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Seeing Through Psychopathic Smoke and Mirrors. — 85 Comments

  1. Interestingly, since my last encounter with a psychopath I made the connection between personal power and responsibility, and a life well-lived. Previously, I had not wanted to take much responsibility for myself, for my life, for the outcomes of my choices. I was so resentful at how crappy my childhood was, and how much dysfunction and personal growth I was left to accomplish, that I vacillated between trying hard to become aware, and then throwing my whole life ‘to the wind’; enter the psychopaths…..

    For me, personally, I think much of my dysfunction came from the ‘original’ predators in my life: my grandparents, one step father, and my mother. They were my personal myth-makers, ‘normalizing’ psychopathic behavior, and encouraging my failure. I wonder if I didn’t ‘revisit’ these types, time and again, still waiting for the fulfillment my original tormenters ‘promises’: to take care of me (not neglect me), to love me (not use me for their own gratification), to assure my ability to become a responsible adult (not disable my growth process).

    And though I made strides during my life, in becoming a happy functional adult, I continued to throw my progress away, periodically entangling myself with The Highly Dysfunctional.

    But after this last go ’round I came to understand that if I continued to relinquish my personal power, boundaries, and choices, I would surely be attracted to another charismatic type. Why? Because I found information about personality disorders, and the malignantly narcissistic (thanks to my therapist). Once I understood WHAT I was attracted to and could connect this to my past experiences/childhood, a light flooded me (after a rather acute grief period, accompanied by depression and despair…..). It felt like once I had this information my personal growth rapidly moved forward.

    I think I HAD to come to terms with the existence of truly immoral and soul sick human beings. And I had to understand what my personal ‘myths’ were around these types.

    Not to sound too goody-two-shoes…but now I embrace my responsibilities, my ability to make my own choices, and my boundaries. They mean different things to me now. They bring me happiness and a sense of having a ‘solid self’. One I can rely on. I no longer invite abusers into my life. I have no lasting affinity for them.

  2. Hi Slim,
    Intellectually we can learn about these types, then we have to internalize it so that we have the right emotional responses. This is where I still have trouble, so it really helps to hear that someone else has been able to accomplish that. I would hate to think that I’ll never get there because my programming is “set” at an early age. Spaths can’t change so it’s scary to think that maybe we can’t either. Your story gives me hope.

    Still I’d like to see more progress for myself. The last spath I met was a guy who I hired to help work on my house. He was asking me out within 20 minutes and then explicitly suggested we go to his place for sex. At one point he accused me of wanting to rape him. Projection? This was a young man! young enough to be my son. I immediately recognized that he was a spath who felt the need to dominate, so I very delicately brushed him off by laughing at his “jokes”. What struck me though, was how magnetic and charismatic he seemed to me. Rather than be offended, I actually liked him. Why is that? Is it a trauma bond, I use to protect me from actual physical danger?

    It’s only because of my learning about spaths that I’m able to see past my own emotional reaction to perceive the core of other people. The cog/dis is perturbing.

  3. Skylar I think this is key.

    It involves setting boundaries so that your power and your responsibility stay connected and balanced.

    This is so, so true.

    Athena

  4. I also think charisma and magnetism ARE emotionally attractive. I still have emotional responses to these types. Sometimes I admire them their drive, and the ‘focus’ they show when marketing themselves.

    Kathy Hawk wrote about this on another blog, in response to a psychopath posting a letter about the ‘positive’ impact these types have on the world. She said she initially found herself ‘liking’ the guy. He was strong, decisive, and sure of himself. Things she reported she admired and responded to. She also wrote that in the end she understood him to be an ‘over developed half person’. But her initial emotional response was ‘I like this guy!’. Just like you.

    I don’t think NOT being offended makes you ‘damaged’ or defective in some way.

    I think we will have certain emotional responses, that seem incongruous with what we know about ppaths. I think that is a definite possibility. We are hard wired to physically/emotionally respond in particular ways. AND it’s a good thing we have intellects to round out the picture.

    It would be nice if our feeling bodies and our intellectual bodies were ‘in line’. But I am not sure how likely that is.

    I think one of the major things ‘wrong’ with ppaths is they have ‘wrong thinking’, and they don’t change that (or can’t. I don’t know). WE, on the other hand, CAN change our thinking…..This seems to be crucial to why we can readily change, and they are SO fixed in their syndrome.

    Just thoughts…..take care, Slim

  5. Slim,
    I remember that post from Kathy and I was surprised to read that. I found nothing attractive about that “unique individual”. So, you’re right, we all have different reactions.
    Yes, it’s true that a confident individual is attractive, so maybe that was part of it, yes definitely, it was. But at the same time, his comments were extremely inappropriate, I recognize that too.

    As long as we engage our minds and don’t rely only on our emotional responses, I think we will make the right choices.

    Athena,
    I’m still learning where to set boundaries. It helps to see that they encompass the limits of my power.

  6. Sky,

    I think that is totally right. We have to engage our whole being to be awake and have ‘healthy’ responses to any situation.

    If we leave any part of the equation out (body/mind/feeling) we are at a disadvantage. I am heavy on the feeling part. So I have had to focus on developing my awareness of what I experience in my body, and paying attention to what I KNOW, rather than emoting my way through every situation.

    It IS difficult to do, when our modus operandi is more heavily focused in one direction. It is also interesting how my feelings can be contrary to what my body is telling me and what my mind knows. I don’t exactly get why that happens….but I have experienced it many times.

    Slim

  7. Slim,
    yes, I’m heavy on the thinking and ignore my emotions so I’ve had to learn to watch for signs of them. Fear is suppressed for me.

    I think psychopaths can see these imbalances in us and exploit them. Perhaps they look for out strengths and instinctively know that our weaknesses will be found at exactly 180 degrees.

  8. STJ,
    WOW! Awesome paper. It covers the gamut and explains spaths to a TEE.
    Thanks.
    It’s very clinical and detailed so probably best taken in chunks if you’re new to psychopaths, but for us old timers, it completely verifies everything we experienced. The shame and envy, the infantile emotional process, the splitting and projection, and everything else is right there in the paper, explained and elaborated.

    It took me a while, but I read the whole thing. That’s a keeper that I’ll be referencing again.

  9. I stumbled across it, and was amazed at how much they say about them is what you have always maintained. It verifies everything that you have written about them.Couldn’t wait to show you 🙂

    STJ
    xxx

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