On to: Culture Stuff | Glossary | Music Stuff | Psychopathy| Introduction | Short Story
Let me begin by saying that this is a very difficult topic to handle in a worldwide forum. No matter what I write, my words will anger someone, frighten someone else and inspire yet others. Hopefully, I will at least get my readers to think seriously about their own values. For instance, what do you think about this as a solution to the psychopathy problem? Only a fool tries to please everyone...and I am no fool!
Psychopathy is usually associated with criminal and/or immoral behavior, especially with "career criminals"-- those who typically engage in more than one type of crime and have been doing so for a long time. It seems to be the foundation of a career criminal's personality upon which all the destructive, antisocial behavior is built. Immediately, someone will jump up and yell out that criminality is culturally defined. That is true. The continuum of acceptable-unacceptable behavior varies widely across cultures. However, there are some behaviors -- murder for example, which are widely held to be unacceptable (I know Margaret Mead deserves a citation here, but I forget out of which book I learned the fact! Sorry, Margaret.). Telling lies may be considered impolite but excusable one place, while seen as a major crime elsewhere. For our purposes here, I will focus my attention on the perceptions of "western" cultures, particularly those of the USA and Germany, as I am most familiar with them.
Criminals are typically very "street smart". So one clue of psychopathy is if the person boasts about being able to outwit others. It shows something of the way he or she operates on a daily basis. Another clue is known as the "duping delight" (Hare, 1993). The term itself was coined by psychologist Paul Ekman. The person will try to trick people somehow, or maneuver people into believing strange or outrageous things, making up stories just for the fun of putting something over on someone. There will be no necessity to lie, but a lie is told nonetheless, just to see if he or she can get away with it. If they do get away with it (or are successful with their trickery), it excites them and reinforces their narcissistic delusion, in which others are stupid and they are superior. If they don't get away with it, if you confront them with their lies, they act as if nothing just happened! They simply ignore the current social situation of being caught in a lie and continue to make up more lies in an attempt to patch things over -- or they will just let it stay as is, waiting for your next move. What's it gonna be?
In my opinion, the psychopath represents humanity gone haywire. For this reason, I do not wish to handle the topic of the psychopath's presence in society like other behavioral writers do. I don't intend wasting any of my time on efforts to rehabilitate them (for instance, Wong & Hare, 1998-2005; an admirable attempt, but inadequate for personality work. The plan presented focuses mainly on the reduction of violence. Any personality improvement seen is merely a mild side effect of the therapy situation and behavioral modification of the violence. In other words, you just end up with a less violent scoundrel.) My intent here is not as academic as it is political; I wish to educate and warn you the reader of some of the more common signs that the person in question -- usually a male -- is someone you should detach from...and quickly!
The sooner you can detect a troublesome person, the better off you will be. One quick check is your placement of him or her on the "asshole scale". Now remember, not every jerk or idiot is necessarily psychotic! However, many psychopaths do represent an extreme form of the "asshole" personality type, they've just learned to conceal it most of the time and appear to be "nice, normal, even charming" people. Many are, in fact, developmentally stuck in their early years, still fighting the battles of authority and parental control over them! They must get their way or they'll make trouble of some sort. [Subject Note: By the way, you should keep in mind that not all psychopaths are assholes, just as not all assholes are psychopaths. However, what an overlap!]
As for occupations, these can hold some predictive information about the person. For one, if they're unemployed -- run like hell!!! Otherwise, considering the difficulty psychopaths show in normal social relationships, they tend to gravitate toward jobs that let them work with things, requiring a limited amount of human contact. Such occupations include auto mechanic, carpenter, long distance truck driver and construction work, etc. Now I'm not saying that your plumber is necessarily a psychopath; psychos can be found in all occupations. I'm just saying that the probability of finding one increases in jobs that revolve around things rather than people. They also gravitate toward positions of power, ie politics, school principal, psychotherapist, peace officer, etc. [Subject Note: The red flag of unemployment gets diluted to pink in hard economic times, since there is then an unusual number of people walking around unemployed.]
As for drug usage, many psychopaths who do indulge love alcohol and methamphetamine (take a quick look at the 3 photos on this DEA web page!). I suspect the "meth" helps give them the neural excitement they crave; gaining little or no security or comfort from the past, they must constantly seek excitement in the now. They get bored easily. I am told that meth also enhances sexual behavior -- which is then a strong reinforcer for continued drug usage. It can really make them think some bizarre thoughts, though. Habitual users of meth will likely have dental problems at an early age. So, if someone is only, say 50, and has no teeth left it's a good possibility that the person is a methamphetamine abuser. Now whether he or she is also a psychopath remains to be determined.
Another red flag is whether the person finished High School or not. This is significant, since only a small percentage of "dropouts" really do well in life. If the person you're dating claims to have graduated, ask from which school -- and quietly verify it. If you find out he or she did not finish school, find out why. Did she get pregnant in the summer before senior year? Was he expelled for carrying a semiautomatic weapon down the hallway? The reason someone leaves school before finishing will usually tell you something of his or her character. In my father's case, he left school at 16 I believe, in order to help support himself and his mother, my grandfather having died when my dad was just 9. After his service in the US Navy during World War II, my father finished school and then together with his GI Bill, he earned a BS, MS and ultimately a PhD in genetics from Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA.
Take things slow and enjoy the trip, since once a woman marries a psycho, it is far too late. By then, he'll know way too much about her life and be legally bound to her. So, when she eventually does him this huge injustice (like saying "no" to any of his selfish desires or confronting him about his flagrant immaturity), the big brat inside him gets all bent out of shape and he proceeds to "get her back for that", "teach her a lesson", and "let her know who's really the boss". It's as if the toddler can finally go one on one with Mom! They will often try to find a way to use the information you told them about yourself to hurt you somehow -- or they may even become physically violent.
For this reason, I must inform you of "the one year rule". Don't go to a high level of commitment for at least a year, if you wish to be absolutely sure about him or her. Certainly don't move in together or get married too quickly! Their parasitic nature craves such legal connections to you. Even the most deceptive psychopaths will lose their masks within a year; it takes a lot of effort to keep up false appearances. This reminds me of what I once heard a woman scream at her psycho boyfriend: "I knew it wouldn't last two years!" Apparently, she had a personal rule not to marry someone before two years of relationship had gone by. Good girl! Another observation I can share with you is that several people I've talked to said that their boyfriends/husbands have a three month cycle. I believe it's what some people call the mean-sweet cycle. Once they forgive them and take them back, these men maintain good behavior for only three months at most. After that, they go back into their out-of-control/forgive-and-forget drama.
During that first year of relationship, many clues often go unnoticed or even ignored. Conversely, it is necessary to evidence the presence of several signs, before coming to a "diagnosis" of him or her being a psychopath! It's reasonable to assume that as more and more signs and signals are observed, the more likely the diagnosis will be a fitting one. (There are, of course, official psychological tests already developed to diagnose psychopathy. More about them can be found here on Dr. Hare's website. I don't think any of them have an "asshole scale", though.) One dead give away is their parasitic lifestyle. If you're dealing with a psychopath, he or she may well ask you for money in some form soon in the friendship. Even if it's just "a couple of bucks for gas", during those first few days you will probably be asked for something monetary. Yet, they do occasionally have their own money; remember that 1970 song by the Archies, "Waldo P. Emerson Jones"? ...Yes, I said the Archies! It's probably the angriest sounding song you'll ever hear from them.
Parenthetically, many consider themselves to be excellent musicians. These guys usually play the guitar, but run out of material in about 15 minutes! They then start repeating what they've already played. They're all technique and no soul. (Keep in mind now, it's not the running out of material that is indicative of psychopathy, but rather the narcissistic belief that he or she is an excellent musician, when it is not the case.)
Here's a cute little Wallpaper for you, in .jpg format. It's a photo I took when I was an undergraduate in the spring of 1983. (It is of a psychology book, Lester (1982) I believe, and a cup of hot cocoa.) Click here if you would prefer the Wallpaper in .bmp format (better quality, larger file and a longer download).
One simple clue is that the person may not adhere to common social customs. Manners [#5] may be lacking, the person gives the impression of being somewhat of a slob, he or she may seem unconcerned if ever late meeting you for something, and will rarely if ever apologize unless prompted. And if prompted, you can imagine the sincerity that will come with the apology! Sometimes, their personal deception style may have them over-apologizing -- apologizing too often. This also shows insincerity.
Time and time again, I've heard of -- and observed first hand -- family, religion and morality being used to stick the mask of normalcy on the psychopathic face. You may be told you're just like family -- early on in the friendship! (Some people call this being "fast friends".) The person may even have a wife and kids! Or, more likely, an ex-wife and maybe one kid, because by then it had finally become obvious that the relationship was going nowhere. They may boast about reading "the Bible" or actually be able to quote scripture. Yet, if someone has to tell you that he's moral, chances are he isn't! They tend to tell you positive [#2] things about themselves, rather than show you things through their behavior.
Psychopaths will typically rely on the frequency of words (they talk a lot), since they have difficulty empathizing with and using the intensity of emotion (see my frequency-intensity effect glossary item for more). These two observations together give the impression of them "knowing the notes but not the music" (ie Cleckley, 1988 and/or Hare, 1993; I forget if that analogy was used in the one, the other, or both! I'll fix it someday; this is, after all, just a work in progress and those two books of mine are stored away somewhere at the moment. It would be great if someone out there would email me a correction.). To know the notes but not the music means of course, that they know what to say so that normal people will develop a particular understanding, but they have no grasp of the emotional depth the others experience upon processing the words. For instance, they are keenly aware that allegations of child abuse are to most people, horrific. Psychopaths will have no problem in making such false accusations, simply in an attempt to tarnish someone's reputation or to sway a courtroom decision, etc. Yet, they will have no concept of what such a victim goes through emotionally, the guilt a mother may feel for not having known or helped, or even of what you're feeling just now reading this.
With "the frequency of words" is also where you get the slick talkers from, the smooth-talking con men. The better grasp of the language the more successful a con [#4] can be. This alone can be a hint: if early on you feel confident in the other person, you might be being conned! This is significant since they always attempt to set up your perceptions of them right from the start, or at least early on. Most psychopaths can't do the give and take relationship dance very well, so they will try to quickly construct a favorable picture of themselves in your mind, using words. Now you may be justified in saying that everyone tries to give a good impression from the start, but I counter [verb #1] with the observation that you will be able to tell the difference when you see it...hopefully.
Still another red flag is that many of them will seem ..."smirky". They have a smirky kind of grin in common and some seem to exhibit an antsy or jittery kind of "baseline energy output" in their movements. I think the smirk comes from the infantile quality of gratification their behavior gets reinforced with, while the apprehensive baseline energy output could be indicative of their perceived need to "deceive on their feet". They're always sensing that they have to size up and continuously monitor their current target. So, if you feel like he's keeping tabs on you, you might want to start worrying about how to get away from him (see "The Loser" link, four paragraphs below).
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The psychopath may be jealous or seem paranoid. A classic clue is that the person will argue ad hominem to defend or rationalize his or her actions! Simply put, he or she will heatedly combat "the attacker" (be it a parent, friend, judge, society, etc) with name-calling and finger-pointing of some kind, in order to get attention off his or her own behavior. It is also in this vein that the psychopath usually works on his or her intimates, constantly implying a lack of skills, looks, knowledge, etc, on the part of the other. The danger here (particularly for women since they tend to blame internally, while men tend to blame externally), is buying into his or her attempts to bring you down -- to "level the self esteem playing field" so that they can actually have a chance at relative ego enhancement!
Other signals are either a hypersensitivity to criticism or being totally oblivious to it. Usually, the psychopath will be hypersensitive to criticism; they can dish it out but can't take it themselves. They get angry when confronted with their shortcomings. Otherwise, they may seem totally unaffected by criticism. This points to their utter lack of caring about the opinions of others. At any rate, the psychopath will likely be extreme in reaction; there's rarely a middle ground for them.
Psychopaths just love prowling the Internet! They are able to remain hidden behind the technology as they indulge in their cyberbullying, hacking and cracking. They'll back away from a fair fight; they prefer a rigged game. They will not engage with you unless they are 99.9% sure they will be victorious. Hence, we see the typical psychopath victimizing women and men of smaller stature. In other words, the common psychopath is simply an immature little coward who feels a need to bully others in order to boost both his ego and, I believe, his pride in himself! ...I just don't understand why the entertainment industry makes such a big deal out of the "bad boy" character. Tarantino? Boooooo!
They can be quite clever and deceptive, yet you will get the clues if you're tuned into them. However, once you do sense trouble it is a whole different story how to get out of it, while maintaining your financial and emotional freedom. (I strongly suggest you also read this page on "The Loser". About two thirds of the way down there is a section on how to disengage from them, called "Guidelines for Detachment".)
If you do slip, miss the signals, overlook the signs etc, and end up totally screwed by one of these "Untermenschen" (that's the German word for "subhumans" by the way), be sure to find a "psychopath recovery" discussion group for support. You will need to hear the stories of others, or you may just start sounding like a rambling paranoid idiot yourself! There are lots of such groups on the Internet, and two good ones are located at http://www.aftermath-surviving-psychopathy.org/ and http://www.psychopath-research.com. Depending on how "shell-shocked" you feel, you may also wish to look into an in-person support group in your local area. Womens' shelters are good places to ask -- and not just for female victims, either. If your situation involves a stalking, see Proctor (2003).
What can be kept in mind is that the majority of a psychopath's interactions with you will, on some level, be geared to get -- not to give. Early in this one way "relationship" the target is simply information...you find yourself talking a lot while what you hear back from him or her sounds great, culturally speaking. Even when apparently giving, their motivation is to receive -- usually something for nothing. With information, the result is that if you look you will see a lot of lies being told. Because of this, my best advice is to verify what you hear. At least the big stuff. For instance, a newly encountered psycho may wish to impress you by saying something like, "...then when I got out of the army, I got my MBA from Harvard...." Super guy...right? Well these "facts" are easy to verify; if they don't check out, you'll know you have trouble. [Author Note: By the way, that army/Harvard quote was taken from a reenactment on the FOX television series "America's Most Wanted" (amw.com), which was later on the Lifetime cable channel, but is now off the air. Hi John!]
With material goods, this motive is exposed when they threaten to take back a gift or to even destroy something he or she made for you. The gift was not a gift at all. It was more like an unspoken bribe for you. Their expectation upon giving it, I suspect, was that you selflessly continue to fulfill all of his or her emotional and material needs -- or else! Quite infantile, wouldn't you say? Consider that if an infant is hungry or has soiled itself, it will negatively reinforce your parenting behavior with ear-splitting screams and cries. In other words, be on the lookout for someone who is not an infant, yet negatively reinforces parenting behavior in you. Such parenting behaviors might include the setting of personal boundaries or providing various types of resources.
That's another thing common in many psychopaths: their sense of entitlement is all out of whack. They feel inappropriately entitled to stuff -- typically your stuff! I find it's here that one gets a clear glimpse of their child-level perspective on life. A small child (say 15 to 24 months) expects to get and get and get, while not being expected to give all that much toward the household maintenance. In adult relationships, this can lead to a man not having a job, expecting the woman to work and do whatever he wishes, whenever he wishes it. Such selfishness can -- and too often does -- lead to sexual assault and battery [#4]. And as if that weren't enough, this inflated sense of entitlement of theirs even extends to punishing you any way they see fit, for however long they see fit, for any reason they find suitable. They enjoy exercising power over others. I believe they enjoy this as it is a direct opposite of what they probably experienced during their miserable childhoods.
Curiously, it is indeed that larger-than-life picture of themselves that can give them away. As Laura Knight-Jadczyk of "the Quantum Future Group" states in her work, What is a Psychopath?: "The psychopath is primarily distracted and impressed by his own grandiose self-representation, which often leads to him unwittingly telling people things that lead to his detection." (This quote is found almost a quarter of the way down the page.)
Since many psychopaths are so shockingly immature and selfish, that while interacting with normal people, they really have to hide the fact for as long as they can. For psychopaths, personality deception is long-practiced and their narcissistic resentment of the past runs deep. I'll even venture to say that this personality deception begins as soon as the future psychopath realizes that he or she can think bad things about others and no one can "hear" them. (In the coming years, I believe it will become painfully obvious that their sheer numbers are on the rise, possibly even gaining in their percentage of the general population.)
Another sign is a tendency toward passive aggression. This is how they can enjoy being aggressive and hateful, yet quietly get away with it. For example, he will see that your tire is almost flat, but will say nothing to you about it. You will then have trouble with it later, while it would have been easy for him to help you out by saying something. Instead, it gives him the opportunity to be the hero as he leaps to your aid, thoroughly enjoying all of the excitement the occurrence precipitates [verb #1]! I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he's the one who stuck that nail in your tire to begin with. I personally know of a psychopath committing arson -- at one in the morning -- in such a way that he was also the person who put the fire out and hence save everybody. Wow.
There are as many paths to deviancy as there are deviants. Along those paths, though, are similar events. [Subject Note: My dilated use of the term "events" includes the manifestation of various types of people.] For instance, while growing up, a person may experience continuous disappointments while never developing much of a sense of being able to control anything that happens to or around him or her. (Some such common, causative events these days include the conditions created in the wake of divorce, being raised by grandparents or other relatives, ongoing domestic violence and the substance abuse of one's caregivers.) A victim mentality will likely emerge as a gestalt of the memcons (memory constructures), and this then shapes thought patterns to blame others for the bad things that happen to them in the future. Especially likely targets of blame are the person's intimates. Other popular targets include "the government" and other power-wielding groups and individuals. [Subject/Author Note: When I use the term "mentality" here, I mean it as described by Paul MacLean, 1990. Go ahead. Find this book, gather up your academic courage and dive right in!] [RIP P.D.MacLean, 1913-2007]
One major form of inoculation against psychopathy is effective parenting. A parent can be available to promote self-discipline and to help the child cope with loss and other negative events outside his or her sphere of influence or control. It is unfortunate for us, that they never seem to realize the actual sources of their anger at the world -- ie, their former caregivers' behavior and other events which occurred during their formative years! Instead what happens, is that they come to see the world with a generalized, free-floating anger, just waiting to be elicited by anyone who steps into their line of sight, or displays aspects of their many prejudices. Those of you who can read German may wish to look at Barth (1996) in order to get a better idea of this phenomenon. Pay particular attention to the interview segment. If you would like to read Der Spiegel's online version of the article now, follow this link.
This brings me to yet another clue on how to spot a psychopath: talking about the childhood years! Granted, some people may feel clumsy or on the spot when asked about their childhoods, but will usually talk about it anyway. However, if caught off guard, psychopaths will likely look down, hesitate, try to change the topic, or simply make something up. Furthermore, if they've read a web page like this one, they may actually have a fabricated happy childhood all ready to go -- and launch into telling you about it firmly and without hesitation! The point is, that they commonly try to avoid the reality of the matter entirely, since the truth activates traumatic or depressive memcons, and they are typically not emotionally mature enough to face such painful memories head on. (From this, many turn to "self-medication" to avoid the encroachment of reality altogether.) All I can say about this is that assuming a psychopath's verbal behavior is riddled with lies, you can try improving your ability to decipher peoples' non-verbal behavior (posture, tone of voice, the amount of personal space they allow you, etc), and again, use the one year rule. If you suspect you're hearing lies...verify, verify, verify!
Now, no responsible discussion of western psychopathy would be complete without at least a mention of sex and violence. I theorize, that while having sex, the average male psychopath will simply treat the female vagina as a masturbation vessel [#2]. (Creepy, huh ladies?!) They have no real capacity to share intimate, adult feelings; they just use other people to get their rocks off! As for violence, the psychopath employs what has been called "instrumental violence". This means that they simply use force, coercion and violence as tools to get a particular job done. There's rarely any emotion present; he just compels others to comply to his sick little world. Again...infantile. [Subject Note: This being considered infantile is significant. It suggests that the moderate to severe psychopaths may be experiencing "early pathology", which is generally more difficult to change than later occuring disorders.]
Psychopaths use deceptive behavior in many social situations. This is one reason why they are so difficult to treat -- if they ever even come in for therapy! In the psychopath's mind, he or she is not doing anything wrong; if there's a problem, it's your problem, not theirs. Furthermore, as Dr. Hare points out (Hare, 1993, p. 198-200), all they do in traditional therapy is learn even more about human nature, and then use this knowledge to continue to pillage and plunder humanity! Short of constant institutionalization or invasive neurosurgery, I see no effective (and currently legal) way to protect society from their behavior. Unfortunately for all involved, they typically do not stop their destructive behavior until they are either dead or in jail.
Finally, please look at this page, too. On it you will see one woman's attempt to discredit me in some way. I take it as a compliment. She is telling me that I do know what I'm talking about when I write about psychopaths. Also, two external links I present on this page are to a group thought by some to be a cult. All I can say to that is, "Oh well. Cultists can come up with a good quote now and then, too."
[Be sure to see the feedback section below before you leave!]
Finally: Follow me on Twitter (@kcwindish); yet I hardly ever tweet anything. I also accept FaceBook friend requests from almost anyone, but then never post any private stuff. However, I will "unfriend" you if you bury me in religious stuff or alcohol/drug recovery stuff.
...no, perhaps just a wee bit cynical. Now what purpose could mean-spirited, ruthless, non-empathic behavior possibly serve our species -- and the continuation thereof?
To begin answering that question, let's consider the proposition that natural selection doesn't care about morality -- only numbers -- and focus on the relationship of the availability of resources vs. the human demand and competition for those resources. As time goes on, our fuel resources (bodily and environmental) get used up. However, over the years, we have reproduced many other human furnaces who also wish to burn up resources because it has the potential of creating "good feelings". The more you can get your hands on, the broader potential experience you can look forward to in life.
Long, long ago, when there were relatively few people sparsely distributed over the Earth, human life was uncommon and hence, precious. Survival was greatly enhanced through cooperation and group living. Positive social behavior was a must in order to keep a group cohesive. Then time simply took its toll. No one can seriously argue that the human race has difficulty reproducing itself. Eventually clans, states, nations and alliances came into being.
For a while, this was a good thing for our species. It allowed us to feel a sense of security and community. We were free to explore many things other than the routine maintenance of hearth and family. It enabled us to specialize and make "progress" in using the available resources of the planet. However, we are now at a critical point in our evolution. I believe that the number of people here today far exceeds the capacity of the planet to sustain us all equally on any level or plane of existence. (For example, if everyone in the world were basically secure in food and housing, that would be equal on one level of existence.)
The world over, the availability of resources is dwindling. As the global human population continues to grow, positive social behavior will cease to be a productive strategy for survival altogether. It is at this point, that the psychopath's behavior could become dominant. The species continues while cultures collapse.
To reiterate one of my first ideas expressed on this page: it is my sincere hope to at least get my readers to think about what's important to them.
Click here for a detailed list of crime victims' rights in the USA and the U.K.
Let's get the negative emails out of the way first! One email I got apologized in advance for spelling errors! I have no problem with people of little education. My only problem is that if you're a High School dropout, don't go telling me you're in a Master's Program! That's all.
S.H. wrote to tell me that he believes me "...to be a hate spreader." He adds that I diagnose psychopathy "willy-nilly" [adjective #2]. I guess that means I didn't describe his personal manifestation of the illness. (If it's not all about him, it's wrong!) Well, as far as the hate spreading goes, I'm actually trying to help people cut down on the hate they're forced to ingest when interacting with psychopathic individuals, by learning how to identify and avoid such people altogether. Finally, he writes: "I just don't see how your web site could help anyone." Well S.H., you're the only one!
S.I. wrote that, "On psychopathy...what you write about is DEAD ON about the behaviors of my ex. It scares the hell out of me, actually. THANK GOD, I am no longer in that mess! He had me thinking I was absolutely NUTS! I'm trying to recover emotionally from that nightmare." [Author Note: The three dots appear in the original; nothing was edited out.]
She then continues, "I'm so glad I came across the information you've presented as it is complete confirmation that I'm not entirely nuts (or all the other things he claims I am)."
S.D. had experience with someone who was "...highly abusive, manipulating, evil, jealous and mean." She writes that my essay on psychopathy "saved" her. I think what she meant was that it helped her realize what had happened to her. She closed by telling me my work is important and that it helped her while on vacation in Europe. (She mentions a specific country, but for her privacy I "rounded up" to Europe.)
L.P. wrote that she discovered this web page a few months prior and that she had been back a few times "just to refresh". Wow! I'm the author of a real reference work. I guess there is a lot of information packed into that little essay! I'm now recommending to people I meet in person that they read it at least twice.
E.M.D. wrote "...to merely show my appreciation and to let you know that your portrayal of the psychopathic personality is remarkably accurate, having been involved with one."
Now for some Guestbook entries. Again, negative ones first. The author of entry #6 expresses skepticism about people being able to tell who was psychopathic and who wasn't. Also, he writes, "I am wondering how many of the traits of these you have?"
In entry #9, jm writes that he doesn't believe I should be using the words "psycho" and "psychotic". Well, first of all, "An American Obsession ... the Psychopath" is more of a political piece than an academic one. That being said, I'd like to take a little license and use the word "psycho" to describe such people. It just looks like an academic work because that's my preferred style of writing. As far as them being psychotic goes, jm doesn't believe psychopaths are ill in the same sense a schizophrenic person is. I beg to differ; it's just a matter of degree. Many if not most of the psychopaths I've come across have been at least delusional. In my opinion, that is a break with reality and hence, a form of psychosis, albeit a mild one. Furthermore, Albert Ellis seems also to have been of the opinion that many psychopaths are in fact, psychotic. On page 298 of his 1991 work he wrote, "Psychopaths and psychotics (who, to my way of thinking, seriously overlap) ....". [RIP A.Ellis, 1913-2007]
For entry #8, T.C. simply states: " Reading this has been very helpful to me as I was involved with a sociopath." In entry #10, Wishtoremainanon writes: "Not so long ago I encountered my first sociopath. This is the first site which so accurately describes this person more than any other I have visited." Now, that's certainly nice to read. She ends with, "I found that educating myself on the type of person I was dealing with was healing to my spirit and mind." [Author Note: The eyes, smile and Hendrix graphics look best with the zoom level (MSIE) set at 200%, which is the environment I compose this page in.]
Always a pleasure to hear from the law enforcement community. In entry #11, StevenW compliments me on my "real world" handling of the subject and confirms the existence of the psychopathic smirk. Meanwhile, in entry #16, Deb K. says she has read a lot on the subject, but that I "...have by far taken it to a different level of understanding." She goes on to say that her mother is a psychopath and that she has come to "...see what I was lacking through the years and have started to heal." ...Right on.
Lea, in entry numbers 19-21, informs us that my correspondence with a suspected psychopath reminded her of something her ex would write. Then she notes parenthetically that my psychopath essay is even funny on occasion, and finally, she shares two links with us. I just love her enthusiasm!
In response to entry #23, I know what you mean about Pink Floyd, "Dogs", Puddle. Cool. That whole album is kick-ass [#5]! In entry #24, G.C. says that his father is a psychopath and that Dad seems to be a frustrated musician, too. These things make me wonder...which is worse for the psyche: having the same gender parent be a psychopath or the opposite gender one? [Author Note: Now that's a legitimate research topic! All ya gotta do is find or develop an accurate psycho-metric device for measuring your definition of psyche degradation, then advertise for appropriate subjects.]
This next piece of feedback came to me in a clever way. It was neither sent by email nor written in my Guestbook. I won't tell exactly how this got to me, for I'd be buried in a deluge of them! The message read: "It is truly a great and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing savior." I'm guessing this came from one of my readers for whom English is not his or her first language; it reads "stay us informed" instead of "keep us informed". Also, the word "savior" is used. It makes me a little uncomfortable being called savior. However, I'm thrilled to be of help to any or all of you out there!
I deleted original guestbook entry #15. It was from john w - 2011-04-27 06:13:34 and among other rude comments, called me a "jew scum trickster". How eloquent! And no, I'm not even Jewish. (For those for whom it is important: I am Russian-Polish on my mother's side and Austro-Hungarian on my father's. My last name is an Americanized version of the Austrian name, "Windisch".)
And finally, thank you. I love most of the feedback I've gotten. Yet, sometimes you get associated with places you'd rather not be! Look! I'm now the author of a "medical" website. (An entry from my glossary page, "psychotic", is partially quoted a little more than half way down the page.)
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It's taken over a dozen years, but I think I'm finally getting more widely read. When the page hit count reached about 35,000, I felt I should put out a little disclaimer for my information here: A good sample size for a decent statistical analysis starts at about 30 subjects; I am drawing my ideas from "only" about 20 psychopaths and developing psychopaths I have known in my life, along with my formal education in psychology and counseling. Most of my subjects were judged (by me) to have been of the narcissistic variety. So, if there's ever a question, please go with Dr. Hare's information or someone else who has a lot of research under their belts. In addition to that, please keep in mind that this website is called syn-theory, not syn-fact.
Another self criticism I can point to is that some of my sources can seem "stale", or even old. For instance, I send the reader to 1950s era neurology articles on my glossary page! I really should update my sources for the "hard" sciences. However, for the behavioral stuff, I find that the old sources are often still of use. Consider that Humankind evolves very little over the centuries; observations of human nature made a thousand years ago continue to stand as valid! People still read Confucius and Lao Tzu's stuff, right?
More on Psychopathy:
"Transient areas" are prime hunting grounds for the psychopath. These are places like airport bars, bus stations, campgrounds, etc, anywhere where there is a steady stream of strangers to pick from. Be aware when you visit such places. Side Dish Anecdote.
They seem to be fascinated with material possessions. Once their masks fall off and they know there's no going back, they'll jump on the money if any is still available, then some of your prize possessions you might have told them about in the past will be destroyed or stolen. Your car, if you own one, will be continuously vandalized, and you may receive a barrage of taunting phone calls or other types of hate-filled harassment. Please, take none of this personally, as psychopaths are mentally ill and simply do this to people in an attempt to cope with their own past and present. I suspect they subscribe to the philosophy that misery loves company, so they then like to see people in their lives go through tough times or ordeals -- even if the psychopath has to cause such events to happen, himself! (Remember the passive agression/arson paragraph above?)
Theoretically and in my opinion, the psychopath tends to live a rich fantasy life. Their favorite type of victim is a na´ve, trusting, meek, mild, perhaps even timid but generally a passive one; someone who tries to avoid confrontation of any kind. If you practice "no contact" with a psychopath after his mask slips off, he'll likely have no real way of finding out the actual effect his antisocial behavior is having on you. This is where the fantasy life comes in; they have a good idea of what effect they desire and will obsessively imagine you going through this intended hell -- all as a result of his grand behavior -- regardless of what you're actually experiencing! Somehow, such power fantasies help them cope with their past and present. They're in reality very "small" people! Infantile, in fact!
If you ever have to face them in a courtroom, their strategy will probably be a complete down-playing or outright denial of all of the charges against them, coupled with a personal attack on you! So lawyer up and confront everything he says as if it were a lie, because it probably will be.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'll just come out and say it: I don't believe in the existence of a "genetic" psychopath. The proposition that biology is destiny -- for such a complex animal as the human being -- is simply ridiculous. Yes, I will agree that genetics can set up a sensitive weakness for the illness, but I still maintain that there must be favorable environmental factors active as well. What could be happening is that some psychopaths begin being antisocial as infants or toddlers (pre- and early verbal stages). Early pathology could be misinterpreted as a "built in" illness by the unaware observer.
If you ever want to "figure out" a psychopath, try observing and empathizing with people from 0 to 5 years of age. Especially the ones who are 0 to 2! You will get an idea of the selfish, self-centeredness which is rampant in the psychopath. With practice, you may even be able to predict their behavior.
I'm not going to say that the following is indicative of psychopathy, since I've seen this trait in psychopaths as well as in non-psychopaths. I'm talking about the tendency to criticize without offering a better solution. For instance, this is seen in someone who criticizes your artwork or writing, but never creates anything himself. Or if someone criticizes the president's behavior, yet doesn't offer a better idea. They just sit there and criticize, maybe even insult, but will have nothing to offer, themselves. They might not even vote. At any rate, this is a red flag for me to steer clear of such a person, as the negative energy will just flow and flow.
Imperfect Guestbook Entry Transfers:
Original guestbook entry numbers 1 and 24 have not yet been found on the backup copies. They will be entered exactly, if and when I find them. Number 1 was just a short welcome message from me. Number 24 was from a man who said his father was a psychopath and that Dad was also a guitar player who ran out of material soon. Just played the same chords over and over.
I apologize if I offended any of my English readers' intelligence by providing links to dictionary definitions for very easy words. I did this because I noticed that some words don't translate at all; they are just left there in English amongst the target language -- particularly noticeable amidst languages like Chinese and Japanese! On the other hand, some words are in fact mistranslated by the translation machines! The easy and mistranslated words/terms included: street smart, duping, out-of-control, manners, slob, positive, con, counter, smirky, prowling, battery, vessel, creepy and kick-ass.
For an example of a mistranslated word (from English to German, Dec. 2013), I use the word "counter" as a verb, to speak contrary to something. However, the machine translates it as a noun, a counter, as in numbers! Also, I use the word "subjects" to refer to people of study. Yet, subjects is translated as patients, implying I have a license to conduct psychotherapy, which is not the case. Finally, even my name at the bottom of the page is translated into German -- using the -sch spelling instead of the American -sh ending. So, if you ever wish to argue about something I write, please use the most recent, original English copy to go on! Thank you. ...And thanks again for reading this far!
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