Paleo Retiree writes:
Have you run into Sam Vaknin? He’s quite a phenomenon. Vaknin is a self-described narcissist who has, primarily online, made a name for himself as an expert on narcissism. Hundreds of thousands of people have watched his videos, visited his website, and/or read his book. Academics and credentialed therapists have their beefs with his views, but he has always struck me as pretty darned smart and helpful. Yet how can a genuine narcissist have any kind of sane, trustworthy distance on narcissism? Isn’t that a logical impossibility? And, like that, voilà: you’re caught in the Vaknin web.
My wife and I recently enjoyed “I, Psychopath,” a documentary made for Australian television about Vaknin. It’s a peculiar one in its own right. As Ian Walker, the director, walked Vaknin from expert to expert — for brain scans, tests and diagnoses — he found himself getting drawn into Vaknin’s ego and games-playing, and decided that that experience deserved notice too. So, as it goes on, the doc becomes as much about the frustrations and abuse the filmmaker is enduring from Vaknin as it is about Vaknin himself. Which is a pattern that, if you’ve had many dealings with narcissists, will ring some bells.
The film is a little exasperating, and it’s certainly easy coming up with ways it might have been better. What a movie Werner Herzog might have made of Vaknin! But it’s well worth a watch anyway. On YouTube, the doc is cut up into eight segments, but if you start watching the video that starts off this posting the segments should play straight through.
Watching “I, Psychopath” in fact put us in a mood for a Herzog doc, so we then treated oureselves to “God’s Angry Man,” a relatively early (and relatively short) America-the-Weird film about Dr. Eugene Scott, an oddball L.A. televangelist who was a big deal on public access TV in the ’70s and ’80s. Hipsters of that era loved watching him and marveling at him. You’ll probably want to skim Wikipedia’s entry for the basic facts about Scott — Herzog isn’t big one on supplying the journalistic basics. But Herzog certainly captures what was peculiar and fascinating about him.