Forbidden Game of Tag

This film was presented in an art exhibit but offended people so became a no-no. I think people should be able to view it for themselves and decide for themselves if they find it offensive. Below is the text on their website.

tagThe Game of Tag attempts to face the trauma of Holocaust and to radically deal with it. The film shows a group of people of different age playing a seemingly innocent game (called “berek” – “the game of tag”) – the course of which was recorded in two different places that are very much alike. At the end of the video it becomes clear that one of them is a gas chamber from a Nazi concentration camp. This rather shocking juxtaposition of a noisy children’s game on one hand and the memory of one of the biggest crimes in the history of mankind on the other, creates – in Żmijewski’s opinion – an opportunity for a therapeutic attempt to work through the trauma of Holocaust in the collective consciousness. By allowing those people to play in the place of trauma, he is trying to overcome the conviction about the unimaginability of Nazi crimes.

tagyouritArtur Żmijewski about The Game of Tag: “This work is full of cruel fun, sadism, nudity and childish carelessness at the same time. It is full of innocence, laughter, juvenile amusement. It was all about the visual reconstruction of a situation. Just as it was back then: naked people in a gas chamber. But instead of horror, we have giggles, toys, erotic games, innocent frolics. What a relief!”

Photography: Jędrzej Niestrój

WordPress keeps deleting the code to embed the film but the link works.

The Mask

1984cLike many Americans are doing now that Trump is president, I’m re-reading the Orwell novel, 1984, probably the most dystopian novel ever written. Characters in this novel not only have to obey the government, Big Brother, they have to pretend to love it. Their TV is always on. They aren’t allowed to turn it off. The government can watch them through the screen. The TV wakes citizens in the morning and forces them to perform supervised exercise which they call Physical Jerks. Quite appropriate as these calisthenics jerk them from their sleep to a day full of tyranny. Any independent thought is called thoughtcrime. Even a facial expression that gives away the fact that someone isn’t 100% orthodox can get him arrested for facecrime. I kid you not. People have to put on an act throughout their entire waking day and hope they don’t talk in their sleep.

But, thinking about it, I realize this has always been reality for psychopaths who live life wearing a “mask.” Heckley calls it the “mask of sanity.” I call it a mask of insanity. Of course, we are not likely to be “vaporized” if the mask slips. But some people even think psychopaths should be killed. In the film, Psychopath Night, M.E. Thomas, author of Confessions of a Sociopath, provides a graphic expression of what it’s like.

In the movie M.E. refers to, Bladerunner, androids have been created to be slaves of humans. But the androids are more than just machines. They have desires and want to bladerunnerlive the lives of free people. For that to happen, they have to impersonate humans. Since they are deliberately designed to look like real people, that can be easily accomplished. But, like psychopaths, these androids lack empathy. The humans who search for androids impersonating humans, have an empathy test to enable them to spot the psychopaths…um…I mean replicants, the name humans have given to their creations. The plight of replicants in Bladerunner isn’t all that different from the plight of the members of the outer party in 1984. Both are slaves. As one of the rebellious replicants tells the Bladerunner, the designated hunter, “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.”

Humans are assumed to be morally superior to replicants because they have empathy (for each other anyway). They apparently see the replicants as things who are unworthy rachaelbladerunnerof their empathy. Morality is a funny thing, isn’t it? Everything looks different depending on which side of the line of what is acceptable one happens to be on. To the people in Bladerunner, rebellion of the replicants is a heinous crime. Replicants are created with a very short life span in a vain effort to prevent them from ever developing a consciousness that would allow them to rebel. And, yet, despite their disdain, the humans develop relationships with the replicants, just as NTs develop relationships with psychopaths. And NTs on many “victim’s” blogs see these relationships as predatory (with the psychopaths as predators, of course).

In the real world, everyone probably wears a mask of some sort, knowing s/he must appear to be a certain sort of person in order to be tolerated by their society. The oppressiveness of the society in 1984 and the situation of psychopaths in any society is extreme. But elements of the same are probably seen everywhere by everybody.


How to Spot Psychopaths

fingers-in-mouth-to-vomit-emoticonThis psychopath, yours truly, is pukingly sick of the title subject. Why are people so keen on “spotting” us? Jack Beresford is the latest to ask this tired, old question.

Oh, he does say,

In reality, psychopaths are far removed from the caricature presented in films and TV. Of course there are some that do unspeakable things but then there are also plenty that hold down jobs, have families, enjoy successful careers and live reasonably adjusted lives.

witch-hunt11So, if we’re leading “reasonably adjusted lives,” why don’t they just leave us the fuck alone?!? NTs watch TV and movie psychopaths like Hannibal Lecter and then go hunting for real, everyday psychopaths to roust us from our “reasonably adjusted lives,” and expose us to censure. How witch hunting is that?!

tongueincheekThe article quotes author, Jackson MacKenzie, who lists five things we supposedly say by which you will know us. Gods! I really HATE all this drama. I think Mr. MacKenzie is just being over sensitive. He over analyzes everything and clearly misunderstands us. I wonder if he’s just being bitter. Maybe he’s crazy. Bipolar? Possibly. Maybe he’s jealous. Or in love with us.

psychopath_freeOddly enough, Jack Beresford doesn’t reveal the name of MacKenzie’s book nor where to buy it. I’ll remedy his omission. The book is called Psychopath Free and it’s available at


Sadness and Joy

How long sad moments last
When joy is gone so fast.

blackorpheusThe first time I saw the movie, Black Orpheus, I was living in New York. It was a gray, winter day. This movie, about which I hadn’t known anything before it burst onto my TV screen, came across as a blast of happiness, a pure ray of sunshine. I had never been in the presence of such pure joy in my life. Ironically, the movie is full of tragic events. But the title song really says it all. It isn’t a tragic movie. It is a balanced movie. It shows happiness and sadness as a pattern, as a texture of life. I saw Black Orpheus later in the movie theater with my sister. At the time, I was exploring Catholicism and I appreciated how the textured pattern fit in with the liturgical calendar of the Church. As the Bible says somewhere, “For all things, there is a season.” I explained some of those thoughts to my sister who, at the time, was very much into Scientology. She got really angry at such a philosophy. She insisted one can really be happy all the time.

FelixThe idea that it is possible and desirable to be happy all the time is one that resonates with me although I “know” it isn’t possible. Several philosophies I have explored insisted that joy was the real truth of life and suffering only a mistake or an illusion. Ayn Rand expressed this belief and Thelema, the “religion” expounded by Aleister Crowley in The Book of the Law seems to also support this brave philosophical view. I have tasted many forms of joy in my life. There is euphoria which puts one above all of the “slings and arrows of outrageous limitlessfortune.” I would gladly live in the State of Euphoria if I could only find the place. In Harry Potter, there is a potion called felix felicis which gives the user the prospect of infinite possibilities. “Slowly but surely, an exhilarating sense of infinite opportunity stole through him; he felt as though he could have done anything, anything at all.” In a way, that is even better than euphoria. It leads one on, moves one forward. The movie, Limitless, deals in that feeling. Interestingly enough, Kevin Dutton described that limitlessness in The Wisdom of Psychopaths when he recounts his experience of “Transcranial magnetic stimulationfreeyes(TMS) in which scientists manipulated his brain with electromagnets to make him exactly like a psychopath. He described it as “an easy, airy confidence. A transcendental loosening of inhibition. The inchoate stirrings of a subjective moral swagger: the encroaching, and some how strangely spiritual, realization that hell, who gives a shit, anyway?…An insuperable feeling of heightened, polished awareness. …my whole way of being feels like it’s been sumptuously spring-cleaned with light. My soul, or whatever you want to call it, immersed in a spiritual dishwasher.” Compare the above with my own Free to Choose discussion of psychopathy.

The joy in the movie, Black Orpheus, was not of that type. It was tinged with sadness. In fact, the brevity of happiness was exactly what gave it its poignancy. Is there a sad happiness that has qualities all it’s own? To look at it from a Christian theological perspective, the limitless consciousness is like that of God the Father while the one in Black Orpheus is that of God the Son. It’s not omnipotence but agape.

orpheusIt seems poor people seem the most capable of joy. I could be wrong but it’s something I’ve noticed. Not that poor people don’t suffer. But they somehow seem more receptive to joy whenever it comes to them, possibly because it’s such a scarce commodity. The joyousness in Black Orpheus is something that seemed to movieexist in the very air of the movie. The constant drum beat was like a living presence. The land, itself, seemed to be breathing. This was the backdrop of all the dramatic events in the story which was loosely based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice is doomed from the beginning. She is being stalked by death, who could be a real person or a mythical force. She flees to Rio and finds love with Orpheus (who makes the sun rise with his music) only to be overtaken by her fate. The characters in this movie are very passionate. Although happiness is always fleeting, they pursue it with all their hearts.

I love all forms of happiness. I am confounded by the subtle and powerful differences between them. Perhaps that’s why my “self” is fluid and flexible. So I can have everything.



Food and Family and Imperialism and Meat

Well, this is the time of year when we are all expected to count our blessings. Well, here is mine.

I’m grateful for my psychopathy.

indiginousBy the way, the indigenous peoples of the part of North America who were displaced by the white man have a legitimate beef. So happy Indigenous People’s Day too.


turkey bird pictureAnd let’s hear it for the vegans too. They think we should abjure meat eating for moral reasons. Thank gods for my psychopathy since it lets me eat turkey with no pesky guilt. I know meat isn’t the cookedturkeybest for for humans but at least I don’t have any pesky built about being at the top of the food chain.


old times

I hope everyone reading this had a good Thanksgiving feast. To me, Thanksgiving is really about good food and family (which can also mean getting together with good friends). Sharing the day with fellow residents at Courtyards (not pictured) wasn’t half bad. I’m grateful for all my good Thanksgivings. 

Visceral Disgust

lordofflies“Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!” said the head. For a moment or two the forest and all the other dimly appreciated places echoed with the parody of laughter. “You knew, didn’t you? I’m part of you? Close, close, close! I’m the reason why it’s no go? Why things are what they are?”

Lord of the Flies
William Golding

whitewomenWe know emotions often Trump logic. But I doubt most of us realize the extent to which irrational emotions, many of which are barely on the level of awareness, can take the driver’s seat. An article in Alternet, Why the Majority of White Women Voted for Trump by Kate Manne (discussing a book by the same author, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny), has alerted me to the way emotions barely acknowledged can overcome reason.

selfloathingIt seems that many women suffer from self-loathing. Of course, it’s well known that misogyny is deeply embedded in Western thinking. Conscious misogyny can be fought with reasonable arguments, isolating the base premises upon which it is based and refuting incorrect assumptions. But unconscious misogyny eludes any conscious attempt to combat the assumptions people hide from themselves.

grubsWhen one thinks honestly about it, the physical world is pretty damned disgusting. Or, at least, we have been socialized to feel that way. Babies feel no disgust but they are soon taught to loath the sight and smell of poop and other substances that come from their own bodies. The secrecy of bathroom activities speaks eloquently of the shame all Westerners (and probably dialother cultures) carry all their lives. Disgust with oneself is acknowledged in all the advertisements for deodorant, toothpaste and myriad other products that disguise our nature and project an idealized but false image. “Aren’t you glad you use Dial? Don’t you wish everyone did?” Not only do we need to conform to the image offered in commercials, we fear the likelihood of offending other people should we fall short of that image.

fearvaginaIn the presidential race, Trump invoked disgust for Hillary’s body (not her politics). “One such (example, kia) was Donald Trump, who didn’t want to ‘even think’ about Clinton using the restroom during a debate commercial break in December 2015.” Hillary’s health became an issue. We are all dying. When we die, our bodies will rot and stink. We all know this. As small children, we used to giggle about it. “The worms will crawl in and the worms will crawl out.” Adults, who are usually closer to death than kids, don’t like to even think about it. One of the reasons people are disgusted by old age is that the inevitable decline we all have to face is more obvious in the elderly than in the young. The cosmetic industry makes a fortune in helping people retain the appearance of youth as long as possible. That is true of both genders but more prominent in women.

disgustedWomen who grew up carefully hiding any signs of menstruation, body odor and bad breath might feel embarrassed at the sight of one of their own exposing her secret mortal weakness to the world. Hits too close to home.  This kind of disgust for women’s bodies is, no doubt, behind slut shaming and the double standard in general.

I voted for Hillary. I wasn’t thrilled with her politics but it was better than what Trump offered. It never occurred to me to think about her health. She is personable and strong. The article says,

hillarylessevilMy sense is that people in liberal and progressive circles were not generally as proud to vote for Clinton as President Obama, despite their very similar policies and politics, and the fact that each was or would have been (respectively) a history-making president, from the point of view of so-called identity politics. More than that, I think there was an atmosphere on the left that led to moral defensiveness about a vote for Clinton—as if voting for her meant complicity or complacency vis-à-vis the admittedly terrible effects of some of her (I agree) misguided foreign policies. But most of these policies were also Obama’s. Yet, somehow, they often seemed to do less to damage his reputation—and didn’t turn a vote for him into a moral liability on the left, was my impression.

obamadisappointsI was proud to vote for Obama the first time he ran. As president, he was a whopping big disappointment. Not only was I not proud to vote for his re-election, I didn’t vote for him. Of course, living in a blue state, I know Obama would carry the state regardless. If I had been living in a swing state, I probably would have voted for him but with the same reservations I had when I voted for Hillary. For me, it was all about the politics: not the gender, age, or race of the candidates. This is a race for the office of president, someone who will materially effect my own life. Why can’t most people see that?

politicsincommandA slogan of a group I respect is POLITICS IN COMMAND. I shake my head in dismay at the people who vote for the person instead of for the agenda that candidate represents. That’s one reason I think Tina Taylor is wrong in her belief that eliminating psychopaths from political office would fix what’s wrong with this country. Sure, people in office can betray their constituents and break their promises. But a focused, committed constituency can withhold future support for any politico who doesn’t at least give them some of what they promised. I know people who actually voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger because he was the “terminator.” Hello! That was a movie role. It wasn’t even him. I wonder how many sheeple voted for Reagan because of some movie role they saw him in.

fanaticsTrying to combat the senseless, the irrational with logic is a thankless task. But those who manage to use it for their own ends have harnessed a powerful beast.  There’s a truism that for every action, there is a good reason and the true reason. Disgust for life in the physical world is almost universal. It is probably the real reason for religion. We aren’t really of this messy, impermanent universe of entropy. Everything is running down. The food we eat is perishable, decaying. It continues to rot in our intestines and comes out as stinky shit. But God is perfect and unchanging. The tenets of most religion is just as irrational as the rest of man’s thoughts. It only goes to show how far man is willing to embrace the absurd rather than be meat on the compost heap.


I just came across a UTube channel called ABitofBrit. I liked it because it defended Taylor Swift against the stupid attacks on her for being white. But Brit showed a right-wing agenda. Here is another video where she reveals herself as a full-blown right-wing bitch.

If this video expresses the mind-set of women who voted for Trump, it is every bit as obnoxious as anyone would expect. Yes, Brit. There really is something called white supremacy. And, yes, Brit. Muslims really have the right to exist and speak their minds. And, yes, Brit. There are plenty of right-wing terrorists in this country right now. People like you prefer to call these white terrorists “mentally disturbed” or some other term that disguises the real nature of white, right-wing terrorism. Brit thinks Trump is wonderful because he spoke of jobs. Has he delivered any, Brit? She says the women in the Women’s March “are not the majority.” News flash! You Trump besotted bitches are not the majority. Hillary got the most votes.

Anyone can make a mistake. Trump conned you with his fake populism. He used your resentment of what you consider “the elite.” But, guess what. Trump is just as elite as anyone. And he hasn’t helped the working class one little bit. His tax plan would seriously harm working class people in favor of billionaires. This is populism? Why can’t you just own up to the fact that you’ve been had?

You called the women who marched on Washington “useful idiots.” Well, guess what. Useful idiots are a hell of a lot better than USELESS IDIOTS!

Redemption by Blood

cleft-palateFrancis Dolorhyde was severely damaged from the moment he was born. “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. His nose was flat.” He couldn’t feed so the nurses and doctors just left him to cry his little life out. “His crying on the first day was not as continuous as that of a heroin-addicted baby, but it was as piercing.” He was ignored for the entire first day of his life. On the second day, a black cleaning lady saved his life. She fed him with a dropper. Once he survived, the medical staff condescended to give him a rudimentary operation that enabled him to feed. They showed him to his mother but she screamed when she saw him and she left the hospital alone.

smiletrainlogoI’m not big on empathy. However, I have reacted to this story with genuine empathy towards this character. I actually shed real tears over his plight. And I donated money to The Smile Train in honor of this fictional character. I’m not sure why. I am not physically disfigured. I’m really the kind of superficial bitch who responds to most cases of disfigurement with disgust and dismisses the person as a freak. Go figure.

orphanageFrancis, left a virtual orphan by his mother’s abandonment of him at the hospital, ended up in an orphanage where he was abused by the other children. At the age of five, he thought his name was “cunt face.” That’s when his grandmother took him to live with her. She didn’t do this out of kindness. She had a grudge against her daughter and took Francis in order to make him a tool of revenge. The daughter had married a politician and Granny Dearest brought Francis to his political events where she introduced the child to everybody and made sure they knew he was the son of the candidate’s wife. He lost big.

grandmotherLife with Grandma wasn’t nice. She cared for his physical needs but gave no love. One night, five-year-old Francis had to pee urgently. He called for Granny. His speaking ability was very poor. His cries sounded like “Aayma! Aayma! He sounded like an infant goat. He called until he was tired. ‘Mleedse Aayma.'” He couldn’t hold it forever so he wet his bed. Fearfully, he managed to navigate the dark, bumping into the the doorknob, injuring his eye. Finding her room, he climbed into his grandmother’s bed, warming himself against her body under the covers. “I’ve never seen a child as disgusting and dirty as you. Get out, get out of this bed.” She did change his bed and clean him off and dressed his injury. Then, she positioned scissors around his penis and threatened to cut it off, promising she would do so if he ever wet the bed again. “You can find the toilet in the dark and you can sit on it like a good boy. You don’t have to stand up. Now go back to bed.” For the rest of his life, Francis peed sitting down. That’s one of many dysfunctional features of the way he learned to cope with life.

QueenFrancis had one friend as a child. A black maid called Queen Mother actually liked him and called him “Possum.” He had a little playmate with whom he shared the sight of each others genitals. Queen Mother saw them and took it calmly. “Look here, boy, you want to see what’s what, well now you see…help me catch that rooster.” Unfortunately, Grandmother also witnessed the scene. She ordered him upstairs and said, “take your trousers off and wait for me while I get my scissors.” He thought Queen Mother had ratted him out and lost the ability to trust his only friend. Grandmother never came to carry out her threat. He never stopped waiting for the thing he dreaded.

lovekillWhile he rejected Queen Mother, he now Loved his Grandmother. That was the first manifestation of psychosis in Francis. I think the psychiatrists call it “reaction formation” when the dreaded foe becomes an object of worship. His “private parts” were evil. He had to protect Grandmother from the sight of them. He relieved his anxiety by performing a ritual sacrifice, killing a chicken with the Queen Mother’s hatchet.  Afterwards, “Francis, scrubbing himself at the chicken-yard pump, had never felt such sweet and easy peace. He felt his way cautiously into it and found that the peace was endless and all around him..” He was never suspected.

When Grandmother became too senile to function, her daughter, Francis’ mother, took him to live in her home with her three kids, Ned, twelve, Victoria, thirteen, and Margaret, nine. Ned beat him up, blaming him for his father’s electoral loss and the family’s poverty. He slammed his face into a mirror. Francis took it stoically, showing no emotion.

reddragonFrancis’ life improved when he joined the army. The army gave him training in photographic work in the darkroom. They also provided surgery to improve his face. Even after the surgery, he never looked at his face in the mirror. He did examine his body which he built up. At age 40, he came upon the Blake painting of The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun. He became obsessed with the painting. “At a time when other men first see and fear their isolation, Dolarhyde’s became understandable to him: he was alone because he was Unique.” This was the beginning of his grandiosity. He was becoming the Dragon. He went to Hong Kong where he had teeth similar to noonanthose of his grandmother, designed to fit his mouth. His regular set of teeth was made to fit the “tortuous shape cast to fit the twists and fissures of his gums. Attached to the plate was a soft plastic prosthesis with an obturator on top, which helped him close off his soft palate in speech.” The new set of teeth were for killing. He had come into his destiny, a serial killer “Becoming” the Red Dragon. He picked his victims from home movies sent to the company he worked for to be put on videotape. He was chief of the department processing home movies.

Francis read in his newspaper of choice, The Tattler, about FBI investigator, Graham, consulting with Hannibal Lecter about the murders.


On his way home, traffic was really slow.

bitchesincarTwo women in a convertible were in the lane besides him. They wore shorts and blouses tied across the midriff. Dolarhyde looked down into the convertible from his van. They seemed tired and bored squinting into the lowering sun. The woman on the passenger side had her head against the seat back and her feet on the dash. Her slumped posture made two creases across her bare stomach. Dolarhyde could see a suck mark on the inside of her thigh. She caught him looking, sat up and crossed her legs. He saw weary distaste in her face.

She said something to the woman at the wheel. Both looked straight ahead. He knew they were talking about him. He was so glad it did not make him angry. Few things made him angry anymore. He knew that he was developing a becoming dignity.

The music was very pleasant.

The traffic in front of Dolarhyde began to move. The lane beside him was still stalled. He looked forward to getting home. He tapped the wheel in time with the music and rolled down the window with his other hand.

He hawked and spit a blog of green phlegm into the lap of the woman beside him, hitting her just beside the navel. Her curses sounded high and thin over the Handel as he drove away.

Gross. But he had thought himself gross all his life. I see that scene as a sign that he had overcome shame through the power of his new identity.

He wrote Lecter a fan letter in which he gave Lecter a way they could correspond in code. The FBI got a hold of the letter but Lecter had destroyed the instructions for the code. Francis approached a newsstand where the new issue of The Tattler was bundled for distribution.

The newsstand operator squatted in front of his shelves arranging the Tribunes. He had enough else to do. The day guys never did their share of straightening.

A pair of black zippered boots came into the corner of his vision. A browser. No, the boots were pointed at him. Somebody wanted some damn thing. The newsie wanted to finish arranging his Tribunes but the insistent attention made the back of his head prickle.

His trade was transient. He didn’t have to be nice. “What is it?” he said to the knees.

“A Tattler.”

“You’ll have to wait until I bust the bundle.”

The boots did not go away. They were too close.

“I said you’ll have to wait until I bust the bundle. Understand? See I’m working here?”

A hand and a flash of bright steel and the twine on the bundle beside him parted with a pop. A Susan B Anthony dollar rang on the floor in front of him. A clean copy of the Tattler, jerked from the center of the bundle, spilled the top ones to the floor.

The newsstand operator got to his feet. He cheeks were flushed. The man was leaving with the paper under his arm.

“Hey. Hey, you.”

The man turned to face him. “Me?”

“Yeah, you. I told you—”

“You told me what?”

Usually a rude merchant can fluster his customers. There was something awful in this one’s calm.

The newsie looked at the floor “You got a quarter coming back.”

…. There was a time when he would have apologized for disturbing the man and never come back to the newsstand. For years he had taken shit unlimited from people. Not anymore. The man could have insulted Francis Dolarhyde: he could not face the Dragon. It was all part of Becoming.

Powerful and Ruthless

loundsThere are certainly features of narcissism here. The “false self” rehabilitating the shame of the despised and abused hair lip. But the Dragon’s grandiosity, power and cruelty soared to prodigious heights. The Dragon found the remarks by Graham and Lounds in the Tattler offensive. He surprised Lounds in a parking garage with a piece of cotton filled with chloroform. Dolarhyde glued Lounds to an old wheelchair. Lounds woke up, thinking he was in a hospital. When he realized he had been kidnapped he didn’t want to see his kidnapper, knowing that he ability to identify him would make the kidnapper afraid to ever release him. But the Dragon said, “When I turn you around, open your eyes and look at me. If you won’t open them yourself, I’ll staple your eyelids to your forehead.” His speech revealed the extent of his grandiosity:

greatbecomingBefore Me you are a slug in the sun. You are privy to a great Becoming and you recognize nothing. You are an ant in the afterbirth.

It is in your nature to do one thing correctly: before Me, you rightly tremble. Fear is not what you owe Me, Lounds, you and the other pismires. You owe Me awe.

loundsflambeHe made Lounds read a speech into a tape recorder. Then he bit Lounds’ lips off. He taunted Lounds with the lie that he had the lips on ice in a thermos so they could be restored to his face. He drove him to his office and said, “I told you one fib. I don’t really have your lips on ice.” Then he poured gasoline on Lounds and set him on fire. “Do you like being Graham’s pet, Freeeeedeeeee?”


rebaFrancis had one chance to be normal. He meets a blind woman, Reba, who would be unable to judge him for his face. He has his first intimate encounter with a woman he didn’t kill. He has a sweet and short-lived affair with her. But a picture of his grandmother “speaks” to him in a hallucination and demands he kill Reba. In a rather far-fetched scene, he steals the original painting from a museum and eats it. This gives him the freedom to choose whether to kill or not to kill. Unfortunately, she gets the mistaken idea that she is two-timing him.

loundsonfireAs he believed himself betrayed by the Queen Mother and lost all trust in her, he stopped trusting Reba. His ego was too vulnerable to take a chance. His core belief was that he was unlovable. It was safer to stay alone relying only on his strength. Lecter had given him Graham’s home address through the code they used. Graham had grievously insulted him in the ill-conceived plan to make Graham a target for a sting operation. Instead of taking the bait, the Dragon tricked them all by going after Lounds. True to form, he murdered the pet of his target first. Now that they were closing in, he used Reba to fake his death. Everyone thought the case was over. Graham and his family returned to the house on the beach.

The Red Dragon surprised Graham and his family in their very home where they felt safe. Graham prevailed but with serious injuries. Francis Dolarhyde died. His final crime was brilliant.



A deeply injured human being had risen from the ashes of his shame and self-loathing to reach a pinnacle of dark godhood. Two movies have been made from this book. The first, Manhunter, was very 80’s in it’s style. The film left out the entire story of the faked death, letting him die for real. Graham returns home and happily reunites with his wife and son. The Red Dragon more ambitiously covers the complex end of the story. Unfortunately, the director does something I consider really stupid and which harms the character of Francis Dolarhyde. In that film, Francis’ scrapbook includes the sad story of the time he wet his bed at age five. Bullshit! The grandiose Red Dragon would never put such a story in his album. The album was to glorify him. Even more ridiculous, Dolarhyde pees his pants while Graham imitates the Grandmother (as if he would know what she said). Weak, folks. Very, very weak. Furthermore, while making a brave attempt to stick to the storyline of the book, they couldn’t resist putting in a happy ending.

Here is the way the book really ended. While exiled from their home, Molly and Willy stay with the mother of Molly’s dead first husband. Something changed in both mother and child, a memory resurrected.

Graham and Molly wanted very much for it to be the same again between them, to go on as they had before.

When they saw that it was not the same, the unspoken knowledge lived with them like unwanted company in the house. The mutual assurances they tried to exchange in the dark and in the day passed through some refraction that made them miss the mark.

Molly had never looked better to him. From a painful distance, he admired her unconscious grace.

She tried to be good to him, but she had been to Oregon and she had raised the dead.


Molly packed suppers and they fished and they built fires, and none of it was any good.

After Dolarhyde attacked them in their home, Graham is in the hospital. “He could hold Molly a while with his face. Until they finished fixing it anyway. That would be a cheap shot. Hold her for what?

Lecter summed it up with his letter to Graham.

Dear Will,

Here we are, you and I, languishing in our hospitals. You have your pain and I am without my books—the learned Dr. Chilton has seen to that.

We live in a primitive time—don’t we, Will?—neither savage nor wise. Half measures are the curse of it. Any rational society would either kill me or give me my books.

I wish you a speedy convalescence and hope you won’t be very ugly.

I think of you often.

Hannibal Lecter



Is Graham a Psychopath?

fallon2James Fallon, the neuroscientists who discovered his own psychopathy when he saw an MRI scan of his brain, shares with me a love of Thomas Harris’ books featuring Hannibal Lecter. Silence of the Lambs is well known but fewer people are aware of a prequel to that famous novel, The Red Dragon, which has inspired two movies, Manhunter (1986) and The Red Dragon (2002). Dr. Fallon discussed the characters with particular reference to Manhunter. He considered the character of Will Graham, the detective who solved graham1the crime, a “pro-social psychopath.” According to Fallon, “Graham recognizes that he has the same urges and lack of interpersonal empathy as Lecter. Although he is not a murderer, he is, in fact, a psychopath, or at least a near-psychopath, what I like to call Psychopath Lite. He might score 15 or 23 on the PCL-R, just under the 30-point score cutoff for full psychopathy, but other than that, you might think him completely normal. When my wife, Diane, and I saw the film in 1986, she pointed to Will and said, ‘That is you.'” Perhaps it is because I rely more on the book than on either movie, but I have a very different view of Will Graham.

graham2I see Graham as an empath. His unusual gift is the ability to project himself into the mind of the killers he is tracking down. He knows their thoughts because his empathy gives him the ability see the world through other people’s eyes. His ability to empathize is not limited to knowing the minds of killers. For example, when talking with his boss, Jack Crawford, “heard the rhythm and syntax of his own speech in Graham’s voice. He had heard Graham do that before, with other people. Often in intense conversation Graham took on the other person’s speech patterns. At first, Crawford had thought he was doing it deliberately, that it was a gimmick to get the back-and-forth rhythm going

crawford“Later Crawford realized that Graham did it involuntarily, that sometimes he tried to stop and couldn’t.”

It is mentioned in several places that Graham finds his ability to known the inner worlds of killers painful. On Page 8, Crawford tells Molly, his wife, “he has the other thing too. Imagination, projection, whatever. He doesn’t like that part of it.”

molly“You wouldn’t like it either if you had it, ” said Molly. Psychopaths are notoriously comfortable with our psychopathy. Finding excursions into the mind of another psychopath would probably not bother Graham were he one, himself, not even if he were “pro-social.”

Graham killed a man once in the line of duty. He did it to save a life. The perp, a man named Hobbs, had been in the process of cutting a girl’s throat. Had Graham not shot him, the girl would have died. Despite the blamelessness of what he did, the mere willywillfact of killing someone got him deeply depressed.

“Willy, the business with Hobbs, it bothered me a lot. You know, I kept it on my mind and I saw it over and over. I got so I couldn’t think about much else. I kept thinking there must be some way I could have handled it better. And then I quit feeling anything. I couldn’t eat and I stopped talking to anybody. I got really depressed. So a doctor asked me to go into the hospital, and I did. After a while I got some distance on it. The girl that got hurt in Hobb’s apartment came to see me. She was okay and we talked a lot. Finally I put it aside and went back to work.”

“Killing somebody, even if you have to do it, it feels that bad?”

“Willy, it’s one of the ugliest things in the world.”

remorsePsychopaths don’t get depressed or remorseful over things we’ve done, even things that are seriously “wrong.” I can’t imagine a psychopath, even a “psychopath-lite,” getting so strung out over a killing that wasn’t even ethically wrong. I would think this alone could put the question at rest.

In my blog post, Thomas Harris, Part Two, I touched on another thing that showed Graham for what he was. Dr. Bloom, the psychiatrist, explained Graham’s psyche, “… what do you think one of Will’s strongest drives is? … It’s fear, Jack. The man deals with a huge amount of fear.” Fear is something psychopaths don’t have much of. Bloom goes on to say…

fear1“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.”

empathy1 Clearly, Thomas Harris considered Graham to be an empath. His ability to know what killers were thinking didn’t come from his similarity to those killers. He could empathize with anyone. He could feel guilt, depression and fear.

lecter1Hannibal Lecter liked to play with Graham’s head and nurture his worst fears. He kept harping on the notion that Graham was just like him. When Graham visited Lecter in prison to try to get his help in catching the killer he was after, Lecter said, “You just came here to look at me. Just to get the old scent again, didn’t you? Why don’t you just smell yourself?” As Graham is leaving, Lecter issues one last sally. “The reason you caught me is that we’re just alike.

When a plan the cops set up to try to trap the suspect misfired, a man Graham hated came to grief instead. Lecter used this occasion to guilt-trip Graham.

lecter5A brief note of congratulations for the job you did on Mr. Lounds. I admired it enormously. What a cunning boy you are! … You know, Will, you worry too much. You’d be so much more comfortable if you relaxed with yourself.

We don’t invent our natures, Will, and I’d like to start by asking you this: When you were so depressed after you shot Mr. Garrett Jacob Hobbs to death, it wasn’t the act that got you down, was it? Really, did you you feel so bad because killing him felt so good?

guiltygrahamThe book goes on to say, “Graham knew that Lecter was dead wrong about Hobbs, but for a half-second he wondered if Lecter might be a little bit right in the case of Freddy Lounds. The enemy inside Graham agreed with any accusation.” That’s an enemy that doesn’t live inside psychopaths.



Green-eyed Monster



When I had my personality assessment, they told me I was almost a narcissist. Only two things kept me from meeting the profile.

  1. I was self-aware. Strange, isn’t Sam Vaknin, the most famous narc in the world, self-aware? Whatever.
  2. I wasn’t jealous. I true narc is not only jealous of others, s/he thinks others are jealous of hir.

It’s true. I am not the jealous type. Not that I never experience jealousy. But it’s not something that troubles me often. Taylor Swift’s latest video deals specifically with that green-eyed monster.

She sings, “You’re so cool, it makes me hate you so much…. You ruined my life by not being mine.” I’m just not like that. My life doesn’t need anyone to “be mine” in order to be good. I have also never minded actual lovers fucking other people. I have trouble understanding why people feel that way.

beatlemaniaThere’s one genre where people adore someone without expecting hir to belong to them. I’m talking about fandom. I have a friend whose entire life is based on adoring stars of her choosing. She started with the Beatles. For years, it was Brad Pitt and now there seems to be a series of objects for her adoration. It’s like a form of Bhakte Yoga. This form of yoga is about worshipful devotion to the chosen god. Groupies are often satisfied to get laid by their faves. There seems to be a hierarchy of greatness among the objects of their worship. I, myself, only felt that way towards Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. There is little to no thought of monogamy in this kind of attachment.

wealthThose who want an exclusive relationship seem to think the whole magick of a partnership is destroyed if another party muscles in. Like I said, I don’t feel that way. I also don’t feel particularly jealous of those who have more than I do in the way of material goods. I can envy them their good fortune and wish I had whatever they have. But I don’t harbor ill will towards them. On the other hand, I do think the extremely uneven distribution of wealth is an outrage. It’s about fairness rather than personally wishing I had whatever. In fact, if I could suddenly get rich, I probably wouldn’t wish so much for fairness. {shrug} Is this jealousy?

Simon Sez

Psychologist George Simon thinks psychopathy should be called a “character” disorder instead of a personality disorder because we are bad people with a bad character. So imagine my surprise when I read that this same man has said we are born this way.

psychobrainSomeone on Quora asked Athena Walker if she thought she was “evil.” She replied, “… for being born?” It’s pretty clear that moral judgements can only exist in the realm of choice. The growing belief among scientists that psychopathy is a condition one is born with would seem to preclude the possibility that we can logically be blamed for what The-Guilty-Innocentwe are. Parents of psychopaths welcome the idea. My own mother gleefully informed me that some doctor reassured her that I could have been just born that way, so it wasn’t her fault. Simon is also aware “all this might come as welcome news to those exasperated parents who used to blame themselves and who we used to blame for raising monsters….” Of course, they still provided the genetic material.

causeeffectNevertheless, Dr. George Simon, the man who insists psychopathy be called a “character disorder” instead of a “personality disorder,” thereby injecting morality into the traditionally neutral field of psychology, has declared himself an advocate of the nature (as opposed to nurture) in the etiology of psychopathy. Of course, everything has a cause. Whether someone was born with a particular brain freewilldetermstructure or developed a personality as a result of trauma, s/he is “that way” as the result of a cause. Morality is implicitly connected to the assumption of free will. Wikipedia defines Free Will as “the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.” What is presupposed, is the existence of something called a “will” which is identical to our self. We have a will which is independent of the chain of causality. The causeless cause is what people call God. The belief in free will implies that everyone is (a) God.

Golf BallA strict belief in determinism (nothing without an outside cause) makes moral responsibility difficult if not impossible. Inanimate objects have no will and no responsibility. If I throw a ball, the ball isn’t responsible for where it goes. If it breaks a window, that is unfortunate but not a sin on the part of the ball. I might have been evil to have thrown the ball but the ball has no way to express volition so it cannot be an agent of nietzschebadevilmorality. Nietzsche articulated the dichotomy of good/bad and good/evil. The former is about the worth of something (to the person evaluating that worth). So fruit can be good if it tastes good to the person eating it and promotes his health. Bad fruit would be that which is either unpalatable and/or poisonous. There is no expectation that the piece of fruit would have the ability to be other than what it is. The dichotomy good/bad is amoral. The second pair of values is what falls under the rubric of morality. A man who chooses to do things we consider morally wrong can be evil. Poisonous fruit can never be evil. It just is what it is. And it’s “bad” fruit (from our human standpoint).

freedomresponsCriminal jurisprudence (and religion) assumes that people have free will. There are exceptions for those who suffer from severe mental illness which can rob them of the ability to make a choice. If a psychotic doesn’t know what he’s doing, in murdering someone, for example, his lack of understanding makes a moral choice impossible. Likewise, if someone is acting under an irresistible compulsion, he couldn’t help himself and is exempt from moral judgement. Such people are separated from society for the protection of society not for punishment. They are exempt from punishment but also lose civil rights. Freedom is responsibility.

tribalhuntersDr. Simon hypothesizes that psychopathy is a holdover from an earlier time in human history when psychopathy traits were favorable to survival. “There was a time – back in our more primitive days – when two of the factors we now think of as highly problematic: fearlessness and the capacity for the remorseless perpetuation of violence, were the very qualities the tribe valued most in its dominant leaders. The truth be told, psychopaths probably helped us survive and get to where we are.” napalmAnd where are we? Today, of course, we are civilized. Oh, yeah? A world which has seen the Third Reich, the bombing of Hiroshima, two world wars, to mention only a few examples of barbarism is more evolved than it was in the days of tribal living? Even the behavior of children in a modern classroom shows the cruelty and aggression of modern man. What kids do to each other reflects the society they are growing up in. I don’t care how many anti-bullying programs a school creates. Kids learn better and faster by observing adults than by listening to their preaching.

preditorSimon says psychopaths are “natural predators, but there are no wild beasts to slay. So, as Hare notes, they’ve become intra-species predators (which is why in both of my books I suggest that the most appropriate descriptive label for these personalities is ‘predatory aggressive’).” So why are so many children forming their own societies with pecking orders, cruelty and competition? Psychopaths are thought to only be bulliesabout 1% of the population. The average child is neither a psychopath nor “callous unemotional” (the psychiatrically approved word for children with these tendencies).  They can be cruel but they also have consciences. They are capable of empathy and emotional attachment. It must be comforting for NTs to project all their bad stuff on psychopaths. Simon repeats the same tedious lines blaming us for all the ills of the world. But, as a professor in the movie If said, “perhaps it isn’t a matter of evil dictators but whole populations of evil people like … ourselves?”

factoryfarmTrue. We don’t need to slay wild beasts. We raise the beasts in factory farms. Civilized, I suppose. But not kinder or gentler. Have we really evolved beyond tribal society? Look at Donald Trump and his supporters.

Simon says, “Some have suggested that psychopaths might rightfully be considered a different species because they’re so different with respect to the critical attributes that most of us think define us ‘human.'” Hello! A species breeds within it’s own kind. While animals of different species occasionally made to produce offspring, those offspring are infertile. Even Simon discards this ridiculous theory.

My own view:

iammygod.jpgI believe in the links of cause and effect. Everything has a cause. Whether it’s biological or environmental or (as Dr. Kevin Dutton suggests) epigenetic, it has a cause. But I also believe in free will. As I mentioned above, the belief in free will actually makes us godlike. To be able to make choices that are not mechanically determined by other things (which would strip us of all responsibility) is to be a first cause. What an awesome thought. Ironic that all the religions and laws accept this heretical viewpoint.

Sure, psychopathy has a cause. We didn’t choose it. It was given to us along with our eye color, intelligence, ethnic identity and economic position. But, as individuals, we do have free will. I realize that’s an act of faith. It’s also an every day experience that most of us accept intuitively. As a corollary to the belief in free will, I accept responsibility for my choices.