Emotional Capacities and Sensitivity in Psychopaths

Out of everyone, Martens seems to understand us. Perhaps he is one of us…

http://www.goertzel.org/dynapsyc/2003/psychopaths.htm

Emotional Capacities and Sensitivity in Psychopaths

Willem H. J. Martens, MD, PhD
Director of the “W. Kahn Institute of Theoretical Psychiatry and Neuroscience.”
Beatrixstraat 45, 3921 BN Elst Utrecht, The Netherlands
WimmartensW@netscape.net.

Although psychopaths demonstrate emotional abnormalities such as shallow affect, lack of empathy, incapacity for love, lack of guilt or remorse, lack of fear, and emotional processing and response deficiencies they may show normal emotional responses or emotional hypersensitive in other areas. The correlates of emotional incapacities, emotional hypersensitivity, and normal emotional activities in psychopaths are studied and discussed in this paper. Emotional hypersensitivity might be linked with: a history of neglect, rejection and abuse; insult; changes which are forced or not under control of the psychopath; obstacles that prevent the psychopath to do what he or she wants to do; narcissistic injury; broken friendships or relationship. Normal emotional functioning might be associate with grief, warm relationship, adequate attention, disease, academic and/or occupational success, impressive events, confrontations, contemplation and maturation, hidden suffering (also as a result of neurobiological determination).

1. Introduction
According to Cleckley (1984) the psychopath is able to reproduce the “pantomime” of emotions, without experiencing the emotions itself. But, the author suggests that adequate reproduction of pantomime of emotions requires understanding of the meaning and logic of emotions in specific contexts, and that this is quite remarkable for someone who is not experiencing the emotions itself. The processing of emotional expressions is fundamental for normal socialization and interaction. Adequate emotional functioning requires a) self-consciousness, b) a Self that evaluates changes by means of self-observation and reflection, and c) a cognitive ability to observe, discern, associate, compare, and revoke (Hales et al., 1994). Emotional condition refers to internal processes, which are connected with somatic and physiological activity. It correlates also with observable changes in face, voice, body and activity levels that occurs when the central nervous system is activated by emotional salient stimuli (Lewis & Michelson, 1983). Psychopathy is characterized by emotional deficiencies and correlated neurobiological dysfunctions (Martens, 2002), and abnormal internal and intrapsychic processes (Martens, 1997, 2002c), and severe socialization problems (Martens, 2000; Cleckley, 1984). Martens (1997, 2000) revealed that a history of rejection; neglect; physical and sexual abuse; parental antisocial behavior, – substance abuse, and – divorce; adoption; and a bad and unsafe neighborhood might be linked to emotional deficits in psychopaths. It is argued that different forms of aggressive emotions that are significant in psychopaths may be related to disparate facets of psychopathy such as impulsivity, irritability, social-emotional, and moral incapacities (Martens, 2003a), and that these relationships may be mediated by common dispositional factors (Patrick & Zempolich, 1998) such as negative experiences in childhood and adolescence (Martens, 1997) and neurobiological and genetic determination (Martens, 2002a).

Eidemiller & Yustitky (1987) discovered that following factors may contribute to abnormal emotional development in juvenile psychopaths a) expansion of the sphere of parental emotions, b) preference for the child qualities in an adolescent, c) lack of educational self-confidence, d) parental fear of losing the child, e) underdeveloped parental feelings, f) projection of the parent’s unwanted qualities onto the adolescent, and g) introduction of spousal conflicts into the educational sphere. Moreover, the emergence of abnormal moral emotions later in life may be linked to temperament and attachment deficiencies in early childhood of the psychopath (Saltaris, 2002).

2. Diagnostic features

Psychopathic personality disorder (PPD) has some overlap with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) according the DSM-IV criteria of the American Psychiatric Association (1994), which is nowadays the official term, but these disorders are not synonymous (Martens, 2000). ASPD (DSM-IV, 1994) and PPD (Cleckley, 1984; Hare et al., 1990; Hare, 1991) is characterized by features like irritability and aggressiveness, impulsivity or failure to planning ahead, reckless disregard for the safety of self and others, pathological egocentricity, lack of guilt or remorse, social maladjustment, poor development of relationships, deceitfulness. Criminality is included in the criteria of ASPD but not of PPD. Furthermore, psychopathic personality disorder is characterized by following traits which do not meet ASPD criteria according the DSM-IV: inadequate motivated antisocial behavior; lack of nervousness and psychoneurotic manifestations; absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking; superficial charm and good intelligence; incapacity for love; specific loss of insight; unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations; fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink and sometimes without; suicide rarely carried out; sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated; poor judgment and failure to learn from experiences (Cleckley, 1984); manipulative behavior; conning; pathological lying; grandiose sense of self-worth; need for stimulation/ proneness to boredom; shallow affect and/or callousness and lack of empathy; parasitic life-style; poor self-control; promiscuous sexual behavior; many short-term marital relationships; early behavioral problems juvenile criminality and versatility among others (Hare, 1991); poor fear conditioning (lack of fear) (Lykken 1995) and sensation seeking (Zuckerman, 1994); good reality testing ( Dorr & Woodhall, 1986; Fingarette, 1972; Martens, 1997; Wolman, 1987), and hidden suffering (Martens, 2002b).

3. Correlates of Psychopathic Emotional Incapacity

Although the precise nature of emotional deficits in ASPD and PPD is unknown (Herpertz & Sass, 2000, Herpertz et al., 2001; Martens, 1997), research indicated that these patients demonstrate abnormal emotional functioning and processing (Habel et al., 2002; Steuerwald & Kosson, 2000) such as:
· Lack of empathic emotions (Cleckley, 1984, Hare, 1991; Lewis, 1991; Martens, 1997). Empathy impairment (Blair et al., 2001b) and other (related) affective abnormalities (Kiehl et al., 2001) in psychopaths may be linked to amygdala deficiencies (Blair et al., 2001b), or to deficient or weakened input from limbic structures (Kiehl et al., 2001);
· Inappropriate emotions (Cleckley, 1984; Lewis, 1991; Martens, 1997);
· A pronounced lack of fear in response to aversive events (Herpertz et al., 2000, 2001; Martens, 2000; Patrick, 1994), which may correlate with low autonomic activity/reactivity (Blair et al., 1997; Fowles, 2000; Martens, 2000), and lesions of the dorsal hippocampus (Laakso et al., 2001);
· Difficulties in emotional processing and expressions. Psychopaths demonstrate poor control of emotional expression (Fowles, 2000), general deficit in processing affective information, regardless of whether stimuli are negative or positive (Christianson et al., 1996; Herpertz et al., 2001; Patrick et al., 1993) that manifests itself independently of affective report (Patrick et al., 1993). They show also affective imaginary deficiencies (Patrick et al., 1993, 1994), and lower generalized emotional responsivity (Day & Wong, 1996; Sutton et al., 2002) in comparison with normal controls. Sonderstrom et al., (2002) revealed neurologic determined (such as reduced frontotemporal perfusion) affective unresponsiveness (Sonderstrom et al., 2002) and/or psychophysiological determined (such as ventromedial prefrontal dysfunction) diminished emotionality (Barrash et al., 2000).
· Specific deficits in nonverbal emotional processing (Kosson et al., 2002). Psychopaths show less facial expression (Herpertz et al., 2001), and reduced responsiveness to the facial expressions of sadness and fear has been implicated in the development of psychopathy (Blair et al., 2001b; Stevens et al., 2001).
· “semantic dementia,” which is characterized by a discordance between the language values and experiential values of emotions. According to this concept, psychopaths would have an appropriate cognitive representation of the lexical meaning of emotions, but not the affective value normally attached to them (Johns and Quay, 1962). Semantic and (associated) emotional processes are dissociated in psychopaths (Patrick, 1994; Patrick et al., 1994). Kiehl et al., (1999b) revealed that psychopathy is associated with abnormal processing of semantic and affective verbal information. Louth (1998) and Blair et al. (2002) discovered that psychopaths did not differentiate, in voice emphasis, between neutral and affective words. These results could be interpreted with reference to the low-fear and violence inhibition mechanism models of psychopathy (Blair et al., 2002). Furthermore, these findings are consistent with the developing view that psychopaths are insensitive to the emotional connotations of language. In addition, their vocal characteristics may be part of a self-presentation mode designed to manipulate and control interpersonal interactions (Louth et al., 1998). Williamson et al. (1991) discovered that psychopaths extract less information from affective words than do other individuals (Williamson et al., 1991). They show also lower word responsively (Day & Wong, 1996), their lexical decisions were relatively unaffected by emotion cues, and their lexical decisions were relatively unaffected by affectively neutral word-frequency cues compared with non-psychopaths (Lorenz & Newman, 2002).
· a lack of capacity for self-dialogue (Miller, 1987; Martens, 1997), which may have adverse consequences for a) the development of morality and conscience and associated social-emotional awareness, understanding and abilities, b) evaluation of self and other people’s behavior/intentions, and emotions c) the creation of realistic image of Self and others, d) utilization of feedback of other people, e) self-control;
· Emotional deficiency which may predispose to violence in several ways (Herpertz & Sass, 2000). The author suggests that abnormal emotional functioning may be linked to significant correlates of violence such as lack of empathy, indifferent attitude, disregard of rights and safety of others, lack of emotional control and associated rage, common neurobiological determination of emotional deficiencies and violence (Martens, 2002a).

The author hypothesizes that emotional incapacities and/or shallow emotions may be the result of negative, painful experiences in the past and de-sensibilization in order to avoid further excessive suffering. In psychopaths in remission a normalization of emotional functioning (and probably associated neurobiological correlates) can be observed (Martens, 1997, 2002b). The author speculates that the patient is able to influence his or her neurobiological functioning in order to adapt it to his or her emotional needs (Martens, 2001c). Furthermore, research in remitted psychopaths discovered that emotional maturation is linked to other dimensions of maturation (social-emotional, moral, spiritual development, and growth of self-insight and authenticity), which may interrelate with relevant neurobiological processes that determine emotional capacities (Martens, 1997, 2001a, 2002b, 2003c, 2003e).

4. Dimensions of Emotional Hypersensitivity and Normal Affective Functioning in Psychopaths

Although psychopathic personality disorder is characterized by emotional deficits, there is sufficient evidence that psychopaths can be emotionally normal and/or even very sensitive in specific areas, indeed.

Hypersensitivity in psychopaths might be the result of:

Narcissistic injury (Kohut, 1971; Kernberg, 1970, 1972, 1992). Psychopathic patients show some narcissistic features (such as grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological egocentricity, lack of empathy and shallow affect, anger when other people do not want to cooperate with them), and are excessive sensitive to lack of respect or attention of others, and to other people’s doubt on or disregard for his or her uniqueness, great capacities and physical and/or intellectual attractiveness;
Rejection by other people, especially relatives, friend or partner may have very great impact on the patient’s emotional life and might bring about intense feelings distress, depression, desperation, and anger (Martens, 1997), and might be significantly involved in the etiology of psychopathy (Martens, 2000). Because many psychopaths have a history of rejection and neglect (Martens, 2000) every further rejection in their life might revive those traumatic experiences of the past, and may bring about intense anger, rage, distress and related emotions;
Changes of circumstances or events, which are not completely under control of the patients, especially when these are accompanied by restrictions. Significant changes such as divorce, incarnation or forensic psychiatric treatment may likely result in psychopathic patients in severe regression (Conacher & Fleming, 1996; Martens, 1997, van Marle, 1995), and/or aggressive acting out (Martens, 1997; van Marle, 1995). The author hypothesizes that the grandiose Self of psychopaths functions as a defense-structure, by which they can deny their dependency on other people. In uncontrollable circumstances their defense collapses, because they cannot deny their dependency on other’s anymore and might regress to a lower personality organization;
Confrontation or association with their trauma (that could be linked to a history of physical, sexual or emotional abuse), which may play a role in the etiology of their disorder. For example, dependence of an authority might be linked to traumatic experiences in some psychopathic individuals. Some psychopaths were adopted or raised by substitute parents. This experience might have been very traumatic when these substitute parents behave themselves inhuman, harsh, and abusive. When a psychopath with such experiences becomes again dependent on (for example) an employer who demonstrate some of these characteristics or who is too authoritarian her or she past traumatic experience may become vivid (Martens, 1997). It was discussed before that dependence of other people in psychopaths could bring about regression. Such a regression might be characterized by emotionally hypersensitivity, and aggressive acting out;
Unforeseen or uncontrollable external (by means of music, film, literature, impressive events) and internal (as a consequence of dreams, disease) influences may break through the psychopath’s defense against depression and anxiety. As a result of lack of experiences with processing and/or regulation of normal, wide-range emotions (as a result of chronic emotional suppression, and severe affective inhibition, incapacities and/or supercooling) “free flowing” emotions will become unbridled and turbulent and may bring about hypersensitivity and even sentimentality in psychopaths (Martens, 1997, Masters, 1993, 1995);
Long-lasting, unbearable loneliness might also bring about abnormal emotional sensitivity (Martens, 1997; Masters, 1993, 1995), because severe loneliness brings about serious emotional suffering and associated emotional awareness and stimulation in some areas. Severe loneliness may cause episodically emotional explosions such as rage because of being rejected by everyone, extreme fear for being left alone in spare moments when the patient is in company, emotional suffering because of their social-emotional limitations/incapacities, intense need for love and affection, and even sentimental feelings and compassion for and identification with their eventual victims. Dennis Nilsen was so lonely that he killed for company. He talked with and watched TV with the dead bodies, and he wrote poems for them (Masters, 1995);

Normal, healthy sensitivity may be brought about by:

Grief. Death of a friend, relative or partner (Martens, 1997) or other beloved persons may bring about by the psychopath guilt, self-reflection, and social-emotional and moral maturation. For example, the author observed this development in a forensic psychiatric patient who was divorced from his wife because of his irresponsible and unreliable behavior. This man lost his 14 years old sun who died in a traffic accident. As a reaction to this event he felt for the first time since his forensic psychiatric residence guilty for his selfish and irresponsible life-style and he realize that could never redeem his errors for his son. As a response he became very motivated to change his attitude and he gradually recovered and demonstrated remarkable emotional, and associated social and moral maturation;
Impressive events such as confrontation with fellow-patients (Martens, 1997, 2000, 2001b) that may stimulate social-emotional development, because these events may awake their a) awareness of their social-emotional incapacities and related problems and social isolation, b) and motivation to change;
Long-lasting, warm relationships (Martens, 1997; McCord & McCord, 1956) that form a healthy basis of attachment, and development of trust, loyalty, sympathy, empathy and other emotions, which in turn may be paired with elimination of pathological anger and hostility in these patients;
Getting adequate attention. As a result of adequate attention the psychopath gets out of his or her isolated social-emotional and moral world, and he or she is invited to start real interaction with the other who provides attention. As a result of this interaction the patient might develop, show and cherish normal emotions (Martens, 1997). They feel gradually more comfortable and in safe hands and are willing to become normal.
Disease (Black et al., 1995, Robins, 1966). A serious or chronic disease will likely bring about a radical change in the psychopath’s life and attitude. Serious disease might be paired with substantial physical limitations that may prevent a range of antisocial behaviors. As a consequence some psychopaths may become more contemplative (Martens, 1997). As a result of these changes their social-emotional attitude may change too;
Hidden suffering as a result of the unbridgeable gap between themselves and the rest of the world (Martens, 2002b). The hidden suffering makes social-emotional growth possible because the pain may provoke radical solutions of crucial social-emotional problems and associated transformation of antisocial into social features;
Academic and/or occupational success (Martens, 1997; Robins, 1966), because such success may be easily accompanied with a growth of self-esteem, positive feedback and pro-social experiences, increase of social-emotional interaction skills, and development of positive coping;
Consideration of the spoiled changes (partly as a consequence of their abnormal neurobiological functioning, see Martens, 2000, 2001c, 2002a) and reflection on impulsive, sensation seeking, restless, reckless, irresponsible and harmful lifestyle (Martens, 2002b, 2003a, c, d, e). This may result in a) a motivation to change attitude and consequently b) development of social-emotional and moral capacities;
Burned-out syndrome in many aged psychopaths (Martens, 1997, Davidson & Neale, 1994). Many aged psychopaths are unable to continue their former energy-spoiling life-style. Furthermore, this burned-out syndrome might be associated with age-related neurobiological changes and/or maturation that may determine (in combination with stimulating psychosocial factors and growing self-insight) social-emotional development;
Recovery, improvement and correlated increase of moral-emotional (Martens, 2001a, 2003b), social-emotional and/or spiritual-emotional (Martens, 2003c) awareness and capacities;
Good or bad luck (Martens, 1997). Every development of social-emotional capacities is dependent of favorable or unfavorable influences. The author observed some very motivated patients whose therapeutic progression was undermined by bad luck (disturbing influences of fellow-patients, fatal change of therapist or mentor, release before treatment program was completed). On the other hand, he observed in “untreatable” and unmotivated psychopaths remarkable improvement and even remission as a result of unexpected friendships, confrontations with fellow-patients/offenders, disease, death of a partner, and so on (Martens, 1997);

5. Conclusions

Psychopathy is diagnostically characterized by serious emotional deficiencies, which may interrelate with other diagnostic features such as incapacitiy for love, lack of empathy, shallow emotions, social-emotional incapacities (lack of interactional skills), pathological egocentricity, grandiose sense of self-worth, irresponsibility, impulsivity, and aggression. Despite their disturbed emotional world some psychopaths may exhibit normal emotional experiences such as normal feelings for pets, relatives, art, sports, and so on. In current and past studies the healthy aspects of emotional life in psychopaths are underexposed. It is, however of major interest to examine the etiological, psychosocial, neurobiological correlates, conditions of normal emotional functioning in different categories of psychopaths, and in what particular circumstances it can happen and flourish. It could be useful for the psychotherapist to direct towards these healthy emotional elements and try to expand or relate them to other emotional and related social and moral areas.
Emotions are hardly objectively measurable, and it is possible that psychopaths “emotional incapacities” in some cases could be better explained as fundamental different emotional functioning rather than emotionally “inferior” or affectively “cold.” Furthermore, there is some evidence that not all “pure” psychopaths demonstrate abnormal emotionality (Martens, 1997). Clear psychopaths (PCL-R scores between 30 and 40) do not necessarily meet all diagnostic features (Hare, 1991), and may show normal emotions. And some psychopaths report that they have normal emotional experiences, while they are unable to show affections (Martens, 1997). This may lead to observations of “shallow” emotions.
More research is needed into effective therapeutic stimulation of emotional development in distinctive categories psychopaths, such as violent non-sexual, violent sexual, frauds, and non-violent and non-criminal psychopaths, which are characterized by their own specific emotional abnormalities which are linked to their crimes and/or personality/behavior patterns (Martens, 1997).

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Emotional Capacities and Sensitivity in Psychopaths

Soi-Disant Psychopathes

Damn you, James Fallon, and your little book, too.

The self-proclaimed psychopath is very rarely a true psychopath. I have, much to my misfortune and boredom, spent hours reading post after post of whiners and sycophants claiming to be psychopaths. What I find most of the time are weak, pathetic losers, mostly teenagers with a few adults spattered about, looking for a little sympathy and/or a place to fit in.

The thing is, it takes quite a bit of intelligence, perception, and a keen sense of introspection in order to determine whether or not you are a genuine psychopath. Most psychopaths lack the ability of deep introspection in order to make the connection and go about their lives ignorant of the origins of their unique qualities. Take Dr. James Fallon, for instance. This brilliant man lived for 58 years as a psychopath, albeit seemingly lower on the spectrum, without knowing it. His friends and family always knew something was a bit off about him, but for the most part he got along well, even earning his doctorate and becoming a successful neuroscientist. It wasn’t until he saw an MRI scan of his own brain that he realized something was different about him. Even still, according to him, it took a bit of a fact-finding mission on his part to truly confirm his own self-diagnosis. So, given that Dr. Fallon is an obviously bright individual and still didn’t have some profound epiphany one day after reading about the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, how do these pseudo-psychopaths expect anyone with half a brain to believe them?

From what I’ve found, most of the self-proclaimed psychopaths are simply loners who have had some bad experiences in their lives, perhaps because they are socially awkward, not particularly good looking, have been victims of bullying, have dissimilar interests than their peer group, or have a an inferiority complex disguised as a superiority complex. Maybe even all of the above.

Carl Jung, a world renowned Swiss psychiatrist, was famously quoted as saying that “Wherever an inferiority complex exists, there is a good reason for it.”

This could not ring more true in the case of the self-proclaimed psychopaths that seem to be popping up everywhere. One would think that psychopathy is becoming the new ADD. It is the cool band-wagon mental disorder du jour and everyone seems to be hopping aboard, proudly boasting of how traumatized their minds are because daddy didn’t give them any attention, how they always knew they were different somehow, or they just don’t seem to fit in with everyone else at school.

Most of these people seem to congregate around M.E. Thomas’ SociopathWorld.com website. They send in emails offering their adulation and claiming that her book opened the door to their own or a friend or relative’s psychopathy or narcissism. How unlikely these all-too-frequent cases are cannot be overstated.

Most sociopaths or psychopaths just don’t really care about their condition because it works very well for them. The commonly heard phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies perfectly in this sense. Psychopaths don’t see themselves as broken, and rightly so, so why should they “fix” themselves?

Another group of people (again popular to Thomas’ site as well as psychopathfree.com) are those that have experienced a bad relationship and now seem to have diagnosed a relative. Parents and spouses seem to be “diagnosed” ad infinitum. It’s all quite laughable, really. Yes, I realize that there are statistically millions of actual psychopaths in America alone. It doesn’t mean, though, that we’ve reached some profound societal pivoting point in which psychopaths all feel accepted and they’re now safe to come out of the proverbial closet. In most cases, it seems likely to me that all of this might quite the opposite effect and it may not fair well for empaths in the long run.

The vast majority of psychopaths do not want to be found out because then their game is up. All of the popularity surrounding psychopathy and the individual research it inspires is indeed arming empaths with most of the right tools necessary to determine if someone they know is a psychopath. To the empath’s advantage, there is no such thing as a 100% successful psychopath. The mask always slips somehow owing to a myriad of conditional situations. If an empath remains vigilant, they will eventually catch the slip. The problem with all of this soaring popularity surrounding psychopathy is that it’s only serving to entrench those like me even further. It makes us take even more care to keep the mask in place, to keep the game going which renders identification a much more arduous task.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. The soi-disant psychopaths of the internet are simply malingering children (whether grown or not) who simply want a little attention. It would seem that they want to fit in by not fitting in and, by virtue of the accepting, nurturing nature (not qualities of a psychopath) of other psuedo-psychopaths, they find their place for a while. These people may indeed have a psychological problem, but it certainly is not psychopathy. Psychosis mixed with a pinch of Narcissism, maybe? Who knows? It’s only a matter of time before these morons flock to another fad du jour within the mental disorder community.

Soi-Disant Psychopathes

Psychopathy – An Evolutionary Advantage

What if psychopathy is not a disorder at all? What if it is not a sickness? What if psychopathy is actually a special personality trait born of evolutionary necessity? As a psychopath, I am convinced of this assessment.

Can the world do without psychopaths? Would you, as a probable empath, be able to do the things that psychopaths feel no compunction in doing?

Obviously I am not speaking of cold-blooded murder, rape, or child molestation, as the vast majority of psychopaths do not do these things. The very low population of truly psychopathic murderers, rapists, and pedophiles in American prison populations stand to prove that empaths commit far more crime than psychopaths.

Could this fact be assigned to simply the sheer number of empaths vs. psychopaths? Of course. However, save for some drastic, blanket evolutionary genetic mutation, the world’s population will still contain far more empaths.

People fear crime committed against them in general. They fear psychopaths even more, though, because psychopaths can commit crime with no emotion and no remorse. But do emotion and remorse have anything to do with being victimized by someone? If someone were in the process of being mugged at gunpoint, I’m sure the thought of whether or not the person is a psychopath is far from their mind. They are, I’m sure, thinking about their own life and how to preserve it, not the other person’s mental state.

But let us get away from crime, since we know that it plays only a small role as it pertains to psychopaths. What gives psychopaths the advantage? Well, this really depends. In corporate America they have all the advantage in the world. Capitalism is a psychopath’s wet dream, it is a playground to display their talents to the world. As we know, psychopaths are not hindered by moralisms and emotion, so they have no problem getting to the top of the corporate ladder, no matter how many toes they have to step on. If they don’t necessarily have the desire to get to the top, they will certainly find a place of comfort in their job, perhaps one like mine where they can do what they want, when they want and they do not have to deal with people if they don’t want to.

Politics is another arena in which psychopaths can triumph. Much like the competitive nature of Capitalism, politics provides an avenue for the psychopath to ruthlessly make his/her way to the top. Many psychopaths are drunk with the desire for power and what better way to control your fellow citizens than by being elected by them or being appointed to a position over them by another politician. Many times it isn’t the end result that gets the psychopath’s juices flowing, but the journey. Psychopaths relish the hunt itself, most of the time. This is true for both corporate America and politics. With politics, though, the hunt is continuous and less arduous. It is much easier to keep the mask from slipping in politics.

It could be argued that the psychopath is the ultimate leader. He is an unrestrained, fearless, anti-heroic, unemotional spearhead that sets a goal and let’s nothing impede him on his way to achieving it. In most cases, to the psychopath, the ends will always justify the means.

Psychopathy – An Evolutionary Advantage

Pragmatists, not Patients

Psychopathy is not a disorder. Psychopathy is not an illness. Psychopaths are not patients as they have no need of healing. Psychopaths are, in every sense of the word, necessary.

The psychopath is the perfect pragmatist. Devoid of any restraining moralisms he will do what is necessary, when it is necessary. No burdening conscience, no hindering emotions can abate his will. This is what makes psychopaths dangerous, but it also makes them necessary. They are an invaluable asset to humanity and “treating” them with mind-numbing medicine and/or therapy will result in a devolution of society as we know it.

There is nothing particularly wrong with psychopaths in their own eyes. The labels of “disorder” or “illness” are purely subjective because it is the empaths who are labeling them. Psychopaths see no need to change themselves as they see nothing wrong with their mental make up. I see nothing wrong with myself, for sure. I am perfectly happy being the way that I am. Empaths like to label anyone that doesn’t feel as they feel, see as they see, or do as they do. Empaths are the truly discriminatory ones. They have such a vast ocean of different feelings, emotions, and morals that anyone who disagrees with them and their “superior moral code” must be labeled and categorized, including other empaths.

Are there really bad psychopaths? I would say that murderous psychopaths are truly bad. They are bad at being functional psychopaths, that’s for sure. A pure psychopath is also Narcissistic, to a point. Narcissism compels one to look after himself. It is difficult to imagine how a murderous psychopath is not somehow disturbed in some other way than simply having no moral code to speak of. Their need to kill is typically a co-morbidity with sexual deviancy. It is akin to Narcissistic Supply. Once the supply runs low, a new kill is warranted in order to refill the tank.

True psychopaths know the difference between right and wrong, they just don’t really care.

At least that is what we’re told. I, for one, do not completely agree. Psychopaths do indeed care about what is right and wrong because they have to in order to get on with daily life and avoid the mask slip. A psychopath does not care about others, only himself (more on this later), and so knowing and caring about right and wrong are what enable him to keep going. It is a way of looking after himself and his own interests. This is difficult to do when you’re rotting in a jail cell for four consecutive life sentences, or worse, receiving Capital Punishment. No, the true psychopath is not a murderous villain bent on burning the world down. The true psychopath is, despite all claims to the contrary, all too human in the deepest Nietzschean sense of the phrase. He is Ernst Jünger’s Anarch.

Pragmatists, not Patients

Friends

The reason that I have no friends is purposeful. I find them tedious, boring, and ultimately the cause of unnecessary and unwarranted drama. Most of all what I hate about friends and acquaintances in general is small talk.

The people that I socialize and/or work with, however, might think differently. Many of them consider me their friend but the feeling is not reciprocal. “Work friendships” are nothing more than forced daily interactions. This is one of the many reasons I chose the IT industry to work in. Most of the time I do not have to interact with people. When I do, I am very polite, approachable, sociable, and I try to appear as understanding as possible. I have made it quite a talent to get along with anyone because ultimately they may end up serving a need I have. On the surface I appear as just a simple family man trying to put food on the table and clothes on my children’s backs. On the inside, though, I am quite empty of any real feelings toward others. Acting friendly certainly has its drawbacks. Because I am so good at making myself approachable, I find myself stuck listening to people dribble on about their pathetic little lives, their kids, their spouses, what they ate for dinner, how their weekends went, ad nauseam.

I have no need of friends. Perhaps I should really say that I have no desire to have friends. I do indeed need people who think they are my friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem socializing, but my superficially friendly interactions with people are anything but truly friendly. I see others only as a convenient way to get what I want or need. Yes, this sounds rather selfish and I suppose that it is. However, when you think about it, what are friends for, really? Are they not there to satisfy some need or want that you have? Do they not offer comfort in distressing times? Do they not offer joy and humor in good times? Do they not lend a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen and understand when you just want to talk or vent about the terrible day you’ve had? All of these sound rather selfish to me. Why then are psychopaths looked down upon for simply recognizing the obvious? We’re able to see things in the most pragmatic light and yet we’re put down for not only seeing and using it to our advantage and benefit.

Friends

Just What Is a Psychopath?

Obviously if you are reading this you have some interest in knowing what a psychopath is, or perhaps you’re conducting research on psychopathy. Maybe still you are not satisfied with mainstream psychology’s findings as regards psychopathy or personality disorders in general. Nevertheless, I am not sure I am completely qualified to answer that question as I have no formal education in psychology, only knowledge gleaned from intense internet research and peer reviewed articles. While I have been diagnosed with Antisocial and Narcissistic Personality traits, I have not been diagnosed as a psychopath honestly, because there is no such thing as a clinical diagnosis for it. I can tell you a bit about myself and my own research, though, which may help you, dear reader, and others like you in your quest.

My regular doctor referred me to a Clinical Psychologist after telling her some things about myself. The first visit I made consisted of two psychologists pummeling me with questions about myself, my family, and my childhood. All the while they were watching my every move, my facial expressions, mood changes, how often I blinked and made eye contact. The second visit they put me through a barrage of psychological evaluations. A few weeks later I went back in for an overview of their findings. According to their evaluation I showed strong ASPD and Narcissistic traits. They added me to their calendar and asked me to come back once every two weeks to speak with them, handed me a packet of papers that included recommendations for therapeutic mental and physical exercises, and sent me on my way. I have not been back since.

I did, however, have a new-found fascination for ASPD and Narcissism. So, being true to myself, I began my own research into what they are and how the traits apply to me as far as I can tell.

Academically speaking, I am most unqualified to state what a psychopath truly is. That being said, personally, I do not believe that anyone has truly pinned it down scientifically. Yes, there are many famous psychologists such as Robert Hare and Hervey M. Cleckley who essentially agree with each other’s findings, however, there are other similarly popular psychologists who oppose Hare’s PCL-R (the Psychopathy Check List, Revised), such as Willem H. J. Martens. I believe that these men agree on more than they disagree, though. Their opposition to one another is not necessarily on what a psychopath is, but in how to identify one and further, in Martens’ case, how to treat one successfully.

Willem believes that Hare’s PCL-R is dangerous and that psychopaths can actually be healed. Hare and his colleagues believe the opposite, of course, because from their own research they find that psychopaths actually have abnormalities in the brain that cannot simply be healed through therapy.

To stay on point, however, I do not believe that psychopaths can be identified as easily as psychologists would like to think. The mind is extremely complex and due to our individual experiences, emotional/mental traumas, and genetic diversity no one two people, even psychopaths in the purest sense, are exactly equal. Most humans have some level of empathy, some have just enough, and fewer still have little or none. It is my opinion that all are necessary.

I keep stating that I don’t know what a psychopath is and unequivocally I do not. I have an idea, though, which is my own opinion based on my own experiences and the information that I have found on the subject. Hare, Cleckley, Martens, et al have published scores of articles on psychopathic traits. These include no conscience, little to no empathy, no remorse, glibness, superficial charm, cunning/manipulative, persistent lying, the inability to maintain long-lasting relationships, and many more. One can see that the majority of the diagnostic criteria that make one a psychopath are related, either directly or indirectly, to morality as a whole. Psychopaths, then, in my opinion, are simply individuals that are unhindered by morality. They have no need for it themselves, though they do rely upon the morality of others in order to get their way, especially in the case of Narcissists whom I consider insecure psychopaths due to their constant need for what Otto Fenichel called Narcissistic Supply. The psychopathic mind is free to do as it pleases without being fettered by objective morality, and so he uses that freedom to his own advantage at all times. If it does not benefit the psychopath in some way, then he/she has no need for it. With psychopaths there is intent in every action to satisfy his own needs and wants, morality and ethics be damned.

In the past it was believed that the easiest manner in which to determine whether or not a person had psychopathic traits was to measure their level of empathy. If it was drastically low or lacking completely then this typically was cause for further investigation. However, a new study conducted on psychopaths’ brains revealed something startling, that psychopaths actually have what is called an empathy switch. According to a study conducted in the Netherlands, psychopaths actually do have the capacity for empathy. In empaths (non-psychopathic people, or as I like to call them, Muggles), this capacity for empathy is always turned on. In fact, it can be said that they do not have a switch at all. In psychopaths, however, there exists a “switch” that is turned off by default meaning that unless something triggers the switch and turns on their ability to empathize, they will not. The researchers monitored the brain activity of psychopaths while the patients watched videos of various situations that would elicit empathetic feelings in empaths. Of course, their brain activity was null and void in the areas that would normally light up when feeling empathy. Next, the psychopaths were instructed to watch the videos again and this time try to empathize with the actors, to try and feel what they would be feeling. After this instruction, the same brain regions that typically become active when an empath feels empathy, lit up in the psychopaths’ brains, as well.

So, out with the “lack of empathy” card.

To reiterate what countless other websites and psychologists have stated in the past, despite what many people believe about psychopaths, the vast majority of them are not serial killers. Estimates state that the percentage of psychopaths in the United States alone is between 1% and 3%. That’s between 3 and 9 million people, only a small fraction of which are in our prison system. This makes it very possible that you passed one on your way to Starbucks today, or that one of your coworkers is, indeed, a psychopath. Again, though, there is no cause for alarm. It doesn’t mean that you should be watching over your shoulder for a knife-wielding, crazy eyed coworker.

Psychopaths are no less normal than empaths. In fact, I would argue that they are in fact  more normal, more grounded in reality as it is than in this grand puppet show the whole of humanity has created from reality. Psychopaths can see through morality all too easily and express their dissatisfaction with its restraints through various means. They are ready and willing to go where empaths are not, into that void that an empath dare not go. Were it not for the psychopath, it is quite possible that human civilization may not have reached the heights it has. That is a stretch, of course, but entirely plausible.

Anyway, I feel like I am rambling so I will stop now. Until next time.

Just What Is a Psychopath?

Standing on Ceremony

I presume it would be polite to introduce myself. I am a young man from the United States. I am married with have children. I work in the IT industry and make very good money doing it. I have no friends, no empathy, no feelings of guilt, no shame, and no conscience to speak of.

I am a psychopath.

This blog exists at the behest of my therapist as a form of psychological self-therapy. We will see where it goes.

My blog is not meant to be scary or sensational. It is simply a medium through which I can express my thoughts. I am not a murderer, rapist, pedophile, or anything like that so don’t be alarmed.

Welcome to my life. Welcome to my mind, the void behind the mask.

Standing on Ceremony