Psychopathy: Up Close And Personal

Have you ever known a psychopath? I have, and I’m not using the term flippantly. While I’m certainly no expert in the usual sense of the word, my experience was up close and personal, for an extended period of time. With that and several years of intense personal research, I am reasonably certain about my ‘diagnosis’.

I have attempted on several occasions to write about my experiences, but I’ve never been able to do so coherently because this person’s behavior was so utterly bizarre that it seemed impossible to convey the full impact of it with mere words.

Psychopaths have no conscience and are incapable of feeling compassion or empathy. They are smooth operators, master manipulators and liars; the one I knew lied like healthy people breathe. They live exclusively for themselves, and no-one — no-one — else matters. They are the center of the universe, and everyone else exists solely for their benefit and pleasure. They are entitled to take whatever they want, including but not limited to your sanity, often for no reason apart from their own personal amusement.

You may be wondering how any normal, decent person could become involved with such a deeply defective and disordered individual. I’ve asked myself that a million times. Keep in mind, though, that psychopaths don’t start off being abusive. They are highly skilled at laying their traps, and they know all about using honey for bait. I’m sure we’ve all heard the boiling frog story which serves as a perfect analogy for how many psychopaths torture their victims. It’s often so gradual that victims don’t notice the increasing intensity, and sometimes only realize it in retrospect once removed from the situation.

In Without Conscience, Robert Hare writes:

What makes psychopaths different from all others is the remarkable ease with which they lie, the pervasiveness of their deception, and the callousness with which they carry it out.

These predators are abusive by nature. They can be physically abusive, but they also often engage in psychological and emotional abuse. The one I knew had a particular fondness for gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse. It involves an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from, and/or providing false information to the subject, having the gradual effect of making the victim anxious, confused, and less able to trust his or her own memory and perception. A variation of gaslighting, used as a form of harassment, is to subtly alter aspects of a victim’s environment, thereby upsetting his or her peace of mind, sense of security, etc.

Wikipedia

It has been nearly three years since my last contact with this individual, and I still occasionally experience anxiety when I recall it; I have also been diagnosed with PTSD and received treatment for it. I’m much better than I used to be, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be completely cured, if that’s even possible (some say it is, others say it isn’t). I also struggle with depression that tends to come in waves, some more intense than others. I’m just glad to have a loving, understanding and patient husband. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

I will leave you now with an excerpt from a research project performed at the Quantum Future School. I cannot vouch for the reputation of the school or the general credibility of the authors of this report, but it did match a lot of my own experiences. Hopefully it will shed some light on the subject for those fortunately less familiar:

Imagine – if you can – not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.

And pretend that the concept of responsibility is unknown to you, except as a burden others seem to accept without question, like gullible fools.

Now add to this strange fantasy the ability to conceal from other people that your psychological makeup is radically different from theirs. Since everyone simply assumes that conscience is universal among human beings, hiding the fact that you are conscience-free is nearly effortless.

You are not held back from any of your desires by guilt or shame, and you are never confronted by others for your cold-bloodedness. The ice water in your veins is so bizarre, so completely outside of their personal experience, that they seldom even guess at your condition.

In other words, you are completely free of internal restraints, and your unhampered liberty to do just as you please, with no pangs of conscience, is conveniently invisible to the world.

You can do anything at all, and still your strange advantage over the majority of people, who are kept in line by their consciences will most likely remain undiscovered.

How will you live your life?

[…]

Those of us who have had experiences with psychopaths know that the language of the psychopath is two-dimensional. They are, as someone once said, as “deep as a thimble.” An analogy is given of the psychopath as a color blind person who has learned how to function in the world of color by special strategies. They may tell you that they “stopped at a red light,” but what it really means to them is that they knew that the light at the top means “stop,” and they stopped. They call it the “red” light like everyone else, but they have no experience of what “red” really is.

A person who is color blind who has developed such coping mechanisms, is virtually undetectable from people who see colors.

Psychopaths use words about emotions the same way people who are color blind use words about colors they cannot perceive. Psychopaths not only learn to use the words more or less appropriately, they learn to pantomime the feeling. But they never HAVE the feeling.

THE PSYCHOPATH – The Mask of Sanity

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On

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18 responses to “Psychopathy: Up Close And Personal

  • saintpaulgrrl

    Thank you for sharing this, dear friend. I’m listening, I’m here for you, and I care.

  • Lottie

    Thank you, Bonnie, for your support and encouragement. This stuff is hard to talk about, but you helped me remember that it’s OK, and that it helps. You are a dear friend as well.

    P.S. I’ll have to catch up on email either at lunch or this evening. I’m on a work deadline today.

  • saintpaulgrrl

    I hate deadlines! 😦

  • Lottie

    Me too. ::sigh:: Back to it…

  • Selena

    Wow! I am going to visist this post again when I have more time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lottie

    Good to see you, Selena!

  • efilyzarcym

    After I saw the Palin Cartoon….I just knew I had to read more. Love you blog!!

    This hit pretty close to home, too. I have kids with a Psychopath (I have alsways refered to him as a Sociopath – – same difference…LOL). It has been over 13 years since I was married to him and it hasn’t all gone away. It is better on some days – – worse on others.
    I don’t think that people can understand that kind of person unless they have had experience with one – – it IS just too hard to believe that someone can be so, so…..fucked up.
    Okay, sorry for leaving a novella….I just wanted to thank you for discussing something that is so hard to talk about (and for the guts to do it!!)

  • Lottie

    Thank you for your comments and for reading my blog. I’m glad you enjoy it.

    I agree that it’s almost impossible to fully grasp what these people are like without personal experience. I’ve sometimes said that I think the true ‘experts’ on the subject are ones who have been unfortunate enough to have lived with one (or more) of them. Of course, that’s not to undermine the professionals, just pointing out how fucked up these people are and how hard it is for the rest of us to get out heads around.

    Thank you again for commenting, both here and in the other discussion. No need to apologize for the length. Feel free to chime in any time.

  • Always The Last To Know « Rambling On

    […] with people I love or speak openly about specific things that I do and places I go because of a fucking psychopath who is a complete waste of […]

  • Selena

    My Aunt was married to one of these psychos. She lived in fear! He was so sick that he threated to have her gang raped and he ran with the crowd that would do it. One night he was trying to break into her house and she called the police. A couple of years later she married that police officer. He is my uncle Richard and he works for HPD. He specializes in gangs. Their two boys also work for HPD. She became a very strong woman because of her past. She is tough! I respect women that have endured a lot of pain and come out fighting!Still standing!

    Elton John Still Standing

    You could never know what it’s like
    Your blood like winter freezes just like ice
    And there’s a cold lonely light that shines from you
    You’ll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you use

    And did you think this fool could never win
    Well look at me, I’m coming back again
    I got a taste of love in a simple way
    And if you need to know while I’m still standing you just fade away

    Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
    Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
    I’m still standing after all this time
    Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

    I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah
    I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah

    Once I never could hope to win
    You starting down the road leaving me again
    The threats you made were meant to cut me down
    And if our love was just a circus you’d be a clown by now

  • Lottie

    Thank you, Selena, for sharing your aunt’s story. While I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, it’s also good to hear about people who experienced it and overcame it as well. And thanks for posting such an uplifting song. It lifted my spirits and made me smile while singing along.

    I think this is the best place to wrap it up for the night, shut this machine down and try to relax.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah! 😀

    Thank you. Really…

  • Sisyphus Fragment

    Not every sociopath is evil or purposefully manipulative. Some even are productive members of society, helping their community and such. It’s easy to get lost when you have no compass. Especially when you don’t have the ability to even own a compass. Get my drift?

  • Lottie

    You’re right: They are incapable of owning a compass. But you are mistaken about which type of compass they cannot own.

    The “compass” that they are incapable of owning is not one that guides intent, but rather the ability to feel compassion, empathy and remorse. They are quite deliberate in all of their actions and know full well what they are doing. That’s why sociopathy and psychopathy are not legal defenses against crimes. They know what they do, they do it deliberately for their own reasons, and they do not care how it affects anyone else.

    So, they are not incapable of forming intent. They are incapable of feeling anything for the victims of their very deliberate actions. Not only do they not feel bad about it, they often enjoy inflicting pain on others, whether that pain is physical or emotional.

    As to sociopaths and/or psychopaths being productive members of society and helping their community: This is one of the most frightening and disturbing things about them, really — they walk among us.

    Blending in public plays a huge role in their ability to get away with being abusive monsters in private. They may hold down jobs and spend weekends volunteering at the soup kitchen. But it’s all part of the game for them. It’s part of how they deceive, and it’s one of the reasons that their victims are often not believed. Who could believe that such a nice guy would do the horrible things she’s accusing him of?

    They do nothing for the sole benefit of others. Everything they do — regardless of how selfless it may appear — is a means to an end that will benefit the psychopath. If someone else happens to gain from it as well, it’s purely incidental.

    I cannot stress this enough: the psychopath is in it for himself alone and no-one else matters.

    Now, this is not to say that all sociopaths or psychopaths are serial killers. But they are all predators in one way or another. Some may be simple con artists scamming people for money or property, while others (granted a small minority) are perfectly capable of dismembering and eating their victims. But whatever they do, it is always deliberate and purposeful, and they do not feel a shred of empathy or remorse for the people they hurt.

    I appreciate your stopping by, SF, and taking the time to comment. I will be upfront in saying, however, that while I rarely delete or refuse to approve comments, I simply cannot allow any comment that — deliberately or not — seems to defend, justify, excuse or downplay the actions of these dangerous individuals. I believe that to do so would be irresponsible and negligent on my part.

  • ladynyo

    This was an excellent article. This too, has been my experience…and it’s very raw. I just came out of it a year ago…but it’s something that definitely lingers….for a longgggg time.

    A couple of thoughts: Psychopaths DO feel….but only a glancing blow of a feeling. They ‘feel’ for families…but not deeply. This is the distinguishing characteristic that makes them so different from normal people. Their emotions are never deep…(deep as a thimble…LOL!) and the only real depth they get to is anger….and it’s always about them.

    It’s a very confusing life with a psychopath. I have had a women married for 16 years but involved with a psychopath for 30 to complain about his ‘introverted’ behavior. She knew about his affairs…online and other….but was in total denial. It was sad, because I couldn’t believe this competent woman in many things, a great artist, was so blind.

    However, the real issue that I finally, FINALLY understood was this: I was dealing …trying to understand not only a psychopath, but a SADIST. Once I understood the hatred that came from this ‘man’…this sadist, I could untangle my feelings and confusion.

    He was an Orthodox Jew. His hatred for women was so complete that it was the basis of his sadism. He hated the Nazis, but his ‘mindset’ towards people (and mostly women) was nothing less than what the Nazis practiced upon people…and women. He wrote horrific short stories where women were either drowned in the ‘act’ of sex, or hung up on meathooks for his ‘pleasure’ later on. His depravity was obvious.

    If we look a bit deeper and research it out, I believe that much horrific sadism is the basis for many psychopaths.

    A sadist is not a popular person: they hurt intentionally and they hurt emotionally and physically. There is no accidental hurt with them…they plan it. They thrive on it, emotionally AND sexually.

    Are they monsters? Yes, without a doubt, and they live and thrive amongst us. We just keep thinking that under the cover of their behavior that they are ‘human’.

    But their humanity is twisted and thwarted. It doesn’t matter whether they were born this way…with twisted wiring, or life made them this way. Psychopaths/Sadists don’t question what they are….because they can’t.

    This began in January, 2007 for me and every day I have thoughts about this sadist….and wonder IF things could have been different. No….never. The only victory is that we have escaped…bodily. and the ‘free rent’ in our heads will fade with time….

    Oh….and if you come across this term? “Ultimate submission”?

    It means death. With a Psychopath/Sadist…..it’s all about destruction to feed themselves.

    It really helps to think of them as Sadists…there is nothing sexually alluring or emotionally supportive with Sadists.

    Lady Nyo
    http://ladynyo.wordpress.com

  • Lottie

    Thank you so much, Lady Nyo for sharing this. It all rings so very true to me. My ex inflicted pain intentionally and with premeditation for his own pleasure and amusement. It was absolute torture.

  • ladynyo

    Yes! Absolutely. You, Lottie, are at a place where your understanding of all of this is deep and broad. It takes time and research…a hell of a lot of introspection to understand this. Your understanding is much deeper than mine, though that will come in time I believe.

    We are not alone here…and I found an excellent website that really helps with all of this: these men are just predators and we the prey. We feel so alone and stupid in the end, but we have just fallen into the patterns that these ‘men’ use…and they are pretty common.

    EOPC….”Exposing Online Predators and Cyberpaths” …is an excellent website. I came upon them after I left this Sadist last August, 2008.

    I could have used them in the beginning/middle/end….and just found them a couple of months ago. Do check them out…they are helpful.

    There is also a wonderful book: “Women Who Love Psychopaths”, by Sandra Brown….I hated the title..and didn’t want to buy this because of that, but I am glad I did. There are things in our own personalities that leave us open to these monsters….and knowing what they are….and many of them are of our strengths…helps greatly.

    You and I are not alone, Lottie…we just have suffered something that hopefully we have learned some powerful lessons. I admire your courage and your writing. Some days we think we are half alive, but we are recovering…..and we will be a lot stronger for it all.

    IF we stopped thinking of these monsters as men and saw them for what they really are: Sadists….we would be less prone to sympathy and vulnerability. And I liked your answer to SF: you didn’t back down and this is so damn important (and a sign of recovery!) I have heard so many women ‘excuse’ the sociopath AND THEIR EVIL….as “All great Men and Women are Narcissists”. Bulls–t.

    You are exactly right: they serve themselves ONLY at the expense of everyone around them. And since I was raised by a Narcissist….the lines get cloudy with emotion, but the pain is inflected WITH INTENT. And they walk amongst us with impunity. They ‘cover’ their tracks because they know that this confuses and buys them status.

    I am impressed at the depth of your wisdom here, Lottie.

    Lady Nyo

  • Lottie

    Thank you for the site and book recommendations. I’ll definitely check them out. Thank you also for your kind and supportive words. I believe your knowledge and understanding are deeper than you may yet realize.

  • ladynyo

    Welll…..it takes time, Lottie….and distance. And the realization that we are not ‘wired’ in such twisted ways.

    You will recover….You will come to a place where you will not think of him, or his humiliation of you, or intended destruction of the very core of you. Hold tight to what you know is sanity…because there is a place …deep within you…that he can never touch.

    Hell….to him…it all was of no more substance than a practical joke!

    Deep as a thimble, again…

    My sadist went to the ropes to humiliate me in public. But funny, where the man told me he never lied…all he did…in the end was lie and distort. That made all considerations about the possibilities of him having anything of interest or of value…gone.

    When a man exposes himself to be such a liar, well….he ceases being a man.

    In the end, he was pitiful. No longer was he a ‘principled man’…and these psychopaths go to great lengths to convince you that they are principled….hah!

    They are the disasters of humanity. And you will be able to pick yourself up, Lottie and go ahead with a sane and purposeful life.

    Be glad you are not his wife. That would be a sentence of eternal damnation!

    It really takes time…and his initial attraction to you was because of your STRENGTHS. He was….they all are…vampires. And the truth about themselves they can never embrace. But others do.

    My best.

    Lady Nyo

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