Emotional Vampires marries high quality, top notch information from a medical professional to the plain English, simple writing format that will make the information useful and easily accessible to anyone.
It’s one of the best, clearest books I have read on personality disorders.
- Bullet Summary
- Full Summary
- Real Life Applications
- Not all vampires are mean: they’re “just” hollow
- When you’are your weakest vampires don’t see someone in need of help: they see an opportunity
- Vampires are childish: they see their needs. But they don’t see yours. That can make them dangerous.
The “vampires” of Albert J. Bernstein are some of the most renown personality disorders: Antisocial, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Paranoid.
Each of them is driven by an immature and impossible need that, to them, is the most important thing in the world. But to most people, it only serves to make their lives a living hell (if they allow the vampires to do so).
The difference between emotional vampires and other disorders is on the impact on people’s lives.
When people are driving themselves crazy, they have neuroses or psychoses. When they drive other people crazy, they have personality disorders.
I love a good and simple summary :).
Antisocials hate boredom.
They love parties, sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. And in their pursuit for excitement often end up breaking both laws and social conventions.
Protection Against Antisocial Vampires:
Recognize them before they turn on the charm: check their references and their past. What they’ve done in the past is the best reference of what they’ll do in the future.
Get to know them well before you open your heart or your wallet.
They live for attention and approval.
Drama is their keyword. In all sense: what you see is not what you get and they make a big fuss out of everything.
Looking good is their specialty, and all else is unimportant detail.
- Think they never do anything unacceptable (either mistakes or immoral thoughts)
- Their behavior is more directed at fooling themselves than fooling you
- Many self help gurus and public speakers are histrionics
- Seductive histrionic may hit on your BF or hit on your GF not to steal them, but for the attention
They live out their grandiose fantasies of being the most talented, most skilled, smartest and all-around best people in the world.
It’s not so much that they think of themselves as better than other people as they don’t think of other people at all.
- If they can’t win big they find small ponds that let them be big fishes
- They find people whose need to be needed makes them feel adored
- Superstar narcissists have super high standards which doesn’t accept failure from them and the people around
- They hate passive aggression but attract it because of their aggressive ways of dealing with failure
- Expect loyalty and can spend quite a bit to get back at people (exactly what Trump says in The Art of The Deal)
Protection Against Narcissistic Vampires
They don’t do much of anything that isn’t self-serving. But if you can manage to tie your interests to theirs, then it’s possible they will take you places.
If your boss is a narcissist, says the author, your success and happiness is contingent upon indulging their every whim. Do that, or move I’d add.
They’re somewhat opposite to antisocials: they are addicted to safety.
They way to achieve safety is by full control over everything and scrupulous attention to details.
- Take long to make a decision
- Will rarely if ever show appreciation
- Confuse process with product: how things get done can become more important than getting it done
- Puritans and perfectionists are obsessive-compulsive
- They kill visions: don’t listen only to them when it comes to big ideas
Writes the author:
For people who only want everything to be right, Perfectionistic vampires can cause an incredible number of things to go wrong
They see patterns and things that others can’t.
But since they see a bit too much, sometimes what they see is true and they come up with a new theory or foil a dangerous plan. But other times it isn’t and they just drive themselves -and the people- crazy.
- Their goal is to reduce ambiguity from life
- Search for “truth” and explanations where there might be not simple truth
- Live by concrete rules and expect others to live by them as well
- Search for evidence of deviation, and they usually find it
- Moralists, visionaries, theorists (and goo therapists) have a touch of the paranoid
Protection Against Paranoids:
If you are hiding something, they will find. Tell the truth.
How Emotional Vampires Trick You
Emotional vampires use the same techniques as hypnotists. They are:
- Misdirection: focus attention on them, not on what they’re doing
- Identification: they identify the most likely victims who are most likely to give them what they want
- Isolation: they isolate victims from others
- Control: they use your own desires to control you
- Alternate reality: they create illusions based on what you want and need
- False choices: put you in a bind where one choice seems impossible. And leverage the fear of negative consequences being bigger than the consequences
And this is how you recognize the dangerous signs of hypnosis:
- Deviating from standard procedures: if you find yourself doing unusual things for someone, watch out
- Thinking in superlatives: when you think of someone as “best” and “most”, it’s a warning sign
- Instant rapport: it’s usually the result of someone presenting a fake persona just you would like to meet one
- Lack of concern with objective information: if you feel sure about something without concrete proof, watch out
- Confusion: if you feel confused don’t do anything until you figure out what’s going on
- Isolation: if you’re getting too much into them and letting go of everything else, watch out (also read: Psychopath-Free)
Healthy VS Personality Disorders
The author asks: if emotional vampires are a bit like children, what does it take to be a grown-up?
Well the answer is this:
- Perception of control: emotional vampires see themselves as victims of fate, “things happen” and they don’t learn from mistakes
- Feeling of connection: becoming an adult means learning to live by the social rules:
- Other people are the same as I am: empathy is what maturity is about. To vampires other people only supply their needs
- What’s fair is fair: vampires’ idea of fair is to get what they want
- Others have the right to deny me: vampires believe whatever they want should be given to them regardless of how others feel
Finally, the author says that to grow is to do things that are difficult. But at this one, vampires are better. Because of their immaturity they operate at the edges of creativity.
Dealing with Emotional vampires
Emotional vampires lack integrity. They are hollow inside.
When they give you something or offer help, they usually have an agenda.
They are most dangerous when you need something and your guard is down. Where most people would then see someone in need, emotional vampires see a golden opportunity.
The best strategy to contain them is what you’d use on children:
- setting limits
- arranging contingencies
- being consistent
- keeping lectures to a minimum
- rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad
- occasionally putting them in time-out
Emotional Vampires Aren’t Evil: Just Immature
Emotional vampires are not necessarily evil, says Albert Bernestein. But their immaturity leads them to operate without distinguishing much between what’s good and bad (and what will be good and bad for the people around).
These are the mindsets that can make them dangerous:
- My needs are more important than yours
- Rules apply to others not me
- It’s not my fault, ever
- I want it now
- If I don’t get my way, I throw a tantrum
My Note: sure, they are not necessarily evil, but some can be. And sometimes the distinction can only be one of : Do Good & Evil Overlap: Heroes and Psychopaths analysis, Is Trump a Sociopath, Are You Dating a Sociopath.
Real Life Applications
Cultivate Your Weirdness & Rebellion For Creativity
The author says that creativity cannot be turned on and off like a water tap.
Creativity comes from rebellion and it’s only called creativity when it produces something useful. Other times it’s called “being weird” or “having a bad attitude”.
People who like things as they are don’t create anything new.
All Greatness & All That Work Is From Personality Disorders?
It seems like the author ascribes all that is good in the world to personality disorders:
Though there is plenty of narcissism without greatness, there is no greatness without narcissism
Of obsessive-compulsives he writes:
Without Obsessive-Compulsives none of the world’s difficult and thankless tasks would ever get done, nothing would ever work the way it should, and none of us would do our homework, ever
Of antisocial vampires:
Most of history’s great deeds of exploration, financial daring, and physical courage have been done by people who would meet the criteria set down here for Antisocial vampires
I don’t know how other readers felt, but to me it felt like “normal” people without personality disorders do very little for this world. They don’t advance the world, do little thinking outside the box and present little fringe behavior.
That’s not necessarily wrong per se, but as of now I am just not sure that’s correct at all.
Can You Really Generalize For All of Them?
The descriptions of each personality disorder are superb. But when the author generalizes to all of them, I gotta wonder: can you really generalize on such different personalities?
Pathological Giving Because of Male Dominance?
On the chapter on histrionics the author writes:
This pattern of pathological giving, though not specific to women by any means, does correspond to what has been expected of females throughout thousands of years of male domination.
I disagree that “thousands of years of male domination” pushed any woman into giving.
Not All Undiagnosed Illnesses Are Made Up
Talking about histrionics the author says that they “invented the undiagnosable illness”. This might confuse histrionics with hypochondriac. And I felt that a note saying that undiagnosed does not equate to somatization could have helped.
The information is top top notch.
While I was reading I could exactly point out to a few people I have seen in my life and clearly understand their pathology.
Simple & Practical
While the information is from a high quality, professional source, Emotional Vampires is laid out in simple terms for everyone to understand -and put to use-.
Anyone, with any level of previous knowledge can learn and improve their social skills with Emotional Vampires.
Albert Bernstein writes with with and lots of innuendos. And that helps to make Emotional Vampires a real pleasure to go through (on top of the top notch information of course).
His “narcissism means never having to say you’re sorry” cracked me up and is just one of many examples.
Emotional Vampires is really an outstanding book.
Like the more famous Dangerous Personalities it seeks to popularize complex psycho-pathologies, but it does so in an effective, enlightening way.
Indeed there is so much gold here that I barely scratched the surface with this summary and review.
The author for examples differentiates several different types of personality disorders, all very helpful to deepen your understanding of people -and to diagnose and deal with the vampires around you :)-.
The academics might scoff at the terminology and mundanity of the descriptions. But Emotional Vampires is the book that does the best job in marrying accurate information with a format that is easily accessible to anyone.
Highly recommended to every non-medical reader out there who want to understand personality disorders (and psychology in general).