selfish or spiritual?
Spirituality isn’t always about sweetness and light. Jung was one of the first to recognize how important embracing one’s dark shadow could be for real spiritual progress. Even standard spirituality can be selfish with it’s focus on the individual reaching enlightenment (except for Bodhisattvas) or salvation. Psychopathy is considered selfishness par excellence whether spiritual or not. Ironically, we selfish people are noted to not have a strong sense of identity which makes it easier for us to assume whatever identity we need for a particular situation at the moment. I remember having a very vague sense of who I was as a teenager. I looked in the mirror and saw a face that seemed just kind of generic. M.E. Thomas probably named it best as an elastic sense of self.
I got into Eastern mysticism fairly early in life, starting with Alan Watts but moving on to Baba Ram Das and acid. I experienced a mystical awakening where I realized we are all One. (Of course, the nature of mysticism is that is gives one a “truth” that is very private. The experience strikes one as convincing on a mega level but not something easily transmitted to another person. Therefore, I’m only naming this as my experience, not insisting anyone else adopt is as “true.”) Buddhists deny the existence of a soul and Judeo-Christians tout the virtue of selflessness. Almost everyone considers the ego as the antithesis of spirituality. During my love affair with acid, I saw the “ego” during trips as a person trying to guard a very small territory while we really had it all, but for attachment to the ego.
While most people consider psychopaths lowlives, Kevin Dutton wrote The Wisdom of Psychopaths, subtitled What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach us About Success. In this book, he names Saint Paul, “The Patron Saint of Psychopaths.”
To the Jews, I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people. (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)
This reminds me of when I was a kid and belonged to two rival gangs at the same time. I told each one that I was spying on the other when I wanted to go and play with them for a while. My friends and I actually do the same thing on Facebook when we join with psychopath-haters, the so-called “victims” and pretend to be one of them.
Without a strong sense of self, how can we be grandiose? Zhawq explains
“I do have as strong a sense of being ‘me’ as everybody else, I just cannot relate it to or define it by the social labels and values that mainstream society uses to identify an individual as different from other individuals. In that sense I am the masks I put on, and without a mask I have no real identity as distinguishable from other people’s identities – not outside of my personal inner sense of ‘self’, and without an outside observable identity I don’t really exist.”
I wonder if our grandiosity is attached to a meta-self, a “self” that encompasses our many shifting shapes. I take a great deal of pride in my freedom from any of the bugaboos of society which hold most people in their thrall.
The Blue Oyster Cult wrote a song called I Love the Night which is probably about a man becoming a vampire upon meeting a beautiful vampiress. The song goes, “The day’s OK and the sun can be fun but I live to see those rays slip away.” The beauty of the night is in it’s quiet. I compare the quiet of the night with the quiet of emotions turned down. It’s cool and peaceful to be detached from the clamor of most people’s emotional drama. Perhaps our lack of guilt is related to our flexible sense of self. Most people need to live and act in a way that is consistent with their Self. If myself is fluid, what can really be incompatible? Nothing.
Perhaps my guiltlessness has something to do with the fact that I’m constantly reinventing myself, being reborn. The “me” of yesterday isn’t the “me” of today. I’m constantly standing at a starting point contemplating unlimited possibilities. When people ask what I have done to justify my grandiosity, I am nonplussed by their question. Done? I can do anything. I can be anybody. Like Pinocchio in Stromboli’s theater, I’ve got no strings to hold me down, to make me fret, to make me frown. I am everybody, everything, limitless. Jiminy Cricket must have slept late again. He can’t keep up with me and never will.
Statement of Psychopaths about their Self:
- “If a person has no strong sense of self in general, then of course he will probably have no strong sense of lost integrity when he violates life projects which for the rest of us would be central parts of our self identities. In a nutshell, it’s not that the sociopath lacks moral integrity specifically; he lacks general self identity integrity, of which moral identity integrity is only a possible part. So a lack of, say, a moral conscience, isn’t really the central problem for the sociopath. What’s more at the heart of things is his lack of moral identification, along with the lack of any other significant life identifications.”
quoted by M.E. Thomas, Sociopath World
- Psychopaths have weak identities in general. Our only constant is change. We are chameleons and we wear the personalities of those around us. I believe that the constant shapeshifting that we engage in leaves us with a very weak sense of identity. We can state facts about our being but we cannot articulate who the underlying person actually is. Our identities are like candle flames, dancing in the wind and ever-changing in color and shape.
Candle Flames…Psychopaths and Identity, Jessica Kelly
- For me there is no clearly defined personality outside of my masks. And I have many. I can to a large extent choose which mask I will put on according to the setting and my purpose with interacting with the people who’s daily stage in life it is, for whom it defines and represents who and what they are.
zhawq, Psychopathic Writings