Kids and Psychopathy

I

lucypeanutThe DSM doesn’t allow shrinks to diagnose an underage patient with “psychopathy.” Actually, the DSM doesn’t allow the diagnosis of “psychopathy” to people of any age. Yet, they allow kids to be diagnosed as “callous-unemotional.” So what are these kids when they grow up? Psychopaths or the DSM-preferred ASPD? Of course, there is one place where people can still be tested and diagnosed with psychopathy and that is in the penal justice system.

aspdvspsyRobert Hare tried to keep the American Psychiatric Association from replacing “psychopathy” with “ASPD.” Perhaps the disconnect stems from the degree to which present-day psychology is dominated by behaviorists. Behaviorists famously deny the reality of such a subjective entity as a consciousness. Perhaps we do have a consciousness (DUH!) but it can’t be seen or examined “objectively” so we might as well act as if it doesn’t exist. This evokes the question of whether a psychologist is really a scientist or a philosopher. Philosophy doesn’t get much respect from scientists who claim they deal in reality and philosophers only deal in some fuzzy sort of wool gathering. Interestingly enough, behaviorism is more concerned with how to make someone behave a certain way than in understanding what makes him tick.

Illimitable Men wrote, “Consciousness remains an enigma to science, and for as long as this remains true, philosophy will remain hegemon of all things metaphysical and thereby spiritual in nature. This is precisely why philosophy exists, for it has repeatedly endured as a form of top-down investigation into the metaphysical substrate of reality for millennia, filling a vacuum of human need that religion embodies, but does not explain.”

cogitoConsciousness is something everyone experiences and knows intuitively that it is real for goodness sake. That people calling themselves “scientists” deny it only indicates that they are limiting the scope of their field to the point where it has less relevance to human lives. Only that which can be treated as an object is worthy of scientific examination.  Psychiatry is properly a field in biological medicine so it can encompass both the physical and the behavioral aspects of psychopathy. Yet it is the American Psychiatric Association that created the DSM.

brainscancartWhile psychiatrists remain firmly routed in the limiting and unproductive channel of behaviorism, it is the neuroscientists who have really moved forward in exploring this possibility. Of course, they are examining the physical and are, thereby making the study of the mind even more objective. In The Guardian, Chris Chambers wrote, “Psychopathy is of course a very real disorder and a lot more complex than portrayed on film. For many years, the gold standard for diagnosing psychopathy has been various forms of behavioural assessment. But now, Californian neuroscientist James Fallon claims he can diagnose psychopathy from a brain scan.” Neuroscientists have identified characteristic scans for various conditions including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

conscience3However, this field is still in it’s infancy. A diagnosis of psychopathy based on brain scans alone is not accepted as yet. “The flaw with this argument — as Fallon himself must know — is that there is no one-to-one mapping between activity in a given brain region and complex abilities such as empathy. There is no empathy region and there is no psychopath switch. If you think of the brain as a toolkit, these parts of the brain aren’t like hammers or screwdrivers that perform only one task.” I believe they are on the right track however. Of course, there’s another possibility no scientists seem to have considered. What if “psychiatric conditions” other than psychosis can be assessed outside of the narrow field of science. Lay people instinctively act on that assumption. How many newspaper articles have called a public figure a “psychopath” or a “narcissist?” How many people on Facebook have done the same?

cuteaspdBoth psychiatry/psychology recognizes that children’s personalities can change before the kid becomes an adult. The brain is known to undergo significant changes as we grow up, even in one’s teens. Professionals who treat kids whose behavior indicates a likelihood of psychopathy in adults work to develop interventions while the kid is still a kid in order to prevent that from happening.

psychokidThere has been a lot written about callous unemotional kids lately. Most articles acknowledge what psychologist, Michael Stone, said in the documentary, Psychopath Night that “psychopathy is like diamonds — it’s forever.” These kids, despite what the profession insists, are psychopaths. They can’t be “cured” but they can be steered in a pro-social direction mainly by means of positive reinforcement. Psychopaths aren’t deterred much by threat of punishment but are very receptive to rewards. Another viewpoint has been argued in the case of Beth Thomas. A treatment called Rebirthing, nicknamed “tough love,” is supposed to have turned this very “callous unemotional” little girl into a healthy adult free of ASPD or Psychopathy. I have severe doubts about this and explore them in my blog post, Tough Love Success? The writers believed she was cured of psychopathy. I neither support that psychopathy can be “cured” nor the methods promoted.

MJTCMendota Juvenile Treatment Center in Wisconsin has had more success in achieving happy outcomes than many (or any) others. They seem to accept the idea that psychopathy already exists in teens but can be guided in a positive direction. Author and former NPR religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty wrote, “They will never feel empathy, they will never feel guilt or remorse,” she said. “But if they can train them that, ‘Gee, my life will be better if I play by the rules,’ then they hope that these kids will turn out better.”


Links

Neuroscience and Psychopathy

This article which is linked to from Psychopathic Times under the title 6 Scary Realities Of Working With Actual Psychopaths, is almost all about James Fallon so I found the title misleading. I wanted to read this but the page it’s on is so full of graphics and links and scripts that it kept freezing my browser. To access it, I downloaded it and removed all the excess. Now that it’s so accessible, I want to share it with others. So, without further ado, here it is.

6 Scary Realities Of Working With Actual Psychopaths

By Saundra Sorenson

fallon“Psychopath” is the “literally” of mental illnesses, a phrase that’s tossed around frequently, but rarely used correctly. It’s become our catch-all for “dangerously crazy.” But it’s a very specific diagnosis, characterized by impulsivity, a very high drive for reward, and little to no remorse. It’s a diagnosis that neuroscientist James Fallon is both professionally and personally familiar with. We spoke to him, and Professor Kent Kiehl — who has spent years analyzing the psychopathic brain through a pioneering MRI study — as well as “Sasha,” who currently leads group-therapy sessions in a Midwestern jail. She has attempted to treat (arguably more than) her fair share of psychopaths in that correctional setting. Here’s what they told us …

6. You Can Actually See Psychopathy On A Brain Scan

brainscanIn 2006, Fallon was finishing a study on Alzheimer’s. Poring over countless brain scans, including one of his own, which he’d submitted as a control subject. Fair enough; he doesn’t have Alzheimer’s. But he did know an abnormal limbic system when he saw one — and he knew that low levels of activity in the part of the brain that governs emotional life and social interaction are … less than ideal.

“I got to the last scan, I looked at it and chuckled. I called the technicians in, and said, ‘You mixed the files? This is a dangerous person who shouldn’t be walking around, a psychopath!’ I had to peel back the name (on the scan). Of course it was me.”

“We either have ourselves a psychopath or an internet commenter.”

fallon2He refers to it as “that moment Gandalf knocks on your door,” summoning him on a great mission. He told his wife of many decades, who wasn’t surprised. Then he just let this knowledge lie for a couple years, like so many of us do when it comes to disturbing things like lingering health concerns, or recently purchased exercise equipment.

But others had taken notice of Fallon’s probable diagnosis long before he did — be they family, or the top psychiatrists in Norway. See, Fallon was asked to give a talk on bipolar disorder at the University of Oslo in 2010, and for ethical reasons, he used his own brain scans for the PowerPoint presentation. Some of the country’s top psychiatric minds invited him to a friendly, hours-long chat after — nothing fancy, understand; just a “thanks for participating! We think you’re probably a borderline psychopath” kind of affair.

fallon1“That’s the first time I took it seriously,” Fallon says. “They didn’t know me, but they knew my biological and psychological data.” Fallon had stumbled across what Dr. Kent Kiehl already knew too well. Kiehl has spent years lugging a mobile MRI machine to prisons to analyze the brains of high-rating psychopathy, and he knew that the scans of a psychopath show much lower than normal activity in the areas of the brain responsible for impulse control and “emotional responsiveness,” among other things. Kiehl published some of the first studies showing that brain scans can predict antisocial behavior. If this sounds a little too Minority Report for you, keep in mind that it’s much more accurate than a lot of the risk equations we use today — take, for example, parole boards — to predict recidivism:

“We have a whole field of psychology that tries to assess by proxy things that are happening in your head — your IQ, your age, all these variables … Those are all measures that are trying to assess what’s happening inside the head, whereas what neuroscience is doing — we’re simply being able to say, well let me quantify the brain data directly, rather than by proxy.”

So what’s it like to be a psychopath?

Fallon puts it this way:

psy“I don’t get anxious about things, and if I’ve done something wrong, I’m challenged by somebody catching me.” He also says his pain threshold is very high, consistent with psychopathy. “I drove my dentist crazy, root canals with no anesthesia … I think it’s just a kick. The way I feed that particular monkey is being around danger.”

And if you’re wondering how a neuroscientist like Fallon wouldn’t know he had such a notorious diagnosis, well, he argues his experience is pretty textbook …

5. A Psychopath Almost Certainly Won’t Know It

psychopathinsideIf Fallon hadn’t been in that particular line of work, and if he hadn’t accidentally (perhaps hilariously? It’s a dark sitcom premise, but we’d still watch it) revealed his own disorder during the report to those Nordic doctors, the only other way he might have ever received his diagnosis is by going to jail. As Sasha explains: “People seek therapy when they’re struggling with symptoms or issues, and ‘successful’ psychopathic individuals are, by the nature of their condition, not negatively impacted or even inconvenienced by their symptoms.”

When psychopaths are diagnosed, it’s using a checklist created by Dr. Robert Hare. Kiehl breaks it down for us in his book: “It contains 20 items that capture the essential traits of psychopathy — including lack of empathy, guilt, and remorse, glibness, superficiality, parasitic orientation, flat affect, irresponsibility, and withoutconscienceimpulsivity. These traits are assessed based on the individual’s entire life and in all domains of his or her life. That is, to ‘lack empathy’ on the Psychopathy Checklist, you must have evidence of this trait in the majority of your life — at home, work, school, with family, friends, and in romantic relationships. Each of the 20 items is scored on a three-point scale: 0, the item does not apply to the individual; 1, item applies in some respects; and 2, item definitely applies in most respects to the individual. The scores range from 0 to 40, with the clinical diagnosis of a psychopath reserved for those with a score of 30 or above. The average inmate will score 22. The average North American non-incarcerated male will score 4 out of 40.”

In other words, consistency is key. You may have committed a few mind-bogglingly horrible, unforgivable-in-the-eyes-of-society-or-your-exes transgressions, but there are a number of other mental illnesses or personality disorders that could account for that.

But there is a range for how much of a psychopath you are. Fallon says that he, himself, rates “mostly mid-20s, from 20 to 28” on the Hare checklist. That would make him a borderline psychopath in the U.S. (although a “true” psychopath for research purposes), and a total psychopath in the U.K.

Although Kiehl was not talking about Fallon in particular, he points out that someone who falls short of a full-blown psychopathy diagnosis, but has a higher-than-average score — say 20 or beyond — is not someone you want to date: “They’re not going to have all of the same problems because it does run on a gradient, but they are someone who is not likely to lead to happiness for those around them all the time.”

elephantsFallon’s personal inventory doesn’t exactly undermine this idea: “I do things that are really quite dangerous with people — with my young kids, my brothers, and I push it right to the limit,” Fallon says. “To me, I’m a thrill-seeker. Physically and socially, (I do) some dangerous things.” For example: While working at the University of Nairobi hospital, he took his son fishing at Mount kitumcaveKenya … disregarding all the signs warning of impending lion attacks in the area. Later, a guy came into the hospital bleeding out of his nose, suffering from the Marburg virus, which has shocking similarities to Ebola. Rather than avoiding, well, the plague, Fallon says, “I found out where he had stayed … he went into the Kitum Cave, where the old elephants, the old matriarchs, bring the young ones to dig out the caves to get iodine and all the minerals. My brother came (to visit), and I said ‘I’m going to give him a thrill here.’ I knew nobody was going to the place.”

batsBecause of rebels shooting in that area, naturally.

“I knew there were a lot of animals, and no tourists. So we went in there, and I didn’t tell my brother anything. I took him into the caves and I said, ‘Don’t touch the ground.’ The virus was living in the batshit, and that’s where this guy got it from. I went in, there were bats all over, it was wild. We stayed overnight at this camp, where this guy had stayed. All night, animals — leopards, hyenas — were all around us, because it was a clearing. I said, ‘We gotta keep this fire going, it’s very important.’ It was like a scene from Quest For Fire, with us brandishing these logs, screaming at these animals to keep them
batshitback.”

He still talks about it like it was a grand adventure. His brother only found out about the cave when 1995’s Outbreak hit theaters. “He said,’You son of a bitch, you knew it all along, but you still brought me there.'”

4. Psychopathy May Be Genetic; There May Be Psychopathic Children

damianIn retrospect, Fallon figures that he must have looked like Damien from The Omen to the adults around him. “Since I was about 13, there were always some adults — psychologists, teachers, rabbis, priests — every year, an adult saying ‘There’s something really bad about you.’ But you don’t put these things together until you have a narrative.”

That jives with Kiehl’s findings. “What we found is we see the same effects in maximum-security-incarcerated boys by age 15 as we do in a 30-year-old offender in the other sample.” In fact, their brains looked more or less the same, which means that psychopathy is likely genetic.

psychild“The label ‘psychopath’ is not given to anyone under the age of 18,” Kiehl says, “but there is an enormous field of research assessing what we refer to as ‘callous and unemotional traits.’ We just refer to it as ‘callous conduct disorder’ — (which includes) acting out of impulsivity, getting in trouble — easy to quantify.”

And there is a kind of junior version of Hare’s Psychopath Checklist, used for those aged 12 to 18. And it continues: “Essentially, the younger you get, the harder it is to access what’s happening in the brain, but there have been people trying to assess it as early as four, five, six.”

While a postdoc, Fallon worked with a leading expert who claimed to be able to distinguish psychopathy in two- and three-year-olds. The guy wouldn’t go on record saying so, fearing the public outcry that would inevitably distract him from his work, “but he told me that he could see it. He could follow them until they’re in their 20s. And they all had been abused, or some problem like that, so that’s a key thing.”

Thgoodlyeris is where Fallon’s life gets decidedly Sliding Doors.

Scenario A: The fucked-up, full-blown psychopath lifestyle of
self-serving violence, broken relationships, sporadic employment …

scientiOR

Scenario B: Life as a scientist and an academic, happily married, his relationships with his children intact.

What differentiates them?

“I had all the biological markers, but I was never abused as a kid,” Fallon said. “Look, you can have the biology, but it’s not a death sentence. If you treat kids well, don’t abandon them, they’re not going to clinically have these pernicious (habits/traits).”

wifeHe also credits the women in his life. “Even friends growing up — not just as adults — said, ‘If it wasn’t for your girlfriend, (then) wife, you’d definitely be in jail.’ She had a very stabilizing influence on me. My mother, my aunts — the whole matriarchy kept me in line.”

Kiehl notes that every adult psychopath he worked with was “different from normal children from a very early age. Their prison files are typically replete with stories from siblings, parents, teachers, and other guardians about how as a child the psychopath was emotionally disengaged from other siblings, got in trouble more frequently, engaged in more severe antisocialsports behaviors, and started using alcohol and drugs and having sex at a younger age than other children.”

Much of that holds up for Fallon. “My mother knew there was something wrong. She was worried about me. After I wrote the book, she told me she was really concerned about me.”

She had always noticed his “‘tendencies toward being a bad boy.’ She just kept me really busy, all the time. I was always involved in busysports.” Often the more violent, the better. “Plus skiing and swimming. Any other time I was involved in acting. And she knew the teachers, and she as a teacher said ‘Keep this kid busy.’ When I am not busy life gets dark around me. I’m just busy all the time. It’s a good thing for the people around me.”

While his mother’s savvy over-scheduling mostly kept him out of trouble, Fallon’s lagging limbic system still had some influence. “I just had this tendency, even when I was being a good boy: I always try to get groups of people to do things that was against their conscience. It was never to hurt anybody. It was for fun, it was goofy.”

But Kiehl has seen a lot of hope in young, burgeoning psychopaths! He tells us …

3. A Psychopath Is Not A Hopeless Cause

teachingempathyPsychopaths are notoriously hard to treat, and some mental health professionals even believe them to be beyond help. Psychopaths aren’t typically assigned to group therapy, but Sasha has ended up working with a couple in jail anyway. The best advice she’s received? “‘Think about how little kids learn’ — so I’ve been approaching it that way.”

One of her patients, for example, doesn’t realize he isn’t empathetic:

“One of the things he was telling me was he feels really protective toward women and children, and that always gets him in trouble. He says, ‘Say I see a woman jogging in the park and I see some shady characters hanging around. I’d want to go up to her, and warn her about them … if it was my mom, I’d want someone to do that for her.’ I said, ‘But do you think your mom would want that?’ And he got a really confused look on his face. I said, ‘You know, you’ve got to think about it from that lady’s perspective: She doesn’t know you from those strangers or anybody, and you’re just approaching her. She might feel afraid.’ It was like a brand new idea to him.”

Kiehl believes even the psychopath brain is capable of change, but it’s best to start early. He is a huge supporter of a program at the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center in Wisconsin, which has had an unprecedented 50 percent success rate in reducing violent outcomes among boys who score high on the Youth Psychotherapy
Checklist.

mendotaAs Kiehl writes: “The (Mendota) model was founded on the belief that prison deterrence and prisoners’ defiant responses can become a vicious cycle. As they cycle repeats itself, prisoners give up more and more investment in convention, and their lives become ‘compressed’ as the use of punitive and restrictive sanctions increases. Eventually … the only response left in their behavioral repertoire is violence.” Fallon agrees: “What Kent’s saying, if you try negative reinforcement on (a psychopath), the brain interprets it as abuse. Since they do not appreciate what bad behavior is, they think it’s completely unfair. To them it’s not immoral or anything.”

sanmarcosThe program takes a minimum of about 10 to 12 months to have any effect, but you can’t argue with the results, or the rosy economic benefits — it’s all been peer-reviewed. “That’s the only program in the world that has done that,” Kiehl says, and this gives him hope for adult psychopaths, too. “(Kids are) potentially more malleable than adults, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe the program would work with an adult, it just might take two or three times as long. Once you get entrenched in your behaviors and your attitudes, changing those things can take as long a time as long as it took you to get ingrained in them.”

That’s one battle. Another?

2. Pop Culture Gets Psychopaths All Wrong

Let’s clear this up right now: Norman Bates is a Psycho, sure. But he’s a psychotic, not a psychopath. Kiehl points out that psychopaths are characterized by shallow emotional lives, and some even consider them incapable of love; Bates shows attachment to his late mother, and it’s suggested that his delusions are the result of his remorse for killing her. A true psychopath probably wouldn’t resurrect a victim to compensate for anything.

talentedripThe Talented Mr. Ripley fits more cleanly into the “psychopath” category — he seduces, forges false identities, and kills for either personal gain or simple convenience — but he would likely have a secondary diagnosis of “psychosis” (a different thing!) according to this exhaustive, whimsical study of silver-screen psychopaths, which argues that Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko is a mere manipulative psychopath, while Patrick Bateman is indeed the full-blown American psychopath.

Moving on to a more nuanced cocktail conversation: It’s popular to use “sociopath” as a point of reference for shitty people. Cut it out. According to both Fallon and Kiehl, it’s passe.

behaviorism4“‘Sociopathy’ was a term coined in the behaviorist era of psychology, when it was believed every human was a blank slate at birth,” Kiehl explains. “So ‘socio’ means social forces, ‘pathy’ means pathology — created by environment. We know now that psychopaths are not solely made by their environment, so that term (‘sociopathy’) is not used in academic circles anymore.” Likewise, maybe consider tossing out your copy of The Psychopath Test. Kiehl called Jon Ronson’s popular book “a work of fiction” and points out that it’s “the only book that the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy publicly opposed.”

passpclr“I just have never seen someone who scores in the top percentile of the Hare test be very successful,” Kiehl says. “The way they go about life, and go about manipulating, and the way they go about lying, basically — they’re lazy. They don’t follow through with anything. They’re not going to be a good employee.”

Fallon explains that he was able to become professionally successful, despite his diagnosis. “Somebody who scores very high, over 30, that’s a dangerous person. For people like me, who have high scores on maybe half of them — I scored very high — you’d say you’re a borderline. For me, I have all of the pro-social psychopathic traits … I’m not quite a categorical psychopath. And if I was a psychopath, I wouldn’t able to be quite successful. A 35-scoring psychopath tends not to have a successful life at all. They tend to get disordered and they get caught at some point.”

fallonfamily.jpgFallon theorizes that genetics worked in his favor, which is a bit ironic, because, well: “We have four lines of killer in our family. That’s too many.” Lizzy Borden is a distant cousin; his great-and-then-some grandfather, Thomas Cornell, brutally murdered
his elderly mother in the late 17th century.

“We have direct fathers and grandfathers, grandmothers, really badasses, murderers. But the other parts of the family, we have a couple nuns, ministers — they’re either very holy or (murderous). I have a first cousin, he’s gone the other way, he’s getting his doctorate after years of being a teacher. He’s going through the spiritual history of my family, instead of genetics, (with the theory) that they passed down a sense of holiness.”

In his family, Fallon thinks that the very gray area, which Kiehl has long studied, can be “turned on all the time, or off all the time.”

As for true, full-blown psychopaths? Well …

1. Most Psychopaths Are In Jail, But We May Be Able To Change That

jail.jpgOne of the psychopath’s more enviable traits is that he (statistically, more of them are men) doesn’t worry all that much.

He isn’t too troubled by the idea that he’s behind bars — because he is liable to be incarcerated, and often.

Kiehl writes: “A little less than 1 percent of the general population, or about 1 in 150 people, will meet criteria for psychopathy. However, the number of psychopaths in prison is much higher than in the community because psychopaths tend to get themselves in trouble with the law. Studies indicate 15 to 35 percent of inmates worldwide will meet criteria for psychopathy — with more psychopaths being found in prisons with higher security ratings.”

crimeAnd goes on to tell us: “One of the classic definitions is that (psychopaths) are willing to engage in a wide variety of different crimes. You’ll see psychopathic — even more so than non-psychopathic — inmates who will experiment in just about any different type of criminal activity. Whatever opportunity plays by. They usually don’t develop an expertise … the types of crimes they commit are wide-ranging.”

That said, he has found psychopaths are more likely to commit homicides.

stabbing“We’ve published studies on the types of crime psychopaths commit, and the types of aggression profiles you see. They’re more likely to obviously abuse close relatives or spouses than others … There are a lot of other types of more aggressive violent crimes (that) are perpetrated by psychopaths, but the vast majority crimes psychopaths commit are non-violent crimes.”

In his book, Kiehl writes about a particular subject, “Gordon,” whose future plans included “leveraging some of his residual bank-robbery proceeds to start a motorcycle dealership.” His rap sheet included not only robbery, but nearly stabbing a girlfriend’s alleged lover to death. His cellmate, “Grant,” was in for murdering his two accomplices in neurosci.jpba robbery. Grant was quick to add that he’d also dabbled in arson, credit-card fraud, some assorted B&E’s, and a string of other murders of convenience. Grant was, of course, a serial killer.

More optimistically, Kiehl says:

“That’s where neuroscience, I think, is going to help. What it does is tells us which regions of the brain are immature that are contributing toward that (unwise) decision. And then you can develop a program or treatment that tries to exercise or work on that system. Or maybe there’s medicine that helps them work on that system.”

Cthulhu Calling

boomer_never_retireBruce Cannon Gibney is the author of A Generation of Sociopaths which is subtitled “How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America.” According to Gibney, Boomers couldn’t do right. In fact, as a generation, we are clinically Sociopaths, a claim Gibney tries to substantiate using the PCL-R. He claims his qualifications for propounding such a thesis are not a degree in psychology (not even a BA in the subject), nor any particular knowledge of history, but a career in “finance, first at a hedge fund and then at a venture capital firm.” Gibney’s conservative outlook is quite evident. I have discussed this book already in the blogpost, Talking ‘Bout My G-Generation. There, I provided a stunning quote of how reactionary Gibney’s politics really are. I will repeat the entire quote here.

A long and pleasant retirement is both a historical curiosity and a financial improbability. Until relatively recently, only the rich could retire. Everyone else simply worked until the arrival of disabling infirmity and then waited for the gruesome end: That was it.

boomers_social_securityIt’s not that Gibney doesn’t think aging Boomers deserve social safety nets like Social Security. We just can’t afford it. Selfish Boomers are starving the younger generations by forcing them to support us. Why aren’t we willing to just work until we drop like earlier generations did in the blessed gilded age? Theodore Roszak, The Making of an Elder Culture, describes life in that golden age.

oldpoorInitially and for the next century or more, the new industrial economies took an especially savage toll among older workers., The men burned out early at the heavy and dangerous work they did in the factories and mines, on the railroads, and in the oil and timber fields. The women grew old before their time in the sweatshops and mills. Even if older workers kept their health and strength, industrial accidents, for which there was no compensation or adequate medical care, might cut them down at any moment. During the early generations of the industrial revolution, the aged, unless they belonged to the propertied classes, ordinarily ended lives of hard labor assimilated to the status of the poor. Even if they had worked all their lives, they were expected to die as paupers. The workhouse and county home were little better than concentration camps for the elderly. They were fed on gruel and bedded down at night on straw or bare wood.

notaffordConservatives find the idea of supporting people who can’t work and add to the wealth of the upper classes repugnant. Unable to sell their mean-spirited values, “the right-wing opposition presents its hostility to Social Security, not as a matter of ideology or ethics, but as pure mathematics.” Gibney’s approach is nothing new. Sadly, many Americans are drinking the cool aide and fatalistically chanting that Social Security is over and won’t be there when they retire. It is only “over” if the American voters decide to let it be over. There are many ways it can remain solvent indefinitely Conservatives have hated the plan since the day it was created and have been actively trying to destroy it. I think this really means they hate the elderly. They especially hate the Boomers who are now old enough to collect benefits.


spoiledkidBut how did Boomers become such losers in the first place? Gibney blames it on our upbringing. We were spoiled as children, you see. “Permissive” child-rearing is an anomaly according to Gibney. Kids never used to be coddled. “Like factory workers and farm animals, children were not to be indulged—they were to be managed….  Children were to be formed according to their parents’ wishes and society’s needs, with parenting a matter of coercing useful behaviors, instead of catering to childish whims.” Gibney longs for the good old days when children and elders knew their place.

innocentAt the root of all this catering to the useless eaters is the liberal/romantic view of human nature as basically good. Children don’t need to be beaten to become good people. Raise them with kindness and understanding and their natural goodness will blossom. Gibney thinks it is not only wrong, it is the cause of most of society’s problems. This view not only damns human nature. It damns nature, itself.


rousseauCamille Paglia, author of Sexual Personae, goes to the very root of the matter. She looks at the two diametrically opposed views of human nature in terms of the opinions of two writers, Jean Jacque Rousseau and the Marquis (Donatien Alphonse François) de Sade, both Frenchmen. In addition to their nationality, these two have something else in common. They were both kinky in the BDSM meaning of the word. Rousseau was a sexual masochist while de Sade, as everyone knows, was a sadist. Rousseau believed human nature (and nature itself) fundamentally good. De Sade, not so much. Paglia takes de desadSade’s view that nature (including human) is dark. We don’t suppress sexual expression because of the damned Puritans. Sex is intrinsically dark. She wrote, “Sex is the point of contact between man and nature, where morality and good intentions fall to primitive urges. I called it an intersection. This intersection is the uncanny crossroads of Hecate, where all things return in the night. Eroticism is a realm stalked by ghosts. It is the place beyond the pale, both cursed and enchanted.”

hecate-three-dogs.jpgFor years, witchcraft was likened to devil worship by our Christian society. Recently, it has been rehabilitated as WICCA, a form of Pagan nature worship. Never-the-less, there has always been a hint of darkness in neo-paganism and/or Wicca which (in my opinion) makes it more interesting. It’s generally agreed that nature, Wicca and paganism are likened to the feminine side of humanity. Feminists and neo-Wiccans such as Starhawk look to this feminine quality as everything good about humanity which has been spoiled by Patriarchal incursion into the innocence of our original peaceful and loving society. Aleister Crowley, who was the head of Ordo Templi Orientis, a solar-phallic quasi-masonic order, had a much darker view of the feminine magical world. ” In his Book of Thoth, he wrote,

moon2“The Moon, partaking as she does of the highest and the lowest, and filling all the space between, is the most universal of the Planets. In her higher aspect, she occupies the place of the Link between the human and divine, as shown in Atu II. In this Trump, her lowest avatar, she joins the earthy spear of Netzach with Malkuth, the culmination in matter of all superior forms. This is the waning moon, the moon of witchcraft and abominable deeds. She is the poisoned darkness which is the condition of the rebirth of light…..She is uncleanliness and sorcery. Upon the hills are the black towers of nameless mystery, of horror and of fear. All prejudice, all superstition, dead tradition and ancestral loathing, all combine to darken her face before the eyes of men. It needs unconquerable courage to begin to tread this path.”

beherenow5-subtle-mother1In my opinion, both of these views of the feminine, the human and nature are beautiful and true. Nature is  probably the most wholesome phenomenon on earth. The perception of darkness probably comes from our fear. Perhaps it is the masculine side of our natures that make the feminine side so threatening. Both sides make a whole. The masculine, rational, conscious and partaking of the sun and daylight, is what built civilization and science. The tension between each side makes life interesting. As Camille Paglia wrote,

Sex is daemonic. This term, current in Romantic studies of the past twenty-five years, derives from the Greek daimon, meaning a spirit of lower divinity than the Olympian gods (hence my pronunciation “daimonic”). The outcast Oedipus becomes a daemon at Colonus. The word came to mean a man’s guardian shadow. Christianity turned the daemonic into the demonic. The Great demons were not evil—or rather they were both good and evil, like nature itself, in which they dwelled. Freud’s unconscious is a daemonic realm.

kali-ramdasNo more Pollyanna. Life is more complicated, more terrible, if you will, than the cliche-ridden cooing, “There’s no such thing as a bad boy, only a sick boy.” The pagan religions which so many people idealize recognized the dual nature of reality, both the light and the darkness. Goddesses like Kali and Hecate attest to that. Nature is both beautiful and terrible. Paglia has a word that represents the very fearfulness of birth. The vagina, the gateway to life, and, therefore, mortality. It is “chthonian.”

The cool beauty of the femme fatale is another transformation of chthonian ugliness.

Psychopaths are known for cool, intellectual objectivity, free from the darkness and chaos of the chthonian. Borderlines probably exemplify that quality the most. But both are Cluster B and neither can exist in a vacuum.

Science and Morality

pluralismIn a pluralistic society such as ours, philosophy and religion are considered the realm of the individual. That is simply because people can’t agree. We learned from hard and bitter experience that when a society tries to enforce one view of religion on everyone is a society that, the result is war. Just look at the history of Europe. Most European nations have adopted the neutral position of religious tolerance as is encoded in the US Constitution.

 

politicalponerSometimes someone comes along who wants to find some sort of objective basis for what is really the province of philosophy. I just became aware of a book called Political Ponerology, subtitled A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes by Andrew M. Lobaczewski. This book apparently goes where angels fear to tread.  It is an attempt to reduce a moral concept, evil, to scientific study. I googled the word Ponerology and found it is defined in Wikipedia as:

In theology, ponerology (from Greek poneros, “evil”) is a study of evil. Major subdivisions of the study are the nature of evil, the origin of evil, and evil in relation to the Divine Government.

peanutstheologyThe first word in the definition is “theology,” in other words, religion. Wikipedia defines theology as:

Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities, seminaries and schools of divinity.

So it’s a province of schools of divinity. So on to a definition of divinity:

theologyIn religious terms, divinity or godhead is the state of things that come from a supernatural power or deity, such as a god, supreme being, creator deity, or spirits, and are therefore regarded as sacred and holy.[1][2][3] Such things are regarded as “divine” due to their transcendental origins or because their attributes or qualities are superior or supreme relative to things of the Earth.[1] Divine things are regarded as eternal and based in truth,[1] while material things are regarded as ephemeral and based in illusion. Such things that may qualify as “divine” are apparitions, visions, prophecies, miracles, and in some views also the soul, or more general things like resurrection, immortality, grace, and salvation. Otherwise what is or is not divine may be loosely defined, as it is used by different belief systems.

scienceCan this ever be the subject of science? Dictionary.com defines it as:

1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences. 2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

visionIf science is a study of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation, how can it include study of “a supernatural power or deity?” How can it be about “apparitions, visions, prophecies, etc.?”  Now, how about “evil?” Most definitions I found were tautological. The defined “evil” with the use of synonyms like “bad” or “immoral.” Dictionary.com defined it in the past tense.

Evil was the word the Anglo-Saxons used where we would use bad, cruel, unskillful, defective (adj.), or harm, crime, misfortune, disease (n.). The meaning “extreme moral wickedness” was in Old English, but did not become the main sense until 18c. Related: Evilly.

Gotquestions.org comes right out with:

bibleBiblically, evil is anything that contradicts the holy nature of God (see Psalm 51:4).

That puts it squarely in the realm of religion. One man, Sam Harris, believes science can tackle the thorny question of morality. Wikipedia says,

morallandscapeIn The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values, Sam Harris’s goal is to show how moral truth can be backed by “science”, or more specifically, empirical knowledge, critical thinking, philosophy, but most controversially, the scientific method.

consensusMr. Harris makes a claim that is interestingly similar to a claim made by B.F. Skinner, the behaviorist. When questioned about questions of value in the making of his fictional  utopia, Skinner said that basically we all know what is “the good.” No point even discussing it. Harris also seems to believe that. In my opinion, these claims are a cop-out by someone too intellectually lazy to acknowledge the ambiguities of human values. Even if most people agree about what is “the good,” consensus has no more business dictating morality than does an established church.

neuroscienceA look at Harris’ credentials brought up the surprising fact that he has a PhD in Philosophy as well as in Neuroscience. He is an atheist who seems to be trying to find a better ground for values than faith. But, examining his impressive output of books, I note he has a book denying the existence of free-will. How can we talk about morality, about how we should live if we don’t have free-will?

philosophyorscienceAnother book claiming to scientifically examine human evil, People of the Lie, is written by M. Scott Peck. Dr. Peck is a psychiatrist. B.F. Skinner, of course, is a psychologist who is a leading voice for Behaviorial Psychology. I don’t think it’s coincidental that these advocates of a science of morality are all in the field of psychology or psychiatry. This field is seen by many as “soft” science as opposed to physics or geology or even medicine. Sam Vaknin among others has suggested psychology might be better placed among the fields of philosophy. That might be preferable to trying to make morality into an adjunct of science.


Political Ponerology

ponerAndrew M. Lobaczewski studied at Jagiellonian University under professor of psychiatry Edward Brzezicki. Łobaczewski’s class was the last to receive an education uninfluenced by Soviet ideology and censorship, after which psychiatry was restricted to Pavlovian concepts.

deviReading what Amazon.com allows us to see of the book (which is a whole lot), I note that I was unable to find a definition of “evil” anywhere. The author seems to assume we all know what “evil” is and agree. This assumption annihilates philosophy and is as totalitarian as the Communist regimes he damns. The only thing I could glean from my reading is that “evil” is the same thing as “psychopathy.” For obvious reasons, I find that totally unacceptable. He seems to be exclusively concerned with the origins of “evil” (whatever that is) and what to do about it. He uses an analogy of a beehive which needs the intervention of a brainscancartbeekeeper to save it from destruction. Unless the great beekeeper in the sky intervenes into the affairs of our sad planet, I’m guessing he wants some people to assign the task to themselves. Of course, then there’s the problem of who is the solution and who is the problem. According to Psychopathic Times, the solution is to test all political candidates for psychopathy and eliminate them as candidates. Blaming psychopaths for everything that’s wrong with the world is scapegoating, pure and simple.

resistanceThis book, with it’s pretensions to science hardly seems a step up from the good old fashioned ideological struggle of political goals and means. The collective struggles of people to fashion their own world still looks like the only option (unless one opts for autocracy).

In conclusion, I don’t think science can answer the existential problems of human society any better than religion has ever done


Links

Mommie Dearest

momBetween the ages of 13 and 15, I was a patient in a nuthouse. Many, many years later, I obtained a copy of the official notes from that time. I was disappointed that there wasn’t much about my therapy nor my day-to-day life on the ward. But there was a lot, one could say far too much, about my mother’s interview(s) with a social worker. Although not what I was interested in, it proved to be quite an eye-opener. For one thing, I learned that she hadn’t really loved my father. She wanted to get married and he proposed so she went for it.

babiesI had honestly believed my parents loved me equally with my sister. This turned out to be untrue. My mother, especially, had ambivalence, to say the least, in her feelings about me. At one point, both my parents described my sister as the prettier one although I was obviously a beautiful baby by any objective standards.

It seems I was a trial to my mother from the womb. She had a “difficult pregnancy” and a motherchildcaesarean. A nurse helped her for about a week but she was then fired for showing signs of psychosis. After she left, I’m told, I cried a lot. I remember her vaguely. I also remember my crib in a large room which later became the dining room. My granny (on my mother’s side) lived with us until her death. After she died, I was given her room, a large, sunny room overlooking the street. I loved my granny a lot. She was the only one who gave me unconditional love and her lap was like heaven. I was therefore surprised to read that, according to mommy dearest, I hadn’t been close to my grandmother. I can’t even begin to imagine where she got that. When I was told of her death, I thought it was like going to sleep. A hospital was where one went to do this. I thought you just lay down on a bed and waited to die the way one waits to sleep. I asked my mother what would happen if you can’t die (the way you sometimes can’t fall asleep). And I would ask her if she was dead yet as I was clearly confused about the whole process. Other than that, I didn’t feel any particular way about it.

25-cumming-st-new-york-ny-building-photoWhen my sister grew old enough, she joined me in our large front room. Every night, I recall standing up in bed and looking at the interesting shadows on the walls. We had lots of plants in the windows through which the lamplight caste the shadows. Once in a while, a car would pass. The moving headlights made all the shadows move and shimmer. I awaited these moments as something special. I made up stories about the shadows which I shared with my sister although I can’t remember any of the stories now. Somehow, I ended up asleep every night without a problem.

My mother told the social worker that I had no sexual curiosity. I find this odd since my sister and I masturbated regularly, her on her bed and me on my own. We weren’t at all secretive about it so she had to have known. After this period, my sexuality went into Freud’s well-known “latency period” which lasted until puberty.

toddlerWhen my sister was born, I developed “symptoms” such as blinking and stammering. I also insisted they “throw her out the window.” So I was taken to a psychiatric nursery school. I kid you not. I was 3 years, 10 months. They said I “live(d) in a dream world,” according to mommy. Quite true. I day dreamed intensively during my entire childhood. My mother only breast-fed me for 13 days when she ran out of milk. Interestingly, they wrote, “any rejection of Frances by the mother seems to serve also the purpose of elimination of any pathology within herself. It appears that by isolating Frances, she attempts to isolate her own emotional problem.” No wonder I related so powerfully to the lines in Marilyn Manson’s song, The Man That You Fear, “you poisoned all your children to camouflage your scars.” I had long been aware of my mom’s defensiveness in denying any blame for any problems I might have had. She even told me that a doctor had reassured her that I could inner_psychopath_infant_bodysuithave been born “that way.” I despised her for her weakness. The notes from that psychiatric toddler’s school also said I had, “a far away, dreamy look, which shows a degree of self-absorption and overwhelming fantasy life written on (my) face.” I also spoke in which they considered “word salad.” I seemed “emotionally much younger” than my biological age. I showed “a great deal of lability” and would “shift from one mood into another one.” I think it’s rather common for a first child to regress for a while out of jealousy of the second one. I also showed “a great deal of confusion as to (my) own identity particularly in relation to (my) sex image, a great deal of preoccupation with sexual differentiation.” Interesting when compared with my mother’s claim that I had no sexual curiosity.

im_not_a_psychopath_baby_bodysuit-r5705f628763b49e5b980d3e9c26c3469_jfhfi_324“We are dealing,” the narrative continued, “here with a child who shows a variety of pathology related to symptoms such as fears of noises, of smells, of dogs, with like symptoms…” A toddler afraid of dogs and noises is showing symptoms of pathology? “In addition, an inability to relate herself to the external world except on a rather narcissistic level. Primarily, we deal here with a conflict which indicates an interference of the maturation progress to a degree where we have a very poorly established ego structure, and therefore a tendency toward regression and a lack of super-ego formation.” They also said I had “an extremely disturbed mother” (sorry, mom). My mother took me out of that school because it was full of very aggressive boys (“biters, kickers, etc.,” my mom). That’s what I remember primarily about the place. Lots of chaos. One time, a big, fat boy hit me and the staff mentioned that he was having a bad day. Poor boy.

They disapproved of my parents decision to remove me. “The fact that this child is deprived of a therapeutic contact certainly makes the prognosis particularly dubious.” The “prognosis” given by the nuthouse was “guarded.” I guess that was an improvement.

schoolyardThe notes by the social worker who kept interviewing my mom require particular attention as they involve a highly distorted picture of an experience in school. The principal of my elementary school was a politically ambitious termite who sought to further his reputation to making the kids donate money to veterans. This man hated kids as evidenced by the way he talked to us in Assembly. He harangued us for money to his cause by describing his image of us selfishly spending our pennies on candy and movies instead of helping him get ahead. His voice was alive with loathing as he proposed a hypothetical situation where we had the money in our pockets and had to decide what to do with it. His voice quivered with rage when he listed ways we might actually enjoy our money on kid diversions. The message was that kids had no right to have fun. This was just beneath the standard of how a kid should live.

wienerI’ll also never forget what he did to a boy in my class. This boy wasn’t a very good student. He was kind of a low achiever. We were having a rehearsal for a graduation ceremony. We had to line up. This principal placed that boy in the front of the line, saying, “thereby fulfilling the biblical prophecy, ‘the last shall be first.'” What a mean thing to say in front of the whole graduating class. Adults probably have no idea how much kids notice about their behavior. But we do notice. I did, anyway. My father, to his credit, understand the situation perfectly. My mother, according to what she told the social worker, did not.

ps52According to my mother, the class decided to raise money for veterans. Yeah, right. A bunch of little kids got this idea all on their own. It was the principal. My teacher put a lot of pressure on all of us to donate. I refused as a matter of principle. Instead of seeing this as a sign of strong character, my mother depicted it as a symptom of social maladjustment. According to her, “a group of the girls had waylaid (me) in the hall and were mauling (me) when (a teacher) interfered.” Nice story. But it is 100% fiction. The kids never showed any interest in the project, far less wanting to beat me up for not being part of it. Since my mother is dead, I will never have to chance to confront her about this lie (or, let us be kind, delusion).

tomboyI was a tomboy until adolescence. One night I dreamed I was climbing my favorite rock but I had two pairs of legs. On one, I was wearing my sneakers. On the other, I had my school shoes. A perfect Freudian symbol of my conflict between my carefree days as a tomboy and the woman I was becoming. Apparently,  I chose womanhood as my interest in cloths became girly. I was still a bookworm. How my reading fed my fantasy life is already described in my autobiographical blogpost. So I spent the years ages 13 through 15 in a nuthouse. I was “suicidal” at first (although I was just acting out another fantasy). Maybe the way I transitioned to living in my dreams to living in reality was by acting out some of these dreams. When my fantasy life led to a decision to kill someone, I acted on that decision without a qualm. The oddest thing about the whole episode was the fact that nobody ever asked me why I did it. disowningNobody. Not even my shrink. It really disturbed him as well as a lot of people, especially my mother. “She has shown increasing hostility toward patient’s visits home on week-ends, and once remarked to assigned social worker that her reputation had been ruined by the patient, and she could no longer accept her back in the household. By February, 1958, the mother had arranged to move into a more expensive apartment with fewer rooms, with the idea that the patient would not be allowed to return home. She also stated tearfully, ‘I no longer consider Frances my daughter.'” I can’t really blame her since the girl I tried to kill was a daughter of one of her closest friends. But she never carried through with her plans and I returned to the family home after my discharge (with a “guarded” diagnosis).

728px-Identify-a-Psychopath-Step-8We moved to a small town where I finished high school. She died during my high school years. The months preceding her death were characterized by a lot of weeping on her bed. This only made me angry. It seemed all my life I had been a thorn in her side. That got old long before her final year. She died of lung cancer which isn’t surprising because she smoked like a chimney.


More Biography

Manipulation

maskedOne of the items on the PCL-R  is manipulative. But isn’t everyone manipulative? Except for severely retarded or autistic people. In the old laugh-at movie, Reefer Madness, the goody-goody main character is so honest, they say of him, he “never lies.” But real people tell lies. And we all manipulate.

What is child-rearing?

Proverbs 22:6New King James Version (NKJV)bibles

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

manipulativebaby
Isn’t it all about teaching a child to behave in ways parents want him to behave? Child-rearing is about teaching your kid to be obedient (to the parent at first). Later, the kid applies his habit of obedience to school, bosses and laws. The favored way of teaching obedience is reward and punishment.

Tough Love is an organization started in the Reagan years. It is a self-help group for parents whose kids are “out of control.” In other words, these parents can’t “control” their kids. Their kids are not obedient. Tough Love is also a book and a television movie. When you get toughlovepast the verbiage, it really boils down to one thing. How to show the kid who is boss and make him submit. They do this by making undesirable (to them) behavior have consequences. Like a wild horse, a disobedient child must be broken. It is the will which must be broken to make him submit.
Here, Grandma...it's polite to write thank you notes, so I'm thanking you in advance for all the stuff I hope you get me for Christmas.But that seems so one-sided. Is the child (or good citizen) just submitting? It seems to me there is a two-way process at work. The kid wants to be rewarded instead of punished. To get what he wants, the kid applies those behaviors he was taught. It’s mutual manipulation. After all, society is a system of levers and pulleys that people learn to manipulate to get a favored outcome.
The man who made manipulation not only respectable but scientific is B.F. Skinner with his books Beyond Freedom and Dignity and Walden Two. Skinner poses some interesting paradoxes about freedom and democracy. His utopia isn’t democratic in the sense of people voting for candidates. One ruler or committee makes the decisions. But they do it in a way that the success of the community depends on the people being happy. So, in that sense, they “vote” for the decisions that work.
seesawThe leader of the fictitious community, Walden Two, is a man named Frazier who claims a lot of power. But Frazier’s “control” is hardly what is usually implied by that word, which would be power-over, power wielded over people against their will. Frazier’s only “power” comes from his ability to organize people in a way that enables them to be happy and to get what they want. It is power-with.
kidnappedEven in situations that are completely power-over such as a kidnapping, the prisoner finds ways to exert some control by knowing the person who has the power over, finding his weaknesses. That is what keeps them alive and enables them to escape eventually.
In sado-masochism, it is a well-known truism that “the masochist has all the power.” That’s kind of a cliche that is only partially true. But even partial truth says a lot.
Careful, she plays mind games.As long as people are at all affected by the behavior of other people, power will always be a matter of give and take. A lot of manipulation is based on the knowledge on the part of the manipulator (consciously or otherwise) of secret guilt, inadequacies and resentments on our part (which is usually unconscious). This form of manipulation is blackmail. The antidote to manipulation is the same as the antidote to blackmail: to tell the truth. The victim of most forms of manipulation is not as much afraid of the blackmailer telling the world as he is of becoming aware of his own secrets, carefully hidden from himself. A self-aware human being is enured to blackmail. It always costs us to face our inner demons and that is the true cost of freedom.
law-policing-emails-message-check-protection-you_ve_got_mail-36534236_low.jpg

You Poisoned All Your Children

to camouflage your scars

P-munchausen-enHD-AR1Munchausens by Proxy is one of the creepiest things found in the annuls of psychiatry. I thought it must be listed in the DSM-5 but it seems not. It is a “syndrome” rather than a personality disorder. Wikipedia defines “syndrome” as “a set of medical signs and symptoms that are munchausencartooncorrelated with each other. The word derives from the Greek σύνδρομον, meaning ‘concurrence’.” Yet, it is also called MBP which looks like a DSM abbreviation. So, since it’s not a “disorder” by a specific “syndrome” of behavior, I guess it’s just something that certain “disordered” people do. 

My guess is that narcissists and/or people with histrionic personality disorder might be drawn this syndrome. The narc could get plenty of supply and the histrionic could certainly be the center of drama. To deliberately inflict an actual illness on a child would seem to require a profound lack of conscience unless the person is seriously delusional in which case, s/he might by schizotypal or something along those lines.

marilynmansonThe title of this blogpost is a quote from Marilyn Manson’s song The Man that You Fear, the Antichrist Superstar album. Two images came to me from this song. One is my own mother. She never made me physically sick like the MBP people do. But the lines, “…to camouflage your scars” and “Peel off all those eyes and crawl into the dark.” The other image is of a Grade B movie of a monster terrifying a helpless old woman.

You can kill yourself now
Because you’re dead
In my mind
The boy that you loved is the monster you fear

dreamMarilyn Manson has said that his songs come from his dreams. His video makes the meaning of this song seem very different from my interpretation. But my interpretation remains compellingly true for me. And it (the interpretation) begins with a dream.

When I was a child, I dreamed I suddenly turned into a monster. I towered over my parents and knew they “knew” I was evil so I had to destroy them or they would destroy me now that they saw that I was a monster. The Man That You Fear reminds me of my dream. The child, grown big and powerful, terrorizes his feeble, old mom. I can just see her scurrying into dark corners of her home as this hulking shadow of a man walks slowly and ponderously through the house. What an image! Apparently, the narrator of the song hates his mother bitterly. He has waited until he grew strong and powerful enough to turn the tables on her. Manson has said in abusedan interview that he abused his mother at one time:

“My father had a very violent temper, and he was never home,” Manson remembers. “So I was kind of a mama’s boy. But I had a weird relationship with my mom as a kid because it was kind of abusive – but on my part. I wish I could go back and change the way I treated my mom because I used to be really rude to her, and she didn’t really have any kind of control over me.” Rolling Stone, 1/23/97

So we know there is an autobiographical element in the song. Consider the line, “sticking bonyribsto my pointy ribs are all your infants in abortion cribs.”

In the same interview, Manson said, “Another thing that happened was, I found a coffee can across the street from my house in Ohio, at a butcher’s, and there were all these flies around it.  I opened it up, and it had an aborted fetus in it. My parents told me it was just raw meat.

I’ve been fascinated with abortion.  And maybe it goes as far back as that coffee can.  But actually I’ve had to go through that experience, you know, with a girl.  And it was real bad, too, because it was like four months into her being pregnant, and they had to do some real intense things where they induce labor.  Very terrifying stuff.  Actually, no one even knows about it.

taintedWhat a wealth of meaning comes through that one line, alone! When I hear that line, I can sense the shame Manson must have felt; shame for his mother. She is not a “natural mother.” She destroys her young. She “poisoned all (her) infants to camouflage (her) scars.” Rejecting and feeling ashamed of one’s own mother is, itself, poison. It eats into the soul, causes one to feel hopelessly tainted and flawed. Unlike Trent who can say right out lines like “my whole existence is flawed” and “the tainted touch of my caress,” the shame projected in this Manson song goes too deep for direct utterance. At the point of the song, Manson, or the person within himself he is dramatizing, is overpowered by his shame.


The movie The Sixth Sense is about a kid who can see and talk to ghosts. One of the ghosts he encounters is a little girl who was poisoned by her mother. She tells the kid where a video tape is stashed which shows the mother in the very act.


Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) is a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult, or a person who has a disability. Because vulnerable people are the victims, MSBP is a form of child abuse or elder abuse.Web M.D.

Factitious disorder Tests and diagnosis – Mayo Clinic
/styles/js/gbs/html5shiv.js
/UniversalNav/Styles/js/selectivizr-min.js

docTo help determine if someone has factitious disorder, mental health providers conduct a detailed interview and run tests for possible physical problems.

To be diagnosed with factitious disorder, a person must meet the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM criteria for factitious disorder (previously, when severe, called Munchausen syndrome) include:

  • Making up physical or psychological signs or symptoms or causing injury or disease with the deliberate intention to deceive
  • Pretending to be sick or injured or to be having problems functioning
  • Continuing with the deception, even without receiving any visible benefit or reward
  • Behavior is not better explained by another mental disorder, such as a delusional disorder or another psychotic disorder

The DSM criteria for factitious disorder imposed on another (previously called Munchausen syndrome by proxy) include:

  • Making up physical or psychological signs or symptoms or causing injury or disease in another person with the intention to deceive
  • Presenting another person to others as sick, injured or having problems functioning
  • Continuing with the deception, even without receiving any visible benefit or reward
  • Behavior is not better explained by another mental disorder

Be that girl for a month

taylorOne of the fun things psychopaths do is play games with people who don’t know it’s a game. As Taylor Swift sang in Blank Space,

Find out what you want
Be that girl for a month

200_PandLcoverAs Adelyn Birch says in Psychopaths and Love, “When targeted by a psychopath, we unwittingly become an opponent in a game we dont even know were playing.” Except I don’t look at the other players as “opponents.” I just see them as actors in a play I wrote, directed and starred in.

 

walkerAs a child, I belonged to two “enemy gangs.” Just little kid stuff. I liked both gangs so I told each of them I was spying on the other so I got to play with both groups. When I got older, I liked to “be” a character in a book I read. I could play a chosen role for periods of time without anyone being the wiser. It’s a heady feeling. As John Walker said in Family of Spies, “You get the sense that everyone’s asleep and you’re the only one awake.”


Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Pychopathic