by Sam Vaknin Author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisted.   

"Dark Soul"! What a wonderful metaphor that captures the very essence of narcissistic psychopaths - although I prefer to think of the darkness that is at the core of pathological narcissism and psychopathy as an absence. It is dark there because these people have no souls at all.

  Narcissistic psychopaths like to compare themselves to automata, robots, or machines. In many important respects they are forms of alien and artificial intelligence. They lack the ability to empathize, that quintessence that makes us human in the first place. Consequently, they regard others as mere instruments of gratification to be used, abused, and then contemptuously discarded.

  Only a small minority of narcissistic psychopaths are sadistic. The vast majority are cold-blooded, calculated individuals in search of narcissistic supply (attention and adulation) or of material and other benefits. They are possessed of "cold empathy": the ability to instantly and unhesitatingly spot weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Devoid of conscience, they act promptly to leverage these to their advantage. They are not emotionless. On the contrary: they are at the mercy of a strong undercurrent of rage, hatred, and destructive envy. But they project their failings, they blame the world for their self-inflicted defeats, and they are out to grab and ruin and wreak havoc and extract revenge and throughout it all amass possessions, and power, and fame, and sexual conquests, and money, and, generally, have unmitigated fun.

  Like all predators in nature, narcissistic psychopaths are great Thespians. They present a well-constructed (though precariously-balanced) fa├žade aimed at charming people and luring them into their dens and webs of deceit. Only when it is too late, when the victim is already in the throes of a "relationship" does the outer shell crumble to reveal the monster. Extracting oneself from the spiralling mayhem that ensues often turns out to be a life-long and maiming quest. Victims are scarred forever, traumatized and adversely transformed. Many of them are unable to trust again.

This book is a painstakingly well-researched tour of the netherlands of such "relationships" with narcissists and psychopaths: the ups and downs, the promise and inevitable disillusionment, the cruelty and mind games and the heartbreak that is the inescapable aftermath. The author's first-hand experience translates into helpful insight both passioned and, where appropriate, impassioned. It is a useful and liberating guide for the perplexed, the disoriented, the sufferer, and the victim. It should be read and studied by both them and mental health practitioners.