It’s funny that the area in life where psychopaths are most often accused of harming people is in love relationships. There are many blogs or websites for “victims” of psychopaths. I call the owners “haters” because of the way they talk about us. What makes Adelyn Birch different (meaning better)?
- She is genuinely creative and I don’t mean with facts. I mean, she is artistic. She has some hauntingly beautiful images on her site.
- Unlike some people, she isn’t using her site, Psychopaths and Love, as a money-making device, selling classes and the like. Well, she does sell her books but only in a low-key way.
- What makes her special, is that Adelyn Birch really gets it. She has an understanding of psychopaths one would hardly expect of a self-proclaimed victim of “psychopathic abuse.”
By way of introduction, she wrote, “I’m a woman who experienced firsthand what I write about — victimization by a high-functioning, sub-criminal psychopath who involved me in a relationship that caused a great deal of harm.” It was such a major event in her life that she devoted years of time and effort to help others deal with experiences that were similar to her own. I would have liked to open a dialog but there doesn’t seem to be a way to contact her. I am writing this blog post because I wanted to communicate with Adelyn directly. If you see this, Adelyn, I am speaking to you.
Adelyn’s literary output includes: Psychopaths and Love, More Psychopaths and Love, 202 Ways to Spot a Psychopath, 30 Covert Emotional Tactics. I must confess, I have not read any of them. Maybe I will some day but for now, her blog is enough.
The most stunning area of insight Ms. Birch displays is that of charm. I wrote something about this which few writers have displayed awareness of. My post, What’s So Charming About Psychopaths, noted,
What does the psychopath have that is special? The psychopath is truly interested in the object of his attention. He doesn’t put women in a box where every woman is and just sees her as every-woman. He is curious, interested and has penetrating vision that goes right to the core of a person. As a woman who has dated many, many men, I can tell you this is a rare quality.
I have a dual perspective. Not only am I a psychopath, I have loved a few as well. Not much has ever been said about path-path relationships but they exist. I’m not the only one. I guess I am one of those Women Who Love Psychopaths. That is the title of a book by Sandra L. Brown. This is another book I haven’t read but maybe I should.
Adelyn Birch’s article about charm, Charm and the Psychopath, explains
First, the psychopath has zero distractions, which is extremely unusual. Again, he has the intense focus of a predator on his prey. Unlike a normal person meeting someone new, he’s not bothered by things like social anxiety, self-doubt and insecurity. Those things don’t exist for him, so they don’t get in the way. In other words, the psychopath is not lost in his or her head like most of us are, thinking thoughts that prevent us from being totally present and prevent us from really connecting with another person. Of course we do connect with others, but It usually takes some time to feel we’ve connected deeply. But the psychopath is able to create that connection — actually, the illusion of that connection — quickly, sometimes in just a couple of minutes.
OK. She couldn’t resist putting the usual junk about “predators” and calling the connection an “illusion.” But the main point is in our focus which is 100%.
When the psychopath’s high-beam of charm is on you, he is absolutely present. When that presence is focused on you, it’s fascinating. Charming, actually. And we’re simply not used to that level of “presence.” We’re not used to being the subject of such intensely focused attention, and that is very compelling in and of itself.
That is so much more to the point than the usual junk about love bombing. Speaking of focus, Sam Vaknin offered additional insight into the difference between a narcissist and a psychopath by way of body language. The narcissist maintains his separate space, as if to avoid contamination with lesser beings around him. While the narc sits back, the psychopath leans in. The narc talks about himself. The psychopath wants to learn about you. The narc might impress and intimidate you but the psychopath welcomes you in. As Adelyn Birch says, “The reason the psychopath can focus so powerfully on you is that he’s not in his head — he’s in yours.”
Idealize, Devalue, Discard
Haters, or “victims’ advocates” area always repeating the above formula like a mantra. But Ms. Birch also has an explanation for the abrupt way some of our relationships end. “When the psychopath I was involved with discarded me, he was enraged. With a voice full of anger and contempt, he shouted, ‘You bore me! I’m done with you!’”
Why the rage, she wondered. Her answer: “I didn’t know it at the time, but my former ‘soul mate’ was jonesing for some dopamine.” Boredom is agony for psychopaths. When we are fascinated by a new person, still discovering whatever is mysterious and unknown about that person, we are not bored. Birch thinks our focus on the other, which Birch calls prey, is simply about power. But she belies that simplistic idea with her analysis of our dopamine response and our aversion to boredom. The world can be a very small, flat place. As hippies would say, we are old souls. Been there. Done that. Looking for something new. Each new relationship offers the promise of new discoveries. The rage of Birch’s ex can be understood in terms of his realization that there was nothing more to learn about her. It also explains why one of my exes told me he realized I was “a taker, not a giver.” He had nothing more to learn about me, or so he thought. You know the story about the princess who kisses a toad and he turns into a handsome prince? This is the story of kissing a prince and seeing him turn into a toad. The magic was in the mystery, the unknown. Without the magic, we are back in the mundane world. Not that we can’t maintain long-term relationships. But these become more like friendships. Adelyn Birch deserves credit for recognizing the fact that we are focused on reward and dopamine.
It’s a well-known truism that we don’t have a conscience. Adelyn, echoing the sentiments of many other NTs, finds it incredible, almost unbelievable. “IMAGINE, for a moment, being a psychopath. Try to imagine not having a conscience. What would that be like? You would not have any feelings of guilt, shame or remorse, no matter how immoral or even heinous an action you’d taken. Imagine having no concern for anyone, not even friends or family. Imagine that the ideas of ‘responsibility’ and ‘commitment’ are foreign to you, except as things that stupid fools believe in.” She sounds just like Martha Stout in the introduction to The Sociopath Next Door. “Imagine — if you can — not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends or even family members.” I have trouble imagining the opposite but it doesn’t look like anything I’d want to be saddled with. These NTs seem astonished at our ability to act like them to “fit in.” Parents and teachers are very helpful in this. I was forever being told how I should be. The lessons were delivered with so much emotional intensity that I knew I didn’t dare be myself in front of them. They don’t seem to realize that the “mask” is for their comfort as much as it is for any desire to “get over” on them. I have felt like an outlaw since I was born.
In Eastern religions, enlightenment is often seen as liberation from ego, in other words, attachment to a limited identity. Psychopaths already have that state effortlessly. I have noticed many psychopaths are pan-sexual, in other words, free to experiment with any and all sexual expressions. So many of us are kinky and switchable (both dominant and submissive). Adelyn goes a step further and says we have no gender. “After my involvement with the psychopath, I got the strange feeling that he didn’t really have a gender. When I learned that psychopaths have no identity — they only create one as needed — it started to make perfect sense.” Rather than no identity, I would say we have a fluid identity. There is at least one transgendered psychopath. I wanted to be a boy when I was a kid like many other girls. When I hit puberty, I embraced my given gender. I’m glad that I didn’t have the option to “transition” when I was so young. It would have been a mistake. I think society needs to accept the fact that male and female each have a wide range of possibilities. If more people saw things that way, fewer would need to transition to their “true” gender.
While the most savy and aware of all the pro-victim gurus on the web, Adelyn Birch certainly does look down on us. She shares many of the delusions of the rest of her tribe. She accepts as fact the belief of those who have loved and lost that they were victims of a psychopath. There is an unfortunate tendency to identify bad with psychopathic. These victims’ sites promote such delusions. Every single one of them offers guidelines for “spotting” a psychopath. Adelyn certainly understands us better than most. But she is reactive to having been hurt and that keeps her from seeing things objectively. While I have a rather jaundiced eye for psychiatrists and psychologists and think they are often wrong, the laypeople are even more likely to err in diagnosing this condition. Adelyn is very kind of her “fellow victims,” many of whom seem to have severe self-esteem issues (no doubt the fault of “their” psychopath). She helps them recover. The world suffers from much delusional thinking. Hoping for (but not expecting) a recovery.