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The story behind that picture: "The anti-social personality"

By: Thorsten Overgaard. September 4, 2012 (Latest update Augsut 5, 2022)


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As an artist you are attracting a lot of attention, especially from a very special type of personality; 

The anti-social personality.

Some people simply live by the rule that anybody who's successful is a threat to them. Hence, to achieve survival and success they must make sure others are un-successful. 

Logically, that is not a type of behavior which is greatly accepted in society, so therefore it must be done covert.

This is why some of the best friends you gain as an artist, as someone who is out and about attracting positive attention, are people who are trying to suck your blood and make you less.

Antisocial personalities don't hate you; they hate themselves because you're the reflection they wish to be.


Nepal, February 2012. Leica M9 with Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4


One could wonder why someone would spend energy and time trying to get others down. But if they could do what you can, they would do that instead. So the reason being, is that they can't. They don't have your talent, and they know. 

Why am I mentioning this?

If you want to communicate with the world, you will be a target for those personalities. If you get onto a stage and sing, you are clearly creating something that you almost instantly get that flow: You get all the admiration and love from the majority of people, but  you also caught the attention of someone who sees you as a great threat. 

If you photograph, you usually work via the photo and are not directly on a stage, and the same goes for a writer who communicates via books, and a movie director who communicates via the actors and the cinema. You don't have the same direct contact to the audience hence the response from the anti-social personality isn't that direct. He or she will spot you and make an attempt later, directly or via other channels. 


Danish singer-songwriter Mads Langer. Leica M9 with Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4


If you want to stop people from communicating, whom would you start with: The ones who communicate the brightest, the most, the best. Logically!

Also interesting with some of the anti-social personalities I have come across, is that if you look at them, they like to have people around who are talented, but aren't using their talent. The greatly talented photographer who doesn't get anywhere with his art is his best friend. Like a dog you can play with but will never take your place. 

But if that friend starts going places and uses his talent ...puuh; he becomes an enemy and must be made less. 


New Orleans. Leica M9 with Leica 35mm. Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4


How to make an artist less

Artists are easy because they are dreamers. You meet an old school mate, who has now a company and a new Aston Martin. He is successful and he knows it. 

You meet an old school mate who talks about a movie script he is writing which will change the world. You just tell him it is a bad idea, has been done before and the plot doesn't make sense anyways. And by the way, the only movie scripts that are being accepted these days are those that are re-written from a bestseller book. That will put his dream to rest!



Destroying dreams

Dreams about the future are the most powerful, yet the most fragile. Since they only exist in your mind and rely on your talent and guts to become reality.

On the other hand, this is also the amazing thing about you as an artist. You don't dream about the usual stuff, you dream a new future and a new reality. And you are the one making it, changing things, reality and ideas.

But having a dream is a fragile state, especially when you have somebody around - virtually or physically - who doesn't want you to raise one inch above your current state. 


Singapore, January 2012. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 (II)


How to spot the anti-social "friend"

The anti-social personality is easy to spot, once you get your head around the idea that they actually do exist. They will criticize you and what you have dearest. It can be directly, simply by invalidating you strong and candidly.

For example, "You are not a photographer, you are just a dentist! Ha Ha!"

(As if a dentist couldn't be a great photographer?)


Qatar, Leica M Monochrom with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95


But when the anti-social personality is best, he is your friendly advisor, and then it will be, "You are actually talented and you have a few really great photographs, in-between, but this business is tough and even with your talent you won't make it. It's only guys like me who have been around for that long which have a chance."

Great advice ... but didn't he just tell you that you have absolutely no chance of survival?

That is an anti-social advice, simple as that. You don't even have to reason with it. You just have to stay the hell away from there. You as an artist can make any dream come true, especially the ones that nobody thought were possible. 

That's the whole point; you are the forefront of society, you are leading the way.




"Helmut Newton Sucks!"

(Comment in the guestbook at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin)



"If I was you"

The point is that the antisocial personality wants to be you. They will often give disturbing advice, like disavowe your religion or past, in order to fit in or become the person they think you should be.

If you notice that they can't do the things you can do, but they want to be you, it makes sense. You are their tool to "be you", but to kill your personality and values at the same time.

You are all they wish they could be.



Not all advice is anti-social

Now, don't decide that everybody, including your mother who once said you would never learn to cook an egg (when you were 8 years old), are anti-social personalities. 

We all say stuff that might not have the desired effect, in the heat of the moment, and often things somebody said to us, we noted, were really effective in hurting. 

One of my good friends has won many awards for graphic design. But when he started out and said he wanted to do design, his father advised him to get a job in a shoe store.
I don't think the father was anti-social, he just happened not to grasp his sons idea, and as he had worked in a shoe store himself his whole life, that was within his reality of how far anybody could go.
Not anti-social, just not a visionary artist! 

The real anti-social is easy to spot because there is a pattern in what they do. The generally invalidate openly or in a 'friendly' way (with honey on top) again and again. 

And chances are that they have a group of friends around them that are not making it. They kind of collect people, which they can fail to a level where they feel safe and won't raise up.

The anti-social is usually also non-productive in the art he or she claims to know about. They may be busy destroying and talking, but they don't make anything. 




"This is the most ridiculous illuminati gayest video ever.
Whoever listens to katy perry is a fagget coward."?

(Comment to the Katy Perry music video "Dark Horse" that has 3,318,000,000 views on YouTube).




Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95.
Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95.


The generality

The antisocial loves to imply that they have the backup of everybody and speak of behalf of the rest of the society or profession. When you are just you and you hate everybody (for no obvious reason), you need all the backup you can get for for your weak opinions. So they invent it in the place of real arguments and real data.




"Koons is a talentless bum got lucky."

(Comment to the Vanity Fair Article about Jeff Koons expo that took up the whole
Withney Museum in New York. Jeff Koons has the record for highest price of a
sold art piece for a living artist; $53,000,000. Vanity Fair later removed the possibility
to comment on their articles).



Anti-socials and IQ

You may think you are encountering someone very intelligent, but when you meet them head to head you often see a degraded person that uses all his or her analytical power to fight anyone bigger than them self. They fight and spit with such conviction and without regret that you think they know something you don't.

In reality you are often faced with a small grey being who act simply out of stupidity and lack of other talent than hate. The only thing that can bring them to life is you stopping what you do to grant them attention. That's the only life energy they can "produce".

In social media they often yell the loudest, but when you check them out, you see they have 35 followers and 18,000 posts. True story.


In social media, the antisocial personality often yell the loudest, but when you check them out, you see they have 35 followers and 18,000 posts. True story.
In social media, the antisocial personality often yell the loudest, but when you check them out, you see they have 35 followers and 18,000 posts. True story.


Groups of anti-socials

Anti-socials (or haters) seek likeminded, so some times you are attacked from several sides. Or at least it appears so. When one hates, others join in and conncet up. However, they tend to die out quickly, but they do stay connected and encourage each other to hate other things, and eventually you again. It's like a gang of bullies that walk around the school yard. When you see one that you want out of your life, spend time to see who associate with that person and clean the whole gang out.





In any case, to make it simple: Anybody who makes you feel less or feel bad at this moment, are probably not good company. And if that is the general feeling you get time after time in their company, let them go. 

But mainly, if you have a dream and someone says it's not a good idea or can never be realized, then you should set them straight or simply decide whether your dream or their friendship is most important to you.

You can be friends with anti-socials, and you can watch television together and talk about how bad the world is. But if you have a dream, you are an artist and you have things to do in life, you should have friends who make you feel more able and don't obstruct your way to realize your dreams. 


New York. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0


Spring cleaning!

I have implemented a zero tolerance policy and simply block haters. I'm all about helping people, sharing knowledge and creating art, so whenever I stumble over some of those microscopic few who just love to stir up things and not provide any products, value or solutions them self ... zap!

I can tell it is such a great feeling blocking those types (recommended).


Tristan Johnston by Thorsten Overgaard.


I believe in freedom of speech, but usually haters use it to justify that they can hate (and you may feel obliged to let them speak). But people who speak freely about their ideas and offer help do not have to stress freedom of speech. The antisocial pride themself of "everybody has a right to their own opinion" which best translates to "I don't have any responsibility, I have the right to say the most outrageous lies".

But you don't have to listen to them. Haters don’t have freedom of speech in my universe and there are ways to spring clean them out.

Hate and controversy is an effective way to get attention and is what mass media does to a large degree (spring clean them out of your life too).

If you have the ability and possibility to create fresh air, art and hope, do so. And remove those rocks in the shoe as you move along.


Social Media and Antisocial Media


Social media is not as social as promised, anymore. You migth want to re-evaluate if you want to spend time posting, spend time reading, spend time responding, spend time debating, or even be a member of a social media.

How much time do you spend a day or week on social media - and how much energy do you get in return? I'm not talking about social media as a general term; I re-evaluate each social media platform from time to time and update my use of them accordingly.



Thank you

I hope this was of some help. This article is one I have re-issued a few times since 2012 by popular demand and whenever I feel it's time to clean the air.

It's largely based on my own experience with people and artists, and with great simplicity and insight provided through the writing of L. Ron Hubbard. Those who want to be an expert on this an gain the ability to spot and remove barriers in life as easy as brushing your shoulder off, go get a tour in any Church of Scientology and ask to hear about the Ups and Downs Course.

As always, feel free to e-mail me at with advice, questions, anything.





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Photo above: Leicaflex SL with Leica 80mm Summilux-R f/1.4, Fuji Astria 100 ISO. Imacon scan.


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Photo by Eric Kim



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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish-American multiple award-winning photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops to photographers. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via email.

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