive seismographs
of public opinion, barometers of prevailing winds
and guardians of conformity. Narcissists cannot
afford to seriously alienate those who reflect to
them their False Self. The very proper and on-going
functioning of their Ego depends on the goodwill
and the collaboration of their human environment."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq34.html )

"It is true... that many narcissists are of the
suspecting kind. Narcissism is the deformed emotional
derivative of a mysteriously dangerous, precariously
balanced, illusionary world (inhabited by the narcissist
in his mind). In such a world, the inclination to see
enemies everywhere, to guard against them and to
imagine the worst is almost adaptive and functional...
But the narcissist is not truly a paranoiac...

The partner [of a narcissist] would tend to play the
missing parent or, more often, the "psychologist" in
the relationship... This presumption of superiority [by
the partner] is... analgesic. The partner is permanently
enmeshed in a battle to prove [himself]... worthwhile. To
restore [a] shattered sense of security and self-esteem,
the partner must resort to narcissistic techniques.
[This] phenomenon of "NARCISSISTIC MIRRORING"...
happens because the narcissist succeeds in turning himself
into a (preferred) frame of reference, the axis around which
all judgements revolve, the fountain of common sense and
prevailing logic, the source of all knowledge and an authority
on everything of import...

A narcissist’s partner wrote to me these heartbreaking words:

"I have made him sound like a monster, and in many
ways he really is. At the same time, I have always seen
a vulnerability in him, the small terrified hungry child
(almost split-off from the rest of him) and I suppose
this is why I tried so hard with him. I knew, almost
intuitively, that while his (false) Ego was constantly
swelling, his heart (True Ego) was starving…

I tried as hard as I could, in as many ways as I
could, to feed the real person inside (and I believed
there was a fragment of that person still alive,
represented by the child). In a way, I think the
violence of his reactions near the end was due
to my coming so close, in arousing those ordinary
needs. When he realised he has become dependent
on me, and that I knew it, I think he just couldn't
take it. He could not finally take the chance of
trusting me.

It was an orgy of destruction. I keep thinking I
could have handled it better, could and should
have done things differently. Maybe it wouldn't
have made any difference, but I will say that
there was a real person in there somewhere,
and a quite delightful one.

But as you pointed out, the narcissist would
always prefer his invented self to the true one.
I could not make him see that his real self was
far more interesting and enchanting than his
grotesque inflated grandiose superman construct.
I think it is a tragic loss of a truly interesting
and talented human being."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq26to27.html )


[T]here is a weak correlation between the narcissist's
behaviour and his professed or proclaimed emotions.
The reason is that the latter are merely professed or
proclaimed – but not felt. The narcissist fakes feelings
and their outer expression in order to impress others...
In this – as in many other simulated behaviour patterns –
the narcissist seeks to manipulate his human environment.
Inside, he is barren, devoid of any inkling of true feeling,
even mocking. He looks down upon those who succumb
to the weakness of experiencing emotions and holds them
in contempt... [This] mechanism of "Simulated Affect"...
lies at the core of the narcissist's inability to empathise
with his fellow human beings.

The narcissist constantly lies to himself and to others. He
defensively self-deludes, distorts facts and circumstances,
provides comfortable (consonant) interpretations – all
so as to preserve his delusions of grandeur and feelings
of (unmerited) self-importance. This is the mechanism
of the "Sliding of Meanings". This mechanism is part
of the much larger set of Emotional Involvement Prevention
Measures... intended to prevent the narcissist from getting
emotionally involved or committed. This way the
narcissist insures himself against getting hurt
and abandoned, or so he erroneously believes. In actuality,
these mechanisms are self-defeating and lead directly to
the results they were intended to forestall."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq41.html )

"There is no possibility to have any real, meaningful,
or lasting emotional relationship with the narcissist –
until his primitive defence mechanisms are discarded.
Dysfunctional interpersonal relationships are one of
the diagnostic criteria of most personality disorders.
So, the right order of healing is:
1. Cut the narcissist from his sources of supply
and thus precipitate a narcissistic crisis or injury;
2. Utilize the window of opportunity to treat the
narcissist, to help him mature emotionally;
3. Encourage him in his emotional, self forming
baby steps.

'Emotional' connections which appear to co-exist
with the narcissistic defence mechanisms are part
of the narcissistic theatrical repertoire, fake and doomed."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq74.html )

"Narcissists are not gregarious... Of course
narcissists love to have an audience. But they
love an audience only because and as long as
it provides them with narcissistic supply. Otherwise,
they are not interested in human beings (they lack
empathy which makes other humans much less
fascinating than they are to empathic people).

Narcissists are terrified of introspection. I am not
referring to intellectualization or rationalization or
simple application of their intelligence – this would
not constitute introspection. Proper introspection
must include an emotional element, an insight and the
ability to emotionally integrate the insight so that it
affects behavior... Narcissists do engage in real
introspection following a life crisis, though. They
attend therapy at such time...

Narcissists VERY rarely commit suicide. It runs against
the grain. They have suicidal ideation and reactive
psychoses under severe stress – but to commit suicide
runs against the grain of narcissism."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq72.html )

"One cannot exaggerate the importance of envy
as a motivating power in the narcissist's life...
The suppression of envy is at the CORE of the
narcissist's being. If he fails to convince his self that
he is the ONLY good object in the universe – he is
exposed to his own murderous envy. If there are
others out there who are better than he – he envies
them, he lashes out at them ferociously, uncontrollably,
madly, hatefully and spitefully. If someone tries to get
emotionally intimate with the narcissist – [he] threatens
the grandiose belief that no one but the narcissist can
possess the good object (the narcissist himself). Only
the narcissist can own himself, have access to himself,
possess himself. This is the only way to avoid seething
envy and certain self-annihilation. Perhaps it is clearer
now why narcissists react as raving madmen to ANYTHING,
however minute, however remote that seems to threaten
their grandiose fantasies, the only protective barrier
between themselves and their envy."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq67.html )

"The narcissist is dead serious about himself. He
may possess a fabulous sense of humour, scathing
and cynical. But he never appreciates it when this
weapon is directed at him. The narcissist regards himself
as being on a constant mission, whose importance is
cosmic and whose consequences are global. If a scientist –
he is always in the throes of revolutionising science.
If a journalist – he is in the middle of the greatest story
ever. This self-misperception is not amenable to light-headedness
or self-deprecation. The narcissist is easily hurt and insulted
(Narcissist Hurt or Narcissistic Injury). Even the most
innocuous remarks or acts are interpreted by him as
belittling, intruding, or coercive. His time is more valuable
than others' – therefore, it cannot be wasted on unimportant
matters such as social intercourse. Any suggestion to help,
any advice or concerned inquiry are immediately interpreted
as coercion...

[T]he lack of empathy, the aloofness, the disdain
and sense of entitlement, the restricted application of
his sense of humour, the unequal treatment and paranoia –
make the narcissist a social misfit. The narcissist is able
to provoke in his social milieu, in his casual acquaintances,
even in his psychotherapist, the strongest, most avid
and furious hatred and revulsion. He provokes violence,
often not knowing why. He is perceived to be asocial at
best (often – antisocial). This, perhaps, is the strongest
presenting symptom. One feels ill at ease in the presence
of a narcissist – and rarely knows why. No matter how
charming, intelligent, thought provoking, outgoing, easy
going and social the narcissist is – he forever fails to secure
the sympathy of his fellow humans, a sympathy he is never
ready, willing, or able to grant them in the first place."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq58.html )

"Very few people deserve the kind of investment
that is an absolute prerequisite to living with a narcissist.
To cope with a narcissist is a full time, energy and
emotion-draining job, which reduces the persons around
the narcissist to insecure nervous wrecks. Who deserves
such a sacrifice?

No one, to my mind, not even the most brilliant,
charming, breathtaking, suave narcissist. The
glamour and trickery wear thin and underneath them
a monster lurks which sucks the affect, distorts
the cognition and irreversibly influences the lives
of those around it for the worse....

Narcissists are incorrigibly and notoriously difficult to
change. Trying to change them is a bad strategy. The two
viable strategies are either to accept them as they are or
to avoid them altogether. If one accepts a narcissist as
he is – one should cater to his needs. His needs are part
of what he is. Would you have ignored a physical handicap?
Would you not have assisted a quadriplegic? The narcissist
is an emotional invalid. He needs constant adulation. He
cannot help it. So, if one chooses to accept him – it is a
package deal, all his needs included."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq4.html )

"Question:

What is the reaction of a Narcissist likely to be
when confronted with your text?

Answer:

It takes a major life crisis to force the narcissist
to face his false self...

When at risk of getting in touch with the reality of
being mentally disturbed (and, as a result, with his
emotions) – the narcissist displays the whole spectrum
of emotional reactions usually associated with bereavement.
At first he denies the facts, ignores them and distorts
them to fit an alternative, coherent, non-narcissistic,
interpretation.

Then, he becomes enraged...

But in most cases, the reflexes of avoidance prevail.
The narcissist  feels disenchanted with the person
or persons who presented him with proof of his
narcissism. He disconnects – swiftly and cruelly –
and parts ways with them, often without as much as
an explanation (same as he would when he envies
someone)."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq7to9.html )

"Narcissists are either cerebral or somatic.  In other words,
they either generate their narcissistic supply by applying
their bodies or by applying their minds.

The somatic narcissist flaunts his sexual conquests,
parades his possessions, exhibits his muscles, brags
about his physical aesthetics or sexual prowess or
exploits, is often a health freak and a hypochondriac.
The cerebral narcissist is a know-it-all, haughty and
intelligent "computer".  He uses his awesome intellect,
or knowledge (real or pretended) to secure adoration,
adulation and admiration.  To him, his body and its
maintenance are a burden and a distraction.

Both types are auto-erotic (psychosexually in love
with themselves, with their bodies and with their brain).
Both types prefer masturbation to adult, mature,
interactive, multi-dimensional and emotion-laden sex.

The cerebral narcissist is often celibate (even when
he has a girlfriend or a spouse).  He prefers pornography
and sexual auto-stimulation to the real thing.  The cerebral
narcissist is sometimes a latent (hidden, not yet outed)
homosexual."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq60.html )

"The narcissist perceives every disagreement – let alone
criticism – as nothing short of a THREAT. He reacts
defensively. He becomes indignant, aggressive and cold.
He detaches emotionally for fear of yet another (narcissistic)
injury. He devalues the person who made the disparaging
remark. By holding the critic in contempt, by diminishing
the stature of the discordant conversant – he minimizes
the impact on himself of the disagreement or criticism.
Like a trapped animal, the narcissist is forever on the
lookout: was this remark meant to demean him? Was
this sentence a deliberate attack? Gradually, his mind
turns into a chaotic battlefield of paranoia and ideas
of reference until he loses touch with reality and
retreats to his own world of fantasized grandiosity.

When the disagreement or criticism or disapproval
or approbation are PUBLIC, though – the narcissist
tends to regard them as Narcissistic Supply! Only
when they are expressed in private – does the
narcissist rage against them.

The cerebral narcissist is competitive and intolerant
of criticism or disagreement. To him, subjugation and
subordination demand the establishment of his
undisputed intellectual superiority or professional
authority. Alexander Lowen has an excellent exposition
of this "hidden or tacit competition". The cerebral
narcissist aspires to perfection. Thus, even the slightest
and most inconsequential challenge to his authority is
inflated by him. Hence, the disproportionateness of
his reactions."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq73.html )

"The narcissist always feels bad. He experiences
all manner of depressive episodes and lesser
dysphoric moods. He goes through a full panoply
of mood disorders and anxiety disorders. He
experiences panic from time to time. It is not
pleasant to be a narcissist.

But he has a diminished capacity to empathise, so
he rarely feels sorry for what he does. He almost
never puts himself in the shoes of his "victims". Sure,
he feels distressed because he is intelligent enough to
realise that something is wrong with him in a major way.
He compares himself to others and the outcome is
never favourable. His grandiosity is one of the defence
mechanisms that he uses to cover up for this disagreeable
state of things. But its efficacy is partial and intermittent.
The rest of the time, the narcissist is immersed in
self-loathing and self-pity. He is under duress and
distress most of his waking life. In a vague way, he is
also sorry for those upon whom he inflicts the consequences
of his personality disorder. He knows that they are not
happy and he understands that it has something to do
with him. Mostly, he uses even this to aggrandise himself:
poor things, they can never fully understand him, they
are so inferior."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq14.html )

"In many respects, narcissists are children. Like children,
they engage in magical thinking. They feel omnipotent.
They feel that there is nothing they couldn't do or achieve
had they only really wanted to. They feel omniscient –
they rarely admit that there is anything that they do not
know. They believe that all knowledge resides within them.
They are haughtily convinced that introspection is a more
important and more efficient (not to mention easier to
accomplish) method of obtaining knowledge than the
systematic study of outside sources of information in
accordance with strict (read: tedious) curricula. To some
extent, they believe that they are omnipresent because they
are either famous or about to become famous. Deeply
immersed in their delusions of grandeur, they firmly believe
that their acts have – or will have – a great influence on mankind,
on their firm, on their country, on others..."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq45.html )

"Consider "friendship' with a narcissist as an example of
a relationship. One cannot really get to know a Narcissist
"friend". One cannot be friends with a Narcissist and
ESPECIALLY – one cannot love a Narcissist. Narcissists
are addicts. They are no different to drug addicts. They
are in pursuit of gratification through the drug known as
"narcissistic supply". Everything and EVERYONE around
them is an object, a potential source (to be idealized) or
not (and, then to be cruelly discarded)...

[W]hen the narcissist teams up with another narcissist of a
different kind (somatic with cerebral or the reverse)...
[n]arcissists can be happily married to submissive, subservient,
self-deprecating, echoing, mirroring and indiscriminately
supportive spouses. They also do well with masochists.
But it is difficult to imagine that a healthy, normal person
would be happy in such a folie-a-deux ("madness in twosome").

It is also difficult to imagine a benign and sustained influence
on the narcissist of a stable, healthy mate/spouse/partner...

BUT many a spouse/friend/mate/partner likes to BELIEVE
that – given sufficient time and patience – they will be the
one to release the narcissist from his wrenching bondage.
They think that they can "rescue" the narcissist, shield
him from his (distorted) self, as it were. The Narcissist
makes use of this naiveté and exploits it to his benefit.
The natural protective mechanisms, which are provoked
in normal people by love – are cold bloodedly used by
the narcissist to extract yet more narcissistic supply
from his writhing victim."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq80.html )

"The break-up of a relationship with a Narcissist is...
more emotionally charged than usual... It is the rebellion
of the functioning and healthy parts of the partner's
personality against the tyranny of the Narcissist.

The partner is bound to have totally misread and
misinterpreted the whole interaction (I hesitate to
call it a relationship, usually there was none but in
the aspirations and the hopes of the partner)...

Why is it that the partner seeks to prolong his pain?
What is the source and purpose of this masochistic
streak? In all likelihood, the partner is an inverted
Narcissist, a suppressed one, or a latent one – in the
limited sense that his psychological make-up and
formation are identical to those of the Narcissist.
This deep-rooted, deep-seated identity fosters the
frequent folie-a-deux which is the Narcissistic couple."
( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq6.html )

-----------------------------------------------

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/630

Words to Ponder From M. Scott Peck (_A World Waiting to Be Born_):

As Martin Buber suggested, narcissists are incapable of I-Thou
relationships. Some narcissists do recognize other people as being
different, but as soon as this recognition occurs, the other becomes
one of "them" -- the enemy. Thus they have what have come to be called
"I-Them" or "We-Them" relationships. It is an `either you're totally
with me or else you're against me" kind of psychology. Sometimes
narcissists seem unable to recognize the "personhood" of other people.
For them, others exist only to be used, as if they were merely
mechanical tools or unfeeling pieces of property. These are what
Buber referred to as "I-It" relationships. Finally, narcissists
often seem unable to recognize the difference between themselves
and others at all. They solely have what are now named I-I
relationships, where they relate only to themselves. It may seem
bizarre for someone to be incapable of recognizing others, but
unfortunately, the condition is not uncommon.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive1.html

5. Epidemiology of Narcissism

The figures seem to indicate that a minimum of 1% (probably 3% and
perhaps up to 5%) of the population above the age of 10 are narcissists.
Now, factor in the parents, spouses, colleagues, friends, children, the
children's families...

This is the biggest underdiagnosed mental health pathology ever. Many
researchers also believe that all Cluster B personality disorders
(Histrionic, Antisocial, and Borderline) have an underlying foundation
of pathological narcissism. This is getting close to 10% of the adult
population. Staggering numbers.

7. Loving a Narcissist

I believe in the possibility of loving narcissists if one accepts them
unconditionally, in a disillusioned and expectation-free manner.
Narcissists are narcissists. This is what they are. Take them or leave
them. Some of them are lovable. Most of them are highly charming and
intelligent. The source of the misery of the victims of the narcissist
is their disappointment, their disillusionment, their abrupt and tearing
and tearful realization that they fell in love with an ideal of their
own invention, a phantasm, an illusion, a fata morgana. This "waking up"
is traumatic. The narcissist is forever the same. It is the victim who
changes.

It is true that narcissists present a facade in order to generate
sources of narcissistic supply. But this facade is easy to penetrate
because it is inconsistent. The cracks are evident from day one but
often ignored. And what about all those who KNOWINGLY and WILLINGLY
commit their wings to the burning narcissistic candle?

I, personally, always inform and warn other people that I am a
Narcissist. Yet it never seemed to have dissuaded even one fervent lady
from pursuing me (or, rather, my False Self). It did not deter one
businessman from doing business with me. Frankly, it did not deter you
from joining my list. Why is this? Because, having been forewarned,
perhaps you stand to benefit without suffering. And, most probably, you
do. But perhaps it is the irresistible attraction we all have to the
"other", the "different" and, as a result, the "risky".

16. The vocations of Narcissists

I think we are likely (or liable .. ) to find a concentration of
narcissists in the media, in show business, in politics, and in academe.
Did you notice how these people - literally and physically - wither away
when out of touch with their sources of narcissistic supply, with their
audience?

"Narcissistic Supply" - adulation, admiration, approval, applause,
attention, fame, celebrity, notoriety ... in short: feedback - positive
OR negative - from people. The narcissist thus sees his "False Self" -
the image that he projects to others - reflected. This way he feels
assured of his very own existence.

-----------------------------------------------

From http://samvak.tripod.com/archive02.html :

6. Narcissists have Tables of Emotional Resonance

Narcissists are excellent at imitating emotions. They maintain
(sometimes consciously) "resonance tables" in their minds. They monitor
the reactions of others.

They see which behavior, gesture, mannerism, phrase, or expression
evoke, provoke, and elicit which kind of empathic reaction from their
conversant or counter party. They map these correlations and store them.
Then they download them in the right circumstances to obtain maximum
impact and manipulative effect. The whole process is highly
"computerized" and has NO emotional correlate, no INNER resonance. The
Narcissist uses procedures: this is what I should say now, this is how
I must behave, this should be the expression on my face, this should be
the pressure of this handshake to foster this reaction. Narcissists are
capable of sentimentality - but not of (experiencing) emotions.

9. Narcissism's Gifts to Humanity

Narcissism is an awesomely powerful drive, force, compulsion. I know
that when I get the urge to impress someone there is VERY little I won't
do. It gets you places, though. Narcissism may be responsible for many
scientific, literary, artistic and political achievements.

A wise person, whom I hold in high respect (not idealizing, just
respecting) once made two pertinent (I think) observations:

(1) That perhaps narcissism is bad for the individual but good for the
community.

(2) That acts of self destruction may actually be acts of liberation
from unwanted situations in life.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive03.html

2. Personal Anecdote

Just to show you how all-pervasive narcissism is and how ill-affected it
is by insight:

Yesterday I downloaded all the messages posted to the list.

Being a narcissist, I was under the impression that I am THE main
contributor (quantitatively). I expected to find that 600-700 of the
1200 messages we all exchanged over the past three months to have either
originated from me or included me as a correspondent.

I am a VERY self-aware narcissist. I have VERY deep insights regarding
my condition. I can identify every twist and turn of my disorder. I
thought that I was immune to narcissistic excesses of grandiosity.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that less than 170 of the messages
"met my criteria". ALL the other 1050 messages HAD NOTHING TO DO with
ME. I was not a part of them, nor were they originated by me.

See what I mean by "incurable"?

4. Significant Others, Significant Roles

I have no interest in intellectual stimulation by significant others (it
is perceived by me as a threat). Significant others have very clear
roles: accumulation and dispensation of past primary narcissistic
supply in order to regulate current NS. Nothing less but definitely
nothing more. Proximity and intimacy breed contempt for reasons that I
elucidate in my work. A process of devaluation is always in full
operation.

All the above and a passive witness to my past grandiosity, a dispenser
of accumulated NS, a punching bag for my rages, a co-dependent, a
possession (though not prized but taken for granted) and much more.
Being my partner is an ungrateful, FULL TIME, draining job.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive07.html

1. Can Narcissists be Cured?

Narcissists can rarely be cured. A fact. In the early 1980's therapists
thought otherwise (Lowen, 1983). They were wrong. Now we have
epidemiology and statistics. Therapists have been fooled by smart
narcissists and most narcissists are smart and chameleon- or Zelig-like,
so they learn how to deceive the therapist. You can see it very often in
prison.

Why fight windmills? As in Judo, I use my weaknesses and the enemy's
strengths against it.

I am saying: "I have tendencies that hurt people. Very bad. I will find
ways to use these very tendencies to help people. Very good".

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive08.html

7. The Human Machine

Never declare a victory over a narcissist. Like that legendary phoenix,
they keep springing from the ashes of their immolated arguments,
strengthened and reinvigorated.

To know what is an NPD - does not take an NPD, only an erudite
psychotherapist. Or the right computer software. Humans are pretty basic
machines. Feed the right texts to any intelligent agent, he will be able
to predict human behaviour pretty well. This is ESPECIALLY true of PDs.
They are even more basic than normal people. Their personalities are on
a lower level of organization. Their reactions are rigid, boringly
predictable. Normal people are much more varied, unpredictable and
interesting.

8. Conscience

Narcissists can - and have - discussed conscience. Same way as a blind
man can discuss colour, I guess ... Freud seems to have been a
narcissist. In any case, there can be no "authority" about conscience
because it is a figment of our private language. We can judge only
derivative behaviors, not underlying emotions. We cannot communicate our
inner world. We can only discuss, analyze and dissect only the language
that we use to discuss our inner world.

I grant you that maybe you behave morally. That does not make you a
conscientious person. I can decide to behave morally for the rest of my
life - and not have an ounce of conscience. As, in this group, I am
empathic and helpful (to the best of my ability), patient and accepting
- but I am devoid of empathy.

Behavior can be simulated. We cannot infer about inner truths from outer
ones. This is why "mens rea" (a criminal motive) is so difficult to
establish and the courts prefer to go by one's actions and
circumstances.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive10.html

1. The Exposure of the Narcissist

The exposure of the False Self for what it is - False - is a major
narcissistic injury. The narcissist is likely to react with severe
self-deprecation and self-flagellation even to the point of suicidal
ideation. This - on the inside. On the outside, he is likely to react
aggressively. This is his way of channeling life-threatening aggression.

Rather than endure its assault and its frightening outcomes - he
redirects the aggression, transforms it and hurls it at others.

What form his aggression assumes is nigh impossible to predict without
knowing the narcissist in question intimately. It could be anything from
cynical humour, through cruel honesty, verbal abuse, passive aggressive
behaviours (frustrating others), and to actual physical violence. I
would consider it unwise to leave a child alone with him in such a
condition.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive12.html :

8. The Narcissist - a Gift to Humanity

The narcissist is a gift to humanity. His life carries a cosmic
significance. His achievements are never less than earth shattering or
paradigm shifting. His intelligence is forever penetrating and superior.

People around him are always pathologically deficient or simply refuse.
Everything and everyone should succumb to his demands. His special
rights are self proclaiming. His very existence is sufficient warrant.
He is entitled by his very being. She who wants more from him is either
mentally sick or mentally retarded for being unable to grasp all the
above.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive14.html

8. Narcissism and Genetics

There is a lot of research that shows that the brain - plastic as it is
- reacts structurally and (dys-)functionally to abuse and trauma. The
brain seems to retain an astounding level of plasticity well into
adulthood and this would tend to explain why talk therapy works (when it
does).

Large scale experimentation or surveys have been conducted in relation
to many personality disorders (Borderline and Schizotypal, to mention
but two). Hereditary components have been clearly demonstrated in some
PDs (example: there are significantly more schizophrenics in families of
schizotypal PDs than in control group families, or families of other
PDs).

Brain structural differences have been demonstrated in other PD's
(Borderline). Only NPD went almost un-researched. Not only because it is
a relatively new mental health category (1980) - schizotypal and ADHD,
for instance, are even newer. The reason seems to be that therapists and
researchers simply hate working with narcissists and their (usually
narcissistic) parents, etc. The narcissist makes the therapist's life a
living hell. But, then, what is new?

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive26.html

9. Going to Therapy

There is no way to convince anyone to go to therapy - nor is there a
point in doing so.

The decision to seek help must be the result of insight (often brought
on by crisis and ego dystony, of "feeling bad"). It must be the eruption
of the will to live FULLY.

You cannot provoke it in anyone and it is not a function of how much you
love someone, devote and dedicate yourself to him.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive27.html

3. Love

If reciprocated - it is love.

If not reciprocated - it is a torment.

If you persist in loving someone even after he humiliates you, refuses
you, rejects you - then you do not love him.

You objectify him. Your "loved one" becomes the object of your "love".

By ignoring HIS emotions, his statements, his preferences - you
dehumanize him, you reduce him to little more than a trigger for your
transferences and mental disorders.

Such "love" is a cruel, ugly, repulsive, and dehumanizing experience.

Because it ignores the "loved one" completely.

He/she does not exist but as a two dimensional notation.

This is narcissism at its worst: the abstraction of the other.

Never mind what the "loved one" says, it will not sway the "lover".

This proves that the "loved one" does not really exist, as far as the
"lover" is concerned.

Because had he or she existed, the "lover" would have respected their
fervent wish not to be loved, not to be imposed upon, not to become an
instrument for the satisfaction of the "lover's" needs.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive33.html

4. Narcissistic Vulnerability

The Narcissist is vulnerable because:

(1) He is an alien. Lacking empathy, he does not know what it means to
be human. He misinterprets human behaviour. He misattributes motives. He
over-reacts, he under-reacts. He reads cues wrongly. He is emotionally
illiterate. His personality is so primitive that he often develops
"superstitions" - where others have a cognitive science gleaned from
cumulative interactions with others.

(2) Paranoids are very susceptible to persecutory delusions. To be
untrusting - also means not to trust when it is called for. To be wary
and on guard - also means to be confined and imprisoned in one's mind.
Every rumour is a threat, every gossip a reality, every hint - an
inevitability.

(3) The narcissist suffers from cognitive distortions. He does not grasp
reality because he lives in a grandiose fantasy and he IS his FALSE
Self. In dreamworld - EVERYTHING is possible and nothing is IMPOSSIBLE.
This make it very easy to "sell" the narcissist on anything. In a
strange way, the narcissist is naive.

(4) The Narcissist is a drug addict. Drug addicts are easy to
manipulate: they will do anything for the next dose. Give them
Narcissistic Supply - and they are yours to do with as you wish.

There are gradations and shades of narcissism. There is reactive
narcissism, temporary narcissism (Gunderson-Roningstam, 1996),
narcissistic personality, narcissistic traits, narcissistic overlay
(i.e., together with another, dominant PD), co-morbidity, and full blown
NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

The differences are explored elsewhere in this , web site, in my FAQs
and in my Excerpts pages.

BUT - my advice to you is to stay away from ALL variations and shades of
narcissism. There are three reasons:

(1) Often, there are transitions between the narcissistic modes (for
instance, from narcissistic personality to NPD). This has to do with
life circumstances (example: narcissistic injury). Regressions and
remissions are VERY common (Hare, Millon).

(2) Narcissists are very adept at disguising their REAL condition, even
from trained observers.

(3) Even "low level" narcissistic behaviours can inflict huge emotional
damage if properly targeted, advertently or not.

-----------------------------------------------

http://samvak.tripod.com/archive34.html

3. The Forms of Abuse

To be raised as the centre of attention and as the "special one" is to
be abused.

The burden of expectations, being taken for granted, the fear to
disappoint, the feeling that one is merely an object (of adulation, in
this case), an instrument to fulfil other people's dreams, an extension
of one's parents - this is the highest, most subtly refined, stealthily
pernicious form of abuse.

-----------------------------------------------

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/261

I always think of myself as a machine. I say to myself things
like "you have an amazing brain" or "you are not functioning today,
your efficiency is low". I measure things, I constantly compare
performance. I am acutely aware of time and how it is utilized. There
is a meter in my head, it ticks and tocks, a metronome of self-
reproach and grandiose assertions. I talk to myself in third person
singular. It lends objectivity to what I think, as though it comes
from an external source, from someone else. That low is my self-
esteem that, to be trusted, I have to disguise myself, to hide myself
from myself. It is the pernicious and all-pervasive art of unbeing.

I like to think about myself in terms of automata. There is something
so aesthetically compelling in their precision, in their
impartiality, in their harmonious embodiment of the abstract.
Machines are so powerful and so emotionless, not prone to be hurting
weaklings like me. Machines don't bleed. Often I find myself
agonizing over the destruction of a laptop in a movie, as its owner
is blown to smithereens as well. Machines are my folk and kin. They
are my family. They allow me the tranquil luxury of unbeing...

Narcissism is ridiculous. I am pompous, grandiose, repulsive and
contradictory. There is a serious mismatch between who I really am
and what I really achieved - and how I feel myself to be. It is not
that I THINK that I am far superior to other humans intellectually.
Thought implies volition - and willpower is not involved here. My
superiority is ingrained in me, it is a part of my every mental cell,
an all-pervasive sensation, an instinct and a drive. I feel that I am
entitled to special treatment and outstanding consideration because I
am such a unique specimen. I know this to be true - the same way you
know that you are surrounded by air. It is an integral part of my
identity. More integral to me than my body.

This opens a gap - rather, an abyss - between me and other humans.
Because I consider myself so special, I have no way of knowing how it
is to be THEM.

In other words, I cannot empathize. Can you empathize with an ant?
Empathy implies identity or equality, both abhorrent to me. And being
so inferior, people are reduced to cartoonish, two-dimensional
representations of functions. They become instrumental or useful or
functional or entertaining - rather than loving or interacting
emotionally. It leads to ruthlessness and exploitativeness. I am not
a bad person - actually, I am a good person. I have helped people -
many people - all my life. So, I am not evil. What I am is
indifferent. I couldn't care less. I help people because it is a way
to secure attention, gratitude, adulation and admiration. And because
it is the fastest and surest way to get rid of them and their
incessant nagging...

-----------------------------------------------

http://www.healthyplace.com/communities/personality_disorders/Site/Transcripts/narcissism.htm

The narcissist feels that his life is meaningful as long as his
self-deception holds. But when a narcissistic injury occurs (following
the loss of a major source of narcissistic supply, for instance), the
narcissist is faced with the void that is his life: the empty, dark, all
consuming black hole that is at the core of his emotional apparatus.
Life without emotions is artificial intelligence. No wonder the
narcissist compares himself constantly to computers and other automata.

-----------------------------------------------

http://www.drirene.com/5_nar.htm

NOTHING is more hated by a narcissist than this sentence, "I Love You".
It evokes in the narcissist almost primordial reactions. It provokes him
to uncontrollable rage... The Narcissist believes that he is ONE of a
kind. To say to him "I love you", means to negate this feeling,
to try to drag him to the lowest common denominator, to threaten his
sense of uniqueness. After all, everyone is capable of loving and
everyone, even the basest human being actually loves. To the narcissist
it is an ANIMAL trait - exactly like sex.

The Narcissist knows that he is a con artist, a fraud, an elaborate
hoax, a script, hollow and really non-existent. The person who loves
a narcissist is either lying (after all, what is there to love in a
narcissist) - or a dependent creature, blind and imbecile, unable to
discern the truth. The narcissist cannot tolerate the thought that he
selected a liar or an idiot for a mate. Indirectly, a declaration of
love is a devastating critique of the narcissist's own powers of
judgment.

The narcissist hates love - however and wherever it is manifested....
Seething envy, boiling rage and violent thoughts is the flammable
concoction that floods the narcissist's brain whenever he
sees other people happy.

Many people naively believe that they can cure the narcissist by
flooding him with love, acceptance, compassion and empathy
This is not supported by reality and research. The only way an NPD can
heal is if he experiences a severe narcissistic injury,
a LIFE crisis. Forced to shed his malfunctioning defenses - a window of
vulnerability is formed through which therapeutic
intervention can try and sneak in. This window is very brief.

-----------------------------------------------

http://www.drirene.com/13_nar.htm

One bit of good news: no one knows why, but, in certain, rare, cases,
with age (in one's forties), the disorder seems to decay and, finally,
stay on in the form of a subdued mutation of itself.
This does not universally occur, though...

-----------------------------------------------

http://my.webmd.com/content/asset/chat_transcript.522878

Moderator: What does it take for someone with NPD to realize he or she
has a problem?

Speaker: An unmitigated, global, all pervasive, all encompassing,
cataclysmic, apocalyptic life crisis.

Mine comprised a divorce, jail, a bankruptcy (I was a millionaire),
infamy (I was rather famous), a life threatening disease... Only
then did I come to realize that something was wrong with ME.

I reluctantly agreed to attend some therapy sessions (part of my parole
conditions). And, now, 4 years later, I have completed full regression
and I am worse than I ever was.

...

Moderator: Obviously, you went through counseling to deal with NPD....
Is this the standard method of treatment?

Speaker: I did NOT. I attended a few sessions and I tried to over-power
the psychologist.

I tried to demonstrate my superiority. I tried to co-opt him. When this
failed, I left.

BUT NPD is treated by psychodynamic therapies. The prognosis is so-so.
The older the person, the better the chances of spontaneous recovery
as younger people are still zestful. They have not been tamed by life.
They have more pomp than circumstance.

Medication is very rarely applied (for instance, to treat secondary
dysphorias - depression). NPD CANNOT be treated by medication, as
it has no known biochemical roots.

bambi said...

I don't agree that interest in speculative technologies implies revenge fantasies, support for eugenics, or other horrors. It does seem plausible that people who are "coo coo bananas" in one way are more likely than average to be "coo coo bananas" in other ways, but that's also true of extreme communists, extreme religious fundamentalists, or extreme anythingists.

I do agree that it's irritating and distracting to have policy discussions about practical technological efforts of the present (curing AIDS, purifying water, etc) derailed by advocates of low-probability technical development paths.

I believe that if artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and so on do actually become important parts of reality, they will arise naturally and incrementally as part of normal scientific and technological development.

Dale Carrico said...

bambi: I don't agree that interest in speculative technologies implies revenge fantasies, support for eugenics, or other horrors.

The actual quote in the piece above to which you are "disagreeing" is much much more specific and qualified than you may realize. Read it again:

[W]hile I definitely do not mean to attribute this particular attitude to the editorialist "Reason," I will say that part of what makes me nervous in reading arguments like his is that I know how often the assumption of a vantage of one indifference to worldly complexities coupled with two a pining for personal transcendence and an three an evangelical fervor to be part of a movement that "sweeps the world" is to embark on a puritanical rampage of revenge against the vulnerability and variety of life as it is lived in its diversity, a frankly infantile and finally doomed (but no less dangerous for that) existential revolt against the perceived threat of too uncontrollably delicate and too unpredictably diverse worldly human lifeways in what amounts to a hostile and hysterical authoritarian rage for control and for order."

I've bolded a key qualification of a claim you seem to be objecting to as too sweeping, and added numbers to highlight how specific the claim you are objecting to as too glib really actually was.

I am more careful in delineating these worrisome but far from universal or inevitable tendencies than you may be giving me credit for.

And it remains the claim that precedes it that is the one I assert more forcefully (and still cheerfully stand behind as such):

"To lose sight of the value of lives as they are actually lived is not the courageous affirmation of life the Techno-Immortalist sometimes try to sell it as... but to affirm what amounts to a falsifying idealization of a 'life' that actually denigrates those lives actually lived in the world."

The point is not to put words in people's mouths but to discern argumentative entailments, historical contexts, discursive fellow-travelers here. Although this sort of move apparently seems nefarious to many of my readers notice that it is just as likely that I would delineate these connections precisely because I think a technophilic reader would abhor eugenics and so would want to be especially on the lookout for ways in which careless formulations might enlist their participation in forces they disapprove of, rather than because I assume some sinister evil cabal of eugenicists trying to stealthily impose some cherished authoritarian order on the rest of us.

I think far more facile techno-utopians are bamboozling others out of their own carelessness and bamboozlement, than because they are secretly eeeeeeeeevil, mwa ha ha ha ha ha! I don't agree that it is really that hard to see from my writing that this is my attitude on the matter.

bambi said...

I think far more facile techno-utopians are bamboozling others out of their own carelessness and bamboozlement, than because they are secretly eeeeeeeeevil, mwa ha ha ha ha ha! I don't agree that it is really that hard to see from my writing that this is my attitude on the matter.

I was actually referring to a different section of this post's commentary, but it isn't that important. In a more general context, I have interpreted your frequent similar comments as accusations of eeeeeevil intent, and, further, that repeated claims of dime-thin differences between transhumanists on these points would imply that those accusations apply quite broadly.

I'm willing to admit to being an idiot for drawing such conclusions, and additionally too thin-skinned, and leave it at that.

Dale Carrico said...

And here I was trying to be nice.

jfehlinger said...

bambi wrote:

> I was actually referring to a different section of this post's
> commentary, but it isn't that important. In a more general context,
> I have interpreted your frequent similar comments as accusations
> of eeeeeevil intent, and, further, that repeated claims of
> dime-thin differences between transhumanists on these points
> would imply that those accusations apply quite broadly.

Well, if you were referring to my comment (which immediately
preceded your first comment), then I'd add that **intent** doesn't
necessarily come into it.

Sam Vaknin (the Web's most prolific -- though not universally appreciated --
commentator on Narcissistic Personality Disorder) says

"[N]arcissists. . . lack the intention to cause harm. They are
simply indifferent, callous and careless in their conduct and in their
treatment of their fellow humans."
http://www.narcissisticabuse.com/evil.html

Or, as T. S. Eliot put it in "The Cocktail Party":

"Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people
who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm — but
the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it,
or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless
struggle to think well of themselves."

Whether or not the term "evil" is justified here is also
debatable. Vaknin says no:

"Narcissists should be regarded as a force of nature or an accident
waiting to happen."
http://thepsychopath.freeforums.org/dr-vaknin-weekly-case-study-lauren-t7456.html

On the other hand, the Christian psychiatrist M. Scott Peck
characterizes such folks (that is, people who sound like those whom
Vaknin would describe as conforming to the pattern of NPD)
as the very **essence** of evil, in _People of the Lie_
http://www.amazon.com/People-Lie-Hope-Healing-Human/dp/0684848597

Not all the people caught up in a movement lead by a narcissistic
guru are themselves necessarily narcissists. Some may be aware of
what's going on, and others not, among
the types described by Sam Vaknin in "Facilitating Narcissism"
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/6514/97535

"Narcissists are aided, abetted and facilitated by four types
of people and institutions: the adulators, the blissfully ignorant,
the self-deceiving and those deceived by the narcissist.

The adulators are fully aware of the nefarious and damaging
aspects of the narcissist's behavior but believe that they are
more than balanced by the benefits - to themselves, to their
collective, or to society at large. They engage in an explicit
trade-off between some of their principles and values - and
their personal profit, or the greater good.

They seek to help the narcissist, promote his agenda,
shield him from harm, connect him with like-minded people,
do his chores for him and, in general, create the conditions
and the environment for his success. This kind of alliance
is especially prevalent in political parties, the government,
multinational, religious organizations and other hierarchical
collectives.

The blissfully ignorant are simply unaware of the "bad sides"
of the narcissist- and make sure they remain so. They look
the other way, or pretend that the narcissist's behavior is
normative, or turn a blind eye to his egregious misbehavior.
They are classic deniers of reality. Some of them maintain
a generally rosy outlook premised on the inbred benevolence
of Mankind. Others simply cannot tolerate dissonance
and discord. They prefer to live in a fantastic world where
everything is harmonious and smooth and evil is banished.
They react with rage to any information to the contrary
and block it out instantly. This type of denial is well
evidenced in dysfunctional families.

The self-deceivers are fully aware of the narcissist's
transgressions and malice, his indifference, exploitativeness,
lack of empathy, and rampant grandiosity - but they
prefer to displace the causes, or the effects of such
misconduct. They attribute it to externalities ("a rough patch"),
or judge it to be temporary. They even go as far as accusing
the victim for the narcissist's lapses, or for defending
themselves ("she provoked him").

In a feat of cognitive dissonance, they deny any
connection between the acts of the narcissist and
their consequences ("his wife abandoned him because
she was promiscuous, not because of anything he
did to her"). They are swayed by the narcissist's
undeniable charm, intelligence, or attractiveness.
But the narcissist needs not invest resources in
converting them to his cause - he does not deceive
them. They are self-propelled into the abyss that is
narcissism. The Inverted Narcissist, for instance,
is a self-deceiver ( http://samvak.tripod.com/faq66.html )

The deceived are people - or institutions, or collectives -
deliberately taken for a premeditated ride by the narcissist.
He feeds them false information, manipulates their
judgment, proffers plausible scenarios to account for
his indiscretions, soils the opposition, charms them,
appeals to their reason, or to their emotions, and
promises the moon.

Again, the narcissist's incontrovertible powers of
persuasion and his impressive personality play
a part in this predatory ritual. The deceived are
especially hard to deprogram. They are often
themselves encumbered with narcissistic traits
and find it impossible to admit a mistake, or to
atone. They are likely to stay on with the narcissist
to his - and their - bitter end.

Regrettably, the narcissist rarely pays the price
for his offenses. His victims pick up the tab.
But even here the malignant optimism of the
abused never ceases to amaze."


I would not expect any of this to be easy to swallow for
someone who has made a significant emotional investment
in a movement founded and/or led by a narcissist.
Imagine the rage and indignation of a heavily-invested
Objectivist or Scientologist upon hearing Ayn Rand or L. Ron
Hubbard characterized in those terms (though, God knows,
those two fulfilled the criteria of NPD if **anybody** on
this sorry planet ever has).

peco said...

Immortality, same as it ever was. Fraud, hype, infantile narcissism, and hysterical hokum.

How would it be fraud?

peco said...

But then I think how silly the Neocons once must have seemed in their forlorn whiteboy clubhouses, plotting and planning for the future... Then I find myself thinking it's a good thing indeed for a few folks who know enough to know better here and now to try to nip this thing in the bud via exposure, analysis, ridicule, and the proposal of more progressive alternatives.

Are there a few (3-4) other people trying to do the same thing? Not enough people are reading your blog for this to work. (It won't work unless most potential transhumanists read your blog and agree with you or you make a lot of transhumanists leave. You're not doing either.)