Shrinkocracy Anyone?

lucyasshrinkHELP! The shrinks are trying to take over the world. This one issue of Today’s Psychopathic Times has an article suggesting psychiatrists vet political candidates to see psychiatristif they are mentally healthy enough to serve as president. Of course, the editor of this publication, Tina Taylor, has long believed that presidential candidates be given an MRI brain scan to weed out the psychopaths. At least this involves a specific procedure the results of which can probably be objectively interpreted. But this is worse. They could eliminate any “condition” considered abnormal and their means of diagnosing that condition is pretty open-ended. That would give these shrinks enormous power over our political candidatesystem. The author, Clifford N Lazarus Ph.D., argues that many occupations less sensitive than the presidency have stringent requirements and tests that applicants must take before they are allowed into that position. But the presidency already has an extremely stringent vetting process: elections. First, a candidate must persuade one of the political parties to nominate hir. In many cases, there is a primary election just to get nominated. Then the candidate must compete with the other candidate(s) for the job. The “experts” who evaluate the candidates are the voters. We are the ones, after all, who will have to live with the president’s policies.

As if that weren’t bad enough, another article suggests Occult Practices Feed Both Depression And Psychopathy. It seems odd to me that both conditions are lumped occultsigiltogether since psychopaths are less vulnerable to depression than “normal” folk. The article even admits this:

“Psychopaths are generally less likely to suffer from typical depressive disorders, but drawing upon an extensive research, Dr. Zlatko Šram from Croatian Center for Applied Social Research argues, that people who practice black magic or have otherwise occult bondage in their history are particularly susceptible to comorbidity of depression and psychopathy.”

satanicsyndromeHe goes on to say, “Psychopathy and depression were significantly predictive of “satanic syndrome” in individuals who had been subjected to the occult involvement, suffering bouts of depression and nearly twice as often compared to the rest of society.” Satanic syndrome? I’m pretty up-to-date on most psychiatric terms but this is a new one on me. What is “satanic syndrome?” The article informs us that “it is measured by specific occult practices.” So a person who practices certain occult rituals is said to be suffering from “satanic syndrome?” Doesn’t this look like the “disease” and the “cause” are one in the same? A person who does these things “suffers” from a condition caused by the same behavior by which s/he is diagnosed as having the condition? That’s downright sloppy thinking. But it gets worse:

“This key correlation yields new perspective on the early-onset . ‘This is an important study in that it takes ontological claims seriously and supports the real possibility that demonic forms of bondage may be linked to psychopathology as […] evil forces can interfere in human behavior.’ comments Prof. Ralph W. Hood from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.”

Chick Comics

Christian fundamentalists have long attacked occultism as spiritually harmful. But religiously-oriented concepts seem to be creeping into the realm of science. The above statement mentions “ontological claims” that “demonic forms of bondage may be linked…” That statement seems to take for granted that demons exist. When did science prove that there are demons? Or is he just saying that some “forms of bondage” are “demonic?” Is “demonic” merely being used as an adjective, in other words, not claiming that there has to be such a thing as a “demon” in order for some kinds of “bondage” to be “demonic?” Well, in the good old days of the Middle Ages, the “mentally ill” were certainly demonized.

demonicWe have writers such as M. Scott Peck, M.D. who boldly introduce the concept of “evil” into what purports to be a scientific discussion. Seems we have come full circle. There was a “religious” explanation for “mental illness” back in the good old days. Science attempted to cleanse people so stigmatized of the judgemental term of “evil.” That attempt has never been completely successful. People have always had a hard time dealing with behavior they find inexplicable. Such people who are “mad” are also felt to be “bad.” A popular put-down these days is, “That’s SICK! The context and way it is said make it clear that it isn’t said out of compassion, but, rather, a judgement of disapproval.

conformitySociety will always have ways of enforcing it’s norms. Whether behavior and attitudes that conflict with society’s values is called “sick” or “evil,” society has found language with which to isolate those people who threaten those values. Now we have a president who has been called a “psychopath” or a “sociopath” more often than any other American president. At the same time, a large number of American voters think he is the greatest president ever. I suggest we try to avoid sloppy thinking and are clear on the difference between a clash of values and what is scientifically verifiable.


Personality Appraisals for Pets

Birds are Narcissists. What other species looks in the mirror so much?

Cats are Psychopaths. They have no conscience. Evers see a cat looking guilty? And they are preditors.

Dogs are Empaths with consciences. Poor guilt-ridden doggies.

On Memorial Day: replace national patriotism with human solidarity

Bill_Ayers-in-Berkeley-SQUAREReblogged from Bill Ayers blog

Funny how this Memorial Day, the United States is so much like a psychopath, if a country can be like a person. I’m particularly struck by:

“Because we are the very model of virtue and righteousness, our actions are always good; because our actions are always good, we are not subject to the ordinary rules that apply to all others—we are the indispensable nation. So while Russian meddling in US elections is widely seen as outrageous (and it is), US meddling in elections from Honduras to Ukraine to Cyprus to Venezuela is, if we bother even to notice, not so bad. The naked narcissism is breath-taking.”


Yep, the USA can be a ‘path or a narc. Maybe all countries are such. All corporations are. It’s only called a personality disorder when individuals show those traits.

Bill Ayers

Notice this year how the concept of patriotism has been lashed with unbreakable cords to the business of war-making. To be a true patriot, you must genuflect at the alter of war— just ask the good-hearted folks at NPR (National Pentagon Radio).
But in reality, however you start and wherever you look, patriotism is elusive, and always entangled in context—historical flow, cultural surround, political perspective. It’s a wobbly concept at best, debatable and necessarily occupying a contested space—the young students of Parkland, Florida stare over a barricade at the irascible NRA leadership, each claiming the shiny mantle of patriotism; National Football League team owners lock out Colin Kaepernick, and decree (in the name of patriotism) that players must stand respectfully during the playing of the National Anthem, mistaking a forced display of patriotism for the thing itself rather than what it actually is: a long-standing hallmark of authoritarianism and…

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Self-Aware Trickster?

Our Brains on Psychopathy

brainWe have heard about the deficit in the connection between the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex which helps explain psychopathy. But this is something else. This article (There’s Now More Evidence Linking Psychopathy to Disturbances in The Prefrontal Cortex by Fiona MacDonald) talks about the greater density in the pre-frontal cortex of psychopaths and, get this. There is a greater connectivity between two areas of the pre-frontal cortex, called the superior frontal gyrus and the inferior frontal gyrus. I looked up the properties of each of these “frontal gyruses.” The “inferior” one has primarily to do with language. The “superior” one is about self-awareness and laughter. Interesting combination. I guess when we become really self-aware, we just have to laugh.

Here’s an excerpt about the Superior one:



In fMRI experiments, Goldberg et al. have found evidence that the superior frontal gyrus is involved in self-awareness, in coordination with the action of the sensory system.[1][2]



In 1998, neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried described a 16-year-old female patient (referred to as “patient AK”) who laughed when her SFG was stimulated with electric current during treatment for epilepsy.[3] Electrical stimulation was applied to the cortical surface of AK’s left frontal lobe while an attempt was made to locate the focus of her epileptic seizures (which were never accompanied by laughter).


Fried identified a 2 cm by 2 cm area on the left SFG where stimulation produced laughter consistently (over several trials). AK reported that the laughter was accompanied by a sensation of merriment or mirth. AK gave a different explanation for the laughter each time, attributing it to an (unfunny) external stimulus. Thus, laughter was attributed to the picture she was asked to name (saying “the horse is funny”), or to the sentence she was asked to read, or to persons present in the room (“you guys are just so funny… standing around”).

Increasing the level of stimulation current increased the duration and intensity of laughter. For example, at low currents only a smile was present, while at higher currents a louder, contagious laughter was induced. The laughter was also accompanied by the stopping of all activities involving speech or hand movements.

lokiWell, you can read all of this by clicking on the links. I want to move on to the question of how greater density and extra connectivity between such interesting parts of the brain adds up to a “disturbance.” Maybe it’s just a disturbance by definition if it is found in the brain or personality of a psychopath. I wonder how these scientists think connecting these two area leads to psychopathy. Maybe self-aware amusement gets together with lingual ability to make us glib and cunning. That would go together. Awareness, laughter and language working together to make one tricky psychopath.

Psychopaths and Art

Today, Quora asked

Can psychopaths and narcissists be truly great artists since they have no empathy and limited emotions?

bach_colWhat we usually call “great art” is from the European tradition, “classical” (including “romantic”) art. I don’t think Bach’s music was very emotional. I don’t know much about the plastic arts of painting and sculpture. Lots of great paintings were pretty objective, faithfully giving form to what they saw. But all art, including music, goes through cycles in which work created in a certain period has a certain kind of similarity which makes it recognizable as belonging to a particular period. It’s kind of weird talking about great art during a period in which there is none. But, perhaps, it seemed that way throughout history. People usually don’t recognize great art that has been created during their own lifetimes.

I decided to explore the question by looking at one artist: Richard Wagner, German, 19th Century. I pick him because he may fit some of the characteristics listed in Hare’s PCL-R and because I know more about him than any other artist. I have studied Wagner because he is one of the most exciting figures in the Romantic Era.

wagnerwreathThe first problem I encounter as I try to assess Wagner as a psychopath is the fact that his music dramas are full of emotion. Maybe you should have asked whether a psychopath can appreciate art, including art that evokes a lot of emotion. I will answer that question “yes.” I certainly appreciate the emotion in Wagner’s work. How much or how deep my appreciation is compared to others, I have no way of knowing.

Here goes…glib

Glib/charming? Based on his voluminous writings, I would say he was glib. Of course, glibness normally manifests during actual person-to-person encounters. (Backwards people of the 19th Century! Don’t even have video cameras!) And based on his success with the “fair sex,” I would guess he was also pretty charming. (2)

grandioseGrandiose? Once he wrote, “Some day, people will be erecting statues of me but, if I try to help myself out now, tongues wag.” (I don’t have his exact words before me but this is a fair paraphrase of what he wrote.) He knew he was great and was able to admit it. Of course, he’s been damned for it. (2)

Need for stimulation? Hard to say for sure but he certainly led an exciting life. He was a revolutionary when he was young, a disciple of Bakunin. (2)

Pathological lying? There was plenty of that in his music dramas. I mean the characters lying to and deceiving each other. Some of his biographers accuse him of lying in his autobiography.  (2)

Conning/manipulative? Like the last item, there was plenty of that in his stories. Once the bad guys gave the hero, Siegfried, a drought to drink that made him lose his memory and forget the woman he loved, to whom he pledged fidelity, and fall in love with a woman they (the villains) wanted him to marry. Then, under the delusion of this drink, he put on a Tarnhelm that made him look like the bad guy and woo (as if he were he) Brunhilde, the woman he really loved. Plenty of conning and manipulation there. Of course, this wasn’t something he did in his real life but the fact that he could think in such a convoluted way suggests the talent. (2)

Lack of remorse? His autobiography tended to paint himself as an innocent victim of other people’s bad. Of course, he may well have been justified in this. (2)

wagner.minnaShallow effect? How would I know? (?)

Callous/lack of empathy? He left his first wife high and dry with no means of support. (2)

Parasitic lifestyle? This is one feature that really got tongues wagging. He had a habit of accumulating debts which he couldn’t pay. Of course, there was no safety net in those days. He was trying to make it as a conductor and composer and it was hard. He liked the better things of life so he lived better than he could afford. If people loaned him money, that way their business. (2)

Poor behavioral controls? Judging by the biographies, he behaved in ways that caused a lot of negative gossip. Will that do? (1)

mathilde_wesendonckPromiscuous sexual behavior? By the standards of his time, I guess one could say so. He left his first wife. I think he left her without support. He had a really hot love affair with Mathilde Wesondonck. I don’t know if they ever consummated their passion but they had a really hot correspondence. Later, he had an affair with Cosima von Bulow, the wife of a dear friend (and daughter of Franz Liszt). Cosima got divorced and married Wagner. The friend remained friends with Wagner, BTW.) (2)

Early behavioral problems? Wouldn’t know. (?)

Lack of realistic long-term goals? He accomplished a lot in his life so I would say no to that. (0)

Impulsivity? Probably. Hard to know how much thought went into every decision. (1)

wagner_richard_opera_tetralogie_nibelungeIrresponsibility? Ask the wagging tongues. They think being in debt would qualify as “irresponsible.” (2)

Failure to accept responsibility for own actions. This seems to go with the one above it. If you are “irresponsible,” isn’t that because you “fail to accept responsibility.” That would mean 4 points for being irresponsible.  (2) (written under protest)

Short term marital relationships. Two marriages. Not bad by today’s standards. But then?  (2)

Juvenile delinquency. No sign of it. (0)

Revocation of conditional release. No known arrests. (0)

Criminal Versatility. No known crimes. (0)

Well, the numbers don’t add up to 30. I got 25 in my calculations. Other people might find more. <shrug> He gets most of his points in the first half of the checklist, the “primary” one. One might question how someone with emotional deficits and lack of empathy could have written such powerful emotional scenes. But psychopaths are know to be good actors. Maybe the quality that allows us to display whatever affect we want, in other words, the ability to be a good actor, could allow a musical genius to do the same thing musically.


But We Can’t Love

ahyesloveCan we?

They say psychopaths don’t love. We can’t love. Yet, I have been in love several times in my life and I now have a partner with whom I am growing old. I know a few psychopaths who are also in long-term relationships. Athena Walker, of Quora, had this to say about her relationship.

I would describe it this way. For me to love a person they have to show me they are worth my respect. They can’t roll over and let me have my way all the time. While that works well in a relationship that all we have interest in is what we can get out of it, it has no staying power.

athenaavatarFor a relationship to work there has to be personalities that really get each other. I for instance have to be willing to take into account what he needs from me. This is a practice that must be consciously done and I have to make concerted effort to succeed at it. Really, it isn’t that I don’t want him to be happy, it’s just that I don’t tend to think outside of myself very often. What I want/need has always been first. To consider differently is work, and I have to be willing to do it.

It requires honesty. Not something that comes easily to me. I know what I am, more importantly, he knows as well. In knowing and also with a keen ability to read people and their intentions, he is very aware if I attempt to manipulate him and will call me on it right away. Here I am faced with a choice. I can choose to deny it and try and work him around to my point of view. This will likely cause a fight and a lot of drama I am not very interested in, or I can say yup, totally was trying to manipulate you. No fight, and I usually get what I desire anyway.

The affection part of it is hard for me. I am not a very affectionate person. I never have been. Despite how I feel about a person, be them a friend, a parent, a significant other, this has never been any different for me. It poses a problem though. Either I find someone just like me in that department, or I have to remind myself to give attention to that need.

terry_kolbThis looks like a mature relationship based on loyalty and friendship. This is a lot like my present relationship which is going on 40 years. Before her, my longest relationship was with Jack and it lasted two years, a record for me at that point. Before Jack, my relationships were sporadic and short-lived. That’s a lot more typical of psychopaths. “Many short term relationships” is one of the characteristics of psychopathy, after all. Jim Kolb was my first and I would be with him for a while and then run away. I used his last name with my middle name when I went public.

A blog called Mirroring the Chameleon has been created by a psychopath (female) and a narcissist (male). They both knew it would be work but, so far, by understanding each other’s needs as well as their own, they are managing. They only identify themselves as “Mrs.” and “Mr.” Mrs. said about love.

kittiesNow. Picture this. You’re going about your day, entertaining fun ideas about how you might go about getting into this particular guy’s trousers, because dammit being married is no excuse for not sleeping with me, right, so, anyway, your mindset is pretty much the same as always, plot, ploy, giggle. Then all of a sudden, you realise he’s got into your head, and while your mindset might still be the same (What? what do you mean, love, i don’t fall in love, fuck you, you’ll pay for this very offensive manipulation of my perfect mind!) you realise that huh, wait, you don’t want to hurt this person. And, in for a penny, in for a pound, you could try this out for a bit, it’s new and definitely not boring, and I do enjoy experimenting on my own mind as much as on the ones of others.

It’s very confusing, uncomfortable, but you haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

Getting feelings when you aren’t used to them is like getting thrown in the ocean for your first swimming lesson. There is no more control, basically no reasoning, your whole brain is trying to swim in a sea of confusing contradictory ideas. “this hurts” “yeah, but you’re not supposed to do anything to him, it’s not his fault”. I don’t know if it was because I had never experienced so much “feeling” all at once that I had no control over my thoughts anymore or if its because emotions are inherently irrational and interfere with the thought processes of even the most accustomed user, but I was rendered useless, and I hated every second of it. I wanted to make it stop, and so I did after a while.

I never fought love when I was fortunate enough to experience it. I kind of thought my experiences of falling in love were an anomaly for a psychopath. It was only recently when a new friend on Facebook, Casi Carter, said some things about my relationships that opened my eyes.

casicarterAll it takes to get in their pants is a euphoric state of admiration. This is often mistaken as an emotional connection but it’s really not; it’s the desire for euphoria not the connection itself.
Casi Carter Fran Theresa Nowve this has been something that I learned in my last relationship lol. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and my ex used to tell me that the idealization made me him worry about abandonment. It starts before we truly know a person, as soon as the relationship starts and before know how we work together. This is why it is a pursuit of euphoria rather than the connection itself, because we have no idea what the connection really is. Euphoria blinds us into thinking we do; but the desire for it is more of a selfish idea than “love.”

jackI suddenly realized that this is what I’ve been experiencing. This explosive, consuming passion that transforms everything. As Taylor Swift sang, in Out of the Woods, “The whole world was black and white. We were in screaming color.” As Casi suggested, I never did get to know these lovers beyond the stage where they are like God. Why would I want to.

mekissingwhipThings were different with Vicki. I had been the submissive in my first two relationships. With Vicki, I started as the dom. She was a sub and I thought I was experienced enough in BDSM to “move on” to the dominant role. Playing this role forced me to see her as she really was. I had to understand her intimately to be able to get into her head and give her the kind of experience she was seeking. I enjoyed the creativity of the dominant role but it didn’t do much for me sexually. In time, I realized I missed the sub role. At the same time, Vicki was expressing the desire to top me. Once I saw the episode of Law and Order: SVU called “Slaves” based on the real case of “the girl in the box.” I thought the real thing heinous and the perp who subjected a girl he had kidnapped to severe torture with no consent. Funny, the way they represented it in the TV show, made the whole thing very sexy. The dom in the story was really handsome and charismatic, and the fantasy of seeing how much I could “take,” turned me on.

victoriaSo the upshot was Vicki and I switched roles. Our scenes were more successful on my end. While dominating Vicki turned her on, something was missing for me. Now we were in our natural roles. During scenes, I would suddenly see Vicki, whom I hadn’t glorified before, as a Goddess. Well, for the duration. The rest of the time, we are ourselves. Our relationship is a lot like the one Athena described. I’m lucky to have someone stable in my life after all the madness of youth.




Life_CycleLife and Death

That life is a cycle is self-evident. There are two miracles of being human: (1) Life (unique; unlike the inert chemicals associated with its occurrence, mysterious) and (2) Consciousness (of course animals have consciousness too but only humans actually think about their own consciousness). But his is not going to be an upbeat blog-post. It’s about decay, after all, when everything dies.

triplegoddessYet decay is really part of the life cycle. Dead matter feeds new life. Witches make a point of honoring that side of the cycle. The Crone, the dark side of the Moon (or the new moon if you prefer), the Crow (who eats decaying animals). Scavengers keep the world clean. They remove decaying substances which would poison the living. They also transform decaying matter into living substance (themselves). The life cycle is also served whenever an animal eliminates waste or when a plant dies and is reabsorbed in the earth. The life cycle can be compared to the four turnings (decay being the fourth, of course).


People usually focus on the new and growing aspect of the life cycle. That focus is healthiest in this world. But there have been times when people longed for and reached out to the other world. Such a period was the Romantic. Poets and composers focused on death. It is, after all, the gateway to other worlds (if such worlds exist). Richard Wagner accepted the metaphysics of Arthur Schopenhauer that beneath the veil of appearances, we are all one. Tristan und Isolde romanticized the Liebestod or love-death.

I once read a novel in which a family of poor orphans looking after themselves. They angelheart2discover, in the freezer, meat which has decayed is kept frozen. This struck me as horrible for some reason. Maybe it’s because things kept in the freezer are supposed to be preserved and still edible. Something already decaying, frozen…the frost and snow, concealing it like a really deep evil. The movie, Angel Heart, starts with the sight of a slum kittenstreet at night in winter. The snow is all slushy and dirty. A kitten on one of the fire escapes stands, immaculate (as only cats’ fur can be). A dog, dirty, straggly, feeling the worst of the weather, walks bye and then the camera allows us to see the dog is sniffing a body that has been desecrated. Evil accomplished and stored like a horcrux. Frozen evil. Only decay isn’t evil. It’s a necessary part of the life cycle.

Even for Pagans, decay must be rather forbidding. For Christians, it’s terrifying. Although they cry, “Hallelujah! There is no death!” they often seem more in the spirit of denial than overcoming. We use euphemisms for death. “So and so has passed on.” Horror movies give us a small taste of what we most fear.

It’s become trendy to revel in what the culture as a whole regards as ugly. A makeup company calls is brand, Urban Decay and calls it’s various products with names like addiction, frenemy, shame, etc.

Attraction and repulsion are functions of the ego. Nature doesn’t care. In The Stranger, the protagonist who is scheduled to be executed the next day transcended such prejudices:

“He had opened his heart to the sublime indifference of the universe”





Internet-Dating-psychoWhat’s it to me?

Since there is so much confusion between the word psychopathy and psychosis, I have always been a stickler for maintaining that distinction and reminding anyone who would listen that psychopaths are sane. Some people have called psychopathy “super sanity”* because of the rational clarity our detachment from emotion allows us.

schizophrenic_moment_186275I have seen quite a few schizophrenics. I was a patient in a mental institution for two years, between the ages of 13 and 15. There I had the opportunity to witness people who were raving lunatics. Years later, to fulfill a requirement for a college course, I volunteered at a half-way house for ex-mental patients. Most of them were schizophrenics. They were “sane,” probably due to medication, but I found them very flat, uninteresting. Is their treatment to blame?

laingcartoonI have read The Divided Self by R.D. Laing and Mary Barnes, Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness. I have also seen Asylum, a documentary film about an alternative treatment center for crazy people run by R.D. Laing. The point of view of Laing and his followers is that schizophrenia is a form of alienation from the self. When the person goes mad and has a psychotic break with reality, he or she is really expressing the madness that has been inside all along and is finally integrating or healing hirself. The treatment normally given for psychosis is medication which forces the person back into hir shell, preventing healing from every happening. The “sane” schizophrenics I met seemed to confirm Laing’s critique. The people I saw in Asylum seemed kind of like holy people (or people on an acid trip) rather than the sort of inadequate folks mainstream medicine considers cured.

jani-620x373Another opinion on schizophrenia can be found in Michael Schofield’s book, January First. The book is about his daughter, Jani, who had symptoms of madness from the moment of her birth. She was always staring at a blank wall where she saw a full litany of hallucinations. She was also a genius who began speaking when she was still an infant. She has been treated with meds and the family dislikes the anti-psychiatry movement around the ideas of Laing. Jani comes across as a winsome child full of grace and charm. Strangely, Jani’s life has been closely documented up until she hit puberty which she must have by now. She should be around 15. Perhaps the teen-aged Jani wants her privacy.

Director-2As mentioned above, I was in a full-on nut house between the ages of 13 and 15. I was there because of a suicide attempt although the story is a lot more complicated than that. I was very involved in my fantasy life. An avid reader, I would pretend to be different characters at different times. At no time, however, did I ever lose track of the difference between fantasy and reality. I sometimes made people act parts in my fantasy without knowing it. For example, being admitted to the institution was something I caused to happen. I saw myself as a director of the movie that was my life. I had no desire to let people know how their parts in that movie were being directed. Let them think they were acting on their own. I was discharged when I got tired of the fantasy of a suicidal girl and moved on.

diagnosisYears later, I found out I could get a copy of my file so I did. I discovered then that I had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. A stunning diagnosis considering I had never experienced psychosis and had never even been given an anti-psychotic drug during the entire two years I was there. I’m glad I didn’t know at the time what those doctors had said about me. More recently, I went to a clinic where I showed them my file. They told me that diagnosis was just a product of the times. I find it rich in irony, however. The Urban Dictionary seems to have an explanation other than the benighted thinking of the bad old days. (Doesn’t psychiatry seem to change radically every 20 years of so?) “Super Sanity is when you have reached a point that you are so sane that you may appear crazy to the world.”

cryforwarYears later, I still was firmly ensconced in my bookworm ways. A book called Cry For War by Richard D. Reynolds made me think of schizophrenics with new respect. This book is amazing for a number of reasons. The couple described therein is as outlaw as people can get. For one thing, they called themselves Muslims in a time when Muslims are the most hated and oppressed group in the world. But no actual Muslim group would have them. Their form of Islam was a completely individual product of their own minds. Suzan Thornell was clearly schizophrenic. Her consort, Michael, was a follower who entered with her into a cult for two. They believed they had a mission to kill “witches” whom they considered evil. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of objective standards for whom to call a witch. It was mostly people who upset them in some way.

suzanthorSuzan and Michael made their living selling marijuana up and down the West Coast. They were quite competent at their job. They had sources from whom they bought good quality product and plenty of customers. They traveled by way of the thumb most of the time and crashed with people along the way or lived in primitive abandoned cabins in the wilderness. They were both able to endure austerities of great severity. They could live on next to nothing. Suzan was able to go into trances that would have made an advanced yogi proud.

cabinAfter their first murder in San Francisco (they would have thought “execution”), they hitched up the coast to Oregon. They lugged some food and supplies up to an abandoned mountain cabin in the Cascade wilderness. They made the hut livable (by their standards) and stayed until their food ran out. Since they didn’t have any money either, Michael went off to get more supplies and work for jihad while Suzan fasted (which she had to do since she had no more food). She climbed up on a rickety attic and sat on the floor.

She could feel the cold wind whistling through the moss-covered shake roof and through her escape window in the back of the cabin. You could freeze to death in the Oregon Mountains, but now she had other things on her mind.


Suzan slowly and quietly drew her body into a yoga position, closed her eyes and  began to meditate, “spinning the wheel” as she liked to call it, focusing on one thought — her husband — and obliterating all other concerns from her mind. That was the way of Islam. She sat meditating and meditating and meditating upon her husband. Like a good Muslim wife, she did nothing but think about her husband, praying to Allah that he would return safely.

Since Suzan and Michael were delusional, their ability to survive in the real world was severely compromised. But I think their story shows, as suggested by Laing and others, how schizophrenics have abilities to do things most people can’t do. I envy Suzan’s ability to go into a meditative trance (not that I would change places with her). I guess society needs to isolate those who are different from the norm weather it’s by locking them up or just telling people how to “spot the psychopath” who walks among them.

Super Sanity

jokerTerm first used in connection with the Joker in Batman. It looks like a term for psychopathy. “Super sanity is worse than been insane because you can do anything you want and you wouldn’t feel guilt.. Normally crazy people do things and then they are regretting it all their lives even if they did it willingly. If you are super saner you wont feel guilt and will laugh at death..” I doubt that being able to do anything I want without guilt is a bad thing. “Super Sanity is when you have reached a point that you are so sane that you may appear crazy to the world.” — Urban Dictionary

Both mental disorder and hyper-sanity place us outside society, making us seem ‘mad’ to the mainstream. Both attract scorn and derision, but whereas mental disorder is distressing and disabling, hyper-sanity is liberating and empowering.

Psychology Today