Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

“The victims of the narcissist’s abusive conduct resort to fantasies and self-delusions to salve their pain.” ~Sam Vaknin

gaslighting and social mediaI have often been told by both experts on and victims of narcissists that they just don’t change. I believe that’s true, and I had hoped to provide you with an interview with the well-known narcissism expert, Sam Vaknin, to discuss that very topic – whether or not a narcissist could actually be changed.

Vaknin, who has often been quoted in my work and who was an early inspiration for me in my study of narcissism, has said that he believes it’s possible to love a narcissist, but only if you accept him unconditionally and essentially agree to be his narcissistic supply.

But, as it turns out, Vaknin is truly what he claims to be – and so instead of an interview, I got an experience, and maybe it’s one that’ll prove more valuable to my readers who need help with their narcissistic relationships.

This offers me some real-life examples that aren’t really very personal but can show you a clear-cut example of what narcissistic manipulation (gaslighting) really looks like, at least on a mild level. I like a good silver lining, don’t you?

My Brief Facebook Friendship with the Self-Proclaimed Narcissist

It’s kind of funny, how excited I got when Vaknin accepted my friend request on Facebook. I’d read his work years ago and had often referred back to it – but the one thing I failed to catch was that Vaknin was a self-proclaimed narcissist.

In fact, he’s widely known as such. One blogger who observed him on a documentary about his narcissism actually wrote a post questioning whether or not Vaknin was a narcissist.

Is Vaknin a Narcissist or a Wannabe? One Blogger Found Out the Hard Way

“Vaknin is an enigma,” writes Lucky Otter. “During the documentary I sometimes wondered whether he is actually a narcissist at all. He certainly doesn’t seem psychopathic (although I’m not going to say it’s impossible), but if he’s a narcissist, I don’t think he’s a particularly malignant one.”

She adds that her personal opinion of Vaknin “is that he has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which shares a number of traits with NPD because they are both Cluster B character disorders but differ in important ways. I think Vaknin has strong narcissistic, paranoid, and schizoid traits, but he is no psychopath.”

Apparently, Vaknin read the post and sent the blogger corrections, specifically noting that he has been “twice diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (in 1986 and in 1995).”

That’s intriguing, right? Kind of, anyway, for someone who studies this disorder.

My First Facebook Conversation With Vaknin Reveals Narcissistic Tendencies

The whole self-proclaimed narcissist deal would, of course, explain our first conversation on Facebook messenger, which went something like this.

Him: Glad to have you as my friend! You may also wish to join (his facebook group) and buy my print book, e-books (electronic books), and video lectures are available for purchase (at this link) (remainder of post redacted because it was literally more than a dozen promotional links and NOTHING else).

Me (clueless and in huge nerd mode – I was so excited I even did a really quick Periscope about this dude!): Sam, you are actually the first person I read when I was trying to figure out my problem with someone several years back. Since then, I’ve gone on to research even more and have written a few books and several articles on the topic. So I’m very honored to be your friend and I’d absolutely treasure an opportunity to work with you on something in the future. Thanks for accepting my friend request.

Him (narcissism, activated):  Strange: I cannot find a single instance where you refer to my work in your articles or in your books. Your gratitude sounds a bit insincere. Thank me by buying my books (link attached, of course).

Me (kinda felt like I’d been slapped in the face – this guy was a big influence for me): Wow. I actually did quote you and recommend your stuff several times and have bought your books. I’m sorry I bothered you. My gratitude is sincere.

Him: (would you call this condescension?):

1. Where did I say or even hint that you are bothering me???

2. Thank you for your business.

3. Google must be slipping. I typed your name+mine and nothing came up. Would appreciate a solitry example of an article in which you quote me.

4. Thank you for your kind words.

Take care there.

Sam

(Plus four more promotional links – redacted)

Me (feeling a little shocked, but still wanting to make this narcissist like me): Here are some links (redacted) that show where you’ve been quoted by me.  I could go on if you like. Sorry if I misunderstood your tone before. Also I write under Angela Atkinson. Maybe that was the confusion (note: it was – my personal profile is under “Angie” so he had Googled the wrong name).

My Second Facebook Conversation With Vaknin: I Got Reeled Back In.

He gave me no response when I sent the links, either. So, I guess I got kinda bold with my next statement.

Me (later, feeling a little more confident): Hey Sam…I’d love to interview you sometime. Let me know your thoughts’

Him (reeling me back in – a standard gaslighting move): I would be honored and delighted to grant you an interview. At your disposal any time. (Promotional link -redacted)

Him (still reeling): Angela Atkinson! This month, I even posted an article of yours everywhere, including on my FB timeline! Sorry about the confusion.

Me (feeling like I was on top of the world – he liked me, he really liked me!): That is amazing and thank you so much! I sincerely appreciate it and am very grateful to know you. I’ll check out your press kit and get with you tomorrow to schedule an interview if that’s okay?And in the meantime, please let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.

And that was it. No further response. Our next conversation didn’t go quite as…smoothly, though.

My Third Facebook Conversation With Vaknin: Narcissistic Injury on Parade

Though we’d spoken about a potential interview just before the weekend, he reached out to me on Monday morning. He was a narcissist, injured.

Him: Angie, haven’t heard from you as promised. Could you at least extend to me the courtesy of letting me know why you have changed your mind regarding the interview?

Me: Good morning Sam. I didn’t forget, just haven’t had a chance to schedule it yet. I’m very excited about it though, so when is best for you? Could we do the interview via a live Google hangout?

Him (later, excessively formally, don’t you think?):

Dear Angie,

I live in a hellhole in the farthest, most benighted corner of Europe.

(Long, wordy and unnecessary directions on how to record an audio interview via Skype redacted).

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Sam

Me (willing to consider this setup he’s described and figure it all out to get the interview): Okay, thanks. I’ll look into that asap. What times and days are best for you?
Him: The weekends are the best (saturday, even Sunday, if youa re up to it.) My time zone is CET. Not sure where you are. I am 6 hours AHEAD of NYC. 2 PM here is 8 AM in New-York.

My Final Facebook Conversation With Sam Vaknin: The Discard Phase

Me (Here’s where it all goes wrong): Okay. I’m central time – I live in St. Louis. Where are you from, just out of curiosity?
Him: I am currently on assignment in Skopje, Macedonia. I am an Israeli by citizenship.
Me (should’ve just said goodbye, but instead, I said): Oh cool! I didn’t know. You’re not Jewish are you? Just wondering because I’m 1/4 Jewish – I recently learned it.
Him (preparing for the attack): Angie, I am an Israeli. It means that there is an 80% chance that I am Jewish and 20% chance that I am an Arab. Now, I leave it to you to figure out which.
Me (still thinking we’re being professionals and having a nice, harmless conversation here): Haha okay. I was just being nosy, no worries. I’ve been a bit deprived of the Jewish culture even though I’m only 2nd generation American on that side.
Him (preparing for the kill):

I don’t mind nosy. I mind dumb. Your question was more the latter than the former …:o))

Me (once again shocked, stupidly): Oh. Well, I’m sorry then.
Him (in full narcissistic glory): No apology called for. We all lapse from time to time. For more information about me (including the fact that I live in Skopje, for instance), you can simply peruse my Facebook page (the “About” section).

Me (admittedly, feeling a little defensive and a LOT offended): For the record, I may appear to be a standard dumb blonde, but I’m quite the opposite. Respect is a two way street.
Him (Negating everything I said and changing the conversation back to himself): I did not judge you by your appearance. In fact, I did not judge YOU at all. I judged what you WROTE to me. And what your wrote to me was dumb. It doesn’t necessarily follow that you are dumb. What you write and who you are are two separate things. Finally, respect has to be earned. I never grant it automatically and unthinkingly.
Me (realizing what he’s doing and trying to get back to being professional by referring to the interview – and still admittedly feeling defensive): I hear you. I disagree that what I asked was dumb, but I understand that you’re not seeing it from this side. It makes me afraid to continue asking questions, for the record.
Him (gaslighting all the way – he blames me and twists the conversation back to himself and the things that he “will never allow”): Your emotional reaction to criticism is an issue that you have to work on. I cannot help you there. I will continue to express my opinions freely, though. I never allow other people’s emotions to inhibit, constrict, or restrict me in any way, shape, or form.

Me (pretty much done with this guy at this point, but still thinking an interview with him could do my readers some good – so I’m trying): That’s important. I guess I’ve been shocked at your willingness to use the word “dumb” in reference to me/something I said. But you’re right – your opinion is just that.
Him (clearly offended that I agreed with him that his opinion was just an opinion, hurling insults all over the place – discard phase plus a final flair of narcissistic rage? Maybe.): It’s nothing personal. I told you that I am an Israeli and you asked “You’re not Jewish are you?” That’s a dumb question. You also asked me where I live when you could have easily found the answer on my Facebook page, Wikipedia, Twitter, Google, and a zillion other websites. That’s equally dumb (or lazy). “My opinion is just that” is another dumb utterance. Now, I am afraid I am beginning to form the distinct feeling that perhaps you ARE dumb.

And then he blocked me. Oh yeah.

I don’t know, y’all. If he’s not a narcissist, he sure imitates one pretty well. Does this conversation feel familiar to you? Have you experienced gaslighting like this? Let’s talk about it.

Here’s a playlist on gaslighting that could be helpful for you.

And here’s a video playlist on how to spot a narcissist – hope it’s helpful for you.

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31 Responses to How Self-Proclaimed Narcissist Sam Vaknin Gaslighted Me on Facebook

  1. There is a typo in the last sentence of this paragraph

    “gaslighting and social media have often been told by both experts on and victims of narcissists that they just don’t change. I believe that’s true, and I had hoped to provide you with an interview with the well-known narcissism expert, Sam Vaknin, to discuss that very topic – whether or not a narcissist could actually changed.”

  2. He posted about this article and defended himself. I asked if he blocked you, and he unfriended me! What a joke!

  3. I hear you. But when you agree to an interview, aren’t you agreeing to answer questions?

    • Sorry taken so long to reply but… some people prefer only to answer deep, philosophical, and thought-provoking questions and consider all questions they could answer themselves by looking at his page, superficial and not suitable for an interview because they have been answered already 100 times before, but asking deep questions, helps them understand themselves just as much as it helps you.

      • And some people need to get over themselves.

        • I’m sorry he hurt your feelings. He broke my heart too. His wife encouraged me to write more poetry and when I did he told me to knock it off and blocked me. Have you ever read Sam Vaknin’s personal autobiography and poetry? He went crazy when his first wife left him and developed a fetish having to do with peeing in public. Because his mother humiliated him and wouldn’t let him pee when he got home from school to teach him to pee at school instead. He’s a sick puppy.

          • I thought I told you to remove all my comments from your blog. You have not given the option to delete my own comments here, and what do you know about me, bitch? You wouldn’t know if I have “self-delusions” as the “victim of a narcissist” That’s you, honey. Sam Vaknin is a decent person, and he’s friend of mine. Sorry you’re too dumb and delusional to figure out the truth, Angela! Now will you please delete my comments from your blog? You are a steaming pile of nothing.

  4. Hi Angela,

    I think you already know the documentary about Sam Vaknin “I, Psychopath”. It’s on youtube and everyone, who had a close encounter with a psychopath, can empathize with the author of this documentary.

    There’s another video on youtube, that shows a psychopath in action. And no, this psychopath is no serial killer, no mass murder – it’s a well known celebrity. And this video reminds me of what you describe in your blogpost:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNxG7JnO1oA

  5. his post smells of Sam V. My intuition is yelling out that this is him, trying to control his image. Sam, you really are see through….
    And rude.

  6. Hi, I once was commenting on an NPD support sight and have years of research and education on the subject. Sam Vaknin was very superior and egocentric in his replies to the novices but completely annihilated me because I nailed him!!

  7. Dear Angela, I have just seen this post on my Facebook livefeed.
    I see the article was written August 2015, and your not knowing that Sam Vaknin was a psychopath/NPD, to me would determine that your field is mainly in coaching and not recovering from Narcissistic abuse.
    Sam Vaknin I discovered on Youtube in April 2015. To me, recovering from recent abuse, his work was seriously frightening. I was still in denial, having been gaslighted severely in my “relationship.”

    I can’t read into any evidence of “gaslighting” that you have labelled this article under.
    You didn’t know of his diagnostic label, and I don’t think we have reached that stage in society where we have to give acquaintances a clinicians diagnosis of a person’s mental condition.

    I am writing to you, because I can not believe that you did not know he was a psychopath/Narcissist. (He most likely thought you did)
    And I can not believe that you asked him was he Jewish, when he told you he was an Israeli citizen.
    He was rather fair to give you credit, in telling you he could have been 20% Arab.
    But an Arab would call himself “Palestinian”, even if he was born in the Jewish State of Israel.
    There is a hat here, I think you should at least own it. Even if you are not going to wear it.

    He is what he is. And the article made me smile. I am an empath too, thank you for posting your exchange. I can honestly admit to having these type of exchanges, in particular with my brother, and not seeing my part in the fall out of his Narcissistic rage.

    Kind regards to you.
    Anne

    • I totally disagree. The point is not whether she asked if he was Jewish or Christian or whatever. The point is that he put her down with his comments and also gaslighted her. He is a proclaimed ex-narcissist who advises people on how to leave a narc. He still does say he has tendencies and from this post, it’s obvious that he does. It’s disturbing. As a public figure on YouTube who advises those who have been abused, this is a totally inappropriate response. I don’t care what she responded. No matter what, calling her “dumb” and then acting like he is educating her is all totally inappropriate. That’s the point.

  8. Wow, totally gaslighting you and sounds so familiar. I’m assuming this post is real and not intended to defame him. If so, it’s very disheartening. That means that this whole time he’s just fooling everyone that he’s not a narc. Master manipulator!!

    So sad…I’m sorry you had to go through this crap. What an immature prick.

    • “Master manipulator”, you say? Not really. A master manipulator mannipulates you in such a way that you never know that he manipulated you. That´s not what narcissists do; actually, that´s what psychopaths and sociopaths do.

      Do you know how to make a difference b/w a narcissist and a -path? A narcissist ALWAYS seeks PUBLIC revenge and uses gaslighting. A -path uses secret revenge and NEVER uses gaslighting. A narcissist wants every layperson to see him/her as a VICTIM who is doing a public service by publicly pointing out and getting rid of the enemy. They WANT you to know that it was THEM. A -path plots a secret revenge, and you never know what hit you. Something just scr*ws up in your life, and you wonder whether it was just “life” happening or someone´s revenge. Chances are that you will never know. A psychopath (they are BORN with a medical condition: lack of nerve connection in the front lobe where the emotions and conscience are) is more organized, capable of plotting a long-time, well-thought revenge. A sociopath (someone who was born normal but ABUSED as a child) is more disorganized, emotional, and acts immediately, and is therefore more dangerous in the short run.

      Just FYI: psychopaths/sociopaths like to prey on narcissists, as they are a very easy prey for them. You know exactly what button to push to make them angry, how to make them think they won, and how to make them lose – and they never know what hit them. That is actually a public service – the -paths “do” narcissists before narcissists “do” other people. But yeah, YOU WERE RIGHT, Vaknin IS an immature prick. Narcissists are generally very immature, as they are incapable of any real self-analysis due to their extreme narcissism. -paths are generally LESS narcissistic, but right, idi*ts nonetheless.

  9. It did seem that you were a bit oversensitive in my opinion. He was commenting on something you said, what he said was blunt, but you took it personally to invalidate you as a person. Either way, it’s just his opinion of you and your comment. If those comments hurt, then imagine the damage he could do if you were to continue interacting with him.

    Also, you’re posting a private interaction publicly. If someone who was asking me for help and an interview did that to me, I’d feel betrayed, wouldn’t you? You said that you were a fan of his work and he openly states that he’s a narcissist. My points are that you’ve publicly shared a personal interaction with someone you supposedly respect and also what did you think he would be like?

    Final observation, you did say you’d contact him the next day to set up an interview (which you didn’t), but he reached out to you on Monday to grant you an interview. In that situation, I would also question your sincerity.

    I’m not saying that an interaction with him would go any differently, but from what you’ve posted, I think that this was a two way street. My interactions with others and reactions are often go similarly to what you’ve posted. It hits close to home. I see signs of motivation on your part that is not just to get an interview, but to win him over or to have a personal rapport. In any event, this wasn’t professional and posting it publicly isn’t professional. I think that this is more narcissistic than the man publicly claiming to be a narcissist. Good for him for protecting himself (and you).

    • Thats how I see it also. She took it completely personal but he clearly stated that because sometime we said something stupid doesn’t mean we are stupid. She should just said, OK fine and move on but thats not what she did, she completely bring that up to a new level and brought it out out of proportion like an avalanche.

    • I tend to agree (no offense), but it did seem like she was being over-sensitive to me.

  10. Wow, what a WEIRDO he is!!!!! I cant help but think the same for the peeps who would actually comment for his side. Sounds like more gaslighting and twisting! Angie you ROCK!!!!

  11. Hi, Angie. I am a fan of Sam Vaknin but of course, I know very well he is a narcissist. I think the conversation you had was exactly the way you described it. He gaslighted you, and offended you-he actually made you feel dumb but assumed you shouldn’t feel that way. This is a common technique used by my mom-she likes to make you feel insecure and offends you without having said anything to her.
    I don’t think you should have known he is also Jewish, people are not supposed to know small details of others, unless they are in close relationships. It’s absurd that he made you feel you should have known or did your research.
    However, this doesn’t surprise me. Sam Vaknin is not the type of facebook friend I’d ad to my list-even though I admire him and all.

  12. It is oblivious that Sam is a narcissistic but the exchanges you had with him didn’t prove that. It only prove that 1-He ask for proofs when someone said something (which is normal). 2-Talking about the Jewish stuff was indeed off the board but you seem to never accept making mistake, he told you clearly that he didn’t mean that you are dumb but instead that what you said was dumb (2 completely different things). 3-Your insecurity got the best of you and instead of moving on and asking for the interview, you went back at it and didn’t want to move on. I am sorry lady but you were wrong in that case.

  13. I actually have the same experience with him, as he is very predictable and most of the stuff he wrote you he also wrote me. But I know psychology, and possibly being a person afflicted with NPD/ASPD myself, I returned him all the “favors” he bestowed upon you. You should have seen the csardas. He started being verbally agressive, even abusive, and tried to use gaslighting on me (which had completely no effect on me; I laughed at him and that made him even more angry, which I enjoyed tremendously once I found out what kind of idiot he was). We parted ways, I politely thanked him (which also pissed him off, as he most likely wanted to have his little “victory” on me, read: to see me angry or crying). I too quoted him in my articles about NPD. He too flooded me with numerous links. He did not call me insencere or dumb like you, but still, I was kinda dissapointed that he was not TRULY grateful that somebody actually read and liked his books. As an author, I would be. I would be very humble and grateful. He was not. All he wanted to hear lots and lots of praise, and then possibly imagined that it would be best if I simply f*cked off. He is a shallow shell, incapable of any real emotion. He is fat, unappealing and atrocious in bed (as he gave me a clue in his Facebook messages; yes, we got THAT far because we went through a number of “topics” to quarrel about in our conversation – or his monologue, better said). I really does not understand his appeal, or why his wife chooses to stay with him. She must be a very strong woman, and in that case, I have to give her my deepest admiration. Or, and that´s the second case, she might be a gullible idiot, and in that case, I am sorry for her. But I don´t think she is like that; I saw both of them in an interview, and she knew how to make a stand against him. God bless and protect her!

  14. I don’t see where he exhibited any narcissistic behavior toward you. At best maybe arrogant You were annoying. And you did ask a dumb question when he told you he was from Israel.

  15. Priceless! LMAO! It’s a good thing that he is a highly functional narsiscist otherwise he would be without a ‘fan’ base to generate income from due to his quick cycling value/discard behaviors! Haha!
    Bravo to u also, my dear! No matter if we expect it or not, finding oneself in any sort of conversation with a narsiscist can always be a mind-bending, reality questioning, self-proclaiming adamantly “wtf?!?!” experience! U did great! Interview accomplished too with awesome real life exemplary application! HAHAHAHAAA! Oh I am dying!!! <— now that's just dumb. My Bad! I meant to say "… I am laughing with extreme amusement to the point of bypassing a normal behavioral response thus having the outward action appearing to be unfitting and inappropriately matched to the scenario that generated the reaction." Thus proving that there is something to be said about concise, universal, informal speech in social banter (as u were doing)… because the long and unnecessary formalities of speech, are, well…. DUMB! HAHAHAAA!!!

  16. Vaknin is a psychopath and this has been confirmed by multiple tests, in no way am I saying that you’re remotely like him – but you seem to be NPD yourself, Angela.

  17. I have seen his videos and to me he acts like a know it all.I am not saying that I haven’t learned from him but I just hate it when people think they are the experts and know everything.I had a yoga teacher like that one.I think that he is just arrogant and prideful and thinks he is better than you.I guess that means he is narsistic.Howevever people through around psychopath way to much.I actually had a father and a boyfriend that were so so crazy abusive and dangerous.Anyone has experienced the hell of them know this man is not this at least in the interaction with you.I won’t make such a mountain of a mole hill.He is just arrogant.Alot of intellectuals who are popular in field are.Iknow because I see Harvard professors.Also I want to say I am Jewish and I’m a bit offended by this mentioning of this in your coversation.First let me say that not every one who is an Israelite practices the Torah and many people who call them self Jewish really don’t even read the torah.Just like people who say they are Catholic and act nothing like the way Jeseus taught.I am Jewish and I am not a Torah expert but I try to treat others with kindness.I have a big heart and I have a hard time even understanding how people can be so hurtful and unkind.I usually try to forgive.I think I am empathetic and I know that jerks usually are insecure on inside.Howrver my life was literally destroyed by a psych and I will never recover from the damage and devestation.I live with knife in me forever more.It really sucks but I try to not infect others with my pain.I keep my tears inside and force my self to smile so others will not ask me any questions about it.Any way Inwont give Sam a second thought if you do then it’s your own ego that just his offended.See yourself in God’s eyes and no one elses is my small advise and if I listened to this I never would have gotten so damaged by a crazy psycho.

  18. I know one like Sam and he is 100% logic not emotion, like a machine almost. If you reread his responses with that in mind, its still hurtful but explains a bit. The one I know is hell bent in being the most intelligent,is nasty if anyone seems to think they know more than he. Is on guard in this respect 100% of waking time. Takes every word into consideration.

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