Psychopaths… we usually only know them from Hollywood movies. We never expect them to enter our real life. But, the psychopath is closer than you think. Experts believe their number to be as high as one in a hundred. Most of them function incognito in high-powered professions…all the way to the very top.
But… it takes one to truly know one. In this intriguing documentary, Sam Vaknin, a self-proclaimed psychopath, goes in search of a diagnosis. In a scientific first, he allows himself to undergo testing to find out if he was born without a conscience. He knows he’s narcissistic and cannot empathize with others. By his own admission, he’s pompous, grandiose, repulsive and contradictory, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable… but he believes, he’s not a bad person. What he is is indifferent…he couldn’t care less. Unless, of course, the topic is himself.
Vaknin and his long-suffering but ever-loyal wife, Lidija, embark on a diagnostic road trip. But, it’s uncharted territory… deep into the mind and life of a psychopath. The 47-year-old convicted corporate criminal has agreed to take part in the pursuit of his own diagnosis… meeting the world’s experts in psychopathy in the hope that science will provide some answers for why he is like he is. These experts put Vaknin (and his wife) through a battery of rigorous psychological tests and neuro-scientific experiments.
Vaknin is shocked at the results. Sam, his wife, the scientists, the film-makers – will they ever be quite the same again?
52 Comments / User Reviews
Sam is a great reference for dealing with the narcissistic people in your life. Once you realize they are what they are you’ll be much wiser about them.
I notice many of you saying he’s not a psychopath. Do you know better than these diagnostic tools, scientific experiments and psychiatrists? It would make sense to say that he faked his responses, but most tests have lie-detector tests built in. To be fair, they should’ve lie-tested him with the MMPI-2 and the other lie detecting tests.The guy is a psychopath- just not a criminal type one (though he has committed at least 3 crimes), his “honesty” is narcissistic self-aggrandizement, he’s articulate and manipulative, disregards normal social rules and laws. And when he’s manipulative it’s hard to spot. Whoever said their ex was “manipulative but I knew and his friends knew”- that is not manipulative. True manipulation means you do it so well it’s hard to spot, or you do it automatically without even needing to think about it. This guy is a lot like me except I have a conscience, ethics, principles and I’m much more adept at charming people and concealing my unease (did you notice how uncomfortable he was about the PHD? Touching his head? And rubbing his neck when the 18 score surprised him?) I would never do that. I think I can also control my emotions better. I’m probably not a psychopath, as I have ethics. But did you notice how not getting angry was merely another mode of manipulation? He tried to convince Ian to do the film his way (subtly, by pointing out how boring his film would be), mocked him by being disappointed/failing to provide a hurt, angry or betrayed reaction) and kept in control (by remaining calm and putting Ian on the defensive). The most intelligent and dangerous psychopaths are not criminals! I’d probs be a criminal if I was less intelligent or grew up in a rough neighbourhood, but as it is I’d never be as you can’t usually escape justice for long. You’re never free of worry. I would assimilate into the system, serve the system by getting my kicks not from crime but by doing the exact same things criminals do, just in a way that is allowed or even glorified by the system. I bet police, military etc have lots of near-psychopaths in them. “If you want to catch a criminal, think like a criminal” and most criminals score highly on psychopath tests!
I can’t believe ..I’ve actually watched
the whole thing!
/made by some private person who gathered up some stuff about
and made a … ..ehhh ..handy-video-documentary
..of ..-sorry!- the lowest rate I’ve seen so far!
to my first comment (..watch the whole thing!..):
I’ve passed a lot of time during the film looking around in my
for spider-webs, that need to be cleaned off![–> I am not telling
this to offend any one! –> it’s just the truth!]
Genghis Khan, now there is a successful Psychopath.
I’m no expert but it seems like he’s a bit of a con ? She is suss too ! . Perhaps they want to sell more books $$
psychopaths are the most capable con artists
Sam is a con artist and a fuck wit and i would happily tell him 2 his face just 2 c if he actually has any balls.
he would likely rage then storm away
I have a sister who is a narcissistic psychopath. It is a devastating thing for a family. My other sister was the deepest victim of the narcissistic psychopath and still suffers. It is a very hard thing to watch my parents under her control but also my other sister and myself feel it is keeping them safe from her venum to stay under her control. I felt very sad for this film-maker but also he is fortunate to not have to stay in the life of this person. I wonder how many years it will take Lidija to realize what is going on and then if she will have the strength and courage to step away. When you try to step out from under their control it is a lifetime and extremely intense battle that you never truly win. They get off on feeling superior and making others pay for what they feel is unfair treatment.
If I had a child that was that way I’d either get them arrested if I could and/or get a restraining order against them. If it came down to it, I brought them into this world and I’ll take them out of this world. My bad-apple, I’ll toss it or throw it away! No offense, but your parents need to run her off legally. Staying under her control is blinding and a horrible idea. They can get a restraining order just by the fact she is making their life hell, or just because they don’t want her around. If she comes back around after that get her arrested. You CAN WIN! Boy, she really did a number on ya’ll! No offense!
I think many people don’t get this film – and I think it’s because no one can truly grasp the concept of a psychopath until they have had first hand experience resulting in some damage. The psychopaths that smile that are the worst. My father scores very highly, so I am deeply sorry to hear of your experiences. It seems like the only way to really escape is to relocate geographically and start a new life. But no matter how far away you get these people seem to stay in your head somehow. It’s being in your head that usually stops people from leaving – constantly evolving entrapment. If you can get away they keep abusing you inside your head, even when you’re long gone. It’s a horrible scenario for all victims and I feel that therapy is the only true way to some sort of freedom. I wish you all the best.
spoiler- he gets 18 out of 24 on a pyschopath test.
i just thought he was an egotistical, selfish, raging dickhead.
who knows, maybe thats why pyschopaths snap. people confuse them with dickheads 😛
I find it funny that so many people choose to dissagre that this man is a psychopath as if they’ve studied the subject and the man for some time. and besides it’s nothing more than an diagnosis. dont get stuck in categorization and just watch how incredibly manipulative this man is. truly remarkable
My husband did that daily for years. Its no picnic. He raised “mean” to a fine art and reveled in his own theater – and acted completely aghast when discovered and his mask pulled down.
Don’t bother watching this documentary. All you’ll learn is that he is a stupid git. There! no need to watch.
meme_queen82 is deffinately not a “PhD in psychology..” you dont actually need a genius IQ to be a psychopath.. thats one of the biggest urban legends ever.
meme_queen82 is deffinately not a “PhD in psychology..” you dont actually need a genius IQ to be a psychopath.. thats one of the biggest urban legends ever.
I’m not a doctor or a PhD student but I wouldn’t diagnose Sam as a psychopath. I would simply diagnose him as a dickhead
A total “poser”
Sam: Intellectually gifted and Asperger’s. Psychopath? Nah….
Lydia: Co-dependent enabler in martyr garb.
BTW, I’d like to know what instrument yields a measured IQ of 180. Haven’t come across one in the English speaking world.
These two have a shtick, have found a niche, and are have fun making money doing it.
This guy is, in my opinion, crazy. But a psychopath? not so much. im going to have to agree with meme_queen, sociopath.
the funny thing is that I am a PhD in psychology and at varying points have been diagnosed as a sociopath and once as a psychopath. However, nobody knows the true definitions: they keep fucking changing them. I always go to one of my old favorite jokes:
Q: what’s the difference between a sociopath and a psychopath?
A: sociopaths build castles in the sky…psychopaths try to move into them
I do think this guy is more of a sociopath. And I also think he is part of why sociopaths have a bad name (seriously, many of the most beloved leaders in history meet the qualifications for anti-social personality disorder.)
and to all the commenters saying they dated psychopaths…seriously, some people are assholes. to truly be a sociopath or psychopath it takes a genius IQ. and most of us with that never get caught in the shit we pull off. Seriously: you were just dating an asshole.
Unless he stole your cat, sold it for profit, got 3 credit cards in your name all while banging your mother,sister, and male cousin…he wasn’t a sociopath. And unless he stole your cat, fucked it, ate it, took out 3 contract hits in your name, and fucked/mutilated your mother, sister and male cousin…he wasn’t a psychopath.
There is no link between IQ(which if you studied psychology you would know is actually subjective) and personality disorders. Plenty of unintelligent people are anti-social, and some of them are also socio(or)psycho-paths. Also difference generally stated is that psychopaths are born with their condition whilst sociopaths are born with normal temperaments and their social conditions have enabled them to develop ASPD. Thus the reason they seem poorly defined, however given that they are both subsets of the same disorder, they are usually treated as interchangeable. If you claim to have a PhD, you should at least have known that.
Just sit back and watch Christian Bale in American Psycho and skip this one!
I’ve known psychopaths, and this guy ins’t one. I know people with the same aggression like this guy but they are most definitely not psychopaths. Psychopaths see the world in a very darwinian sense, they believe in a dog eat dog world and enjoy other people not being hurt, but enjoy seeing their weaknesses.
Do you know that cellulite is normally a dilemma for just about all women? Most of us have it at sometime in our life. How demoralizing is that?
That music was so annoying I couldn’t get past the intro.
Here is a man who has found and edge a nitch, and thats it. He was raised with a absent moral hand, and therefore he prioritizes different. A psychopath, probably not.
I haven’t bothered watching it after all. Right at the beginning the narrator says, “He was a millionnaire, so he tells us” – didn’t they bother to find out if it was true then?? This puppet documentary is worthless. And frankly, I don’t even trust it, because he seems far too willing to be disliked, and when asked “well, you are human aren’t you?” he seems desperate to try to think of something that will PROVE he’s a psycho and not like everyone else. No, this is garbage, I don’t actually believe it, so I won’t be watching any more.
I’m going to watch this right now. It ties into what I’ve read before, in that successful business-men often show the behaviour of a psychopath, in that they have no feeling of conscience and will think nothing of ripping someone off.
Now keep it down for a bit while I watch this video..
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This guy is just a self interested pompous prick who spends all day long gazing into his navel. He’s not narcissistic or insane, all he does is talk about his shitty self esteem issues.
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I would say this study would label S. Vaknin more a sociopath than a
true psychpath. While I think this docudrama had many informative insights,
the distinction of psychopathology from sociopathology was never
mentioned with only narcissism allowed as a lesser behavioural disorder.
What I have gleaned from Mr. Vaknin’s theatrics is more one who “….seeks out situations ( or manipulates situations ) such that their tyrannical behaviour will be tolerated, condoned or admired. ” This is a definition of a sociopath. A psychopath has the same lack of any feelings toward their cruelty but they are genuine madman who get out of control or at some point lose sight of the danger they put themselves – real criminal activity. There is some form of ultimate power trip that demands their full attention while in denial of the consequences. Vaknin nevers steps over that line; he is always in control or attempting to be.
My eldest brother has many of the qualities of a sociopath ( pathological liar, manipulator, great charmer ) but he is very emotional sometimes about mother and family ideas he has about ‘love’. I say ideas because his actions seldom agree with this so called love of family. He is emotional though…. especial when drunk. He has endless chatter about his accomplishments and his future plans but he actually has considerable talent both as a singer/guitarist ( self-taught ) and as a pen/ink artist. But the artist tends to be a ‘copyist ‘ rather than one who needs self-expression in art. He does some excellent caricatures and then will do a terrible copy of mother and swear it’s a perfect likeness ?
Most freshman Psych majors would probably corner my brother as a narcissist with hidden demons of low self-esteem . But I have never seen or heard him admit to anything but a very high opinion of himself. When drunk he will come clean on many issues but never lower his self image. Does it always follow that radical self-engrandizement must overshadow poor self-esteem ? In his case,as with Vaknin, I am sure they believe in their inherent superiority.
Good documentary overall : 3 out of 4 from me. Would have preferred a comparison ‘psychopath’ to differentiate between differing disorders of psycho-sociopathology and the link of narcissism.
Unfortunately this guy is not even slightly interesting, psychopath or not. The filmmaker is a dud too.
Many years ago I was in a relationship with a psychopath, though I didn’t know it at the time; only afterwards when I learned what a psychopath was, did I realize why the relationship was so bad, and why I felt so bad when I was with him. This is the first time I learned about the people such as Lydia who “fall in love” with psychopaths, and this has helped me to understand myself.
Thanks for this.
Why would anyone downvote this comment? 😛
Anyway, i used to date a very narcissistic guy, some behaviour is a bit like a psychopath i think because they are so good at manipulating people. It’s scary at times i look back and think about how he manipulates people. I was always aware though, also his close friends are.
what is with the high pitched squeals that randomly happen? almost gave me a migraine
so frustrated! i want to get this downloaded to my iphone so my friend can see it, but i cant find a way.. will anyone tell me how please??
i think theres a blip.tv app… this is where it is streamed from
or just look up a torrent of it, convert it to the right video for an iphone/ipod and put it on there
Yeah, I agree with some other posters. This guy isn’t a real psychopath. He’s an attention whore, a narcissist. He wants to be the center of attention and not be held accountable for the things he does to draw attention to himself.
Eugh, this is such poor documentary making.
To me, this so-called psychopath is just a guy who likes to pretend “he’s a bad guy”
Yes he is a “wannabe”
My thoughts exactly! as soon as i saw this i got the impression he was more of a wanna be Psychopath.
yes, very much a wannabe psychopath – his behaviour fits with his diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. Yes, there’s a lot of overlap between the personality disorders but this dude clearly is not a psychopath. attention whore.
Exactly. He has a 3-million-mile-long mental-masturbatory blog/”self-help” website with endless self-aggrandizing, melodramatic descriptions of how remote, arrogant, old, how scarily self-absorbed, how indifferent he is to the needs and feelings of mere humans, etc., etc….He does describe narcissim well, including the lack of empathy for others. NPDs DO have quite a bit of it…has that in common with psychopaths. But he desperately desires to be, needs to be, unique, as he admits, anbd that’s what’s “special” about NPDs: All their self-esteem needs are fed by degrading and punishing others after first reeling them in.
He admits NPDs are insatiable “attention whores”, bottomless holes of need for adulation, full of self-hatred. All true…but it’s still sour grapes to the nth power. Being an “expert on narcissism” has, I see, branched out to the even more phony expertise on psychopathy. (And that’s almost certainly become he is 100% invested in being the BADDEST BAD BOY there ever was, and proudly insisting “and you can’t fix me!!…because he has decided that to the general public, serial killers are much more interesting than needy ego freaks.(They aren’t going to read his vast wisdom on the finer points of NPD.)
He is to be pitied, but not in the sense of forgiven. And his wife…well, there are those women who marry the Ted Bundys, too—gotta have one of those to complete the image….”coulda been a contender”.
Nice to read intelligent assessment of this doco. I’ve been a lone voice on other sites arguing there is no body count – hence he is self-aggrandising and a tad boring. In the absense of money, good looks, brilliance, sporting prowess or even a modicum of charm – he isn’t even an interesting NPD.
This really really really REALLY REALLY needs subtitles. I found it extremely difficult to understand what Sam Vaknin was saying, and had to pause and rewind many many many times. Had volume up to maximum and still didn’t help. Really annoyed me and affected my enjoyment of the documentary.
Haha are you serious his accent isn’t that strong, maybe you dont want to understand him? listen to what he’s saying and not try and listen how strong his accent is dumbass
‘and listen TO’ I should say :p
very interesting think theres a little bit of a psycho in us all.