Psychopathic Charm

What’s So Charming About Psychopaths?

One of the first characteristic of psychopathy on the Hare PCL-R is “superficial charm.” I don’t know what deep charm is like as opposed to the superficial kind. But certain aspects of psychopathic charm seems pretty deep to me.

All the essays that warn the public about the dangers involved in a relationship with psychopaths mention the psychopath will “love bomb” you in order to “seduce” you. But I would question that assertion. I have been subject to “love bombing” from very superficial would-be lovers. It turns me off. Those who claim to “love” me after half an hour’s acquaintance are as transparent as they are phony. They are certainly not charming.
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 think we all need to be seen, I mean, really seen. In the movie The Devil’s Advocate, the protagonist’s wife is swept away by Milton (the devil in disguise) because “We talked, really talked for hours. I hadn’t talked to anyone like that for so long.” Psychopaths see not only your good qualities. We see your warts and blemishes. Nothing is off limits to that searching curiosity.

M.E. Thomas, Confessions of a Sociopath, mentioned this kind of deep understanding in her book.

People always say to be careful not to confuse sex and love, but I think they should be more wary of confusing love and understanding. I can read every word of your soul, become deeply engrossed in the study of it until I’ve comprehended every nuance and detail. But then when I’m done, I’ll discard it as easily as if it were a newspaper, shaking my head at how the ink has stained my fingers gray. My desire to know every layer of you isn’t feigned, but interest isn’t love, and I make no promises of forever. Perhaps I do every so often, but you have no business believing me.

The “discard” occurs when we have learned everything we wanted to know and the person we had focused so intensely upon has nothing left to interest us.


Another example of this is Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. Lecter is deeply interested in Clarice Starling. He extracts information about her life in exchange for help in solving the case she is working on. He later tells her he has no plans to kill her. “The world is more interesting with you in it.”

Another aspect to the psychopath’s charm is the ability to draw someone into his/her world. When Kevin Dutton has some friends tweak his amygdala so that he experienced the consciousness of a psychopath for half an hour, he found it a thrilling experience. He said, “If I could bottle it, I would.” The psychopath who is charming someone is saying, subliminally, “come fly with me.” Who would say “no” to such an invitation. Doesn’t everyone want to fly?

The fickleness of psychopaths is often mentioned. I think every new relationship is a mystery to be explored. When our curiosity is finally satisfied, we look for someone new. I don’t think any of it is evilly planned. We don’t intend to seduce you and then leave you. The whole thing is real and spontaneous.
menageAn article by Nozomi Hayase entitled, Lifting the Veil of Psychopathic Intrusion into Everyday Life provided some additional insights which I believe have a great deal of validity:

For psychopaths, relationship is the stage on which they enact their grandiose fantasy. Others are seen as an extension of themselves, as props that can be used. Anyone who comes their way is screened for their ability to perform a role that serves their plot. Their chosen targets become an object of desire and are pursued with great passion. With beam-like attention, they turn the spotlight on the victims. Through mirroring the victims’ positive qualities, predators disarm their prey and bring them under the luminary light of their narcissistic mirror. In this, the victim’s identity is eroded, yet with constant flattery and attention, they feel pumped up and elated.

This internal casting process can be seen as the psychopath launching a parallel persona upon their targets’ identity and then using it as a mask to create a rapport with their target. Yet, this mirroring is not consciously carried out. It is an automatic reflex that happens when they see something they want in others. Also, in some cases, in others’ positive attributes, these self-absorbed individuals see an idealized image of themselves. Like the Greek myth of Narcissus who falls in love with his own reflection in the water and then pines away, this is the effect of psychopaths seeing themselves in another’s reflection that is created by victims favorably responding to idealization and then trying to claim that image for themselves.

blankspaceAs I had said above,we want to know and understand everything about our object. This intense interest and focus is, itself, seductive. Most people are just not all that fascinated by others, despite their supposed capacity for empathy. Perhaps all that empathy makes people assume everyone is so much the same that there is no mystery to explore so they don’t even bother. What I hadn’t understood until I read the above quotation was the presence of narcissism in all that fascination. It makes perfect sense. We are fascinated with ourselves. If we see an other who is mysterious and thrilling, we can have it all.

The “devaluation” begans when

After psychopaths absorb their targets’ good traits, they cannot truly make them their own. There is nothing that can fill their bottomless pit and soon the void starts to grow again. When the initial thrill and excitement of a new target wears off, they get bored. This is the point where those who have been taken in by the charm start to see the mask slipping.

lonelyboredThis suggests that we need the other to be an extension of ourselves but also to be something new. Everyone needs input from outside ourselves. A person who is nothing but an extension of ourselves will ultimately fail to satisfy. Boredom and loneliness are our Achilles Heels. 

Yet, sometimes, we manage to keep a long term relationship.This can happen when we manage to mold someone to our specifications. If we can actually get so far inside of our significant other that s/he become a work of art, we can love hir the way we love our other creations. Of course, s/he retains enough of hir authentic self to keep the game interesting. There is a delicate balance between control and the pursuit of it.


Is Psychopathy Really a Disorder?

“Psychopaths are not disordered. They don’t suffer from a deficit, but they’re simply different”. — Dr. Robert Hare in a speech to his students, The Psychopath Next Door


In this blog, I have been discussing psychopathy as part of the Cluster B personality disorders. This is not inline with the DSM which has replaced it with the Anti-Social Personality Disorder. Since ASPD is not the same thing as psychopathy, (“Most psychopaths (with the exception of those who somehow manage to plow their way through life without coming into formal or prolonged contact with the criminal justice system) meet the criteria for ASPD, but most individuals with ASPD are not psychopaths.”– Dr. Robert Hare, Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder: A Case of Diagnostic Confusion), it brings up the question is psychopathy a disorder at all? It’s not in the DSM although the “manual” is more a tomb, thicker than many encyclopedias.

Hare is considered the leading authority on psychopathy. His checklist (HPC-R) is considered the gold standard for diagnosing psychopathy. One can see that the language used in discussing psychopathy is the language of a doctor talking about a patient.

The forerunner of Robert Hare in the field of psychopathy is Dr. Hervey Cleckley, upon whose book, The Mask of Sanity In Cleckley’s days, there was a lot of confusion about psychopathy.”This cumbersome and altogether vague diagnostic category officially includes a wide variety of maladjusted people who cannot by the criteria of psychiatry be classed with the psychotic, the psychoneurotic, or the mentally defective. It is by no means uncommon in looking over the reports of a psychiatric examination to find conclusions listed as follows:

  1. No nervous or mental disease.
  2. Psychopathic personality” — Cleckley, Mask of Sanity

Cleckley’s experience with people he considered psychopathic was often when someone would get himself transferred from prison to his psychiatric facility, Cleckley was cleckleystruck by how normal and rational the person seemed. Then, according to many case studies he would use his parole from the hospital to get roaring drunk. This happened often enough for me to conclude that most of the psychopaths Cleckley encountered were alcoholics and that they played the good doctor for a patsy. Despite the number of times this happened, Cleckley gave them another chance. They were manipulative, involving, not only Cleckley, but their relatives.

hareHare, following up on Cleckley’s work, gave a much clearer and more recognizable (to the modern mind) picture of psychopathy. His best known work is Without Conscience. Hare’s studies were mostly conducted on prisoners. Later Hare was to say he wished he had made his study on the trading floor on Wall Street. He followed up his book with Snakes in Suits which he coauthored Paul Babiak about psychopaths in the corporate world.

To further complicate things, scientists found that the psychopaths’ brains were significantly different from most people’s brains. Brain waves, measured by the EEG were so different that Hare’s editor refused to accept them as legitimate brain waves. “Those EEGs could not have come from real people,” he said. Do all psychopaths have these brain anomalies? If not, should we call the ones who don’t “sociopaths” as distinct from those psychopaths who do? There is great variety in how people use the word “sociopath” and “psychopath.” Some use them interchangeably, some say psychopaths are born that way as evidence their brains and sociopaths become “that way.”

anomSo psychopathy remains a mysterious source of confusion for those who would define it. Although it is not in the DSM, most people still continue to discuss it as an illness. People who are assessed as psychopaths are “diagnosed.” The people who give out those diagnoses are called “doctors.” However, Dr. Robert Hare has said, “Psychopaths are not disordered. They don’t suffer from a deficit, but they’re simply different”. So the APA wasn’t wrong, after all, in removing psychopathy from the DSM. It isn’t a disorder at all, although ASPD, anti-social personality disorder, which many psychopaths can be diagnosed as “suffering” from, is. The corporate psychopaths are certainly considered winners. They may be hated but their power is respected. Those who fall under the penal system, have less ability to choose how they are measured. There are few voluntary psychiatric patients. Psychopaths don’t believe we need treatment. Most of us consider the condition an advantage. It seems that, unlike “other” mental disorders, psychopathy is only a problem for others around us. But most of us don’t give a damn.

Perhaps none of the “personality disorders” are anything but what society and psychiatrists want to make diseases rather than something calling for a moral judgement. As Hare says, “This book confronts psychopathy head-on and presents the disturbing topic for what it is—a dark mystery with staggering implications for society; a mystery that finally is beginning to reveal itself after centuries of speculation and decades of empirical psychological research.”
— Hare, Without Conscience

“It’s a poem about moths. But it’s also a poem about psychopaths.
I get it copied. And stick it in a frame.
And now it glowers redoubtably above my desk:an entomological keepsake of the horizons of existence.
And the brutal, star-crossed wisdom of those who seek them out.
i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric bulb
and fry himself on the wires
why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense
plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
flameand be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves
and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity
but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself”
quoted by Kevin Dutton, The Wisdom of Psychopaths
The Lesson Of The Moth by Don Marquis


The Recovery Movement

The recovery under discussion here is recovery from relationships with Cluster Bs, most often Narcissists. I found it fascinating to discover a whole subculture with their own terminology. People in this movement usually consider themselves victims or survivors who have broken with their abuser and are now healing. It is certainly a place for people to go when they feel hurt.

Some Favorite Terms

  • flying monkeys. These are people who, usually unwittingly, do the dirty work for the malicious narc. They might try to make a victim return to the narcissist by appealing to their sentimental side.
  • fleas. A narcissist is thought to carry fleas which can infest the victim with traits of the narcissist.
  • hoovering. The narc tries to bring someone back to being under his control.
  • triangulation. when a narcissist uses a flying monkey (or several flying monkeys) to assassinate the character of a victim behind their back..
  • love bombing. In early courtship, the narc is really attentive and on his best behavior. Once she is really under his thumb, the love mysteriously disappears.
  • no contact. The ever favorite of this movement. The victim who has escaped the narc’s control sets up a situation in which they don’t hear from the narc or see him on Facebook or have any contact with him at all.
  • triggering. A trauma trigger is an experience that causes someone to recall a previous traumatic memory, although the trigger itself need not be frightening or traumatic. I added this because I have recently learned that some of my comments on other people’s blogs are “triggering.”

The Narc’s Point of View

narcFrom The narcissist in love: “The narcissist seeks the perfect kind of romantic love, idealized and unrealistic- like one sees in movies or reads in a book. Being ‘in love’ (some know it as ‘infatuation’) can feel like a drug, causing a ‘high’ sensation and temporarily blinding people to theirr own faults and imperfections, to the dissatisfactions they may feel in other areas of their lives. It makes people feel as if they are the center of the universe and that their lives are perfect. Nothing feels better … while it lasts. It’s certainly understandable why narcissists have such a strong desire to seek this out- it fulfills most of their narcissistic needs.” But nothing remains perfect and one day the narc wakes up to find himself bonded to an ordinary human being. What a let-down. Victims’ groups see the romantic beginning of the relationship as a Machiavellian “love bombing” to con or seduce his “victim” to give him power over her so when the pretense is dropped, the victim is stuck.

poormeVictimhood? Not All That

I have been offered the mantle of “victim.” To be a victim, you are the person with justice on hir side. Someone else is wicked and you are innocent. After I was “it” in a drugged orgy of sadism, lots of people flocked to my side. They wanted to punish the perp(s). I felt like an ingrate because I realized I was in love with him. The popular support, although well-intended made me feel torn, confused. But today I can say with certainty that I was not a victim then and I’m not a victim now. I reject that persona.


I Love Drugs

When I was a child, growing up in the late 40s and early 50s, I was told how bad and dangerous marijuana was. It would make me an addict. And I would never get over it. “You’ll always be nervous,” my mother warned. I didn’t get over this propaganda until I was in the nut house and met pot smokers. Once I knew I had been deceived, I wanted to try it in the worst way.

Some friends on the open ward promised to fix me up with both pot and a guy who was highly recommended. I was a virgin but I wanted to embrace adulthood with both arms. Of course, I was the youngest patient on the wards. We never got to having that rendezvous. But, when I got out, another ex-patient told me he would help me score. eastvillageI had my whole week’s salary, about $40, and was willing to blow it all on this highly coveted new experience. As luck would have it, the pot remained elusive. Tom and I roamed all over the city. We ran into some great people and the whole adventure was fun. Finally, toward dawn, we scored. We raced to my tiny (but renovated) studio apartment on Mott Street and smoked. My first high was very disorienting. I forgot where I was several times but I figured that’s what pot did. I also became very suggestible. When Tom went down on me, I saw “visions” on the wall mostly of children. The next day, we lit up and went to the East Village for breakfast. The East Village is Puerto Rican and I pretended I was in a foreign country. I was, frankly, disappointed in pot. It didn’t live up to everything I had heard about it.

Stimulants, on the other hand, were really my “thing.” My first stimulant was bennies, just like in On the Road. Although I was spending a lot of time with Tom, I wasn’t attracted to him. But that night I was lip to lip with him all night as a party raged on around us. It was really that I was thirsty and his mouth quenched my thirst. No. Really.

I still wanted to try everything I had read about or heard about. This woman who was a junkie would get me Psilocybin. Again, I handed over a week’s salary and she went to get it. Upon her return, we all got shot up in our mainlines one at a time. Jim Kolb declined so I had his shot. That’s when he revealed that it was heroin. I should have known. The woman was a junkie. The heroin must have been crap because it didn’t get me high even though my system was totally clean of opiates.

speedBut drugs were my first true love. When I was about to take a bus to Philadelphia where there was a gorgeous beatnik, tall, blonde, with long hair and a long beard, Tom called me to him. He had a new drug he wanted me to try. It was methamphetamine which we snorted. Once I was high, the thought of Philadelphia and gorgeous guys flew right out of my mind. This was the only place and time. We fucked. I loved to fuck on speed. Then Tom told me there were some people he wanted me to meet. That’s how I met Jim Kolb and had one of the most significant experiences of my life. But it was also exploitation on Tom’s part. I saw how it worked. He provided girls and was paid on in meth.

Things were happening quickly. Too quickly. I had quit school at the legal age of 16. It had been great but now I thought I needed to go back to being a kid. I moved back in with my parents and finished high school and college. It was a long while before I did drugs again except for pilfering some diet pills of my mother’s. During college, I had friends who had a connection for pot and we would get high in his apartment. The fact that each time was an occasion tells you something about how little the availability was at the time.

After college, I went to Germany where In worked, eventually making my way to Austria. That’s when the stories about the Manson family began appearing. At first, I just thought of them as weirdos. But I gradually became fascinated. In fact, a whole new crop of rebels had manifested while I was immersed in Wagner and Wurst. It was the Hippies. They were different from the Beatniks who just lived in the cities and were rebels. The Hippies had an alternative lifestyle. It was like another civilization. I was living in the East Village. Around the corner was a friend and on the floor beneath her was Howie who was some kind of chemist for the manufacture of LSD.

acidI was ready for a new experience so I had my first trip. It was truly amazing. I fell in love with LSD. I felt closely bonded with Liz who had been my “guide” through those trips. I decided to chuck everything and go to California where I could immerse myself in this new culture. I quit my job and just left my apartment with everything in it. I just took a backpack and a sleeping bag and a few changes of clothing.

Hippies, unlike Beatniks, made a distinction between “good drugs” and “bad drugs.” Good drugs were pot, cocaine and psychedelics. Bad drugs were speed and heroin. I lsdknow. What was cocaine doing among the “good” drugs as it was a stimulant as much as speed. Whatever. I joined a large commune which demanded little from it’s members. We had to clean and cook one day a week. Everyone was supposed to chip in a quarter for meals but they didn’t always have it. I supplemented my dinner funds by panhandling. I discovered I was much better with money than most of them. I had enough funds to buy a hundred hits of acid for maybe $60. I sold the hits for $1 each. I didn’t touch the stuff I had for sale. I was a connoisseur and had a separate stash of only the best. I had orange sunshine, windowpane and anything special I could find. This worked but I had the handicap of getting super idealistic when I was tripping. I would give my money away. When I came down, I felt like kicking myself for being so stupid, when nobody would even stake me for a cup of coffee.

I joined a cult, Divine Light Mission, Guru Maharaj Ji, otherwise known as “the fat 14-year-old.” I went to India with thousands of other followers. I realized, in India, how much I really loved material things. I was off drugs and remained a mere casual user until the Punk scene. Again, I was in love. Punks were radically different from Hippies. Where hippies were idealistic, punks were cynical. Where punkhippies were interested in creating a perfect lifestyle, punks were interested in music and art. Punks didn’t have the hippies’ distaste for “bad drugs.” In that way, they were more like the beatniks. I discovered that alcohol gave me energy as long as I kept drinking. When I stopped drinking, I soon felt sleepy. So, for the first time in my life, I drank a lot. I would get drunk and not remember how I got home. In a strange way, I reveled in the feeling of degradation. I played Iggy Pop’s song iggyDirt a lot. But I found a better way to stay up all night. I went back to my first love: speed. This time, I mainlined. I quit my job to enjoy speed full time. I would go on “runs” for days at a time. And I discovered that when I wanted to crash, opium would keep me going while the speed was wearing off and I just went to sleep when both drugs had worn off.

The predictable thing happened. I took more and more heroin to get off speed and then got on methadone. I was still creative about it. I made a ‘zine called Drug Heresies in which I challenged both the goody-two-shoes anti-drug people and the High Times cultie glorification of pot and coke. Yes, I had been through that with the hippies. But High Times had an aura of materialism and consumerism. massI did get off methadone by gradually decreasing it and getting involved in something new (to me) OTO, the quasi-masonic, Crowley identified group which outsiders hardly knew existed. I went to my first Gnostic Mass. A group of hippyish people smoking cigarettes and looking scruffy. Then I was led to the temple. It was beautiful. That these people could create such a disciplined ritual amazed me. They were the perfect otocombination of freedom and discipline.

I got away from OTO when I moved to Contra Costa County. I was getting too old for many things. Speed? High blood pressure. Heroin. The reasons are too obvious to bother stating. I miss my drugs but I’m not self-destructive enough to keep using. Grandiosity is my drug of choice now.

Once a druggie, always a druggie. I’m too old for all the hard drugs I used to take and love. But that doesn’t have to mean the end of better living through chemistry. I have discovered Provigil which isn’t something that gets one high. It just enhances normal consciousness to make every minute the best one ever. That’s good enough for me. The movie, Limitless is linked with Provigil (or Modifinil) in the public mind although the movie deals with fiction and Provigil is real. Something else I haven’t tried is making quite a buzz on the Internet. Brain Octane Oil promoted on a site called Bulletproof. It is administered by a man named Dave Asprey who uses Provigil as well as the products he sells on his site, including their own coffee.

Grandiosity is still my drug of choice but now it’s on “steroids.”

Return to Drug Heresies

Sensation Seeking

One of the hardest things about being an aging psychopath is to still have the will to do dangerous, exciting things but to not be physically able. to do many of them. Another is loneliness. Fortunately for me, I have a partner. She is away for some weeks or months (how do people keep such good account of time).

In a heat wave with time on my hands, I thought of something to do that would be exciting and provide  a sense of danger. I would go swimming in the ocean. I hadn’t done any ocean bathing for years. I had mastered the art of diving into a pool and become a good swimmer but there is nothing like the ocean.

streetcarThe problem was I live very far from the ocean. I didn’t have a bathing suit either. Never mind. I fished out a pair or shorts and a shirt and set forth to enjoy this gorgeous weather. The trip was long but I could be patient. First thing was BART which took me into the city. Then the N Judah all the way to the beach. Damn it. I got on the bloody street car going in the wrong direction. All I saw was N Judah and I assumed it was going to the beach. I really thought Embarcadero was the first stop. No wonder everything I was passing looked wrong. I got on the one going in the right direction this time.I was hungry and it was noonish so I took out the sandwich I had packed and ate it. This is against the rules but the driver didn’t hassle me.

It’s a long ride to the beach. I sat back and enjoyed the sight of the city as I beachpassed it. The last stop at last. I change into my make-shift swimming clothes in the bathroom which was situated right at the entrance. Then traipsing through the loose sand. Hard work. Every step, my foot sank into the sand. Got to the water and the damp sand and staked out a spot. I had left my smart phone at home so it wouldn’t be stolen. That is a real problem. Once I lost a pair of prescription sun glasses on a beach in New York. Fortunately, I had friends to help me get home. God! Who would steal prescription glasses but he probably thought they were just sun glasses on a beach in New York. Now I stuffed my glasses carefully where nobody would see them. My Slytherin day pack, I put upside down so no Harry Potter fans would see what it was and take it.

The ocean was wonderful. Scary breakers rose and fell, generating lots of rough surf. It had such beauty. Once, I wanted to learn how to surf but I didn’t follow through. Surfers understand the waves and know how to avoid waves crashing over their heads. They get right to the apex of the wave and ride. I stepped into the water. It was COLD but I told myself I wasn’t a wimp and kept going forward. I reached the breakers closest to the shore and let the surf hit me full on. It was powerful and got me wet all over. There were holes in the ground or just lack of evenness. When I stepped down I was suddenly in deep water.

ocean-waves.jpgI kept going in and out of the water. It reminded me of my first sexual relationship that really counted. I consider myself a virgin until I met him although it was not technically true. He was exciting and dangerous. The first time I hooked up with him, he gave me some drug and had an orgy of sadism on my body. We’re talking burns and gang bangs. Unfortunately, I can’t remember most of it. Maybe he gave me scopolamine which prevents formation of memory. Or maybe I just blocked it as a traumatic experience. I prefer the former explanation. Anyway my friends were all vigilante on my behalf. I couldn’t tell them that I was enchanted with this man. I knew he was dangerous. But that was part of the allure. I sought him out. When I found him, I would spend some time which him and then leave, my appetite for danger apparently sated for a while. Then I would see him again. It was like the waves.

Over a period of time, I worked my way past the breakers closest to the beach. A wave is benign when you are behind the surf But then there is the next row of waves. I saw a surfer far out. I wish I had learned how to surf. They really know and understand ocean waves. But I got as far out as I needed to get my fix. I headed back and didn’t reach home until evening.


Narcissistic Supply

Narcissistic supply is something  narcissists can’t do without. Narcissistic supply is basically praise.  But what about empty praise? What about a barrage of words with nothing of substance behind it.glory

The most narcissistic character in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer series was Glory. All you need to know about her is that she was a totally self-absorbed bitch. She had a gang of hobbits around her lavishing her with praise in the most extravagant praise. She accepted this. In fact, she demanded it. “My name is a Holy name,” she said. But the praise the hobbits gave her was pretty empty. “Your magnificence!” She quickly bored of the grovelling and ass-kissing she got all the time. She’d click her tongue impatiently while they did this. Like an addict subsisting on poor quality stuff, she needed this praise but was bored of it at the same time.

A man whose “friend” request I accepted (never again — I suggest checking them out first) immediately wanted to go on chat with me. Usually, I was relating to people I really liked so I put him off. But he was demanding. If I was busy now, he wanted me to give time to him as soon as I wasn’t busy. I gave him a little test, to see what he was made of. I told him about my blog and suggested he read it. That way, if there was anything to bond around, I would know. He admitted he wasn’t interested in my blog. He was only interested in “me.” But what did he even know about me? He had seen  my picture and I guess he liked my looks. All I was to him was a picture. While I like it when people admire my appearance, I don’t consider it the basis for instant intimacy. I wonder if Glory would have liked it. She was clearly a somatic narcissist although she never fucked anyone. She just liked it when they worshiped her perfection from afar. She might have accepted such homage.

People talk about the “false self” (of a narcissist) vs. the “real self.” But would even a narc welcome praise that was inspired by such a fragment of hir false self?

Buffy found that the reason she couldn’t defeat Glory was that Glory was a god. What is it with God. To hear his worshipers, you’d think he had an unlimited capacity to hear praise. If I were Jesus or Jehovah, I would crush such supplicants. As Hannibal Lecter said, “You may have noticed in the paper yesterday. God dropped a church roof on thirty-four of His worshipers in Texas Wednesday night—just as they were groveling through a hymn.” Could a narc be just as needy as God?


Thomas Harris, Part Two

harris2If Francis Dolarhyde was the star of The Red Dragon, Hannibal Lecter was the star of Silence of the Lambs. This was in spite of the fact that he wasn’t the killer they were looking for. His personality far eclipsed that of Buffalo Bill, a very cruel and merciless Killer who thought he could become beautiful by wearing the skin of women he had killed.

Hannibal Lecter was a man of mystery at the time Silence. The other books about Lecter, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising had not been published yet. I think Mr. Harris did his own creation a disservice by giving us an explanation for Hannibal.
Both The Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs feature an interesting detective who solve the case(s). In The Red Dragon, it is Will Graham who had actually retired from the FBI. A lot of psychopaths think he is a pro-social psychopath and that is how he is able to understand and find the killers. Even Lecter shares this view. He said, “The reason you caught me is that we’re just alike. He claimed that collateral damage in the hunt, Eddie Lounds, was deliberately set up to be murdered by Will Graham, ignoring the fact that others set up the trap that was supposed to spring on the Dragon. Dr. Alan Bloom had a different take on it. “Fear comes with imagination, it’s a penalty, it’s the price of imagination…. What he has in addition is pure empathy and projection,” Dr. Bloom said. “He can assume your point of view, or mine — and maybe some other points of view that scare and sicken him. It’s an uncomfortable gift, Jack. Perception’s a tool that’s pointed on both ends.”

clariceSilence, of course, had Clarice Starling, a trainee for the FBI. She wanted to go into Behavior Science. Lecter was charmed by her beauty, courage and vulnerability. In the course of the investigation, Starling makes herself much more vulnerable by describing painful memories from her own life.

However, it is Hannibal who dominates the book and film. It is probably the first book that showed psychopathy in such an interesting light.

“Dr. Lecter amused himself—he has extensive internal resources and can entertain himself for years at a time. His thoughts were no more bound by fear or kindness than Milton’s were by physics. He was free in his head.

Barney, the overseer of the cell block, said about him, ” You think they’ll treat him all right? You know how he is—you have to threaten him with boredom.That’s all he’s afraid of. Slapping him around’a no good.”

When Lecter confronts Senator Martin, Harris provides, “Senator Martin and Hannibal Lecter considered each other, one extremely bright and, the other not measurable by any means known to man.” (What a wonderful mystery Harris destroyed by his subsequent books.) Lecter made the cruel comment about breastfeeding but he wasn’t as crude as he is in the movie. (People should really read the book.) “When her pupils darkened, Dr. Lecter took a single sip of her pain and found it exquisite.”

Lecter has manipulated the stupid to have himself removed from the custody of the intelligent. “Strikes me he’s pretty much of a broke-dick,” said Boyle, of the Lecter’s new keepers. How wrong he was. Lecter’s escape was brilliant. He gives just enough clues for Clarice to solve the case. The cliffhanger at the end was another of Harris’ great touches.

I can’t finish talking about Silence of the Lambs without talking about Anthony Hopkins. His Lecter was as perfect as it could be. His dialogue with Clarice at their first meeting will always go down as a classic.

Thomas Harris (Part One)

harrisOne of the most interesting  writers on my bookshelf is Thomas Harris. I am especially taken with The Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. The other novels in the Hannibal Lecter series are worth reading once, perhaps, but don’t deserve to be compared to the two mentioned above.

Thomas Harris can write about darkness like no other. It’s a shame to limit oneself to seeing the movies. The books have so many details that don’t show up in the movies. Like when Clarice is sliding herself through the very narrow opening in the storage facility and Mr. Yow says, “May I suggest you tie your cuffs snugly around your ankles. To prevent mouse intrusion.” Sure, in the movie, a mouse walks on piano keys to make the point that there were rodents. But the image of mice crawling up my pants leg informs me so well that I am (imaginatively) entering Hades.

The most fascinating thing in these novels is, of course, the characters. Unforgettable. Hannibal Lecter is a household word. And the Red Dragon  has Francis Dolarhyde, perhaps even more fascinating than Lecter. At his birth, “The obstetrician remarked that he looked ‘more like aleaf-nosed bat than a baby,’ another truth. He was born with bilateral fissures in his upper lip and in his hard and soft palates. The center section of his mouth was unanchored and protruded.”

“He could breathe, but he could not feed… His crying on the first day was not as continuous as that of a heroin-addicted baby, but it was as piercing.” The staff was apparently content to let him cry his little life away but a cleaning lady saved his life. She held the baby until he felt her heartbeat and then popped a tube down his throat. Since he lived, the doctors consented to do some rudimentary surgery to enable him to live. His mother screamed at the sight of him and left the hospital without him. He was put in an orphanage and later adopted by his grandmother who only took him to spite his mother whom granny hated. She used the boy to hurt his mother who had married a politician who was running for office. She brought the boy to ever political event. The man lost by a landslide.

Such were the beginnings of Francis Dolarhyde’s life. He was constantly reminded of his ugliness.dragon He grew up, joined the army and earned the money for better surgery but still believed himself ugly. He learned a skill in the armed forces and got a career at the Gateway Film Laboratory. Here, he was basically a loner but held his own. But his life was about something a lot more important than earning money at a career. He reinvented himself as a man who was becoming The Red Dragon in
Blake’s painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun. He believed he was becoming the Dragon by killing whole families and raping the woman. He found his victims at work. His company processed home movies. As he reached the apex of his development, he became extremely grandiose, as grandiose as his former self was degraded.

He was unrelenting in his cruelty, just as unrelenting as the cruelty of his past had been on him. He kidnapped a reporter who had disrespected him. He glued him to a wheel chair anreddragond showed him slides of his murders. “Before Me, you are a slug in the sun. You are privy to a great  Becoming and you recognize nothing… Fear is not what you owe Me, Lounds, … You owe Me awe.” Then he made him record a message on tape and then bit his lips off. He pretended that he had the lips on ice in a thermos and would let him go, But, instead, he said, “I told you one fib… I really don’t have your lips on ice.” He poured gasoline on Lounds and set him afire. The wheelchair rolled toward the center of the street.

The most touching story in the book was when he met a female co-worker who was blind. Since she couldn’t see him, he felt freed to be himself. They have a beautiful but short relationship. The first and only time he makes love to a living being who could love him back. Sadly, he got the mistaken impression that she was untrue to him.

Freddy Lounds was an obnoxious, vulgar reporter of a tabloid but Harris was able to show the authenticity in even him. He realized one day that his career at the legitimate paper where he worked had reached a dead end. He saw his future in another worker who transcribed Dictaphone tapes. This was the “glue factory” for reporters at this paper. The man was an alcoholic and had bleeding hemorrhoids for which he used sanitary napkins. Lounds decided he would not let this be his future. He joined the staff of the Tattler where his skills were appreciated and where he got double the salary right away and worked his way up to a position of respect.

There are two movies made of this book, Manhunter and The Red Dragon, doesn’t have Anthony Hopkins in the role of Lecter which, anyway, was a small part. Brian Cox played Lecter. Some people prefer him to Hopkins. I prefer Hopkins. But the Dragon movie over used Hopkins to cash in on his brilliance in Silence. They add scenes and the effect isn’t as good. Dolarhyde was played by Tom Noonan in Manhunter. Edward Norton played him in Red Dragon. Norton emphasized the character’s suffering. Good. But Noonan emphasized his grandiosity. Better.