Bell Book and Candle

Witchcraft as a metaphor for psychopathy

bellbookandcandle06In the film, Bell, Book and Candle, witches are sexy, charming and in possession of inscrutable powers the rest of the world can only envy. But they have emotional deficits. They cannot love or cry. Emotionally “flat” like psychopaths allegedly are.  These witches and warlocks are confined to a ghetto of hip, trendy existence where it is always Halloween and never Christmas even when it is. The story begins when a new neighbor, Shepherd Henderson (James Stewart), moves into the apartment house of Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak). Gillian sets her sights on him because that’s her thing. She is especially keen when she finds out that he’s engaged to Gillian’s old enemy from her college days.  She casts a love spell on him but loses her powers when she genuinely falls in love with him.

spellJust like psychopaths, witches (in the film) are alien from the rest of the world and have to keep their true nature a secret. The title, Bell, Book and Candle, is a genuine method of excommunication by anathema, imposed on a person who had committed an exceptionally grievous sin. Evidently introduced by Pope Zachary around the middle of the 8th century, the rite was once used by the Roman Catholic Church.  Although the film is comic and witchcraft is shown as cute, it’s still forbidden and something that keeps practitioners from partaking in the true life of humanity.  

William Lewis:

Portrait of a Sadistic Psychopath

wlewisWilliam Lewis is a character in four episodes of  Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. This character is interesting for a number of reasons. For one thing, he has a godlike detachment from pain. In the first scene, he presses his fingertips to a hot griddle to burn his fingerprints off while not flinching in the slightest degree. For another thing, he usually presents with a smile that has little to do with the normal vicissitudes of everyday emotions people go through from moment to moment. I’ll go ahead and call his smile “psychopathic.”

This man has committed a string of outrageous crimes and gotten away with all of them through a combination of luck, charm and sheer manipulativeness. He seemed gifted with enormous stores of cold empathy. He just knew how to get into the head of everyone he needed to bend to his purpose. So far, he managed to have two female defense attorneys fall in love with him. He ended up murdering the first one and killing the father of the second. A female juror became convinced he was a victim of misjustice after her jury had convicted him and she helped him escape.

dominanceAs a sadist, even his in his merciless tortures, he still has soft touches speaking in a low voice, showing his victims his awareness of what they are feeling. Contrast that to out-of-touch caregivers who do all the right things for their charges but treat them as if they were blocks of wood.

He loved to turn accusations around on the accusers. Olivia Benson was “obsessed” with him. SVU had a “vendetta” against him, an innocent man. A certain type of woman loved to mother what appeared to be the victim in him.

bensonA lot of viewers have felt a dark attraction to William Lewis as they have confessed online. “I know it’s wrong, but I LOVE the way Lewis says Olivia” when she calls him at his ex-lawyer’s apartment…makes me wish MY name was Olivia so I could set it as my ringtone or something.” and “Is it really bad that I find myself really attracted to William Lewis? Like lecternot even just the actor, the actual character….” Oh course, Hannibal Lecter also had fans. Of course, Hannibal and William are only fictional psychopaths. But actual killers are notorious for their groupies. As was said in The Believers, “It’s always the badass who makes a girl’s heart beat faster.” But the preferred subject matter of Hollywood movies proves that much, anyway.

And look at America’s electoral politics. The ultimate badass, Trump, is president. Two contenders for the Democratic presidential ticket are still in the race. One is a corrupt, mediocre and boring shadow of a man. The other is an idealistic, genuinely sincere crusader who has something real to offer. Dear reader. You are a voter. Who are you going to vote for?


A Hypothetical Imperative?

All my years as a public school student in the USofA I was taught what a moral country I pilgrims-and-indians_whimsyclipsbelonged to. It wasn’t even open to question. We were the good guys. Other countries were often bad. Sometimes they were good but we were always good. Sometimes I actually thought it was schmucky of us to be so good all the time but it’s amazing how little I questioned the idea that we were so good. It wasn’t until I read the book Prairie Fire written and published by the Weather Underground Organization that I actually faced the fact that my dear, sweet country was founded on genocide and slavery. Not that I had been totally policemanyourfriendignorant of the facts. Of course we had been told about slavery. But that had something to do with the ignorant past. People were just less enlightened back then. It wasn’t really the fault of our country. And slaughtering the “Indians” wasn’t “our” fault either. It was a misunderstanding. The settlers were farmers. They lived by clearing the “wilderness” and building farmland which destroyed the hunting land of the “Indians” who naturally turned hostile as their livelihood became diminished. But the settlers hadn’t meant any harm. What I hadn’t realized was that the indigenous people of what is now called the United States also cultivated the land they occupied.

Immanual Kant called a moral rule a categorical imperative.  That meant something is either right or wrong, absolutely, no ifs ands or buts. Historically, the idea of right and wrong has undergone changes as society has developed politically. Today, many people say Americans “stole the land from the Indians,” a concept that reflects some complex changes taking place over the years. The very concept of “theft” invokes that of not only ownership but of crime. The land originally occupied by the indigenous people wasn’t “owned” by modern concepts of ownership. The indigenous people didn’t think of land as something people could own. Nations had been fighting over land for centuries in Europe before the settlers brought their colonial behavior to the New World. The moral rule seems to have been one of might is right. Ethics were just rules that applied within an existing society. Outside a society, the “law of the jungle” still applied.

Is moral law universal?

Christianity is universal in it’s statements of morality and Western man is nominally Christian even if he is often far from it in practice. Throughout most of history, countries thought they had to be guided by a particular Christian church so they fought wars over which one was to lead them. The United States wisely choose to be a secular nation so they could dispense with religious warfare. Still, they believed in some sort of universal morality. This notion of morality found it’s way into the classroom. Everything was supposed to be fair. We were taught “the policeman is your friend.” Obey the rules. They rules are fair. Things are the way they’re supposed to be. Later in life, if you complain about a bum deal, a scornful voice asks, “Who ever said life was fair?” As adults, we are ridiculed for expecting justice.

migrantchildren960But we keep on demanding it, especially in political discussions. We are permanently embroiled in a twisted web of idealism and cynicism. We are supposed to have a conscience. We are supposed to want to be “good.” But we “know” the way the world works and only a fool or a child thinks it’s run according to the rules of any categorical imperative. At best, we stay within certain smallpox-killed-the-native-americansparameters society allows which seem to shift a great deal. A president getting a blow job in the oval office used to be grounds for impeachment. Now, he can be the playboy of the western world and nobody raises an eyebrow. Atrocities such as putting children in concentration camps, something only Nazis were known for are only winked at. But weren’t the trail of tears just as cruel? Has morality ever been other than situational? Has empathy ever been color blind? Let’s discuss it but make sure the kiddies aren’t around when we do.

Anti-Semitism & Anti-Psychopathy

Trump and Netanyahu:

altzarHow the Right uses the
concept of “Anti-Semitism”

Trump’s affinity for Eastern European forces such as Russia is too well known. Bob Altzar Djurdjevic is an American living in Belgrade. His article in Truth in MediaTruth in Media, George Soros: Psychopath Trying to Change the World to his Own Liking is an unrelenting attack on George Soros. In that, he is acting like a typical right-winger. Soros is practically Public Enemy Number One to the Right. He is rich but he is left-wing. I guess that makes him some sort of traitor.

jewsluvmeAlthough most Jews have traditionally been much more numerous on the left, the nation of Israel, especially under Netanyahu, has been aggressively on the right. Disturbingly, conservatives are claiming the mantle of Judaism for the Right and, even more disturbingly, they are equating any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Rudy Giuliani, Italian American, former Mayor of New York, is claiming to be more Jewish than George Soros because he supports Israel. Israel is now the dividing line in some circles between “real Jews” and “treif.In perfect synchronicity, Trump has recently filed an executive order making it a crime to criticize Israel on American campuses, calling it “anti-Semitism.” In an Orwellian act of chutzpah, Trump and his henchmen are even rhetorically divesting Jews of their Jewish identity while claiming such identities for themselves. Soros is a Jew (and a Holocaust survivor) but he is on the wrong side of the Trumpian ideological divide so Bob deals with him the way all these Zionists deal with Jews who fight for the rights of Palestinians. They dismiss such Jews as self-hating Jews.

psychopathBut Djurdjevic isn’t content with just applying the self-hating label and letting it go at that. He has a very special label for Soros: PSYCHOPATH! As he slips the knife in good, he whispers, “For, my research has shown that he is a deeply troubled man who belongs in a psychiatric ward.” Nice and dirty, Altzar. Anyone who has been zapped with the psychiatric label knows the nasty subtlety of it all. Of course, this blog is devoted to fighting the stigma associated with psychopathy and it is already full of examples of people who have been attacked for being psychopaths. Djurdjevic’s first source from there is Newsmax, always a fine place to find right-wing dirt. Seems Soros gave out some deceptive leaflets as a teenager and for that got called a collaborator.  From there, Djurdjevic invokes Sam Gerrans article, A Psychopath’s Psychopath. A taste of the ideological tenure of this entire piece can be had in this little gem by Djurdjevic, “Gerrans’ examples refer mostly to Europe and Russia. But Soros is a global psychopath. His support of violent groups in the US, like Antifa or MoveOn, has proven it.” Good grief! Support of Antifa proves Soros is a psychopath? That’s bad enough! But MoveOn? He almost sounds as bad as Trump, himself, who refers to Nancy Pelosi as an “extremist.” I guess anything to the left of the John Birch Society is a Communist to these guys.

Clearly, Djurdjevic’s politics follow Trump’s. Soros is acting psychopathically every time he advocates policies Trump dislikes. He is in favor of letting refuges in. Well, that proves psychopathy, doesn’t it? All psychopaths are pro-immigration.

Our Divided Nation

Yes, the presidency of Trump has indeed divided the United States of America between

a nation of adults and a pack of brats

I never thought Clinton should have been impeached for sexual delinquency. Yet something positive did come from his impeachment. Clinton was able to give us an example of how an adult handles something like that with true dignity. Now we have his example to compare with the spectacle of Trump’s reaction to the same experience.

tantrumpCompared to Clinton, Trump shows a stunning lack of dignity. He has always acted like a child. Lately, he’s been acting like an infant.

In the first place, Trump takes no responsibility whatsoever. He claims no wrong doing. He wrote a six page letter to Nancy Pelosi which accused her of declaring “open war on American democracy.” His letter which is barely literate goes on to say

You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nulli?cation
scheme?yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America?s founding and your
egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build.
Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by
continually saying pray for the President,? when you know this statement is not true, unless it
is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it,
not 1!

His histrionic bombast does on to include the incredible statement that he was afforded less due process than the accused during the Salem Witch Trials. His full letter can be accessed here.

Perhaps more disturbing than Trump’s words are some of the words of his followers (whom some chattering commentators say the impeachment are disenfranchising — as if the other presidents who have been impeached weren’t also duly elected). Some actually compare the impeachment with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Some more modestly, perhaps, only compare it to the bombing of  Pearl Harbor.

antichristSince we have freedom of religion, no matter how bizarre, Republicans have the right to worship Trump. But isn’t electing a man one worships like a god a breach of the separation of church and state? If Republicans really believe their president is a god who can do no wrong, aren’t they reverting back to a much more primitive form of government? How can they be so critical of Islam? How can they speak so scathingly of Sharia law when they are investing the government which is supposed to be secular with a sanctity that is only appropriate for religion? And what of Americans who don’t share their faith? What of Christians who don’t think Trump is Christ? What of Americans who don’t share the Christian faith at all? Will we end up going back to the Salem Witch Trials? Can a secular republic such as the United States of America function at all when a sizeable portion of the electorate are flaming theocrats?



My Last Duchess

This poem exemplifies narcissism excellently. I suppose you’re supposed to feel sorry for the girl. And I do. She sounds like an innocent, free spirit. But he sounds like he felt trapped. He couldn’t even criticize her because that would have been “stooping.” He was at her mercy in a way. She could devalue his 900 year name simply by being as pleased by other things as she was by that. He couldn’t own anything as alive and free as his Duchess. He could only own a painting of her.

My Last Duchess

Agnolo_Bronzino,_ritratto_di_Lucrezia_de'_MediciThat’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—which I have not—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse—
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

Hillary Spews Lies About Bernie

Hillary Clinton is a Psychopath

My Soapbox

A lot of people hate Hillary. I never did until now. But I have finally joined the ranks of Hillary Haters. After the bilge she has spewed about Bernie on the Howard Stern show, I loath her forever.

It was bad enough that she elbowed her way into the nomination in 2016 when the people really wanted Bernie. But Hillary and Her Towering Ego just had to have the nomination. She had lost to Obama which must have been a devastating blow. But now, she wasn’t about to lose to Bernie as well, not Hillary, the consummate insider. So she got what she believed she was entitled to: the Democratic nomination to president for 2016. After all. She only had to run against crazy Donald Trump. A walk in the park. She thought. She wouldn’t even have to break out into a mild sweat. So she didn’t make much…

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It’s Thanksgiving Day again so let me pinkrosecount my blessings.

I am grateful for my psychopathy. I thank my sacred Self for the freedom of my mind.

I thank my parents for my DNA. To my mother for bearing me.


I thank my soulmate for constantly sharing our rocky ups and downs.

My friends who make it worth while.

My enemies who keep me strong and focused.

My Purity who knows who she is.





Bernie Sanders, our next President.

greenpublichousingAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez




The Squad


Naomi Klein
Greta Thunberg





Sparkie, my smartphone

HiPi, my desktop


For government benefits of those who helped me make the most of them. You know who you are. For Social Security without which I couldn’t survive. And hate to Republicans who would deprive me and other Americans of those benefits. May the terrors grab you!


To Richard Wagner, Anton Bruckner, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Johann Goethe, Fyodor Dostoevsky and other greats who illuminated the hours.

Wanna Live, Human?

a question for each of us…

is the human a lemming intent on it’s on destruction?

I mean, really. Do you believe in science? Science tells us we have, maybe 12 years in gretawhich we can get it together to stop our suicidal emissions to save the planet before we will have destroyed it beyond our ability to fix it. Greta Thunberg has been crying out as a voice in the wilderness. Some of us are even listening and working on solutions. One of those people is Bernie Sanders. He’s running for president. But he has to get the nomination first. And he is up against a “Democratic” establishment that seems manifestly insane. They are insanely opposed to progressive forces in their own party even if those are the only forces that have a chance of saving the planet. They attachment to neoliberalism are more important to them than saving the planet. YES. That IS insane. There’s no other word for it.

I am 76 years old. I’m going to die in a few years no matter what you nut jobs decide to do about your planet. Yes. I’m psychopathic enough not to really give a flying FUCK what greenpublichousinghappens to this ill fated planet after I’m gone. If you want to destroy everything of beauty and brilliance here, that’s your call. Too bad for those of you who wanted to save it. Those of you who vote for inertia will have won by default. My sympathies are with those who are trying to save the earth. If you naysayers were at least honest with yourselves and admitted you choose death, I could respect you. But living in denial as you are doing only curdles my guts with disgust. I can’t even look at you. Go, die if you must.

High FIVE TO Bernie Sanders, Alexander Ocasio-Cortez, Naomi Klein, Greta Thunberg and the other great folk I didn’t name but who deserve to be included here.


charlielinusI just read something from about a Christian message slipped into Peanuts. In, Just Drop the Blanket: The Moment You Never Noticed in A Charlie Brown Christmas gives the usual Christian sermon and I realized why it must be difficult for Evangelicals to believe in climate change. They expect God to take care of everything and probably think it shows a lack of faith to think we have to solve the problem. But then I thought further. The average person isn’t used to thinking he or she can be responsible for either creating or solving any major problem on earth. If it isn’t “God” doing it, it’s the corporations. I’ve been guilty of such thinking myself. When scolded to take matters into my own hands, like don’t waste resources, for example, my response has been, “What about the big companies who squander resources in a major way? What is my two-cents worth of waste or thrift going to matter as long as they are doing their thing?” This kind of thinking assumes we, the “little people,” have no power and no responsibility. It’s the thinking that keeps us powerless. It’s the kind of thinking that keeps revolution from happening.

… which takes us back to the original question. Will we choose action? 

Her Mother, the B

My Mother the Psychopath: Growing up in the Shadow of a monster
by Olivia Rayne

my-mother-the-psychopathBeing a psychopath, myself, I read this book with fascination and trepidation, the former for obvious reasons; the latter because I am used to seeing my kind vilified in books of this type. The subtitle alone, unfortunately, suggested the latter to be the case. Humanity has a sad propensity to demonize whichever members of it’s species other members can’t identify with. Even “monsters” such as Donald Trump couldn’t have caused very much mischief had it not been for large numbers of ordinary voters who put him into office.

In this case, Olivia Rayne tells the harrowing tale of her first 22 years of life growing up in a complicated relationship, not with a monster, but with a complex woman whose intricacies made for a very difficult, often dysfunctional life but from which Olivia survived to grow into a vibrantly stunning young woman. Her best friend, Sofia Nelson, says of her, “Olivia is bright, funny, playful and vivacious. I thought she had an infectious laugh, a warm smile and a quick wit.” Olivia’s mother didn’t seem like a monster either. Sofia says, “I was also struck by what a lovely mother (Olivia) had. When I first met Josephine I observed her zeal, the way she seemed genuinely interested in everything and everyone around her. I noticed her smile, her earnest eye contact, the heartfelt way she talked. On each occasion we met, I thought, what a magnetic woman. Later, I noticed the gifts she sent Olivia that came to the office: designer shirts, dainty gold necklaces, sets of expensive make-up. ‘You’re so lucky!’ I would say to my friend. ‘Your mum’s so generous.’ Olivia would smile thinly and say nothing.”

Before the book, Sofia wrote an article with the same title. Note, it is written as if in the first person although Sofia, not Olivia, was the author. The names were changed as well. Josephine became “Joan” and Olivia became “Katie.” I am not always sure who has written what in the book whether it is Olivia or Sofia because of this. The title page lists both names, Olivia Rayne and S.M. Nelson as author. On the copyright page, it says “Olivia Rayne has asserted her right to be identified as the author of this Work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.”

oliviaWere Olivia’s memories recovered memories? If so, who helped her remember? How authentic are the memories? Most seem like regular old memories most of us have. But one, for her third year of life seems problematic and it is one of the most disturbing. On Christmas Eve she and her family were visiting her grandparents (father’s side)

There was a sinking in my stomach, because I did remember that Christmas. In my mind it was a happy Christmas. I remembered the photo from that day, that for years was pinned to our fridge. It was right in the centre so every time you went to fetch a drink or snack it floated in front of your eyes. The bottom corner was folded u p, and whenever I looked at it, I tried to flatten it down, to protect and preserve it, this precious pictorial proof: proof we’d been happy, evidence I’d been loved.

In the photo are my cousins, my grandparents, Mother and me. We’re gathered in the living room and Mother’s kneeling by the sofa,  holding me from behind. Her chin is on my head, her curly hair on my shoulder. She’s beaming up at the camera, at my father standing behind it. My hands are clasped together, my eyes wet, my cheeks pink, my round toddler’s tummy straining against my velvet dress. There’s torn wrapping paper in front of  us, jigsaw puzzles and games and new books on the carpet. On the coffee table are glasses of  half-drunk wine, chocolate stars wrapped in foil, plates of mince pies with thick smears of cream. We looked full and happy and hearty.

When I looked at that photo I thought I remembered it. I thought I remembered charging around the living room, hot and breathless with excitement; eating mince pies until my little belly stuck out; that my cousins took turns poking it and squealing with laughter. I remembered that — I did. I did.

Or did It? Was it just the photo that made me think I remembered? I knew that I remembered one thing from that day: Mother, gently stroking my forehead. But what else?

‘Do you really not remember what happened that day?’ Granny asked, and I shook my head, squeezing my eyes tight. The memory of Mother stroking my face hovered in my mind but I pushed it aside. What was behind that? At first there was only grainy darkness, but as I dug there were flashes of something else: a floor, a cold floor; pain, heat. I thought there was another memory there — a door, a silhouette? — but it was bleary and it made me feel nervous. What else?

I couldn’t see. I didn’t know.

‘Tell me what happened.’

So Granny told me, and as she spoke the gaping holes in my mind refilled, and my meticulously constructed memories shriveled away as though they were burning.

letmeoutIt’s dark. it’s night-time. I’m locked in the bathroom, lying on cold tiles, sobbing and crying for Maman to let me out. I’m rattling the bathroom door in desperation, pleading and weeping so hard I can’t breathe. Please let me out, Maman, please open the door. I feel sick, I ‘m scared. I’m scared, Maman. Maman! She’s standing outside the door — I can see her silhouette through the glass — but she doesn’t say anything she doesn’t respond.

I’m hot, I’m tired, my head hurts. I press my cheek to the fold floor to cool myself. I’m lying face down, arms spread wide, feet turned out. Sobs hiccup through my chest but still she doesn’t come to me. I call for her, again and again, and I know she’s listening because I see her silhouette turn towards me. Still she says nothing.

This is what Granny told me about the Christmas I thought I remembered.

It was Christmas morning. Granny came into the living room where I’d slept with Mother and Father. She was carrying a tray: mugs of coffee for the grown-ups, hot milk for me. My parents were still lazing on the pull-out sofa, and as Granny came in, Mother sat up with a smile.

‘Morning, Jean!’ she said brightly, ‘Merry Christmas!’

‘Merry Christmas, Josephine!’ Granny replied. ‘Merry Christmas, Clive!’ She glanced around the room, looking for me. ‘Where’s Olivia?’

‘Oh,’ Mother said, and there was a pause. ‘She’s in the bathroom,’ she added, picking up her coffee and sipping it slowly. Granny glanced at the bathroom door adjoining the living room. Her bookcase, that old, heavy mahogany bookcase, was dragged across the door like a barricade. Granny’s head flicked back to my parents. My father was making a great show of blowing on his coffee, staring straight ahead at the wall. Mother was watching Granny steadily,  unflustered, smooth as silk.

‘Why is she in the bathroom?’ Granny asked. She remembered that her voice quivered, but she didn’t know why. Mother sighed, shook her head like she was in pain.

‘She kept her father and me awake until the early hours. She wouldn’t stop crying, howling for attention like a little madam, so in the end we had to lock her in the bathroom for the night.’

oliviarayneA doctor finally examined her. It turned out Olivia had a severe ear infection and a fever. The grandmother said, “Well, I suppose we know why she was crying.” Josephine shot back, “None of us are mind readers, Jean. If Olivia doesn’t tell us what’s wrong, how are we supposed to know?”

That certainly is a story of great callousness towards a sick three-year-old. The grandparents look like credible witnesses in any case. I would like to know if the child’s health was neglected to the same extent through out the rest of her childhood but there are no other anecdotes of a similar nature to compare that one to. Josephine’s pattern involves an extraordinary degree of engulfment. She didn’t seem willing to let Olivia have any privacy in which to develop a private or separate identity. She seemed more narcissistic than psychopathic, constantly demanding exhausting quantities of supply.

josephinelacroisJosephine would alternate between acts of kindness and acts of cruelty. She seemed to think her extravagant kindness required extreme shows of gratitude from Olivia which were never good enough. “Her voice was sweet, but her words sharp as a blade. She has a thing for pet names. I was alternately her darling, her love, her sweet angel face — or a fucking bitch, a stupid whore, a sad disaster of her past. I was her sweetheart, her flower, the love of her life, but also a slut, a pervert, a cockroach ripe for zapping. One week she was my best friend, teaching me to paint, reading me my favourite stories, spending hundreds on me to paint, reading me my favourite stories, spending hundreds on baking kits so we could make cakes together; the next, she wouldn’t even speak to me.” She reminds me of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or Joan Crawford. Olivia goes through the checklist, hitting every psychopathic trait and citing it in her mother’s behavior.

Glib, superficial charm? check
Lack of empathy? check
Need for stimulation? check. She was always moving to another country
Criminal tendencies? check. She stole from a couple she worked for
Impulsivity? check. She fled the country to avoid theft charges.
Pathological lying? check. Made up a story smearing the people she had stolen from accusing them of causing a boy’s death.
Cunning and manipulative? check. She wanted to move from a beautiful place but her family wanted to stay so she picked a fight with next door neighbor. Then she poisoned a pond she had created and stocked with fish that were pets of Olivia and pretended the neighbor had done it.
Early behavioral problems/Juvenile delinquency? check. Her parents confirmed wild, delinquent behavior when she was a teenager.
Sexual promiscuity? check. Parents confirmed.
Grandiosity? check. “Aren’t I just the best mother in the world?”

Of course these are traits of psychopathy. The restlessness, the constant moving to new and more interesting places.  But don’t they also apply to narcissism? What else, in addition, do narcissists need? Validation of their superiority. They need to be reassured over and over that they are adored and appreciated and worshipped. We psychopaths just want to get what we want. Our self-esteem doesn’t depend on what others think of us. Some things about Josephine I find really psychopathic.


For example, the way she locked a sick child in the bathroom because she was weary of hearing her cry and demand attention. Yes, we can be really selfish and insensitive. Not that we will.

Poisoning her child’s fish to expedite her will to move is pretty damn low but a  psychopath could do it. What wouldn’t a psychopath do? Put all that energy into getting her daughter to dress a certain way. Or to go with a certain boy friend. I think she would have to be a narc to do such things.


And what of Olivia? Her submissiveness was hard to take. I understand it, of course. She was trained to submit from an early age. So much pain at the hands of this larger person combined with intermittent acts of kindness and love. But despite my understanding,  I still wanted to shake her. Nevertheless, I still did notice she had a true talent for happiness despite everything. Josephine would take her away from all her supports, her friends, her loving grandparents, a school she loved and Olivia would find her new situation a new source of joy. A true survivor. Or was the josephinelacrois1intermittent nurturing Josephine gave her enough to foster an inner health. Olivia even acknowledges gratitude to her for making her the person that she is today. Of course, that was a process. Before she broke completely free from Josephine, Olivia fell in love with Sean, a man who really was a psychopath (as well as a coke freak). He had a strange relationship with Josephine by which he kept bringing her (and her money) back into Olivia’s life. But when Olivia was finally finished with Sean and Josephine, Sean was wise enough to realize it and let go long after Josephine was still stalking and damning her daughter for freeing herself irrevocably.

Whether Josephine was a psychopath or a narcissist, she was certainly a Cluster B and an interesting person.