A sense of self and the ventral vagus nerve
According to Cognitive Principle Therapy a narcissist and a psychopath are at the opposite ends of the fear spectrum, when they are pushed past their tolerance limit. They are different in two key areas of their brain, the sense of self and the ventral vagus nerve.
- A psychopath is born with a lack of connection to the Ventral Vagus Nerve which is responsible for remaining safe with others, by building safe relationships. This cuts off the connection to the heart brain and the psychopath only acts from within the gut. The psychopath does not feel emotions he/she only feels senses in the body.
- In a normal person's brain the default mode network [subconscious] reacts to triggers by performing pattern matches and connecting past memories to the biggest emotional threat [to stay safe] from the past. A psychopath does a pattern match based only on the most successful past experience and ignores emotions.
- A psychopath is often considered to be smart, cunning and calculating, this is partly due to the amount of time they spend planning compared to a normal person. A study by Matt Killingsworth showed that a normal person spends 46% of their time "mind wandering-negative" worrying about emotion related issues. I psychopath spends this time in "mind wandering-positive" planning to get his or her needs met.
- A normal person's heart rate is controlled through ventral vagus nerve and varies with emotional and physical threats. A psychopath only responds to actual physical threats, therefore their heart rate would not fluctuate with emotional threats. They remain clam and in control.
- When a psychopath is under physical threat, then the dysfunctional personality style would be activated, however, they would have fewer variants than the normal person. The difference would be in the A.N.S [autonomic nervous system] and the Brain. The psychopath wouldn't default to "overly responsible" or "overly avoidant-escape" which are emotional responses, he/she would try and control or avoid [like the reptile]. The psychopath would expected to be left brain. eg. The overly positive and intelligent psychopath could be a CEO of a company, while an overly negative, low intelligent psychopath could be extremely physically violent.
Psychopath a sense of self.
- The psychopath lacks the "real self" which primary role is to act as a conscience for the "experiencing self" and the "remembering self." Therefore, the psychopath has no conscience.
- The lack of "Real self" in the psychopath means there is no "Shadow" and no need to fix the past mistakes. In a normal person the "Shadow" is continually challenged by the "Real Self" and causes the normal person to do things that their experiencing self may be unaware of. A normal person spends a lot of time and energy on this task. This is another area of free time for the psychopath to get their own needs meet. The psychopath uses all of the defense mechanisms as tools to get their needs meet and protect themselves from being caught out, but not like the normal person who uses defenses to protect the ego from emotional attack.
- A narcissist is born with a normal connection to the Ventral Vagus Nerve which is responsible for remaining safe with others.
- Unlike the psychopath, the narcissist responds to fear the same way as a normal person, who experiences a significant threat, eg fight, flight or freeze.
- Unlike a psychopath, the narcissist experiences guilt and shame, the same as a normal person, even though they will suppress these feelings.
- The difference between a narcissist and a normal person whose “Remembering self” has been substantially damaged, due to a loss of trust, respect, acceptance or commitment, is that the narcissist tries to cover it up using a false positive.
- The difference between a narcissist and a person whose “Remembering self” has been overly supported with words and actions of adoration and praise, is that the narcissist has to maintain this image and uses false positives to do it.
- A young person who experiences, say trauma, in their childhood, would normally down regulate [according to polyvagal theory] and experience anger or anxiety [fight-flight] or get further overwhelmed and experience depression, PTSD, panic attacks or addictions [freeze state]. The narcissist, however, would try and cover these up by using false positives. See chart below. A normal person is in the green zone. A traumatized person down regulates, but the narcissist will then up regulate into a false positive. Likewise an adored narcissist will also up regulate to maintain “narcissistic supply”.
- A normal person who experiences trauma tries to suffer and grow out of it, a narcissist will suffer and blame others, never themselves. They use defense mechanisms to maintain their false positive “Remembering self”
- The narcissist tries to suppress the “Real self” from changing the “Remembering self”. They are too fearful of being exposed either as a flawed person [inadequate narcissist] or a fake person [adored narcissist]
The Psychopath and the Narcissist [particularly the adored narcissist] look the same.
- It is difficult to distinguish between the psychopath and the adored narcissist in a work setting because they both appear as the same type of dysfunctional person and create the same type of work environment.
They both will
- Undermine trust, respect, acceptance and commitment and create paranoid fear [of them], create rage [which is often acted out as displaced anger at home], create rejection and shame to prevent a person from being couragous and speaking up against them.
- Use the nine defense mechanisms to control the environment. eg Special rules for those they favour, cut-off those they don't. Create hero's inside the team, but use the hero's work to promote their image outside the group. Project their problems on to others and create scapegoats. Attract "yes people" and who enable them to maintain their status. Create team secrets, where they are the only one who knows the whole story, so they can control the team. Form triangles to play one person off against another to maintain dysfunction and prevent others working against them. Hire a "clown" who is used to make a joke out of serious breaches that occur, eg, sexual abuse.