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The Meaning of MacGuffin — 145 Comments

  1. Skylar…..I think I’m seeing something…..Im the “container of violence” in/ or for….the system at his mothers? Maybe? That whole dynamic…wreaks of ” oh, poor baby spath”……that bad bad Dorothy. You just adored her and she was so unappreciative. OMG! I can well imagine the picture he has painted of me. Lying sac.

  2. Dorthy, I can’t reply to your comment to me above, but the thing is that WE must control our “inner child” and protect it. We cannot let it throw tantrums, we must keep our ADULT in control of our behavior, not the “inner child.”

    That inner child is what they hook, and we (our adult) allow it, and so WE must take control and say “Little Dorthy, you are very upset, so we are LEAVING NOW.” BTW there is ALWAYS a choice to LEAVE, even if it is to sleep in your car or go to a shelter. You do whatever you have to do to protect “little Dorthy”–be the A.S. S. and protect yourself don’t be the horse and run frightened off in all directions and tangle yourself in a barbed wire fence somewhere because you are running blindly in fear.

  3. Oxy……I know and agree with what you are saying it’s when my mind is twisted and backed into a corner I can’t “find” the part that gets me out. It’s unavailable at this time……gone somewhere I can’t find it..
    Im not talking about having to leave MY home or anything like that. Say we are out together, in his car. Or I remember being at his mothers home, having gone there with him in his car. So many details just get lost in retelling.
    Please don’t think that what you are saying is lost on me. I understand you and agree with you in principle totally. And I have done better and made improvements. Again, the element of surprise comes into play and works against me and worked for him. It’s ok……I did improve and I think I saw that basically I was playing into what he wanted when I would melt down……..see, look at how SHE is. She’s a crazy B, it’s not me. Of course his behavior was rarely witnessed but there were a couple occasions that it was. He couldn’t keep his mask on while drinking and towards the end it was slipping with more frequent even sans alcohol.
    Hugs Oxy. I will NEVER quit trying to do better for myself……it’s not in my nature. I saw a new therapist today and she is thinking EMDR might be an option for me but we both want to research EMDR’s use with FAS people.

  4. I am responding to a thought generated by a comment made on this blog earlier in the thread.

    I could not understand my spath – I couldn’t understand why my spath said he loved me, then avoided spending time with me. One day he said something that helped me connect the dots and see that he really WAS a cartoon character – flat – shallow – no depth at all.

    He said something like this: “What’s the point of life? You’re born, you eat, you defacate, you work, you die, and then it’s all done. All over.” Then he grinned, smacked his hands together, shrugged, and walked away.

    And that’s truly what he felt. No interest in the human connections. No search for meaning. No “I love you and want to spend all my time with you”. None of that.

    Born, Eat, Die.

    The empty life of a spath.

    Once I connected this dot, everything else made sense.


    And what a great lesson learned.


    • Athena,
      he forgot to add: Play games.
      Spaths are born, they eat, they defecate, they (sometimes) work, THEY PLAY GAMES, they die (eventually), and then it’s all done. All over.

      More than that, there’s nothing.

  5. Skylar, I recently re-watched the online movie Fishead. One of the drs. interviewed explains something he used to do back in the days he assessed for psychopathy, which fits perfectly in the McGuffin theme.

    He would take a pen out of his pocket, lay it on the table and tell the potential psychopath, “This is my pen, and we’re gonna play this game where from now on your goal is to acquire that pen somehow.” Aside from describing the typical first attempted solutions of a psychopath, he also describes the change in attitude that is typical for a psychopath once he explained what was expected from them.

    They would sit back, nod and smile the grin of duping delight, clearly indicating that a) “ooooh, nice a game!” b) “better yet, a game where I have to take something from you” and c) “I’ll get that pen”.

    It reminded me of an event one evening in a bar. Of course my ex was not the sole guy who attempted to befriend tourists and get that friend to pay for drinks, etc… They wanted a tourist gf, but they also all sought out male tourists to guide around town, and even more than with the women, these male tourists were regarded as personal territory. If say one tourist guy already had a Nicaraguan guiding him around town, and my ex started to interact with the tourist and the tourist would (of course) like him, then you could see the other Nicaraguan starting to tell on the ex and try to get him thrown out of the bar or something.

    Anyway, so one night we are at a bar, and another Nica acquaintance of my ex introduces us to his tourist ‘friend’. Soon the tourist turns around to order a drink for himself, and only himself. The Nica acquaintance tells the ex that this tourist is a pinch and that he hasn’t managed to get him to buy him a drink at all so far. And he even goes as far as claiming that the ex would not manage to get the guy to buy him a drink either. As soon as that was said, ex’s whole face shone like the sun itself. It was instantly game on and big duping delight grin. He turned around, put his arm around the tourist, and not a minute later, the tourists hands him a rum-coke that he bought for the ex. And the ex, he looked like he had just managed to crown himself king of the manipulators.

    So it’s actually very easy to test and turn the McGuffin around. Just sit down in front of them, lay the pen on the table, and tell them to try and get it from you. First they’ll ask you whether they can have it. You say “no, this is my pen and I value it very much” and innocently lift if from the table and hold it in your hand, before they can grab it from the table.

    • Darwinsmom,
      yep. A psychopath’s attention can be directed to a MacGuffin in the same way they try to focus our attention. This game is all they know. It’s the entirety of their lives to play a game and win. Or they can lose and pretend to be the victim. Then they can reverse the roles.

      It’s interesting that your ex “played” for free drinks. Mine wanted someone to pay for him too. You could see the satisfaction on his face when he got someone to buy him something. It didn’t matter if his pockets were full of cash, he’d pull the pity ploy until someone else paid. Someone else has to care about him, pay for him, be responsible for him. In other words, they are like infants in diapers.

      Occasionally, I like to purchase warranties on items I buy and spath noticed that I got replacements without paying. One day, I went with the spath to exchange a dead battery that had a warranty. When I left the store with a free new battery, the spath said, “You don’t pay for anything do you?” wtf? He was upset because I didn’t pay. He likes to see other people pay a high price. Whether it’s your money, your life, or your soul, the spath likes to see other people pay. It makes them feel better.

      They are so bizarre.

      • In a way I find it almost comically pathetic how much they get off on something as silly as a pen, a drink, a battery. But it reveals how destructive they are. If silly stuff like that already gives them a large amount of satisfaction, ruining others in bigger ways must be orgastic to them.

  6. Jill,
    I agree with you, “silly” is also the word I chose to describe the spath behavior. It’s sometimes so comical, it even seems harmless, until you see that they have NO LIMITS. That’s when comedy turns into a tragedy.

    Silly behavior in a grown person can be a red flag sometimes.

  7. Jill, it’s great to “see” you! What an analogy!

    Yes, I’ll keep that in mind – the Pen Test. It not only reveals the “game-on” status, but it also speaks volumes about the grandiose sense of entitlement that spaths maintain. Taking becomes the greatest challenge of all, especially when what they want to take has been put off-limits.

    In retrospect, I can clearly “see” the exspath manipulations to gain access to my private investments. I had NO interest in the language or nuances of finances or investing. I didn’t. I was happy to leave my investments alone and collect the dividend income. BUT………the exspath wanted that money so badly that he immersed himself in books on investing, finances, and the whole lot and actually learned the language and nuances, IN THEORY. He began “speaking” the language of finances and investing, and soon began to plant seeds of doubt about my financial advisor. When I didn’t respond as quickly and as panicked as he had hoped, he turned up the heat to make the advisor appear to be negligent by NOT informing me of market trends. “This stock should have made more money for us…..you. He probably had some insight that this stock was going to tank, and he doesn’t care because he’s STILL going to take his salary. Why are you paying him when you could manage these funds, yourself?”

    After MONTHS of this, I finally caved in and believed what he was saying. The GLEAM in his reptile eyes was almost electric, in retrospect. It was the reflection of dollar signs in those remorseless pupils that I saw and dismissed.

    Yes……..it’s all a challenge to them and I’m never, ever, EVER going to trust another human being with my personal interests, again.

    • Truthy, Im so sorry. There isn’t a word appropriate enough to express what I feel for you that way. It’s just disgusting and makes me so angry. I just don’t get it…….just do NOT get it. What a pathetic pig.

      • Dorothy, I appreciate your feelings about my experiences, very much. I’ve come to understand that my own personal core-issues were THE in-roads into my psyche for every spath that I’ve encountered within my lifetime.

        Knowing what the exspath is will never change him, help him, or redeem him. He is a predator and I was targeted for money, respectability, and a “safe mommy” figure. That’s it. That’s all. And, when the money ran out, he no longer had any use for me. Just like a disposable lighter – if the fluid runs out, we toss the thing away.

        I don’t believe that I will ever “get it” about why these predators do what they do. I only know THAT they do, WHAT they do, HOW they do it, and that’s as far as it goes. “Why?” is a question that even the “professionals” cannot agree upon. Genetic? Sure. Environmental? Oh, yes. But, I was raised in a dysfunctional environment and I was able to maintain an understanding of what was, and wasn’t “right” or acceptable. This is not to say that I didn’t make some superbly poor, damaging, and stupid choices! But, I didn’t scope out other human beings and set my sight on ones that had “things” that I did not.

        They are what they are BECAUSE they are what they are. And, you bet the exspath is a pathetic pig and his newest target isn’t going to know what hit her in a few years.

  8. Dorothy, these predators do what they do simply because they can. Whatever ails the exspath isn’t my problem, anymore, thank GAWD! Yeah, I’m struggling with the aftermath, but my son, Bob, has told me on numerous occasions that we don’t enter into a relationship with the intent to “distrust.” I trusted a spouse that never existed except as an illusion. And, that’s all there is to it.

    Anger – it’s a “healthy” and “normal” reaction to our experiences and can result in some REALLY powerful and positive energy. 🙂

  9. Sky,

    I am still lurking and reading but keep managing to lock myself out from commenting. I keep rereading the MacGuffin post and each time I gain more understanding from it, I think.

    When you write – ‘Believing lies with your whole body and in your gut, inevitably leads to what is known as an existential crisis, a state of mind where you don’t know what to believe anymore. If I’ve been able to lie to myself and convince myself of my own lies, then how do I know what’s real? ‘ Can you expand on the existential crisis part? Is this the same as cognitive dissonance?

    Also when you talk about psychopathic envy is this not a little fatalistic (probably the wrong word) or are you being hypothetical?

    ‘he trades places with his victim, he BECOMES the victim and the victim becomes him.’

    Tell me that isn’t what has happened to us all, or is that just a worst case scenario. I certainly find myself having to attentively and proactively remove his toxicity from my mindset. I’m delighted that I can now recognise his warped thought pattern within myself and work on erasing them.

    I’m also interested in the concept that psychopaths have no boundaries (you wrote this somewhere but I can’t find it just now) and I’m having trouble trying to conceive of this. Then again perhaps, in the absolute prime-time of my shawkshank escapade, that is what had happened to me. He had completely obliterated my boundaries and become enmeshed. The more distance I get from this the more I wonder if the horrifying blackness that I felt during that time was down to the abuse or actually attributable to have subsumed some of his psychopathy. I hope that makes sense or resonates with someone.

    It was bleak and a very barren interior landscape, I don’t think I will be on the bus that stops there again.

    I’ve also recently realised, as a result of your scapegoat article, that so much in the duration of that period was scapegoated onto me. If we (I was directed) focused on one of my ‘problems’ exclusively and made it bigger than Everest then we (I) would be busy looking at that while missing the OBVIOUS ongoing systematic abuse/psychopathy. When I reflect I get a feeling of scapegoating and the MacGuffin together.

    Can the MacGuffin be something other than the ‘potential love’ I wonder.

    Glad that some of you are enjoying Stalking the Soul. I’ve just finished Soul Retrieval: Mending The Fragmented Self. Sandra Ingerman – Has anyone read it? I enjoyed the book and liked the concept but am undecided about what appears to be such a simple solution. I’m a little – ‘if it seems too good’………..

    • Myownsavior, When you say that you are “glad that some of you are enjoying Stalking The Soul”, I don’t know that I “enjoy” ANY of the reading I’ve done about Spaths! BUT, it is a great book and thank you for the recommendation. It certainly has helped me see yet another, or several, facet to all of this and many things in the book sure ring a loud bell. The part about them shutting down communication……..HUGE!
      I just started a book that Truthy recommended called, The Emotional Rape Syndrome and right off the bat I’m making important connections and saying “yep……that’s it”!

      • Dorothy,

        Perhaps my wording was not good what I intended by enjoy was for it to be useful, educational, another insight – I would still say I enjoyed the book but perhaps resonate would be better.

        • Myownsavior……No, your wording was fine and I “got” that you didn’t really mean “enjoy”. I was just trying to make the comment that none of this is enjoyable. Maybe MY wording wasn’t clear enough! 🙂

    • Myownsavior,
      those are really good questions to ponder and discuss.

      An existential crisis happens to many people, not just those who have had a spath experience. I’ve read that it’s like a feeling of doubt or of not knowing what is the point of our own existence. People need to find meaning in their lives in order to feel anchored and have direction. The spath’s intent is to push us into a feeling of emptiness. Because in the end, it is PEOPLE who give meaning to our lives. When we find out that those people who made our lives feel meaningful, were fakes, it feels like grasping at air. There is nothing to stabilize us. I think that’s why Jesus tells us to put our faith in God and not in man. Human beings will disappoint and betray us. Sometimes even the good ones disappoint us, without meaning to. Everything is temporary except God.

      Cognitive dissonance is a very different experience. It’s almost the opposite because you actually believe in two or more conflicting things. Then you have to figure out how both could be true. The only common element between cog/dis and an existential crisis, might be if the cog/dis was a result of believing a lie. But cog/diss can come about in different ways. Usually an erroneous belief is the result of faulty reasoning or lack of information or rationalization or denial.

      Psychopathic envy is a really bizarre thing to try to understand. The psychopath will often mirror us. Act like us. Many people have said that their spath will end up adopting their mannerisms, preferences, and even their profession after they’ve discarded them. Meanwhile, the discarded victim is left reeling in confusion and chaos, wondering wtf? happened. This lack of grounding that we feel after a betrayal is how a psychopath always feels: disconnected, ungrounded, without any meaning in his life.

      If we can’t come to terms with what happened, then in a sense, we become like they are: lost souls.

      So trading places with the spath is not exactly what happens, but it seems like it. They borrow our skin to appear like us, while simultaneously leaving us slimed with their chaos and disconnection.

      The question of boundaries is a difficult one to answer. Boundaries can refer to so many different things. At the root of it though, I think that responsibility is what creates boundaries or the lack of. The transfer of responsibility from one person to the next is how boundaries are crossed. Responsibilities and identity are very closely related. For example when a king abdicates and passes the crown to a new king, the new person becomes “the king”. The identity is passed on as well as the responsibilities and the power.

      A spath crosses boundaries by leaving his responsibilities on others. But also, sometimes a normal person can have poor boundaries by TAKING responsibilities that aren’t theirs to take. So that is another method by which a spath becomes you and you become them. Usually it’s by leaving you footing the bill.

      Another aspect of the spath lacking boundaries is that they have no limits. Their lack of responsibility means there is nothing that they aren’t willing do, even just for the cheap thrills. They use power and authority that isn’t theirs to use. They think they have the right to do whatever they please without regard for consequences to other people. When you ask them WHY they would do something, they answer, “Because I can.”

      This ties back into the scapegoat concept, since the scapegoat is the person or animal who takes the blame so that the really guilty person doesn’t have to face consequences. It’s the ultimate separation of power and responsibility.

      The MacGuffin is really just a carrot on a stick. It can be anything that you think will feel rewarding when you finally achieve it. It keeps you motivated to do whatever it takes to entertain the spath, take responsibility for providing the spath whatever he needs and eventually end up with nothing.

      • Thank you Sky,

        I will read, read again and reread and digest. This concept of not having boundaries I find very interesting it links up with the chaos that they create. I think you can see all boundaries with a P/N/S being trashed in front of your eyes be they physical, emotional, psychological, moral and usually violated all at the same time.

        They must have a totally chaotic internal sense of fragmentation, maybe their internal landscape is just nothing and that’s my projection. Their identity must be like a identikit where they just stick together whatever traits they feel like or maybe it’s more accidental if they are that chaotic. The P I had the misfortune of his favourite saying was lets have some madness and mayhem (major tell) – I thought he was just trying to sound cool in the beginning.

        When he was giving me limited information about the new host/target he said ‘oh she’s mad like me’. I couldn’t decide if she too was disordered or if she was to become the next one he wanted in a psychiatric hospital.

        I have now come to see that my ‘issues’ which didn’t exist prior to him became the scapegoat. That was a real Edison moment – I’d been focused on these exaggerated ‘issues’ that were situational and wholly failed to see the extent of what was going on. I was left with the blame, shame etc and well as a very distorted view of basically everything.

        It really is quite phenomenal when this begins to sink in.

        • Myownsavior, thank you for putting this into words……….”situational”. I kept trying to think of that word regarding MY behavoior during the spathcapade and just couldn’t. Totally scapegoated me making MY behavior/ reactions to the mayhem of the disordered mess HE was creating seem like I WAS crazy. He said that! “you are f’ing crazy”! OMG, I could go on and on. My brain was mush. I felt like I was swimming in quicksand but I didn’t know why. It HAS to be something that we are going to work through because I KNOW I love him and he says he loves me and that we are good together and that we love each other and that no matter what we come back together because we love each other. What a player POS!

  10. Dear Myownsavior,

    Healing is not as impossible as we first think i t is when we are so raw we “cannot see the trees for the forest” in the rawness of our pain, we feel that all is lost…hopeless…depressed…irrational…and any number of other feelings.

    Yet, healing is possible. First we ruminate about THEM and what they are, what they did, we become angry, sad, depressed, feel alone…but over time, if we take a healthy approach to it, the healing becomes about US not them, and not what they did to us. There is no fixing them, but there is fixing us.

    Many victims become victims because we believe lies…lies that promise our heart’s greatest desire…and we allow violations of our persons and our souls to try to appease them, get them to become again the person we thought they were (make the lies true) I was raised to believe that every one else’s problems should be solved by me, and I should ignore bad behavior so I didn’t upset the abuser. DUH? How twisted is that?

    Now, I have boundaries and am not so easily lied to or fall for the “love bomb” but it has taken years of work, hard work, and looking into my own soul. I don’t deserve to be treated badly by anyone. I treat others well, and I deserve to be treated well myself. I insist on it. People who treat me badly, disrespect me, or lie to me, are excluded from my “circle of trust”—-if I can’t trust someone to act in a responsible and caring way, then I don’t need them in my life.

    Since the ultimate betrayal by my son Patrick who triied to have me killed, to “friends” who stole from me, or lied to me, or raged at me for their own bad behavior which I challenged…I have thinned out my rolodex and these people’s phone numbers are gone. It hurt badly at first because I loved these people, my “friends” I THOUGHT…but now I don’t hesitate to exclude unkind and unreliable people from my life.

    I think I will order the book on your recommendation, it sounds like a good one. Healing is an ongoing process, not a destination.

    • Hi Oxdrover,

      Thank you for your response and wisdom. I fully understand what you say and in large part agree. I think I lack the idealised bit of wanting some imagined ‘love’ – either that or I don’t remember that part. I just thought he was a regular person nothing special. My healing begins with understanding how I actually fell for an almost siege of my soul/psyche. I understand that it was a drip, drip, drip insidious process but it feels, in retrospect, like I fully integrated this madness/chaotic personality and didn’t even notice. I kind of see myself like plastercine and having molded my entire being around him, not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t notice WTF was happening.

      I find this aspect particularly alarming, shocking and disconcerting.

      I’m sure you will enjoy the book:-)

      • Myownsavior…………again you have put it into words. minute followed minute, hour followed hour, day followed day, etc…….it just all got away from me. And while I WOULD voice complaints and boundaries, it just never seemed to happen. There was always tomorrow or dinner to cook tonight or work or errands or SOMETHING that just took up so much time. And of course, I NEVER picked the right time to talk about things………..I honestly think now that there WAS no good time to talk about anything because there was nothing anyhow, just an empty Spath user, liar, POS. Meanwhile back at the ranch, I’m thinking It’s all going to work out because we love each other. I wonder where I got THAT idea?

        • Hi Dorothy,

          Perhaps there was never a good time because intuitively you knew it would be a waste of your time? When I was ‘aware’ of certain dynamics/behaviour I would argue like hell to get my point across but then he just controlled the form of the argument – which strangely enough became a contorted, twisted version of insanity and had nothing to do with my original point. I guess that was sport for him AKA crazy making.

          I think I just got ground down with that shit all of his arguments which were non arguments and had zero internal logic. It was like a frenzied intellectual attack using word salad, where a logical sane mind couldn’t possibly compete. Game over.

          • Myownsavior……..I can totally relate. Same here but not just with arguments. It was all so confusing for me. I was worn down, worn out, but I didn’t STAY that way because as soon as it was apparent that I was near my breaking point he would make all better. “we are a team Dorothy and we will fight for this together”. He said that more times than I can even remember. Am I an idiot for believing him? Maybe. Maybe he’s just good at this one thing in his life. (and kissing………I LOVED to kiss him but that was getting farther and farther away from the relationshit). I think he was squeezing me out? If I can just make this bad enough for her maybe she will give up and I can go drink my life away again (and fill in the blank).

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