Review of "I, Psychopath"
Having seen the film featuring Sam Vaknin, "I Psychopath," I am embarrassed to say that Mr. Vaknin is not who I thought he was. I had a college classmate with the same name, which Mr. Vaknin, being a generation older than me, obviously is not. However given this information, I feel it rightful to respond to a number of his claims made in that movie.
One is his portrayal of Jesus Christ as having a combination of sociopathic personality disorder (Christ claiming that people are either with him or against him), a narcissistic personality disorder (him claiming that he was the way the truth and the light) and a histrionic personality disorder (the dramatic style of his communications). This is where psychology goes when it allows itself to be run by wrong people. An anal retentive would always be afraid of anything passionate, and a conman would always be afraid of anything absolute. If Jesus Christ had these disorders, then what can be said about Ronald Reagan, Maggie Thatcher, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Martin Luther King, Golda Meir, Buddha, Mohammad, Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates, Steven Jobs, Winston Churchill, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, FDR?
Another is the similarity in personality profiles between criminals and entrepreneurs. This should come as no surprise. Both the criminals and the entrepreneurs are people who make their own rules; only one group does it unproductively, whereas the other group does it productively. One definition of "narcissism" that I came by was "not knowing one’s place.’ Both the criminals and the entrepreneurs make their place instead of inhabiting a place that somebody else has made for them. Which means that, if the definition of health is inhabiting a place that somebody else has made for oneself, then both the criminals and the entrepreneurs would be seen as sick in the head. The same would of course be applicable to anyone who rejected the way that things were and decided to go in another direction - everyone from America’s founders and most of the people who immigrated to the New World, to industrialists, feminists, inventors, unions, civil rights leaders, and leading minds in science, politics and business.
A chunk of the film was dedicated to examining the type of woman whom the "narcissists" and the "sociopaths" pick, and again and again the women were seen as possessing high empathy levels. There are several reasons why this behavior is entirely unrelated to these disorders. First of all, most women have higher empathy levels than do men, because they, as mothers and nurturers, need these higher empathy levels to be good mothers and nurturers. This is as much the case for women who go for "socipaths" and "narcissists" as it is the case for women who do not. Secondly, an empathic woman would feel another person’s pain, and if someone is being unfairly attacked by people around him then such a woman would want to come to his side. And finally, while the woman has a negative experience of an in-group would frequently go to higher empathy levels in order to understand people and to survive, a man who has similar experience of the in-group would more likely become hostile to the in-group; meaning that matches such as the preceding are a result, not of one having higher empathy level and the other not having empathy, but rather to similarity of their personal experience.
A claim made in the movie is that a "sociopath" has no interest in the person next to him except "the interest that the cat has in the mouse." That is in no way limited to sociopaths. Most salesmen have no interest in their customers except their money, yet nobody is claiming that all salesmen are sociopaths. In capitalism in general, the interest in the next person is as an accessory to one’s own financial ends; which means that, if these definitions are held, then all of capitalism should be seen as a sociopathic enterprise.
The most amusing part of this is that, if Mr. Vaknin is indeed the narcissistic sociopath that he claims he is, then his "narcissism" and "sociopathy" is winning. Not only is he getting fame, but he is also getting to attack all kinds of people who have done nothing to him even as he pursues a messianic goal of ridding the world of people accused of these disorders.
There is another problem with the beliefs being advocated in this movie, and it is even more dangerous than the preceding. With people being seen as criminal by virtue of their personality, people are seen as criminal by virtue of how they think. And this introduces the Orwellian concept of "crimethink." The result is an effective holocaust against people accused of these disorders, combined with an imposition of de facto totalitarianism against everyone else. A totalitarianism so complete that people are not allowed to be free from it even within the privacy of their minds, regardless of what they do for anyone else or what they do to improve themselves.
For this reasons these disorders have resulted in a de facto holocaust against all kinds of people, along with imposition of de facto totalitarianism against everyone else. When people accused of "socipathic disorder" are seen as evil and only capable of being evil however hard they work, however much they work on themselves, or however much they contribute, what we see is a mass extermination campaign against people that goes on regardless of their deeds. The definition of these disorders is very similar to the Nazi definition of Jew; and what has been affectuated is a de facto holocaust against people accused of these disorders.
Perhaps Mr. Vaknin had a case of conscience return after being busted for white-collar crime and is looking for some kind of redemption. That is understandable and fully human. But millions of innocent people around the world should not be paying the price for his crimes.