Like probably several others, over the past few days I’ve been researching what Ted Kaczynski, who committed suicide recently, actually did and who he was. Honestly, I didn’t remember what all the “Unabomber” did, as I was mostly a kid when it all happened. I saw there was some controversy over if he was mentally ill. He was cogent in what he said and deliberate in what he did. He insisted he was not ill; he would not stand trial with that kind of shame. I looked through his story and even read his manifesto. It’s very clear to me that Kaczynski was a cerebral narcissist.
The most obvious fact lending to this is that he was a child prodigy. This is one of the paths that lead to narcissism, as outlined cogently by Sam Vaknin here, http://samvak.tripod.com/malignantselflove.html. Kaczynski skipped the sixth grade, after being tested and found to have an IQ of 167. Although he went through MK Ultra style training in college, he denies that this had any impact on him. He does say however that skipping the sixth grade was pivotal for him. He had friends and was a leader among his classmates in his normal grade. When he advanced, he was bullied. He then also tested out of the 11th grade. With summer courses, he graduated high school at 15. He then applied and got into Harvard. After Harvard, he went to grad school. He wrote a paper on geometry that “maybe 10 or 12 people could appreciate.” He then became a professor. Students didn’t like him. They found him rude, boring, and he wouldn’t answer questions. It was shortly after this that he abruptly resigned and went to live a primitive lifestyle. All this man ever knew was academia and succeeding in it. When asked to perform a job, he failed, and in a humiliating way. His father pushed him to skip grades, go to Harvard, etc. Sam Vaknin writes about the child prodigy,
The child becomes the vessel of his parents’ discontented lives, a tool, the magic airbrush with which they seek to transform their failures into successes, their humiliation into victory, their frustrations into happiness.
The child is taught to give up on reality and adopt the parental fantasies. Such an unfortunate child feels omnipotent and omniscient, perfect and brilliant, worthy of adoration and entitled to special treatment. The faculties that are honed by constantly brushing against bruising reality – empathy, compassion, a realistic assessment of one’s abilities and limitations, realistic expectations of oneself and of others, personal boundaries, team work, social skills, perseverance and goal-orientation, not to mention the ability to postpone gratification and to work hard to achieve it – are all lacking or missing altogether. (The Soul of a Narcissist)
In Kaczynski’s manifesto, he gives an unusual amount of space to deriding “leftists.” For a man mostly obsessed with The Industrial Revolution, which is science and technology-based, this seems bizarre to me. And his rants are sophomoric. He lumps together “socialists, collectivists… feminists, gays,” and more as “leftists.” He then proceeds to dive into their psychology. Given he lived in the woods and never came in contact with these people, I don’t know how he could possibly give an accurate description of their psychology. He gives no acknowledgment that some of these people might have valid points. What he focuses on about leftists is not “the average person” but people who come from affluent homes, who then “feel inferior.” I propose that in his rants against “leftists” what he is actually targeting are people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Narcissists (Kaczynski) and people with Borderline Personality Disorder have a very entangled relationship. Narcissists love to prey on people with BPD, but they also hate people with BPD. I notice that a common characteristic of a person with BPD is they moved down on the socio-economic scale. So, they used to be rich but now they are middle class or they used to be middle class and now they are working class. So this would fit with people who “came from affluence” and now have an “inferiority complex,” as Kaczynski accuses them of having. I find such people typically did not live up to their parent’s expectation of intelligence or beauty. They then have all the arrogance and condescending nature of being from wealth, without anything to back it up. This describes just about every person with BPD I’ve ever known. And this is who Kaczynski targets. My guess is his mother or father or both, but most likely his mother, was a person with BPD. As a society, we don’t understand this disorder and we especially don’t understand the abuse they unleash. If anything, we give the BPD deference, as they indeed claim inferiority and demand we cater to them. Nonetheless, Kaczynski’s obsession with these “leftists,” which I think is an obsession with borderlines, points to narcissism. The main difference between a narcissist and a borderline is the narcissist has some redeeming qualities that they cash in on. They are either really good looking or really intelligent. The good looking person becomes a somatic narcissist. The really intelligent one becomes the cerebral narcissist. They get their need for adoration met through their intellectual feats. They don’t do it to improve humanity but for the accolades.
Many of Kaczynski’s behaviors point to narcissism. He was a total misogynist. He got fired for writing limericks about a female supervisor who he alleged he dated but she denies. He was celibate. This is common among narcissists, who believe they are so superior, so great, that they can forgo this base need. He also, interestingly, once considered gender transitioning to become a woman! I quite simply think disordered men who can’t find peace in their lives try to BECOME women to get that peace that women offer. A narcissist is constantly lost at sea. There is no peace, no love, no warmth. A narcissist knows they cannot attract people on their own and it drives them nuts. They have to actively pursue and even manipulate others to win relationships. And I can say, as a female, when I look at pictures of Kaczynski, I am outright confused. I want to see the genius or even the mad man in the photos. I just don’t see it. I see someone dark, dense, and heavy. As an intellectual, I would probably entertain some of his ideas. But at the end of the day, I would have been frightened by Ted Kaczynski.
It’s obvious to me that Kaczynski had read Ayn Rand. He was a very well-read man, he had to have. He also lived when she was in her prime. His writing is very Rand-esque. He gives a list of adjectives or points, without any break, without even saying “and” or “or,” the way Rand does. He talks about “rationality” a lot. This has Ayn Rand all over it. It’s bizarre that he is obsessed with “rationality” when his whole thing was being against The Industrial Revolution. But if you grew up with parents who gaslit you, i.e., denied your reality, “rationality” becomes important to you. I speak from experience, ok? I do child development work and this is actually the core growth in a child. It is what some call “object constancy.” A child needs you to help them explore reality and for you to agree that you see what they see as well. Humans are born very wobbly. They don’t totally trust what they directly see unless someone else validates it. When children discover something, they come up to you, “Daddy, daddy, look!” When parents neglect their basic parenting duties, this is the main thing that goes: a child’s grip on reality. You need a loving person to sit down with you and share in the experience of discovering the world. This is why reading WITH your child, playing games with them, and many conversations are just so important. Ayn Rand, who talks a lot about both “rationality” and general injustice, appeals greatly to a child who grew up with neglectful parents, who are desperate to find this object constancy. This kind of kills me. Because my writing understands all this and I believe I could have given someone like Kaczynski the kind of emotional intelligence tools and perspective he needed. I’m dead serious when I say I am trying to reach those few geniuses who are attracted to Rand and whose talents could better serve humanity with some better ideas about how to approach life. I wish I could get my book, The Moral Bias of Objectivism, out quicker.
Speaking of overbearing moralities, Kaczynski directly writes about it. He calls it “oversocialization.” This is when society inflicts its rules on a child to fit into society and the rules are overbearing, to the point a child can never follow them and suffers under them. He points to the fact that none of us are allowed to “hate” anything anymore. Honestly, Ted, I couldn’t agree more. I am glad someone else was also noticing this. This is exactly what I target in my book on moral bias. I argue moral bias is a trait built in to the human psyche. Humans are damn beholden to their moral systems. Make something “immoral” and a human will never, ever do it, even if that thing is necessary for their life. We won’t even stick up to people telling us we can’t breathe fresh air. Moral bias is when a moral ideal shines so bright in our minds that we don’t see the damage we are causing. I am ALL OVER this issue, and I think humanity is ready to shed this era of oppressive moralities.
But, speaking of this, if Kaczynski was worried about oppressive moralities, how does he target the left but never religion? Want to talk oppressive morality? This is his misogyny and narcissism on display. Religion serves the needs of men. He doesn’t see religion as a problem.
The case of Ted Kaczynski shows clearly my problems with traditional education. This man EXCELLED at school. And it completely warped his brain. You take a super intelligent person and put them on the fast track to do well at school, and they lose a grip on reality. They cannot function in the actual world. Give them a job, and they flounder. Traditional school breeds narcissism, as is. Ted is just an extreme example. He was Frankenstein–a monster made. But I still think flattering kids with straight-A’s also encourages a certain narcissism. You end up believing you are better than your classmates. You also have an inflated ego. Getting good grades is not actually an accomplishment. The feedback loop is completely disrupted. Instead of being rewarded for your genuine contribution to society, you are rewarded for your ability to understand what has been presented to you. This information could have, first of all, been wrong. But it’s an entire paradigm that takes a person away from LIFE that I have an issue with. I think after centuries of it, it’s warping us, as people. We raise children who can do well in school and that’s it. These are the values that have been cultivated, for generations. I don’t know how to better explain this, but I assure you my opposition to traditional school is not because I was too stupid to understand any of it. I DID WELL IN SCHOOL. You see, I actually went out and worked in industry and I saw how traditional school fails people.
Imagine you are brilliant. Generally good-hearted but failed by an emotionally volatile and insulting mother. A father that takes pride in your academic accomplishments. You are put on display, like a circus freak, just to be bullied by your classmates over it. You do all that is asked of you, but you still can’t win people over–not your students, not your peers, not women. This is why I advocate so hard to understand the timeline of child development and to respect not just the academic needs of children but also their emotional needs. Most children pushed to advance don’t do well. They quite simply end up missing their moms, if they ever even really had a “mom.” Let kids be kids–let them be wild. Ironically, let them be that “wild man” that Kaczynski advocated!
Cerebral narcissism is a disorder. The person might not be insane nor disabled, but they live with deep unhappiness. It normally is just your local office jerk, who thinks he’s smarter than he is and sometimes even bamboozles people as such. But it can turn dark. I’ve entangled with people like this, off and on, for decades. Ultimately, I can’t say I even like them. This disorder can turn dark–and deadly. I’ve lived in fear of narcissists in my life before, especially the men, although the women can be *quite* manipulative and hurtful. I believe Ted Kaczynski suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It explains much of his behavior. And I think if we give said people some better emotional intelligence tools and also clean up some of our garbage, such as how we let our kids bully other kids, we might turn this genius from a force of evil into a force for good.
Amber was an Objectivist for 10 years until she had it with this narcissistic philosophy parading itself around as reason. See her deconstruction of Objectivism at ExObjectivist.com .