All posts by nowve666

I'm free in my mind. I've done whatever I wanted to do in my life. Now I'm 72. Well, all good things come to an end. The way the world is getting, it's just as well. Freedom means being able to embrace whatever ideas one has regardless of taboos. It also means total self-acceptance.

Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

happyfaceWhen I set out to write about happiness in psychopaths, the title slogan from the 60s came to mind. It seems kind of simple-minded but the first part clearly matches one of the traits of psychopathy that is always listed by professionals: lack of worry or anxiety. When one looks at all the people who develop ulcers, and swallow Benzos like candy, psychopathy looks pretty damned good. We are not worriers. But what about happiness? We know that our emotions in general are less intense than that of NTs.

Happiness_life_lessons_from_psychopaths.jpg

It’s difficult to measure the happiness of psychopaths vs. the happiness of NTs. How can a psychopath measure hir happiness against their happiness? For that matter, how can anyone compare hir experiences with those of another’s? A friend of mine was diagnosed with depression but he tells me he wasn’t sad. He was bored. Is boredom the psychopath’s version of an NT’s depression?

Our lack of sadness probably mystifies NTs more than most of our traits. Athena Walker told Quora how she handles the expectation of NTs that she be sad at an event they find funeralsad,

I tend to use more neutral language if I can.

“That’s unfortunate”

“That’s terrible”

“How awful for the family”

That sort of thing. If it is more personal, say for instance my sister’s death where I was expected to be sad, I would thank people for their condolences. If they asked how I was doing I would say;

“All right. It’s a terrible loss, but I am more concerned for her daughter….”

psychopath01I like that answer. I felt nothing when my parents died. At my mother’s death, I was a teenager living at home and going to high school. As such, I had to go to the funeral and I know I was supposed to look sad so I played my role as best as I could. My father came back from the hospital and broke the news to me by saying, “You have no mother.” Then he broke down into sobs. It was easier when he died. I was living apart from the family and my sister made all the funeral arrangements. I’m grateful she was there so I wasn’t expected to do anything. I am very grateful to have been spared all the pain others seem to feel when losing a parent. Even losing a friend. Actually, we had been best friends for years and then drifted apart. I was bored or nostalgic so I tried to contact her again only to learn she had died. I was really surprised. I guess this was a first experience in losing a peer. What’s next for me? Become one of those geezers who pour over the obituaries, looking for friends and acquaintances? But, apart from shock and surprise, I didn’t feel much about her death either.

A friend explained the difference this way:

As for NTs, I look at it as they have more emotional extremes. They can get furiously angry and bereaved, but they can also experience intense joy and love.

ikraPerhaps freedom from intense sadness is the way our happiness quotient balances out. I know we have ways of seeking and experiencing ecstatic states. Excitement from taking risks can be great. Kevin Dutton tested a group of students on their degree of psychopathy. The two who scored lowest and the two who scored highest were given the chance to do a bungee jump. The low-scoring students opted out while the two high-scoring ones “jumped” at the opportunity and enjoyed it immensely. I find challenges kind of a necessity for my emotional balance. If I don’t challenge myself regularly, I start to feel really blah. Boredom is terrible for us. The same friend quoted above said, “What I do feel when depressed is crushing, hopeless boredom and flat emptiness.”

nztI work regularly at avoiding that state of being. I challenge myself with blogging. To me, blogging is an attempt to deepen my own self-knowledge and share it with the world. I also fight boredom with drugs. Since I am no longer young and not able to deal with illegal, recreational drugs the way I did when I was younger, I use drugs that are legal and not as powerful as the ones I once enjoyed (speed and heroin). Actually, I do use one illegal drug, Provigil, which is supposed to be like the “limitless” drug in the movie of that same name. With noortropics, I try to be the best version of myself possible. By being my best, I am able to achieve more with my blogs. maskofsanity

The Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley gave me the impression that most psychopaths were alcoholics. Despite that impression and my own experience as a drug user, I know three psychopaths who don’t use drugs or alcohol because it just doesn’t do anything for them. This morning’s Quora had the following response to the question, Do psychopaths and sociopaths get high?

Jone Whistler, Diagnosed ASPD. Schizoid Sociopath.

I personally choose not to get high. Not out of pride or anything like that, it just doesn’t seem that fun to me. I have been drunk before and it didn’t do anything for me at all, it just made me slur my words and have trouble walking. There wasn’t any emotional side effects from it. I wasn’t more open with people, I didn’t feel happier/angrier when I was drunk, it didn’t change my behavior or my mindset at all.

I imagine I would react similarly to most other drugs. I would get the physiological effects from it but not the psychological ones. For instance, if I tried LSD I would probably hallucinate, but I probably wouldn’t experience any paranoia or anything like that. I wouldn’t feel what I am no longer capable of.

Some do and some don’t. I am one that just doesn’t. There are much better and more fun ways to spend your time and money than on drugs, although I don’t have anything against people who do use drugs recreationally.

somedo“Some do and some don’t” really seems to sum it up. The key difference is what an individual psychopath experiences from a particular substance. Cocaine always put my lover to sleep. It made me wide awake and up for a good conversation. I’ve heard some junkies say they hate speed. “It’s just like junk sickness,” they say. But, when I was a junkie, speed made me feel better when I was jonesing for a fix.

Some psychopaths say they never feel euphoric. Others say they often do. Or is there confusion over the meaning of the word “euphoric?


It looks like what we feel and what we don’t feel is a trade-off. We are spared a lot of pain but may not be experiencing all the highs NTs claim to be getting. Athena Walker wrapped it up very nicely.

We process the world in a very different way. We don’t feel as neurotypicals feel, we have our own experience that dictates our understanding of emotions. While we can make adjustments based on what we observe and what we wish to have happen, versus what we would prefer not to have happen, we can’t participate in your feelings of fear, dread, sadness, grief, or anything of that sort.

Happiness is really the private domain of everyone and we can only enjoy it when it comes to us.

dilbert-sociopath


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Fascination With Evil

antichristIt’s generally agreed that good is whatever is desirable and evil whatever is undesirable. Nevertheless, there is a widespread fascination with evil. Just look at the movies. People give lip service to “goodness” but seem to find it boring. They profess horror of “evil” and yet can’t seem to get enough of it as long as they keep a safe distance. Most folks don’t want to do evil, still less do they want to be the victim of evil. But they love to watch it.

I think the reason is the prevalence of Christianity and other religions that see things in dualistic terms, good on one side, evil on the other. Islam seems to be in that category. Perhaps it is a characteristic of monotheism. Hinduism is polytheistic and Hindu deities are capable of a more complex array of “good” and “evil” within themselves. In this respect, Hindu deities are more like human beings. We are all complex combinations of traits we label “good” and “evil.” Only these monotheistic deities have to be all good. These religions and deities set up an ideal for people to strive at. But how realistic are these ideals? Really?

good_and_evil_by_marioara08-d59w7dmNietzsche offered a double dichotomy of good-evil and good-bad. The latter describes a dichotomy of things that are evil beneficial or harmful to usGood-bad can also describe the range of abilities. One can be a good baseball player or a bad one, meaning he can’t play for shit. Good-bad is not about morality. The moral division of good and evil is described in Psychology Today as:

motherteresa‘Good’ means a lack of self-centredness. It means the ability to empathise with other people, to feel compassion for them, and to put their needs before your own. It means, if necessary, sacrificing your own well-being for the sake of others’. It means benevolence, altruism and selflessness, and self-sacrifice towards a greater cause – all qualities which stem from a sense of empathy. It means being able to see beyond the superficial difference of race, gender or nationality and relate to a common human essence beneath them.

christoncrossIt would seem that “goodness” means putting others ahead of oneself. I have a big problem with this as did Nietzsche. But self-sacrifice seems to be the central ideal of Christianity. Christ took on all the sins of the world. He suffered horribly to absolve sinners. In this way, God, by definition the ideal in goodness, was punished so that the unworthy could get a reward they don’t deserve. Western civilization is based on this odd philosophical concept. We are constantly reminded of it. For example, the novel, Harry Potter, which never mentions the word Christ or Christianity and which has been criticized as pagan by some Christians, describes it’s hero, Harry Potter, as “selfless.” As children, we have to exhorted to share our toys, to give away the tastiest morsel of food on our plate and, generally, treat others better than we treated ourselves. Can anyone say “perverted?”

selflessThere’s nothing wrong with kindness to others. But this goes a lot further than kindness to others. It constitutes cruelty to ourselves. Even Christ said “Love your neighbor as you would love yourself.” He never said to love your neighbor more than yourself. Christ did exactly that. He sacrificed himself for the sake of the unworthy. A friend of mine said “Christ should be the great example, not the great exception.” If Christ is the great example, humanity is being told to try to be something that is against his very nature.

Most people are willing to compromise. They know they can’t live up to the great example, so they take Christ as the great exception. They go through live not thinking that well of themselves since they can’t be what they most admire. But maybe that’s good. It gives us something or someone to look up to. It absolves us from the need to outdo ourselves. We can admire evilsnakethose we consider better than ourselves while disapproving of those we consider worse. There are limits within which we are expected to stay.

If “the good” is outside our limits, what about “the bad/evil?” Most people are afraid to identify with it. They disapprove of it but they don’t dare be it. So it becomes forbidden fruit.

But what about other paradigms of “good” and “evil?”

Yet goodness hadn’t always been as dreary as this. For some ancient thinkers such as Aristotle, it was really a matter of knowing how to enjoy yourself. It meant learning how to flourish as a human being, developing your humanity to its fullest, finest extent.

The Independent

The above writer thinks the reason for our fascination with evil is the deficient definition of good.

boringgoodWhen did evil start to look so alluring? One answer might be: when goodness began to look boring. We can blame this on the puritanical middle classes. It is they who redefined virtue as thrift, prudence, meekness, abstinence, chastity and industriousness. It’s not hard to see why some people should prefer zombies and vampires. Goodness came to seem negative and restrictive.

Aristotle defined good as developing our humanity to the fullest. It equated moral good with Nietzsche’s good. Being good at life is not goodness as a compromise with an impossible and unnatural ideal.

interviewwithA big part of the allure of evil is power, the ability to overcome the normal limits of mortality, itself. Anne Rice’s novel, Interview With the Vampire, aroused many people’s fantasies of the wonders of being immortal, powerful and amoral. Junkies actually equated the need for a daily fix with the need of vampires to drink blood. Vampires were predators (as are many junkies). And this brings us to the old Hollywood stand-bye of psychopathy. Psychopaths are considered evil. We are also often charismatic. Hollywood loves us and has given us an aura glamorous power. Most folks who find us fascinating would rather die than admit to being one. But they so enjoy deploring us.

It’s funny how all vampire fiction has to have a “good” vampire in it. That vampire was Louis in Interview. In Twilight, it was the entire Cullen family. Even Buffy had a goody-two-shoes vampire, Angel.

deplorableI think in this age of moderation, people are dying for something extreme, something to take them out of the safe and boring cage they live in. That’s probably one of the reasons some of them supported Trump. He is anything but moderate and safe. Hillary Clinton called his followers “deplorable.” But those followers, rather than feel shamed by the term, got t-shirts with the word deplorable on it. We are proud of Western Civilization but most members of that proud civilization are leading lives of “quiet desperation.” And they are dying to escape it.


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Here We Go Again

abeeI have talked about this before, perhaps too many times. But we Cluster Bees are still being demonized so here I go again as well.

My good friend, Lucky Otter just published a new blog post: Sociopaths rule America. We are both against Trump and his ultra-right regime. Why can’t we stick to critiquing his administration on political grounds? There’s plenty to criticize. Republicans have consistently sided with the rich and disregarded the poor. Furthermore, our society is white supremacist. Until Trump took over, most people had the decency to whiteagaintry to hide it. The party line was that everyone has a fair chance in our “democratic” society. All it takes is hard work and talent. If Blacks wind up at the bottom of the economic pecking order, that’s just their fault. We need to teach them how to discipline themselves, stay in school, yada yada. Since Trump has taken office, white supremacy has come out of the closet. Now they scream their opinions loud and clear while the president says there are some really nice people among them. Not that he is white supremacist. Oh, no! Certainly not. But white supremacists can be just as nice as anyone else. At the same time, Trump talks about left-wing dissidents in a very different tone. It’s not all Trump, either. Society is inundated with white supremacy. But we’ve all seen the articles documenting all this. I’m not interested in writing another such article.

fdrMy point is that we can (and should) condemn Trump and his administration on the grounds that their politics stink. Do we want a government that only favors those who are already rich? Do we want a government that takes away the already inadequate safety net for the working class? FDR brought about the New Deal which lifted working people from the precarious place in which they had existed until then. Finally, people had some financial security. It was a start. But Ronald Reagan started dismantling the New Deal and his party has continued the work ever since.

trickledownSince we have clear grounds upon which to criticize Trump and his party, why bring psychiatry into it? I am a psychopath. I was once a conservative after reading Ayn Rand in my teens. So I know what it feels like. I honestly believed that the rich were mainly the most productive and therefore the worthiest to have the lion’s share of the goodies. I thought government helping the poor was a form of legalized robbery. I was still living with my parents and going to school. Once I graduated and entered the work force myself, it all didn’t look quite so clear-cut. I have read Ayn Rand’s books numerous times because I think they are well-written and interesting. But each time I read them, I saw more and more holes in her logic. My most recent rebuttal of her thinking is Social Darwinism of Ayn Rand. Now I am a leftist. But I am still a psychopath. It never stopped me from analyzing society and constructing an ideology of what is best and fairest for our society. What isn’t fair,  is excluding me from an open discussion of how our society should be run. A democratic society listens to the views of everyone on the political spectrum. No personality rules America. The government will be as good or bad as the intelligence and rationality of the voters.

populismLucky’s post starts out with “Since the very beginning of his term, Trump has surrounded himself with people who seem to lack empathy, conscience, or any sense of morality or scruples.” Why should we even care whether these people have “empathy, conscience, or…morality?” Their policies are hurting a lot of people who deserve better. The question is whether we can offer voters a real alternative, whether we can persuade them that they are hurting as a result of Trump’s policies. We need politics in command.

But Lucky goes on:

drlucyAll of the people working for Trump, based on their actions and words, seem to have one of the Cluster B personality disorders, most likely NPD, Antisocial PD (sociopathy), or psychopathy. Many of these people are likely malignant narcissists, like Trump himself. They serve as his flying monkeys and yes-men. There may be one or two non-disordered people left in the administration, who have severe problems with codependency and therefore have some pathological need to be pleasing to Trump, but I think even most of those people have been fired.

on-couch2.jpgPsychiatrists have admonished their fellow professionals not to attempt a diagnosis of anyone they have not examined in person. Unfortunately, many have been unable to live up to the ethics of their own profession and have succumbed to the temptation to play arm-chair psychiatrist. It’s sad when people with the actual credentials stoop to such unprofessional behavior. Why should lay people like Lucky Otter join the game?

victimThere are blogs and web sites devoted to “victims” of psychopaths, sociopaths and narcissists. The above quoted paragraph could easily have been lifted from one of those sites. They typically label those the “victims” complain about (usually their exes) with those same terms with which that paragraph is festooned.

Lucky talks a lot about what I guess the psychologists call “flat affect.”

Their eyes are cold, hard, and flat. Sometimes they appear black, as if they are lacking irises. When they smile, the smile doesn’t reach their eyes, making the smile appear mocking or threatening, or at the least insincere. A few of them, rather than having those reptilian eyes, have eyes that sparkle with psychopathic glee, and they often wear a smirk

President Trump Holds Joint Press Conference With Japanese PM Shinzo AbeShe has talked about this before. The distinctive “look” of psychopathy: gazing into the face of evil suggests that our very demeanor is evidence of our “evil.” She waxes even more emotional with “Trump himself has eyes that are so scary I really can’t look at them. I can’t even look at his face anymore, because I feel evil emanating from the image itself. I feel like something in my soul is being eaten every time I have to look at him.” Strange how other people look at Trump and see a hero. “His hair is like spun gold,” remarked one follower quoted in a magazine article. What about his followers? Are they evil? Are they sociopaths? I know many of them are evangelicals and consider themselves very moral people. Sure, there is cognitive dissonance involved in “moral” people practically worshiping someone who doesn’t observe their rules of morality. It’s kind of like people who are poor, struggling working class folk who support an administration whose policies only make their lives harder.

southIt’s hard to look at the smirky faces of those who are causing one material harm. The agony of defeat is bitter enough without those who won rubbing our faces in it. But everyone tries his hardest to win. Everyone rejoices in victory. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing one’s self-interest. Since we, the 99%, outnumber the wealthy 1%, all we really have to do is pursue our interest in the political arena and we would have a fine country. The real problem, as I see it, is not a bunch of “sociopaths” in power. The real problem is the mass of fools who vote against their self-interest because they let Microsoft Word - elephantintheroomoppressioncartoon.doctheir emotions rule them. Of course the electoral college helped skew the results and allowed a minority to decide the election. The electoral college was set up as a sop to the South. The winner is supposed to take all, not sweeten the defeat of the loser. The South has never really accepted defeat in the Civil War. But, North or South, white supremacy is the wild card that prevented the Union (the winner) from acting rationally. Perhaps there is something to be learned from the smug faces of the Trump-ists. Acting in one’s rational self-interest is not a sin. Let’s win and get our own values in the position of power. And let’s never forget to make the most of our unabashedly joyful victory.

Individualism and Ayn Rand

I am reblogging this from my Soapbox blog. I think it has relevance here too.

My Soapbox

eric_michael_johnson_anthropologist-175x175 Eric Michael Johnson

While I wrote my rebuttal of Ayn Rand‘s philosophy some time ago, more rebuttals are being written, each with it’s own slant. Two by Eric Michael Johnson (Why Ayn Rand Was Wrong about Altruism, Selfishness, and Human Nature, and Ayn Rand vs. the Pygmies) take a very different approach from my own. My approach started from the question of what is the origin of wealth. Ayn Rand says we all have access to the resources of nature. What differentiates each of us is how we  use our minds. Rand would have us imagine ourselves alone in the wilderness, all grown up, with unlimited access to resources. Her paradigm is wrong on several counts.

  1. We are all products of our societies, not separate individuals in the wilderness.
  2. We did not appear full-blown adults ready to show what we can do. We were all helpless…

View original post 1,623 more words

The Fountainhead

williamhickmanWho Was the Real Psychopath?

It has become popular to say that the character of the hero of The Fountainhead, Howard Roark, was based on a serial killer, William Edward Hickman. Mr. Hickman was a very cruel murderer, indeed.  He kidnapped a 12-year-old girl and extracted ransom from her father.

“At the rendezvous, Mr. Parker handed over the money to a young man who was waiting for him in a parked car. When Mr. Parker paid the ransom, he could see his daughter, Marion, sitting in the passenger seat next to the suspect. As soon as the money was exchanged, the suspect drove off with the victim still in the car. At the end of the street, Marion’s corpse was dumped onto the pavement. She was dead. Her legs had been chopped off and her eyes had been wired open to appear as if she was still alive. Her internal organs had been cut out and pieces of her body were later found strewn all over the Los Angeles area.”

“Fate, Death and the Fox” in crimelibrary.com

roarkThose who read and liked The Fountainhead and found the character of Howard Roark admirable find this puzzling to say the least. Roark was a creator, someone who built architectural structures of great merit. He wasn’t about murder or sadism.

Much has been made of a passage in which Roark’s friend, Heller, tries to persuade Roark of the importance of learning how to talk to people, the better to get commissions from them.

 

“You must learn how to handle people.”

“I can’t.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know how. I was born without some one particular sense.”

“It’s something one acquires.”

“I have no organ to acquire it with. I don’t know whether it’s something I lack, or something extra I have that stops me.”

aynrandSpeaking of Hickman, the killer, Rand said he had “A wonderful, free, light consciousness” born of the utter absence of any understanding of “the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people.” This lightness was due to the fact that “he has no organ for understanding” those things. Psychopaths are born with a differently structured brain than “normal” folk. We also have a “free, light consciousness” marked by absence of anxiety or depression. It is beginning to look like Rand is molding Roark to be the archetype of a psychopath.

People have been calling Ayn Rand a psychopath for a long time based on her philosophy which preaches selfishness, rationality and individuality. She proclaims that the individual is solely responsible for hir survival and well-being having no right to expect others to help hir out nor does the individual have a duty to help others unless s/he wants to. That philosophy is compatible with psychopathy but, as I pointed out in an article, Libertarianism and Psychopathy,  there is no logical necessity for psychopaths to agree with Ayn Rand. This is a big subject, not one I plan to delve into here. Most people who call Rand a psychopath don’t like her politics. But there are psychopaths all over the political map. Another article in which I explore politics and psychopathy is Donald Trump & Ayn Rand.

tooheyThe thesis of this article is that there is only one character in The Fountainhead who is a true psychopath and it isn’t Howard Roark. The psychopath in The Fountainhead is the arch villain, Ellsworth Toohey. Many readers will find that a mind fuck because Toohey is the man who preaches all of the values which Ayn Rand detests and which most liberals agree with such as compassion and equality.

peterkeatingThe novel follows the careers of two architects who start at the same time. Peter Keating is the son of the landlady of the place Roark stayed while in college. She is a flaming narcissist and, so, as usual, her son grows up to be one too. We first witness him at his graduation. “The crowd was there, thought Peter Keating, to see him graduate” um, as if nobody else was graduating that night. His whole life is dedicated to living up to the image of his false self. Even his chosen occupation, architecture, was chosen by his mother rather than what he wanted to do. He has a girlfriend whom he loves but he is ashamed of her image which isn’t up to the one he aspires to for himself. In the course of the novel, he stand up to women he loves on what was supposed to be her wedding day because he has an opportunity to marry a woman who meets his ideal image even though he doesn’t love her and she makes him unhappy.

Roark loves architecture and knows exactly how he wants to design buildings, that is, originally. He is an authentic human being who doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks of him or or architecture. He isn’t interested in gaining power over other people. His self-esteem is such that he doesn’t need that.

Ellsworth Toohey is a perfect villain. He seduces with ideas most people agree with. But he has his own plan.

cobblerEllsworth’s relations with his fellow students were the most unusual of his achievements at Harvard. He made himself accepted. Among the proud young descendants of proud old names, he not hide the fact of his humble background; he exaggerated it. He did not tell them that his father was the manager of a shoe store; he said that his father was a shoe cobbler. He said it without defiance, bitterness or proletarian arrogance; he said it as if it were a joke on him and—if one looked closely into his smile—on them. He acted like a snob; not a flagrant snob, but a natural, innocent one who tries very hard not to be snobbish. He was polite, not in the manner of one seeking favor; but in the manner of one granting it. His attitude was contagious. People did not question the reasons of his superiority; they took it for granted that such reasons existed. It became amusing, at first, to accept “Monk” Toohey; then it became distinctive and progressive. If this was a victory Ellsworth did not seem conscious of it as such; he did not seem to care. He moved among all these unformed youths, with the assurance of a man who has a plan, a long-range plan set in every detail, and who can spare nothing but amusement for the small incidentals on his way. His smile had a secret, closed quality, the smile of a shopkeeper counting profits—even though nothing in particular seemed to be happening.

Toohey’s mask comes off in one spectacular scene where he reveals himself to Peter Keating. He arrives unexpectedly at Keating’s home and is ushered in by Peter’s mother.


“Look, Petey, look what a guest I have for you!”
'Are you looking to pawn or sell your soul?'Keating lifted his head. He sat at a littered table, bent under a squat lamp that gave a poor light; he was doing a crossword puzzle torn out of a newspaper. There was a full glass on the table with a dried red rim that had been tomato juice; a box containing a jigsaw puzzle; a deck of cards; a, Bible.
“Hello, Ellsworth,” he said smiling. He-leaned forward to rise but forgot the effort, halfway.
Mrs. Keating saw the smile and stepped out hastily, relieved, closing the door.
The smile went, not quite completed. It had been an instinct of memory. Then he remembered many things which he had tried not to understand.
“Hello, Ellsworth,’: he repeated helplessly.
Toohey stood before him, examining the room, the table, curiosity.
lucy“Touching, Peter,” he said. “Very touching. I’m sure he’d appreciate it if he saw it.”
“Who?”
Not very talkative these days, are you, Peter? Not very sociable.
“I wanted to see you, Ellsworth. I wanted to talk to you.”
Toohey grasped a chair by the back, swung it through the air.in a broad circle like a flourish, planted it by the table and sat down.
Well, that’s what I came here for,” he said. “To hear you talk.”
Keating said nothing.
“Well?”
“You mustn’t think I didn’t want to see you, Ellsworth. It was … what I told Mother about not letting anyone in … it was on account of the newspaper people. They won’t leave me alone.”
“My, how times change, Peter. I remember when one couldn’t you away from newspaper people.”
mocking“Ellsworth, I haven’t any sense of humor left. Not any at all.”
“That’s lucky. Or you’d die laughing.”
“I’m so tired, Ellsworth,…I’m glad you came.”
The light glanced off Toohey’s glasses and Keating could not see his eyes; only two circles filled with a metallic smear, like dead headlights of a car reflecting the approach of something from a distance.
“Think you can get away with it?” asked Toohey.
“With what?”
“The hermit act. The great penance. The loyal silence.”
“Ellsworth, what’s the matter with you?”
“So he’s not guilty, is he? So you want us to please leave him do you?”
Keating’s shoulders moved, more an intention than the reality sitting up straight, but shrinkstill an intention, and his jaw moved to ask:
“What do you want?”
“The whole story.”
“What for?”
“Want me to make it easier for you? Want a good excuse, Peter? I could, you know. I could give you thirty-three reasons, all and you’d swallow anyone of them. But I don’t feel like making it easier for you. So I’ll just tell you the truth: to send to the penitentiary, your hero, your idol, your generous your guardian angel!”
“I have nothing to tell you, Ellsworth.”
“While you’re being shocked out of the last of your wits you’d hang on to enough to realize that you’re no match for me. You’ll talk if I want you to talk and I don’t feel like wasting time. Who designed Cortlandt?”
”I did.”
“Do you know that I’m an architectural expert?”
“I designed Cortlandt.”
“Like the Cosmo-Slotnick Building?”
“What do you want from me?”
“I want you on the witness stand, Petey. I want you to tell the story in court. Your friend isn’t as obvious as you are. I don’t know what he’s up to. That remaining at the scene was a bit too smart. He knew he’d be suspected and he’s playing it subtle. God knows what he intends to say in court. I don’t intend to let him get away with it. The motive is what they’re all stuck on. I know the motive. Nobody will believe me if I try to explain it. But you’ll state it under oath. You’ll tell the truth: You’ll tell them who designed Cortlandt and why.”
cross-exam“I designed it.”
“If you want to say that on the stand, you’d better do something about your muscular control. What are you shaking for?”
“Leave me alone.”
“Too late, Petey. Ever read Faust?”
“What do you want?”
“Howard Roark’s neck.”
“He’s not my friend. He’s never been. You know what I think of him.”
“I know, you God-damn fool! I know you’ve worshiped him all your life. You’ve knelt and worshiped, while stabbing him in the back. You didn’t even have the courage of your own malice. You couldn’t go one way or the other. You hated me—oh, don’t you suppose I knew it?—and you followed me. You loved him and you’ve destroyed him. Oh you’ve destroyed him all right, Petey; and now there’s no place to run, and you’ll have to go through with it!”
“What’s he to you? What difference does it make to you?”
gotcha“You should have asked that long ago. But you didn’t. Which means that you’ knew it. You’ve always known it. That’s what’s making you shake. Why should I help you lie to yourself? I’ve done that for ten years. That’s what you came to me for. That’s what they all come to me for. But you can’t get something for nothing. Ever. My socialistic theories to the contrary notwithstanding. You got what you wanted from me. It’s my turn now.”
“I won’t talk about Howard. You can’t make me talk about Howard.”
“No? Why don’t you throw me out of here? Why don’t you take me by the throat and choke me?  You’re much stronger than I am. But you won’t. You can’t. Do you see the nature of power, Petey? Physical power? Muscle or guns or money? You and Gail Wynand should get together. You have a lot to tell, him. Come on, Peter. Who designed Cortlandt?” .
“Leave me alone.”
“Who designed Cortlandt?”
“Let me go!”
“Who designed Cortlandt?”
“It’s worse … what you’re doing … it’s much worse .. .”
“Than what?”
“Than what I did to Lucius Heyer.”
“What did you do to Lucius Heyer?”
“I killed him.”
“What are you talking about?”
prisoner“That’s why it was better. Because I let him die.”
“Stop raving.”
“Why, do you want to kill Howard?”
“I don’t want to kill him. I want him in jail. You understand? In jail. In a cell. Behind bars. Locked, stopped, strapped-and alive. He’ll get up when they tell him to. He’ll eat what they give him. He’ll move when he’s told to move and stop when he’s told.  He’ll walk to the jute mill, when he’s told, and he’ll work as he’s told.. They’ll push him.. if he doesn’t move fast enough and they’ll slap his face when they feel like it, and they’ll beat him with rubber hose if he doesn’t obey. And he’ll obey. He’ll take orders. He’ll take orders!”
“Ellsworth!” Keating screamed. “Ellsworth!”
“You make me sick. Can’t you take the truth? No, you want your sugar-coating. That’s why I prefer Gus Webb. There’s one who has no illusions.”
Mrs. Keating threw the door open. She had heard the scream,
“Get out of here!” Toohey snapped at her.
She backed out, and Toohey slammed the door. ”
Keating raised, his head. “You have no right to talk to Mother
that way. She had nothing to do with you:
prisoner1“Who designed Cortlandt?”
Keating got up. He dragged his feet to a dresser, opened a drawer, took out a crumpled piece of paper and handed it to Toohey. It was his contract with Roark.  Toohey read it and, chuckled once, a dry snap of sound. Then he looked at Keating.
“You’re a complete success, Peter, as far as I’m concerned. But at times I have to want to turn away from the sight of my successes.”
Keating stood by the dresser, his shoulders slumped, his eyes empty.
“I didn’t expect you to have it in writing like that, with his signature. So that’s what he’s done for you—and this is what you do in return.  No, I take back the insults, Peter. You had to do it. Who are ‘you to reverse the laws of history? Do you know what, this paper is? The impossible perfect, the dream of the centuries, the aim of all guiltyof mankind’s great schools of thought. You harnessed him. You made him work for, you. You took his achievement, his reward, his money, his glory, his name. We only thought and wrote about it, You gave a practical demonstration. Every philosopher from Plato up should thank you. Here it is, the philosopher’s stone—for turning gold into lead. I should be pleased, but I guess I’m human and I can’t help it, I’m not pleased, I’m just sick. The others, Plato and all the rest, they really thought it would turn lead into gold. I knew the truth from the first. I’ve been honest with myself, Peter, and that’s the hardest form of honesty. The one you all run from at any price. And right now I don’t blame you, it is the hardest one; Peter.”
He sat down wearily and held the paper by the comers in both hands. He said:
“If you want to know how hard it is, I’ll tell you: right now I want to burn this paper. Make what you wish of that. I don’t claim too great a credit, because I know that tomorrow I’ll send this to the district attorney, Roark will never know it-and it
would make no difference to him if he knew—but in the truth of things, there was one moment when I wanted to burn this paper.”
lemmings_confession_560535He folded the paper cautiously and slipped it into his pocket. Keating followed his gestures, moving his whole head, like a kitten watching a ball on a string.
“You make me sick,” said Toohey. “God, how you make me sick, all you hypocritical sentimentalists! You go along with me, you spout what I teach you, you profit by it—but you haven’t the grace to admit to yourself what you’re doing. You turn green when you see the truth. I suppose that’s in the nature of your natures and that’s precisely my chief weapon—but God! I get tired of it. I must allow myself a moment free of you. That’s what I have to put on an act for all my life-for mean little mediocrities like you. To protect your sensibilities, your posturings, your conscience and the peace of the mind you haven’t got. That’s the price I pay for what I want but at least I know that I’ve got to pay it. And I have no illusions about the price or the purchase.”
“What do you … want … Ellsworth?”
dictator.jpeg“Power, Petey.”
There were steps in the apartment above, someone- skipping gaily, a few sounds on the ceiling as of four or five tap beats. The light fixture jingled and Keating’s head moved up in obedience. Then it came back to Toohey. Toohey was smiling, almost indifferently.
“You … always said … ” Keating began thickly, and stopped.
“I’ve always said just that. Clearly, precisely and openly. It’s not my fault if you couldn’t hear. You could, of course. You didn’t want to. Which was safer than deafness-for me. I said I intended to rule. Like all my spiritual predecessors. But I’m luckier than they were. I Inherited the fruit of their efforts and I shall be the one who’ll see the great dream made real. I see it all around me today. I recognize it. I don’t like it. I didn’t expect to like it. Enjoyment is not my destiny. I shall find such satisfaction as my capacity permits. I shall rule.”
“Whom … ?”
Chicken Soup For The Soul's Soul.“You. The world. It’s only a matter of discovering the lever. If you learn how to rule one single man ‘s soul, you can get the rest of mankind. It’s the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That’s why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can’t be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in; get your fingers on, it—and the man is yours. You won’t need a whip—he’ll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse-and his own mechanism will do your work for you. Use him against himself. Want to know how it’s done? See if I ever lied to you. See if you haven’t heard, all this for years, but didn’t want to hear, and the fault is yours, not mine, There are many ways. Here’s one. Make man feel small. Make him feel guilty. Kill his aspiration and his integrity. That’s difficult. The worst among you gropes for an ideal in his own twisted way. Kill integrity by internal corruption. Use, it against itself. Direct it toward a goal destructive of all integrity. Preach selflessness. Tell man that he must live for others. Tell men, that altruism is the ideal. Not a single one of them has ever achieved it and not a single one ever will. His every living instinct screams against it. But don’t you see what you accomplish? Man realizes that he’s incapable of what he’s accepted as, the noblest virtue and it gives him a sense of guilt, of sin, Of his own basic unworthiness. Since the supreme ideal is beyond his grasp, he gives up eventually all ideals, all aspiration; all sense of his personal value. He feels himself obliged to preach what he can’t practice. But one devilcan’t be good halfway or honest approximately. To preserve one’s integrity is a hard battle. Why preserve that which one knows to be corrupt already? His soul gives up its self-respect. You’ve got him. He’ll obey. He’ll be glad to obey because he can’t trust himself, he feels uncertain. He feels unclean. That’s one, way. Here’s another. Kill man’s sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. Great men can’t be ruled. We don’t want any great men. Don’t deny the conception of greatness: Destroy it-from within: The great is the rare, the difficult, the’ exceptional. Set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept-and you stop the impetus to effort in all men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence; to perfection. Laugh at Roark and hold Peter Keating as a great architect, You’ve destroyed architecture. Build up Lois Cook and you’ve destroyed literature. Hail Ike and you’ve destroyed the theater. Glorify Lancelot Clokey and you’ve destroyed the press. Don’t set out to raze all shrines—you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity—and the shrines are razed.
laughingdevilThen-there’s another way. Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It’s simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humor is an unlimited virtue. Don’t let anything remain sacred in a man’s soul and his soul won’t be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you’ve killed the hero in man. One doesn’t reverence with a giggle. He’ll obey and he’ll set no limits, to his obedience—anything goes—nothing is too serious.
Here’s another way. This is most important. Don’t allow men to be happy. Happiness is self-contained. and self-sufficient. Happy men have no time and no use for you. Happy men are free men. So kill their joy in living. Take away-from them whatever-is dear or important to.them. Never let them have what they want. Make them feel that the mere fact of a personal desire is evil. Bring them to a state where saying, ‘I want’ is no longer a natural right, but a shameful admission. Altruism is of great help in this. Unhappy men will come to you. They’ll need you. They’ll come for consolation, for-support, for escape. Nature allows no vacuum. Empty man’s soul—and the space is yours to fill. I don’t see why you should look so shocked, Peter. This is the oldest one of all.
Look back at history. Look at any great system of ethics, from the Orient up. Didn’t they all preach the sacrifice of personal joy? Under all the complications of verbiage, haven’t they all had a single leitmotif: sacrifice, renunciation, self-denial? Haven’t you been able to catch their theme song—’Give tip, give up, give up, give up’? Look at the moral atmosphere of today. Everything enjoyable, from cigarettes to sex to guiltambition to the profit motive, is considered depraved or sinful. Just prove that a thing makes men happy—and you’ve damned it. That’s how far we’ve come. We’ve tied happiness to guilt. And we’ve got mankind by the throat.—Throw your first-born into a sacrificial furnace-lie on a bed of nails-go into the desert to. mortify the flesh—don’t dance—don’t go to the movies on Sunday—don’t try to get rich—don’t smoke, don’t drink. It’s all the same line. The great line. Fools think that taboos of this nature are just nonsense. Something left over, old-fashioned. But there’s always a purpose in nonsense. Don’t bother to examine a folly. Ask yourself only what it accomplishes. Every system of ethics’ that preached sacrifice grew into a world power and filled millions, of men. Of course; you must dress it up. You must tell people that they’ll achieve a superior kind of happiness by giving up everything that makes them happy. You don’t have to be too clear about it. Use big vague words. ‘Universal Harmony’—’Eternal Spirit’— ‘Divine Purpose’ -— ‘Nirvana’— ‘Paradise’— ‘Racial Supremacy’—”The Dictatorship of the Proletariat.’  Internal corruption, Peter.
That’s the oldest one of all. The farce has been going on for centuries and men still fall for it. Yet the test should be so simple: just listen to any prophet and if you hear him speak of sacrifice-— run. Run faster than from a plague. It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice; there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master. But if ever you hear a man telling you that you must be happy, that it’s your natural right, that your first duty is to yourself—that will be the man who’s not after your soul. That will be the man who has nothing to gain from you. But let him come and you’ll scream your empty heads off, howling that he’s a selfish monster. So the racket is safe for many, many centuries. But here you might have noticed something. I said, ‘It stands to reason.’ Do you see? Men have a weapon against you. Reason. So you must be very sure to take it away from them. Cut the props from under it. But be careful. Don’t deny outright. Never deny anything outright, you give your hand away. Don’t say pursuithappinessreason is evil-though some have gone that far and with astonishing success. Just say that reason is limited. That there’s something above it. What? You don’t have to be too clear about it either. ‘The field’s inexhaustible. ‘Instinct’-— ‘Feeling’-— ‘Revelation’-— ‘Divine Intuition’-— Dialectic Materialism.’ If you get caught at some crucial point and somebody tells you that your doctrine doesn’t make sense-— you’re ready for him. You tell him that there’s something above sense.-— That here he must not try to think, he must feel. He must believe. Suspend reason and you play it deuces wild. Anything goes in any manner you wish whenever you need it. You’ve got him. Can you rule a thinking man? We don’t want any thinking men.”
Keating had sat down on the floor, by the side of the dresser; he had felt tired and he had simply folded his legs. He did not want to abandon the dresser; he felt safer, leaning against it; as -—  it still guarded the letter he had surrendered.
“Peter, you’ve heard all this. You’ve seen me practicing it for years. You see it being practiced allover the world. Why are you disgusted? You have no right to sit there and stare at me with virtuous superiority of being shocked. You’re in on it. You’ve
your share and you’ve got to go along. You’re afraid to see it’s leading. I’m not. I’ll tell submityou. The world of the future. The world I want. A world of obedience and of unity. A world the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought of the brain of his neighbor who’ll no thought of his own but an attempt to guess the thought next neighbor who’ll have no thought-— and so on, Peter, around
the globe. Since all must agree with all. A world where no man will hold a desire for himself, but will direct all his efforts to satisfy the desires of his neighbor who’ll have no desires except to satisfy the desires of the next neighbor who’ll have no
desires-—around the globe, Peter. Since all must serve all. A world in which man will not work for so innocent an incentive as money, but for that headless monster-prestige. The approval of his fellows-—their good opinion-—the opinion of men who’ll be allowed to hold no opinion. An octopus, all tentacles and no brain. Judgment, Peter! Not judgment, but public polls. An average drawn upon zeroes-—since no individuality will be permitted. A world with its motor cut off and a single heart, pumped by hand. My hand, and the hands of a few, a very few other men like me. Those who know what makes you tick-you great, wonderful average, you who have not risen in fury when we called you the average, the little, the common, you who’ve liked and accepted those names. You’ll sit enthroned and enshrined, you, the little people, the absolute ruler to make all past rulers squirm with envy, the absolute, the unlimited, God and Prophet and King combined. Vox populi. The average, the common, the general. Do you know the proper antonym for Ego? Bromide, Peter. The rule of the bromide. But even the trite has to be originated by someone at some time. We’ll do the originating. Vox dei. We’ll enjoy unlimited submission-from men who’ve learned nothing except to submit. We’ll call it ‘to serve.’ We’ll give out medals for service. You’ll fall over one another in a scramble to see who can submit better and more. There will be no other distinction to seek. No john_galt___atlas_shrugged_by_lightsofreasonother form of personal achievement. Can you see Howard Roark in the picture? No? Then don’t waste time on foolish questions. Everything that can’t be ruled, must go. And if freaks persist in being born occasionally, they will not survive beyond
their twelfth year. When their brain begins to function, it will feel the pressure and it will explode. The pressure gauged to a vacuum. Do you know the fate of deep-sea creatures brought out to sunlight? So much for future Roarks. The rest of you will smile and obey. Have you noticed that the imbecile always smiles? Man’s first frown is the first touch of God on his forehead. The touch of thought. But we’ll have neither God nor thought. Only voting by smiles. Automatic levers-all saying yes … Now if you were a little more intelligent-—like your ex-wife, for instance-—you’d ask: What of us, the rulers? What of me. Ellsworth Monkton Toohey? And I’d say, Yes, you’re right. I’ll achieve no more than you will. I’ll have no purpose save to keep you contented. To lie, to flatter you, to praise you, to inflate your vanity. To make speeches about the people and the common good. Peter, my poor old friend, I’m the most selfless man you’ve every known. I have less independence than you, whom I just forced to sell your soul. You’ve used people at least for the sake of what you could get from them for yourself. I want nothing for myself. I use people for the sake of what I can do to them. It’s my only function and satisfaction. I have no private purpose. I want power. I want my world of the future. Let all live for all. Let all sacrifice and none profit. Let all suffer and none enjoy. Let progress stop. Let all stagnate. There’s equality in stagnation. All subjugated to the will of all. Universal slavery-—without even the dignity of a master. Slavery to slavery. A great circle-—and a total equality. The world of the future.”
“Ellsworth … you’re …”
insane“Insane? Afraid to say it? There you sit and the world’s written all over you, your last hope. Insane? Look around you. Pick up any newspaper and read the headlines. Isn’t it coming? Isn’t it here? Every single thing I told you? Isn’t Europe swallowed already and we’re stumbling onto follow? Everything I said is contained in a single word-—collectivism. And isn’t that the god of our century? To act together .. To think-—together. To feel-—together. To unite, to agree, to obey. To obey, to serve, to sacrifice. Divide and conquer-—first. But then-—unite and rule. We’ve discovered that one at last. Remember the Roman Emperor who said he wished humanity had a single neck so he could cut it? People have laughed at him for centuries. But we’ll have the last laugh. We’ve accomplished what he couldn’t accomplish. We’ve taught men to unite. This makes one neck ready for one leash. We found the magic word. Collectivism. Look at Europe, you fool. Can’t you see past the guff and recognize the essence? One country is dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the collective is all. The individual held as evil, the mass-as God. No motive and no virtue permitted-except that of service to the proletariat. That’s one version. Here’s another. A country dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the State is all. The individual held as evil, the race-as God. No motive and no virtue’ permitted-—except that of service to the collectivismrace. Am I raving or is this the cold reality of two continents already? Watch the pincer movement. If you’re sick of one version, we push you into the other. We get you coming and going. We’ve closed the doors. We’ve fixed the coin. Heads-—collectivism, and tails-—collectivism. Fight the doctrine which slaughters the individual with a doctrine which slaughters the individual. Give up your soul to a council-—or give it up to a leader. -—But give it up, give it up, give it up. My technique, Peter. Offer poison as food and poison as antidote. Go fancy on the trimmings, but hang on to the main objective. Give the fools a choice, let them have their fun-—but don’t forget the only purpose you have to accomplish. Kill the individual. Kill man’s soul. The rest will follow automatically. Observe the state of the world as of the present moment. Do you still think I’m crazy, Peter?”
Keating sat on the floor, his legs spread out. He lifted one hand and studied his fingertips, then put it to his mouth and bit a hangnail. But the movement was deceptive; the man was reduced to a single sense, the sense of hearing, and Toohey knew that no answer could be expected.
submittooheyKeating waited obediently; it seemed to make no difference; the sounds had stopped and it was now his function to wait until they started again. Toohey put his hands on the arms of his chair” then lifted his palms” from the wrists, and clasped the, wood again, a little slap of resigned finality. He pushed himself up to his feet. ‘
“Thank you, Peter,” he said gravely. “Honesty is a hard thing to eradicate. I have made speeches to large audiences all my life. This was the speech I’ll never have a chance to make.”
Keating lifted his head. His voice had the quality of a down payment on terror; it was not frightened, but it held the advance echoes of the next hour to come:
“Don’t go, Ellsworth.”
Toohey stood over him, and laughed softly. “That’s the answer, Peter. That’s my proof. You know me for what I am, you know what I’ve done to you, you have no illusions of virtue left. But you can’t leave me and you’ll never be able to leave me. You’ve obeyed me in the name of ideals. You’ll go on obeying me without ideals. Because that’s all you’re good for now …. Good night, Peter.” 

 


Links

Morality in Popular Fiction

blackbeautySociety has many ways of conditioning its members to embrace its core values. Flat out preaching only leads to resistance. Conditioning is so subtle, we hardly know it’s happening. Of course parents and teachers play a big role. But entertainment also plays a vital role. When I was a child, reading was still a major source by which we are informed and entertained. Core moral values are so deeply embedded in the character of a culture, we hardly know they even exist.Who remembers when s/he “learned” s/he owed other people so much loyalty and concern? It was taken for granted.

lassieAs a child, I read the books written for kids of my age group. Many favorites existed in serial form. There was Heidi, Black Beauty, Sue Barton, Student Nurse and Lassie. The main character always had challenges in hir life and we would be at the edge of our chairs, breathlessly waiting to find out what was going to happen. Since kids are usually at the mercy of caregivers, usually parents, the main characters in children’s books were as well. Most kids identify with the main character although some laugh at their pain.

 


louisStories read by adults are more nuanced as to the moral character of the folks we read about. The characters are divided into “good” and “bad.” The reader is led to identify with the “good” ones. But the sympathetic characters are killers (Interview With the Vampire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Interestingly, one is a vampire but he is tormented with guilt. The other is a vampire slayer. A lot of attention is given to stressing that Buffy only “slays” vampires, not people. She keeps reminding us that “a slayer isn’t a killer.” The two words really mean the same thing but Buffy makes a distinction between who or what is being killed. Both Louis and Edward are vampires who choose not to kill humans. They kill animals which is OK with them. Harry Potter kills nobody. Even in the final showdown with Voldemort, he doesn’t kill his foe. Voldemort’s killing spell is automatically deflected from Harry and turned on him.

Ever since Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice, I have been a fan of popular fictional series. Of course, Interview wasn’t a series in the beginning. It was a lovely gem of a novel. Only later on, did Anne Rice write a sequel which led to further sequels. Her vampire series joined another series she had written about a family of witches. I actually have friends now whom I met as a result of our collective love of these series.

Since Anne Rice, there have been more series. Harry Potter is read and loved all over the world. Many of these books have been made into movies. Another series started and finished as a TV series. I’m talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Twilight was another trilogy of novels that became movies. Another TV series that I would exclude from my forthcoming discussion is Sex and the City, which is refreshingly free of moralizing. The rest, not so much.

Interview With the Vampire

interviewInterview introduced the abomination of a vampire with a conscience. Eeeuuuuwwww! How gross is that? I don’t have a conscience but I also don’t have the supernatural powers of a vampire. What I could do with that! But lots of readers just fell in love with Louis. Poor thing! He “fed” on rats rather than take human life, happy in the assumption that human life is sacred and animal life expendable. My friends and I spent hours, days, weeks, months, years debating issues of morality that came up in the Vampire Chronicles. Louis’ foil was Lestat, the vampire who gave him the “dark gift” and made him into a vampire. Lestat was free of any such pesky thing as a conscience. He manipulated Louis by making a little girl into a vampire to give Louis someone to love and care for. That way, Louis would stay with him and be his lessor half, a partner Lestat could control. The little girl, Claudia, was as amoral as Lestat. Both Claudia and Lestat died in the end. Lestat was reborn in the following novel, called The Vampire Lestat.

claudiaSince he was now the hero of this novel, Lestat was somewhat redeemed. He only killed “evil doers” it turned out. Interestingly, in the movie, Lestat said he killed “evil doers” because they tasted better. Hollywood must have realized how lame it was to make a vampire so pro social. If Lestat only killed the evil doers because they tasted better, he could still be amoral. But Anne Rice had to make vampires “good” or, at least, not so bad. Another vampire who had a big following among readers was Armand. He, it turned out, only killed those who longed for death.  No evil predators here.


Twilight

bellaandedwardJust like Interview, Twilight features a vampire who only kills animals because he doesn’t want to be a “monster.” He disapproves of vampires and resists strenuously Bella’s request to be made one. He finally gives in but Bella is a “good” vampire, only killing animals (mostly mountain lions). The vampires in Twilight don’t sleep but they can have sex. Edward restrains his sexual desires for Bella through the first three novels. Finally, in the fourth book, after they are married, Edward is persuaded to try it with Bella while she is still mortal. They both love it but Edward is tormented by a few bruises on Bella’s arm. When she is impregnated, Edward is filled with self-loathing. Bella’s heroic insistence on going through with the pregnancy despite the fact that a half-vampire fetus is incompatible with her body could be a shout-out to the pro life movement although she is actually exercising choice in her decision to have the baby. But once the baby is born and Bella made into a vampire, she and Edward are able to enjoy sex with abandon, finally. Bella, of course, refrains from killing humans.


Harry Potter

harry_intenseHarry Potter was an orphan living with a family who hated and abused him, a classic tale of an underdog.  The story begins when he learns that his true identity is that of a wizard who is loved by a whole community he hadn’t known even existed. What’s more, he is a champion of good people against an evil wizard, Lord Voldemort. Harry goes to Hogwarts, the school for witches and wizards where he encounters both good and evil people but stays firmly on the side of the good.

Harry is sorted into Gryffindor, the house associated with heroism. He is tested early with choices. Draco Malfoy, who becomes Harry’s enemy, is sorted into Slytherin, the house that is considered evil although they won’t come out and say so. Harry has to choose between loyalty to his new friend, Ron Weasley, another Gryffindor, and Draco.

But what is “good” in Harry Potter and what is “evil?” Well, the Slytherins cheat at sports and look down on people. Gryffindors are fair and inclusive. But Harry is better than even the average Gryffindor. His goodness amounts to selflessness and takes the form of his not wanting anyone to risk any harm on his own behalf. Since he was their hero against the evil wizard, Voldemort, it was necessary that the others protected his life above their own. He was their best hope of survival. But he immediately tried to veto the idea of a group of them disguising themselves as Harry to distract from the real one so he could get away safely.

“No!” he said loudly, his voice ringing through the kitchen. “No way!”

“I told them you’d take it like this,” said Hermione with a hint of complacency.

“If you think I’m going to let six people risk their lives — !”

polyjuiceThe polyjuice potion with part of another person mixed in would turn the drinker into an exact replica of that person. Naturally, Harry being so saintly, “the potion began to froth and smoke, then, all at once, it turned into a clear, bright gold.” They reached safety with a great deal of trouble and at the expense of some lives. Yet, in his place of safety, Harry said, “I can’t stay here.” The whole point of the exodus they had just been through was to get him there and, Mr. Selfless immediately wanted to leave, not for his own sake, of course, but because he couldn’t stand anyone endangering himself for him. Later, Dumbledore tells Harry that is is “a remarkably selfless person.” Selflessness is the philosopher’s stone as it is in each of these series I am discussing.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer

buffyBuffy is a typical teenager until once day her dharma is thrust upon her. She is the “chosen one,” the Slayer. There is one out of every generation, yada yada. She, alone, has to fight the vampires and demons. When one slayer dies, another one is called. Why one has to fight all of them is never explained. Plain unfair, in my opinion. Furthermore, she is not allowed to reveal her sacred identity to anyone else except her “Watcher,” a man from the Watcher’s Council that supervises the whole thing. Somehow, Buffy’s secret mission becomes known to a small circle of friends who work with her to help her slay vampires and demons. Every year, her foes become more dangerous and harder to overcome until, in the fifth year, she comes up against Glory who is more than a demon. gloryShe is a god. Glory came from a hell dimension and is now exiled from that dimension. What’s more, she has to share the body of a nice man, Ben, who only wants to be a doctor and help people. The body is under the control of each of them alternatively. Neither one can control when the other one will take control. Glory wants to return to her hell dimension where she can reign again. There is a key that can unlock the door between dimensions. An group of monks has taken possession of the key. They have “pressed” it into the form of a teenage girl, Buffy’s sister, Dawn. They imprinted false memories of this sister on everyone who knows Buffy, including her mother and friends. Dawn also has these false memories and has no idea what she really is. An order of knights thinks the key is unspeakably dangerous and their mission is to destroy it. In the beginning, nobody knows the truth about Dawn but they find out. Buffy is set to protect Dawn both from Glory and the knights who want to destroy her.

dawnWe are never told why the monks created a human being out of the “key.” I think the knights are right. The key is dangerous. It can turn the universe into a place of torment when the different dimensions “bleed” into each other. To get back to her dimension, Glory has to perform a ritual where she slowly bleeds Dawn on a certain day and time. If Dawn were to die quickly, the walls between the dimensions will only be down briefly and the universe will be able to heal. But Glory wants Dawn to bleed slowly to give her time to get back to her dimension. It’s obvious that, once the ritual starts, a quick death for Dawn is the only hope for everybody. Otherwise, everyone will suffer horribly, including Dawn. Even Dawn realizes this. But glory1Buffy is possessed with the idea that she is going to protect Dawn to the end, even if it means destruction for the universe. Giles, her watcher, says at one point, that he is proud that she always follows her “heart.” Despite this, even Giles knows Dawn must die to prevent chaos and torment. But Buffy irrationally follows her heart and says, “Then the last thing she will see is me protecting her.” In the end, it turns out Buffy has another alternative. She can die in Dawn’s place since the monks made Dawn’s blood out of hers. That really makes no sense since Dawn is already bleeding and Buffy’s suicide won’t make her stop bleeding. But never mind that. Buffy’s suicide is accepted as the way the world got saved. Dawn’s life is spared, she goes on living while Buffy is honored as a martyr.

Finally, we have the Twilight series about a whole family of vampires who refuse to kill humans and live off the blood of animals.


What’s the Message?

slytherinThese series are entertaining but they are also conveying a message(s) about right and wrong. In every case, we are confronted with a being who has supernatural powers. In every case, the powerful being, be s/he a vampire or a hero or a wizard, has a conscience that limits hir use of power. The idea that human life is worth more than animal life is seen in Interview, Buffy, and Twilight. Harry Potter introduces us to the value of “selflessness.” But it’s not all that new. We have been told from day one that selfishness is bad and selflessness good.

Most of us have been told by adults to be “unselfish.” We are urged to share our toys and restrain our desires for the sake of others. These novels reinforce all those messages. It is therefore interesting to note that a significant number of Harry Potter fans decide to side with those characters who are clearly marked as the bad guys. I congratulate those people on their independence of mind.

Hogwarts and Psychopathy

This started out as a discussion of whether Albus Dumbledore was a psychopath. I didn’t think so and I still don’t but my blog has expanded to the larger question of who in Harry Potter was a psychopath and on basic questions of theology/metaphysics. This is by no means an exhaustive discussion of the topic. I haven’t even touched upon Snape. Oh, well… — Yours truly.

dumbledore


James, blogging on No Psychos, No Druggies, No Stooges, wrote Psychopaths Are Awesome/Psychopaths Are Terrible. In the comments section, James suggested something that seemed very far-fetched to me at the time…

Frances Nowve 11:30 on August 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply

Great topic. If you want some more ammo for the Psychopaths are Awesome, try http://www.kiasherosjourney.com/psychopathy.html [My note: The url no longer exists. But this blog, Cluster B, takes up where the other left off.]

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  • James 08:38 on August 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

    I’ve actually read the damn thing now, Frances, and it’s good. Really good. I’ve often wondered what an older psychopath would sound like and the answer is “wise”. Let me ask you a question, what do you think of Professor Dumbledore as a psychopath? One who has chosen the ‘good’ (which of course he changes the definition of throughout his life), as in your article.

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    • Frances Nowve 13:10 on August 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Well Dumbledore was into that whole “for the greater good” thing. But he broke with Grindelwald when his sister died. I think he probably was a narc and Grindelwald a psychopath. Both were totally grandiose but Dumbledore was more inclined to be the great benefactor and Grindelwald more into the power of their great plans. Dumbledore drew back from his grandiose plans when he saw someone get hurt. He refused to become Minister of Magic because he no longer thought he could be trusted with great power. He showed remorse there. But I think he made a great narc. Lots of narcissistic supply as headmaster of Hogwarts.

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      • James 13:25 on August 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, and of course he played out his desire for power on a smaller scale, with the school in general, but more particularly with Harry, Snape and Fudge, even Voldemort I suppose was like a fun chess game. I can see him not being overly concerned with how ‘evil’ Grindelwald and Voldy were; he only acted against them when he thought his interests (his status as most powerful wizard in Britain / Europe) threatened.

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dumbledore-grindelwaldAs an avid fan of Harry Potter, I had thought a lot about Dumbledore and even wrote a post about him on another blog, House of Slytherin. The blog was called The Big Picture. It is based almost entirely on the last book of the series, Book 7, HP and the Deathly Hallows. As I said in that post, finding out that Dumbledore wasn’t a perfect saint certainly made him more interesting to me. I can well relate to his intellectual gyrations with Grindelwald. Wizards certainly did have more power than muggles and why should they have to hide instead of using the superior power that they albusgellertnaturally owned to choose how they wanted to live? Dumbledore insisted that wizards take power For the Greater Good instead of just for their own self-interest. In this way, he showed narcissistic traits. Narcs always want to see themselves as great benefactors in one way or another. Although grandiosity is more readily associated with narcissism, in a way, ‘paths are more grandiose in that we don’t need the world to admire us. We can admit to not giving a damn, including not caring what people think of us. James mentions Dumbledore acting “when he thought his interests (his status as most powerful wizard in Britain / Europe) threatened.” Dumbledore really cared about his status in the eyes of others. Of course, even Voldemort showed some interest in how he was perceived or else why did he insist on fighting Harry one-on-one to prove his might? It’s hard to be completely indifferent to how the world sees us. Even a blog like my own reveals an interest in how I look to the world.

dumbledorepotionBut more significant is how one relates to guilt or the absence thereof. When Dumbledore drank the potion that was guarding a horcrux, he broke down

…he sank to his knees, shaking uncontrollably.

“It’s all my fault, all my fault,” he sobbed. “Please make it stop, I know I did wrong, oh please make it stop and I”ll never, never again … ” … “Don’t hurt them, don’t hurt them, please, please, it’s my fault, hurt me instead…”


aberforth.jpgOf course, the very fact that he insisted on drinking that potion instead of letting Harry drink it showed a willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good of the world. This was the mature Dumbledore whose idea of what that term really meant had developed far past his youthful vision. As I discussed in my other essay on Dumbledore, he and Aberforth represented two different approaches. Aberforth’s kindness, his nurturing empathetic approach was highly personal. He could love his sister in the flesh. It was kind of motherly, the ability to focus so much energy into meeting the needs of a actual person. Albus focused on the larger picture. Freeing the world from the tyranny of Voldemort certainly helped more people than Aberforth ever could. Each cared for others in his own way. Neither was a psychopath.

gellert2Grindelwald was more likely a psychopath. Not only did he show no conscience, he was a joyous person. “Harry could still see the blond-haired youth’s face; it was merry, wild; there was a Fred and George-ish air of triumphant trickery about him. He had soared from the windowsill like a bird…” After he lost the dual with Dumbledore, Grindelwald was imprisoned in Nurmengard. Prison hadn’t been good to Grindelwald. When Voldemort finally caught up with him,

grindelwald_nurmengardThe emaciated figure stirred beneath its thin blanket and rolled over toward him, eyes opening in a skull of a face. . . . The frail man sat up, great sunken eyes fixed upon him, upon Voldemort, and then he smiled. Most of his teeth were gone…

“So, you have come. I thought you would … one day. But your journey was pointless. I never had it.”

Ravaged by time and hardship, Grindelwald was defiant and unbroken.

deathly-hallows-harry-potter-horcrux-locket-ravenclaw-Favim.com-306623There is an irony involved with the whole issue of wizards dominating muggles. Although, individually, wizards were a lot more powerful, there was also the question of power among wizards. As a group wizards could control muggles as a group. But the wizards had to decide how to go about it. The Elder Wand could make immense difference in what wizard reigned supreme over the other wizards. The struggle for power among wizards got all tangled up in issues like horcruxes or deathly hallows. In the end, only one person could reign supreme. Voldemort was forced to kill the man he thought was his most loyal follower in order to get the Elder Wand to obey him.

Rowling depicted Voldemort’s spirit after his death in pathetic terms.

voldemortdeadIt had the form of a small, naked child, curled on the ground, its skin raw and rough, flayed-looking, and it lay shuddering under a seat where it had been left, unwanted, stuffed out of sight, struggling for breath.

He was afraid of it. Small and fragile and wounded though it was, he did not want to approach it. Nevertheless he draw slowly nearer, ready to jump back at any moment. Soon he stood near enough to touch it, yet he could not  bring himself to do it. He felt like a coward. He ought to comfort it, but it repulsed him.

“You cannot help.” [Dumbledore said.]

caduceusHere, I find a fundamental difference between Rowling’s philosophy and my own. I look to a universe in which everything is reconciled. The idea that anything and/or any person should be irredeemable strikes me as a Christian idea in which “good” and “evil” are diametric opposites never to be reconciled with one and other. I reject this notion with my most basic core. Someone once asked Athena Walker if she thought she was “evil.” “Evil, for having been born?” she replied. I see “evil” as a subjective value of our finite consciousness. So much of our own self-interest is invested in our notion of “evil.”

If Voldemort ended up in such a wretched condition, what about Grindelwald? Rowling/Dumbledore provided a way out of that dilemma.

remorse“They say he showed remorse in later years, alone in his cell at Nurmengard. I hope that it is true. I would like to think he did feel the horror and shame of what he had done. Perhaps that lie to Voldemort was his attempt to make amends … to prevent Voldemort from taking the Hallow …”

“..or maybe from breaking into your tomb?” suggested Harry, and Dumbledore dabbed his eyes.

damnationPrecious remorse! And, without it, I suppose we are irredeemable? Well, Rowling probably believes so. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that, if “God” exists and “He” damns a single soul, “He” is evil. I can’t accept a wise and “loving” God whose love is weaker than our human categories. There is more in Heaven and Earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy. It’s was good enough for Shakespeare and it’s good enough for me.

Who Are the Good Guys?

evilpsychopathsI have already talked about People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, M.D., who subtitled his book The Hope for Healing Human Evil. As a psychopath, I am used to being called “evil.” Even those who are too politically and scientifically correct to use the word “evil,” seem to mean the same thing using more neutral language. For example, Tina Taylor, author of No Psychos, No Druggies, No Stooges, said, “Psychopathy is a neurological disorder that makes them extremely self-serving, with little empathy and no conscience. This means that they will take advantage of you to no end.” For that reason, Ms.Taylor thinks we should give all politicians a brain scan to keep psychopaths from running for office.

bundySince only 1% of the population is psychopathic, all the evil in the world can’t be our fault. Empaths sin plenty. The only difference is that they feel guilty for their sins. Does that make them better people? What would their victims say? And sometimes, they justify their crimes. When they are avenging someone for whom they have empathy, they probably feel righteous. But the bible says otherwise…


None is righteous, no, not one;

swastikaWhy are there mass killings in such seemingly benign places as schools? Why did the Nazis bring about a holocaust? Why do some people become serial killers and murder innocent victims, some with real viciousness? Why is there evil in the world? Yet most people think they are good. We Americans are a “shining city on the hill.” Other countries do evil. But we are the good guys. Psychopaths are “social predators” but the rest of “us” are nice people. Aren’t “we?”

The Slaughter of Native Americans Was the U.S.’s Original Stand Your Ground. “The sandcreekmasacreAmerican Indians lost nearly 98% of their land to what one Internet site called the American ‘conquest’. There’s no other word for it. Americans came to an occupied land and conquered the rightful owners of that land, killing millions in the process. The government then banished those rightful owners to concentration camps called reservations.” I was taught in school that the settlers’ farms destroyed wilderness which had been a hunting ground for the Natives. This created conflict, hence the warfare between the “Indians” and the settlers. We read about unfortunate “misunderstandings” where settlers, wishing to be kind, gave the “Indians” blankets which had been used by people with measles. Only the disease was smallpox, not measles. That this was really intentional germ warfare is indicated by a quote

Sir Jeffrey Amherst, commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, wrote to Colonel Henry Bouquet at Fort Pitt:

“You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians [with smallpox] by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method, that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”

Consequently, settlers spread smallpox to the Native Americans by distributing blankets previously owned by contagious patients.

Atrocities Against Native Americans

 

scalping-harm-incitingIndians” were known to scalp hapless white settlers. Well, after all, they were just savages who didn’t know better. That is what I was raised to believe. Now, I am finding out that it was the white man who scalped the indigenous people! Not the other way around. “Colonists were paid for each Penobscot Native they killed – fifty pounds for adult male scalps, twenty-five for adult female scalps, and twenty for scalps of boys and girls under age twelve. These proclamations explicitly display the settlers’ ‘intent to kill’, a major indicator of genocidal acts.”

buffalobill
Buffalo Bill

I was first apprised of this fact by a Native American I happened to work with. I found it hard to believe as I expect many readers of this blog will also have trouble believing. After all. They are the savages. Not us. We are civilized. How deep does our “civilization” really go? The novel, Lord of the Flies, depicts a fictional group of English schoolboys who find themselves stranded on an island and quickly revert to “savagery.” Although I know of no “savage” tribe that would willfully destroy it’s entire environment to catch one fugitive. But there was no history of scalping in Europe before they came to the Americas. They must have learned the practice from the Natives and then practiced it against them in retaliation? Isn’t that so?

Dartmouth’s Calloway said it is unclear whether New England tribes took scalps before contact with Europeans. At least two tribal spokesmen say theirs did not.

Mashantucket Pequot spokesman Buddy Gwin says scalping “was not a practice traditional to first nations peoples” until becoming “a retaliatory act” against colonists.

John Brown, who is tribal historical-preservation officer for Rhode Island’s Narragansett Indians, said that bodily mutilation was considered “dishonorable” until it was “learned” from Europeans in the mid-17th century.

Atrocities Against Native Americans

 

 

dahmerfridge
Dahmer’s fridge

Even more grisly, is an account I got from a book called An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:

 

Worse, after the smoke had cleared, they had returned and finished off the few survivors while scalping and mutilating the corpses—women and men, young and old, children, babies. Then they decorated their weapons and caps with body parts—fetuses, penises, breasts, and vulvas—and, in the words of Acoma poet Simon Ortiz, “Stuck them / on their hats to dry / Their fingers greasy / and slick.”1 Once back in Denver, they displayed the trophies dahmerto the adoring public in Denver’s Apollo Theater and in saloons.

But that’s depraved! Cutting out fetuses? Vulvas? It reads like an account of a serial murder. But those people are psychopaths. What other kind of person would commit such a grisly murder? These were “normal” and respectable Americans. Our ancestors.


As countries go, the sainted United States certainly is as bad as any. I’ve been banging on about the genocide of Native Americans and haven’t even mentioned the practice of slavery primarily against Africans kidnapped for that purpose. Blacks are still not equal and, if the alt.right and Trump have their way, they never will be. Prisons for profit are a biblemodern way in which the system perpetuates slavery of blacks to this day. And that doesn’t even cover the slaughter of non-whites all over the world. My first response was, “No wonder we have mass killings. We have always been a violent, cruel nation.” But so many other countries have equally shocking pasts. Nations obliterate each other all the time. There was an inquisition that couldn’t have been so pretty. The sun never set on the British empire. Now we have Israel doing to the Palestinians what American settlers did to the indigenous Americans. And the US is still killing people all over the world. Even the “liberal” Obama killed civilians with drones. Maybe the bible is right. Certainly, there are decent people. But we accept evil so easily as long as it’s made to look not-so-bad. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?


Footnote

  1. See Unrau, Indians, Alcohol, and the Roads to Taos and Santa Fe.

 

Adelyn Birch

psychopathsandloveIt’s funny that the area in life where psychopaths are most often accused of harming people is in love relationships. There are many blogs or websites for “victims” of psychopaths. I call the owners “haters” because of the way they talk about us. What makes Adelyn Birch different (meaning better)?

  1. She is genuinely creative and I don’t mean with facts. I mean, she is artistic. She has some hauntingly beautiful images on her site.
  2. Unlike some people, she isn’t using her site, Psychopaths and Love, as a money-making device, selling classes and the like. Well, she does sell her books but only in a low-key way.
  3. What makes her special, is that Adelyn Birch really gets it. She has an understanding of psychopaths one would hardly expect of a self-proclaimed victim of “psychopathic abuse.”

night-697702_640-400x250By way of introduction, she wrote, “I’m a woman who experienced firsthand what I write about — victimization by a high-functioning, sub-criminal psychopath who involved me in a relationship that caused a great deal of harm.” It was such a major event in her life that she devoted years of time and effort to help others deal with experiences that were similar to her own. I would have liked to open a dialog but there doesn’t seem to be a way to contact her. I am writing this blog post because I wanted to communicate with Adelyn directly. If you see this, Adelyn, I am speaking to you.

Adelyn’s literary output includes: Psychopaths and Love, More Psychopaths and Love, 202 Ways to Spot a Psychopath, 30 Covert Emotional Tactics. I must confess, I have not read any of them. Maybe I will some day but for now, her blog is enough.


Charm

The most stunning area of insight Ms. Birch displays is that of charm. I wrote something about this which few writers have displayed awareness of. My post, What’s So Charming About Psychopaths, noted,

What does the psychopath have that is special? The psychopath is truly interested in the object of his attention. He doesn’t put women in a box where every woman is womenwholovepsychopathsand just sees her as every-woman. He is curious, interested and has penetrating vision that goes right to the core of a person. As a woman who has dated many, many men, I can tell you this is a rare quality.

I have a dual perspective. Not only am I a psychopath, I have loved a few as well. Not much has ever been said about path-path relationships but they exist. I’m not the only one. I guess I am one of those Women Who Love Psychopaths. That is the title of a book by Sandra L. Brown. This is another book I haven’t read but maybe I should.

Adelyn Birch’s article about charm, Charm and the Psychopath, explains

First, the psychopath has zero distractions, which is extremely unusual. Again, he has the intense focus of a predator on his prey. Unlike a normal person meeting someone new, he’s not bothered by things like social anxiety, self-doubt and insecurity. Those things don’t exist for him, so they don’t get in the way. In other charmingpsychopathwords, the psychopath is not lost in his or her head like most of us are, thinking thoughts that prevent us from being totally present and prevent us from really connecting with another person. Of course we do connect with others, but It usually takes some time to feel we’ve connected deeply. But the psychopath is able to create that connection — actually, the illusion of that connection — quickly, sometimes in just a couple of minutes.

OK. She couldn’t resist putting the usual junk about “predators” and calling the connection an “illusion.” But the main point is in our focus which is 100%.

When the psychopath’s high-beam of charm is on you, he is absolutely present. When that presence is focused on you, it’s fascinating. Charming, actually. And we’re simply not used to that level of “presence.” We’re not used to being the subject of such intensely focused attention, and that is very compelling in and of itself.

samvakninThat is so much more to the point than the usual junk about love bombing. Speaking of focus, Sam Vaknin offered additional insight into the difference between a narcissist and a psychopath by way of body language. The narcissist maintains his separate space, as if to avoid contamination with lesser beings around him. While the narc sits back, the psychopath leans in. The narc talks about himself. The psychopath wants to learn about you. The narc might impress and intimidate you but the psychopath welcomes you in. As Adelyn Birch says, “The reason the psychopath can focus so powerfully on you is that he’s not in his head — he’s in yours.


Idealize, Devalue, Discard

boredHaters, or “victims’ advocates” are always repeating the above formula like a mantra. But Ms. Birch also has an explanation for the abrupt way some of our relationships end. “When the psychopath I was involved with discarded me, he was enraged. With a voice full of anger and contempt, he shouted, ‘You bore me! I’m done with you!’”
Why the rage, she wondered. Her answer: “I didn’t sorryknow it at the time, but my former ‘soul mate’ was jonesing for some dopamine.” Boredom is agony for psychopaths. When we are fascinated by a new person, still discovering whatever is mysterious and unknown about that person, we are not bored. Birch thinks our focus on the other, which Birch calls prey, is simply about power. But she belies that simplistic idea with her analysis of our dopamine response and our aversion to boredom. The world can be a very small, flat place. As hippies would say, we are old souls. Been there. Done that. Looking for something new. Each new relationship offers bored1the promise of new discoveries. The rage of Birch’s ex can be understood in terms of his realization that there was nothing more to learn about her. It also explains why one of my exes told me he realized I was “a taker, not a giver.” He had nothing more to learn about me, or so he thought. You know the story about the princess who kisses a toad and he turns into a handsome prince? This is the story of kissing a prince and seeing him turn toadinto a toad. The magic was in the mystery, the unknown. Without the magic, we are back in the mundane world. Not that we can’t maintain long-term relationships. But these become more like friendships. Adelyn Birch deserves credit for recognizing the fact that we are focused on reward and dopamine.


Conscience

woconscienceIt’s a well-known truism that we don’t have a conscience. Adelyn, echoing the sentiments of many other NTs, finds it incredible, almost unbelievable. “IMAGINE, for a moment, being a psychopath. Try to imagine not having a conscience. What would that be like? You would not have any feelings of guilt, shame or remorse, no matter how immoral or even heinous an action you’d taken. Imagine having no concern for anyone, not even friends or family. Imagine that the ideas of ‘responsibility’ and ‘commitment’ are foreign to you, except as things that stupid fools believe in.” She sounds just like Martha Stout in the introduction to The Sociopath Next Door. “Imagine — if you can — not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or maskremorse no matter what you do no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends or even family members.” I have trouble imagining the opposite but it doesn’t look like anything I’d want to be saddled with. These NTs seem astonished at our ability to act like them to “fit in.” Parents and teachers are very helpful in this. I was forever being told how I should be. The lessons were delivered with so much emotional intensity that I knew I didn’t dare be myself in front of them. They don’t seem to realize that the “mask” is for their comfort as much as it is for any desire to “get over” on them. I have felt like an outlaw since I was born.


Identity

buddhaIn Eastern religions, enlightenment is often seen as liberation from ego, in other words, attachment to a limited identity. Psychopaths already have that state effortlessly. I have noticed many psychopaths are pan-sexual, in other words, free to experiment with any and all sexual expressions. So many of us are kinky and switchable (both dominant and submissive). Adelyn goes a step further and says we have no gender. “After my involvement with the psychopath, I got the strange feeling that he didn’t really have a gendergender. When I learned that psychopaths have no identity — they only create one as needed — it started to make perfect sense.” Rather than no identity, I would say we have a fluid identity. There is at least one transgendered psychopath. I wanted to be a boy when I was a kid like many other girls. When I hit puberty, I embraced my given gender. I’m glad that I didn’t have the option to “transition” when I was so young. It would have been a mistake. I think society needs to accept the fact that male and female each have  a wide range of possibilities. If more people saw things that way, fewer would need to transition to their “true” gender.


Adelyn

tunnel-vision-212923_640While the most savy and aware of all the pro-victim gurus on the web, Adelyn Birch certainly does look down on us. She shares many of the delusions of the rest of her tribe. She accepts as fact the belief of those who have loved and lost that they were victims of a psychopath. There is an unfortunate tendency to identify bad with psychopathic. These victims’ sites promote such delusions. Every single one of them offers guidelines for  “spotting” a psychopath. Adelyn certainly understands us better than most. But she is reactive to having been hurt and that keeps her from seeing things objectively. While I have a rather jaundiced eye for psychiatrists and psychologists and think they are often wrong, the laypeople are even more likely to err in diagnosing this condition. Adelyn is very kind of her “fellow victims,” many of whom seem to have severe self-esteem issues (no doubt the fault of “their” psychopath). She helps them recover. The world suffers from much delusional thinking. Hoping for (but not expecting) a recovery.