But We Can’t Love

ahyesloveCan we?

They say psychopaths don’t love. We can’t love. Yet, I have been in love several times in my life and I now have a partner with whom I am growing old. I know a few psychopaths who are also in long-term relationships. Athena Walker, of Quora, had this to say about her relationship.

I would describe it this way. For me to love a person they have to show me they are worth my respect. They can’t roll over and let me have my way all the time. While that works well in a relationship that all we have interest in is what we can get out of it, it has no staying power.

athenaavatarFor a relationship to work there has to be personalities that really get each other. I for instance have to be willing to take into account what he needs from me. This is a practice that must be consciously done and I have to make concerted effort to succeed at it. Really, it isn’t that I don’t want him to be happy, it’s just that I don’t tend to think outside of myself very often. What I want/need has always been first. To consider differently is work, and I have to be willing to do it.

It requires honesty. Not something that comes easily to me. I know what I am, more importantly, he knows as well. In knowing and also with a keen ability to read people and their intentions, he is very aware if I attempt to manipulate him and will call me on it right away. Here I am faced with a choice. I can choose to deny it and try and work him around to my point of view. This will likely cause a fight and a lot of drama I am not very interested in, or I can say yup, totally was trying to manipulate you. No fight, and I usually get what I desire anyway.

The affection part of it is hard for me. I am not a very affectionate person. I never have been. Despite how I feel about a person, be them a friend, a parent, a significant other, this has never been any different for me. It poses a problem though. Either I find someone just like me in that department, or I have to remind myself to give attention to that need.

terry_kolbThis looks like a mature relationship based on loyalty and friendship. This is a lot like my present relationship which is going on 40 years. Before her, my longest relationship was with Jack and it lasted two years, a record for me at that point. Before Jack, my relationships were sporadic and short-lived. That’s a lot more typical of psychopaths. “Many short term relationships” is one of the characteristics of psychopathy, after all. Jim Kolb was my first and I would be with him for a while and then run away. I used his last name with my middle name when I went public.

A blog called Mirroring the Chameleon has been created by a psychopath (female) and a narcissist (male). They both knew it would be work but, so far, by understanding each other’s needs as well as their own, they are managing. They only identify themselves as “Mrs.” and “Mr.” Mrs. said about love.

kittiesNow. Picture this. You’re going about your day, entertaining fun ideas about how you might go about getting into this particular guy’s trousers, because dammit being married is no excuse for not sleeping with me, right, so, anyway, your mindset is pretty much the same as always, plot, ploy, giggle. Then all of a sudden, you realise he’s got into your head, and while your mindset might still be the same (What? what do you mean, love, i don’t fall in love, fuck you, you’ll pay for this very offensive manipulation of my perfect mind!) you realise that huh, wait, you don’t want to hurt this person. And, in for a penny, in for a pound, you could try this out for a bit, it’s new and definitely not boring, and I do enjoy experimenting on my own mind as much as on the ones of others.

It’s very confusing, uncomfortable, but you haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

Getting feelings when you aren’t used to them is like getting thrown in the ocean for your first swimming lesson. There is no more control, basically no reasoning, your whole brain is trying to swim in a sea of confusing contradictory ideas. “this hurts” “yeah, but you’re not supposed to do anything to him, it’s not his fault”. I don’t know if it was because I had never experienced so much “feeling” all at once that I had no control over my thoughts anymore or if its because emotions are inherently irrational and interfere with the thought processes of even the most accustomed user, but I was rendered useless, and I hated every second of it. I wanted to make it stop, and so I did after a while.

I never fought love when I was fortunate enough to experience it. I kind of thought my experiences of falling in love were an anomaly for a psychopath. It was only recently when a new friend on Facebook, Casi Carter, said some things about my relationships that opened my eyes.

casicarterAll it takes to get in their pants is a euphoric state of admiration. This is often mistaken as an emotional connection but it’s really not; it’s the desire for euphoria not the connection itself.
….
Casi Carter Fran Theresa Nowve this has been something that I learned in my last relationship lol. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and my ex used to tell me that the idealization made me him worry about abandonment. It starts before we truly know a person, as soon as the relationship starts and before know how we work together. This is why it is a pursuit of euphoria rather than the connection itself, because we have no idea what the connection really is. Euphoria blinds us into thinking we do; but the desire for it is more of a selfish idea than “love.”

jackI suddenly realized that this is what I’ve been experiencing. This explosive, consuming passion that transforms everything. As Taylor Swift sang, in Out of the Woods, “The whole world was black and white. We were in screaming color.” As Casi suggested, I never did get to know these lovers beyond the stage where they are like God. Why would I want to.

mekissingwhipThings were different with Vicki. I had been the submissive in my first two relationships. With Vicki, I started as the dom. She was a sub and I thought I was experienced enough in BDSM to “move on” to the dominant role. Playing this role forced me to see her as she really was. I had to understand her intimately to be able to get into her head and give her the kind of experience she was seeking. I enjoyed the creativity of the dominant role but it didn’t do much for me sexually. In time, I realized I missed the sub role. At the same time, Vicki was expressing the desire to top me. Once I saw the episode of Law and Order: SVU called “Slaves” based on the real case of “the girl in the box.” I thought the real thing heinous and the perp who subjected a girl he had kidnapped to severe torture with no consent. Funny, the way they represented it in the TV show, made the whole thing very sexy. The dom in the story was really handsome and charismatic, and the fantasy of seeing how much I could “take,” turned me on.

victoriaSo the upshot was Vicki and I switched roles. Our scenes were more successful on my end. While dominating Vicki turned her on, something was missing for me. Now we were in our natural roles. During scenes, I would suddenly see Vicki, whom I hadn’t glorified before, as a Goddess. Well, for the duration. The rest of the time, we are ourselves. Our relationship is a lot like the one Athena described. I’m lucky to have someone stable in my life after all the madness of youth.

 


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Decay

Life_CycleLife and Death

That life is a cycle is self-evident. There are two miracles of being human: (1) Life (unique; unlike the inert chemicals associated with its occurrence, mysterious) and (2) Consciousness (of course animals have consciousness too but only humans actually think about their own consciousness). But his is not going to be an upbeat blog-post. It’s about decay, after all, when everything dies.

triplegoddessYet decay is really part of the life cycle. Dead matter feeds new life. Witches make a point of honoring that side of the cycle. The Crone, the dark side of the Moon (or the new moon if you prefer), the Crow (who eats decaying animals). Scavengers keep the world clean. They remove decaying substances which would poison the living. They also transform decaying matter into living substance (themselves). The life cycle is also served whenever an animal eliminates waste or when a plant dies and is reabsorbed in the earth. The life cycle can be compared to the four turnings (decay being the fourth, of course).


 

People usually focus on the new and growing aspect of the life cycle. That focus is healthiest in this world. But there have been times when people longed for and reached out to the other world. Such a period was the Romantic. Poets and composers focused on death. It is, after all, the gateway to other worlds (if such worlds exist). Richard Wagner accepted the metaphysics of Arthur Schopenhauer that beneath the veil of appearances, we are all one. Tristan und Isolde romanticized the Liebestod or love-death.

I once read a novel in which a family of poor orphans looking after themselves. They angelheart2discover, in the freezer, meat which has decayed is kept frozen. This struck me as horrible for some reason. Maybe it’s because things kept in the freezer are supposed to be preserved and still edible. Something already decaying, frozen…the frost and snow, concealing it like a really deep evil. The movie, Angel Heart, starts with the sight of a slum kittenstreet at night in winter. The snow is all slushy and dirty. A kitten on one of the fire escapes stands, immaculate (as only cats’ fur can be). A dog, dirty, straggly, feeling the worst of the weather, walks bye and then the camera allows us to see the dog is sniffing a body that has been desecrated. Evil accomplished and stored like a horcrux. Frozen evil. Only decay isn’t evil. It’s a necessary part of the life cycle.

Even for Pagans, decay must be rather forbidding. For Christians, it’s terrifying. Although they cry, “Hallelujah! There is no death!” they often seem more in the spirit of denial than overcoming. We use euphemisms for death. “So and so has passed on.” Horror movies give us a small taste of what we most fear.

It’s become trendy to revel in what the culture as a whole regards as ugly. A makeup company calls is brand, Urban Decay and calls it’s various products with names like addiction, frenemy, shame, etc.

Attraction and repulsion are functions of the ego. Nature doesn’t care. In The Stranger, the protagonist who is scheduled to be executed the next day transcended such prejudices:

“He had opened his heart to the sublime indifference of the universe”

arabian-desert

 

 

Schizophrenia

Internet-Dating-psychoWhat’s it to me?

Since there is so much confusion between the word psychopathy and psychosis, I have always been a stickler for maintaining that distinction and reminding anyone who would listen that psychopaths are sane. Some people have called psychopathy “super sanity”* because of the rational clarity our detachment from emotion allows us.

schizophrenic_moment_186275I have seen quite a few schizophrenics. I was a patient in a mental institution for two years, between the ages of 13 and 15. There I had the opportunity to witness people who were raving lunatics. Years later, to fulfill a requirement for a college course, I volunteered at a half-way house for ex-mental patients. Most of them were schizophrenics. They were “sane,” probably due to medication, but I found them very flat, uninteresting. Is their treatment to blame?

laingcartoonI have read The Divided Self by R.D. Laing and Mary Barnes, Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness. I have also seen Asylum, a documentary film about an alternative treatment center for crazy people run by R.D. Laing. The point of view of Laing and his followers is that schizophrenia is a form of alienation from the self. When the person goes mad and has a psychotic break with reality, he or she is really expressing the madness that has been inside all along and is finally integrating or healing hirself. The treatment normally given for psychosis is medication which forces the person back into hir shell, preventing healing from every happening. The “sane” schizophrenics I met seemed to confirm Laing’s critique. The people I saw in Asylum seemed kind of like holy people (or people on an acid trip) rather than the sort of inadequate folks mainstream medicine considers cured.

jani-620x373Another opinion on schizophrenia can be found in Michael Schofield’s book, January First. The book is about his daughter, Jani, who had symptoms of madness from the moment of her birth. She was always staring at a blank wall where she saw a full litany of hallucinations. She was also a genius who began speaking when she was still an infant. She has been treated with meds and the family dislikes the anti-psychiatry movement around the ideas of Laing. Jani comes across as a winsome child full of grace and charm. Strangely, Jani’s life has been closely documented up until she hit puberty which she must have by now. She should be around 15. Perhaps the teen-aged Jani wants her privacy.

Director-2As mentioned above, I was in a full-on nut house between the ages of 13 and 15. I was there because of a suicide attempt although the story is a lot more complicated than that. I was very involved in my fantasy life. An avid reader, I would pretend to be different characters at different times. At no time, however, did I ever lose track of the difference between fantasy and reality. I sometimes made people act parts in my fantasy without knowing it. For example, being admitted to the institution was something I caused to happen. I saw myself as a director of the movie that was my life. I had no desire to let people know how their parts in that movie were being directed. Let them think they were acting on their own. I was discharged when I got tired of the fantasy of a suicidal girl and moved on.

diagnosisYears later, I found out I could get a copy of my file so I did. I discovered then that I had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. A stunning diagnosis considering I had never experienced psychosis and had never even been given an anti-psychotic drug during the entire two years I was there. I’m glad I didn’t know at the time what those doctors had said about me. More recently, I went to a clinic where I showed them my file. They told me that diagnosis was just a product of the times. I find it rich in irony, however. The Urban Dictionary seems to have an explanation other than the benighted thinking of the bad old days. (Doesn’t psychiatry seem to change radically every 20 years of so?) “Super Sanity is when you have reached a point that you are so sane that you may appear crazy to the world.”

cryforwarYears later, I still was firmly ensconced in my bookworm ways. A book called Cry For War by Richard D. Reynolds made me think of schizophrenics with new respect. This book is amazing for a number of reasons. The couple described therein is as outlaw as people can get. For one thing, they called themselves Muslims in a time when Muslims are the most hated and oppressed group in the world. But no actual Muslim group would have them. Their form of Islam was a completely individual product of their own minds. Suzan Thornell was clearly schizophrenic. Her consort, Michael, was a follower who entered with her into a cult for two. They believed they had a mission to kill “witches” whom they considered evil. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of objective standards for whom to call a witch. It was mostly people who upset them in some way.

suzanthorSuzan and Michael made their living selling marijuana up and down the West Coast. They were quite competent at their job. They had sources from whom they bought good quality product and plenty of customers. They traveled by way of the thumb most of the time and crashed with people along the way or lived in primitive abandoned cabins in the wilderness. They were both able to endure austerities of great severity. They could live on next to nothing. Suzan was able to go into trances that would have made an advanced yogi proud.

cabinAfter their first murder in San Francisco (they would have thought “execution”), they hitched up the coast to Oregon. They lugged some food and supplies up to an abandoned mountain cabin in the Cascade wilderness. They made the hut livable (by their standards) and stayed until their food ran out. Since they didn’t have any money either, Michael went off to get more supplies and work for jihad while Suzan fasted (which she had to do since she had no more food). She climbed up on a rickety attic and sat on the floor.

She could feel the cold wind whistling through the moss-covered shake roof and through her escape window in the back of the cabin. You could freeze to death in the Oregon Mountains, but now she had other things on her mind.

….

Suzan slowly and quietly drew her body into a yoga position, closed her eyes and  began to meditate, “spinning the wheel” as she liked to call it, focusing on one thought — her husband — and obliterating all other concerns from her mind. That was the way of Islam. She sat meditating and meditating and meditating upon her husband. Like a good Muslim wife, she did nothing but think about her husband, praying to Allah that he would return safely.

Since Suzan and Michael were delusional, their ability to survive in the real world was severely compromised. But I think their story shows, as suggested by Laing and others, how schizophrenics have abilities to do things most people can’t do. I envy Suzan’s ability to go into a meditative trance (not that I would change places with her). I guess society needs to isolate those who are different from the norm weather it’s by locking them up or just telling people how to “spot the psychopath” who walks among them.


Super Sanity

jokerTerm first used in connection with the Joker in Batman. It looks like a term for psychopathy. “Super sanity is worse than been insane because you can do anything you want and you wouldn’t feel guilt.. Normally crazy people do things and then they are regretting it all their lives even if they did it willingly. If you are super saner you wont feel guilt and will laugh at death..” I doubt that being able to do anything I want without guilt is a bad thing. “Super Sanity is when you have reached a point that you are so sane that you may appear crazy to the world.” — Urban Dictionary

Both mental disorder and hyper-sanity place us outside society, making us seem ‘mad’ to the mainstream. Both attract scorn and derision, but whereas mental disorder is distressing and disabling, hyper-sanity is liberating and empowering.

Psychology Today


Links

Healthy Relationship With NPD

I found this question and answer in Quora and liked it so much, I think it belongs here. The title to this could be “A Healthy Relationship Between an NT and NPD,” although I think anyone can benefit from these insights.
Karen Arluck, Clinical Psychotherapist in private practice
Answered Sep 16, 2017

rockyWhen I first moved to Austin, TX, I found the most adorable 7 week old puppy who was sitting in a cardboard box. His owner said that he could not afford to keep these “Staffordshire Terrier” puppies, and was looking to get them new homes. After I took home this sweet, adorable, tiny puppy, I looked up this breed only to learn that I had just inadvertently adopted a Pit Bull. I was immediately freaked out, and felt as if I had just taken home a wild Lion cub who would grow up to be some dangerous creature, who was somehow destined to hurt me. I realized that each dog (regardless of their breed), is a unique animal whose personality is greatly affected by it’s upbringing, temperament, my ability to take care of them, and could not be reduced to such a negative and overarching stereotype. 7 Years later, Rocky, is curled up on the floor next to me as I write this answer.

Similarly, each person who has the diagnosis of NPD is a unique person, with their own strengths, weaknesses, and level of emotional functioning. There are some narcissists who would be extremely difficult to have any kind of healthy relationship with, and many who you could, provided that you give some thought to the following criteria as it pertains to this particular person with the diagnosis.

How someone defines “healthy relationship”:

narcissistPeople who suffer from NPD, or have the flavor without meeting the full criteria are likely to struggle in areas affected by their emotional issues (like struggles with object constancy, splitting, emotional empathy etc.), regardless of how wonderful you may be as a friend to them. They usually feel happiest when the focus is on them, their needs and their feelings, and will need a lot of validation and support that they may not be able to adequately reciprocate when you need it. In addition, you may find that they are inadvertently insulting and/or unsupportive and will likely enjoy giving you “advice” and “feedback”, but they will have difficulty tolerating any feedback from you, blame, confrontation, or even gentle assertion that they are wrong in any way. When they feel narcissistically wounded, they may confront you angrily, act passive aggressivily, guilt trip you, or may simply complain about you behind your back.

That being said, they may have other wonderful qualities that can make them very intelligent, interesting, funny, and engaging to spend time with. Emotionally higher functioning narcissists are much easier to have friendships with than someone who is less emotionally high functioning, but it may also be more emotionally taxing than relationships with someone who does not suffer from these issues.

2. Realistic expectations:

narcanonymousOne of the issues that makes it so hard for people to maintain relationships with people who suffer from NPD, is how hurtful and disappointing it can be when their narcissistic friend acts out their inner emotional struggles in some way. Usually this is based on a conscious or unconscious hope that their friend would be the emotionally supportive or more self-aware person that they hoped they would be. To have a healthy relationship with a person who suffers from NPD, it is really important to try to maintain realistic expectations that if their friend actually suffers from NPD, it is not a matter of *if* they will act out some of the issues inherent in their disorder towards them, but *when*.

If your friend with NPD acts out in some way, they are unlikely to be able to tolerate any suggestion that they were wrong or hurt you, or to validate your feelings about any of this. This is not a reflection of how much you mean to them, it is a reflection of their struggles, and an important area to manage your expectations of them. On the other hand, they may be very supportive about areas that they do not interpret as a narcissistic injury. Your ability to maintain realistic expectations of this person and their needs, as well as their current emotional limitations, will greatly effect how healthy this relationship feels for you.

3. What is this person’s individual level of functioning:

NPD is a very wide diagnosis, which can encompass everyone from a high functioning and charming person who goes out of their way to help people around them because it makes them feel good about themselves, to someone who regularly steals from and otherwise takes advantage of everyone around them. If this is a higher functioning and more self-aware person with the diagnosis, they may be a better friend than an emotionally lower functioning person or a malignant narcissist, who feels better about themselves by devaluing and emotionally hurting people around them.

4. Personal sensitivities:

narcrulesSome people may be more sensitive based on their own temperament and past experiences, and may find it too painful to be in a friendship with many of the people who suffer from NPD. A person’s own emotional stability and ability to recognize that a narcissist’s acting out behavior is a reflection of their shortcomings, not of theirs (even if the narcissist tells you its all your fault), can greatly affect how healthy this friendship is for them.

For example: A person has a deep insecurity about not being smart enough, has a narcissistic friend who is always lecturing them about how they “should be doing x”, “should have known x”, or otherwise got something wrong, and then telling them what they should have done differently. This might be too upsetting for many people with this sensitivity to handle in order to have a friendship that would feel healthy for them. Other people would not be as bothered by this particular issue.

5. Other supportive people in your life:

There are plenty of high functioning people with NPD whom I have had as clients or as friends, who I absolutely adore and like very much. However, I think it is important to have other supportive people in your life, so that you are not completely reliant on people with these challenges as your only support systems. It can be helpful to have other people who are more emotionally self-aware and able to be supportive in ways that this person may struggle with.

The point is…

Whether you can have a healthy relationship with someone who has NPD often depends on your definition of “healthy relationship”, this particular person’s strengths and difficulties, your individual sensitivities and tolerance for their issues, and having other supportive people in your life.

The point is, I don’t love all Pit Bulls, but I do adore this one.

Loving Psychopaths

hotpsychopathWomen Who Love Psychopaths

Although I am a psychopath, I am also a “woman who loves psychopaths.” My really great loves have been with my own kind. As such, I figured it was about time to start reading Women Who Love Psychopaths by Sandra L. Brown, M.A. and see if she has any insights about me. At first, it was interesting. I figured I can always learn something more about myself. Dr. Brown set out to create a profile of what sort of woman falls for such dangerous people. I found listed two qualities that women who love us have in common with us paths. We love adventure and are extroverted. Beyond that, however, I find I have little in common with the woman Dr. Brown describes.

Angels and Devils
angelsWhen I was a child, our family would visit with a family we were all close to. They had two kids around our age, a girl and a boy. We three girls, my sister, the girl and I played a game, pretending we were angels and the boy was the devil. That’s kind of what reading this book is like. Women who love psychopaths are seen to be paragons of virtue, just loaded with traits that society just loves to love. Empathy, Compassion, Cooperativeness, Loyalty…. Meanwhile, those nasty psychopaths seem to have nothing on their (our?) minds except to destroy another victim. The traits of WWLPs put them (us?) “at risk.” Be very afraid, my lovelies!

There’s a psychopath lurking on every corner (like dope pushers?).

As unlovable as they (we?) are, it’s kind of a challenge to picture these women falling in love with them (us?). But these WWLPs don’t see the real man. (The book talks exclusively about male paths and female victims. Brown acknowledges that women can be psychopaths and men can be “victims.” But she still talks exclusively of bad boys and good girls.)

vampirepsychopathThe book is obviously, not pro-path. But I liked it ok until I came to a part about “evil.” I have made it my business to become an expert on how the world sees psychopaths. The only expert to say anything nice about us is Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths. Nobody else is willing to acknowledge any positive traits such as wisdom. Some would deny our very humanity. Among those folks, the usual species type we are demoted to is that of the reptile. That we are “sick,” is a given. We are said to have a disordered personality. But some cut right to the chase and call us “evil.” I have discussed the difficulties of each of these slurs in other posts (see the links below).

bibleIn this case, a distinction is made between “psychological evil” and “spiritual evil” although the closest they came to explaining that distinction was quoting from the DSM and comparing it to quotes from the Judeo/Christian bible. Apparently “spiritual evil” is any sin listed in Bible while “psychological evil” is manifestation of a disorder from the DSM. She has a whole chapter devoted to explaining how many malfunctions we have in our brains. Not only is the amygdala not communicating properly with the frontal cortex, but practically every part of our brains is at odds with every other part. But, since we are born like that, I wonder why she describes us as “broken.”

samplesTo gather her data, Dr. Brown advertised for women who once loved a psychopath to be interviewed. Since she already saw us as evil, I wonder how she worded the ad. Did she invite women who had had good relationships with psychopaths to come and be interviewed along with those who now saw that past relationship as a horrendous mistake? She says the women she interviewed had relationships with psychopaths who were beneath them in social class. These would be what is described as “low functioning” psychopaths. But there are plenty of high-functioning ones, heading corporations, performing surgery, making killings on Wall Street. These psychopaths must have girlfriends too. But none of their exes seemed to offer herself for an interview. Are their women still with them? Are they silenced by non-disclosure agreements?

sociopath-cartoonReading the book, one would get the impression that all relationships with psychopaths were abusive and the women ended up traumatized, often with PTSD. Perhaps those whose relationships turned out badly wanted something from their lovers that they weren’t ready to offer. Psychopaths are different from NTs. If you really want to be happy, you will enjoy what a lover is instead of fretting about what he is not. Brown speaks at length of the intensity of the love connection, the feeling on the part of the woman that he “knows” her. That knowing is one reason psychopaths are so charming. We are really interested in those we involve ourselves with. Most people don’t have that level of interest.

I think we all need to be seen, I mean, really seen. In the movie The Devil’s Advocate, the protagonist’s wife is swept away by Milton (the devil in disguise) because “We talked, really talked for hours. I hadn’t talked to anyone like that for so long.” Psychopaths see not only your good qualities. We see your warts and blemishes. Nothing is off limits to that searching curiosity.

What’s So Charming About Psychopaths?

thrillofloveBrown considers a relationship with a psychopath a very bad thing, no question about that. Yet she speaks at great length about how thrilling such love connections can be. Here are a few examples of the testimony on what sex was like for them:

We both have had orgasms just thinking about each other from afar. And sometimes it happened when we looked into each others’ eyes before any foreplay had begun. I could feel his body jerk, and mine too, and we would both feel the energy come up our spines and be like two spastic people.

Another one said,

I couldn’t get enough of him and the passion was electrifying. He was a very giving lover. He was a favorite lover of mine and only comparable to the other (psychopath) I was with!

timeofmylifeI can concur that the sex I have had with psychopaths is the best I’ve every known. I wonder how anyone can want out. Of course, he could have changed and lost interest. (Dr. Brown would say his mask slipped.)  I wonder, too, why Dr. Brown shares this very delicious feature of a relationship that’s supposedly disastrous. As Taylor Swift sang in Blank Space, “You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain,” and “It’ll leave you breathless or with a nasty scar.”

There are plenty of NTs around with whom one can have a safe and stable relationship. But excitement comes with risk. Psychopaths are risk takers who need excitement. Dr. Brown says the psychopath changes in the “middle stage” of the relationship. Perhaps the “victims” changed too. Perhaps they wanted to turn their exciting lover into a safe, 9 to 5 husband.

I think Dr. Brown’s goal of describing women who love psychopaths was an interesting idea. But I don’t think she has reached her goal. She only talked about a segment of women who have had such relationships. And the psychopaths she discussed seem to also only represent a segment of the whole. Let’s just chalk this up as an ongoing project, one that has yet to be completed.


Links

Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

happyfaceWhen I set out to write about happiness in psychopaths, the title slogan from the 60s came to mind. It seems kind of simple-minded but the first part clearly matches one of the traits of psychopathy that is always listed by professionals: lack of worry or anxiety. When one looks at all the people who develop ulcers, and swallow Benzos like candy, psychopathy looks pretty damned good. We are not worriers. But what about happiness? We know that our emotions in general are less intense than that of NTs.

Happiness_life_lessons_from_psychopaths.jpg

It’s difficult to measure the happiness of psychopaths vs. the happiness of NTs. How can a psychopath measure hir happiness against their happiness? For that matter, how can anyone compare hir experiences with those of another’s? A friend of mine was diagnosed with depression but he tells me he wasn’t sad. He was bored. Is boredom the psychopath’s version of an NT’s depression?

Our lack of sadness probably mystifies NTs more than most of our traits. Athena Walker told Quora how she handles the expectation of NTs that she be sad at an event they find funeralsad,

I tend to use more neutral language if I can.

“That’s unfortunate”

“That’s terrible”

“How awful for the family”

That sort of thing. If it is more personal, say for instance my sister’s death where I was expected to be sad, I would thank people for their condolences. If they asked how I was doing I would say;

“All right. It’s a terrible loss, but I am more concerned for her daughter….”

psychopath01I like that answer. I felt nothing when my parents died. At my mother’s death, I was a teenager living at home and going to high school. As such, I had to go to the funeral and I know I was supposed to look sad so I played my role as best as I could. My father came back from the hospital and broke the news to me by saying, “You have no mother.” Then he broke down into sobs. It was easier when he died. I was living apart from the family and my sister made all the funeral arrangements. I’m grateful she was there so I wasn’t expected to do anything. I am very grateful to have been spared all the pain others seem to feel when losing a parent. Even losing a friend. Actually, we had been best friends for years and then drifted apart. I was bored or nostalgic so I tried to contact her again only to learn she had died. I was really surprised. I guess this was a first experience in losing a peer. What’s next for me? Become one of those geezers who pour over the obituaries, looking for friends and acquaintances? But, apart from shock and surprise, I didn’t feel much about her death either.

A friend explained the difference this way:

As for NTs, I look at it as they have more emotional extremes. They can get furiously angry and bereaved, but they can also experience intense joy and love.

ikraPerhaps freedom from intense sadness is the way our happiness quotient balances out. I know we have ways of seeking and experiencing ecstatic states. Excitement from taking risks can be great. Kevin Dutton tested a group of students on their degree of psychopathy. The two who scored lowest and the two who scored highest were given the chance to do a bungee jump. The low-scoring students opted out while the two high-scoring ones “jumped” at the opportunity and enjoyed it immensely. I find challenges kind of a necessity for my emotional balance. If I don’t challenge myself regularly, I start to feel really blah. Boredom is terrible for us. The same friend quoted above said, “What I do feel when depressed is crushing, hopeless boredom and flat emptiness.”

nztI work regularly at avoiding that state of being. I challenge myself with blogging. To me, blogging is an attempt to deepen my own self-knowledge and share it with the world. I also fight boredom with drugs. Since I am no longer young and not able to deal with illegal, recreational drugs the way I did when I was younger, I use drugs that are legal and not as powerful as the ones I once enjoyed (speed and heroin). Actually, I do use one illegal drug, Provigil, which is supposed to be like the “limitless” drug in the movie of that same name. With noortropics, I try to be the best version of myself possible. By being my best, I am able to achieve more with my blogs. maskofsanity

The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley gave me the impression that most psychopaths were alcoholics. Despite that impression and my own experience as a drug user, I know three psychopaths who don’t use drugs or alcohol because it just doesn’t do anything for them. This morning’s Quora had the following response to the question, Do psychopaths and sociopaths get high?

Jone Whistler, Diagnosed ASPD. Schizoid Sociopath.

I personally choose not to get high. Not out of pride or anything like that, it just doesn’t seem that fun to me. I have been drunk before and it didn’t do anything for me at all, it just made me slur my words and have trouble walking. There wasn’t any emotional side effects from it. I wasn’t more open with people, I didn’t feel happier/angrier when I was drunk, it didn’t change my behavior or my mindset at all.

I imagine I would react similarly to most other drugs. I would get the physiological effects from it but not the psychological ones. For instance, if I tried LSD I would probably hallucinate, but I probably wouldn’t experience any paranoia or anything like that. I wouldn’t feel what I am no longer capable of.

Some do and some don’t. I am one that just doesn’t. There are much better and more fun ways to spend your time and money than on drugs, although I don’t have anything against people who do use drugs recreationally.

somedo“Some do and some don’t” really seems to sum it up. The key difference is what an individual psychopath experiences from a particular substance. Cocaine always put my lover to sleep. It made me wide awake and up for a good conversation. I’ve heard some junkies say they hate speed. “It’s just like junk sickness,” they say. But, when I was a junkie, speed made me feel better when I was jonesing for a fix.

Some psychopaths say they never feel euphoric. Others say they often do. Or is there confusion over the meaning of the word “euphoric?


It looks like what we feel and what we don’t feel is a trade-off. We are spared a lot of pain but may not be experiencing all the highs NTs claim to be getting. Athena Walker wrapped it up very nicely.

We process the world in a very different way. We don’t feel as neurotypicals feel, we have our own experience that dictates our understanding of emotions. While we can make adjustments based on what we observe and what we wish to have happen, versus what we would prefer not to have happen, we can’t participate in your feelings of fear, dread, sadness, grief, or anything of that sort.

Happiness is really the private domain of everyone and we can only enjoy it when it comes to us.

dilbert-sociopath


Links

Fascination With Evil

antichristIt’s generally agreed that good is whatever is desirable and evil whatever is undesirable. Nevertheless, there is a widespread fascination with evil. Just look at the movies. People give lip service to “goodness” but seem to find it boring. They profess horror of “evil” and yet can’t seem to get enough of it as long as they keep a safe distance. Most folks don’t want to do evil, still less do they want to be the victim of evil. But they love to watch it.

I think the reason is the prevalence of Christianity and other religions that see things in dualistic terms, good on one side, evil on the other. Islam seems to be in that category. Perhaps it is a characteristic of monotheism. Hinduism is polytheistic and Hindu deities are capable of a more complex array of “good” and “evil” within themselves. In this respect, Hindu deities are more like human beings. We are all complex combinations of traits we label “good” and “evil.” Only these monotheistic deities have to be all good. These religions and deities set up an ideal for people to strive at. But how realistic are these ideals? Really?

good_and_evil_by_marioara08-d59w7dmNietzsche offered a double dichotomy of good-evil and good-bad. The latter describes a dichotomy of things that are evil beneficial or harmful to usGood-bad can also describe the range of abilities. One can be a good baseball player or a bad one, meaning he can’t play for shit. Good-bad is not about morality. The moral division of good and evil is described in Psychology Today as:

motherteresa‘Good’ means a lack of self-centredness. It means the ability to empathise with other people, to feel compassion for them, and to put their needs before your own. It means, if necessary, sacrificing your own well-being for the sake of others’. It means benevolence, altruism and selflessness, and self-sacrifice towards a greater cause – all qualities which stem from a sense of empathy. It means being able to see beyond the superficial difference of race, gender or nationality and relate to a common human essence beneath them.

christoncrossIt would seem that “goodness” means putting others ahead of oneself. I have a big problem with this as did Nietzsche. But self-sacrifice seems to be the central ideal of Christianity. Christ took on all the sins of the world. He suffered horribly to absolve sinners. In this way, God, by definition the ideal in goodness, was punished so that the unworthy could get a reward they don’t deserve. Western civilization is based on this odd philosophical concept. We are constantly reminded of it. For example, the novel, Harry Potter, which never mentions the word Christ or Christianity and which has been criticized as pagan by some Christians, describes it’s hero, Harry Potter, as “selfless.” As children, we have to exhorted to share our toys, to give away the tastiest morsel of food on our plate and, generally, treat others better than we treated ourselves. Can anyone say “perverted?”

selflessThere’s nothing wrong with kindness to others. But this goes a lot further than kindness to others. It constitutes cruelty to ourselves. Even Christ said “Love your neighbor as you would love yourself.” He never said to love your neighbor more than yourself. Christ did exactly that. He sacrificed himself for the sake of the unworthy. A friend of mine said “Christ should be the great example, not the great exception.” If Christ is the great example, humanity is being told to try to be something that is against his very nature.

Most people are willing to compromise. They know they can’t live up to the great example, so they take Christ as the great exception. They go through live not thinking that well of themselves since they can’t be what they most admire. But maybe that’s good. It gives us something or someone to look up to. It absolves us from the need to outdo ourselves. We can admire evilsnakethose we consider better than ourselves while disapproving of those we consider worse. There are limits within which we are expected to stay.

If “the good” is outside our limits, what about “the bad/evil?” Most people are afraid to identify with it. They disapprove of it but they don’t dare be it. So it becomes forbidden fruit.

But what about other paradigms of “good” and “evil?”

Yet goodness hadn’t always been as dreary as this. For some ancient thinkers such as Aristotle, it was really a matter of knowing how to enjoy yourself. It meant learning how to flourish as a human being, developing your humanity to its fullest, finest extent.

The Independent

The above writer thinks the reason for our fascination with evil is the deficient definition of good.

boringgoodWhen did evil start to look so alluring? One answer might be: when goodness began to look boring. We can blame this on the puritanical middle classes. It is they who redefined virtue as thrift, prudence, meekness, abstinence, chastity and industriousness. It’s not hard to see why some people should prefer zombies and vampires. Goodness came to seem negative and restrictive.

Aristotle defined good as developing our humanity to the fullest. It equated moral good with Nietzsche’s good. Being good at life is not goodness as a compromise with an impossible and unnatural ideal.

interviewwithA big part of the allure of evil is power, the ability to overcome the normal limits of mortality, itself. Anne Rice’s novel, Interview With the Vampire, aroused many people’s fantasies of the wonders of being immortal, powerful and amoral. Junkies actually equated the need for a daily fix with the need of vampires to drink blood. Vampires were predators (as are many junkies). And this brings us to the old Hollywood stand-bye of psychopathy. Psychopaths are considered evil. We are also often charismatic. Hollywood loves us and has given us an aura glamorous power. Most folks who find us fascinating would rather die than admit to being one. But they so enjoy deploring us.

It’s funny how all vampire fiction has to have a “good” vampire in it. That vampire was Louis in Interview. In Twilight, it was the entire Cullen family. Even Buffy had a goody-two-shoes vampire, Angel.

deplorableI think in this age of moderation, people are dying for something extreme, something to take them out of the safe and boring cage they live in. That’s probably one of the reasons some of them supported Trump. He is anything but moderate and safe. Hillary Clinton called his followers “deplorable.” But those followers, rather than feel shamed by the term, got t-shirts with the word deplorable on it. We are proud of Western Civilization but most members of that proud civilization are leading lives of “quiet desperation.” And they are dying to escape it.


Links

Here We Go Again

abeeI have talked about this before, perhaps too many times. But we Cluster Bees are still being demonized so here I go again as well.

My good friend, Lucky Otter just published a new blog post: Sociopaths rule America. We are both against Trump and his ultra-right regime. Why can’t we stick to critiquing his administration on political grounds? There’s plenty to criticize. Republicans have consistently sided with the rich and disregarded the poor. Furthermore, our society is white supremacist. Until Trump took over, most people had the decency to whiteagaintry to hide it. The party line was that everyone has a fair chance in our “democratic” society. All it takes is hard work and talent. If Blacks wind up at the bottom of the economic pecking order, that’s just their fault. We need to teach them how to discipline themselves, stay in school, yada yada. Since Trump has taken office, white supremacy has come out of the closet. Now they scream their opinions loud and clear while the president says there are some really nice people among them. Not that he is white supremacist. Oh, no! Certainly not. But white supremacists can be just as nice as anyone else. At the same time, Trump talks about left-wing dissidents in a very different tone. It’s not all Trump, either. Society is inundated with white supremacy. But we’ve all seen the articles documenting all this. I’m not interested in writing another such article.

fdrMy point is that we can (and should) condemn Trump and his administration on the grounds that their politics stink. Do we want a government that only favors those who are already rich? Do we want a government that takes away the already inadequate safety net for the working class? FDR brought about the New Deal which lifted working people from the precarious place in which they had existed until then. Finally, people had some financial security. It was a start. But Ronald Reagan started dismantling the New Deal and his party has continued the work ever since.

trickledownSince we have clear grounds upon which to criticize Trump and his party, why bring psychiatry into it? I am a psychopath. I was once a conservative after reading Ayn Rand in my teens. So I know what it feels like. I honestly believed that the rich were mainly the most productive and therefore the worthiest to have the lion’s share of the goodies. I thought government helping the poor was a form of legalized robbery. I was still living with my parents and going to school. Once I graduated and entered the work force myself, it all didn’t look quite so clear-cut. I have read Ayn Rand’s books numerous times because I think they are well-written and interesting. But each time I read them, I saw more and more holes in her logic. My most recent rebuttal of her thinking is Social Darwinism of Ayn Rand. Now I am a leftist. But I am still a psychopath. It never stopped me from analyzing society and constructing an ideology of what is best and fairest for our society. What isn’t fair,  is excluding me from an open discussion of how our society should be run. A democratic society listens to the views of everyone on the political spectrum. No personality rules America. The government will be as good or bad as the intelligence and rationality of the voters.

populismLucky’s post starts out with “Since the very beginning of his term, Trump has surrounded himself with people who seem to lack empathy, conscience, or any sense of morality or scruples.” Why should we even care whether these people have “empathy, conscience, or…morality?” Their policies are hurting a lot of people who deserve better. The question is whether we can offer voters a real alternative, whether we can persuade them that they are hurting as a result of Trump’s policies. We need politics in command.

But Lucky goes on:

drlucyAll of the people working for Trump, based on their actions and words, seem to have one of the Cluster B personality disorders, most likely NPD, Antisocial PD (sociopathy), or psychopathy. Many of these people are likely malignant narcissists, like Trump himself. They serve as his flying monkeys and yes-men. There may be one or two non-disordered people left in the administration, who have severe problems with codependency and therefore have some pathological need to be pleasing to Trump, but I think even most of those people have been fired.

on-couch2.jpgPsychiatrists have admonished their fellow professionals not to attempt a diagnosis of anyone they have not examined in person. Unfortunately, many have been unable to live up to the ethics of their own profession and have succumbed to the temptation to play arm-chair psychiatrist. It’s sad when people with the actual credentials stoop to such unprofessional behavior. Why should lay people like Lucky Otter join the game?

victimThere are blogs and web sites devoted to “victims” of psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. The above quoted paragraph could easily have been lifted from one of those sites. They typically label those the “victims” complain about (usually their exes) with those same terms with which that paragraph is festooned.

Lucky talks a lot about what I guess the psychologists call “flat affect.”

Their eyes are cold, hard, and flat. Sometimes they appear black, as if they are lacking irises. When they smile, the smile doesn’t reach their eyes, making the smile appear mocking or threatening, or at the least insincere. A few of them, rather than having those reptilian eyes, have eyes that sparkle with psychopathic glee, and they often wear a smirk

President Trump Holds Joint Press Conference With Japanese PM Shinzo AbeShe has talked about this before. The distinctive “look” of psychopathy: gazing into the face of evil suggests that our very demeanor is evidence of our “evil.” She waxes even more emotional with “Trump himself has eyes that are so scary I really can’t look at them. I can’t even look at his face anymore, because I feel evil emanating from the image itself. I feel like something in my soul is being eaten every time I have to look at him.” Strange how other people look at Trump and see a hero. “His hair is like spun gold,” remarked one follower quoted in a magazine article. What about his followers? Are they evil? Are they sociopaths? I know many of them are evangelicals and consider themselves very moral people. Sure, there is cognitive dissonance involved in “moral” people practically worshiping someone who doesn’t observe their rules of morality. It’s kind of like people who are poor, struggling working class folk who support an administration whose policies only make their lives harder.

southIt’s hard to look at the smirky faces of those who are causing one material harm. The agony of defeat is bitter enough without those who won rubbing our faces in it. But everyone tries his hardest to win. Everyone rejoices in victory. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing one’s self-interest. Since we, the 99%, outnumber the wealthy 1%, all we really have to do is pursue our interest in the political arena and we would have a fine country. The real problem, as I see it, is not a bunch of “sociopaths” in power. The real problem is the mass of fools who vote against their self-interest because they let Microsoft Word - elephantintheroomoppressioncartoon.doctheir emotions rule them. Of course the electoral college helped skew the results and allowed a minority to decide the election. The electoral college was set up as a sop to the South. The winner is supposed to take all, not sweeten the defeat of the loser. The South has never really accepted defeat in the Civil War. But, North or South, white supremacy is the wild card that prevented the Union (the winner) from acting rationally. Perhaps there is something to be learned from the smug faces of the Trump-ists. Acting in one’s rational self-interest is not a sin. Let’s win and get our own values in the position of power. And let’s never forget to make the most of our unabashedly joyful victory.

Individualism and Ayn Rand

I am reblogging this from my Soapbox blog. I think it has relevance here too.

My Soapbox

eric_michael_johnson_anthropologist-175x175 Eric Michael Johnson

While I wrote my rebuttal of Ayn Rand‘s philosophy some time ago, more rebuttals are being written, each with it’s own slant. Two by Eric Michael Johnson (Why Ayn Rand Was Wrong about Altruism, Selfishness, and Human Nature, and Ayn Rand vs. the Pygmies) take a very different approach from my own. My approach started from the question of what is the origin of wealth. Ayn Rand says we all have access to the resources of nature. What differentiates each of us is how we  use our minds. Rand would have us imagine ourselves alone in the wilderness, all grown up, with unlimited access to resources. Her paradigm is wrong on several counts.

  1. We are all products of our societies, not separate individuals in the wilderness.
  2. We did not appear full-blown adults ready to show what we can do. We were all helpless…

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