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Podcast    H4'ed 8/27/14

Daniel Shaw: What Is Narcissism, Victim Process, How It Develops, Cults, Tea-Party, Clinton...

Broadcast 8/27/2014 at 11:15 PM EDT (1193 Listens, 630 Downloads, 6001 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

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a longgggg, fascinatingly illuminating, in-depth conversation with Daniel Shaw, author of Traumatic Narcissism; Relational Systems of Subjugation.
This conversation really covers the book and yields an amazing understanding of narcissism, narcissists, their parents, partners and victims, including organizations and nations.

Daniel Shaw LCSW is a psychoanalytically trained psychotherapist practicing in NY City and Nyack NY. He is a training analyst, teacher and supervisor of analytic candidates at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies in NY city. I've brought him on to the Bottom-up Radio show because he's written a book, Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, which I believe helps us to better understand two of the major topics I cover-- top-down domination and the effects of psychopaths and related pathological people on our culture and on individuals.

Very Rough Interview Notes-- mostly my questions

What is narcissism? Why call it traumatic narcissism instead of malignant narcissism, as others have described it?

healthy narcissism-- often mean vanity, self-centeredness, or egomania. Psychoanalytic version is different" narcissism is normal to an extent, developmentally-- grandiose and exhibitionist tendencies"

Traumatic-- deeper and more malignant kind of narcissism,

malignant narcissist idea developed by Eric Fromm-- a way to explain dictators, tyrants, like Stalin and Hitler-- leaders of nations who sought to dominate and control.

On a more micro level it could be a boss, family member, friend or lover.

Calls it traumatic narcissism because there are victims.-- what is traumatic is subjugation--- a psychological kind of subjugation-- a person's unique subjectivity is attacked, diminished and weakened, so the attacker can replace it with their own subjectivity. The attacker doesn't want anyone else to have their own point of view.

he followed a guru, stopped following 20 years ago

what is subjectivity and intersubjectivity?

We can experience ourselves as our own self or as the object of another-- like women are objectified" We can objectify ourselves or be objectified-- and not just sexualized-

Alice Miller-- a narcissistic parent uses the child as their object-- use child to gratify them and punish child for trying to gratify self.

Intersubjectivity-- a way of being in a relationship-- model developed by Jessica Benjamin-- people meeting each other as equals, as separate individual subjects. I-thou relationship that Martin Buber spoke of.

Lack of intersubjectivity-- is a breakdown of relatedness in the sense of subject to object.-- Only two positions there-- up or down, no democracy or equality in the relationship

N. Korea-- a whole society meant to be subjugated by a particular leader-- that leader is the only self that's legitimate-- everybody else's self must comply and submit.

Rob: so, we're talking, in regards t subjectivity, about being able to express oneself, one's needs.

Dan: To feel that you are superior to all others is delusional, psychotic-- narcissist is obsessed with maintaining their own perfection-- have to prove that everyone else is inferior, and need everyone to prove to them to verify that they are superior. So, they have to recognize the narcissist as lifting.

Rob: So the narcissist needs people to tell them they are wonderful and helping them?

Dan: Narcissist creates a bubble so they are protected by adulating followers so they can maintain their sense of superiority. any questioning or challenging and you are out-- like shunning or ostracizing.

Facts are immediately disputed and dismissed if they don't coincide with the traumatizing narcissists ideology.

Rob: My understanding is that most psychopaths or sociopaths also manifest narcissistic tendencies-- need to control, dominate, feel superior-- how are narcissists different from psychopaths?

Psychopathy disorder is looked at a different personality disorder-- other personality disorders Axis 2 disorder

Lawrence Joseph's book on character

Expert on narcissism-- Otto Kernberg-- all personality disorders have underlying narcissism involved- Psychopaths engage in illegal behavior, and very like traumatizing narcissists (TNs)

TNs may have psychopathic tendencies to avoid breaking the law.

People who wrote the law, after 911, that it was okay to torture, were flirting with Psychopathy, but were using the legal system to cover it.

Rob: there's the idea of the successful psychopath, who doesn't get caught"

These personality clusters characteristics often overlap. Obsessive compulsive person is often quite narcissistic,

Rob: what are the other diagnoses within Axis 2

narcissistic, OC, Psychopathic, Avoidant, schizotypal, borderline, hysterical or histrionic-- Some reflect iatrogenic cultural-- dependent personality-- pre-Betty Friedan type person, who subordinates life to keeping husband happy.

Rob: Quote page 9 " " leads to either becoming a TN or being in a relationship with

generations of narcissists-- parents and grandparents"

Rob: TNs will not go into therapy. Does that mean that TN is a category where therapy cannot touch them?

this personality exists on a spectrum-- so some might concede that they have been unkind or belittling-- those way down on the spectrum are more treatable. For example, dictators of the 20th century are not going to show up on the analyst's couch.

Victims are living in a post traumatic stress universe.

Rob: I would imagine that the victim who goes into a subjugated relationship with a TN empowers the narcissist.

Quote on page 9 then question about attachment theory.

disorganized attachments or attachment disorder reflect a rupture of the bond in development-- But they are many ways the bond can be ruptured-- like the early death of a caregiver.

Rob: Let's look at attachment development-- What does a TN look like in raising an infant

infant is selfish and greedy and should be ashamed-- ashamed for needing to be fed, held, loved. Can be communicated verbally and non-verbally. The TN makes the child feel ashamed that they have needs.

Rob: How would the TN treat a newborn

newborn wants to be fed, to be held, to take a nap, to take a poop-- they are all important-- Narcissist resents having to perform any of those functions for the infant.

Narcissists will say-- let the nanny take care of that. Traumatizing the baby with cumulative relational trauma, through invasiveness or neglect

Rob: tied tongue-- frenulum-- keeps tongue from latching properly-- could lead to feeling not taken care of.

Rob: so, narcissists are also charismatic--

they think of themselves as a legend in their own minds so they can be very persuasive

They can be very creative and contribute to society. A psychopath doesn't contribute anything to society-- they just rip off"

Rob: Can you cite examples of creative narcissists who have contributed to society

Eugene O'Neil, Long Day's Journey into Night-- captured narcissism of his parents-- the traumatizing impact and tragedy of it-- but left out his abandonment of first wife and child" so his character comes off as a tragic hero-- if all facts are known that character is pretty skeevy-- treated his children with nothing but resentment as selfish, greedy people. In the end two of his sons committed suicide, daughter was an alcoholic.


Bill Clinton-- was a jerk and ended up getting caught doing what he had been doing for years.

Rob: And you explain Clinton your book from the abusive stepfather he had.

Rob: I take from what you are saying that a TN become the ultimate dictator

Aum Shinrikyo -- group in Japan-- guru-- became leader of intelligent, talented engineers-- came to believe that t hey should release sarin gas in the Tokyo subways-- as Robert Lifton has described as destroying the world to save it. The psychotic delusion of most of these guys-- (dictators) belief in their own righteousness is where the narcissism.

Rob: are there people in tribes, in indigenous culture or tribes

Remember Narcissus myth starts in Greek civilization-- irresistibly attractive to every man, women, child-- nobody can deny his perfection and superiority. Echo, a nymph, falls in love and follows him all over the place-- he scorns here and she is so devastated that she becomes the echo we hear. Narcissus doesn't give a damn about anyone else. Sees himself reflected in a pond, transfixed until he dies on the spot.

Nihilism of it-- complete and total selfishness-- is the same as dying-- according to Eric Fromm, sanity comes from love, insanity comes from narcissism.

Rob: Tell us more about Fromm's thoughts-

Fromm was a student of Freud who rejected Freud

quote on P 20 by Fromm

Fromm's book, Escape from Freedom, explains how Germans became Nazis.

there is a human tendency not to own one's own freedom, but to give it over to someone who is stronger. Freud talked about Oedipal complex where young person had to overcome domination by father

Fromm: Two strains of thought-- authoritarian or humanistic.

authoritarian-- angry patriarchal who threatens or intimidates

humanistic-- Christ on the mount, in which people are made to feel that they are important and that they should love one another and that that is the highest good.

Rob: So you're saying that normal, healthy people can manifest a bit of narcissism-- that it's the extremes that are pathological.

anybody who wants to create, be productive, wants to be proud, to feel that they matter-- but would the Wright make an airplane without grandiosity-- Edison, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates.

Liz Harris-- asked her if

Rob: Narcissism does not include compassion, does it?

Narcissists will attempt to appear to be compassionate and consider themselves to be compassionate.

Violent cruelty in religion is often used

Rob: Does authoritarian religion involve traumatic narcissism.

definitely a tendency within these groups as having total righteousness, often led by someone who sees himself as the ultimate authority on what God wants" linked to right wing political funding and thinking

In these groups cruelty is practiced in the name of righteousness. -- members are expected to regularly confess their sins in front of everyone, to be ashamed and humiliated-- leaders learn intimate details to shame them publicly, to get t hem recruit more

There's a great deal of cruelty in cults.

A cult that is lead by an individual or group of individuals who are traumatizing narcissists.What happens in these groups is what happens in a traumatic narcissist relational system

Establish dominance by diminishing and subjugating others-- creating dependence. The TN feels dependent on no-one, but in actuality, depends on the shamed, dependent others. Narcissists in cults are the only one who benefits-- though they say the cult will save the world. Those are the grandiose goals when in fact what they are all about is the self- aggrandizement.

Rob: You are saying that all cults are based on TN relational systems?

So far" I've never seen it otherwise

Rob: You talked about self-aggrandizement-- is that about the TN or the cult--

to the extent that the cult makes the leader look good"


Baba (fake name) recruited young girls into his harem-- though the

Rob: What about the cult that you were in--

Same group Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about in Eat Pray Love-- Siddha Yoga guru Mayi

brother Swami Nityananda Father was Muktananda.

Was international, 4000 people in ashram in Catskills

Followed Guru Maya and Muktananda-- had positive, mystical experiences at first-- made mistake that because of positive experiences, groups was where he needed to stay. Sold everything, moved in, Worked way up, put in charge of all kinds of things" then, defended someone she was berating--- for next six months she berated, humiliated, embarrassed and tortured him. Finally told him to leave, get a job, move out.

Went into therapy-- took two years to utter the words-- "the guru was cruel." It was not long after that that Liz Harrison came out with an article in the New Yorker.

Steve Hassan's book, Combatting Cult Mind Control

I was ashamed that I had thrown my life away to follow this narcissist.

Rob; You list six of the most common dynamics in cults:

1- purifying ego

2-only perfection is good enough

cult leader doesn't want you succeed-- then compete. Leader presents self as perfect

Followers can never win, never do a good enough job-- always have to stay there and keep trying, keep giving". of course no-one is ever going to be perfect.

3-incessant urgency

crisis that everyone has to stay up all night and working on--

everyone has to go to workshop and confessionals and chants.

when my cult leader learned of expose in New Yorker, they trained dozens of people to be Reiki practioners to heal the writer.

4-violations of boundaries as a norm

start doing whatever it takes. If leader wants you to do something cruel, you do it"

he was spied on, with hidden microphones in rooms.

5-inner deviance must be eradicated

will get you ostracized and shunned, booted out an rejected. Must become self loathing to eradicate your own deviance.

6-defend the leader no matter what

The longer you stay around the more you see the leader behaving in ways that are questionable.

People were told to go after abolished brother

Dan had to spin it so it sounded righteous.

Rob: You say that when things go wrong in these groups, "narcissism runs amok."

N leader puts people into battle mode, secret meeting, spying on people-- "the whole thing becomes insane."

Rob: one example is what happened with Jim Jones in Guyana.

that is the most grotesque example, Waco being second. The truth is these horrors happen in miniature scale in smaller groups that is not talked about-- and there is soul murder that happens that robs you of freedom-- we have to look at the fact that we give away our freedom. Certainly the horror of WWII-- people giving away

Rob: quote page 55 The narcissist is convinced his selfish cruel agenda is

Wrote that in honor of George W. Bush

National exceptionalism-- our agenda to enslave, pillar and abandon iraq--- hardly a more blatant example of TN on a global scale

Rob: Talk about national exceptionalism and how it fits into your model of TN

Give credit to Eric Fromm-- nationalist narcissism-- the idea that this is a superior brand of America, in America-- most superior principles and government-- Fromm identified this as narcissism-- we're the best-- and therefore we have a right to go into the world and do whatever we want to do.

It's destructive, narcissistic, delusional--

Rob: You wrote that American Exceptionalism was used to rationalize eradication of Native American aboriginal population and to justify the slave system

throws in crusades, inquisition

Destructive, delusional impulse

I don't do work with narcissism on a global scale

Rob: Does anyone do that?

Rabbi Andy Bachman in Park Slope Brooklyn. created a congregation of young secular people interested in doing good in the world--

Rob: Tell me more about people with a lot of money

money is a way to compensate for feelings of inferiority--

Rob: Where does narcissism fit in with great wealth

bolsters feeling of superiority, power and control-- it's the ultimate narcissistic fantasy

I don't need anything from anybody because I have all this money-

Wealthy need 20 people at their beck and call to walk across a street or get a newspaper.

For people who are narcissistic, money increases the narcissism.

Rob: In talking about cults, you bring up the tea party.

That's the best example of the use of the frame, "they drank the coolaid"

working class people who have been convinced that government is the enemy, that government is evil, there to take from them to give to people of color--

People selling this are mouthpieces for think tanks funded by billionaires...

Murdoch, Melon Scaife, Koch Brothers

Billionaires persuade them"

Refers to Thomas Frank, Naomi Klein, Paul Krugman--

Rob; What do you have to say to people who are in relationships with narcissists, and we've already learned that often, people who are in these relationships were in families with TNs

These relationships are painful and debilitating, and people feel trapped.

When people realize they need to leave, they can't leave it-- it's a lot more difficult than people would think. People stay in bad marriages for years and years without ever getting a divorce or waiting until their kids grow up. Most people leave after a very painful struggle.

Get help from someone trained in trauma--

Rob: one thing you've made clear is that victims think that they need be able to do enough to make the relationship better through their behavior. And that's never going to happen.

TN needs, and has to get fed with proof of their omnipotence-- and when they feel anxiety, they go to the significant other and accuse them of not caring enough, not doing enough"

Rob: You talk about lesser evils-- where does this fit in with narcissism-

victim's attachment to the narcissist is all important, so in that situation, they have little choice. They feel that if they get rid of the narcissist they will be alone and have nothing.

Rob: This feels exactly like I feel like when I go to the voting booth.

victim feels alone, that will never have another relationship.

Politics is extraordinarily attractive to narcissists" many people go astray in that direction.

Rob: In some ways, the way people function in corporations sounds like the way they function in cults.

Some corporations, yes. some are more benevolent and responsible.

Rob: How do people protect themselves from TNs and how does the world do something about them?

ICSA International Cultic Studies Association-- helps people deal with cults and cult members.

Groups that seek to educate the public about radical ideologies and cults. People need to write their memoirs and be out there.

Rob: You said that there are business and corporate cults. What's that about?

Rob: Would an example be multilevel marketing groups?

no question

Rob: Final words about TN

Rob: the description you gave brings to my mind the words malevolent and evil

It's always there and sometimes it's cloaked in righteousness

It's been said that no greater evil has been done in the name of religion

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

Check out his platform at

He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites,

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet (more...)

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